A Conversation for William Shakespeare - Playwright

Lost plays?

Post 1

Binaryboy

Hello there Em -

I enjoyed reading your article but there was one thing I was puzzled about. I thought that there are copies of the first folio still around, and they don't have the plays that you mention as lost in them. So what evidence is there that they have been lost, or that they were by Shakespeare?

By the way, the subject of inauthentic versions of Shakespeare is quite interesting, given our post-modern preoccupation with things such as this. A friend of mine has an 18th century volume of Shakespeare history-plays, which has the text of the play 'Sir John Oldcastle' (the ur-Falstaff) in it. He was very excited when he first got it, but apparently people now reckon that it was falsely accredited to Shakespeare. My friend didn't reckon it was any good, incidentally.

Yours in fig rolls

BB


Lost plays?

Post 2

Emily...overly fond of the ellipsis...and top ten lists...submit yours @ A87824361...

It was actually a fellow researcher who brought up the lost plays in Peer Review, well actually the day I submitted it and then in PR, but he did some digging around on the net and found out the names for me.

I think the lost plays have now been found now, or something like that, which I could have sworn I'd mentioned...although it could have been taken out during editingsmiley - erm

Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed reading my entrysmiley - smiley


Lost plays?

Post 3

Uncle Heavy [sic]

the earliest copies of shakespeares plays that remain were copied down after he died. he didnt try to record any for posterity, so they are written out from the memories of the actors. three plays didnt get recorded. this is why there are often textual discrepancies - some text may have been added, or lost, and the quarto and folio do not always agree.


Lost plays?

Post 4

Emily...overly fond of the ellipsis...and top ten lists...submit yours @ A87824361...

and there is the source from which I wrote...thank UHsmiley - winkeye


Lost plays?

Post 5

Binaryboy

Hi there Em -

I think that Mr Heavy has been misleading you a bit here.

1) Some of Shakespeare's play's were published while he was still alive, and they come from various sources. A good example of this is Hamlet. The first ('Bad') Quarto was published around 1603, and it is conjectured that this was a memorial reconstruction by the actor who played Bernardo. In response to this pirated version, the 'official' Q2 Hamlet was brought out, which may have been based on a prompt book, or Shakespeare's annotations. Then there is of course the text in the 1623 Folio. There's differences between all three, but Q1 is quite divergent from the others and low-quality (often amusingly so). Back then they weren't so fussy about text (consider in R & J, the mention of 'This two hours passage of our stage' - cuts and emendations would have been inevitable) and all the various versions attest to this. But to say that plays were always written out of the memories of the actors post 1616 is very inaccurate.

And then I had a little dig on the internet:

2) Edward III is not lost. It was first printed in 1596 and again in 1599, but no author was credited. A curious character called Edward Cappell included it in a book in 1760 saying that it was by Shakespeare. However, it's not in the First (or any subsequent) Folio, and Meres doesn't mention it in Palladis Tamia in 1598. Some contemporary scholars have ascribed it to Shakespeare on stylistic grounds, but most people think it is apocryphal.

3) Cardenio is the most interesting case. Don Quixote appeared in English in 1612, and one of the sub-plots concerns a charecter called Cardenio. A play called Cardenio was performed by the King's Men in 1613 and entered in the stationer's register in 1653 as being by Fletcher and Shakespeare. Theobald mentions a Cardenio play by Shakespeare in 1727, but you can't trust him because Alexander Pope didn't like him too much. To this point, I would regard it as a lost fragment.

However, in 1994, Charles Hamilton found an anonymous play in the British Library from 1612. The play had been based on Don Quixote and Hamilton ascribed it to Shakespeare based upon vocabulary, and a handwriting analysis. So the question in this case is, is Hamilton right? You can find the text on the internet, apparently. If Hamilton's text is authentic I reckon it's probably by Fletcher & Shakespeare because they all collaborated on one another's stuff anyway.

In fact, I'd say there's probably enough material around for a entry on 'Plays ascribed to Shakespeare outside the First Folio'... Any takers?


Lost plays?

Post 6

Emily...overly fond of the ellipsis...and top ten lists...submit yours @ A87824361...

Um...I think I might let you guys fight this one out


Lost plays?

Post 7

Binaryboy

Hi there Em -

It doesn't look like Mr Heavy wants to get his gloves on. Oh well, never mind. I think that maybe I should shift my lazy, essentially sofa-loving soul up and do it myself. Now that could be fun fun fun....


Lost plays?

Post 8

Emily...overly fond of the ellipsis...and top ten lists...submit yours @ A87824361...

why not, I certainly don't have the information to do it and if UH doesn't seem interested go for itsmiley - smiley


Lost plays?

Post 9

Uncle Heavy [sic]

oh well, you clearly know more about it than i so im not going to quibble smiley - winkeye


Lost plays?

Post 10

Emily...overly fond of the ellipsis...and top ten lists...submit yours @ A87824361...

Don't worry no one's as clueless about his Lost Plays as me, I only put it because you went and found the information in the first place smiley - blush


Lost plays?

Post 11

Ϯ Lady MacbethϮ - 42

Cardenio is available from the British Library - but not on the interweb. It is generally agreed to be a Shakespeare Fletcher collaboration.

You can see a page from Thomas More - bearing what is believed to be Shakespeare's handwriting - at the British Library Treasures exhibition and it is also available on the BL web site. This is also a collaboration.

Love's Labour's Won is still in contention as a 'lost' play and may have been re-titled 'Much Ado About Nothing' and not lost at all.

Edward III is now considered to be part of the canon.

'All is True' - now more usually known as Henry VIII is a collaborative play, but also accepted as part of the canon.

'Hamlet' as we now know it is unlikely to the the play as performed. It's too long. There are arguments about the 'bad' quarto and it is very unlikely that it was pirated. Elizabethan copyright law (which rested with the printers, not the authors) would not have allowed it. There are at least 3 versions of Shakespeare's 'Hamlet' extant and a case has been made that these are later versions of an even earlier Shakespeare play. I personally discount this theory, preferring the idea that Shakespeare reworked a play he already knew (and which was his habit). We know of 'Amleth' and 'ur-Hamlet' as previous versions of the story.


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