The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1316 Wednesday, 10 August 2005
From: Michael Egan <
Date: Tuesday, 9 Aug 2005 06:42:41 -1000
Subject: 1 Richard II
I'd like my 1,000 pounds sterling, please.
Readers of this listserv will know that over the years Prof Ward Elliott
of Claremont Mckenna College has issued a challenge, recently repeated
here, the substance of which is that he will pay 1000 British pounds to
anyone able to prove that any anonymous Elizabethan play deemed
non-Shakespeare by stylometry and himself is in fact by Shakespeare. On
28 July (SHK 16.1251 Shakespeare by the Numbers) I accepted this
challenge in the following form: if Elliott could refute my
non-stylometric evidence and show that the anonymous Elizabethan play
Richard II, Part One (also known as Woodstock) is not by Shakespeare, I
would pay him his one thousand pounds. But if he could not, he would
write me a check for the equivalent amount. My evidence is detailed in
The Tragedy of Richard II, Part One: A Newly Authenticated Play by
Shakespeare (Edwin Melllen Press, 2005, forthcoming).
It is now two weeks later and the silence from the direction of
Claremont Mackenna College has been deafening. Obviously the man is not
showing up. As a further irony, Elliott went out of his way to boast
that previous opponents had 'wisely' declined to take him on; apparently
he learned from this wisdom. I thus declare myself the winner. Cough up,
In fact, I feel so confident about my case, I'm willing to issue the
same challenge to any and all. How about Robert J. Valenza, Elliott's
partner, who may have more spine than his cowering friend? Or will he
too wisely choose discretion as the better part of academic valor? I'll
wager we'll not be hearing from him either.
To keep things interesting, however, let me issue my challenge directly
to Prof. MacDonald P. Jackson, described by Brian Vickers as 'the most
inventive scholar in attribution studies over the last thirty years.'
Many SHAKSPEReans will know that in 2001 Jackson published
'Shakespeare's Richard II and the Anonymous Thomas of Woodstock,' in
John Pitcher, et. al (eds): Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England,
Volume 14 (Cranbury, CT: Associated University Presses and Rosemont
Publishing & Printing Corp., 2001) pp. 17-65, arguing that Samuel Rowley
Jr is the play's true author.
But Jackson's argument is as insubstantial as Elliott's and the rest of
the Stylometry Gang. For starters, I challenge him to explain how he
reconciles his claim that Rowley wrote the play ca. 1610 (Jackson, op.
cit., p. 55) but the same play was actually written ca. 1595, as he
asserts in his more recent book, Defining Shakespeare (2003), p. 46.
So, Mac, which is it? Is 'Woodstock' Jacobean, as of 2001, or