Several handwritten pages of a play had been housed in the British Museum. In 1917, Edward Maunde Thompson determined based on handwriting analysis and stylistic similarities that the pages were likely written by William Shakespeare, as a contribution to the play “Sir Thomas More” which was primarily written by Anthony Munday.
So were the pages indeed written by Shakespeare? Most subsequent analyses in the past century agree that it was. The Oxford Shakespeare compilation now includes the pages, and the Royal Shakespeare Company also recognized it as a Shakespeare work in 2005. This would make it the only surviving original manuscript in Shakespeare’s hand, as every other surviving example of Shakespeare’s work in a reprint or a folio. It’s also our only surviving example of Shakespeare in the process of writing, with words and phrases crossed out or inserted throughout.
This is all assuming, of course, that Shakespeare actually wrote most of the plays generally credited to him. In his book The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, author Michael H. Hart presents the quite convincing evidence that most (if not all) of the plays were in fact written by Edward de Vere.
Is This Manuscript in Shakespeare’s Writing?: Expert Believes Pages of a Play, “Sir Thomas more,” Were Written by the Bard’s Own Hand (PDF)
From Sunday, February 25, 1917
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