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Other Examples of Authorship Questions

With Martin Wiggins

Are there any other writers whose authorship is questioned?


Wiggins: In 1647, The King’s Men—the acting company which owned and performed the plays of Shakespeare— published a collection of plays by their other great authorial brand, Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher. The book contained plays by Beaumont and Fletcher, plays by Beaumont writing on his own, and Fletcher on his own, and it contained plays written by neither. Many plays of this period were published with no author’s name on the title pages, but Shakespeare’s plays were probably not among them. 

In 1599, or thereabouts, there appeared The Passionate Pilgrim, a collection of poems with Shakespeare’s name on the title page. But according to the playwright Thomas Heywood, Shakespeare was ‘much offended’ with the publisher ‘that altogether unknown to him presumed to make so bold with his name.’ The King’s Men may not have cared very much about dramatic authorship later in the seventeenth century, but Shakespeare cared, and Shakespeare was really careful.

Martin Wiggins

Martin Wiggins

Martin Wiggins is a Senior Lecturer and Fellow at The Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham.

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