John Dover Wilson: What Happens in Hamlet (2047 words)


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What Happens in Hamlet was published in 1935 by the Shakespearean scholar and educator John Dover Wilson. Its scene-by-scene account of the events of Shakespeare’s play inspired generations of scholars and actors. Such was its popularity that a second edition was published in 1937, and a third in 1951. The latter reached its nineteenth reprint in 2003.

Wilson described how the work came to be written in the “epistle dedicatory” to Walter Wilson Greg. This is a vivid account of how, one evening in 1917 whilst on a train to Sunderland, Wilson was “converted” (Milestones, 1969, 156) to Shakespeare from his previous interest in sixteenth-century history. Amongst the letters gathered beforehand to read on the …

Citation: Owens, Rebekah . "What Happens in Hamlet". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 04 April 2014 [, accessed 09 December 2021.]

20324 What Happens in Hamlet 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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