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INTRODUCTION

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 September 2010

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Summary

Questions concerning the text of this play and the date of its first production will be treated in their proper place. It is enough to say here of the text that none is discoverable earlier than the 1623 Folio, and indeed this was probably its first appearance in print, if we may guess so much from the fact that the licence granted to the printer specifies ‘soe manie of the said copyes as are not formerly entred to other men,’ and Twelfth Night is one of these. For the date: It is not mentioned in Meres' list, of 1598: but it is mentioned in a diary discovered either by Collier or by Hunter among the Harleian MSS in the British Museum. Collier first published it in 1831, but it was Hunter who identified the diarist as one John Manningham, barrister of the Middle Temple. The entries extend, with gaps, from Christmas 1601 to April 14, 1603, and under ‘Febr. 1601’ occurs the following:

Feb. 2.–At our feast wee had a play called Twelue night or what you will. much like the commedy of errores or Menechmi in Plautus, but most like and neere to that in Italian called Inganni a good practise in it to make the steward beleeue his Lady widdowe was in Loue with him by counterfayting a lettre, as from his Lady, in generall termes, telling him what shee liked best in him, and prescribing his gesture in smiling his apparraile etc. […]

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Twelfth Night
The Cambridge Dover Wilson Shakespeare
, pp. vii - xxviii
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2009
First published in: 1930

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