Thomas Bowdler


Biography of Thomas Bowdler

Thomas Bowdler (11 July 1754 – 24 February 1825) was an English physician and philanthropist, best known for publishing The Family Shakspeare, an expurgated edition of William Shakespeare's work, edited by his sister Henrietta Maria Bowdler, intended to be more appropriate for 19th century women and children than the original. Although early editions of the work were published with the spelling "Shakspeare", after Bowdler's death, later editions (from 1847) adopted the spelling "Shakespeare", reflecting changes in the standard spelling of Shakespeare's name.

The verb bowdlerise (or bowdlerize), has associated his name with the censorship not only of literature but also of motion pictures and television programmes.

After several other publications, some reflecting his interest in and knowledge of continental Europe, Bowdler's last work was an expurgated version of Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, published posthumously in 1826 under the supervision of his nephew and biographer, Thomas Bowdler the Younger.

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