Janet Clare

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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This article discusses the control and regulation of playhouses during Shakespeare's career; The Book of Sir Thomas More; and Jacobean censorship. Elizabethan censorship in the decades preceding and coinciding with Shakespeare's early career evolved in response to the rapid growth of theatre production. The state sought to regulate the operation of playhouses and acting companies, and to check the contents of plays before granting a licence for their performance. The directives and textual excisions evident in the manuscript of Sir Thomas More indicate some of the preoccupations of late Elizabethan censorship. Even sixty years after the event, More's opposition to the King against the backdrop of Reformation politics was judged too sensitive or provocative for performance. Meanwhile, the accession of James I in 1603 stimulated a considerable change in the configuration of theatre practice and the preoccupations of censorship.

Keywords: Elizabethan censorship; Sir Thomas More; Jacobean censorship; Reformation politics; theatre production

Article.  9790 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Shakespeare Studies and Criticism

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