Shakespeare and Middleton’s Co-Authorship of Timon of Athens

Eilidh Kane


The essay focuses on Shakespeare’s collaboration with Thomas Middleton on Timon of Athens (1605-1606). It provides new evidence concerning the patterns of imagery in the play and argues that these support the authorial divisions established by earlier attribution studies. Beyond the issue of ‘who wrote what’ are questions about how Shakespeare co-wrote with Middleton. Previous analysis of the play has suggested that Timon was co-written consecutively, Shakespeare first, Middleton second. However, it is argued here that a mixture of consecutive and simultaneous co-writing would better explain the play as it stands. In the course of making the case, the essay reasserts the value of attribution evidence to the study of collaboration. Middleton’s skill in writing cynical urban scenes for his city comedies is often cited as the reason why he and Shakespeare worked together on Timon; and it is argued that Middleton’s early pamphlets should also be considered as evidence of his ability to satirise greed, and therefore as a reason why he was valuable to Shakespeare as a collaborator.


Attribution; Collaboration; Middleton; Shakespeare; <em>Timon of Athens</em>

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