William Shakespeare's collaborations
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Like most playwrights of his period,
William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. He is often called England's national p ...

William Shakespeare
did not always write alone. A number of his surviving plays are collaborative, or were revised by others after their original composition, although the exact number is open to debate. Some of the following attributions, such as ''
The Two Noble Kinsmen ''The Two Noble Kinsmen'' is a Literature in English#Jacobean period (1603–1625), Jacobean tragicomedy, first published in 1634 and attributed jointly to John Fletcher (playwright), John Fletcher and William Shakespeare. Its plot derives from ...
'', have well-attested contemporary documentation; others, such as ''
Titus Andronicus ''Titus Andronicus'' is a Shakespearean tragedy, tragedy by William Shakespeare believed to have been written between 1588 and 1593, probably in collaboration with George Peele. It is thought to be Shakespeare's first tragedy and is often seen ...

Titus Andronicus
'', are dependent on linguistic analysis by modern scholars; recent work on computer analysis of textual style (word use, word and phrase patterns) has given reason to believe that parts of some of the plays ascribed to Shakespeare are actually by other writers. In some cases the identity of the collaborator is known; in other cases there is a scholarly consensus; in others it is unknown or disputed. These debates are the province of
Shakespeare attribution studies Shakespeare attribution studies is the scholarly attempt to determine the authorial boundaries of the William Shakespeare canon, the extent of his William Shakespeare's collaborations, possible collaborative works, and the identity of his coll ...
. Most collaborations occurred at the very beginning and the very end of Shakespeare's career.


Elizabethan authorship

The
Elizabethan theatre English Renaissance theatre, also known as Renaissance English theatre and Elizabethan theatre, refers to the theatre of England between 1558 and 1642. This is the style of the play (theatre), plays of William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe ...
was nothing like the modern theatre, but rather more like the modern
film industry The film industry or motion picture industry comprises the technological and commercial institutions of filmmaking Filmmaking (film production) is the process by which a is . Filmmaking involves a number of complex and discrete stages, sta ...
. Scripts were often written quickly, older scripts were revised, and many were the product of collaboration. The unscrupulous nature of the Elizabethan book printing trade complicates the attribution of plays further; for example,
William Jaggard William Jaggard ( – November 1623) was an Elizabethan The Elizabethan era is the epoch in the of the during the reign of (1558–1603). Historians often depict it as the in English history. The symbol of (a female personificati ...
, who published the
First Folio ''Mr. William Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies'' is a collection of plays by William Shakespeare, commonly referred to by modern scholars as the First Folio, published in 1623, about seven years after Shakespeare's death. It is cons ...

First Folio
, also published ''
The Passionate Pilgrim ''The Passionate Pilgrim'' (1599) is an anthology In book publishing Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. Traditionally, the term re ...

The Passionate Pilgrim
by W. Shakespeare'', which is mostly the work of other writers.


Shakespeare's collaborations


Early works

* ''
Edward III Edward III (13 November 1312 – 21 June 1377), also known as Edward of Windsor before his accession, was King of England and Lord of Ireland from January 1327 until his death in 1377. He is noted for his military success and for restoring roy ...
'' was published anonymously in 1596. It was first attributed to Shakespeare in a bookseller's catalogue published in 1656. Various scholars have suggested Shakespeare's possible authorship, since a number of passages appear to bear his stamp, among other sections that are remarkably uninspired. In 1996,
Yale University Press Yale University Press is a university press A university press is an academic publishing Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. Traditional ...
became the first major publisher to produce an edition of the play under Shakespeare's name. A consensus is emerging that the play was written by a team of dramatists including Shakespeare early in his career – but exactly who wrote what is still open to debate. The play is included in the Second Edition of the ''Complete Oxford Shakespeare'' (2005), where it is attributed to "William Shakespeare and Others", and in the ''Riverside Shakespeare''. In 2009,
Brian Vickers Brian Lee Vickers (born October 24, 1983) is an American professional stock car Stock car racing is a form of automobile racing found mainly and most prominently in the United States and Canada, with New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, the Unit ...
published the results of a computer analysis using a program designed to detect plagiarism, which suggests that 40% of the play was written by Shakespeare with the other scenes written by
Thomas Kyd Thomas Kyd (baptised 6 November 1558; buried 15 August 1594) was an English playwright A playwright or dramatist is a person who writes play Play most commonly refers to: * Play (activity), an activity done for enjoyment * Play (theatre), ...
(1558–1594). * ''
Henry VI, Part 1 ''Henry VI, Part 1'', often referred to as ''1 Henry VI'', is a history play by William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet, and actor, widely regarded as the great ...
'': possibly the work of a team of playwrights, whose identities are unknown. Some scholars argue that Shakespeare wrote less than 20% of the text. Gary Taylor argues that the first act was the work of
Thomas Nashe Thomas Nashe (baptised November 1567 – c. 1601; also Nash) was an Elizabethan The Elizabethan era is the epoch in the of the during the reign of (1558–1603). Historians often depict it as the in English history. The symbol of ( ...
. Paul J. Vincent concludes that, in light of recent research into the Elizabethan theatre, ''1 Henry VI'' is Shakespeare's partial revision of a play by Nashe (Act 1) and an unknown playwright (Acts 2–5), the original of which was performed in early 1592. Shakespeare's work in the play, which was most likely composed in 1594, can be found in Act 2 (scene 4) and Act 4 (scenes 2–5 and the first 32 lines of scene 7). Vincent's authorship findings, especially with regard to Nashe's authorship of Act 1, are supported overall by
Brian Vickers Brian Lee Vickers (born October 24, 1983) is an American professional stock car Stock car racing is a form of automobile racing found mainly and most prominently in the United States and Canada, with New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, the Unit ...
, who agrees with the theory of co-authorship and differs only slightly over the extent of Shakespeare's contribution to the play, tentatively identifying Thomas Kyd as the author of the rest of the play. * ''
Titus Andronicus ''Titus Andronicus'' is a Shakespearean tragedy, tragedy by William Shakespeare believed to have been written between 1588 and 1593, probably in collaboration with George Peele. It is thought to be Shakespeare's first tragedy and is often seen ...

Titus Andronicus
'': seen as a collaboration with, or revision of,
George Peele George Peele (baptised 25 July 1556 – buried 9 November 1596) was an English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, e ...
. See Authorship of ''Titus Andronicus''. * ''
Sir Thomas More Sir Thomas More (7 February 1478 – 6 July 1535), venerated in the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, often referred to as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian chur ...
'': some pages of the manuscript of this play are in Shakespeare's handwriting, with the assembled text being a collaboration with
Anthony Munday Anthony Munday (or Monday) (1560?10 August 1633) was an English playwright and miscellaneous writer. He was baptized on 13 October 1560 in St Gregory by St Paul's, London, and was the son of Christopher Munday, a stationer, and Jane Munday. He ...
(the primary author) and others. * ''
The Spanish Tragedy ''The Spanish Tragedy, or Hieronimo is Mad Again'' is an Elizabethan tragedy written by Thomas Kyd between 1582 and 1592. Highly popular and influential in its time, ''The Spanish Tragedy'' established a new genre in English theatre, the reveng ...

The Spanish Tragedy
'': although definitely known to be by Thomas Kyd,
Thomas Pavier Thomas Pavier (died 1625) was a London publisher and bookseller of the early seventeenth century. His complex involvement in the publication of early editions of some of William Shakespeare, Shakespeare's plays, as well as plays of the Shakespeare ...
's edition of 1602 added five new passages to the preexisting text, totaling 320 lines, with the most substantial addition being an entire scene, known as the ''"painter scene"'', since it is dominated by Hieronimo's conversation with a painter. Even before Pavier's quarto, however, the scene seems to have been in existence and known to audiences, since John Marston parodies the painter scene in his 1599 play ''
Antonio and Mellida ''Antonio and Mellida'' is a late English literature#Elizabethan era, Elizabethan play written by the satirist John Marston (poet), John Marston, usually dated to 1599. The play was entered into the Stationers' Register on 24 October 1601 in li ...
''. The five additions in the 1602 text may have been made for the 1597 revival by the Admiral's Men. In 2013, scholar Douglas Bruster, after comparing spellings in the additions with what we know of Shakespeare's handwriting, concluded that Shakespeare did indeed write the additions. Bruster attributed mistakes in the text of the additions to the illegibility of Shakespeare's handwriting; the resulting mistakes have led to the devaluing of the portions that Shakespeare presumably wrote.


Collaboration with Wilkins

* ''
Pericles, Prince of Tyre ''Pericles, Prince of Tyre'' is a Jacobean era, Jacobean play written at least in part by William Shakespeare and included in modern editions of his collected works despite questions over its authorship, as it was not included in the First Fol ...
'': includes the work of
George Wilkins George Wilkins (died 1618) was an English dramatist A playwright or dramatist is a person who writes play Play most commonly refers to: * Play (activity), an activity done for enjoyment * Play (theatre), a work of drama Play may refer also to ...
. Most scholars take the view that Wilkins wrote the first two acts, and Shakespeare the last three.


Collaborations with Middleton

* ''
Macbeth ''Macbeth'' (, full title ''The Tragedie of Macbeth'') is a Shakespearean tragedy, tragedy by William Shakespeare. It is thought to have been first performed in 1606 in literature, 1606. It dramatises the damaging physical and psychological ...

Macbeth
'':
Thomas Middleton Thomas Middleton (baptised 18 April 1580 – July 1627; also spelt ''Midleton'') was an English English Renaissance theatre, Jacobean playwright and poet. He, with John Fletcher (playwright), John Fletcher and Ben Jonson, was among the most suc ...

Thomas Middleton
may have revised this tragedy as it appears in the
First Folio ''Mr. William Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies'' is a collection of plays by William Shakespeare, commonly referred to by modern scholars as the First Folio, published in 1623, about seven years after Shakespeare's death. It is cons ...

First Folio
in 1615 to incorporate extra musical sequences. * ''
Measure for Measure ''Measure for Measure'' is a play by William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world ...
'': may have undergone a light revision by Middleton at some point after its original composition. As with ''Macbeth'', the only source is that of the
First Folio ''Mr. William Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies'' is a collection of plays by William Shakespeare, commonly referred to by modern scholars as the First Folio, published in 1623, about seven years after Shakespeare's death. It is cons ...

First Folio
. * ''
Timon of Athens ''Timon of Athens'' (''The Life of Tymon of Athens'') is a play written by William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writ ...

Timon of Athens
'': may result from collaboration between Shakespeare and Middleton which might explain its incoherent plot and unusually cynical tone. * ''
All's Well That Ends Well ''All's Well That Ends Well'' is a play by William Shakespeare William Shakespeare ( 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the wo ...

All's Well That Ends Well
'': research published in 2012 by Emma Smith and Laurie Maguire of
Oxford University Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town and only city of Oxfordshire. In 2017, its population was estimated at 152,450. It is northwest of London, southeast of Birmingham, and northeast of Bristol. The city is home to the Unive ...

Oxford University
suggests a collaboration between Shakespeare and Middleton.


Collaborations with Fletcher

* ''
Cardenio ''The History of Cardenio'', often referred to as merely ''Cardenio'', is a lost work, lost play, known to have been performed by the King's Men (playing company), King's Men, a London theatre company, in 1613. The play is attributed to William Sha ...
'', a lost play; contemporary reports say that Shakespeare collaborated on it with John Fletcher. * ''
Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England from 22 April 1509 until his death in 1547. Henry is best known for Wives of Henry VIII, his six marriages, including his efforts to have his first marriage (to Catherine of Aragon ...
'': generally considered a collaboration between Shakespeare and Fletcher. * ''
The Two Noble Kinsmen ''The Two Noble Kinsmen'' is a Literature in English#Jacobean period (1603–1625), Jacobean tragicomedy, first published in 1634 and attributed jointly to John Fletcher (playwright), John Fletcher and William Shakespeare. Its plot derives from ...
'', published in quarto in 1634 and attributed to John Fletcher and William Shakespeare on the title page; each playwright appears to have written about half of the text. It is excluded from the First Folio.


See also

*
Shakespeare apocrypha The Shakespeare apocrypha is a group of plays and poems that have sometimes been attributed to William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as ...


References

{{Authority control
Collaborations Collaboration (from Latin ''com-'' "with" + ''laborare'' "to labor", "to work") is the process of two or more people, entities or organizations working together to complete a task or achieve a goal. Collaboration is similar to cooperation. Most ...
Shakespeare, William Shakespearean scholarship