(My first post about Bill Bryson’s Shakespeare: the World as Stage is here.)
I’ve been glancing at the newer 2009 edition of Bryson’s Shakespeare on Amazon, which has a fun cover that juxtaposes the Cobbe portrait (aka Sexy Shakespeare) with the Chandos (aka Pirate Shakespeare) portrait, and is apparently fully illustrated. It seems that someone had the same idea I did about the subtitle, The World as Stage, since it is conspicuously absent from the new edition. If there are more extensive updates to the text of the book I am unable to see them using the “Click to Look Inside” feature, but the new preface updates the reader on a few developments in Shakespeare studies and early modern theater history since the first edition’s publication in 2002:
1) Stanley Wells’ somewhat controversial announcement that what has come to be known as the Cobbe portrait is, according to his research, of Shakespeare;
2) The 2009 archaeological excavation that uncovered the earliest purpose-built playhouse in London, the Theater;
3) The bizarre story of the theft and recovery of the University of Durham’s copy of the First Folio, for which Raymond Scott was jailed last year.
The first two items, of course, have real material significance for the study of Shakespeare and his milieu. The last is just a news item, really, but a pretty entertaining one at that, the latest entry in the long, strange annals of eccentrics who have gotten obsessed with Shakespeare. The Folger Shakespeare Library’s in-house magazine had an excellent article (link opens a .pdf) last fall about the detective work they did to determine which First Folio had walked in their door, and how they helped to nail Scott.