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Shakespeare in the archives at King's


image of Swinburne with in black coat with hair learning to one side with red hair, moustache and goateeSwinburne by Carlo PellegriniWhether Shakespeare was sole author of the Folio plays or sometimes collaborated with others such as John Fletcher was a question that ignited a furious row between the author, Charles Algernon Swinburne, and the New Shakspere Society.

The Society had published papers, notably by Frederick Gard Fleay, examining statistical evidence as he understood it.

Furnivall responded robustly to Swinburne, or ‘Pig Brook’, as he termed him: Swinburne retorted in similar terms, to ‘Brothel Dyke’. Vitriolic exchanges characterised the last days of the Society in the early 1890s.

Almost a century later, new computer analysis enables closer examination of Shakespearean texts. Furnivall would have appreciated such ‘a very close study of the metrical and phraseological peculiarities of Shakspere’, as he put it.

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