An Online Reader of John Cotgrave’s
By Joshua J. McEvilla, with contributions
from Sean M. Winslow

Study of the seventeenth-century dramatic literature has been dominated by attention to Shakespeare, often to the point of ignoring other very talented writers of the early modern period, playwrights, who, while virtually unknown today, were, at one time, equally or similarly popular to Shakespeare: Ben Jonson (1572–1637), John Fletcher (1579–1625), Thomas Middleton (bap. 1580, d. 1627), Philip Massinger (1583–1640), James Shirley (bap. 1596, d. 1666), and Richard Brome (c. 1590–1652). [1]

This web project, an Online Reader of John Cotgrave’s The English Treasury of Wit and Language, hosted by the Shakespeare Authorship Page,, provides a means of studying the individual reputations of 58 dramatists and the individual receptions of 239 of their plays, with 29 of Shakespeare’s plays, including such celebrated works as Hamlet, Lear, and Othello. It provides researchers with detailed provenance information for 1,686 of 1,701 of Cotgrave’s hitherto unidentified extracts, giving a glimpse of the authors and plays that seemed relevant and interesting to him but which have since been forgotten or sidelined due to the subsequent Shakespeare-centric study of drama.

© Joshua McEvilla,
   The Shakespeare Authorship Page