The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1341 Thursday, 18 August 2005
Date: Thursday, 18 Aug 2005 14:16:19 +1200
Subject: 16.1329 1 Richard II
Comment: Re: SHK 16.1329 1 Richard II
Michael Egan writes (his sentence, his syntax): "I challenge him to
explain how he reconciles his claim that Rowley wrote the play ca. 1610
(Jackson, op. cit. p. 55) but the same play was actually written ca.
1595, as he asserts in his recent book Defining Shakespeare (2003), p. 46."
The opus cited is "Shakespeare's Richard II and the Anonymous Thomas of
Woodstock," Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England, 14 (2002), 17-65.
In fact I don't on p. 55 of my article, or anywhere else in it, "claim
that Rowley wrote the play c. 1610." On p. 55 I say, in relation to one
well-known parallel between Richard II and Woodstock, that "The theory
that Shakespeare was creditor, not borrower, . . . permits Rowley or
another to have both attended performances of Richard II and read it in
the Quarto of 1597, in one of the two reprints of 1598, or conceivably
in the Quarto of 1608, which first printed the deposition scene." The
word "conceivably" there implies that I think the alternatives more
likely. My article does put forward evidence that Woodstock was composed
in the first decade of the seventeenth century, but I don't claim to
know exactly when. I do say (p. 45) that "if Samuel Rowley wrote
Woodstock, he almost certainly did so sometime after 1604, when he
evidently composed When You See Me." I think that I make out a very
strong case for the seventeenth-century dating and a less strong but
still solid case for Rowley's authorship.
And I don't "assert" in Defining Shakespeare, p. 46 that Woodstock was
"written ca. 1595". I merely quote a letter I addressed to Eliot Slater
in 1982, in which I listed "the anonymous Woodstock" among
"non-Shakespearian history plays of around 1590" that might, if
investigated by his methods of using rare vocabulary for purposes of
dating and attribution, complicate his interpretation of some of his
results in relation to Edward III. Twenty years before publishing my
article on Woodstock I accepted the current orthodoxy about its date.
It's hardly inconsistent of me to come to doubt it, and to do the
research that resulted in my MaRDiE article.
I'm quite happy to leave readers to be convinced or unconvinced by that
article. Anybody who wants to know what it actually claims, and on what
grounds, should read it. They'll get a very odd idea of it, if they rely
on Michael's website account. He calls it "new historicist". He must
have got this bizarre notion from my final sentences. After quoting
Margot Heinemann's characterization of Woodstock as "in some ways the
boldest and most subversive of all Elizabethan historical plays," I
comment: "But it is not Elizabethan. If we are to read it in new
historicist ways, we must place it, for the first time, within its
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