An anonymous 16th-century play may have been written by William Shakespeare, according to scholars who used mathematical techniques to uncover the hidden hand of the Bard in a 1592 tragedy, Arden of Faversham.
Using sophisticated computer modelling, researchers showed that at least five scenes were penned by Shakespeare. The work builds on analogue methods of scholars who have long suspected the play was a collaboration involving the world’s most famous playwright.
“Our machines allow us to see the texts again, through new eyes, giving us a rigorous way to determine which elements are more important than others,” said Jack Elliott, from the University of Newcastle in Australia.
The New Oxford Shakespeare editors have decided to include the play in its latest collection of the Bard’s works. The new collection contains 44 plays, 17 of which now appear as collaborative works with authors such as Marlowe, Fletcher and Wilkins. Arden of Faversham is attributed to “Anonymous and William Shakespeare”.
Researchers analysed blocks of text from the play and used computational methods to analyse the frequency and patterns of words, ‘The Sydney Morning Herald’ reported.
They compared these patterns to those within plays whose authorship was established, including works by Thomas Kyd, Christopher Marlowe, Robert Greene, John Lyly, Thomas Nash, Thomas Lodge, George Peele and Robert Wilson, all contemporaries of Shakespeare.
“It is impossible to reconcile the results we have found with a belief that Shakespeare had no hand in Arden of Faversham, thus the play takes its rightful place in the canon of his works,” researchers said.