Shakespeare and Garrick

Much has been written about the acting style of David Garrick, the eighteenth century’s greatest actor-manager, but this book, unusually, claims a place for him within Shakespeare studies as a literary as well as a theatrical figure. It analyses several of Garrick’s alterations of Shakespeare’s plays in which he took the lead, and traces his close involvement with the major Shakespeare editors of the period, including his friend Samuel Johnson. Admirers claimed that Garrick’s performances illuminated the playtexts better than the commentaries of scholarly editors. His reputation as Shakespeare’s living representative and best interpreter was so high that he was involved in most Shakespeare-related projects of his day, not least the Jubilee at Stratford. While Garrick lived, the imminent divorce of ‘stage’ and ‘page’ could not take place. Cunningham shows how vital a resource Garrick’s collection of early plays in English has been to generations of Shakespeare scholars.

• Includes detailed analyses of several of Garrick’s alterations of Shakespeare’s plays • Throws new light on Garrick’s relations with contemporary editors of Shakespeare, increasing our understanding of the working life of editors of the eighteenth century • Makes a persuasive case for Garrick as a literary as well as a theatrical figure in Shakespeare studies


Prologue: Garrick’s alterations of Shakespeare - a note on texts; 1. Garrick and Shakespeare - before the divorce of stage and page; 2. The contexts of Garrick’s alterations of Shakespeare; 3. ‘To give the actor more eclat’ - Garrick’s earliest alterations of Shakespeare; 4. ‘Rebottling’ Shakespeare - Garrick in mid-career (1753–1768); 5. (Entr’acte): Celebrating Shakespeare on page and stage in 1769; 6. ‘Parental and filial capacities’ - King Lear and Hamlet; 7. Epilogue - Garrick’s legacy to Shakespeare studies; Bibliography.