Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

The first collected “Shakespeare Apocrypha”

Kirwan, Peter

The first collected “Shakespeare Apocrypha” Thumbnail


Peter Kirwan


The anonymous plays Mucedorus, The Merry Devil of Edmonton, and Fair Em derive their spurious attribution to Shakespeare from a volume entitled "Shakespeare Vol. 1" that once belonged to David Garrick. Despite its significance, this volume has not been studied for over two hundred years. This note corrects two longstanding errors concerning the volume's provenance and constitution, dating it to the 1630s and revealing that the volume contained eight plays, rather than the three usually assumed. Drawing out the implications of this information, Kirwan argues that the volume thus represents the first attempt to compile a volume of Shakespearean dubitanda. Situating the volume between the Pavier project and the Chetwynd Third Folio, he suggests that it implies an earlier and more sustained period of instability in the formation of the Shakespeare canon than is usually believed, and that even before the closure of the theatres, perceptions of the constitution of the Shakespeare canon were already unfixed.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 1, 2011
Publication Date Jan 1, 2011
Deposit Date Oct 14, 2016
Publicly Available Date Oct 14, 2016
Journal Shakespeare Quarterly
Print ISSN 0037-3222
Electronic ISSN 1538-3555
Publisher Johns Hopkins University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 62
Issue 4
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Copyright © 2011 The Johns Hopkins University Press. This article first appeared in Shakespeare Quarterly 62:4 (2011), 594-601. Reprinted with permission by Johns Hopkins University Press.


Downloadable Citations