What is or isn’t Shakespeare?

Reviewing my book The Struggle for Shakespeare’s Text, Barbara Mowat (Shakespeare Quarterly 63 [2012]: 431–35) criticizes me for writing as if “there is no longer any question that Shakespeare is the author of the Hand D section of Sir Thomas More” and for claiming “without qualification or citation, that ‘Measure for Measure as we know it was an adaptation by Thomas Middleton in the early 1620s’” (435).

I’d be interested to know what readers of this forum think about these two topics. Regarding Hand D, the overwhelming evidence for its being Shakespeare’s composition is usefully summarized in John Jowett’s new Arden3 edition of Sir Thomas More.[i] (Jowett’s edition was published later than my book but pulls together the same set of articles—especially those by MacDonald P. Jackson and Hugh Craig—that have convinced me that we need no longer be tentative on this point.

On Measure for Measure being a Middletonian adaptation, I was first persuaded by John Jowett and Gary Taylor’s book Shakespeare Reshaped; I am now wholly convinced by Gary Taylor and John Lavagnino’s Collected Works of Middleton for Oxford University Press, especially the “Canon and Chronology” section of the accompanying Textual Companion on this play.[ii] Again, I’d be interested if anyone familiar with this scholarship thinks that it leaves open any possibility for doubt about Middleton’s role in adapting the play, and if so just where they see that doubt operating.

—Gabriel Egan

De Montfort University, Leicester, UK


[i] Anthony Munday and Henry Chettle, Sir Thomas More, ed. John Jowett (London: Methuen Drama, 2011), 437–53.

[ii] See John Jowett and Gary Taylor, Shakespeare Reshaped: 1606–1623 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993); Gary Taylor and John Lavagnino, gen. eds., Thomas Middleton: The Collected Works(New York: Oxford UP, 2007); and Gary Taylor and John Lavagnino, gen. eds., Thomas Middleton and Early Modern Textual Culture: A Companion to the Collected Works (New York: Oxford UP, 2007), 417–21.