The Bard's Play: Taylor's U-Turn

Letter to the Editor

Sunday Times, 16 Feb. 1986

In his ill-natured review of my 383 pages devoted to thousands of detailed affinities between Edmund Ironside and Shakespeare, Gary Taylor (Books, last week) has somehow managed to omit all mention of even a single one of them: surely a unique scholarly achievement.

    My evidence has persuaded other academics that Ironside must have been plagiarised from Shakespeare. But if it dates from c.1588, i.e. before any known Shakespeare play was written, let alone per­formed or published, pla­giarism is ruled out. That, as Taylor himself admits, must leave Shakespearean author­ship as the sole plausible explanation.

    To this early date I devote 18 pages of evidence and argument, including all previous editorial authority since 1923. Neither Taylor nor anyone else has yet made any case for any later date.

    Outside Academe, most people will prefer some evidence and some argument to none at all.

    Even inside, I have found influential supporters. Perhaps I may mention one in particular, who after careful consideration, recorded his agreement that Ironside was indeed probably written in 1588, and in any event that he could almost believe it was very early Shakespeare on stylistic grounds alone.

    That was Gary Taylor, no less, in a 1983 letter to me. I wonder what changed his mind.


   Dr Eric Sams