London: Printed for G. Kearsley…and G. Robinson…, 1775. First edition. G1 closely cropped at fore-margin, a little light foxing. Overall a very good, clean copy. Half calf over marbled boards, rebacked to style, gilt brown morocco spine label. Marbled endpapers and edges. Item #11698
William Cooke (1757-1832) was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He studied law and was admitted to Lincoln’s Inn in 1777 and called to the Bar in 1782. He spent most of his adult life practising bankruptcy law, and he published a book on that subject in 1785. Cooke was also intensely interested in the theatre, and he wrote the present work when he was only eighteen. It is heavily based on Aristotle’s Poetics. “Cooke feels that the theatre has been usurped by dictatorial modern dramatics and false taste, and he wants to restore its respectable character, to make it a ‘public school of virtue, and of manners’…Cooke’s work represents a useful codification of Aristotelian aesthetics filtered through a mind to whom experimentation and doubt seem to be complete strangers” (John Valdimir Price, writing in the Dictionary of Eighteenth-Century British Philosophers).