London: Lost Play of Shakespeare Discovered in Family Heirloom

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London| The team of experts from the auction house Christie’s, have confirmed this morning that a 16th century book found recently in the personnal collection of a recently deceased English Lord, is indeed an authentic printed version of William Shakespeare’s lost play, The History of Cardenio.

The book was discovered last year by employees proceeding to a successorale inventory, after the death of the Sir Humphrey McElroy, a rich baron and antiques collector from Brighton. It was at first treated as a possible fake, but all the analysis that were realized since have suggested otherwise. The authenticity of both the ink and the paper have now been confirmed, and it seems it is indeed, a late 16th print.

The History of Cardenio, often referred to as merely Cardenio, is known to have been performed by the King’s Men, the London theatre company to which William Shakespeare was associated, in 1613. It was attributed to both Shakespeare and John Fletcher (the same collaborator as in The Two Noble Kinsmen) in a Stationers’ Register entry dated of 1653, but no copy of the play had ever been found.

The content of the comedy is based on an episode in Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote involving the character Cardenio, a young man who has been driven mad and lives in the Sierra Morena.

Before this discovery, it was believed that the play had never been printed, and that the manuscripts had been lost, after being used by various 17th and 18th Century authors, including Lewis Theobald and  Thomas Middleton. This new find now shows it was actually printed and sold by a prominent London publisher and bookseller, Humphrey Moseley.

The owner of the book, who desires to remain anonymous, has already announced that he intended to sell the book at auction if he did not receive any significant offers from museums, but that he wanted the book to remain in England.

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Readers Comments


  1. Hanen on April 18, 2014 at 2:01 am said:

    Is there any more info about this please… I am an actor and playwright and I always wanted to present that play. I know some people had “adapted” it before, without really knowing the content. I’d like to be the first to adapt the real thing.

    • Elysabetta on April 20, 2014 at 4:00 pm said:

      It wasn’t adapted it was plagiarized before plagiarism was considered a bad thing, i.e. before the rise of the individual and the idea of intellectual property took hold.

      And you are a wanker for wanting to defile a work of Shakespeare’s with your adaptation. We adapt things when the become to old to be salable. or when we feel we can enhance the audience’s appreciation of a story by giving it a new twist. To see that there is a newly discovered text and announce a desire to adapt it without having read it is the highest level of hubris an actor can display.
      I write this as an actor and frequent adapter of Shakespeare’s plays. Piss off.

    • Teresa Langford on April 20, 2014 at 8:46 pm said:

      I agree that an adaptation would be a disservice to Shakespeare in that it would be what someone thought it should be instead of what Shakespeare’s original intentions were for the play to be. Adaptations are a mere shade of the intentions of the thoughts and plans of the original writer.

    • Mistress Overdone on April 21, 2014 at 2:58 am said:

      Elysabetta, you’re describing the “intentional fallacy.” Nobody in literary studies has taken authorial intention seriously in decades.

    • Shakespeare when it is put on is entirely adaption. Theatre and the arts that surround it must move forward. Shakespeare is not a god. His work should be and is the same as every other author of his caliber (and there are several)

    • CHICO on April 21, 2014 at 9:55 pm said:

      SHUT THE HELL UP Elysabetta YOU KNOW NOTHING OF WHAT YOU SPEAK

    • Jane Alden on April 22, 2014 at 11:48 pm said:

      Jumping the gun a little bit, aren’t you? We’re talking about a text of Shakespeare’s that has just been newly discovered and you’re talking about wanting to be the first to ADAPT it!? I can understand the impulse, but really, your arrogance is stunning! Can we not simply rejoice that this has been found and look forward to the chance to actually read it?

    • Jane Alden on April 22, 2014 at 11:58 pm said:

      Jake. I challenge you to name these “several” other authors who are presumed to be in Shakespeare’s class. There is no author who wrote in English, that is in his class, and though it is easy to say he was “not a God,” he was pretty damn close.Sir Lawrence Olivier said of him, “Shakespeare. The closest thing in incarnation to the eye of God.” Your remarks are a reverse form of snob-ism.

    • Martina on April 23, 2014 at 2:49 am said:

      Guys, first of all, isn´t it a bit crazy of you to be crazy about the idea of adapting Shakespeare? Staging the whole text as it is already means adapting it, adapting it for theatre representation, it will never look the same as the author intended it to look, and it will never be the same as it would have been in that time period. Secondly, some scientists have proved that some of “Shakespeare´s” manuscripts were written with more than 100 years gap between them, so it seems improbable that Shakespeare was just one genius writer…

    • Mister T on April 27, 2014 at 1:33 am said:

      I don’t care . . . I would just LOVE to be a cast member in the FIRST production of this play in the hundreds of years since it was written.

    • David on May 1, 2014 at 3:42 am said:

      Well, this thread got ugly in a hurry. Its about a lost Shakespeare, and some comments are more like Youtube trolling. Elysabetta … your rude.

    • The Divine Grace on May 1, 2014 at 6:30 am said:

      How many actors does it take to screw in a light bulb?

      101.

      It takes one to screw it in, ninety-nine to complain that they could do it better, and some cvnt with a name as pretentious as Elysabetta to b!tch about it.

    • Rocky Sparks on May 1, 2014 at 12:29 pm said:

      Elysabetta — “Wanker?” “Piss off?”

      You shouldn’t even be allowed to DISCUSS Shakespeare, outside of a gutter. Let alone on Facebook or with people who can actually read and speak the English language …

    • Elysabetta – ever heard the line ‘No-one needs another dumb actor’?? I’ve got nothing against smart actors, but you have exposed yourself as one of the former.
      Try performing any original text as written by Shakespeare – tricky? – oh that’s right, because it is a translation of Early Modern English and as such it is an adaptation. Any translator of poetic or dramatic text will tell you that you have to make choices that change the nature of the story, characters, poeticism etc etc.
      How are you going to perform it? Speak it in the Original Pronunciation of Shakespeare’s time? – or in RP (which it never was) – or in the idiom of the time and place in which you choose to set it? – or the comtemporary language and accent of the country and region in which it is being performed perhaps??? Dress up in Elizabethan Garb as originally performed (museum piece)? Are you going to perform the entire text of some of Shakespeare’s longer works without any cuts and watch the audience fall asleep? – or leave in all the outdated comedic scenes that have no contemporary relevance and aren’t funny?? Get my drift – if you are putting on any play (especially Shakespeare) it will likely involve some form of adaptation. And plus you are rude. Never post again please.
      Cheers.

  2. Dj_Cosmo on April 18, 2014 at 12:43 pm said:

    Wow, that’s amazing!

  3. Shakespeare Geek on April 18, 2014 at 1:41 pm said:

    For those who are still not convinced:

    “Humphrey Moseley, the publisher who
    entered Cardenio on the Stationers’ Register in 1653 as a work by
    Shakespeare and Fletcher, registered two other plays allegedly by
    Shakespeare at the same time, and another three in 1660.”

  4. Ignatius Burke on April 18, 2014 at 9:21 pm said:

    Interesting. That was the seventeenth century.

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  7. Alan Ball on April 19, 2014 at 6:08 pm said:

    Sorry if this makes me look stupid, but I DO believe this story. The part I don’t get is how this is news: Cardenio was “discovered” some 20 years ago; I have a copy. I’m not at home to look at it right now, but if I remember correctly, it’s a pastoral play, subtitled, “The Second Maiden’s Tragedy.”

  8. Karen Alkalay-Gut on April 20, 2014 at 7:01 am said:

    Before I made a final judgement call on the authenticity of something like this, I’d want to know what’s in the play, the complexity of the plot, the quality of the writing, the beauty of the drama.

  9. rich bastard on April 20, 2014 at 7:35 pm said:

    Aha! I’m one of the privilege and we’ve got the entire Library of Alexandria under lock and key! Peasents! you’ll never get the rest!

    • Your library is either incomplete, or you did not read your Dictionary or any of your books on grammar.

    • Jane Alden on April 22, 2014 at 11:50 pm said:

      Hey, rich bastard, use some of that wealth to LEARN TO SPELL!

    • Rich Bitch on April 23, 2014 at 5:53 pm said:

      Silly plebes, that IS the correct Rich Bastard way to peasents! Also, we never capitalize any variation of “you” because We are not you and you are inferior.

      Kind Regards,

    • Tony, those who live in glass houses on May 11, 2014 at 8:25 am said:

      Tony, get off your high horse. I’ve seen at least 3 grammatical errors in your post. Back to the library for you.

      Rich bastard, I love your work.

  10. Teresa Langford on April 20, 2014 at 8:39 pm said:

    It seems to me the only way to present this as a play is to read the original text and study William Shakespeare with someone who is already an expert on his writings and character. It is so important to do your very best to present this is the same way Shakespeare would have done. It would be a wonderful delight to see but only in its truest form.

    • Nicholas Lutwyche on April 21, 2014 at 5:35 pm said:

      Spot on!

    • You mean lines slung at blinding speed in a sing-song, like Jacobean actors did? Why does Shakespeare bring out the snob in people the way a pedigree dog show does?

    • Sister Unity on May 1, 2014 at 5:10 am said:

      It was already done as Shakespeare would have done. The Kings Men did it that way. Let’s see it in the myriad ways artists present will interpret and stage it. And if any who stage it doth offend, think but this and all will mend…….

  11. Teresa Langford on April 20, 2014 at 8:44 pm said:

    In a further complication, a professional handwriting expert, Charles Hamilton, has claimed in a 1994 book that the manuscript of The Second Maiden’s Tragedy is in fact the lost Shakespearean play Cardenio and indeed that the handwriting is Shakespeare’s.[9] Most literary scholars reject his argument and the position of mainstream literary scholarship is that the play is by Thomas Middleton.[10] It is not disputed that the play appears to draw on elements of Don Quixote, as Cardenio is assumed to have done too.

    On the rare occasions when the play has been revived on the stage, producers often name it Cardenio because Shakespeare’s name helps to sell tickets. Although she dismisses Hamilton’s claims, Julia Briggs points out that his book gave the play a new lease of life, with numerous productions in the 1990s trading on the Shakespeare association to raise awareness of this rarely staged play.[

    This alone does not prove that The Second Maiden’s Tragedy is in fact the recently found manuscript Cardenio….it is only a theory of Charles Hamilton.

  12. See Wikipedia entry on “Cardenio” and you’ll get a sense of how Shakespeare aficionados feel about the “Second Maiden’s Tragedy” and its tenuous connection to William Shakespeare – in the end, you have to follow the resource trail …

    • David Markham on April 26, 2014 at 8:45 pm said:

      I am a Shakespeare “aficionado” and have staged many of Shakespeare’s plays. I have staged “The Second Maiden’s Tragedy” and felt (at the time) that Hamilton’s arguments were convincing. I still find his arguments for the play being in Shakespeare’s hand convincing, whether it proves to be “Cardenio” or not. I look forward to seeing this latest “Cardenio” and seeing if there is any comparison.

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  14. Perhaps a work of Francis Bacon. etc.

  15. The original impostor…..Perhaps?

  16. Zane Zirkle on April 23, 2014 at 3:51 pm said:

    Please publish a follow up article on this subject.

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  20. MEJ 990 on May 6, 2014 at 12:34 pm said:

    Adaptation. Interpretation. So what’s in a word? No two presentations are ever the same. Let us all enjoy this newly discovered work.
    Last night I saw Mozarts “The Magic Flute” at Kennedy Center. It was a new presentation, in English, that had been commissioned in San Francisco. It was fabulous!
    Art is Art and subject to interpretation. Let us just enjoy what the director and players present. Don’t criticize the effort. Be grateful for what it is.

  21. Roger Maddox on July 22, 2014 at 11:12 pm said:

    After all the years of ‘reconstructing’ Shakespeare’s and Fletcher’s Cardenio, now we have a possible version of the play from Shakespeare’s life. Let’s compare and study this new version. I’m sure many new interpretations and comments will result. And the story of Shakespeare goes on and on.

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In The News

London: Lost Play of Shakespeare Discovered in Family Heirloom

shakespeare April 17th, 2014
Facebook40513Twitter625Google+68Pinterest0Email

London| The team of experts from the auction house Christie’s, have confirmed this morning that a 16th century book found recently in the personnal collection of a recently deceased English Lord, is indeed an authentic printed version of William Shakespeare’s lost play, The History of Cardenio.

The book was discovered last year by employees proceeding to a successorale inventory, after the death of the Sir Humphrey McElroy, a rich baron and antiques collector from Brighton. It was at first treated as a possible fake, but all the analysis that were realized since have suggested otherwise. The authenticity of both the ink and the paper have now been confirmed, and it seems it is indeed, a late 16th print.

The History of Cardenio, often referred to as merely Cardenio, is known to have been performed by the King’s Men, the London theatre company to which William Shakespeare was associated, in 1613. It was attributed to both Shakespeare and John Fletcher (the same collaborator as in The Two Noble Kinsmen) in a Stationers’ Register entry dated of 1653, but no copy of the play had ever been found.

The content of the comedy is based on an episode in Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote involving the character Cardenio, a young man who has been driven mad and lives in the Sierra Morena.

Before this discovery, it was believed that the play had never been printed, and that the manuscripts had been lost, after being used by various 17th and 18th Century authors, including Lewis Theobald and  Thomas Middleton. This new find now shows it was actually printed and sold by a prominent London publisher and bookseller, Humphrey Moseley.

The owner of the book, who desires to remain anonymous, has already announced that he intended to sell the book at auction if he did not receive any significant offers from museums, but that he wanted the book to remain in England.

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