Robert Bearman’s book Shakespeare’s Money (2016) can be considered the first economic biography of William Shakespeare; but it is also the latest specimen of an innovative trend in Shakespeare biography which has come to the fore over the last ten years or so. While the vein of cradle-to-grave biographies seems to be exhausted, new attention is being devoted to parts of Shakespeare’s life, with an attitude that has been seen as ‘microhistorical’ or ‘disintegrationist’. The article will discuss this new kind of sensitivity to biography in general and Shakespeare biography in particular. It starts out by addressing certain developments in the theory and practice of life writing during the second half of the twentieth century, which are today becoming ever more substantial; it then examines the progress of Shakespeare biographies and, in particular, how the issue of money has been tackled since Nicolas Rowe first dealt with it.
Paola Pugliatti has written extensively on Shakespeare and early modern European culture and on modernist literature. Her present interests include biography and authorship studies. Her latest book-length studies are Beggary and Theatre in Early Modern England (2003) and Shakespeare and the Just War Tradition (2010). She is editor, with Donatella Pallotti, of Journal of Early Modern Studies.