One of the most fascinating items of Samuel Blumenfeld's The Marlowe-Shakespeare Connection: A New Study of the Authorship Question involves the London stationer Edward Blount, close friend and executor to playwright Christopher Marlowe. According to Blumenfeld, after Shakespeare died in 1616, "[h]is will did not mention a single play, or poem, or any unfinished literary work or manuscript of any kind. Yet, Blount was able to assemble thirty-six plays, twenty of which had never been published before." The result is Shakespeare's First Folio, printed in 1623, with Blount as the prime mover of the project. "If it wasn't for the First Folio," writes Blumenfeld, "Shakespeare's name would have probably fallen into total obscurity." As Blumenfeld astutely questions regarding the collection, where did Blount find all the plays? Also, who edited and rewrote them? And how did Blount know that all 36 plays were written by the same person when only nine of the plays prior to 1623 bore Shakespeare's name?
Blumenfeld's book raises other intriguing questions.
Was Edward Blount the middle man between genius playwright/secret agent/and supposedly dead Christopher Marlowe and the actor William Shakespeare? Did Shakespeare make a deal with Marlowe's handlers to be the authorial frontman of Marlowe's works after Marlowe's staged death? Did Christopher Marlowe, in fact, edit his own plays in the First Folio?
Funny how Marlowe's close friend and executor publishes Shakespeare's First Folio. Coincidence? And funny how Shakespeare's death in 1616, according to Blumenfeld, "was not acknowledged by anyone in the literary world."
© The Marlowe-Shakespeare Connection, June 2008
See Sam on YouTube discussing Edward Blount.
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