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Shakespeare, Co-Author A Historical Study of Five Collaborative Plays by Brian (School of Advanced Study, London University) Vickers

Shakespeare, Co-Author A Historical Study of Five Collaborative Plays



Shakespeare, Co-Author A Historical Study of Five Collaborative Plays by Brian (School of Advanced Study, London University) Vickers

No issue in Shakespeare studies is more important than determining what he wrote. For over two centuries scholars have discussed the evidence that Shakespeare worked with co-authors on several plays, and have used a variety of methods to differentiate their contributions from his. In this wide-ranging study, Brian Vickers takes up and extends these discussions, presenting compelling evidence that Shakespeare wrote Titus Andronicus together with George Peele, Timon of Athens with Thomas Middleton, Pericles with George Wilkins, and Henry VIII and The Two Noble Kinsmen with John Fletcher. In Part One Vickers reviews the standard processes of co-authorship as they can be reconstructed from documents connected with the Elizabethan stage, and shows that every major, and most minor dramatists in the Elizabethan, Jacobean, and Caroline theatres collaborated in getting plays written and staged. This is combined with a survey of the types of methodology used since the early nineteenth century to identify co-authorship, and a critical evaluation of some 'stylometric' techniques. Part Two is devoted to detailed analyses of the five collaborative plays, discussing every significant case made for and against Shakespeare's co-authorship. Synthesizing two centuries of discussion, Vickers reveals a solidly based scholarly tradition, building on and extending previous work, identifying the co-authors' contributions in increasing detail. The range and quantity of close verbal analysis brought together in Shakespeare, Co-Author present a compelling case to counter those 'conservators' of Shakespeare who maintain that he is the sole author of his plays.


... a major re-examination not just of the collaborative plays but of multiple authorship in Renaissance drama generally. Historical as well as critical, [Vickers's] survey exposes the ignorance of many a modern editor and commentator ... His book is a major event - and at a very fair price. * English Studies * Brian Vickers has brought clarity to the old and hotly debated question of Shakespeare's work with co-authors. As a result changes will be made in some future editions of Shakespeare . . . Vickers's book also gives a good sense of the opposing forces in the co-authorship debate. * The New York Times * Vickers provides a marvelous review of standard Elizabethan stage practices ... The intelligence and marvelous erudition of this fine book are complemented by a fine and clear prose style ... This rich monograph is a pleasure to read and ponder, from beginning to end. * The Virginia Quarterly Review *

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Book Info

Publication date

8th January 2004


Brian (School of Advanced Study, London University) Vickers

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Oxford University Press


580 pages


Shakespeare studies & criticism
Literary studies: c 1500 to c 1800



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