Shakespeare and His Authors

edited by William Leahy

DOI: 10.5040/9781472555137

ISBN: 9781472555137


The Shakespeare Authorship question - the question of who wrote Shakespeare's plays and who the man we know as Shakespeare was - is a subject which fascinates millions of people the world over and can be seen as a major cultural phenomenon. However, much discussion of the question exists on the very margins of academia, deemed by most Shakespearean academics as unimportant or, indeed, of interest only to conspiracy theorists. Yet, many academics find the Authorship question interesting and worthy of analysis in theoretical and philosophical terms.

This collection brings together leading literary and cultural critics to explore the Authorship question as a social, cultural and even theological phenomenon and consider it in all its rich diversity and significance.

"People have had their doubts about the story that William Shakespeare is the author of plays and poems published under his name since the time they first appeared in print. Everyone who teaches Shakespeare is familiar with the kind of question they are most likely to be asked by casual acquaintances and by the people they meet on airplanes. For the most part academics and professional scholars have been unwilling to take this vernacular skepticism seriously. This volume of essays is committed to a more direct and more respectful engagement with questions and intuitions that remain widely prevalent in the popular imagination. The various contributors to this volume reveal that surprisingly little is actually known about Shakespeare's career as a writer, and much of what we think has been created to flesh out the large gaps in a narrative demanded by the existence of these compelling works of dramatic art. The individual essays represent a range of diverse disciplinary and inter-disciplinary perspectives that challenge the traditional account of singular creativity. Shakespeare and His Authors, written mostly by non-specialists, presents an alternative picture of plural authoring and serial collaboration that will provide readers with a more complete explanation of where these works come from and why they remain so important for us in the long history of our culture." - Michael D. Bristol, Greenshields Professor Emeritus, McGill University, Canada

'[The editor's] determination to balance the book is successful... The range is impressive, too. At one end, Andrew Bennett meditates on how Shakespeare's unknowability is entwined with romantic notions of the author; at the other, social psychologist Sandra Schruijer probes the dynamics of the stand-off between sceptics and scholars. In between Mark Rylance is compelling on how his acting has been assisted by consideration of different authors, while Graham Holderness engagingly assesses the perils of reading Shakespeare's plays autobiographically.' Around the Globe

... the contributions are both scholarly and lucid; the highly accessible prose in which most of the essays are written ensures that this volume will be an enjoyable read for a broad audience, which includes both academics, theatre practitioners, and those with a non-professional interest in Shakespeare.

... [contains] interesting essays by critics of the calibre of Willy Maley, Graham Holderness, and Nicholas Royle.

"This excellent collection of intriguing essays reopens the seminal question of Shakespeare's authorship, offering new perspectives and fresh challenges to our understanding of the whole Shakespeare author debate. Invigorating!" - Professor Martin Coyle, School of English, Cardiff University, UK