Authorship and Appropriation: Writing for the Stage in England, 1660-1710

Synopsis

Authorship and Appropriation is the first full-length study of the cultural and economic status of playwriting in the later seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, and argues that the period was a decisive one in the transition from Renaissance conceptions of authorship towards modern ones. In Shakespeare's time, the creative originality and independence of voice had been little prized. Playwrights had appropriated materials from earlier writings with little censure, while the practice of collaboration among dramatists had been taken for granted. Paulina Kewes demonstrates that, in the decades following the Restoration, those attitudes were challenged by new conceptions of dramatic art which required authors to be the sole begetters of their works. This book explores a series of developments in the theatrical marketplace which increased both the rewards and the prestige of the dramatist, and shows the Restoration period to have been one of serious and animated debate about the methods of playwriting. Against that background, Kewes offers a fresh account of the formation of the canon of English drama, revealing how the moderns - Dryden, Otway, Lee, Behn, and then their successors Congreve, Vanbrugh, and Farquhar - acquired an esteem equal, even superior, to their illustrious predecessors Shakespeare, Jonson, and Fletcher.