Spenser and Shakespeare: Bards of a feather?

Maley, W. (2020) Spenser and Shakespeare: Bards of a feather? In: Loughnane, R. and Power, A. J. (eds.) Early Shakespeare, 1588-1594. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, pp. 180-199. ISBN 9781108495240 (doi:10.1017/9781108861748.009)

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This chapter examines the latticework of links between Shakespeare and Spenser, sifting the available evidence to establish key points of contact within the Irish colonial context. It tells a tale of two writers, one who goes to London to become poet and playwright, the other to Dublin with dreams of a dramatic career, where he finds his theatre of worldlings is a theatre of war. If Spenser’s influence on Shakespeare, especially early Shakespeare, is seldom discussed, Shakespeare’s influence on Spenser remains an even more neglected topic. Shifting from an Anglocentric to an Anglo-Irish focus aids our understanding of the creative context from which Shakespeare took wing. Spenser is crucial here, since that poet’s Irish residence necessitates a broadening of horizons, and he is viewed as part of a recognizable circle. Shakespeare was a lifelong co-author and collaborator influenced by several of Spenser’s Irish contemporaries – Lodowick Bryskett, Geoffrey Fenton, Barnabe Googe, Thomas North, Barnaby Rich, and Petruccio Ubaldini – yet he is more often read in isolation. These writers and translators, part of an expansive English literary circle in Ireland, offer a rich resource for understanding and enhancing the ‘Shakespeare Circle’ that has recently received some critical attention, albeit within a restricted English milieu. From the Spenser-Harvey correspondence and the early histories onwards, this study tracks the collaborative underpinnings of both writers’ work, charting their influences from a shared reliance on Holinshed to a common concern with innovation in form and genre.

Item Type:Book Sections
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Maley, Professor Willy
Authors: Maley, W.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 Cambridge University Press
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher
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