30 Great Myths About Shakespeare

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2013-01-22
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
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Supplemental Materials

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  • The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.


This book addresses common myths and misconceptions about Shakespeare and his works offering authoritative, up-to-date and even-handed treatments of controversies and scholarly disagreements. The authors evaluate evidence for and against myths to show how historical material - and the lack of it - can be interpreted and misinterpreted, and what this reveals about our own personal investment in the stories we tell about Englands national poet.

Author Biography

Laurie Maguire is Professor of English at the University of Oxford, tutorial fellow at Magdalen College, and the author or editor of seven books. She is a regular theater reviewer for the TLS and has lectured widely across the UK and the USA.

Emma Smith is tutorial fellow at Hertford College, Oxford. She is the author or editor of six books, a regular reviewer for the TLS, and has lectured widely across the UK and the USA.

The authors have previously collaborated together on articles on Middleton and Shakespeare and on graduate courses at the University of Oxford.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Myth 1 Shakespeare was the most popular writer of his time 6

Myth 2 Shakespeare was not well educated 11

Myth 3 Shakespeare’s plays should be performed in Elizabethan dress 18

Myth 4 Shakespeare was not interested in having his plays printed 26

Myth 5 Shakespeare never traveled 34

Myth 6 Shakespeare’s plays are politically incorrect 40

Myth 7 Shakespeare was a Catholic 47

Myth 8 Shakespeare’s plays had no scenery 54

Myth 9 Shakespeare’s tragedies are more serious than his comedies 60

Myth 10 Shakespeare hated his wife 66

Myth 11 Shakespeare wrote in the rhythms of everyday speech 72

Myth 12 Hamlet was named after Shakespeare’s son 80

Myth 13 The coarse bits of Shakespeare are for the groundlings; the philosophy is for the upper classes 86

Myth 14 Shakespeare was a Stratford playwright 94

Myth 15 Shakespeare was a plagiarist 99

Myth 16 We don’t know much about Shakespeare’s life 106

Myth 17 Shakespeare wrote alone 113

Myth 18 Shakespeare’s sonnets are autobiographical 119

Myth 19 If Shakespeare were writing now, he’d be writing forHollywood 125

Myth 20 The Tempest was Shakespeare’s farewell to the stage 130

Myth 21 Shakespeare had a huge vocabulary 137

Myth 22 Shakespeare’s plays are timeless 143

Myth 23 Macbeth is jinxed in the theater 150

Myth 24 Shakespeare did not revise his plays 156

Myth 25 Boy actors played women’s roles 163

Myth 26 Shakespeare’s plays don’t work as movies 169

Myth 27 Yorick’s skull was real 175

Myth 28 Queen Elizabeth loved Shakespeare’s plays 183

Myth 29 Shakespeare’s characters are like real people 190

Myth 30 Shakespeare didn’t write Shakespeare 196

Coda 202

Further Reading 207

Index 211

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