Over the past four hundred years an enormous community of scholars have heeded assiduously John Hemminges's and Henry Condell's advice. They have read and reread William Shakespeare, edited his language, modernized his punctuation, parsed usages, debated intentions, and analyzed his words with tests: syntactical, historical, linguistical, and digital. There's a convenient example of Shakespeare writing for a tiny clique in Julius Caesar, the tragedy he purpose-wrote to christen the new Bankside Globe in 1599. Shakespeare composed his Roman tragedy for the delectation of a mass audience who shared a common appetite to see a tyrant ridiculed and slain. But Shakespeare also wrote into this play more than one passage intelligible only to that handful of the wiser sort who had read Plutarch and knew their Suetonius.
This chapter pinpoints 27 December 1601 as the date of the first performance
of Twelfth Night – and demonstrates that Shakespeare wrote his play for two
audiences, one at Elizabeth’s Court, the other at the Inns of Court.