Timon of Athens is one of Shakespeare's least popular plays. This is because, as most scholars agree, there are scenes missing from the text as well as scenes written by someone other than Shakespeare. The result is that Timon of Athens is seldom produced on the stage today. Nevertheless, Timon of Athens was one of the most popular of Shakespeare's plays during the Restoration and 18th Century. Why? Because it was produced in an adaptation by Thomas Shadwell.
Over 20 of Shakespeare's plays were re-written during the Restoration. Of these, Shadwell's Timon of Athens is certainly the best. Thomas Shadwell was a successful and prolific Restoration playwright, and as he was adapting Timon of Athens, he set out to correct the problems in Shakespeare's play. While retaining much of Shakespeare's dialogue, Shadwell addressed the lack of women in Shakespeare's Timon by giving the title character two mistresses. He added scenes for Alcibiades, whose sudden appearance in Shakespeare's play is always confusing; and he added needed scenes at the end, to bring the play to a more satisfactory conclusion.
The result was an enormously successful adaptation which was popular on the London stage for more than 75 years. Shadwell knew what he was doing as he modestly wrote in his dedication, Timon of Athens "has the inimitable hand of Shakespeare in itbut I have made it a play."