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The Oxford University Press, The Complete Works of James Shirley

Editorial Board

  • Nigel Bawcutt
  • David Bevington
  • Martin Butler
  • Andrew Hadfield
  • Peter Holland
  • Lucy Munro
  • Alison Searle
  • Brett Greatley-Hirsch

General Editors

  • Eugene Giddens (Anglia Ruskin)
  • Teresa Grant (Warwick)
  • Barbara Ravelhofer (Durham)


The Oxford Complete Works of James Shirley will present a corpus of around 50 works, including plays, poems, and prose. James Shirley is arguably the most significant dramatic writer of the late English Renaissance, and his complete works have never been edited. The most recent edition of his plays is the 1888 Methuen collection, and his plays and poems last appeared together in the Gifford/Dyce edition of 1833. Our edition will be based on current editorial standards and theory, with close attention paid to accuracy and bibliographical understanding of the copy-texts.

Project Update

2018 has seen several successful grant applications for the Shirley project and the first schedule-to-publish agreement with OUP. Volume 6 (Plays 4) looks like it will be the first print volume to go to press (in April 2019), and so approval from the Delegates of the Press was sought and given in September 2018. Contract negotiations are in train with the Press and should be finalised by the end of January.

The main funding secured this year was for an MHRA Research Associateship based in the CSR -- a postdoctoral researcher to work closely with Dr Teresa Grant and Professor Eugene Giddens (Anglia Ruskin) who are responsible for three quarters of the print volumes. Under the guidance of Dr Grant and Professor Giddens, the RA will help usher forth our first two printed volumes, each containing four plays. The principal duties of the RA are fourfold: a) checking the modernised texts and collation of variants against the copytexts; b) performing stop-press collations on copies in the UK that project members have not seen; c) co-authoring the Shirley chronologies for the volume introductions; and d) fact-checking the textual and critical introductions to each play. We appointed Emil Rybczak, who had previously contributed to the electronic and print editions, to the post in a very competitive field. We have been working to get the four plays in volume 6 – The Constant Maid, The Politician, The Gentleman of Venice and The Doubtful Heir – ready to go to press in April. Both of us have been collating and double-checking the collations in various academic libraries, especially in London, Oxford and Cambridge, as well as responding to editors’ material as it comes in. The volume is shaping up very nicely now, though there is still an awful lot of necessarily last-minute checking to do.

We have also been successful in funding applications with the Society of Renaissance Studies for a public engagement award and with the Bibliographical Society for travel money. The former is support for a very exciting event, a staged reading of James Shirley’s The Politician (1639) in Dublin. In a joint venture with UCD and Sussex, the James Shirley Project is taking The Politician back to Dublin to engage with Irish spectators all over again, in a staged reading at Smock Alley Theatre on 4 April 2019. It will be acted by students from University College Dublin and professionally directed. As a public engagement event it is special because it stages a play written for the Irish stage in a theatre nearly as old as the play (Smock Alley dates from 1662) and we will seek feedback from modern Dubliners about a play written for their fellow citizens from nearly 400 years ago when The Politician was staged in the new Werburgh Street Theatre in Dublin during Shirley’s long visit (c. 1636-40). There is rich hitherto untapped potential for impact and public engagement available which this event will make available.   

Forthcoming Volumes

The editors are delighted to announce that the first two volumes of the The Complete Works of James Shirley are currently under preparation. Each of these will contain four plays prepared by individual editors. It is expected that the first of these volumes will go to press during 2019.

Portrait of James Shirley by unknown artist, from the Bodleian Library collection.