A Shakespeare Companion, 1550-1950

A Shakespeare Companion, 1550-1950

A Shakespeare Companion, 1550-1950

A Shakespeare Companion, 1550-1950

Excerpt

This book is more than a handbook to Shakespeare; it is a handbook not only to Shakespeare's life and works, to his friends and acquaintances, to his poems and plays and their characters, but also to the Elizabethan-Jacobean theatre, the other dramatists who wrote for it, their most important plays and the companies that performed them, and to the history up to the present day of Shakespeare's work both on the stage and in the study, to his printers and publishers, players and producers, editors and adapters, scholars and critics. There must be many readers of Shakespeare to whom, for example, Nathan Field, Pandosto, Worcester's Company, 'Copy', The Gull's Hornbook, William Jaggard, Maddermarket Theatre, Nahum Tate, Leslie Hotson, Lewis Theobald, the Blackfriars theatres, A. W. Pollard, the Master of the Revels, Assembled Texts, Cinthio, New Place, F. J. Furnivall, 'Plots', William Poel, the Folger Shakespeare Library, John Norden, Kenilworth, Gervinus, Jig, Leonard Digges, the Chandos Portrait, and Queen Margaret of the Histories, are little more than names, and would welcome a single volume in which these and similar names and subjects could be investigated.

Briefly, it is an attempt to cover all aspects of Shakespeare and the people who have been most intimately associated with his works, in whatever capacity, in the course of more than three and a half centuries. Though I should be the last to maintain that such knowledge is essential for the appreciation of Shakespeare's works, it quite clearly adds to the understanding of them, and is in itself a fascinating extension of the subject.

The book is neither a glossary nor a concordance, nor does it make any claim to be complete; indeed, such a book never could be complete. There is, for example, no attempt to catalogue all the editions of Shakespeare any more than all the translations, nor to recite the names of all those who have ever written about Shakespeare or acted in his plays. The list of characters in the plays is almost complete, but I have not thought it necessary to include every servant and every 'gentleman' who serves to swell a scene. When the part played by a main character is sufficiently indicated in the synopsis of the play, the notice may be shorter than that of a minor character who is not mentioned in the general summary. I have included these, as I know from experience how useful it is to have an outline of the part played by a character . . .

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