Right Playwright

Letter to the Editor

Times Higher Education Supplement; 1 Aug.1986; © The Estate of Eric Sams

Sir, - Can your reviewer (THES, June 27), who denies that any internal evidence could prove that Shakespeare wrote Ironside, possibly be the same Richard Proudfoot who is currently contending, on internal evidence, that Shakespeare wrote Edward III? And can he really have failed to notice the manifest and hundredfold affinities between those two plays?

   It is just irrational to canonize one of them while anathematizing the other as the imaginary result of imaginary “conscious imitation” by an imaginary plagiarist attending imaginary performances of Shakespeare plays (including several then unpublished and for all anyone knows unwritten) at some imaginary date in the middle or late 1590s to which some imaginary “scholars and critics” have assigned Ironside.

   In fact, all its editors and commentators have always dated it c.1590 or earlier, for a variety of historical and literary reasons.  No evidence whatever exists for any later date.

   Outside academe, everyone will prefer some evidence and some argument to none at all.  Proudfoot’s plea to be granted an Ironside extension up to 1600, merely to accommodate his own baseless inventions, will be rejected by all reasonable readers.

   On the known facts, Ironside was written earlier than any canonical Shakespeare play; so either he plagiarized it or he wrote it.


Yours faithfully,


32 Arundel Avenue,


Surrey  CR2 8BB