The Early Shakespeare

David Bevington

in The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare

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

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

The Early Shakespeare


Around 1590, Shakespeare arrived in London, at the age of 26 or so, and began his career as playwright and actor. By 1592, he had attracted the unfavourable attention of his fellow dramatist Robert Greene. Shakespeare clearly absorbed a great deal of what he learnt about playwriting from writers in the field, including Thomas Kyd and John Lyly, as well as from his reading. His major dramatic genres, from the very beginnings of his career as writer, are comedy, English history, and tragedy. The 1623 Folio confirms this pattern by printing its collection of Shakespeare's plays in these three groupings. Comedy was extraordinarily varied in its forms on the English stage of the 1580s. One might say that it was somewhat unformed in its differing manifestations, as though waiting for a genius such as Shakespeare to put some of its pieces together.

Keywords: Shakespeare's early career; Robert Greene; playwright; English history; early comedy

Article.  11711 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Shakespeare Studies and Criticism

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