London: Printed for C. Chapple, Pall Mall, by B. McMillan, Bow Street, Covent Garden, Printer to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, 1808. First Edition. Paper-covered boards. First Edition. Complete in two volumes, paginated (somewhat irregularly) continuously. 12mo; xii, 622, 629-630; , 625-1048pp, with 17 engraved plates (conforming to directions to the binder, for placing the plates), comprising 4 views of theaters and 13 portraits. Dedicated to the Prince of Wales, later George IV. Recently rebound, in the style of the original, in pale blue paper-covered boards with cream-colored spine and title and volume paper lettering pieces; all edges speckled red. Internally, virtually perfect, the binding tight, straight and square, the pages and plates clean and crisp with the exception of the author's portrait in vol. 1, which is lightly foxed. A Very Fine example of a rare set. OCLC Number: 82435547. Fine. Item #BB0275
Little is known of Gilliland's life or career. But intriguingly, according to the ODNB, "Gilliland clearly made himself enemies." His major work, A Dramatic Synopsis, was significantly expanded and republished as The Dramatic Mirror, dated 1808 on the title-page, "but [it] may have appeared in 1807. . . . it contained a history of the stage, with accounts of actors from the time of Shakespeare onwards, and of playwrights from 1660. It was dedicated to the prince of Wales, and was venomously reviewed in The Satirist of January 1808. The reviewer's charges included plagiarism (‘The original matter … would lay in as small a space as its author's brains’) and inconsistency, since Gilliland now praised Kemble [whom he had earlier lambasted]. The review claimed that Gilliland, ‘during a recent season … was wont to intrude himself into the greenroom of Drury-lane theatre’, until he desisted in the face of a petition to the managers calling for his exclusion, ‘signed by the most spirited of the performers’ headed by Charles Mathews. Gilliland's alleged purpose was to spy ‘upon the private conduct of public men’ and to use their talk in his journalism, ‘as he at that time had not been dismissed from the newspapers for want of talent’. The review called him the ‘cast-off fag’ and ‘ci-devant scout’ of Anthony Pasquin (pseudonym of John Williams).