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Shakespeare's Stationers

Studies in Cultural Bibliography

Edited by Marta Straznicky

Publication Year: 2012

Recent studies in early modern cultural bibliography have put forth a radically new Shakespeare—a man of keen literary ambition who wrote for page as well as stage. His work thus comes to be viewed as textual property and a material object not only seen theatrically but also bought, read, collected, annotated, copied, and otherwise passed through human hands. This Shakespeare was invented in large part by the stationers—publishers, printers, and booksellers—who produced and distributed his texts in the form of books. Yet Shakespeare's stationers have not received sustained critical attention.

Edited by Marta Straznicky, Shakespeare's Stationers: Studies in Cultural Bibliography shifts Shakespearean textual scholarship toward a new focus on the earliest publishers and booksellers of Shakespeare's texts. This seminal collection is the first to explore the multiple and intersecting forms of agency exercised by Shakespeare's stationers in the design, production, marketing, and dissemination of his printed works. Nine critical studies examine the ways in which commerce intersected with culture and how individual stationers engaged in a range of cultural functions and political movements through their business practices. Two appendices, cataloguing the imprints of Shakespeare's texts to 1640 and providing forty additional stationer profiles, extend the volume's reach well beyond the case studies, offering a foundation for further research.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press

Series: Material Texts


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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Introduction: What Is a Stationer?

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pp. 1-16

The phrase “all this,” with respect to the present volume, refers to the imaginative writings of William Shakespeare. Preserved in print chiefly by the “labours,” “risks,” and “speculations” of dozens of printers, publishers, and booksellers, Shakespeare’s poems and plays in their earliest editions are evidence...

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1. The Stationers’ Shakespeare

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pp. 17-27

In 2005 Forbes magazine ran a fluff piece on the annual revenue that might accrue to the Shakespeare estate were it in full control of his intellectual property and related brand identity; the conservative estimate was $15 million. That $15 million is, of course, only a small percentage of the annual revenue...

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2. Thomas Creede, William Barley, and the Venture of Printing Plays

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pp. 28-46

In the history of English theater, 1594 was either a year of momentous importance, changing London’s theatrical landscape forever, or not particularly noteworthy, a year that saw some companies rise to prominence and others vanish just as they had in the past and would in future years. While the...

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3. Wise Ventures: Shakespeare and Thomas Playfere at the Sign of the Angel

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pp. 47-62

According to one estimate, Thomas Playfere was “crackt in the headpeece, for the love of a wench as some say.” The description is not what one would expect of the prestigious Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, who soon after would begin preaching regularly at the court of James I, but...

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4. “Vnder the Handes of …”: Zachariah Pasfield and the Licensing of Playbooks

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pp. 63-94

So Henry Chettle describes his dealing with the manuscript and the preparation of printer’s copy and licensing of Robert Greene’s Groats-worth of Wit (1592) in “To the Gentlemen Readers,” in Chettle’s Kind-harts dreame of probably 1593 (STC 5123). Licensed it might have been, but when Greene’s...

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5. Nicholas Ling’s Republican Hamlet (1603)

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pp. 95-111

Since the mid-1980s, historians have undertaken a broad reconsideration of the roots of the English Civil War. Dissatisfied with the assumption that a republican political temper emerged spontaneously in the late 1630s, that various social practices and customs kept sixteenth-century Englishmen from...

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6. Shakespeare the Stationer

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pp. 112-131

Did Shakespeare own his own playbooks? Although in an essay of this title Andrew Gurr is hesitant to answer “yes,” he nevertheless shows the strong likelihood that Edward Alleyn personally controlled a number of the dramatic manuscripts used by the Admiral’s Men—including many of...

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7. Edward Blount, the Herberts, and the First Folio

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pp. 132-146

Recent scholarship has helpfully shown how “ideological commitment was not the sole province of authors but also of printers-publishers,” thus qualifying the earlier assumption that “like the grocer and the goldsmith,” early modern stationers “were mainly interested in money.” This important shift in our...

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8. John Norton and the Politics of Shakespeare’s History Plays in Caroline England

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pp. 147-176

Shakespeare’s history plays have often been read with one eye looking forward to the reign of Charles I and the outbreak of the English Civil War in 1642. The first writer to make this move was John Milton in Eikonoklastes, published only nine months after the execution of Charles I in January 1649. Milton...

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9. Shakespeare’s Flop: John Waterson and The Two Noble Kinsmen

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pp. 177-196

The Two Noble Kinsmen is an oddball among Shakespeare’s printed plays. The 1634 first edition is the only Shakespearean playbook in which the Bard’s name appears on the title page alongside that of another playwright, John Fletcher. It is the only play now generally accepted as Shakespeare’s...

Appendix A: Shakespearean Publications, 1591–1640

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pp. 197-227

Appendix B: Selected Stationer Profiles

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pp. 229-305


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pp. 307-361

List of Contributors

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pp. 363-365


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pp. 367-374

E-ISBN-13: 9780812207385
E-ISBN-10: 0812207386
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812244540
Print-ISBN-10: 0812244540

Page Count: 376
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Material Texts
Series Editor Byline: Series Editors: Roger Chartier, Joseph Farrell, Anthony Grafton, Leah Price, Peter Stallybrass, Michael F. Suarez, S.J. See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 822017762
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Shakespeare's Stationers

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616 -- Bibliography.
  • Drama -- Publishing -- England -- History -- 16th century.
  • Drama -- Publishing -- England -- History -- 17th century
  • Transmission of texts.
  • Canon (Literature).
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