Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: Cymbeline: Contexts
  • Author: Jennifer Forsyth
  • Textual editors: James D. Mardock, Eric Rasmussen
  • Coordinating editor: Michael Best

  • Copyright Jennifer Forsyth. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: Jennifer Forsyth
    Not Peer Reviewed


    Early modern playwrights such as Shakespeare were enmeshed in a web of intertextuality. They drew upon other authors, historical and contemporary, for inspiration, knowledge, or specific language. They adopted the vocabulary and grammatical constructions of other writers, often even importing linguistic practices from other languages, such as Latin, Greek, or French. Ultimately, these discursive exchanges both reflected and influenced the linguistic and narrative practices of the time, and Shakespeare and his contemporaries, in turn, influenced not only each other but future generations as well.

    In order to fully reflect the intertextual environment in which Shakespeare was involved, this edition draws upon a wide variety of texts, ranging from direct, major sources and analogues to minor connections to documents representing either specific or general cultural context. For Cymbeline, many of the texts reflect historical or contemporary knowledge and beliefs about ancient Britons and Romans who populate the play and provide much of the background. Another cluster of texts illuminates the early modern social and material cultural milieu. Literary sources and analogues abound, as do texts from later periods that demonstrate Cymbeline's influence; and contemporary critical commentaries on genre, for instance, add a further piece.

    1. Early modern culture
    2. Literary sources and analogues
    3. Genre
    4. Britons and Romans