1658. A rare early edition of George Ruggles' satire, and the play that gave the English language the word ignoramus


George Ruggle


Ex officina R.D., London, 1658

Printing Details

Third edition. Hardback, bound in full leather with five raised bands and contrasting title label to spine. All edges gilt. 13 × 7.5cm, [23], 153pp with portrait frontispiece and a single page of music verso the ffep entitled "Round p74", possibly handwritten. Latin text with occasional English and French passages.

Not signed but this copy carries the bookplate of John Benjamin Heath, Governor of the Bank of England from 1845 to 1847.

This is a rare early edition of George Ruggle's Ignoramus, first published in 1615 and arguably the most famous and influential academic play of English Renaissance drama. It was first produced in Clare College, Cambridge as part of the program of entertainments for a visit by King James I (hence the subtitle). Ignoramus is a farce, the title character, whose name in Latin literally means "we do not know," is a lawyer who fancies himself to be quite shrewd but is actually foolish and ignorant. This play also gave the English language the term ignoramus.


This copy is in very good condition for age. The leather binding is a little rubbed to the joints and corners but in sound condition. The inner binding is secure. There is slight loss to the top edge of the sheet of music but the frontis is in good order. The pages have some age-toning and tanning to the margins but otherwise a very sound copy.



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