Documents of Shakespearean Performance: Stage, Page, and Manuscript in Early Modern England

26 November 2012, 17:30 - 19:00

Event Type:
Room 234 (Senate House)
Venue Details:

Senate House 
Malet Street 
London WC1E 7HU


Dr. Edmund King (Open University): 'Interpreting Early Modern Co-Authorship in the Eighteenth-Century Shakespeare Edition'

In the decades between 1709 and 1821, a series of textual critics helped consolidate what we now think of as the “Shakespeare canon”: an edited set of “complete works” appearing under the heading of a single author: Shakespeare. The Shakespeare edition as book had become synonymous with the man himself. Yet this textual presentation hid the extent to which the contributions of other agents—actors, revisers, collaborators—appeared within that supposedly unified textual body. This paper will look at how eighteenth- century editors facilitated this process of canonical “unification.” What did they know—or think they knew— about the activities and working practices of early modern collaborators and revisers? How far did they think collaboration extended within Shakespeare’s plays? How did these assumptions and beliefs shape the way they treated apparently collaborative material within the canon?