While it is obvious that Shakespeare drew a tremendous amount of inspiration from Christopher Marlowe (note the effect of The Jew of Malta, Hero and Leander, and Tamburlaine on The Merchant of Venice, As You Like It, and Shakespeare’s history plays, respectively), this kind of borrowing and collaboration was common during the time. Collaboration was one of the most effective ways for playwrights to generate works quickly and appease the demands of their audiences. Additionally, there was no set principle in regards to a playwright’s “intellectual property,” so copying, borrowing, and referencing other works was common practice. As a result, hundreds of plays written during the late 16th century and early 17th century were collaborative efforts or incorporated the writing of other playwrights. The question of just who collaborated with Shakespeare, and on which plays, is of course something scholars continue to explore, and in some cases disagree about.
Featured Image: “Shakespeare and His Friends at the Mermaid Tavern” by John Faed. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.