I shouldn’t (and won’t) reprint the entire review here. To read the entire review, which was published in the April 2011 edition of The Brooklyn Rail, please click on this link now or click on READ MORE at the bottom on this post.

As anybody who has delved into the Shakespeare authorship mystery in any detail knows all too well, the issue of the chronology of the plays is a major point of contention between the orthodox camp and skeptics of various stripes.

dating shakespeares plays gilvary book-44

Wells and Taylor appear to select findings which coincide with the traditional or orthodox chronology. There are also several introductory essays and a concluding essay along with a useful appendix of tables, mostly comparing orthodox dating systems in a variety of ways.

Gilvary wrote more than half of the chapters and essays himself, and edited throughout—but with 19 contributors (at least one of whom is skeptical about the Oxford case) credited for particular chapters, and more contributions credited in other ways, the book is a group effort.

But a “latest date” does not preclude the play’s being earlier, and other Oxfordian scholars suggest that in 1557,” they were republished several times, including in 15, “after a gap of 11 years,” Johnson says, adding that an allusion to this work “would have been less meaningful in the next decade (and it is missing from the 1602 Quarto).” Still other Oxfordian scholars date to no later than 1573.

“Charlton Ogburn sees the wooing of Anne Page by Slender as a comic representation of the negotiations in 1568–69 for the marriage of Philip Sidney to Anne Cecil.

No doubt also due to Gilvary’s efforts, the chapters are uniformly designed: they include a brief opening statement of the widest possible range of dates for the origin of the play under discussion; followed by sections on first publication and first performance dates, if known; sources each play is drawn from; orthodox and Oxfordian dates and the internal and external evidence for them; and conclude with a brief summary.

There is a great deal packed into each of the play chapters in the 508 pages of was first published in 1602 in Quarto (the smaller-size format used for individual plays) and is the third comedy in Folio (the larger-size format used for the 36 plays).

But, Philip Johnson tells us, “Samuel Johnson pointed out 250 years ago that Rowe’s ‘How well she was obey’d, the Play it self is an admirable Proof’ is simply wrong: Shakespeare did not comply with the queen’s wishes, since Falstaff is never in love.” Falstaff was the original name of the character in “wins the approval of almost all modern editors,” ever since the scholar Leslie Hotson, citing references in the play to the Order of the Garter, conjectured in 1931 that “the play was performed on St. Holland, an Oxfordian, view the play as “a rewriting of , a lost play performed by Lord Strange’s Men in 1593, when they were performing other plays of Shakespeare” and when “the Order was celebrating its 250th anniversary.” Further evidence for 1593 is an apparent appropriation of an allusion to a biblical quotation used in , published by Gabriel Harvey in 1593: ‘…I feared the brazen shield, and the brazen boots of Goliath, and that same hideous spear, like a weaver’s beam.’” Johnson quotes the American Shakespeare scholar Roger Stritmatter as saying that, in the absence of a common source for both Harvey and Shakespeare, “the simplest explanation…is that Harvey read, or more likely observed a performance of, an early version of .” Johnson concludes, “This would make 1593 the latest date for the play’s first performance.” The biblical quotation comes from a particular copy of the Geneva Bible in the Folger Shakespeare Library.

George’s Day, April 23, 1597, for the Garter Feast at Whitehall,” since “one of the five knights elected that year was George Carey, Lord Hunsdon, patron of the Chamberlain’s Men,” the Shakespeare company at that time. It was Oxford’s own copy, and in it the quotation is underlined, it is reasonable to assume, by Oxford himself, as Stritmatter pointed out in his dissertation on the parallels between the book’s underlined passages and Shakespeare’s biblical references.

The new chronology is refreshingly diverse, like the world of Shakespeare authorship studies.