S. Schoenbaum: OBITUARY
Tuesday 02 April 1996
Early works on Thomas Middleton (Middleton's Tragedies: a critical study, 1955) and on problems of attribution in Elizabethan dramatic authorship (Internal Evidence and Elizabethan Dramatic Authorship, 1966), and a revision (1964) of Alfred Harbage's Annals of English Drama, 975-1700, laid the groundwork. He turned directly to Shakespeare, in the masterly Shakespeare's Lives (1970, revised 1994), an encyclopaedic but immensely entertaining study of earlier investigations into Shakespeare's biography which includes a long section on what he called "Deviations" - attempts to demonstrate that Shakespeare did not write his works.
Next came William Shakespeare: a Documentary Life (1974), a meticulous and splendidly produced investigation of the primary materials accompanied by photocopies of all the relevant documents which he went to great pains to examine himself, wherever they were located. This was supplemented by a no less impressive companion volume, William Shakespeare: records and images (1981). On the title-pages of these, as of all his works, he appears as "S. Schoenbaum"; he had an aversion to the use of any longer form of his name in print.
In the meantime had appeared a compact version (1977) of the Documentary Life. Although he saw this only as the last stage in the process of limbering up for the comprehensive biography that would have crowned his achievement, it remains the fullest, most scholarly, and most readable account of what is known about Shakespeare's life. Like all Schoenbaum's mature work it is characterised by learning lightly borne, and by a prose style that combines high intelligence with a marvellous play of ironical wit.
All this was achieved along with a busy career as a university teacher - mainly at Northwestern University and later at the University of Maryland, where he was Distinguished Professor of Renaissance Studies; as an editor, as a contributor to learned journals, and as a reviewer of books, theatre, and cinema, in which he took a keen interest.
Sam Schoenbaum's dedication to scholarship never stood in the way of his enjoyment of the good things of life. In great demand as a speaker, he travelled extensively, usually accompanied by his wife, Marilyn; he liked to recall that their first date had been at a performance of Othello starring Paul Robeson. He enjoyed good wine, food (cooking it as well as eating it), and restaurants. He was gregarious and made friends easily, he always had time for a gossip, he liked to amuse, he was kindly to young and old; there was no malice in him. On the jacket of the Documentary Life he is portrayed, not uncharacteristically, holding a glass of brandy. He once told me with puzzled hurt that this had caused much ill feeling. His worldly success provoked envy in some of his colleagues, but he took great pleasure in his friends' successes, and was unfailingly generous in criticism.
It must be over 10 years now since multiple sclerosis started to slow Schoenbaum down and to reduce his output. Cancer was to be added. He continued to work, but the big book on which he had set his sights never came into being. I last saw him in Washington two years ago, already bedridden and wraith-like, but patient in affliction and tended with selfless devotion by his wife. A volume of essays planned to celebrate his achievements is about to be published; it will, as all who have contributed feared it might, turn out to be a tribute to his memory.
Samuel Schoenbaum, English scholar: born New York 6 March 1927; staff, Northwestern University 1953-75, Franklin Bliss Snyder Professor of English Literature 1971-75; Visiting Professor, King's College London 1961; Distinguished Professor of English, City University of New York 1975-76; Distinguished Professor of Renaissance Literature, University of Maryland 1976-93, Director, Center for Renaissance and Baroque Studies 1981-96; married 1946 Marilyn Turk; died Washington DC 27 March 1996.
scienceScientists find the answer to a question that even puzzled Darwin
arts + entsThe 'Friends' actor on his new role as campaigner on addiction issues
Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
Colin Farrell reveals ‘affair’ with Elizabeth Taylor: 'She was my last romantic relationship'
Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
India-US row over escalates over arrest of diplomat Devyani Khobragade in New York
Peter O'Toole: Tales of the late film icon
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
Fox News presenter tells viewers it is a 'fact' that both Jesus and Santa Claus are white
You can STILL be jailed for being a republican, government confirms, and it remains illegal to even 'imagine' overthrowing the Queen
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
Fighting back: the woman giving a voice (and 49,999 others) to the victims of sexism - by giving an airing to their horror stories
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
- 1 Facebook 'self-censorship': study records when you don't post to find more ways to share
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 Vitamin pills are a waste of money, offer no health benefits and could be harmful - study
- 5 Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
- < Previous
- Next >
£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Geography ...
£40000 - £60000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Business Developme...
£50000 - £75000 per annum + Negotiable: Austen Lloyd: We have an exciting oppo...
£50000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: This is a rare hi...