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Shakespeare as Bone of Contention

Because of the importance of Shakespeare in British and world culture, many people have tried to connect to his legacy by attempting to find more of his works. The works featured on this page, which have had their authorship debated throughout the years by individuals who hope to discover new Shakespearian works, are a more begign attempt to connect in that way.

This play has tempted Shakespeare scholars since it was published because of the initials on the title page, and was even included in the second impression of the Third Folio. It is part of what is known as the Shakespeare Apocrypha: plays which are attributed, with various degrees of agreement and amounts of evidence, to Shakespeare either entirely or in part. The membership of this group has changed over time as Shakespeare researchers use various techniques--from close analysis of the text of the play to records from Elizabethan London--to ascertain the truth. Unfortunately, modern scholarship rejects Shakespeare’s authorship of this play: it is now attributed to Thomas Middleton.

This play was attributed to Shakespeare because it was bound in a volume with two other Elizabethan plays as “Shakespeare, Vol. 1” in the library of Charles II (1630-1685). Modern scholars have investigated all of the plays that were attributed to Shakespeare by anyone in the decades immediately following his death, under the assumption that those attributions could have relied on evidence that is now lost. Researchers have concluded that this play was probably not written by the Bard, though there is no agreement as to who the actual author might be.

Disagreement about whether this play was by Shakespeare was resolved in the opposite direction as the previous two plays. While there was originally doubt as to whether Shakespeare was involved in the writing of this play, it is now generally agreed by scholars that Shakespeare wrote part of this play in collaboration with John Fletcher, a contemporary playwright whose fame in the early 17th century rivaled Shakespeare’s.

Shakespeare as Bone of Contention