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Sylvan Barnet, edited popular Shakespeare books, dead at 89

January 14, 2016

NEW YORK (AP) — Sylvan Barnet, a longtime professor of literature at Tufts University who edited the budget-priced Signet Classic editions of Shakespeare’s plays and poems used by countless students, has died. He was 89.

Barnet died Monday at his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, according to his friend Helen Vendler. Vendler, a prominent poetry critic, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the cause of death was cancer.

A Brooklyn native and alumnus of New York University and Harvard University, Barnet published the Signet volumes through the New American Library in the 1960s and ’70s. He served as general editor for the series and brought in such literary figures as W.H. Auden to write introductions. The books were originally priced at 50 cents each.

Barnet also worked on books about Korean and Japanese art.

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