Kyd and Shakespeare: Authorship versus Influence

  • Darren Freebury-Jones Cardiff University


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.

Author Biography

Darren Freebury-Jones, Cardiff University
Darren Freebury-Jones completed his PhD at Cardiff University. His doctoral thesis, ‘Kyd and Shakespeare: Authorship, Influence, and Collaboration’, investigated Brian Vickers’s arguments for an expanded Thomas Kyd canon. Freebury-Jones will serve as an editor and authorship consultant for the first edition of Kyd’s works since 1901. He recently investigated the boundaries of John Marston’s dramatic corpus for Oxford University Press. His work on the canons of dramatists like Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Kyd can be found in such journals as Journal of Early Modern Studies, Archiv fuer das Studium der Neueren Sprachen und Literaturen, Notes and Queries, and A Quarterly Journal of Short Articles, Notes and Reviews.
How to Cite
Freebury-Jones, D. (2017). Kyd and Shakespeare: Authorship versus Influence. Authorship, 6(1).