Oxford's variorum edition of William Blackstone's seminal treatise on the common law of England and Wales offers the definitive account of the Commentaries' development in a modern format. For the first time it is possible to trace the evolution of English law and Blackstone's thought through the eight editions of Blackstone's lifetime, and the authorial corrections of the posthumous ninth edition. Introductions by the general editor and the volume editors set the
Commentaries in their historical context, examining Blackstone's distinctive view of the common law, and editorial notes throughout the four volumes assist the modern reader in understanding this key text in the Anglo-American common law tradition.
Book I: Of the Rights of Persons covers the key topics of constitutional and public law. Blackstone's inaugural lecture 'On the Study of the Law' introduces a series of general essays on the nature of law, including a chapter on 'The Absolute Rights of Individuals' . This is followed by an extended account of England's political constitution. The various categories of people or subjects are then surveyed, with special attention to the rights and obligations of masters and servants,
husbands and wives, parents and children, and lastly 'artificial persons', or corporations. In addition to David Lemmings' introduction to the volume, Book I includes an introduction from the General Editor Wilfrid Prest.
Sir William Blackstone (1723-1780) was a prominent public figure in the eighteenth century. Judge and jurist, barrister and politician, his work has had a profound influence on the Anglo-American legal tradition. The first Vinerian Professor of English Law, Blackstone was a Justice of the Court of Common Pleas at the time of his death. The Commentaries published in eight editions in his lifetime, and a posthumous ninth edition in 1783. David Lemmings is is Professor of History and Leader of the 'Change' research programme in the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions.