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Double Falsehood 'based on Shakespeare original'

16th March 2010

A literary detective claims to have proved the lineage of a play which has been linked to William Shakespeare.

Brean Hammond, a professor of modern English literature at the University of Nottingham, has uncovered evidence that Double Falsehood, or the Distressed Lovers by 18th-century scholar Lewis Theobald was based on a work written by the Bard himself.

Professor Hammond has spent the past decade researching the work of Theobald, whose assertions that he held three original Shakespeare plays - now lost - have been widely dismissed by academics.

In a new edition of the Double Falsehood, published by Arden, the expert details evidence which claims the play is a version of Shakespeare's lost Cardenio, which he co-wrote with John Fletcher and which was then re-worked by Theobald.

Professor Hammond pointed out that academia traditionally held that there is no link between Shakespeare and Theobald's Double Falsehood but this view is starting to change.

'As the 20th century progressed … a gradual trickle of belief - not in the idea that the play as it stands is Shakespeare or even Shakespeare edited by Theobald - but in a much more complex story, developed into an irresistible flood,' he explained.

Last year, Sir Brian Vickers, a specialist on Shakespeare at the University of London's Institute of English Studies, claimed to have proved the playwright co-wrote The Reign of King Edward III, after analysing the text with a computer programme designed to detect cheating students.

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