Shakespeare To Share Billing with Marlowe in New Edition of Henry VI Plays

News   Shakespeare To Share Billing with Marlowe in New Edition of Henry VI Plays
New research using computerized tools by 23 international scholars leads to conclusion that Shakespeare collaborated with his rival.
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare

A new edition of Henry VI, Parts One, Two and Three, to be published under the New Oxford Shakespeare imprint of Oxford University Press, is to see Shakespeare share authorship billing with Christopher Marlowe.

A team of 23 international scholars from five countries completed the research, headed by four professors as general editors: Gary Taylor (Florida State University, U.S.) John Jowett (Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham), Terri Bourus (Indiana University, Indianapolis, U.S.) and Gabriel Egan (De Montfort University, Leicester).

They have used old-fashioned scholarship and 21st-century computerized tools to reach their conclusion that Marlowe contributed extensively to these plays—enough to warrant a co-author credit.

In a report in The Guardian, Gary Taylor said, “The orthodox view was that Shakespeare didn't collaborate at all. When the Oxford Shakespeare in 1986 proposed that eight plays of Shakespeare contained writing by other writers, some people were outraged. What has happened since 1986 is that the accumulation of new scholarship, techniques and resources has made it clear that, in 1986, we underestimated the amount of Shakespeare’s work that’s collaborative. In 1986, eight of 39 plays were identified on their title pages as collaborative, a little more than 20 percent. In 2016, 17 of 44 plays are identified, a little more than 38 percent, close to two-fifths.”

He said of the Henry VI attribution, “We have been able to verify Marlowe’s presence in those three plays strongly and clearly enough. We can now be confident that they didn't just influence each other, but they worked with each other. Rivals sometimes collaborate.”

Publication of the New Oxford Shakespeare will be in four volumes, as well as a digital edition, being released between October 27 and December. It will include the complete works in both original and modern spelling and punctuation, explanatory notes and essays and an authorship companion, with research in attribution studies.

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