Extending Shakespeare’s cultural capital

Submitting Institution

University of Nottingham

Unit of Assessment

English Language and Literature

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies, Literary Studies
History and Archaeology: Historical Studies

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Summary of the impact

Professor Brean Hammond's scholarly attribution of Double Falsehood as containing what remains of the `lost' Shakespeare/Fletcher Cardenio (1612/13) and his edition of the play for the prestigious Arden Shakespeare series contributed to the preservation and presentation of an element of literary cultural heritage that had previously been marginalised. Hammond's research has:

  • contributed to the economic prosperity of the Shakespeare publishing industry, delivering `unusually high' sales for Bloomsbury (publishers of his Arden edition), and more broadly serving as a stimulus for the publication of editions by rival publishers (CUP, Palgrave)
  • expanded theatrical repertoire through informing new theatre productions internationally, including the Royal Shakespeare Company's Cardenio (2011), reaching audiences in London, New York, Calgary and Utrecht
  • increased public awareness and knowledge of the play, and stimulated public interest in issues of canonisation, attribution and collaborative authorship through a broad range of international media engagement, and an international series of talks and lectures. The effect of this media engagement on Arden sales suggests engagement from a wider audience than that usually reached by scholarly editions.

Underpinning research

Professor of Modern English Literature Brean Hammond (Nottingham, 2000-) had a Clark Library Fellowship to research a book on Alexander Pope in 1986. During this he observed Pope's Dunciad making extensive mocking reference to a play called Double Falsehood. Published by the editor Lewis Theobald in 1728 as `Written Originally by W. Shakespeare', Double Falsehood has since been linked to the `lost' Shakespeare/Fletcher play Cardenio. By the 1990s, Shakespeare scholars and theatre directors were trying to reconstitute versions of this `lost' play. Hammond proposed a scholarly edition of Double Falsehood as a genuine carrier of Shakespeare's `DNA' to the Arden General Editors and his resulting edition was published in March 2010 (3.1).

Hammond's research on Double Falsehood, which bore fruit both in the Arden edition (3.1) and in related book chapters which built on and developed the edition's findings (3.2, 3.3), provided a narrative of manuscript transmission and a stylometric analysis of internal lexical, grammatical, allusional and other evidence. It identified contributions to the text from three key authors: Shakespeare, Fletcher and the adapter Lewis Theobald. It also uncovered clues to the presence of a Restoration layer of adaptation, probably by Betterton (3.1).

Important archival discoveries by Hammond further underpinned the attribution of Double Falsehood as collaboratively authored: Hammond's discovery in the Bodleian Library of a hitherto unremarked sale document noting the transfer of a copyright entitled `The History of Cardenio' to the Shakespeare publisher Jacob Tonson in 1718; and his research into newspapers from the 1770s which established the existence of manuscripts in the Theatre Museum in Covent Garden, and demonstrated that some literary property corresponding to the `lost' Cardenio could be tracked. These findings were supported by Hammond's uncovering of obscure references in printed books and his analysis of the great Shakespeare scholar Edmond Malone's annotated copy of the play (3.1).

Hammond's scholarship, contained in both the extensive textual apparatus characteristic of Arden editions and the individual book chapters that arose from his research on the play, has made a substantial contribution to: recent study of the nature of collaborative authorship in Shakespeare's era; Shakespearean textual editing; and debates about canonisation (3.1, 3.2 & 3.3). Two book chapters have extended the research's implications and, in the case of 3.3, made use of archival material (a previously unknown first edition of Double Falsehood, signed by Theobald) that emerged subsequent to publication of the Arden edition. The first contrasts Double Falsehood with Ireland's notorious forgery Vortigern; it further supports the argument for the former as having `a genuine basis in Shakespeare' and explores its significance for understanding how Shakespeare and his writings were perceived and used by eighteenth century editors (and forgers), and for changing ideas of authenticity and evidence (3.2). A second chapter analyses reactions to the Arden edition and also considers the implications of the `Unanswered Questions' raised by the edition and responses to it for current understanding of authorship and collaboration (3.3). A journal article builds on the research to examine Doran's RSC production of Cardenio (itself informed by Hammond's research), drawing out the differences between scholarship and theatrical practice, and considering the implications of these for ideas of how `lost' texts are reconstituted (3.4).

References to the research

1. Brean S. Hammond ed. Double Falsehood (Methuen: The Arden Shakespeare series, London 2010), xvii+443pp. (Listed in REF 2.)


2. Brean S. Hammond, `Shakespeare Discoveries and Forgeries' in Peter Sabor and Fiona Ritchie eds. Shakespeare in the Eighteenth Century (Cambridge: CUP, 2012), pp.78-96. (Can be supplied by the HEI on request.) Available on request.


3. Brean S. Hammond, `After Arden' in David Carnegie and Gary Taylor eds. The Quest for Cardenio (Oxford: OUP, 2012), pp. 62-78. Available on request.

4. Brean S. Hammond, `Putting back the cojones: Gregory Doran's production of Cardenio' in Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Theatre Research 26.1-2 (2011), 76-84. Available on request.

The quality of the research is underpinned by the reputation of the Arden Shakespeare as the world flagship Shakespeare edition, by the academic prominence of the editors of items 2 and 3, and by the significance of the peer-reviewed journal in the case of item 4.

Details of the impact

From its inclusion in the Arden series for the first time in March 2010, to its staging, the first for over two centuries, in Calgary in the same year, Double Falsehood has served to crystalise interest in issues of authorial attribution and literary canonisation. It has also enriched the imaginations of audiences who have engaged with the play as text or through its theatrical production.

Creating new cultural capital: The Arden edition of Double Falsehood

Hammond's archival research on the provenance of Double Falsehood convinced Bloomsbury Publishing to include his edition of the play as a standalone volume in its world flagship Arden Shakespeare (3.1). The significance of this decision, of Hammond's research for his edition, and of the academic and wider response to it was confirmed in 2011 when the text of the single volume Arden Shakespeare Complete Works was revised to include Hammond's text of Double Falsehood for the first time. Double Falsehood's inclusion in the Arden series stimulated intense media interest and a range of activity (new editions from different publishing houses, public engagement talks, lectures, panels, reviews, productions, blogs) that contributed to the consolidation of the attribution of Double Falsehood in the public consciousness. The play has begun to be accepted on the same terms and in the same fora as other plays co-authored by Shakespeare. The presence of the play in these fora is testament in itself to the impact of Hammond's research.

Creating wealth in the publishing sector

The publication and reception of Hammond's edition have been of both commercial and cultural value to Arden: The wide international media coverage surrounding the edition gave Double Falsehood currency as a marketing tool (the play is currently advertised in a banner headline on the front cover of the Arden edition (5.1)) contributing to `highly unusual' sales figures for a `scholarly edition': Hammond's edition sold 6,166 copies between 2010 and July 2013; the 2011 single volume Arden Shakespeare Complete Works, which includes Double Falsehood for the first time, has to date sold 7,580 copies, a significant proportion of these in the US. The publisher of the Arden Shakespeare at Bloomsbury Publishing PLC sums up the impact of the press coverage on the Arden series as follows: `the coverage of the edition put Arden at the front of Shakespeare scholarship ... It was no doubt helpful to Arden's general profile as the foremost edition of Shakespeare.' (5.2) The Arden edition has also added value to the wider industry of Shakespeare publishing, stimulating subsequent editions of Double Falsehood by other publishers: It contributed to CUP's decision, in July 2010, to reprint a facsimile of the 1728 edition by Theobald (5.3) The play has been included in the new AHRC-funded RSC Collaborative Plays by Shakespeare and Others, eds. Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen (forthcoming Palgrave, October 2013) (5.4), thus consolidating Hammond's findings and attribution within a major new collection from a rival publisher. The entire Arden edition, including all introductory and annotatory material, was translated and published in Italian in 2012, with Hammond's role in the play's recovery and attribution explicitly referenced by the publishers. (5.5) These publications are all part of the international on-going scholarly and public debate around the shape and extent of the Shakespeare canon and attest to the pivotal role of Hammond's research within that debate.

Both Hammond's Arden edition and the subsequent editions it has stimulated have made Double Falsehood accessible to a wider public. The `highly unusual' sales figures for Hammond's edition demonstrate that public engagement with the research that underpinned the play's rediscovery (through the edition's introduction and its extensive textual apparatus) and with the play itself is extending significantly beyond the audience who normally purchase scholarly editions (confirmed also by its inclusion in public libraries in cities and counties including Birmingham, Derbyshire, Devon, Hampshire, Nottinghamshire and Somerset, showing diffusion of the text through the national library system, whose demographic is largely extra-academic). (5.6)

Creating cultural capital by adding to and informing theatrical repertoire

The `interest generated by [Double Falsehood's] ... partial acceptance into the Shakespearean canon has ... led to modern revivals' (5.3): Amongst these, Hammond's Arden edition received its world premiere in Calgary (Shakespeare in the Park, August 2010) and was the basis for further productions by The Classic Stage Company in New York (March 2011, audience 2,202), Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich, (March 2011), the KDC Theatre (2011, audience 330), MokitaGrit in London (2011, audience 2440) and theatterkikker (Utrecht) in 2012). Hammond's research informed the RSC staging of Cardenio directed by Greg Doran (3.4, and was acknowledged in Doran's Shakespeare's Lost Play (5.7)). Doran's production was watched by an audience of 26,000 between April-September 2011 with 9,200 programmes featuring a centrepiece by Hammond. (5.8) This (rapid) translation of the play from page to stage has expanded theatrical repertoire and by extension, stimulated new activity for actors and directors. In turn, it has enriched the imaginations of audiences who have engaged with the play through its performance. (5.9) Double Falsehood's continued influence on the staging of `lost' plays is shown by its being referenced in publicity for the production of the `disputed Shakespearean comedy' Fair Em (Union Theatre, 2013; http://www.fairem.co.uk/).

Raising public awareness of collaborative authorship, canonisation and attribution

The media reception of the Arden publication - of an extent rarely accorded to scholarly volumes — and penetration of the story into popular culture focussed public attention on the underlying scholarly issues of collaborative authorship, canonisation and attribution and as such stimulated new public awareness and discussion:

  • Hammond was interviewed on the BBC Today programme (15.3.10), one of over 30 radio interviews he gave to stations in UK, USA, Australia, India, Canada and Colombia, simultaneously translated into Spanish, including contributions for American National Public Radio (18.3.10), the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (18.3.10) and Deutsche Welle (24.4.10).
  • The interest generated by the story was demonstrated by its being taken up by major print media in the UK and internationally: articles, many on the front page, appeared in inter alia, Guardian, Times, Daily Mail, Telegraph, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Philadelphia Inquirer, Boston Herald, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Sun-Times, China Post, Straits Times. Significant European coverage included: Corriere della Sera, La Reppublica, El Pais, Frankfurter Allgemeine, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Dagbladet. More locally, Radio Nottingham, the Nottingham Post and later, the glossy Nottinghamshire Today featured Hammond's work on the play, the last in a 4pp photographic spread.
  • At the intersection of academic and public reception are the positive reviews given to the edition in TLS (21.5.10) and LRB (2.12.10).
  • Public interest in and engagement with Hammond's findings and the issues they raise is further shown by the research's penetration of popular culture beyond interviews given by Hammond or syndicated by media outlets. For example, the story featured in columns by Frank Skinner (The Times 19.3.10; reprinted in Dispatches from the Sofa: The Collected Wisdom of Frank Skinner (Century, 2011), 169-71) and David Mitchell (The Observer 20.3.10; the online version attracted 173 comments); a question on the play appeared in the weekly news quiz featured in The Times and was even a prompt for Radio 4's Thought for the Day. Time Out covered the play in both their London and New York editions. (5.9)
  • The impact of the Arden edition on a range of audiences is further demonstrated by the demand for Hammond to participate in local, national and international public events relating to his research on Double Falsehood. This engagement activity was both unusually extensive and continued well beyond the publication of the Arden edition in March 2010, suggesting continued public interest: Talks by Hammond to schools (e.g. Oakham School), to local groups and audiences (e.g. the University of Nottingham Women's Social Club, the Nottingham Shakespeare Society, the Lowdham Book Festival), to national special interest groups (the Shakespeare Club of Stratford-upon-Avon, the oldest amateur Shakespeare society in the UK, and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust), and international activity including lecture tours to Spain and to Norway took place throughout the assessment period. (5.10)
  • Public experience of and engagement with the play was enriched by dedicated events for theatre audiences in which high-profile scholars and intellectuals debated the issues raised by Hammond's research: The Classic Theatre Company off-Broadway production (March-April 2011) was accompanied by a Symposium in which well-known speakers (James Shapiro, Stephen Greenblatt, Harold Bloom) engaged the theatre audiences in post-show discussion; Hammond concluded the series. In October 2011, Nottingham Playhouse devoted a day to the play, opened by a talk from Hammond and featuring a directed reading by Michael Fentiman of the National Theatre.

Sources to corroborate the impact

5.1. Image of Arden Complete Shakespeare with Double Falshood as banner headline http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/arden-shakespeare-complete-works-9781408152010/

5.2. Publisher of the Arden Shakespeare at Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

5.3: Double Falshood; or, The Distrest Lovers A Play, as it is Now Acted at the Theatre Royal in Covent-Garden, Written Originally by W. Shakespeare as discussed and advertised at http://www.cambridge.org/us/academic/subjects/literature/renaissance-and-early-modern-literature/double-falshood-or-distrest-lovers-play-it-now-acted-theatre-royal-covent-garden-written-originally-w-shakespeare

5.4. RSC Collaborative Plays by Shakespeare and Others, eds. Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen (forthcoming December 2013) at

5.5. http://bur.rcslibri.corriere.it/libro/5830_doppia_falsita_shakespeare.html Website of the publisher of the Italian version, which specifically includes mention of Hammond's role in bringing the play (through the Arden edition) to the public for the first time.

5.6. Library data dossier including listings in www.worldcat.org

5.7. Shakespeare's Lost Play (Nick Hern Books, 2012) (available on request)

5.8. Director, Royal Shakespeare Company

5.9. Dossier of selected local, national and international media and social media coverage (available on request)

5.10. Dossier of selected public engagement activity