Patrick Cheney: Shakespeare, National Poet-Playwright. Cambridge Cambridge University Press, 2004. Pp. xv + 319. Cloth £ 45.00. Patrick Cheney: Shakespeares Literary Authorship. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Pp. xxvi + 296. Cloth £ 55.00.
Patrick Cheneys energetic and meticulously documented study Shakespeare, National Poet-Playwright (2004) was greeted by the Arden editors of Shakespeares Poems as one of the welcome signs that the time may be ripe for a full integration of Shakespeares non-dramatic verse within the canon. It is a determined and persuasive plea for taking seriously the testimony of Frances Meres and other contemporary writers for whom Shakespeare was not just a playwright, but an early modern author, a view largely lost since the early seventeenth century. (p. 49) It was not until Edmond Malones scholarly concern with authenticity that the non-dramatic writings were definitely included in the canon; but even after Malones edition of 1790, the Bard was usually considered as above all a dramatist and man of the theatre, who merely wrote poetry in his spare time or when the theatres were closed due to the plague.