Professor Emma Smith: Shakespeare and Collaboration

The Rose Playhouse

An online event beginning at 7.00 pm

We tend to think of Shakespeare as the ultimate solo genius, standing aloof from his fellows and communing only with his muse. In this talk I push him off this pedestal – or, at least, give a leg-up to lots of other contributors to Team Shakespeare. The early modern theatre was a joint enterprise, and Shakespeare’s plays were shaped by his fellow actors, the conditions of performance and the demands of his audience. These texts have been preserved for us because of the interventions of printers and publishers, who also intervened in the works in some sometimes unpredictable ways. Recent scholarship has identified extensive collaborative writing, too. I will discuss this often controversial work, setting out its methods and what might be gained from understanding Shakespeare as a collaborator. A different, more collegial figure emerges: gaining creative energy from contact with others, in the rehearsal room, the writing room and the print shop.



Emma Smith is Professor of Shakespeare Studies at Hertford College, University of Oxford. She has published widely on Shakespeare’s reception in print, performance and criticism. Her work on the First Folio — the first collected works of Shakespeare — included authenticating a new copy on the Scottish island of Bute. A new edition of her book The Making of Shakespeare’s First Folio will be published in 2023 to mark the 400th anniversary of this most famous of publications. She has worked with theatre companies in the UK and the USA as a historical and textual advisor on film and TV, in curating library exhibitions and writing for newspapers and popular magazines. Her podcasts on Shakespeare and other dramatists can be downloaded from Her most recent book, This Is Shakespeare, was a Sunday Times bestseller in the UK: it tries to enable readers to see the plays as incomplete, ambiguous texts to think with. She edits the international journal Shakespeare Survey. She is currently working on a new edition of Twelfth Night, and completing a book about how the technology of the book captured our imaginations over the centuries. Portable Magic will be published by Penguin in spring 2022.


Tickets are £6 (£5 for Friends of The Rose) and can be booked through TryBooking by clicking here. You will receive a link to this Zoom event via email. Any additional contributions for The Rose Playhouse will be much appreciated and go towards funding the Rose Revealed Project.

Please note that booking for this event will close at 6.00 pm on 6 July.

The Rose is an indoor archaeological site; it is advisable to dress warmly because there is no heating. There are no toilets, so please use those at Shakespeare’s Globe, which is 200 metres away.

Booking Information

Box Office

020 7261 9565