Pre-Victorian prudery: the family Shakespeare and the birth of Bowdlerism

Burden, Emily Caroline Louise (2007). Pre-Victorian prudery: the family Shakespeare and the birth of Bowdlerism. University of Birmingham. M.Phil.

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This thesis is the first detailed study of The Family Shakespeare since Noel Perrin's Dr Bawdier's Legacy: A History of Expurgated Books in England and America (1969). It investigates the social forces which led to the publication of The Family Shakespeare. It begins with a discussion of the Bowdlers and the history of the edition, before dealing with the growth of literacy and changing reading habits in the early nineteenth century, particularly focusing on women reading and women reading Shakespeare. The third chapter deals with The Family Shakespeare in context and considers the influences of family, Evangelicalism, sensibility, Vice Societies and attitudes to sexuality may have had on Bowdler's edition. The fourth chapter discusses the expurgations that Thomas Bowdler made in light of these social forces, taking note of patterns and discrepancies. The conclusion discusses The Family Shakespeare's status as a piece of pre-Victorian prudery suggests that though it is generally disregarded, it deserves scholarly attention as an important resource. The appendix is a reference tool designed to make navigating the edition easy for new and experienced readers. It contains all the expurgations made, with references to The Family Shakespeare, its source edition and The Oxford Shakespeare: The Complete Works.

Type of Work: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.Phil.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.Phil.
College/Faculty: Schools (1998 to 2008) > School of Humanities
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, Department of English Literature
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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