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Modern Shakespeare

Graham Bradshaw

21 April 1983
The Taming of the Shrew 
edited by H.J. Oliver.
Oxford, 248 pp., £9.50, September 1982, 0 19 812907 6
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Henry V 
edited by Gary Taylor.
Oxford, 330 pp., £9.50, September 1982, 0 19 812912 2
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Troilus and Cressida 
edited by Kenneth Muir.
Oxford, 205 pp., £9.50, September 1982, 0 19 812903 3
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Troilus and Cressida 
edited by Kenneth Palmer.
Methuen, 337 pp., £12.50, October 1982, 0 416 47680 5
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... great poem’s first couplet, and makes it harder to grasp the problematic relationship between God’s goodness and greatness. Where Shakespeare is concerned, such issues are especially vexing. As StanleyWells, the General Editor of the Oxford Shakespeare, engagingly remarks in the title essay of Modernising Shakespeare’s Spelling,* they drive an editor to ‘a state of impotent neurosis, or drink ...


Charles Nicholl: ‘The Shakespeare Circle’

18 May 2016
The Shakespeare Circle: An Alternative Biography 
edited by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells.
Cambridge, 358 pp., £18.99, October 2015, 978 1 107 69909 0
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... might similarly help us to feel closer to him. Its subtitle promises an ‘alternative biography’, and rather unexpectedly it goes a good way towards providing one. Edited by the unflagging team of StanleyWells and Paul Edmondson, the book is a remarkable collection of 25 essays, each focusing on a person or group of people known to Shakespeare, on the ways they related to him and influenced him, and ...
21 May 1987
William Shakespeare. The Complete Works: Original-Spelling Edition 
edited by Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor.
Oxford, 1456 pp., £75, February 1987, 9780198129196
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William Shakespeare: The Complete Works 
edited by Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor.
Oxford, 1432 pp., £25, October 1986, 0 19 812926 2
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... of scholars has been working hard for eight years to get it done quickly, done right, and done with the greatest possible display and novelty. One has to admire not only the industry of Professor Wells and his associates, but their flair for publicity, as evidenced by the enormous solemn fuss about the poem ‘Shall I die?’, now accorded an honoured place in their canon, and also by the ...
21 April 1988
William Shakespeare: A Textual Companion 
by Stanley Wells, Gary Taylor, John Jowett and William Montgomery.
Oxford, 671 pp., £60, February 1988, 0 19 812914 9
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Disowning Knowledge in Six Plays of Shakespeare 
by Stanley​ Cavell.
Cambridge, 226 pp., £25, January 1988, 0 521 33032 7
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A History of English Literature 
by Alastair Fowler.
Blackwell, 395 pp., £17.50, November 1987, 0 631 12731 3
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... price have been preferred to alternatives after due consideration; once a decision was made they stuck to it, except when, somewhere along the way, they changed their minds about Original Spelling. Stanley Cavell calls himself an amateur, which is modest, considering the celebrity of his Shakespeare essays, of which one, the long meditation on King Lear, has been on reading lists for twenty years ...
10 May 2007
William Shakespeare, Complete Works: The RSC Shakespeare 
edited by Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen.
Macmillan, 2486 pp., £30, April 2007, 978 0 230 00350 7
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... Moorish ambassador to Elizabeth I following preliminary page 64, a painting which hangs in the Shakespeare Institute and was long rumoured to have been the source for the cut of its former director StanleyWells’s beard; for some reason this picture looks slightly out of focus, as though seen through the wrong reading glasses). Macmillan’s accountants must be relying on the book selling in large ...


Michael Dibdin: Ulster Questions

21 April 1988
... tones of a British Telecom ad: ‘When God answers your prayers don’t forget to say thanks.’ Ulster churches disdain such tactics; they would no more think of second-guessing the Deity than StanleyWells would of paraphrasing Shakespeare. The result is that pure blasts of 17th-century English peal out amid the High Street mix, creating acute problems of harmonisation. John Julius Norwich ...


David Story: On Being a Twin

5 April 1984
... breakup of the ship. Thus the first-born would be Antipholus of Syracuse. But then Aegeon contradicts himself by describing Antipholus of Syracuse as ‘my youngest boy and yet my eldest care’. StanleyWells writes in the Penguin edition of the play, ‘the inconsistency with line 79 is probably a mere accident,’ but I disagree. It seems unlikely that Shakespeare would forget the order he ...

Ovid goes to Stratford

Michael Dobson: Shakespeare Myths

5 December 2013
Thirty Great Myths about Shakespeare 
by Laurie Maguire and Emma Smith.
Wiley-Blackwell, 216 pp., £14.99, December 2012, 978 0 470 65851 2
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... Shakespeare and the myths by which his reputation circulates in the world as some of us might like. (On myth 30, for instance, one would be better off turning to James Shapiro’s Contested Will, or StanleyWells and Paul Edmondson’s collection, Shakespeare beyond Doubt.)* Nevertheless it means that their book is always alert, memorable and to the point. Come to think of it, Thirty Great Myths about ...

And That Rug!

Michael Dobson: Images of Shakespeare

6 November 2003
Shakespeare’s Face: The Story behind the Newly Discovered Portrait 
by Stephanie Nolen.
Piatkus, 365 pp., £18.99, March 2003, 0 7499 2391 1
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Imagining Shakespeare: A History of Texts and Visions 
by Stephen Orgel.
Palgrave, 172 pp., £25, August 2003, 1 4039 1177 0
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Shakespeare in Art 
by Jane Martineau et al.
Merrell, 256 pp., £29.95, September 2003, 1 85894 229 2
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In Search of Shakespeare 
by Michael Wood.
BBC, 352 pp., £20, May 2003, 9780563534778
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... attractive collection of plays ever written has to have had the most attractive author, and a supposed picture of the writer’s daughter must be as interesting as the offspring of his Muse. Even StanleyWells, making the first star cameo appearance in Nolen’s book, seems to share this identification between the poetry and the portraiture, declaring that ‘a true picture of his face would make the ...

Brave as hell

John Kerrigan

21 June 1984
Enderby’s Dark Lady, or No End to Enderby 
by Anthony Burgess.
Hutchinson, 160 pp., £7.95, March 1984, 0 09 156050 0
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Shakespeare’s Sonnets: A Modern Edition 
edited by A.L. Rowse.
Macmillan, 311 pp., £20, March 1984, 0 333 36386 8
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... Jacobean text: ‘Will’ the woman’s vagina, ‘Will too boote’ her husband, and ‘Will in ouer-plus’ the ithyphallic poet. This argument, initially so appealing, collapsed under scrutiny. StanleyWells observed that Forman’s manuscript read ‘brave’ not ‘brown’, John Carey crisply noted that, if Emilia was Italian, Rosaline was French, and Mary Edmond established the true name of ...
23 August 2001
Author Unknown: On the Trail of Anonymous 
by Don Foster.
Macmillan, 340 pp., £14.99, April 2001, 0 333 78170 8
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... English Department secretary reply to the letter. When Foster finished the book, he submitted it, was turned down again, and pulled the same trick again, this time identifying the anonymous reader as StanleyWells. Foster wrote to Wells, without letting on how he had worked out who wrote the reader’s report, and Wells wrote back, thanking Foster for his letter and expressing surprise that his editor at ...


Andrew Gurr

6 February 1986
Forms of Attention 
by Frank Kermode.
Chicago, 93 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 226 43168 1
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Shakespeare: A Writer’s Progress 
by Philip Edwards.
Oxford, 204 pp., £12.50, January 1986, 0 19 219184 5
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Shakespeare’s Lost Play: ‘Edmund Ironside’ 
edited by Eric Sams.
Fourth Estate, 383 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 947795 95 2
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Such is my love: A Study of Shakespeare’s Sonnets 
by Joseph Pequigney.
Chicago, 249 pp., £16.95, October 1985, 0 226 65563 6
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Shakespeare Survey 38: An Annual Survey of Shakespearian Study and Production 
edited by Stanley Wells.
Cambridge, 262 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 521 32026 7
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The Subject of Tragedy: Identity and Difference in Renaissance Drama 
by Catherine Belsey.
Methuen, 253 pp., £13.95, September 1985, 0 416 32700 1
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... Like relics of the True Cross, there are said to be enough splinters to make an orchard from the mulberry tree planted by Shakespeare in his garden at New Place. The Shakespeare canon has excited nearly as much passion for tangible facts, however marginal to the true faith, as Holy Writ. Bits of venerated mulberry scattered around the world of believers are a salutary reminder that our passion for ...


John Sutherland

8 June 1995
Empire of Words: The Reign of the ‘OED’ 
by John Willinsky.
Princeton, 258 pp., £19.95, November 1994, 0 691 03719 1
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... materials and techniques. Such renovation raises sharp strategic and financial issues. How radical should the Press be? With the Oxford Shakespeare, they attempted a ground-up, total remodelling job. StanleyWells and Gary Taylor were recruited into the Press for a substantial portion of their scholarly careers. The expenditure must have been huge. The results, judging by reviews of the edition, may not ...

Father-Daughter Problems

Michael Dobson: Shakespeare’s Bad Daughters

8 May 2008
The Lodger: Shakespeare in Silver Street 
by Charles Nicholl.
Allen Lane, 378 pp., £20, November 2007, 978 0 7139 9890 0
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... to the court’s ‘interrogatories’ about how much money Christopher Mountjoy really promised as Mary’s dowry, and how much he promised to bequeath to her and her husband at his death. As StanleyWells summarises the affair in the general introduction to the Oxford edition of Shakespeare, ‘in 1604 Shakespeare was lodging in north London with a Huguenot family called Mountjoy; in 1612 he was ...
6 December 1979
... of Modernism with reaction, but in making a single exhibition of such disparate material the organisers have also managed to neutralise much of what they show. Buildings like those of Lubetkin or Wells Coates, for instance, were presented as solutions, not creations, and to suggest, as the exhibition must, that other conventions have equal validity undermines the fragile logic that supported their ...

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