SHAKESPEARE, POPULAR CULTURE, and CRITICAL ANALYSIS
Thursday, August 15, 2013
UT Professor Solves a 400-Year-Old Shakespeare Mystery by Rose Cahalan
Coleridge would be proud.
In 1833, poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge was the first to wonder if part of Thomas Kyd’s 16th-century play The Spanish Tragedy might have been written by William Shakespeare. Scholars have spent the intervening 180 years trying to answer that question—and now UT English professor Doug Bruster has done it.
Bruster studied the Bard’s bad handwriting and idiosyncratic spelling patterns (such as “wrapt” for “wrapped”). His analysis confirmed that 325 lines of Kyd’s play, known as the Additional Passages, were written by Shakespeare. The journal Notes & Queries has published the new findings.
“We don’t have any absolute proof, but this is as close as you can get,” Shakespeare expert Eric Rasmussen told the New York Times.
Of course, the discovery isn’t Bruster’s alone. It builds upon a long body of related work, most notably a 2012 computer software analysis by British researcher Brian Vickers that pointed in the same direction. Bruster spoke with the Alcalde about how he made the discovery—and why Shakespeare still matters.