"The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers," wrote William Shakespeare in Henry VI, Part II—or was it Christopher Marlowe? After more than 400 years, Marlowe has been given joint credit for all three of the Henry VI plays long thought to have been the work of Shakespeare alone, the Telegraph reports. Marlowe gets the credit in the upcoming New Oxford Shakespeare collection of Shakespeare's works. For the first new edition of the collection in 30 years, an international team of scholars worked to identify co-authors of Shakespeare works. The collection also includes works that Shakespeare has been declared the co-author of for the first time, like Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy.
Gary Taylor of Florida State University, one of the new edition's editors, tells the Guardian that the1986 edition identified eight of 39 plays as collaborations, and the new edition lists co-authors for 17 of 44 plays. He says the team has "strongly and clearly" identified Marlowe—who was stabbed to death in mysterious circumstances when he was just 29 years old—as co-author of the Henry VI plays, despite his supposed rivalry with Shakespeare. "We can now be confident that they didn’t just influence each other, but they worked with each other," Taylor says. "Rivals sometimes collaborate." (Portrait cleaning could drastically change the appearance of the Shakespeare we know.)