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Shakespeare was easily the most inventive writer using the English language. His plays give us intricacies of vocabulary and usage that have enriched us immeasurably. This book provides a series of analytical essays on the marginalia relating to the plays. Each of them is a searching and authoritative account, packed with details, of some of the more peculiar conditions under which Shakespeare and his peers composed their playbooks. Among the essays are two completely new contributions. Altogether they reveal fresh details about the input of the playing companies, playhouses, individual players and even their controller, the Revels Office, to the complex fragments that we now have of the Shakespearean world. Gurr examines Shakespeare's own choice between playwriting and poetry, the requirements of working in a playhouse that wraps itself around the stage, and its impact on the creation of such figures as Henry V, Shylock, Isabella, King Lear and Coriolanus.
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Table of Contents

List of illustrations; Acknowledgements; Note on the text; 1. Introduction; 2. Henry Carey's peculiar letter; 3. Venues on the verges: London's theatre government between 1594 and 1614 ; 4. Three reluctant patrons and early Shakespeare; 5. The great divide of 1594; 6. The choice between plays and poems; 7. Accommodating the Revels Office; 8. The war of 1614-18: Jacobean absolutism, local authority, and a crisis of overproduction; 9. Metatheatre and the fear of playing; 10. Why was the Globe round?; 11. The general and the caviar: learned audiences in the early theatre; 12. Headless Coriolanus; 13. Rethinking Shylock; 14. Measure for Measure's hoods and masks: the Duke, Isabella, and liberty; 15. The transforming of Henry V; 16. Headgear as a paralinguistic signifier in King Lear; 'The cause is in my will': a bibliography.

About the Author

Andrew Gurr is Professor Emeritus at the University of Reading, and for the past thirty years has been Director of Research in London for the Globe Theatre. His books on the subject of theatre history include The Shakespearean Stage 1574-1642 (Cambridge, 1992), now in its fourth edition, The Shakespearean Playing Companies (1996), Staging in Shakespeare's Theatres (with Mariko Ichikawa, 2000), Playgoing in Shakespeare's London (Cambridge, 2004), The Shakespeare Company 1594-1642 (Cambridge, 2010), and Shakespeare's Opposites: The Admiral's Company, 1594-1625 (Cambridge, 2012). He has also edited the New Cambridge Shakespeare editions of King Richard II (1984) and King Henry V (1992).

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