Shakespeare’s `co-author` for `All’s Well That Ends Well` revealed

London: Shakespeare’s was most likely helped by a fellow playwright for writing ‘All’s Well That Ends Well’, Oxford University academics have revealed.

The work, about a noble, Bertram, attempting to avoid marrying an orphaned commoner, was probably co-written by Thomas Middleton, author of The Changeling and Women Beware Women, the research suggests.

Prof Laurie Maguire and Dr Emma Smith, both part of Oxford University’s English faculty asserted that an analysis of the Bard’s comedy from the First Folio of 1623 betrays the literary fingerprints of Middleton.

“The proportion of the play written in rhyme is much higher than usual for Jacobean Shakespeare: 19 per cent of the lines are in rhyme, which fits Middleton’s norm of 20 per cent,” the Telegraph quoted Prof Maguire as saying.

“Shakespeare tends to use ‘Omnes’ as a speech prefix and ‘All’, preferred by Middleton, only occurs twice in the Folio: both times in All’s Well.”

According to the research, Middleton wrote Act 4, Scene 3, Prof Maguire said.

“This scene sees Parolles {a companion] describing Bertram as ‘ruttish’, a word whose only other occurrence as an adjective is in Middleton’s The Phoenix,” he said.

“It also sees an unusual number of Middleton’s known spelling preferences.”

“The narrative stage directions, especially ‘Parolles and Lafew stay behind, commenting on this wedding’, look as though it is the point at which one author handed over,” Dr Smith said.

“We are not saying that Middleton and Shakespeare definitely worked together on All’s Well but Middleton’s involvement would certainly explain many of the comedy’s stylistic, textual and narrative quirks.”

Middleton, a Londoner, lived from 1580 to 1627 and was celebrated in his own right. Shakespeare is known to have teamed up with him on Timon Of Athens, the academics said.
If the two did work together on All’s Well, it could offer an interesting new insight, the researchers believe.

“Where we know Shakespeare worked with other playwrights, it tended to be in a master-apprentice relationship, with Shakespeare as the apprentice in the early years and as the senior writer in his later years,” Dr Smith said.

“But if, as we suspect, All’s Well and Timon Of Athens were written in 1606-7 while Shakespeare was in the middle of his career and working with a dynamic, up-and-coming playwright like Middleton, the relationship seems not unlike an established musician working with the current big thing,” Dr Smith added.


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