E. K. Chambers

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Sir Edmund Kerchever Chambers (1866–1954) was an English literary critic and Shakespearean scholar. His four-volume history of Elizabethan theater, published in 1923, remains a standard resource for scholars of the period's drama.

Chambers was born in West Ilsley, Berkshire; his father was a curate and his mother was the daughter of a Victorian theologian. He was educated at Marlborough College before matriculating at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He won a number of prizes, including the chancellor's prize in English for an essay on literary forgery. He took a job with the national education department and married Eleanor Bowman in 1893.

In the newly created Board of Education, Chambers worked principally to oversee adult and continuing education. He rose to second secretary, but the work for which he is remembered took place outside the office, at least before he retired from the Board in 1926. He was the first president of the Malone Society, serving from 1906 to 1939. He edited collections of verse for Oxford University Press. He produced a work on King Arthur and a privately printed collection of poems.

However, his great work, begun even before he left Oxford and which he pursued for three decades, was a great examination of the history and conditions of English theater in the medieval and Renaissance periods. This study, which Chambers (in the preface to Elizabethan Stage) called prolegomena to a "little book on Shakespeare," was published in three...
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