Mon 13 April 2009, The Guardian

Spare us more Shakespeare 'portraits' - even then no one cared what the playwright looked like

By Germaine Greer
If you were to turn out the attic of your ancestral home and find a genuine 17th-century portrait of a man, there is little chance that the subject would be a playwright, let alone William Shakespeare . In the last decades of the 16th century, and the first decade of the 17th, there was little demand for the likenesses of dramatists, no matter how popular or prolific. When 18th-century publishers looked for portraits to serve as frontispieces of their new de luxe editions of Elizabethan and Jacobean poets, they drew a blank, which they then filled with newly engraved effigies fudged from old woodcuts (most of them generic, with no claim to be likenesses).
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