Literary experts have long suspected that William Shakespeare collaborated with another writer when he penned Henry VI (Parts I, II, and III) in the late 16th century. In 2016, scholars used cutting-edge computer programs to analyze texts, and found enough “signature language patterns” in the works to officially credit Christopher Marlowe as a co-author of the three historical plays. “We have been able to verify Marlowe’s presence in those three plays strongly and clearly enough,” said Florida State University professor Gary Taylor, one of 23 academics working on the project. Christopher Marlowe was an eminent tragedian of the Elizabethan era, but he was killed in 1593 at the age of 29.
To credit Marlowe, or not to credit Marlowe:
- The three plays, concerning Henry VI’s role before, during, and after the Wars of the Roses, were published separately, but have been combined in various adaptations over the years.
- The two dramatists' names will appear jointly on the title pages of the plays within The New Oxford Shakespeare, a landmark project recently published by Oxford University Press.
- Marlowe’s hand in writing the Henry VI plays has been suspected since the 18th century. The 2016 research led to the first prominent billing in an edition of Shakespeare’s collected works.