Texts and contexts : Shakespeare and verse in the eighteenth century.
This study is an examination of eighteenth-century verses
which employ Shakespeare and his work for reference, allusion
or quotation. It suggests that they are valuable documents of
cultural history which reflect and instigate changes in
reception and perception, create images, spread knowledge, and
establish a popular and enduring language to describe
Shakespeare and his skills.
It begins with an overview of eighteenth-century cultural
taxonomies pointing to the use of Shakespeare's plays in the
genre, the absence of his poems, and the exclusion of verse
about him. Verses are then discussed in the contexts of
editions of Shakespeare's collected works, the theatre, the
1769 Stratford Shakespeare Jubilee, and the development of
women's writing. The final chapter considers alternative forms
of classification which have been implicit in earlier sections
nature, the use of Shakespearian characters and text,
parody, and the work of the Warwickshire Coterie - before
concluding with a quantitative summation of the material and an
assessment of its significance and effect.
Two Directories, arranged alphabetically by author, are
provided at the end of the study and list over six-hundred
'Shakespearian' verses and two-hundred supplementary pieces
which have informed the research.