Shakespeare’s Literary Authorship

Re-situating Shakespeare as an early modern professional, Patrick Cheney views him not simply as a man of the theatre, but also as an author with a literary career. Rather than present himself as a national or laureate poet, as Spenser does, Shakespeare conceals his authorship through dramaturgy, rendering his artistic techniques and literary ambitions opaque. Accordingly, recent scholars have attended more to his innovative theatricality or his indifference to textuality than to his contribution to modern English authorship. By tracking Shakespeare’s ‘counter-laureate authorship’, Cheney builds upon his previous study on Shakespeare and literary authorship, and demonstrates the presence throughout the plays of sustained intertextual fictions about the twin media of printed poetry and theatrical performance. In challenging Spenser as England’s National Poet, Shakespeare reinvents English authorship as a key part of his legacy.

• Analyses Shakespeare’s full professional career, poems and plays, within a nationalist setting • Includes a detailed study of Shakespeare’s literary relations with his contemporary authors Edmund Spenser and Christopher Marlowe • Builds upon the author’s previous study on Shakespeare within a nationalist setting


Introduction: ‘Printless foot’: finding Shakespeare; Part I. Rethinking Shakespearean Authorship: 1. The epic spear of Achilles: self-concealing authorship in The Rape of Lucrece, Troilus and Cressida, and Hamlet; 2. The forms of ‘counter-laureate authorship’: Titus Andronicus, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 1 Henry IV, The Tempest; 3. Lyric poetry in Shakespearean theatre: As You Like It, 1 Henry IV, Henry V, The Tempest; 4. Books and theatre in Shakespeare’s plays: Richard III, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Romeo and Juliet, Othello; Part II. Fictions of Authorship: 5. ‘Shows of love . . . bookish rule’: theatre, book, and literary history in 2 Henry IV; 6. Halting sonnets: the comedy of Petrarchan desire in Much Ado about Nothing; 7. The profession of consciousness: Hamlet, tragedy, and the literary eternal; 8. Venting rhyme for a mockery: Cymbeline and national romance.


\'Patrick Cheney’s new monograph greatly enriches our sense of Shakespeare’s authorial status in his own time. Cheney’s incisive readings of plays of all genres, from early to late, suggest a playwright who reflected on literary authorship while functioning successfully within an intensely collaborative theatrical environment - a Shakespeare, in short, who could write both to the moment and for all time.\' Lukas Erne, University of Geneva