'Bad Handwriting' May Settle Shakespeare Mystery
Professor says it proves 'Spanish Tragedy' lines are by the Bard
By Kate Seamons, Newser Staff
Posted Aug 14, 2013 9:30 AM CDT
A detail of the newly discovered portrait of William Shakespeare, presented by the Shakespeare Birthplace trust, is seen in central London, Monday March 9, 2009.   (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

(Newser) – It's been a nearly 200-year-long debate: Did William Shakespeare add 325 lines to Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy nearly a decade after Kyd's death? None other than Samuel Taylor Coleridge raised the question in 1833, and a 2012 computer analysis seemed to lend credence to the theory. Now, a University of Texas professor says the proof may be in the handwriting—and bad handwriting at that. In a paper to be published next month, Douglas Bruster compares the play's 1602 "Additional Passages" with a three-page handwriting sample believed to be the Bard's held at the British Library.

What he found, per the New York Times and UT at Austin News: about two dozen similar spelling patterns (for instance, "sorow for "sorrow"; past-tense words that ended in "t", like "wrapt"; and one word spelled two ways, like "allie" and "allye" for "alley") and nine textual "corruptions" that he believes resulted from the printer misreading Shakespeare's hand. He also thinks an awkward passage—so seemingly poorly written that it has been cited as evidence the lines couldn't have been crafted by Shakespeare—is the result of another bad handwriting/printer error goof. Says Bruster, "This is the clinching evidence we need to admit the additional passages into the Shakespeare canon." The Times notes this would mark the first such addition since passages from Edward III (also attributed to Kyd) were included in scholarly editions in the mid-'90s. (Another fascinating recent study paints Shakespeare as a food hoarder.)

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Showing 3 of 10 comments
backtooakland
Aug 14, 2013 5:25 PM CDT
STOP THE PRESSES!
crankydude
Aug 14, 2013 11:56 AM CDT
Is it true Salman Rushdie wrote a new book entitled "Buddha you are fat and ugly"?
ppaca
Aug 14, 2013 11:22 AM CDT
Perhaps Sir Francis Bacon wrote the added lines of "The Spanish Tragedy", as he did all of "Shakespeare's" works. I once visited Shakespeare's house in Stratford-on-Avon. I suppose it was nice enough for the times, but it was quite small. Anne Hathaway's house was much nicer. Too bad that nice young Catholic boy knocked her up and had to get married. I imagine she repeatedly cheated on him during his many long stays in London, leaving her only his "2nd best bed" in his will. His male friends must have felt deserted, being left nothing upon his death. I guess all of his Sonnets meant nothing to him.