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"One of the most useful and entertaining books I have ever read on Shakespeare's theatrical history." - Prof. Grace Tiffany, Western Michigan University
"Who owns Shakespeare? Most of us would say we all do but, in 1937, NBC and CBS fought it out as to the rights to argue that Shakespeare was their domain. Michael P. Jensen has brought back to life this extraordinary and almost completely forgotten Battle for the Bard on the radio with superb research and an engaging style that takes us right into the heart of the firstmass medium and its astonishing popularity in the 1930s as well as the networks' competing claims for the cultural high ground of owning Shakespeare. More than simply a study of Shakespeare on radio, this study speaks of the ways in which U.S. mass-media, then and now, negotiate with prestige culture." - Prof. Peter Holland, University of Notre Dame
Difficult as it is to imagine today, in 1937 America’s two leading media companies fought over the right to perform Shakespeare for an American radio audience in an attempt to bring prestige to their networks. The resulting fourteen broadcasts are among the more remarkable recreations of Shakespeare of their time. This lively and engaging book shows the cultural dominance of radio in the 1930s, and tells the story of why the networks each wanted to lord Shakespeare’s prestige over the other, how they put their series together, the critical reception, and the cultural impact and legacies of the broadcasts.
Michael P. Jensen has authored more than a hundred articles and chapters in books on William Shakespeare. He is a Contributing Editor for Shakespeare Newsletter.