LONDON —The Bard was not a solo act.

Oxford University Press’ new edition of William Shakespeare’s works will credit Christopher Marlowe as co-author of the three Henry VI plays, underscoring that the playwright collaborated with others on some of his most famous works.

Marlowe, a playwright, poet and spy, will share billing in the latest version of the New Oxford Shakespeare being published this week. While scholars have long suspected that Shakespeare’s plays included the work of others, new analytical methods helped researchers conclude that sections bore the hallmarks of Marlowe’s hand.

“Shakespeare, like other geniuses, recognized the value of other people,” said Gary Taylor, a professor at Florida State University and the principal investigator of the new work. “What is Shakespeare famous for? Writing dialogue – interactions between two people. You would expect in his life there would be dialogue with other people.”

A team of 23 international scholars looked afresh at the man many consider the greatest writer in the English language. Five of the world’s most senior Shakespeare scholars –Taylor, Hugh Craig at the University of Newcastle in Australia, MacDonald P. Jackson at the University of Auckland in New Zealand; Gabriel Egan at De Montfort University, Leicester and John Jowett of the Shakespeare Institute at the University of Birmingham – had to be convinced of the issues of authorship in the works.

The editors concluded that 17 of 44 works associated with Shakespeare had input from others. The scholars used computerized data sets to reveal patterns, trends and associations – analyzing Shakespeare’s words and those of his contemporaries.

Oxford University Press said that “identifying Marlowe’s hand in the Henry VI plays is just one of the fresh features of this project.”

The authorship of Shakespeare’s works has long been disputed, with one now-discredited theory being that philosopher Sir Francis Bacon is the true author of the works. But Bacon is only mentioned in the forward of this volume. His authorship, Taylor said, is “just a wonderful story.”


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