Hot Off the Oxford Press

10/27/2016
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    Hot Off the Oxford Press

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Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Oxford University Press' new edition of William Shakespeare's works will credit Christopher Marlowe as co-author of the three Henry VI plays. It’s further evidence that the playwright collaborated with others on some of his most famous works.

Marlowe was born in 1564, the same year as Shakespeare. He was a playwright, poet, and spy for Queen Elizabeth I. Now he’ll share billing in the latest version of the New Oxford Shakespeare being published this week.

Scholars have long suspected that Shakespeare's plays included the work of others. But new methods helped researchers conclude that sections bore Marlowe’s trademarks.

"Shakespeare, like other geniuses, recognized the value of other people," Gary Taylor, a professor at Florida State University and principal investigator of the new work, says. "What is Shakespeare famous for? Writing dialogue—interactions between two people. You would expect in his life there would be dialogue with other people."

In Shakespeare's time, there was great demand for new material for the first mass-entertainment industry. A relatively small group of authors worked feverishly to meet this demand.

A team of 23 scholars looked afresh at Shakespeare’s plays. They used computers to reveal language patterns, trends, and associations—analyzing not only Shakespeare's words, but also those of his fellow authors.

Oxford University Press editors concluded that 17 of 44 works associated with Shakespeare had input from others.