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Shakespeare and the Idea of Apocrypha
Negotiating the Boundaries of the Dramatic Canon


  • Date Published: June 2019
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107479982

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About the Authors
  • In addition to the thirty-six plays of the First Folio, some eighty plays have been attributed in whole or part to William Shakespeare, yet most are rarely read, performed or discussed. This book, the first to confront the implications of the 'Shakespeare Apocrypha', asks how and why these plays have historically been excluded from the canon. Innovatively combining approaches from book history, theatre history, attribution studies and canon theory, Peter Kirwan unveils the historical assumptions and principles that shaped the construction of the Shakespeare canon. Case studies treat plays such as Sir Thomas More, Edward III, Arden of Faversham, Mucedorus, Double Falsehood and A Yorkshire Tragedy, showing how the plays' contested 'Shakespearean' status has shaped their fortunes. Kirwan's book rethinks the impact of authorial canons on the treatment of anonymous and disputed plays.

    • Offers the first overview of the problems, questions and authorship debates in determining the Shakespeare canon
    • Combines approaches from book history, theatre history and attribution studies
    • Explores well-known as well as less-discussed texts
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'In this smart and timely book, Kirwan returns Shakespeare's apocryphal plays to their original habitat, namely, the repertory of a commercial playing company; thus relocated, the plays may be appraised as they were in their own time: on market value, not authorship.' Roslyn L. Knutson, University of Arkansas

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2019
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107479982
    • length: 270 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 152 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.4kg
    • contains: 5 b/w illus. 6 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: the idea of Apocrypha
    1. Canonising the Apocrypha
    2. The Apocrypha in rep
    3. Defining 'Shakespeare'
    4. Apocryphising the canon
    Epilogue: an apocryphal identity
    Works cited

  • Author

    Peter Kirwan, University of Nottingham
    Peter Kirwan is Assistant Professor of Shakespeare and Early Modern Drama at the University of Nottingham. He is the co-editor of Shakespeare and the Digital World (with Christie Carson, Cambridge, 2014) and Associate Editor of William Shakespeare and Others: Collaborative Plays (2013). His work has appeared in Shakespeare Quarterly, Shakespeare Bulletin, Literature Compass, Philological Quarterly and many other journals and collections. He sits on the editorial board of Early Theatre and reviews editions for Shakespeare Survey.

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