Fake Shakespeare play which duped the Georgians on display at British Library

Bookworm1983

Bookworm1983

2016-03-29 13:41:39

You would think that it would be pretty difficult to write a fake Shakespeare play that was good enough to dupe people into believing it was the real deal-but a number of documents now on display at The British Library reveal that this wasn't exactly the case. 

The documents tell the story of how a law clerk once fooled the Georgian public into thinking he had found a 'lost' Shakespeare play along with various intimate documents revealing details about the great poet's life. 

The 'lost' play was entitled Vortigern and was actually written by the law clerk himself, a Mr William Henry Ireland. It was so convincing to some that it actually went on to play at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane in 1796 before being ridiculed by the audience who had spotted the obvious fake. 

William Henry Ireland began forging Shakespeare documents in 1794 beginning with legal papers before moving on to more daring feats such as unseen personal letters to Anne Hathaway (complete with lock of hair) and eventually, the 'lost' play.

Ireland eventually confessed to the forgeries but began selling his copies as curiosities-which are now to go on display at the British Library for the first time. 


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