The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2747 Wednesday, 5 December 2001
Date: Tuesday, 4 Dec 2001 16:32:45 -0000
Subject: William Henry Ireland's "Masterpiece"
I turned on Radio 4 (the British speech radio) at random a few nights
ago and was delighted to come across a programme involving Shakespeare.
It was a brief retelling of the story of Shakespearean Forger William
Henry Ireland, sketching out in not much detail how he came to forge
Shakespeare documents, and his come-uppance.
One narratorial comment caught my attention however, and I would be
interested to hear whether any SHAKSPERean would be in agreement with
it. The narration of the Radio programme claimed that although
"Wortigern" was a flop, William Henry Ireland wrote a true "masterpiece"
in "Henry II", but that this play has never been performed onstage at
My first question is, does anybody else think that Ireland's "Henry II"
was a masterpiece, and a wonderful piece of theatre? Or is it just the
hackwork that Ireland's "Wortigern" has usually been dismissed as?
My second question is, does anybody know of a performance of Ireland's
"Henry II"? Things being what they are in modern theatre, I am sure
some company - possibly amateur or college-based with peculiar interests
- would be tempted by a famous Shakespearean hoax, especially if it was
an unknown "masterpiece". The number of plays "never performed on any
stage" seems to be falling rapidly as time passes.
"Shakespeare and His Critics"
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