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What is the current thought about the extent to which collaboration can be identified in the Shakespeare canon?


Taylor: Shakespeare was a star, but he was also a team player. He formed temporary partnerships with other professional playwrights to work on specific projects. Elizabethan professions were normally based on an apprenticeship system, so at the beginning of his career Shakespeare worked with older, more experienced, better educated authors. For instance he teamed up with George Peele to write Titus Andronicus. Peele got the ball rolling; Shakespeare ran with it. At least three different writers got together to produce Henry VI Part I: Thomas Nashe, Christopher Marlowe and Shakespeare.

When he got older, Shakespeare himself became the veteran, teaching his trade to promising younger men. He paired with Thomas Middleton on Timon of Athens, with George Wilkins on Pericles, with John Fletcher on Cardenio, All is True and The Two Noble Kinsmen. After his death, Shakespeare’s company commissioned Thomas Middleton to update two of Shakespeare’s plays: Macbeth and Measure for Measure. None of Shakespeare’s plays is the product of an isolated genius.

Gary Taylor

Gary Taylor

Gary Taylor has edited the works of Shakespeare and of Thomas Middleton for Oxford University Press.

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