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The first Shakespearean forgeries

Dunne, Derek ORCID: 2022. The first Shakespearean forgeries. The Review of English Studies 73 (310) , 459–475. 10.1093/res/hgab097

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The term ‘Shakespearean forgery’ generally conjures up nineteenth-century figures such as J.P. Collier or W.H. Ireland. This paper proposes an alternative history of Shakespeare and forgery, by establishing the prevalence of forgery as a crime in Shakespeare’s own lifetime. This had a material impact on early modern players, who were frequently accused of forging documents of authentication when touring. Bringing together legislation and actual cases of forgery, I demonstrate a symbiotic relationship between authors and forgers, which then makes its presence felt in the literary output of the time, from Nashe’s pamphlet war with Gabriel Harvey to Jonson’s suspect documentation in Bartholomew Fair. For Shakespeare, examples from Hamlet, King Lear, and Twelfth Night are paired with historical cases to show how Shakespeare’s forgeries are more than just a plot device. I finish by drawing parallels between Malvolio and the Earl of Essex, himself a prominent victim of forgery, to reveal new connections made possible through a serious consideration of forgery.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISSN: 0034-6551
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 1 August 2022
Date of Acceptance: 14 December 2021
Last Modified: 24 May 2023 21:46

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