Abstract for Week Eight
Ireland’s Shakespeares: Politicising Biography
The topic ‘Shakespeare and Ireland’ has been much investigated over the course of the past several decades. One aspect of the topic that has received relatively little attention is the extent to which Irish writers and scholars have taken up the issue of Shakespeare’s biography. Thus, for instance, the first attempt at a systematic and fully researched biography of Shakespeare was undertaken by the Irish scholar Edmond Malone and a key text in Victorian constructions of the playwright was Edward Dowden’s Shakspere: a Critical Study of his Mind and Art. Other writers also presented fictionalised versions of Shakespeare’s life. This paper looks at a selection of texts from the nineteenth century through to the first decade of the Free State, tracking Irish imaginings of the playwright’s life, and reading these texts against the political context in which they were produced.
Professor Andrew Murphy, University of St Andrews