Leggatt, Alexander 1940–

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Leggatt, Alexander 1940–

(Alexander Maxwell Leggatt)


Born August 18, 1940, in Oakville, Ontario, Canada; son of James Maxwell and Mary Margaret Leggatt; married Margaret Ann Thomas, 1964; children: Judith, Helen, Jillian, Rosalind. Education: University of Toronto, B.A., 1962; University of Birmingham, M.A., 1963, Ph.D., 1965. Hobbies and other interests: Theater, film, travel, photography.


Home—Toronto, Ontario, Canada; fax: 416-755-3036. E-mail—[email protected].


University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, lecturer, 1965-67, assistant professor, 1967-71, associate professor, 1971-75, professor of English, 1975-2006, professor emeritus, 2006—.


International Shakespeare Association, International Association of University Professors of English, Royal Society of Canada (fellow), PEN Canada, Amnesty International.


Guggenheim fellow, 1985-86; Killam fellow, 1995-97.


Citizen Comedy in the Age of Shakespeare, University of Toronto Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1973.

Shakespeare's Comedy of Love, Methuen (New York, NY), 1974.

(With J. Leeds Barroll, Richard Hosley, and Alvin Kernan) The Revels History of Drama in English, Volume 3, Methuen (New York, NY), 1975.

Ben Jonson: His Vision and His Art, Methuen (New York, NY), 1981.

English Drama: Shakespeare to the Restoration, 1590-1660, Longman (New York, NY), 1988.

Shakespeare's Political Drama: The History Plays and the Roman Plays, Routledge (New York, NY), 1988.

King Lear, Twayne (Boston, MA), 1988.

(With Lois Norem) Coriolanus: An Annotated Bibliography, Garland Publishing (New York, NY), 1989.

(Editor, with H.B. de Groot) Craft and Tradition: Essays in Honour of William Blissett, University of Calgary Press (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), 1990.

Shakespeare in Performance: King Lear, Manchester University Press (Manchester, England), 1991, 2nd edition, 2004.

Jacobean Public Theatre, Routledge (New York, NY), 1992.

English Stage Comedy, 1490-1990: Five Centuries of a Genre, Routledge (New York, NY), 1998.

Introduction to English Renaissance Comedy, Manchester University Press (Manchester, England), 1999, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1999.

(Editor, with Karen Bamford) Approaches to Teaching English Renaissance Drama, Modern Language Association of America (New York, NY), 2002.

(Editor) The Cambridge Companion to Shakespearean Comedy, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2002.

Shakespeare's Tragedies: Violation and Identity, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2005.

(Editor) William Shakespeare's Macbeth: A Sourcebook, Routledge (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor to language and literature journals. Associate editor, Modern Drama, 1972-75.


Alexander Leggatt is the author of several works of literary criticism, many of which focus on English drama. In Jacobean Public Theatre, noted T.H. Howard-Hill in Review of English Studies, Leggatt "notices that the popular theatre of Jacobean England still lies largely neglected by academicians." Howard-Hill further stated: "Leggatt laments that ‘scripts designed for a large general audience have been reduced to texts for specialist study’ and identifies the chief value of these plays as theatrical." Howard-Hill explained that many scholars may not consider such works in the same manner as others like Shakespeare's Hamlet, which seems to be timeless and not tied merely to the interests of the audiences of its author's day. However, the reviewer called Jacobean Public Theatre an "enjoyable work" in which "exposition is grounded in consideration of the ‘popular’ theatres … in relation to the audiences they attracted. The second section is concerned with production, acting, and narrative values and contains a good amount of familiar material pleasantly deployed." The work ends with short readings of four plays.

A reviewer in Renaissance Quarterly called Leggatt's Introduction to English Renaissance Comedy "a selection which suggests ‘the range and variety of the genre at this period and examin[es] some of its recurring preoccupations.’" The work explores nine plays—focusing on authors such as Shakespeare, Lyly, Jonson, and Brome—while also offering full chapters on various writers themselves. L.M. Tenbusch in Choice stated, "The individual chapters stimulate; their accumulation gives a sense of the whole field." Tenbusch lauded: "Books such as this one can stir enthusiasm and spur scholarship."

Leggatt told CA: "I see my academic writing as an extension of teaching. Students are the audience I am most concerned with, though anyone else is welcome to eavesdrop. The questions I am interested in are the basic ones I would try to address when discussing a play in the classroom. What kind of human experience is going on here, and what is at stake? What hopes are being held out, what fears are we made to face? I also try to be aware, sometimes implicitly, sometimes explicitly, of the performance implications of a play text, the choices it offers to actors, the ways it can work on an audience."



Choice, January, 2000, L.M. Tenbusch, review of Introduction to English Renaissance Comedy, p. 933.

Library Journal, May 1, 1981, Rosamond Putzel, review of Ben Jonson: His Vision and His Art, p. 975.

Renaissance Quarterly, winter, 1999, review of Introduction to English Renaissance Comedy, p. 1202.

Review of English Studies, February, 1996, T.H. Howard-Hill, review of Jacobean Public Theatre, p. 85.