Only a small percentage of the plays (some seven hundred) written during the Golden Age of Elizabethan drama (1590-1610) survive into print (Nolan 30). Popular drama in the 1580s existed as no more than the street professions of clowns and jugglers performing the occasional dramatic interlude (Nolan 35). As with the "bohemian" and "hippie" youth movements in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other American cities during the sixties, bands of reckless youth with working-class and college educations invaded the London urban underworld and street culture in the latter half of the sixteenth century, living mostly by their own wits and talents. In their early careers, they wrote for local actors of street plays, much like the early Beatles, Roy Orbison, Willie Nelson and Buddy Holly wrote material for other more popular performers in Liverpool and Nashville before they received their big break in the business (Rinehart). Employing the vagabond actors and performers living in the poorer back streets of London, they kindled an age of dramatic art that blazed for one single twenty-year episode, leaving only a few names like Shakespeare etched in the minds of middle-class London merchants and consumers of that age ("Elizabethan London").
As Elizabethan drama blazed only briefly, few intellectuals paid specific attention to the plays during the years of their performance (Folgeroy); the critics of the time scoffed at them (Hall 2: 126). Future scholars of drama appreciated the Elizabethan era only as they were raking over the ashes of a vanished art form (Ardath, "Searching"). Even Shakespeare had no candid biographer to chronicle the impor...
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Mute Cybelines: Shakespeare's Women. Narr. Diana Riggs. Dir. Anthony Hale.
2 episodes. PBS. WEBA, Boston. 26-27 Oct. 1985.
Nolan, Paul. "The Nature of Elizabethan Drama." Shakespeare Quarterly
14.3-4 (1986): 29-45.
Riggs, Diana, narr. Mute Cybelines: Shakespeare's Women. Dir. Anthony Hale. 2 episodes. PBS. WEBA, Boston. 26-27 Oct. 1985.
Rinehart, Thomas. Personal interview. 27 Feb. 1990.
Recome, Robert. "Re: Biography: Shakespeare." Online posting. 6 July 1999. shak-L. Shaksper: The Global Electronic Conference. 27 June 1999. http://www.arts.ubc.ca/english/iemls/shak/shak-L.html
Smith, Logan Pearsall. "On Reading Shakespeare." New York Times 20 Feb. 1989, natl. ed.: C23.
Who was Shakespeare? New York: Folger Library, .
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