Robert Dodsley, an English publisher and author, born at Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, in 1703, died in Durham, Sept. 25, 1764. He was originally a servant, but produced in 1732 a volume of poems, under the title of " The Muse in Livery,'1 and subsequently a dramatic piece called " The Toy Shop," which met with the approbation of Pope, and was acted with great success at Covent Garden theatre in 1735. He then became a bookseller. Patronized by Pope, his shop became in time one of the leading establishments in the British metropolis. In 1737 he brought out a farce styled "The King and the Miller of Mansfield," which was received with applause at Drury Lane; and a few years subsequently a ballad farce entitled " The Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green." In 1746 he projected " The Museum, or the Literary and Historical Register," which numbered among its contributors some of the most eminent literati of the day. In 1748 he started another periodical called "The Preceptor," the preface of which was written by Dr. Johnson, and in 1749 he paid the latter 15 guineas for his " Vanity of Human Wishes." In 1750 he published " The Economy of Human Life," which was ascribed by some to Lord Chesterfield. In 1758 his tragedy of "Cleone"was represented at Covent Garden theatre, on which occasion Dr. Johnson declared that " if Otway had written it, none of his other pieces would have been remembered." It went though four editions in a year.
In the same year, in connection with Edmund Burke, he started the "Annual Register," which is still published. He was the first to collect and republish the "Old English Plays" (1st ed. edited by T. Coxeter, 1744; 2d ed. by Isaac Reed, 12 vols. 8vo, 1780), by his selection of which his name is now most frequently recalled. He retired from business in 1763 with a handsome fortune. His collected writings were published under the title of " Miscellanies, or Trifles in Prose and Verse " (2 vols., 1745 and 1777).