Shakespeare, W - Much Ado About Nothing (Arden, 2006).pdf

It has been conjectured that the sale of these plays

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It has been conjectured that the sale of these plays was occasioned by the move into the Globe theatre in 1599-1600, which would have required capital and publicity, or that the Privy Council's limitation, on 22 June 1600, of the number of London theatres to two, and restriction of their performances to twice a week, imposed a similar fundraising exigency. 2 1 As You Like It did not see print until the 1623 Folio, Jonson's Every Man in His Humour appeared in 1601, and Henry J 7 was published in an inferior text in 1600. 2 Taylor, 'Introduction', 86; Acts, 395-8; Blayney, 386; Erne, 115-28, offers another view. 126
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Introduction The next record of Much Ado\ existence occurs nineteen days later, on 23 August, when the Register records: Andrewe Wyse Willm Aspley Entred for their copies vnder the / hand[e]s of the wardens. Twoo book[e]s. the one called: Muche a Doo / about nothinge. Thother the second p[ar]te of the history of kinge henry / the iiij th w th the humo r s of S r Iohn ffallstaff': Wrytten by mr Shakespere / xij d (Greg, vol. 1,274) Later that year both quartos duly appeared, printed for the pub- lishers Wise and Aspley by Valentine Simmes, who also printed several other Shakespeare quartos around this time (the title-page for Much Ado reuses type set for the quarto of 2 Henry IV). The title-page reads: [Ornament] Much adoe about / Nothing. / As it hath been sundrie times publikely / acted by the right honourable, the Lord / Chamberlaine his seruants. / Written by William Shakespeare. / [Ornament] / LONDON / Printed by V. S. for Andrew Wise, and / William Aspley. / 1600. Here, then, is our first and, as it turns out, most authoritative text: identified as a record of a play whose calling card was its perform- ance on more than one occasion by the most prominent playing company in London. (The name of the author was likely, as listed, to be a selling point of only secondary or recent importance, and indeed the entry of 23 August is the first time Shakespeare's name appears in the Register, though plays had been printed with his name since 1598 (Arber, 2.170).) We can conclude from other sources that the play was a relatively fresh item, in addition to being presented as a popular and prestigious one. Much Ado is not mentioned in the survey of notable works of English writers, entitled Palladis Tamia, compiled by Francis Meres and registered in 1598, which means either that Meres overlooked it or that it postdates the composition 127
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Introduction of his (otherwise quite up-to-date) list. ' As for a terminal date of composition, we know from the Quarto speech prefixes referring to the clown Will Kemp (designated to play Dogberry) that the play must have been performed (or been intended to be performed) prior to early 1599, when Kemp left the Chamberlain's company to embark on his marathon jig to Norwich. Perhaps a more intuitively conclusive if less objective measure is provided by stylistic patterns, which locate Much Ado in a prosy phase, on the heels of 1 and 2 Henry 7K(1596—8) and in the vicinity of Merry Wives ( 1597-1600).
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