Saturday, June 7, 2008

Who Was Edward Blount?

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.

Click here for the blog's home page and recent content.


Karen said...

Very interesting blog. I'm a big Shakespeare fan--and frankly--don't really care who wrote the plays/sonnets. I just enjoy the fact that they still exist. Although I do have a very silly fantasy about a blog 500 years from now asking the same questions about John Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora.

Anyway, I was surprised to see that Les Parapluies de Cherbourg was not on your French film list. It's one of the most beautiful films ever made and move me to tears every time I see it.

Anonymous said...

Where's Oliver Stone? Interesting points!

Craig said...

Blount did not assemble the plays; Shakespeare's fellow actors and sharers in the King's Men, Hemings and Condell, did. That's why they, not Blount, wrote the introduction in the Folio. And, as plays were generally the property of the company, not the author, this is not in the least mysterious. The King's Men owned the playbooks.

I am always amazed at how people are able to gin up these controversies and conspiracies and mysteries. Why would you assume that Blount had to go scrambling across England looking for plays and trying to work out which ones were Shakespeare's, when the names of two of his close theatrical associates and partners (and people he mentioned in his will) are right there in the first pages of the Folio?

Anonymous said...

Blumefeld's onto something with Blount