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Shakespeare in Company$
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Bart van Es

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199569311

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199569311.001.0001

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The working conditions of the playwright

The working conditions of the playwright

(p.37) 2 The working conditions of the playwright
Shakespeare in Company

Bart van Es

Oxford University Press

Having argued that Shakespeare’s early style is closely comparable to that of fellow professional dramatists, the book continues, in Chapter 2, with the claim that this also applies to the conditions under which he worked. This chapter describes the common patterns of employment for playwrights in the early 1590s. Such authors could be well paid, but they had no long-term financial or dramatic connection with their playtexts. The chapter disputes revisionist accounts that describe the culture of the early modern theatrical marketplace as cooperative. It also presents evidence that Shakespeare’s position as a freelance playwright in the years 1592 to 1594 was very similar to that of men such as Greene, Marlowe, and Peele. Overall, it contends that the infamous pamphlet Greenes Groatworth of Wit should not be read as evidence that Shakespeare was an outsider to the circle of playwrights; it shows instead that he was an esteemed and increasingly established figure within that group.

Keywords:   working conditions, playtext, Greene, playwrights, financial, Groatsworth

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