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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: September ::
Re: Stationer's Register
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1829  Wednesday, 4 September 2002

[1]     From:   R. A. Cantrell <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 03 Sep 2002 10:01:25 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1819 Re: Stationer's Register

[2]     From:   Chris Whatmore <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 04 Sep 2002 15:08:11 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1819 Re: Stationer's Register


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           R. A. Cantrell <
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Date:           Tuesday, 03 Sep 2002 10:01:25 -0500
Subject: 13.1819 Re: Stationer's Register
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1819 Re: Stationer's Register

>In the circumstances, "ubiquitous"
>is probably justifiable hyperbole.

I guess I just don't know what ubiquitous means. I thought it meant
"found everywhere or omnipresent" and I've only found the article in the
Cox & Kastan (which I had to get through ILL). If the article appears in
other venues I'd like to know.

All the best,
R.A. Cantrell
<
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[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Whatmore <
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Date:           Wednesday, 04 Sep 2002 15:08:11 +0100
Subject: 13.1819 Re: Stationer's Register
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1819 Re: Stationer's Register

In response to two points raised by John Briggs:

>I would suggest that during the two boom
>periods publishers decided (not "randomly") to copy each other and cash
>in on a perceived (rather than real) demand for play texts (or tried to
>anticipate each other, which I suppose amounts to the same thing).  I am
>not happy about the idea of publicity, and am unclear about the role of
>acting companies in "releasing" texts.

I too have doubts about the advertising theory: then, as now, the pitch
for a printed play script would surely have been "you've seen the show,
now buy the book" - not "try the text before you buy the ticket". A more
likely scenario, I would suggest, is that playgoing was particularly
fashionable during the two periods in question, and publishers - ever
watchful of fashion - were responding in the only way they knew how. In
1594/5, a surge of interest would clearly have been triggered by the
post-plague reopening of the playhouses; in 1600/01, a rapid succession
of newsworthy events (the novelty of the Globe, the opening of the
Fortune, the establishment of Worcester's and Duke of York's, the
'relaunch' of Paul's Boys and the arrival of the Chapel Children at
Blackfriars) would presumably have had the same effect, re-energising
the theatre and its audience after the relative doldrums (indeed, the
threat of universal closure) surrounding the Isle of Dogs fiasco in
1597, and the loss in the same year of Burbage's Theatre as an
operational venue. In both cases, one could easily imagine the
publishers trying to cash in by offering the acting companies some kind
of option deal on their most popular play texts - and, given that the
companies were presumably investing in new venues, new properties and
new material at the time, one could also imagine them being grateful for
a bit of up-front income. The fact that the texts didn't sell very well
doesn't mean that the enthusiasm of the playgoing public wasn't genuine
- simply that it was driven more by fashion than by literary merit. (No
surprises there, then...)

>Francis Meres divides Shakespeare's plays (somewhat awkwardly)
>between comedies and tragedies.  At some point, therefore, between 1598
>and 1623 histories came to be recognised: does anyone know when that
>was?

Well, Polonius knew about "comedy, tragedy, history, pastoral" in
1600/01, but he was probably ahead of the game! The earliest official
reference to 'histories' that I've seen is in the licence issued to
Queen Anne's Men in 1609, as quoted in Andrew Gurr's Shakespearean
Stage:

"...to use and exercise the arte and faculty of playinge Comedies,
Tragedies, historyes, Enterludes, Moralles, Pastoralles, Stageplays and
suche other like..."

Chris Whatmore

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