New research by scholars at Oxford University suggests that William Shakespeare worked with a co-author when penning his plays All’s Well That Ends Well and Timon of Athens.
To reach their conclusion researchers performed a line-by-line analysis of the plays and what they discovered was that two distinctive yet similar writing styles were used to create the story. Researchers believe part of the play may have been the work of renowned playwright Thomas Middleton because of his distinctive vocabulary and rhyming style.
As the BBC reports it also appears that the stage directions used throughout “All’s Well” are more in the style of Middleton than Shakespeare. Upon their investigation Oxford scholars also noticed that at parts the play seems to be handed off between writers.
Researchers have also wondered for some time if Thomas Middleton collaborated with Shakespeare on Timon of Athens.
While the new study is hardly conclusive proof that Shakespeare worked with a partner, one researcher notes:
“The picture that’s emerging is of much more collaboration … We need to think of it more as a film studio with teams of writers.”
Researchers have believed for some time that Shakespeare kept other writers in his company, however in those cases he was believed to use a “master-apprentice” scenario in which Shakespeare ran ideas past his apprentice and took their suggestions under consideration.
It’s unlikely Thomas Middleton will ever fully receive credit for his work but let’s be honest, at least he isn’t being overlooked for working on Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet or other more famous works by William Shakespeare.