The making of Shakespeare's genius

Smith, Gwendoline P. Vingoe (2004). The making of Shakespeare's genius. University of Birmingham. M.Litt.

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The Introduction stipulates my area of research, which was to explore how Shakespeare developed into such an outstanding and long-appreciated writer. The method adopted
was to study the criteria essential to the making of genius which had been researched by psychologists and then use historical research to ascertain how many of these factors
were present in his life.The documentation used and its sources are detailed here.
Chapter 1 sets out the agreed findings of those psychologists who have made a special study of genius, followed by the factors over which they do not necessarily concur. Their insistence on the importance of the childhood and upbringing of the genius-to-be lead to Chapters 2-4. Chapter 2 investigates the situation pertaining to the town into which he was born and its history during Shakespeare's years of development. Chapter 3 considers the particular family to which he belonged and its history during his childhood and youth, while Chapter 4 attempts to ascertain what particular aspects of his life would have impinged upon him enough to effect a reaction and affect his development.
Chapter 5 considers five of Shakespeare's earliest known plays, looking for instances of the effects that having been brought up in Stratford-upon-Avon may have had upon him
in order to assess the importance of his early environment upon the development of his literary output.
Chapter 6 looks briefly at how his work is linked with that of his predecessors and how he built upon existing dramatic traditions. It also considers how he used his source
materials in his earliest writing and how we can begin to appreciate the skill he showed by the adaptations which he introduced.
The Conclusion aims to bring together the information gathered under the separate headings and assess how far they show the psychologists's findings to have been accurate and how many of the criteria they stipulate appertain to Shakespeare's early life. It notes that the three aspects of study I chose to bring together, namely psychology, history and literature, can only illustrate certain areas of Shakespeare's accomplishment; a different combination would be required to demonstrate adequately the development of others, notably his poetic ability. The factors chosen, however, do enable us to ascertain some of Shakespeare's characteristics and also to scotch some of the erroneous myths which still surround and confuse knowledge of him. The findings of the psychologists
are confirmed by his life and achievement.

Type of Work: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.Litt.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.Litt.
College/Faculty: Schools (1998 to 2008) > School of Humanities
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, The Shakespeare Institute
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater
P Language and Literature > PR English literature


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