"Lost" Shakespeare play to be published

Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:51am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - The discounted claims of an 18th century author to have re-shaped the words of Shakespeare into a play are finally being taken seriously by a respected publisher of the Bard's works nearly 300 years on.

"Double Falsehood," a play written by Lewis Theobald and first performed in 1727, was based substantially on another work co-written by William Shakespeare more than a century earlier, a leading academic said on Tuesday.

Adding weight to the claim of Professor Brean Hammond of Nottingham University is the fact that the respected Arden Shakespeare publishers will release it in print on March 22.

Its appearance, and the attribution to Shakespeare, is likely to trigger another round of scholarly debate over what the English-speaking world's most famous and influential playwright wrote and what was falsely attributed to him.

For Hammond, the publication of the play next week will be the culmination of years of research. "I started working on it in the 1980s and wrote a couple of articles on the play," he told Reuters.

"At the time I was hoping to get the play brought out by Oxford University Press. It was revived in around 2002 when the Arden series general editor got in touch and said he would like to bring this out.

"He subjected it to very, very stringent scrutiny and of course all the way through we've tried to tread a cautious line. But you can't really control what people say about it."

BASED ON DON QUIXOTE?   Continued...