The play was printed separately many times in the eighteenth century. The first edition, in the University of Michigan copy, bears the title: THE / GAMESTER. / A / TRAGEDY. / As it is Acted at the / Theatre-Royal in Drury-Lane. / [rule] / ornament / [rule] / LONDON: / Printed for R. FRANCKLIN, in Russel-Street, / Covent-Garden; and Sold by R. DODSLEY, / in Pall-Mall. M.DCC.LIII. / The anonymity of the titlepage is half-hearted, for the dedication to Henry Pelham is signed “Edw. Moore.” A prologue written by Garrick, an epilogue, and the cast of the original performance precede the eighty-four page text. Francklin and Dodsley brought out a second edition in the same year and a fourth edition in 1755; presumably a third edition had been issued in the interim. In 1771 a fifth and a sixth edition appeared, and in 1776 another London edition came out. In 1784 two more editions made an appearance, the first printed for R. Butters (John H. Caskey, The Life and Works of Edward Moore, Yale Studies in English, LXXV [New Haven, 1927], p. 174), the second printed for a group of four booksellers—Thomas Davies, W. Nicoll, Samuel Bladon, and John Bew. The same combination of booksellers, with W. Lowndes taking the place of Davies, issued in 1789 an inferior reprinting of their 1784 text. The editions of 1784 and 1789 are interesting because they identify by inverted commas the cuts made in contemporary stage versions. Before the end of the century three editions were printed outside London: two Dublin imprints of 1763 and 1783, and an American imprint of 1791 by Henry Taylor in Philadelphia.
In addition to these separate publications, The Gamester was included in two collections of Moore’s works. The 1756 edition has already been noticed. THE DRAMATIC WORKS OF Mr. Edward Moore, as the 1788 titlepage describes the volume, was issued by the Lowndes-Nicoll-Bladon-Bew group and was actually an assembled text made up of the 1784 printing of The Gamester, the 1786 The Foundling, and the 1788 Gil Blas.
The play was a favorite in many popular dramatic collections of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century; it appeared in Bell’s British Theatre in 1776 and thereafter, in Mrs. Inchbald’s The British Theatre in 1808, in Dibdin’s London Theatre in 1815, and in Cumberland’s British Theatre in 1826. According to Caskey and other sources the play was thus reprinted more than a dozen times by the middle of the nineteenth century. Since then it has declined in favor and has seldom been reprinted, even in textbook anthologies covering representative literature of the period.
The 1756 text of the play and the plates from the Davies-Nicoll-Bladon-Bew 1784 edition have been reproduced through the cooperation of the University of Michigan Library from copies of these editions in its possession. Because of its lack of significance, the dedication to Henry Pelham has not been reprinted.