Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

Shakespeare's Accents
Voicing Identity in Performance


Award Winner
  • Publication planned for: August 2022
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108454612

£ 22.99

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an inspection copy?

This title is not currently available on inspection

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Voices and accents are increasingly perceived as central markers of identity in Shakespearean performance. This book presents a history of the reception of Shakespeare on the English stage with a focus on the vocal dimensions of theatrical performance. The chapters identify key moments when English accents have caused controversy, if not public outrage. Sonia Massai examines the cultural connotations associated with different accents and how accents have catalysed concerns about national, regional and social identities that are (re)constituted in and through Shakespearean performance. She argues that theatre makers and reformers, elocutionists and historical linguists, as well as directors, actors and producers have all had a major impact on how accents have evolved and changed on the Shakespearean stage over the last four hundred years. This fascinating book offers a rich historical survey alongside close performance analysis.

    • Elucidates the cultural forces that have affected how Shakespeare has been spoken on stage and decoded by audiences over the last four hundred years
    • Links the reception of accents on the Shakespearean stage to wider concerns about national, regional and social identities
    • Presents fresh archival evidence to identify new influential interventions in the history of the acoustic reception of Shakespeare on the English stage
    Read more


    • Choice Outstanding Academic Title, 2021, Choice Reviews

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Anyone who thinks that accents in Shakespeare's scripts are limited to the likes of Fluellen, MacMorris, Jamy, the Dauphin, Princess Catherine, and country clowns will find an earful in Sonia Massai's Shakespeare's Accents. So, too, will anyone who feels dubious about original pronunciation or positive about regional and foreign accents in contemporary productions. Massai has chosen to begin with contemporary productions and work backward toward accents cued in the scripts. The result is a beautifully modulated book in every sense of the word.' Bruce Smith, University of Southern California

    'This deeply impressive book deserves to have a huge impact. Few scholars would have the ability or vision, to range so authoritatively from the language politics of Elizabethan England, through the accents of David Garrick, to the BBC archives of the 1930s and 40s and the lost history of original pronunciation. Along the way, we hear Beckett tweaking a 1964 production of Godot, and are vividly present at early performances of The Moors (2018). A triumphant combination of linguistics and performance criticism from a world-class scholar right at the top of her game.' Jonathan Hope, Arizona State University

    'This is the most wide-ranging and detailed account I have read of regional and social accents in Early Modern English theatre. It places Shakespeare's own use of accents in a new and illuminating perspective, and relates them to the way accents are encountered in modern performance - including a theatrical history and appreciation of the original pronunciation movement. It fills a huge gap in the literature.' David Crystal, University of Wales, Bangor

    'This expert blend of performance history and socio-cultural study is a fascinating account of the sounds and politics of accent, both on and off stage, over the past 400 years … At a time when theatre is being asked to think about how to diversify, to seem less elitist and more accessible, Massai's work expands our understanding of longstanding assumptions and prejudices. In doing so, it also acts as a reminder of the forces that can arrest that project. While this research is clearly of scholarly value for academics and students of Shakespeare, theatre history and sociolinguistics, it is accessibly written and also of value to theatre makers.' Sarah Grandage, The Review of English Studies

    'Engaging, accessible, and groundbreaking, Shakespeare's Accents is a triumph.' D. M. Moore, Choice

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Publication planned for: August 2022
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108454612
    • length: 250 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 mm
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. 'Accents yet unknown': the changing soundscape of Shakespeare in contemporary performance
    2. 'Lend me your Ears': experiments with original pronunciation
    3. David Garrick's 'sonic revolution': hegemony and protest, 1737–1843
    4. 'Usual speech' and 'barbarous dialects' on the early modern stage.

  • Author

    Sonia Massai, King's College London
    Sonia Massai is Professor of Shakespeare Studies at King's College London and has published widely on the history of the transmission of Shakespeare on the stage and on the page. Her publications include World-Wide Shakespeares: Local Appropriations in Film and Performance (2005), Shakespeare and the Rise of the Editor (Cambridge, 2007), collections of essays on Ivo van Hove: From Shakespeare to David Bowie (2018), Shakespeare and Textual Studies (Cambridge, 2015) and critical editions of John Ford's 'Tis Pity She's a Whore (2011) and The Paratexts in English Printed Drama to 1642 (Cambridge, 2014).


    • Choice Outstanding Academic Title, 2021, Choice Reviews

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×
warning icon

Turn stock notifications on?

You must be signed in to your Cambridge account to turn product stock notifications on or off.

Sign in Create a Cambridge account arrow icon

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.