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Shakespeare scholar to deliver lecture

Media release
8 April 2009

Distinguished Shakespeare scholar to deliver lecture, oversee lost play

Audiences in Auckland and Wellington will get a chance to engage with the world of 21st century Shakespearean scholarship when Professor Gary Taylor, one of the world’s leading Shakespeare academics, visits New Zealand next month.

The University of Auckland and Victoria University of Wellington have joined forces to bring out Professor Taylor, who is this year’s University of Auckland Alice Griffin Shakespeare Fellow.

At The University of Auckland Professor Taylor’s public lecture, “The man who made Shakespeare”, will explore a key figure behind the creation of Shakespeare’s acclaim: little-known 51-year-old London printer and small businessman Edward Blount.

“He was the first English publisher to specialise in what we would now call literature,” says Professor Taylor. “His belief in Shakespeare’s enduring skills as a playwright virtually bankrupted him, but the result is the most famous book in English, the 1623 first edition of Shakespeare’s collected Comedies, Histories and Tragedieῳ.

“Shakespeare continues to appeal to audiences around the world, and it is an honour to host a Shakespeare scholar of such international standing,” says Professor Tom Bishop, Head of The University of Auckland’s Department of English. “I have no doubt that both the public lecture in Auckland and the play in Wellington will enlighte΅ and entertain their audiences.

At Victoria University Professor Taylor will advise in rehearsal on the first-ever full performance of his reconstruction of a lost Shakespeare play, Cardenio.

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Fascinatingly, the 1613 original text of Cardenio, in which Shakespeare and fellow playwright John Fletcher dramatised an episode from Cervantes’ Don Quixote, has been lost; but a version went on to survive in a 1728 adaptation. It is the 1728 play that Professor Taylor has used to create his script.

“This creative reconstruction gets as close as the evidence and scholarly speculation will allow to what the original Cardenio must have been like,” says director Professor David Carnegie of Victoria’s Theatre Programme.

Professor Taylor will also deliver a public keynote address at an international colloquium on Cardenio, to be held at Victoria in conjunction with the production.

Professor Taylor initially established his academic reputation through his radical re-editing of Shakespeare for Oxford University Press, and he has gone on to become one of the leading international scholars, writers and editors of his generation. He is currently the George Matthew Edgar Professor of English and Director of the Centre for the History of Text Technologies at Florida State University, and is the co-editor of the Oxford Shakespeare and of the Oxford Middleton, and author of many books and articles, including Reinventing Shakespeare and Shakespeare Reshaped 1606“1623.

Professor Gary Taylor ( will deliver “The man who made Shakespeare” at 6:30pm on Thursday 30 April in Old Government House, The University of Auckland (corner of Waterloo Quadrant and Princes St). The lecture is free and open to the public. Please arrive early to ensure seating is available.

The University of Auckland Hood Fellowships are generously supported by the Lion Foundation.


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