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Much has been written about the acting style of David Garrick, the eighteenth century's greatest actor-manager, but this book, unusually, claims a place for him within Shakespeare studies as a literary as well as a theatrical figure. It analyses several of Garrick's alterations of Shakespeare's plays in which he took the lead, and traces his close involvement with the major Shakespeare editors of the period, including his friend Samuel Johnson. Admirers claimed that Garrick's performances illuminated the playtexts better than the commentaries of scholarly editors. His reputation as Shakespeare's living representative and best interpreter was so high that he was involved in most Shakespeare-related projects of his day, not least the Jubilee at Stratford. While Garrick lived, the imminent divorce of 'stage' and 'page' could not take place. In this text, Cunningham shows how vital a resource Garrick's collection of early plays in English has been to generations of Shakespeare scholars.
Vanessa Cunningham is a Fellow of Cardiff University.