Marlowe and Shakespeare co-authored Henry VI

Oxford University Press is now crediting Christopher Marlowe as co-author of the three Henry VI plays with Shakespeare.


Christopher Marlowe

Oxford says Shakespeare will share credit for Henry VI

Marlowe, a playwright, poet and spy, will share billing in the latest version of the New Oxford Shakespeare being published this week. While scholars have long suspected that Shakespeare’s plays included the work of others, new analytical methods helped researchers conclude that sections bore the hallmarks of Marlowe’s hand.

A team of 23 international scholars looked afresh at the man many consider the greatest writer in the English language.

Five of the world’s most senior Shakespeare scholars —Taylor, Hugh Craig at the University of Newcastle in Australia, MacDonald P. Jackson at the University of Auckland in New Zealand; Gabriel Egan at De Montfort University, Leicester and John Jowett of the Shakespeare Institute at the University of Birmingham — had to be convinced of the issues of authorship in the works.

The editors concluded that 17 of 44 works associated with Shakespeare had input from others. The scholars used computerized data sets to reveal patterns, trends and associations — analyzing not only Shakespeare’s words, but also those of his contemporaries.

To study them, the team of scholars used what Taylor described as the analytic equivalent of combining voice recognition, fingerprints and DNA testing — looking for patterns to see how various authors and playwrights wrote and worked.

“Shakespeare has now entered the world of big data,” Taylor said, adding that while the bard’s work has been studied intensively, that’s not always the case in the same measure for other writers of his generation.

“What you need is a method that treats all the writers as the same and try to identify in an empirical way what distinguishes him as a writer — what makes him different than the others,” he said.

Marlowe, born in 1564, the same year as Shakespeare, was a graduate of Cambridge University who wrote poetry and plays such as the two part “Tamburlaine” and “Dido, Queen of Carthage.” A part-time spy for the government of Queen Elizabeth I, Marlowe is believed to have died in 1593 when he was stabbed under mysterious circumstances.

Oxford University Press says that “identifying Marlowe’s hand in the Henry VI plays is just one of the fresh features of this project.”


William Shakespeare


Peters, UKIP, the Commonwealth and fools

There’s no fool like an old fool whom thinks trading salvation means rejecting the European Union, USA, Japan and China?

This week Winston Peters is in the UK and gave a speech to the House of Lords. It was noted in news reports that Peters spoke about supporting ‘Brexit’ – an exit of Britain from the European Union.

Something I missed – or it wasn’t reported – is that the event that Peters spoke at was hosted by the UK Independence Party’s leader in the House of Lords and UKIP’s Commonwealth spokesperson, and Peters was introduced by UKIP leader Nigel Farage.


Winston Peters and Nigel Farage

Does Peters want New Zealand to try and wind the clock back to the 1950-60s where our trade  was overwhelmingly reliant on the UK? Until they discarded us and other Commonwealth countries and ex-colonies of the UK and associated themselves more closely with Europe, ending up in a growing European Union.

Peters featured in a UKIP article: Britain can trade around the world post-Brexit

Mr Peters said, “The Commonwealth…  is now a dynamic powerhouse, crossing every time zone and trading session in the world.  It covers nearly 30 million square kilometres, almost a quarter of the World’s land area.  It’s members can be found in every single inhabited continent.  Together, we have a population of over 2.3 billion, nearly a third of the world’s population.  In 2014 the Commonwealth produced GDP of $10.45 trillion, a massive 17% of gross world product.  Seen that way the Commonwealth could be a colossus.”

“It has a diversity of markets the EU can only dream of, from first world economies to emerging markets with huge growth potential.  Part of the choice the UK faces is of a Europe, divided and indebted, or trade in the developed and emerging economies of The Commonwealth.  By 2050 the population of The Commonwealth will have increased by 30%, whilst the EU will have dropped by 2%.  GDP growth in the Eurozone has amounted to just 0.7% in recent years, Commonwealth GDP grew by 5%.”

He made it absolutely clear that a future out of the EU and trading with the world was something to be aspired to, “Anyone who thinks that the economy of the nation that once created the largest empire in history will be suddenly laid to ruin upon leaving the EU is greatly mistaken, or having left will be friendless, doesn’t understand history or realise when push comes to shove how deep Commonwealth bonds are.

He wants a revival of the Commonwealth of Nations (British Commonwealth)?

“A future out of the EU and trading with the world” – the European Union, with or without the UK, comprises a significant proportion of world trade.

One of New Zealand’s biggest trading partners is Australia, also in the Commonwealth. We are currently trying to improve trade with Canada via the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Peters opposes.

There are 53 countries in the Commonwealth, also including:

  • India
  • Pakistan
  • Nigeria
  • South Africa
  • Bangladesh
  • Tuvalu

We are already doing increasing amounts of trade with India and working towards a trade agreement.

But the European is one of the world’s biggest trading blocs, accounting for about 16.5% of the the world’s imports and exports. New Zealand is currently trying to get closer to that – see NZ – EU trade deal takes giant step.

Peters seems to be anti-China, and the other two biggest trading nations, the US and Japan, are part of the TPP that Peters wants to walk away from.

Dreaming of a return to the good old days (before Peters was middle aged) seems out of step with the world of trade in the 21st century.

From Peters’ speech:

“The British people stand on the cusp of an exciting future. It will not be easy to achieve that future.  But if there is one nation that can do it, it is the British”.

Peters wants to severely limit our trading options and bank on a country that turned it’s back on us fifty years ago?

The world is a far bigger place than the 28 EU member states.  Britain forgot that once, at it’s present cost.  Some of us believe that you won’t make that mistake again.

Afterall it was a Briton who centuries ago wrote this call to action:

“There comes a tide in the affairs of men, which if taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.”

Grabbing opportunities when they arise is something any Government should look to do, but it hardly makes sense to take a punt on an old world colonist while shunning the biggest trade opportunities currently available.

It was actually William Shakespeare (or whoever penned under that name) who wrote that for the character Brutus talking to Cassius in Julius Caesar.

How far back in time does Peters want us to go? Shakespearian England? The Roman Empire?

‘Yay the Commonwealth, stuff the rest’ may attract a few voters to UKIP and NZ First but as a modern trading strategy it seems nuts.

Anyone can quote some Shakespeare.

“A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.”

If Peters wants to go back in time perhaps he could consider a proverb:

There’s no fool like an old fool.

Marge George and old Shakespeare

There seems to be a mushrooming of discussion on William Shakespeare, coinciding with the 400th anniversary of his death.

I saw an interesting documentary last week that looked at how little was actually known about Shakespeare the person, questioned why he wasn’t imprisoned like other playwrights of the time, and suggested the author’s name may have been a pseudonym for someone close to the royal court.

The arguments will probably continue as long as the playing of the plays.

An interesting post at Oxford Dictionaries – Language matters: Why Shakespeare is even funnier than you thought

To be honest I never found Shakespeare funny in the first place. I thought the plays I have studied while at school – Macbeth and Romeo Juliet – were tedious.

This may in part be explained by this Oxford post that explains that English was pronounced significantly differently four centuries ago in England.

For example George rhymed with charge (George has changed).

We’re all familiar with at least some Shakespeare, but the chances are that we’ve only either read his words on the page, or heard them spoken with modern pronunciation.

This, however, does not entirely match how Shakespeare and the original casts of his plays would have spoken. Even modern British English is not the same as what is known as Original Pronunciation.

Historical linguists have reconstructed Original Pronunciation, often based on conclusions that can be drawn from spelling and specific instructions given in 16th-century grammar books.

In these videos David Crystal, author of The Oxford Dictionary of Original Shakespeare Pronunciation, explains how Original Pronunciation recovers the original rhymes and puns that are otherwise missing in modern performances of Shakespeare’s plays.

Puns in Original Pronunciation

Rhymes in Original Pronunciation

I find language and it’s continual evolution far more interesting the the writings of whoever used the pseudonym William Shakespeare.

I had an aunty Marge. If she had been a George in Shakespeare’s England (she actually came from Chelsea but 300 years later) her names would have rhymed.

Shakesperian Heroes

From Pop Sonnets:


From David Bowie:

I, I will be king
And you, you will be queen
Though nothing will drive them away
We can beat them, just for one day
We can be Heroes, just for one day

And you, you can be mean
And I, I’ll drink all the time
‘Cause we’re lovers, and that is a fact
Yes we’re lovers, and that is that

Though nothing, will keep us together
We could steal time,
just for one day
We can be Heroes, for ever and ever
What d’you say?

I, I wish you could swim
Like the dolphins, like dolphins can swim
Though nothing,
nothing will keep us together
We can beat them, for ever and ever
Oh we can be Heroes,
just for one day