In the century after his death Shakespeare’s reputation depended on performances and adaptations of his plays, as well as the publication and circulation of his works in print. In the eighteenth century interest in Shakespeare intensified. He was canonized as the national poet of England, and was even known as “the god of our idolatry,” as the actor David Garrick proclaimed at his spectacular Shakespeare Jubilee. At the same time, scholars began editing Shakespeare’s works and grounding his biography in historical research.
There was an insatiable desire to access and acquire more and more Shakespeare, which led to a search for new historical evidence. The potential reward for making a new discovery was so great that a few intrepid individuals simply invented documents, and even entirely new “lost” plays. This began the long tradition of faking and remaking Shakespeare to suit contemporary desires.