John Payne Collier (1789-1883), one of the most controversial figures in the history of literary scholarship, pursued a double career. A prolific and highly influential writer on the drama, poetry, and popular prose of Shakespeare's age, Collier was at the same time the promulgator of a great body of forgeries and false evidence, seriously affecting the text and biography of Shakespeare and many others. This monumental two-volume work for the first time addresses the whole of Collier's activity, systematically sorting out his genuine achievements from his impostures.
Arthur and Janet Freeman reassess the scholar-forger's long life, milieu, and relations with a large circle of associates and rivals while presenting a chronological bibliography of his extensive publications, all fully annotated with regard to their creditability. The authors also survey the broader history of literary forgery in Great Britain and consider why so talented a man not only yielded to its temptations but also persisted in it throughout his life.