22 September 1981

Dear Eliot,

      Many thanks for your kind and helpful letter of 18 September. Of course I'd be most grateful for any further comments and counsel you felt able to offer; it's agreeable to feel that we're once again working jointly on matters of common interest and concern. Perhaps you're aiming at a modern edition of EIII? That would seem a splendid idea; it's certainly a better (ie if Shakespearean, later) work than Ironside which (all the same) I wouldn't mind having a shot at editing. Perhaps we could ride out on a joint crusade, and be known as The Two Horsemen of the Apocrypha?

      I quite agree that it would be great fun if both our hobby‑horses won in the authenticity stakes. I'm not sure that I'm ambitious enough to aim at converting the Shakespeare establishment; to persuade the informed public that there is at least a prima facie case would suit me well enough. I had in mind to talk to one or two of my publisher friends before long about the hardback (e.g. edition) possibilities. As to journals, John Gross was encouraging about the Barnaby Barnes piece when I sent it to him last year. The Times was out of joint then, but I was to try aain later, and would have done ere this had I not been Ironsidetracked. Naturally your comments on presentation as well as content will be most welcome in all these contexts.

      Meanwhile I've written to one or two other people whose views I value, such as Emrys Jones , whose work on the early Shakespeare I found quite impressive (though more indebted than he says, or perhaps knows, to J.A.K. Thomson). I expect he'll turn out to be Stanley Wells's rather unhelpful referee; just my luck!

      And of course I'm more than happy to let you have my rare concordance‑word list, though will take a bit of time to sort out from my rather scrappy records. I had dimly suppsed that OED firsts were rather more evidential. I note you share K. Muir's view that Schäfer has exploded the OED, rather annoyingly, since I've just forked out £20 for it. But I can't at all follow how he's supposed to have done so; I can't find any argument or data on that point; and if he has exploded it then he's hoist with it, since his own list of Shakespeare main‑lemma firsts then becomes so much waste paper and wasted effort. Anyhow, I've written to him too in search of further elucidation.

      Now: is there any way in which I could perhaps seek to be of service to you on the EIII question? No doubt you're familiar with Everitt's parallels and Muir's image‑cluster, all of which quite impress me. I notice too that EIII includes not only 'scarlet ornaments' and the 'lilies that fester etc' line, but also 'basest weed' from that same sonnet. My favourite tool of Ockham's Razor, which though it little ice anywhere else makes a deep impression on me, tells me that the cleanest infrence is identity of hand.

      Best regards, as ever; renewed thanks; yours Eric