Shakespeare wrote ‘anonymous play’

Computer programme finds new play about Edward III that could be by Shakespeare

A-listers have long been attracted to Shakespeare’s plays, and now there might be another piece for them to act in, because an academic in London believes he has discovered an extra, anonymous Shakespeare play.

Sir Brian Vickers of the University of London, used a programme called Pl@giarism to search for ‘linguistic fingerprints’ in plays from the period.  His results suggest that an anonymous play from 1596 called The Reign of King Edward III,  could have been written by Shakespeare in collaboration with Thomas Kyd, a popular playwright at the time.

Sir Brian said in plays by different authors ten to 20 matches might be expected, but he found about 200 matches when comparing Edward III with Shakespeare’s early works.

‘The computer is picking out three-word sequences that could just be chunks of grammar. But when you get metaphors or unusual parts of speech, it is different,’ he told The Times newspaper.’

‘When you have 200 matches you can be pretty sure. Everyone can see that certain scenes are very Shakespearean, but no one could see why there were verses that are definitely not his. There is a real difference in quality between the two authors.’

The matches were found in four scenes, representing about 40% of the play. The rest of the work had about 200 matches with other works by Kyd.

Whether celebs line up to act in a future revival of The Reign of King Edward III remains to be seen. Jude Law is currently playing Hamlet on Broadway and will be doing so until 6 December 2009.

For Shakespeare fans eager to hear more, a special event during British Academy Literature Week, which runs from 19-22 October, will discuss Sir Brian Vickers’ findings in more detail. For more information, or to book a place, log onto www.britac.ac.uk/literatureweek.

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