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.