Poet Ape, A Plagiarist Among the Playwrights

12.16.2012 - By The Shakespeare Underground

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Episode 6 with Sabrina Feldman
Ben Jonson and other writers of Shakespeare’s time satirized a social-climbing playwright-actor who stole their words and passed them off as his own.In epigrams, stories, and plays they attacked this pretentious plagiarist, who made a lucrative career by patching together popular plays out of bits and pieces from their works.These satires portray an uncultured, overdressed fellow who (as one of Jonson’s caricatures) acquires a coat of arms so he can be called a gentleman—mirroring a documented incident in William Shakespeare’s life.The writers’ code of the era (plus fear of imprisonment) prevented these authors from naming the object of their satire, and possibly more than one playwright was targeted. Dr. Sabrina Feldman argues convincingly that most of the lampoons take aim at one highly successful playwright: the chief author of the Apocrypha.In this episode, Allan Armstrong continues his interview (begun in Episode 4) with Sabrina Feldman, author of The Apocryphal William Shakespeare, to explore these hilarious and pointed parodies and to uncover the identity of their target.

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