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TOPIC: Background information (Two Noble Kinsmen)

Background information (Two Noble Kinsmen) 9 years 10 months ago #151

  • William Shakespeare
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The principal edition of The Two Noble Kinsmen is the 1634 quarto published by John Waterson. All other subsequent editions of the play can be shown to have been derived from this one.

he Two Noble Kinsmen was the first published in 1634 in quarto format although it is generally thought to have been written sometime around 1613. The title page ascribes the play to "the memorable Worthies of their time; Mr. John Fletcher, and Mr. William Shakspeare" and most modern critics accept this ascription at face value. That the play was excluded from the 1623 Shakespeare first folio has been used by some critics to dispute Shakespeare's role in the play's composition, however, Pericles was also excluded from the first folio and Troilus and Cressida was only included in some editions, having been stitched into the binding between Henry VIII and Coriolanus and is subsequently absent from the title pages of those editions. Nor was the play present in the first Beaumont and Fletcher folio of 1647 as it only included previously unpublished plays. However, when the second Beaumont and Fletcher folio was published in 1679 an additional eighteen plays were included, The Two Noble Kinsmen being one of these.

The play has appeared in all subsequent B&F collected editions. It was not included in a complete Shakespeare edition until 1841 (The Pictorial Shakespeare) and after that only appeared sporadically as a Shakespeare play in the nineteenth century. This situation slowly changed during the twentieth century to the result that it currently appears in all of the major modern collections of Shakespeare's works: the Oxford, Riverside, Arden, Norton, Cambridge, and Penguin editions, though curiously enough not the new Pelican Shakespeare. Apparently this is primarily due to the poor sales of the Penguin edition of 1977.

It is interesting to note that of all the single edition versions of the play in the twentieth century, only one, the Regents Renaissance Drama edition (ed. Richard Proudfoot 1970), bears both the names of Shakespeare and Fletcher on the edition's front cover. Even the excellent new audio recording of the play (Penguin: Arkangel Shakespeare, ISBN 0140868968) announces the play as "by William Shakespeare." Such decisions no doubt have more to do with publishing and sales than they have to do with the practices of editing, yet they still have an effect on how the play is perceived by potential readers.

Drew Whitehead
Last Edit: 4 years 6 months ago by William Shakespeare.
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