Chapter

Introduction: Searching for Shakespeare's Letters

Stewart Alan

in Shakespeare's Letters

Published in print November 2008 | ISBN: 9780199549276
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191701504 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199549276.003.0001
Introduction: Searching for Shakespeare's Letters

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This book discusses the search for William Shakespeare's letters. However, Edmond Malone and Samuel Ireland were on a wild goosechase, this chapter states, on the trail of the kind of letters that would make sense to the 1790s reader. Not only were they looking for the wrong letters, they were looking in the wrong place. For Shakespeare's letters survive in abundance — in his plays, or, more precisely, on his stage. At a conservative estimate, 111 letters appear on stage in the course of Shakespeare's plays, and his characters allude to many more, running through all the genres and his entire career — early plays and late plays, comedies, tragedies, tragicomedies, and histories all contain letters. In fact, Shakespeare depicts letters in all but five of the First Folio plays, so that their very absence in itself becomes telling.

Keywords: William Shakespeare; letters; Edmond Malone; Samuel Ireland; plays; First Folio

Chapter.  12853 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism

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