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John Milton's Shakespeare & the history of reading plays

May's Research Conversation

Ordinary & extraordinary: John Milton's Shakespeare and the history of reading plays

Join us on Wednesday 12 May for our free online monthly Research Conversation. Taking place on Zoom on the second Wednesday of every month, our Research Conversations provide you with the opportunity to attend free, online live sessions and listen to people who are engaged in Shakespeare-related research.

In 1623 John Heminges and Henry Condell assured potential buyers of the large, expensive volume now known as the First Folio that Shakespeare’s plays would bear reading “and againe, and againe.” The poet John Milton did just that: he annotated and marked his copy of the First Folio, now at the Free Library of Philadelphia, over a period of many years, leaving on its pages traces of both reading and re-reading.

Claire M. L. Bourne and Jason Scott-Warren discuss whether Milton was an exemplary or exceptional early reader of Shakespeare—and of early modern plays, more generally. How were commercial theatre plays, initially conceived of for live performance, transformed into books fit for reading? How did England’s earliest play-readers interact with plays as texts? And how do we—readers of these plays ourselves— make sense of the exciting, eccentric, incomplete, ghostly, and yet often inscrutable vestiges of playbook reading and use?

Led by Claire M. L. Bourne, Assistant Professor of English Pennsylvania State University, with Dr Jason Scott-Warren, Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge.

The event begins with a thirty minute presentation and will be followed by an open discussion.


Book online for your free place.

All of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust's Research Conversations are free, but we encourage donations in order to support our work and keep Shakespeare's story alive.


This event is part of a special US season of Research Conversations between April and June. We are grateful to the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington D.C who has recommended three guest-speakers for this series, and the American Friends of The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust for their support.

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