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Welcome to Episode 148 of That Shakespeare Life, the show that takes you behind the curtain and into the real life and history of William Shakespeare.

The most memorable illustration of Robert Greene shows him dressed as an ear of corn, sitting at a desk, penning Groatsworth of Wit, his famous deathbed insult that calls William Shakespeare an “upstart crow.” That upstart crow may have gone on to eclipse Robert Greene’s fame in posterity, but for the moment in which those lines were written about the bard, Robert Greene was not only well established as a playwright in early modern England but held a arguably higher reputation in the playwriting industry than Shakespeare himself. Here to help us peel back the layers of history and explore the life, works, myth, and legend of Robert Greene is our guest, Darren Freebury Jones.  

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Dr Darren Freebury-Jones is Lecturer in Shakespeare Studies (International – USA) at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. His role involves building and developing relationships with schools, universities, and organisations in the USA through regular teaching tours; working on the Trust’s online educational resources; as well as lecturing at the Shakespeare Centre.  Darren’s research interests include early modern attribution studies, digital approaches to examining drama, and intertextuality. His doctoral thesis examined Thomas Kyd’s influence on Shakespeare’s early work and he is one of the editors for the first edition of Kyd’s collected works since 1901. 

He has also investigated the boundaries of John Marston’s dramatic corpus as part of the Oxford Marston project. His recent and forthcoming work on the plays of authors such as Shakespeare, Kyd, Lyly, Marlowe, Peele, Nashe, Marston, Dekker, Fletcher, and others can be found in a range of peer-reviewed journals. See Darren’s full list of publications here.

In this episode, I’ll be asking Darren Freebury Jones about :

  • Did Robert Greene begin his career in London, or was he, too, born in some other small town before arriving in London for his career?
  • One of the things Robert Greene is most remembered for is being a pamphleteer. Darren, for the uninitiated, what does a pamphleteer do?
  • While the three plays focused on in Darren’s latest research are the ones whose authorship has been debated, Greene’s larger canon of work is well known. Darren, did any of Greene’s known works compete with Shakespeare’s plays when they were first performed?… and more!

The History Guide Plus: Meet Robert Greene (Ebook)

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Books & Resources Darren Freebury Jones Recommends

Darren Freebury-Jones (2020), ‘Determining Robert Greene’s Dramatic Canon’, Style, 54.4 (2020), 377-398. https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5325/style.54.4.0377

Podcast about Robert Greene with Shakespeare Birthplace Trust here: 

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