Seeing the Fingerprints of Other Hands in Shakespeare

Usually the debates surrounding Shakespeare are about his identity, but this story from the NYT discusses his co-authors.

In matters of Shakespeare authorship, it is often said that nothing is ever resolved. But in a recent book Brian Vickers, director of Renaissance Studies at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, has brought clarity to the old and hotly debated question of Shakespeare's work with co-authors. As a result changes will be made in some future editions of Shakespeare.

In "Shakespeare, Co-Author" (Oxford University Press, 2002), Professor Vickers, 65, shows how numerous tests by many generations of scholars demonstrate substantial work by other playwrights in five Shakespeare plays. Examining factors like rhetorical devices, polysyllabic words and metrical habits, scholars have been able to identify reliably an author of a work or part of a work, even when the early editions did not give credit.

The plays are not the top five in the Shakespeare canon. But the overwhelming evidence in the book shows that George Peele, not Shakespeare, wrote almost a third of "Titus Andronicus"; Thomas Middleton, about two-fifths of "Timon of Athens"; George Wilkins, two of the five acts of "Pericles"; and John Fletcher, more than half of "Henry VIII." "The Two Noble Kinsmen," originally published in 1634 as the work of Shakespeare and Fletcher, is shown to be about two-fifths Shakespeare's.


Calgary to see long-lost Christie play

News Out Of Calgary says the discovery of a tattered copy of a lost play by Agatha Christie in a pile of unsolicited scripts is giving a Calgary theatre the rare opportunity of hosting a world premiere of a work by the world's best-selling mystery writer.

Next month, Mathew Prichard, Ms. Christie's only grandchild, will travel from England to Calgary for a seat of honour at the Vertigo Mystery Theatre for the debut of Chimneys, a play never published, never performed and so rare that even Ms. Christie's heirs and the managers of her estate had not seen a copy.


The Gender Genie

Inspired by an article in The New York Times Magazine, the Gender Genie, at uses an algorithm developed by Moshe Koppel, Bar-Ilan University in Israel, and Shlomo Argamon, Illinois Institute of Technology, to predict the gender of an author. Read more about the algorithm at Via Mefi.


Gluck named Poet Laureate

Normally shying away from the spotlight, newly appointed US Poet Laureate Louise Gluck (rhymes with 'pick'), accepted the post, saying she thought it was time for her life to be 'disturbed and surprised.' Comparing her work to outgoing laureate, the very gregarious Billy Collins, Gluck characterized her work as "more disturbing, less readily accessible and charming." I'm sure Laura Bush will be calling her up for tea real soon. Librarian of Congress James Billington will make the official announcement tomorrow (Friday, August 29). A story from the Washington Post.


Worse for verse as young poets get the chop

An article about the UK poetry publishing industry: Both publishers and booksellers are becoming ever more reluctant to take financial risks with untried talent

"Yet even as despairing bards clutched their bottles of prussic acid, or coughed out their life-blood on the pillow, they were sustained by the dream of fame in the afterlife."

"This is a very unfashionable sort of fame today. What use is celebrity that comes only after your demise? You can't use it to blag an upgrade into First Class then, can you? Poetic celebrity has declined since the days when Byron was the cynosure of all Europe and poetry critics dissected the latest incendiary offering from Shelley with all the rigour of Paul Morley analysing a New Order lyric."


Ray Bradbury Turns 83 In Style

Science fiction author Ray Bradbury has his 83rd birthday the same day as the closest approach of Mars in almost 60000 years on August 27.
Stories at, MSNBC, and SpaceRef.
To celebrate the opposition of Mars on August 27 and Bradbury's 83rd birthday on August 22, The Planetary Society is gathering birthday greetings from well-wishers around the world to present to Bradbury in a giant birthday card. Anyone can join in sending these greetings by visiting The Planetary Society's web page. The deadline for birthday greetings is August 20.


Neal Stephenson Rewrites History

Wired is running An Interview with Neal Stephenson "the dark prince of hacker fiction."
In the context of the 1600s, Stephenson examines the nature of money, the interdependency of Europe, and the consequences of transformative scientific advances. The writing schedule is ambitious, too: The first book, Quicksilver, is out this month, and the next two will follow at six-month intervals. Stephenson took the time to tell Wired why, if you're a hacker, the 17th century was the place to be.


Book riles those who can't spare a nickel or a dime

James Nimmo points us to an item at The Progressive about objections to Barbara Ehrenreich and her book Nickel and Dimed.
"When I was in Scandinavia last spring promoting "Nickel and Dimed," interviewers kept asking me to tell them about the "debate" my book had provoked in the United States. I had to confess that it had provoked no debate at all, at least none that I had heard of. In fact, when my book was adopted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a reading for all incoming students in 2003, the administration expressed its conviction that it was a "relatively tame selection," at least compared to last year's choice -- a collection of readings from the Koran. I was beginning to envy Michael Moore, whose publisher had cleverly boosted sales by attempting to suppress his book "Stupid White Men" in the wake of 9/11.Then, early in July, I got a phone call..."


WPA at the Library of Congress

jen found this article, Unmasking the Writers of the W.P.A.
about the WPA Federal Writers Project, which kept authors writing and on government payroll during the 30s and into the 40s. The body of work done by the project is remarkable and includes many well-know authors including John Cheever, Zora Neale Hurston and Studs Turkel. The Library of Congress has made much of the original material available on their American Memory website. Registration required at the NYT site.


Caught between two books

Caught between two books is an interesting column by The Guardian\'s Robert McCrum on being an author.
He says he has a friend, who, through a chain of happy coincidences too complex to go into here, he got himself a new literary agent who was able to attract serious offers to publish from no fewer than three well-known imprints.
It\'s a nice look at the book publishing industry, from the inside.

\"The immediate problem with the two-book deal is that, in the excitement of competitive acquisition, publishers generally overpay. Dreams turn sour.\"



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