May 16, 2012

In 1727, Lewis Theobald, himself a Shakespearean editor, published The Double Falsehood, a play he claimed was “Written Originally by W. Shakespeare” and that he merely “Revised.” Scholars still debate whether this is a revision or a forgery. The play is based on the “Cardenio” episode in Cervantes’s Don Quixote; a lost play, Cardenio, was in fact performed by Shakespeare’s acting company in 1613, and attributed to Shakespeare and John Fletcher by a publisher in 1653, two factsTheobald seems unlikely to have known.

Double falshood; or, The distrest lovers (London, 1728).  From the collections of the Beinecke Library, Yale University.  Call number:  Ik D744 728

And modern playwrights and authors continue to wrestle in various ways with the specter of Shakespeare, often producing works original and consequential in their own right. In A Room of One’s Own (1929), Virginia Woolf imagines the fortunes of Shakespeare’s hypothetical sister, Judith, possessed of equal talent and imagination but encountering an entirely different set of social circumstances and expectations. For Woolf, as for many, Shakespeare could also and perhaps primarily be understood as the measure of what was not possible, what could not be had.

Virginia Woolf, A room of one’s own (London: at the Hogarth Press, 1929).  From the collections of the Beinecke Library, Yale University.   Call number: 1975 2236

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s