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William Shakespeare the Plagiariser Playwright?

By April 27, 2018Literature, News

Over the centuries there have been rumours surrounding William Shakespeare, the Elizabethan/Jacobean poet and playwright. From one rumour accusing William of being a group of poets rather than one man, to a rumour saying he was actually Queen Elizabeth I, it seems Shakespeare was too good to be true for some- as the Ted-Ed video shows below.

It turns out some of the more suspicious among us may have been correct. Shakespeare may have not been the genius we have all painted him as after all as latest revelations show he may have plagiarised a manuscript from the 1500s.

Using plagiarism software which is usually used to check academic essays for plagiarism, scholars have found evidence of possible appropriation of a 1567 manuscript.

The unpublished and handwritten work by George Noth, is titled A Brief Discourse of Rebellion, and was the possible source for more than 20 snippets from the works of William Shakespeare. Scholar Dennis McCarthy, and college professor June Schlueter used the plagiarism detection software WCopyfind and named the Noth manuscript as potentially one of Will Shakespeare’s inspirations for some of his most famous monologues.

The pair found unmistakeable elements of Noth’s writings, including a rebellion against a monarch, the Fool’s Merlin prophecy in King Lear, and the comparison of dogs to classes of men in Macbeth.

From McCarthy and Schlueter’s book:

“Until now, no Shakespeare scholar has studied the manuscript, and it has probably remained little read. Yet, as our analysis has revealed, Discourse is not merely the only uniquely existent, evidently un-copied document to have had a substantial impact on the canon; it is one of the most influential Shakespearean source texts in any form.” 

The scholars discovered many passages with such similarities that they state that the odds of this happening without plagiarism is like winning the lottery multiple times.

If you’d like to read more A Brief Discourse of Rebellion and Rebels’ by George North was published on the 16th February by Boydell & Brewer and is available in the links below.

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