Happy Birthday, William Shakespeare!

Posted by Whitney Feininger – Assistant Acquisitions Editor for Ashgate

Today is Shakespeare’s birthday – or at least when it is celebrated. According to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Shakespeare’s baptism is recorded on April 26, 1564 at the Stratford Holy Trinity Church, and his birthday is accepted to be April 23.

The titles in Ashgate’s Shakespeare list cover all aspects of the bard and his life – from Italian sources in his plays to eighteenth-century performance to contemporary stagings by indigenous groups. Two of our recent books offer a glimpse into Shakespeare’s early career and participation in the London theater.

Shakespeare’s Companies, by Terence Schoone-Jongen, considers Shakespeare’s involvement with the various London acting companies before his membership in the Lord Chamberlain’s Men in 1594.  Full chapters are devoted to four specific acting companies—The Queen’s Men, Strange’s Men, Pembroke’s Men, and Sussex’s Men—and their activities, and a summary and critique of the arguments for Shakespeare’s involvement in them. Shakespeare’s Companies opens up twenty years of theatrical activity to inquiry and investigation while also providing a critique of Shakespearean biographers and their historical methodologies.

Locating the Queen’s Men, edited by Helen Ostovich, Holger Schott Syme and Andrew Griffin, takes an innovative look at The Queen’s Men. Founded by Queen Elizabeth in 1583, this troupe quickly became the most prominent acting company in 1580s London. The essays collected in this volume focus on playing spaces, repertory, play-types, and performance style. While the relationship between the Queen’s Men and Shakespeare – and Shakespeare’s membership in the company – remains unclear, this volume consider the elements of the company’s distinctive style, and how this style may have influenced Shakespeare’s history plays.

Locating the Queen’s Men is as exciting for the kind of work that it should inspire in the future as it is for the work that it performs on the past.”   Renaissance Quarterly

Both Locating the Queen’s Men and Shakespeare’s Companies are part of the Ashgate series Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama.

More about these acting companies can be found at McMaster University’s “Performing the Queen’s Men” page  and the University of Toronto’s Records of Early English Drama (REED) page.

Ashgate’s early modern and Shakespeare titles can be found here.

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