Shakespeare Anthologised

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)


In the twenty-first century, ‘‘Shakespeare’’ is not only an English cultural icon but shares some of the characteristics of a powerful global brand. This chapter shows the surprising but important role that the many books of quotations and extracts from Shakespeare’s works, published from within his own lifetime to the present day, have played in establishing that status. It argues that these anthologies have not simply reflected Shakespeare’s growing status, but actively helped to construct it. The seemingly inherent qualities for which Shakespeare is now admired – the beauty of his language, his wise understanding of human nature, his Englishness – are all qualities that the anthology has served to attach to Shakespeare over the years by the process of selection. In other words, by selecting what they consider to be beautiful or moral or valuable pieces from Shakespeare, anthologists over the years have conferred value and significance not only on those chosen pieces, but, by implication, on the whole of Shakespeare’s work, and, crucially on ‘‘Shakespeare’’ himself. Crucially, they do not simply provide ‘‘access’’ to Shakespeare for those who might not normally encounter his plays on stage and page, but give all of their readers a language with which to value him.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Edinburgh Companion to Shakespeare and the Arts
EditorsMark Thornton Burnett, Adrian Streete, Ramona Wray
Place of PublicationEdinburgh
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
Number of pages107
ISBN (Print)978 0 74863523 8
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Shakespeare
  • reception
  • anthology
  • quotation
  • commonplace
  • education


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