All's well that ... blends well? William Shakespeare worked with a co-author on All's Well That Ends Well, according to researchers who have analyzed the play line by line. The Oxford University experts say the most likely candidate for co-bard is celebrated playwright Thomas Middleton, judging from his distinctive vocabulary and rhyming style, the BBC reports. The stage directions are more in Middleton's style than Shakespeare's, and there are even places where one author appears to be handing off to the other, researchers say. Middleton is also believed to have collaborated with Shakespeare on Timon of Athens.
The latest research shows that plays of the era were usually the work of more than one author, a researcher says. "The picture that's emerging is of much more collaboration," she says. "We need to think of it more as a film studio with teams of writers." Shakespeare has long been known to have worked with other writers, another researcher says, but it was usually a master-apprentice scenario. But with "a dynamic, up-and-coming playwright like Middleton, the relationship seems not unlike an established musician working with the current big thing."