The play Double Falsehood was completed then published by Lewis Theobald in 1728. However, new research has proven that the play was actually written over a century prior. The play was found to have be adapted from three manuscripts by William Shakespeare, according to the Independent. The original work was also proven to have been co-written by Shakespeare’s close constituent, John Fletcher.
The notion that Double Falsehood was a Shakespeare original is not a new one. Scholars have reportedly been studying the work to uncover the truth for 300 years. This week, two scholars from the University of Texas finally published their finding that the play is, in fact, the work of William Shakespeare.
The study, conducted by UT scholars, involved an analysis of the writing styles of Shakespeare, Fletcher, and Theobald. What stood out to the scholars over everything else was the language of the play, which they found to be profoundly identical to what has become commonly called Shakespearian language. In fact, they found that the entire first half of the play was written by Shakespeare except a few verses which more closely resemble the work of John Fletcher.
“The match between the ‘Double Falsehood’ play and Shakespeare was a landslide. It was shockingly clear. There’s very little wiggle room to interpret the numbers any differently.”
Analyzing Double Falsehood involved a lot of reading and comparing. The study, which was published by Ryan L. Boyd and James W. Pennebaker in the Journal of Psychological Science, involved the examination of 33 plays by Shakespeare, nine by Fletcher, and 22 by Theobald. The overall result was that Double Falsehood contained the “psychological signature” of each author involved. The characteristics of a “psychological signature” are based on factors like phrase patterns, and word choices.
Looking at the study more closely, the UT scholars found that most of the play contained the signature of Shakespeare and Fletcher, with only a small presence from Theobald. This proved that Theobald only made minor edits to the work and never actually wrote a single line. Ryan Boyd recently made a statement to CNN about the lack of Theobald’s “psychological signature” in the work that he so effortlessly took credit for.
“We’re certainly not suggesting that Theobald didn’t make edits. But he clearly did not write it.”
Still, with all the reasonable evidence that Boyd and Pennebaker have gathered in their study, they feel that 300-year-old conversations like this are not that easily silenced. With a lack of literature background, both scholars expect that literary experts will deny that the play is a “lost” play of William Shakespeare.
[Image via BBC UK]