Kyd and Shakespeare: Authorship versus Influence

Darren Freebury-Jones


This article explores Shakespeare’s verbal indebtedness to works that have been attributed to Thomas Kyd, encompassing plays such as Soliman and Perseda, King Leir, and Arden of Faversham. Significantly, Martin Mueller has created an electronic corpus called Shakespeare His Contemporaries, which consists of over 500 plays dated between 1552 and 1662. Shakespeare His Contemporaries lists play pairs that share large numbers of dislegomena consisting of four words or more, and therefore provides empirical data that can help researchers to explore the intertextual relationships between early modern texts. This article investigates the nature of these parallels, drawing upon the idea of Shakespeare’s aural, or ‘actor’s memory’, and concludes that in order to distinguish between authorship and influence in contested texts like Arden of Faversham, more work needs to be done to ascertain the patterns of influence in Shakespeare’s plays.


Darren Freebury-Jones; authorship; influence; Thomas Kyd; William Shakespeare; digital humanities; n-grams; Soliman and Perseda; King Leir; Arden of Faversham; Martin Mueller; Brian Vickers

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ISSN: 2034-4643
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