Art And Culture

Mixed Authorship in 17 Shakespeare Plays Revealed

Mixed Authorship in 17 Shakespeare Plays RevealedMixed Authorship in 17 Shakespeare Plays Revealed

Seventeen plays attributed to William Shakespeare were written in collaboration with other playwrights, according to an edition of his works coming out this month that uses “big data” to reveal the mixed authorship.

Shakespeare’s reputed rival Christopher Marlowe is credited as co-writer in the Henry VI trilogy of plays while playwright Thomas Middleton is credited as an adaptor for “All’s Well That Ends Well”.

Work on the new edition began in January 2009 and 18 scholars in five countries tussled with the authorship issues.

Editors said the discoveries showed that rather than being rivals that influenced each other, Shakespeare and Marlowe actually worked with each other on the plays, thought to have been written in 1591.

“A lot of scholars have suspected this since the 18th century but until very recently we didn’t have any way to prove it that was reliable,” general editor Gary Taylor of Florida State University told AFP.

He said “big data” computerized databases built up in the last 20 years meant experts could conduct precise comparisons of different authors.

“The whole team is confident that Marlowe wrote some of the scenes in each of these three plays. They had to have both been working on these plays,” said Taylor.  “Part of what’s interesting is the interaction of two very different geniuses. It’s why those plays have struck people as being different from Shakespeare,” said Taylor.

“We can now see that difference is because this is Marlowe, a writer who was very interested in politics, violence and religious conflict.


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