Not Just a Translator: Extraordinary Praise for Originality and Quality of North’s Writing

Nineteenth and early twentieth century scholars studying Thomas North’s translation of Plutarch’s Lives were often effusive in their praise of both the originality and quality of North’s prose. They noted that North frequently veered from the original foreign text he was translating in order to rework it into his own masterful style–punching up speeches, embellishingContinue reading “Not Just a Translator: Extraordinary Praise for Originality and Quality of North’s Writing”

Contemporary Praise for North as Tragedian and Records Documenting North as Playwright

Multiple records confirm Thomas North began writing plays early, starting at Lincoln’s Inn, and continued to do so throughout his life. By 1560, the year North turned 25, Jasper Heywood placed him at the top of a list of the best tragedians at the Inns of Court. Records also confirm he continued writing plays, mostlyContinue reading “Contemporary Praise for North as Tragedian and Records Documenting North as Playwright”

Did Shakespeare Really Adapt Old Plays? (YES! And No-One Denies This!)

As all Shakespeare source-scholars agree, and as umpteen pre-Shakespeare allusions to these earlier plays confirm, and as the first title pages of Shakespeare’s plays make clear, and as Shakespeare’s contemporaries frequently complained: Shakespeare remade old plays. This is not controversial. Yet while this is a fact that few experts deny, it still appears to beContinue reading “Did Shakespeare Really Adapt Old Plays? (YES! And No-One Denies This!)”

What About The Title Pages? (They Also Prove Shakespeare Adapted The Plays!)

When Shakespeare died in 1616, the majority of his plays still remained unpublished –and many of the plays that had been published while he was alive and with his name on the title pages are today considered either apocryphal (e.g., Sir John Oldcastle, The London Prodigal, A Yorkshire Tragedy) or a “bad quarto” (i.e. aContinue reading “What About The Title Pages? (They Also Prove Shakespeare Adapted The Plays!)”

Why Wasn’t This Discovered Till Now?

The short answer is: 21st century digital technologies. Before the advent of literary databases, like Google Books and Early English Books Online, and new computer tools, like plagiarism software, this discovery could never have been made. In the past a scholar wanting to read certain books or manuscripts might have to pack a suitcase andContinue reading “Why Wasn’t This Discovered Till Now?”

Wouldn’t Someone Have Complained That Shakespeare’s Used Old Plays? (They Did!)

Another question I often hear is: “Why didn’t anyone complain about this? Why didn’t people at the time mention that Shakespeare was just working from old plays?” I always respond that many people did complain about it—and many of these complaints are well known. Literary insiders repeatedly bemoaned the fact that Shakespeare was getting tooContinue reading “Wouldn’t Someone Have Complained That Shakespeare’s Used Old Plays? (They Did!)”

Why Didn’t North Publish His Plays?

“Why would anyone write an Othello or a Macbeth and then not publish them so they could get credit for them and people could read them?” This is perhaps the most common question that I hear, and it is an excellent one. I typically respond that Shakespeare never published the majority of his plays eitherContinue reading “Why Didn’t North Publish His Plays?”