Double Falsehood – Part 1

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For the first time since its inception in the late 19th century, the Arden Shakespeare, now in its third edition, has published a play not written by the dramatist from whom it derives its name, but rather an adaptation of a play attributed to him – and a lost one to boot. Double Falsehood; or, the Distressed Lovers, was prepared for production at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London where it was first performed on 13 December 1727, and was subsequently published by its adapter, Louis Theobald, weeks later in January. The title-page of the 1728 edition says it was originally written by W. SHAKESPEARE. Click here to see the title page of the 1728 edition.

The publication of the play in the Arden Shakespeare series marks a revolutionary moment in the field of Shakespeare studies not only because it changes our notion of canonicity and what we call Shakespeare, but it also provides a precedent and rationalization for the publication of other adaptations of Shakespeare, in a modern critical edition, under Shakespeare’s name. The Shakespeare canon, then, is no longer concerned with just what Shakespeare may have had a hand in, but what is or might be Shakespearean. The implications of the publication of a play like this are manifold, and we are lucky to be having Professor Brean Hammond in conversation with Professor Stanley on Friday, 16 July who will be doing their best to discuss them all. Joining the discussion will be Gregory Doran, the RSC’s Chief Associate Director, who is working on his own version of Cardenio for performance.

The event will be in the Shakespeare Centre at 1pm.

The University of Nottingham produced a podcast that provides a brief summary of the controversy that might act as a trailer for the event this Friday at the Birthplace Trust. Before attending, click here and have a look at it.

Double Falsehood is published by Arden Shakespeare, priced £16.99. Copies are available from the Shakespeare Bookshop and will be on sale at the event – alongside the panellists’ latest books – at a special discounted price. A book signing will follow the event.

Part 2 of this blog will be posted next week which will contain an exclusive video interview with Professor Brean Hammond, editor of the Arden edition of the play. Stay tuned!

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