Free Press Journal

Shakespeare wrote Henry VI with rival Christopher Marlowe


London: Three of William Shakespeare’s Henry VI plays were written in collaboration with his Elizabethan rival Christopher Marlowe, according to experts who suggest that contribution of other writers in some of the Bard’s iconic plays is largely underestimated, says PTI.

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Henry VI, Parts One, Two and Three are among as many as 17 plays that scholars now believe contain writing by other people, sometimes several hands. “The orthodox view was that Shakespeare didn’t collaborate at all. When the Oxford Shakespeare in 1986 proposed that eight plays of Shakespeare contained writing by other writers, some people were outraged,” said Gary Taylor from Florida State University in the US.

“In 1986, eight of 39 plays were identified on their title pages as collaborative, a little more than 20 per cent. In 2016, 17 of 44 plays are identified, a little more than 38 per cent, close to two-fifths,” said Taylor, who is among the 23 academics from five countries who completed the research.

Some are said to be collaborations, with Shakespeare apparently working side-by-side with other writers, as with Marlowe on Henry VI, ‘the Guardian’ reported. Others are adaptations, where additions were made to works before their printed publication, as with Thomas Middleton, who is now credited for the first time on the title page of the play All’s Well That Ends Well.

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The findings shed new light on the supposed rivalry between Marlowe and Shakespeare. “We can now be confident that they did not just influence each other, but they worked with each other. Rivals sometimes collaborate,” said Taylor.

The two names will appear jointly on each of title pages of the plays in the New Oxford Shakespeare, to be published by Oxford University Press.