“Hoax” Shakespeare play may be the real deal after all

From Discovery News:

LOST SHAKESPEARE PLAY: FOUND?
An academic claims that an 18th century play, called “Double Falsehood,” was based on a work by William Shakespeare.

Is this love’s labor no longer lost? A scholar says a play written in the 18th-century is very likely based on a missing work by William Shakespeare.

After years of literary investigation, a professor at the University of Nottingham said Tuesday he’s certain “Double Falsehood, or the Distressed Lovers” was born out of “Cardenio,” a play Shakespeare scholars believe existed.

Some scholars believe Lewis Theobald’s “Double Falsehood,” first performed in London’s West End in December 1727, was based substantially on the Bard’s “Cardenio.”

“There is definitely Shakespearean DNA,” said English literature professor Brean Hammond, who has worked since 2002 to determine if “Double Falsehood” has Shakespearean roots. Arden Shakespeare, an authoritative publisher of the Bard’s works, has released an edition of the play edited by Hammond — a decision the publisher acknowledges is controversial.

Arden’s general editor, Shakespeare scholar Richard Proudfoot, agrees with Hammond and says there is no absolute way of knowing if “Double Falsehood” is based on Shakespeare’s work, but he argues it is a “sufficiently sustainable position” that it represents the play in some form.

“My position is one of fairly confident — but cautious — acceptance,” he said.

Full article

And a few more news links for this story:

The Guardian: ‘Shakespeare’s lost play’ no hoax, says expert

The Telegraph: Why William Shakespeare’s lost play is not a forgery

And also from The Telegraph: William Shakespeare’s lost play Double Falsehood: a synopsis

Sunday short takes

* Not exactly Tudor related, but cool: SepiaTown – mapped historical photos from around the world.

* Shakespeare’s Kings and Westminster Abbey – RSC actors performing excerpts from the history plays in the coronation ‘theater’ of the Abbey. I wish I could attend some of these!

* Presentation on objects from Tudor and Stuart playhouses at the Museum of London on April 24

Sunday short takes

* Henry VIII to be staged this season at the Globe (from the BBC). Let’s hope history doesn’t repeat itself with this production! They will also have two new productions this year: one a play about Anne Boleyn and another that will be the first play performed at the Globe from a woman playwright (from The Guardian).

* History Today has an article by Linda Porter – Katherine Parr: An Ideal Stepmother. Porter has a new biography on Parr due out in March in the UK (you can sign up to be notified for the US release at the link below).

* There are several upcoming Tudor Events at Hampton Court Palace that look interesting. As always, if anyone gets a chance to go to any of these, I’d love to hear about it!

* A new book on the death of Amy Robsart Dudley is out in the UK (article from The Times Online). UK Amazon link below (and another US “sign up to be notified”)

Sunday short takes

I guess I’m sort of debuting a new blog feature in this post. I’ve done news round-up/catch-up posts in the past, but I thought I would give them an official name. Sometimes they might be “Saturday short takes” instead, but they will probably always be one of the weekend days since that’s when I have time and both Saturday and Sunday start with “s” and I get to use an alliterative title. 🙂

* You Tube video of the commemoration service for Catherine of Aragon at Peterborough Cathedral. I never got around to posting about this year’s event, but here is a link to a past post about it.

* Rosary from the Mary Rose featured at the BBC’s A History of the World

* Reconstructed face from the Mary Rose goes on display (BBC article). This is the reconstruction that I linked to an article about last March. Additional articles from the Times Online and The Telegraph

* Stirling Castle carvings will be on display at the castle until Feb. 21 (BBC article). This is a continuation of the project that I’ve blogged about a few times (most recently here). The carvings will soon be painted and put in place as part of the project to reconstruct the renaissance royal palace inside the castle. You can learn more at the official Stirling Castle website

* Snack food of Shakespearean theater-goers (Discovery News article). I’m not a fan of seafood but the nuts and dried fruit sounds good. I’ll probably stick with popcorn and Junior Mints though.

* Help Romeo collect flowers for Juliet (appropriate for Valentine’s Day!) in the Shakespeare Game from Shakespeare Country Tourism

The Final Act of Mr. Shakespeare

This hasn’t been published yet, but I thought I would go ahead and ask if any of you have read this? It looks interesting:

Review from The Times Online:

Robert Winder may just have redefined literary chutzpah. Not only has he produced a novel with Shakespeare as its principal character, he has also put into it the complete text of Shakespeare’s supposed last play, made up by Winder but modestly described as the Bard’s “masterpiece”. The Final Act in the novel’s title refers partly to the concluding phase of Shakespeare’s life and partly to this culminating dramatic production, conceived as an act of defiance. For Shakespeare, in this novel, is a radical with a conscience. A democrat disgusted by regal corruption, he fears his life’s work might be seen merely as an apologia for tyranny. In Richard III, he celebrated the advent of Henry Tudor, father to the monster he calls “Henry the Ape”. Now, with The Tragicall History of Henry VII, he intends to put the record straight about the Tudors.

Full article

News link round-up

I’m clearing out all the articles that I have saved over the past couple of weeks and dumping them all into this post:

* Debunking the Myth of Lady Jane Grey

Thought-provoking article by Leanda de Lisle at Intelligent Life (a lifestyle and culture magazine from The Economist)

* Mary Rose Trust photos on Wikipedia

Mary Rose Trust releases photographs onto Wikipedia
Unseen Mary Rose pictures revealed in groundbreaking Wikipedia deal

* Exhibition features documents suggesting Shakespeare was Catholic

Shakespeare was a ‘secret Catholic’ new exhibition shows

* Greenwich to become a Royal Borough in 2012

This honors its long connection with the English and British monarchy (lots of Tudor connections there!). The other Royal Boroughs are Kensington and Chelsea, Kingston upon Thames, and Windsor and Maidenhead.

Greenwich Becomes Royal Borough
Queen to grant Greenwich Royal Borough status for Diamond Jubilee

* Catch up on “The Tudors”

Season Three is now available on iTunes (this link goes to the Showtime site, which has a link to the iTunes store)
Unfortunately I didn’t see it in time for the first episode, but Showtime is replaying all of the previous seasons in a lead-up to the season 4 premiere in April. Here’s a link to the schedule.

And finally…

* 2010 sees the 450th anniversary of the refoundation of Westminster Abbey

The history of Westminster Abbey, London – The coming year is the 450th anniversary of Elizabeth I’s refoundation of Westminster Abbey as the collegiate church we know today

[I caught a few errors in the first paragraph after the ad in the middle of the article. I’m going to post a comment on the article and hopefully someone will see it and correct it.]

Archaeological dig at Shakespeare’s New Place

From the BBC:

Archaeologists are preparing to excavate the site of Shakespeare’s final home to find out more about the history of the building.

The New Place, in Stratford-upon-Avon, was built in 1483 and is thought to be where the playwright died in 1616.

The building itself was demolished in 1759, but it is thought remains of the old house are still underground.

Archaeologists will start initial tests on the site on Tuesday and a full dig could be carried out next year.

The experts from Birmingham Archaeology will be searching for the foundations of the New Place and will be looking through the original wells and possibly rubbish pits.

Full article

New Place showed up here back in June as Picture of the Week #23

Henslowe-Alleyn archive now online

From The Guardian:

A unique archive on the theatre of Shakespeare’s times, revealing everything from the price of a ferry ticket across the Thames to the cost of a tumbler’s breeches, becomes available free to the world today when the papers of the theatre owner and entrepreneur Philip Henslowe and his actor son-in-law Edward Alleyn go online.

Henslowe built one of the first theatres in London, the Rose, on the site of a bear-baiting ring and brothel. Shakespeare almost certainly worked as an actor there and some of his plays, including Titus Andronicus, were first performed there.

Shakespeare earned fortunes – for others, and enough to make himself one of the richest men in his native Stratford-upon-Avon – but contemporary box office receipts survive for just one play. In February 1594 Henslowe earned 40 shillings in one day from a play he called Tittus & ondronicus, carefully noting the takings in his diary.

Alleyn, one of the superstars of the Elizabethan stage, became Henslowe’s business partners in several other theatres and commercial ventures.

Alleyn left their archive, including his own journal in which he scrupulously recorded everything from the cost of having his wife’s stockings darned to the school he founded, Dulwich College. The fragile originals, a treasure trove for theatre and social historians and archaeologists working on Shakespeare’s playhouses, have been available only to scholars until today.

Full article

Link to The Henslowe-Alleyn Digitisation Project

This is not not only a great resource for scholars, but also perhaps for someone working on a novel set in the theaters of Shakespearean England. It’s really nice to see more and more archives like these coming online and freely available!

Catch-up post

Yeah, it’s time for another catch-up post since I’ve been busy and I wasn’t feeling well for a few days, which is always a bad combination for productivity!

* Leanda deLisle has an article in the September issue The New Criterion entitled Faking Jane about the Spinola letter which purported to have an eyewitness description of Lady Jane Grey. Some of you might be able to access it through libraries, but you can also buy the individual article for $3. There has also been some discussion of the article over on the Q&A blog.

* Dame Judi Dench is looking to recreate The Rose theater in the north of England with the set from Shakespeare in Love. I think I had a news article about her saving the set back in the pre-blog days, but it apparently didn’t make it over when I switched from the old “News and Events” page to the blog.

* A rare Elizabethan hammerbeam roof in a barn at Westenhanger Castle has been restored by English Hertiage.

* And finally – a neat story from The Telegraph about How two Tudor lion statues came home to Hampton Court. Many years ago someone sent me some photos of some similar statues that they were looking for more information on and unfortunately now I can’t find the email or photos. I had to go through and clear out a lot of that stuff at one point so I might have deleted them. But it makes me wonder how many other things like this are still out there waiting to be found!

Investigation into the monument of Fulke Greville

From The Telegraph:

Tomb search could end riddle of Shakespeare’s true identity

A sarcophagus in an English parish church could solve the centuries-old literary debate over who really wrote the plays of William Shakespeare.

Parishioners at St Mary’s church in Warwick have sought permission to examine the contents of the 17th monument built by Fulke Greville, a writer and contemporary of Shakespeare who some believe is the true author of several of the Bard’s works.

In an echo of the blockbuster book and film, The Da Vinci Code, the search has been prompted by the discovery by an historian of clues in Greville’s writings which suggest he had several manuscripts buried there, including a copy of Antony and Cleopatra.

A radar scan of the sarcophagus has already indicated the presence inside of three “box like” shapes. The searchers believe these could contain documents and a further examination is now being proposed which they hope will finally prove the link between Greville and Shakespeare.

The initial search, using ground penetrating radar, was approved by the parochial church council and the diocesan council. The team now wants to use an endoscope – a tiny video camera on a long thin tube – to be inserted into the monument to test his claims.

The work would be supervised by Professor Warwick Rodwell, consultant archaeologist to Westminster Abbey, who is keen for the project to go ahead.

The parochial council also wants the sarcophagus to be opened because it believes that any new evidence will bring extra visitors and save the church, the foundations of which date back 900 years, from bankruptcy.

“St Mary’s is a beautiful church but is in desperate financial straits,” a spokesman said. “Any manuscripts that are found would safeguard its future.”

However, the diocesan advisory committee and the Church Buildings Council are resisting the new search, on “ethical grounds” and a final decision could now be taken by the diocese’s consistory court.

Full article

This is the same church I mentioned in Picture of the Week #21. And here is a link to their official website.

Book for 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s sonnets

A new book is out about another anniversary this year – the first publication of a complete collection of Shakespeare’s sonnets in 1609. It seems that a lot of interesting things happened in years ending in a 9!


So Long as Men Can Breathe
By Clinton Heylin

Shakespeare’s Sonnets are famous the world over, but did their author intend to keep them from ever being published? In this lively, fascinating account of the publication of the Sonnets, noted biographer Clinton Heylin brings their convoluted history to light, beginning with the first complete appearance of the Sonnets in print in May, 1609. He introduces us to the “unholy alliance” involved in this precarious enterprise: Thomas Thorpe, the publisher, a self-described “well wishing adventurer;” George Eld, the printer, heavily embroiled in large-scale pirating; William Aspley, the prestigious bookseller, who mysteriously ended his association with Thorpe soon after. Leaving the calamitous world of Elizabethan publishing, Heylin goes on to chart the many editions of the Sonnets through the years and the editorial decisions that led to their present configuration. Passionate, astute, and brilliantly entertaining, the result is a concise and vivid history of perhaps the greatest poetry ever written.

Here’s the How to Order page from the publisher and my usual Amazon links are below (standard disclaimer – I earn a small amount from books purchased through the affiliate links):



More “discovered” Shakespeare

This time it is some written works –

From The Telegraph:

Academic ‘discovers’ six works by William Shakespeare

An academic claims to have discovered six previously unrecognised works by William Shakespeare.

Dr John Casson claims to have unearthed Shakespeare’s first published poem, the Phaeton sonnet, his first comedy, Mucedorus, and his first tragedies, Locrine and Arden of Faversham.

He also explores the plays Thomas of Woodstock and A Yorkshire Tragedy, and claims to prove that a ‘lost play’ called Cardenio is a genuine work by Shakespeare and fellow playwright John Fletcher.

Dr Casson spent three years studying writings thought to be connected to Shakespeare and poring over the life and letters of aristocrat Sir Henry Neville, considered by some academics to be the latest candidate for the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays.

He has published his findings in a book, titled Enter Pursued by a Bear.

“Some people have said, ‘we don’t know if this is by William Shakespeare’, so I’ve been able to study them and say ‘yes, here’s the evidence for Shakespeare but here’s also the evidence for Neville,’ so I’ve been able to link the two,” Dr Casson said.

“I started off looking at works where we weren’t sure whether they were by Shakespeare or not and I tested them to see if there was any evidence for Henry Neville.

“I’ve found evidence pouring out and I’ve been able to show Shakespeare’s development from his early days.”

Dr Casson, an independent researcher and psychotherapist, said: “The folio on display contains what many think are the complete works of Shakespeare, but I have discovered six new plays that are all by the Bard, but which never made it into this 400-year-old collection.”

He added: “What we thought were the first plays by Shakespeare appeared anonymously in the early 1590s.

Full article

And for anyone interested in getting the book, here are the Amazon links from my affiliate store:

Follow up on Shakespeare portrait

There were a lot of follow-up articles on this possible new portrait, but I thought this particular one (with some interesting comparison images) was good.

From The Times Online:

Shakespeare Unfound(ed)?
The real identity of the sitter for the new “Shakespeare” portrait

A claim by the eminent Shakespearean Stanley Wells that a Jacobean painting from the family collection of Mr Alec Cobbe, long held in Ireland, is a “life portrait” of Shakespeare, has been widely publicized. From April 23, Shakespeare’s birthday, the painting will be the centrepiece of an exhibition at the Shakespeare Centre in Stratford-upon-Avon entitled Shakespeare Found. Meanwhile, an illustrated brochure by Mark Broch and Paul Edmondson outlines the basis of this exciting claim. Four surviving versions of the portrait, of which the “Cobbe” is claimed as the original or “prime”, can be shown to date from around 1610. “Long traditions” are mentioned which identify the sitter as Shakespeare. However, no dates or sources are provided for these “traditions”, which appear to relate chiefly to the version now owned by the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, whose close similarity to Alec Cobbe’s picture seems to have got this ball rolling.

Last week Dr Tarnya Cooper, the sixteenth-century curator at the National Portrait Gallery, declared herself “very sceptical” about Wells’s claim, and remarked that “if anything . . . both works [the Folger and Cobbe portraits] are more likely to represent the courtier Sir Thomas Overbury”. A suggestion made long ago by David Piper that yet another version of the portrait, the “Ellenborough”, is of Overbury, is waved away as “mistaken” by the authors of the brochure. Yet the views of experts such as Cooper and Piper cannot be dismissed so easily.

An authentic portrait of Sir Thomas Overbury (1581–1613) was bequeathed to the Bodleian Library in Oxford in 1740. This picture bears a startling resemblance to the “Cobbe” painting (and its companions). Features such as a distinctive bushy hairline, and a slightly malformed left ear that may once have borne the weight of a jewelled earring, appear identical. Even the man’s beautifully intricate lace collar, though not identical in pattern, shares overall design with “Cobbe”, having square rather than rounded corners. The original is now shrouded in the air-conditioned bowels of the Bodleian, alongside many such treasures awaiting restoration.

Full article

Original post on the portrait

More on Shakespeare’s ‘First Theater’

This is an update to a story that I blogged about last summer:

From the BBC:

A team from the Museum of London found the remains of what they believe is also Britain’s first purpose built theatre in Shoreditch last summer.

Built in 1576, it is thought the Bard acted there and that it also hosted the premiere of Romeo and Juliet.

The site is now owned by the Tower Theatre Company and a new playhouse is due to open there in 2012.

Taryn Nixon, from the Museum of London, said her team had found part of the original curved wall of the playhouse, which was believed to be polygonal in shape.

A metre and a half below street level, it has also uncovered the gravel surface, gently sloping down towards the stage, where the bulk of the audience would have stood.

But the archaeologists fear the stage itself may be buried underneath a housing development.

Full article (with a short video that has a nice overview of the site)

Two possible new views of The Bard

First up, from The Times Online:

Is this the real Shakespeare at last?

A PORTRAIT owned for nearly 300 years by a family will tomorrow be claimed as the only known picture of William Shakespeare painted during his lifetime.

No other image, executed at first hand, is thought to exist of Britain’s greatest writer.

The claim will be supported by the world’s foremost expert on Shakespeare, Stanley Wells, emeritus professor of Shakespeare studies at Birmingham University and general editor of the Oxford Shakespeare series for 30 years.

The portrait, which was painted in 1610, six years before the playwright’s death, has been in the possession of the Cobbe family since the early 18th century. It was initially kept at a property in Hampshire but more recently in Hatchlands, the family house in Surrey, which is run by the National Trust.

Full article (with picture)

Update: Here’s an article from Time magazine with a full view of the portrait

And from The Guardian, a related object:

Mystery relic found during London excavation is linked to Shakespeare

The bearded Tudor face, framed by long hair and a ruff, certainly looks familiar. As the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust prepares today to unveil what it says is a portrait of the Bard painted during his lifetime, archaeologists may have beaten them to it.

A team working on the site where Shakespeare learned his trade has discovered a piece of 16th-century pottery that features a face resembling that of the great man.

It was found during excavation work in Shoreditch, east London, at the site of what used to be The Theatre, lost for more than 400 years and where Shakespeare performed as an actor, as well as staging his earliest plays.

Archaeologists unearthed the Tudor structure last summer while working at the site – which, by coincidence, is to be turned into a new theatre.

There is no proof that the face on the fragment of Beauvais pottery is that of the Bard’s, but insiders are excited by the discovery.

Full article (unfortunately without a picture)

Worcester Cathedral receives grant to finish restoration

From Worcester News:

Worcester Cathedral is to be given ÂŁ106,000 to carry out essential work that will bring a 20-year restoration programme to a close.

Staff at the cathedral said they were delighted to have got the money from the cathedral grants scheme run by English Heritage and the Wolfson Foundation.

The money will be put towards repairing masonry in the cloisters, one of the failing buttresses and a wall in the southern part of the nave.

Both King John and Prince Arthur, the ill-fated heir of Henry VII who died at the age of 15, are buried at Worcester Cathedral.

The only existing copy of William Shakespeare’s marriage licence to Anne Hathaway is on display there.

Full article

Official website of Worcester Cathedral

Shakespeare’s first theater found

From the BBC:

An archaeological dig has recovered what is thought to be the remains of the theatre where Shakespeare’s plays were first performed.

The Theatre was found in excavations by the Museum of London at a site in Shoreditch, east London, being prepared for the building of a new theatre.

It was one of London’s first dedicated playhouses when it opened in 1576.

It was dismantled and its timbers taken to the South Bank, where they were used to construct The Globe in 1599.

A spokesman for the Museum of London said it had long been known that an open air playhouse, called The Theatre, stood in this area, but traces of its exact location had proved elusive.

Full article (with photo)

Stolen “First Folio” found, suspect arrested

There have been a lot of news stories about this floating around, so I randomly chose the one from The Guardian to link to and quote here.

A tale of greed, woe and comic folly – not unlike those contained within its ancient pages – appeared to be nearing its final act today after the recovery of a “priceless” edition of Shakespeare’s plays stolen a decade ago.

The first folio edition, printed in 1623, was among a number of books and manuscripts taken from Durham University library in December 1998.

Durham police said a 51-year-old man, claiming to be an international businessman who had acquired the volume in Cuba, had showed the folio to staff at a library in Washington, DC and asked them to verify it was genuine.

In a moment of apparent foolhardiness, he agreed to leave it with librarians, whose research revealed it as stolen.

After a search involving the FBI, the British embassy in Washington DC alerted Durham police to the find.

Also stolen were two handwritten manuscripts from the late 14th or early 15th century, one bearing an English translation of the New Testament and the other being a fragment of a poem by the Canterbury Tales author, Geoffrey Chaucer.

A Beowulf edition printed in 1815 and two editions of the Old English epic by the 10th century scholar Aelfric, one printed in 1566 and the other in 1709, were also taken.

He said there was no suggestion at the moment that the house contained the other seven books and manuscripts taken from the library.

The Shakespeare edition is in the care of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC until it is returned to Durham. The university’s vice-chancellor, Prof Chris Higgins, said security had been significantly improved in the past decade.

Full story

Another in a long list of properties I wish I had the money to buy!

This time it is a 16th century coaching inn that has been turned into a private residence. And as a bonus feature… Shakespeare is believed to have stayed at the inn.

From The Telegraph:

The inn at Grendon, where the playwright reputedly stayed, was The Ship, an enormous building for the time and purposebuilt in the 1570s: three floors of brick and timber; 20 bedrooms on the upper floors and several large public rooms with enormous fireplaces and intricate wall paintings on the ground floor.

The building, now a private home called Shakespeare House, has been saved from demolition at least twice and its present owners had to rebuild the back wall when they bought it five years ago. “It was a wreck,” says Nick Hunter. “The timbers in the back wall were so damaged and rotten that it was on the verge of collapse. At some time in the past someone had sawn through two major purlins [the horizontal roof beams which support the rafters] so they could install a dormer window and the rear roof was sagging.”

Shakespeare House is for sale through Strutt and Parker (01844 342571), as a whole for ÂŁ2.325 million or in two lots – house for ÂŁ1.6 million, barn for ÂŁ725,000.”

Full article (be sure to check out the photo gallery!)

Two portraits for the price of one!

From the BBC:

A rare portrait, believed to be of Shakespeare’s only known patron, has been discovered using X-ray technology.

Art historians from Bristol University have found what they believe is a picture of Henry Wriothesley which was painted over in the 16th Century.

To the naked eye, it is a portrait of his wife Elizabeth Vernon, dressed in black and wearing ruby ear-rings.

The hidden picture was uncovered when the work was X-rayed in preparation for an exhibition in Somerset.

Radiography revealed that underneath the oil portrait of Elizabeth I’s maid of honour was a ghostly male figure – an older work which had been painted over.

Full article with picture

And here is an article from the Daily Mail with a larger photo.