Steevens, George (1736 - 1800)

Shakespearian commentator, who in 1766 issued in four volumes Twenty of the Plays of Shakespeare, being the whole Number printed in Quarto during his Lifetime, or before the Restoration, and in 1773 a complete annotated edition (including notes by Dr Johnson) in ten volumes, to which a supplementary volume of poems, together with seven plays ascribed to Shakespeare, was added in 1780. He constantly quarrelled with his literary associates and was called by Gifford 'the Puck of commentators', but was befriended by Johnson and elected a member of the Club in 1774. He was extremely widely read in Elizabethan literature, and supplied to his edition a vast range of illustrative quotations from other works, but was in other respects less scholarly, rejecting as inauthentic various scenes and plays which he appears merely to have disliked. He assisted Tyrwhitt in his edition of the 'Rowley' poems of Chatterton, but declared his disbelief in them. He attacked W. H. Ireland, and satirized literary crazes.

The Oxford Companion to English Literature, © Margaret Drabble and Oxford University Press 1995