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Shakespeare Forged

Unlike the benign attempts through scholarship to discover new works of Shakespeare, Samuel and William Henry Ireland took a much more direct (though also immoral) route when Samuel, a rare book dealer, revealed that his son William had discovered a cache of documents written by Shakespeare. 

The documents eventually revealed included notes for Hamlet, the complete manuscript of King Lear, correspondence between Queen Elizabeth and Shakespeare, and a complete new play, Vortigern and Rowena. The documents caused an uproar when they were discovered, but were quickly deemed forgeries once this volume was published and experts were able to examine them. One of the final straws was the production of Vortigern and Rowena, which was unable even to finish its first night of production--the audience drowned out the actors with laughter at the quality of the work, and refused to allow the actors to come back onstage unless another play was substituted.

The refutation of these forgeries by scholars was not difficult once reproductions were published: simply by comparing the forgeries to known examples of the same handwriting, the differences were clear. Compare this letter to the forged letter of Queen Elizabeth, above--the Virgin Queen was well-known for her excellent handwriting, while the Ireland forgeries were written by a much shakier hand.

Shakespeare Forged