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Shakespeare and the Book Trade
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Book description

Shakespeare and the Book Trade follows on from Lukas Erne's groundbreaking Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist to examine the publication, constitution, dissemination and reception of Shakespeare's printed plays and poems in his own time and to argue that their popularity in the book trade has been greatly underestimated. Erne uses evidence from Shakespeare's publishers and the printed works to show that in the final years of the sixteenth century and the early part of the seventeenth century, 'Shakespeare' became a name from which money could be made, a book trade commodity in which publishers had significant investments and an author who was bought, read, excerpted and collected on a surprising scale. Erne argues that Shakespeare, far from indifferent to his popularity in print, was an interested and complicit witness to his rise as a print-published author. Thanks to the book trade, Shakespeare's authorial ambition started to become bibliographic reality during his lifetime.


'An admirable amount of original research has gone into [this] study, making it of use to a wide array of readers. With Shakespeare and the Book Trade, Lukas Erne manages to do that most coveted of things: he has written another book that everyone must read.'

Patrick Cheney - Pennsylvania State University

'Lukas Erne's follow-up volume to Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist always promised to be an exciting and challenging piece of scholarship. That promise is fully realised here. Shakespeare and the Book Trade is an engaging, intelligent, detailed and masterful study, which will serve as a standard reference work for years to come.'

Andrew Murphy Source: University of St Andrews

'Erne marshals a mass of evidence which shows that Shakespeare's plays were widely read before 1600 … his writing is clear, calm, well-mannered [and] procedurally thorough.'

Source: The Tablet

'Clearly argued, with plenty of supporting evidence and written in an elegant and eminently reasonable style.'

Source: The Times Literary Supplement

'In a book that is a companion to his highly influential study Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist, Erne presents a Shakespeare entirely preeminent among his contemporaries … Shakespeare and the Book Trade powerfully asserts that Shakespeare was as successful in the printing house as in the playhouse.'

Source: Quarto

'… [an] impressive collocation of facts about Shakespeare's presence in print during and shortly after his lifetime … So thorough is Erne's research here that this study has claims on being, like the work of Chambers and Schoenbaum, central to research in the field.'

Source: Comparative Drama

'… the first work to make a broad study of Shakespeare's presence in the book trade during his life and his own utilization of the trade … a must-read for anyone interested in Shakespeare.'

Source: CILIP Rare Books Newsletter

'Shakespeare and the Book Trade advances our understanding of its subject at every turn.'

Paul Dean Source: English Studies

‘A valuable reference work for scholars and students of Shakespeare, early modern drama, and book history.'

Claire M. L. Bourne Source: SHARP News

'Shakespeare and the Book Trade provides a comprehensive picture of Shakespeare's enduring popularity. This highly influential analysis will be of particular interest to scholars of the early modern book trade, early modern printed drama and, of course, scholars seeking to study Shakespeare within the material, cultural, and monetary contexts of his own time.'

Andie Silva Source: The Sixteenth Century Journal

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