The Complete Concordance to Shakspere
Daughter of the music publisher Vincent Novello, Mary Cowden Clarke (1809–98) grew up in London amid her father's literary and artistic circle. Charles and Mary Lamb were family friends, and their Tales from Shakespeare (1807) inspired the young Mary to become a scholar of the Bard. This monumental concordance – which took twelve years to compile and a further four to see through the press – was first published between 1844 and 1845 in eighteen monthly parts, and then in book form in 1845. The preface opens with a statement that reflects Cowden Clarke's great admiration and ambition: 'Shakspere [sic], the most frequently quoted, because the most universal-minded Genius that ever lived, of all Authors best deserves a complete Concordance to his Works.' It was to remain the standard work of its kind for half a century and is still a fascinating and diverting source of information on Shakespeare's extraordinary vocabulary.