Libels and Theater in Shakespeare’s England: Publics, Politics, Performance

This is a book image of Libels & Theater. There is a detailed image of written letters.
Mansky, J. Libels and Theater in Shakespeare’s England: Publics, Politics, Performance. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2023.

IRH Fellow:

Joseph Mansky, (Solmsen Fellow, 2019-2020)


In the first comprehensive history of libels in Elizabethan England, Joseph Mansky traces the crime across law, literature, and culture, outlining a viral and often virulent media ecosystem. During the 1590s, a series of crises – simmering xenophobia, years of dearth and hunger, surges of religious persecution – sparked an extraordinary explosion of libeling. The same years also saw the first appearances of libels on London stages. Defamatory, seditious texts were launched into the sky, cast in windows, recited in court, read from pulpits, and seized by informers. Avatars of sedition, libels nonetheless empowered ordinary people to pass judgment on the most controversial issues and persons of the day. They were marked by mobility, swirling across the early modern media and across class, confessional, and geographical lines. Ranging from Shakespearean drama to provincial pageantry, this book charts a public sphere poised between debate and defamation, between free speech and fake news.