Almost exactly a year ago, I posted an infographic: The Periodic Table of Shakespeare. At the time, I summed it up thus:
There are so many plays. Some obvious collaborations (The Two Noble Kinsmen and the like). Some lost to time (Love’s Labor’s Won). Those pesky “problem plays” (a distinction that I’m growing less and less fond of). And stuff that isn’t theatrical at all. Plus, I wanted to layer over it some kind of historical progression of his writing (we don’t know the actual chronology of composition, but we have some rough ideas).
And thus, The Periodic Table of Shakespeare was born…
But time passes. New information arrives (like the New Oxford Shakespeare Authorship Companion). And that got me thinking. Then designing.
And thus… the Periodic Table of Shakespeare (version 2).
Based on the New Oxford, I’ve jettisoned Double Falsehood (as it now seems more an adaptation of Cardenio) and Edmund Ironside. I’ve also included for the first time Arden of Faversham, The Spanish Tragedy, The Tragedy of Sejanus, and the poem “The Passionate Pilgrim” (and I don’t even know why I didn’t include that last one last time around…).
I’ve noted which plays are what we can call “primary collaborations”…in other words, those plays for which Shakespeare was the primary writer, and those that then also include the work of others (for example, much was made last fall when Marlowe was now given co-writer credit on the Henry VI plays–more on that in just a minute). These plays (and the solo compositions) are what we normally call “Shakespeare.”
But there are others, ones we’ll call “secondary collaborations.” These are the works that are primarily the literary creations of another writer, but to which it seems Shakespeare contributed. The First Part of Henry VI is one of these plays. Though we look at 1HVI as “Shakespeare,” as it turns out Marlowe did heavy lifting on that one. This is the category where some of the usual suspects (The Two Noble Kinsmen, Henry VIII, and the like) appear, along with the unusual suspects (Sir Thomas More, Adren, Cardenio and the like).
Based upon this new information, I’ve shuffled the configuration around a bit, sliding poetry to the top row, placing the primary collaborations on a row of its own, and putting the secondary collaborations on the two bottom rows. To help keep track of it, I’ve also used a gradient of colors to denote genres (growing lighter the further away from a solo composition it goes).
Oh, and I got rid of the “problem play” category. (and good riddance)
The configuration works, though the table has lost its visual similarity to the shape of the true periodic table of elements. But that’s OK.
Also, some of the “atomic numbers” of the works are missing, as I don’t have those texts. Yet. When this project is done, I’ll do some number-crunching with the New Oxford editions, and this will get a new version.
But for now, here’s the new and improved Periodic Table of Shakespeare.