London: Lost Play of Shakespeare Discovered in Family Heirloom


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.

17 Comments on "London: Lost Play of Shakespeare Discovered in Family Heirloom"

  1. 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 | April 20, 2014 at 4:00 pm |

      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 | April 20, 2014 at 8:46 pm |

      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 | April 21, 2014 at 2:58 am |

      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)


    • 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?

    • 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.

    • 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…

    • 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.

    • 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 | May 1, 2014 at 6:30 am |

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


      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 | May 1, 2014 at 12:29 pm |

      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.

  2. Wow, that’s amazing!

  3. Shakespeare Geek | April 18, 2014 at 1:41 pm | Reply

    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 | April 18, 2014 at 9:21 pm | Reply

    Interesting. That was the seventeenth century.

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