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Pericles is widely understood to be the first of Shakespeare’s late romances, but it is also widely considered a problematic text with multiple authors. Its first two acts are frequently assigned to a man named George Wilkins. These conjectures about authorship, however, fail to take adequate account of Gower, the medieval poet who acts as chorus throughout and stages the old story of Apollonius of Tyre, here renamed Pericles. If Gower was not Shakespeare’s choice, then Wilkins (or whomever else is proposed as co-author) brilliantly anticipated many of the central themes of the late romances, an unlikely possibility. If Gower was Shakespeare’s idea, then the play must be re-examined in the light of Gower’s role as “co-author” and its bearing on the stagecraft and verse of Pericles. One way to do this is by narration, retracing what may have been Shakespeare’s creative process in conceiving and then writing the play. Told as a story, this argument for Shakespeare’s sole authorship can remain conjectural (and entertaining) at the same time that it puts forward serious scholarly arguments. This book, then, tells the story in twenty-one short chapters, which are followed by an Afterword that clarifies David Young’s scholarly position.

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