Shakespeare was an exceptional figure in this world because he was not only a shareholder and actor in his company, but also its leading playwright—he was literally his own boss. He had, moreover, little interest in the publication of his plays, and even those that appeared during his lifetime with the authorization of the company show no signs of any editorial concern on the part of the author. Theater was, for Shakespeare, a fluid and supremely responsive medium—the very opposite of the great classical canonical text that has embodied his work since 1623.

Stephen Orgel and A. R. Braunmuller, “Shakespeare: The Life and the Texts”, in The Pelican Shakespeare: The Sonnets, edited by Stephen Orgel