Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist

2nd Edition

  • Date Published: April 2013
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107685062


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
  • Now in a new edition, Lukas Erne's groundbreaking study argues that Shakespeare, apart from being a playwright who wrote theatrical texts for the stage, was also a literary dramatist who produced reading texts for the page. Examining the evidence from early published playbooks, Erne argues that Shakespeare wrote many of his plays with a readership in mind and that these 'literary' texts would have been abridged for the stage because they were too long for performance. The variant early texts of Romeo and Juliet, Henry V and Hamlet are shown to reveal important insights into the different media for which Shakespeare designed his plays. This revised and updated edition includes a new and substantial preface that reviews and intervenes in the controversy the study has triggered and lists reviews, articles and books which respond to or build on the first edition.

    • The Times Literary Supplement 'Book of the Year', first published in 2003, is now updated in a second edition, appealing to those who are interested in recent changes in thinking about Shakespeare
    • Published to coincide with the publication of Erne's follow-up study, Shakespeare and the Book Trade; jointly, the closely related and co-ordinated studies give access to Erne's seminal work on 'readerly Shakespeare'
    • Includes a new preface which engages with responses to the study since it was first published, giving readers access to a key debate in Shakespeare studies over the last ten years
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    Review of the first edition: 'The year's best book on Shakespeare.' Jonathan Bate, The Times Literary Supplement

    Review of the first edition: 'An exceedingly learned book … I must say I found this mustered evidence and these arguments completely gripping.' James Fenton, The New York Review of Books

    Review of the first edition: 'Among the most significant works of Shakespearean scholarship in recent years.' MacDonald Jackson, University of Auckland

    Review of the first edition: 'Lukas Erne's new book is certainly one of the most fascinating, thought-provoking, and lucid studies of Shakespeare I can remember reading.' Robert C. Evans, Ben Jonson Journal

    Review of the first edition: 'Lukas Erne's brilliant new book … sets out probably the most exhilarating change in our image of Shakespeare as a writer for decades … Erne is brilliant at reconsidering evidence, taking a quizzical view of comments and facts that we had understood in one way for so long that we had forgotten to keep asking whether they could be read in other and better ways. It is the work of a scholar who here and in the years to come has a vast amount to teach us about Shakespeare, making him new, just as every performance makes the particular play new …' Peter Holland, University of Notre Dame

    Review of the first edition: 'The notion is familiar. Shakespeare - actor, playwright, man of the theatre - was a producer of scripts, devoted to their production in the playhouse, but indifferent to their appearance in print. Lukas Erne challenges this notion, with a persuasive picture of a Shakespeare conscious of having been read and reread, excerpted and anthologized; a writer writing with a readership in mind. Erne's book, which draws together the recent isolated conclusions of a number of scholars, builds on their foundations a more radical thesis, and makes it difficult to see how so many of us could have been taken in for so long by the unlikely image of a jobbing playwright.' Nicholas Robins, The Times Literary Supplement

    Review of the first edition: '[Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist] will certainly change our future discourse about dramatic texts and about Shakespeare.' Richard Knowles, Modern Philology

    Review of the first edition: '[Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist] will serve to set new directions for Renaissance scholarship.' Andrew Murphy, Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England

    Review of the first edition: 'An excellent and scrupulously researched book … this may well, then, be one of those rare books that changes how Shakespeare is perceived and edited.' Colin Burrow, Shakespeare Quarterly

    Review of the first edition: 'Erne achieves nothing less than the complete undoing of our understanding of Shakespeare as author.' Dympna Callaghan, Studies in English Literature

    Review of the first edition: 'Erne's book is marvellously researched, meticulously annotated, sensitively illustrated, and delivered in clear, refulgent prose … its conclusions are so engaging that its arguments will become well known by a generation or more of Shakespeareans.' Kevin de Ornellas, New Theatre Quarterly

    Review of the first edition: 'An important book whose careful engagement with difficult questions and often conflicting evidence will command serious attention in Shakespearian scholarship.' Lawrence Manley, Renaissance Journal

    '… address[es] an important question and establish[es] a probable answer.' The Tablet

    'This is an excellent book … to learn much of what is known about the quarto and Folio texts of the eighteen plays published in both formats, with special attention given to the shorter quartos. Erne presents his tremendous learning on this subject in a very understandable way.' Michael P. Jensen, The Shakespeare Newsletter

    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

    • Edition: 2nd Edition
    • Date Published: April 2013
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107685062
    • length: 323 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 150 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.49kg
    • contains: 12 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Preface to the second edition
    Part I. Publication:
    1. The legitimation of printed playbooks in Shakespeare's time
    2. The making of 'Shakespeare'
    3. Shakespeare and the publication of his plays (I): the late sixteenth century
    4. Shakespeare and the publication of his plays (II): the early seventeenth century
    5. The players' alleged opposition to print
    Part II. Texts:
    6. Why size matters: 'the two hours' traffic of our stage' and the length of Shakespeare's plays
    7. Editorial policy and the length of Shakespeare's plays
    8. 'Bad quartos' and their origins: Romeo and Juliet, Henry V, and Hamlet
    9. Theatricality, literariness, and the texts of Romeo and Juliet, Henry V, and Hamlet
    Appendix A: the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries in print, 1584–1623
    Appendix B: Heminge and Condell's 'Stolne, and surreptitious copies' and the Pavier quartos
    Appendix C: Shakespeare and the circulation of dramatic manuscripts.

  • Author

    Lukas Erne, Université de Genève
    Lukas Erne is Professor of English at the University of Geneva. He has been the Fowler Hamilton Research Fellow at Christ Church, University of Oxford, and the recipient of research fellowships at the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Huntington Library. Lukas Erne's other publications include this book's sequel Shakespeare and the Book Trade (2013), Shakespeare's Modern Collaborators (2008) and Beyond 'The Spanish Tragedy': A Study of the Works of Thomas Kyd (2001). He is also the editor, with Guillemette Bolens, of Medieval and Early Modern Authorship (2011), of The First Quarto of Romeo and Juliet (2007) and, with M. J. Kidnie, of Textual Performances: The Modern Reproduction of Shakespeare's Drama (2004). The first edition of Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist was published in 2003 and was named a 'book of the year' in the Times Literary Supplement.

Related Books

also by this author

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.