It seems likely that Shakespeare made his reputation initially by his history plays.
How would it have joyed brave Talbot (the terror of the French) to think after he had lain two hundred years in his tomb, he should triumph again on the stage, and have his bones new embalmed with the tears of ten thousand spectators at least (at several times) who, in the tragedian that represents his person, imagine they behold him fresh bleeding!
Thomas Nashe is probably referring here to Henry VI Part I, while Greene's envious reference to Shakespeare dates from the same period and quotes another play from the trilogy, evidently in the full expectation that it will be familiar to his readers. The magnitude of Shakespeare's success can be guessed not only from the bitterness of Greene's resentment, but by comparing Nashe's figure with the total population of London in 1592.
In our time such success has only been achieved by cinema blockbusters, and it is perhaps to them rather than to our own ‘legitimate’ theatre that we should compare Shakespeare's vast
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Publication information: Book title: Shakespeare:A Very Short Introduction. Contributors: Germaine Greer - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: Oxford, England. Publication year: 2002. Page number: 78.
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