Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

Clowning and Authorship in Early Modern Theatre


  • Date Published: March 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107036574

£ 73.99

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:

Looking for an inspection copy?

This title is not currently available on inspection

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • To early modern audiences, the 'clown' was much more than a minor play character. A celebrity performer, he was a one-man sideshow whose interactive entertainments - face-pulling, farce interludes, jigs, rhyming contests with the crowd - were the main event. Clowning epitomized a theatre that was heterogeneous, improvised, participatory, and irreducible to dramatic texts. How, then, did those texts emerge? Why did playgoers buy books that deleted not only the clown, but them as well? Challenging the narrative that clowns were 'banished' by playwrights like Shakespeare and Jonson, Richard Preiss argues that clowns such as Richard Tarlton, Will Kemp, and Robert Armin actually made playwrights possible - bridging, through the publication of their routines, the experience of 'live' and scripted performance. Clowning and Authorship tells the story of how, as the clown's presence decayed into print, he bequeathed the new categories around which theatre would organize: the author, and the actor.

    • Examines a species of performer who played a vital role in the shape of early modern playhouse entertainment, expanding our knowledge of how audiences and performance functioned relative to one another
    • Looks beyond printed plays as sources of evidence of theatrical practice, enabling a more composite understanding of early modern theatrical production
    • Presents new readings of non-canonical texts written by stage clowns, using these to provide new analysis of canonical plays by Shakespeare, Jonson and others
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Original, sophisticated and deeply researched.' The Times Literary Supplement

    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

    • Date Published: March 2014
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107036574
    • length: 298 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 147 x 25 mm
    • weight: 0.54kg
    • contains: 10 b/w illus. 1 table
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: the play is not the thing
    1. What audiences did
    2. Send in the clown
    3. Wiring Richard Tarlton
    4. Nobody's business
    5. Private practice
    Epilogue: the principal verb.

  • Author

    Richard Preiss, University of Utah
    Richard Preiss is Associate Professor of English at the University of Utah, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on Shakespeare, early modern drama, and Renaissance literature. He has edited The Tempest: Shakespeare in Performance (2008), and his essays have appeared in publications including Renaissance Drama, Shakespeare Yearbook, and From Performance to Print in Shakespeare's England (2005). He is also a contributor to the forthcoming collections The Cambridge Guide to the Worlds of Shakespeare and Early Modern Theatricality.

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

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 ×

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.