Grace Ioppolo

in The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199566105
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature


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By the time Shakespeare came to write Hamlet he had spent about ten years in professional theatre as an actor and dramatist. He may have begun his career not only by rewriting and adapting old and seemingly authorless plays, but by cutting, adding to, and revising those of senior colleagues with whom he was directly collaborating. This article notes that Shakespeare was a very shrewd businessman, and that his revision of his own plays was a sound business investment, a fact which needs more emphasis because centuries of critics and admirers have burdened Shakespeare with the title of the world's greatest playwright, someone who was much too brilliant in the act of writing to need to revise then or later. The discussion considers the business in Shakespearean revision. Evidence in extant autograph foul-paper and fair-copied manuscripts suggests that playtexts took a circular path in revising.

Keywords: Hamlet; William Shakespeare; Shakespearean revision; world's greatest playwright; foul-paper manuscripts

Article.  7667 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Shakespeare Studies and Criticism

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