A new edition of William Shakespeare's complete works will name Christopher Marlowe as co-author of three plays, shedding new light on the links between the two great playwrights after centuries of speculation and conspiracy theories.( This debate has gone on for centuries. I have an 1870s edition of collected works which has a forward by a renowned Victorian actor suggesting that Marlowe may have written some if not all of the plays)
Marlowe's role in the Henry VI plays had been debated for centuries
Academics are extremely confident about Marlowe's authorship of some parts.
Collaboration between playwrights was normal in the Elizabethan period
Marlowe will be listed as co-author of the three Henry VI plays in the New Oxford Shakespeare, due to be published in several instalments over the coming weeks by the Oxford University Press.
Professor Taylor, a Florida State University expert, said academics had known for a long time that Shakespeare worked with other writers on some plays.
The idea that he collaborated with Marlowe on the Henry VI plays had been debated for centuries, but had not been possible to demonstrate before.
Professor Taylor said scholars had used databases of plays and other writings from the Elizabethan period, not just by Shakespeare or Marlowe but by many others working at the time, to search for distinctive words or combinations of words.
The academics who worked on the New Oxford Shakespeare, and others who had provided peer reviews of their findings, were extremely confident about Marlowe's authorship of some parts of the Henry VI plays, Professor Taylor said.
"There are parts that are very clearly by Shakespeare and there are parts that are very clearly by Marlowe," he said, adding that most of the best-loved passages were by Shakespeare.
Professor Taylor said that collaboration between playwrights was entirely normal in the Elizabethan period, and there was no suggestion of any great secret or conspiracy regarding Shakespeare's work with Marlowe.
The author of The Jew of Malta, Doctor Faustus and Edward II, Marlowe passed into British popular culture as Shakespeare's great rival, but Professor Taylor said that was speculation.
"It's possible they loved each other, it's possible they hated each other. We have no way of knowing," he said.