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Shakespeare's Lost Play - Transcript

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00:00            c.u. spine of “Complete Works of Shakespeare”
                      Tilt down from University of Nottingham sign to Prof. Hammond
                      Wide. Prof. Hammond reading manuscript
                      c.u. “Complete Works of Shakespeare”

Guide Voice:  The Complete Works of Shakespeare – well, perhaps not.

Professor Brean Hammond of the University of Nottingham in England believes that there is probably at least one omission from such a collection. Could this mean that there is a lost Shakespeare play?

00:16    SOT: Professor Brean Hammond, Head of School of English, University of Nottingham - “Yes there is! It’s called “Double Falsehood” it was produced on the 18th Century stage by one Lewis Theobald, or Tibbald, who claimed that he had three manuscript copies of an earlier play by Shakespeare. Now, quite independently of that, we know that Shakespeare, in collaboration with John Fletcher, had produced a play called Cardenio, or Cardenno, which was performed in 1612 or 1613. The Double Falsehood, by Lewis Tibbald, appears to be a version of that earlier play”.

00:55            Wide – reconstructed Globe Theatre, London.
                      c.u. Globe Theatre sign
                      Wide of stage
                      Pan across balconies
                      Tilt down of “Don Quixote” book cover
                      c.u. hands picking up book
                      Over shoulder, Prof Hammond reading Don Quixote
                      Detail from Ford Maddox Brown painting of Shakespeare
                      Opening page of King Henry VIII
                      Detail from the second antimasque dance in Francis Beaumont’s The Masque of the Inner Temple and Grayes Inne                       (British Library) The morris dance in act 3 scene 5 of Two Noble Kinsmen is closely related to this.
                      Pan across stage and audience area, Globe theatre.
                      c.u. “Humphrey Moseley” in book flyleaf
                      Wide of Milton Poems Flyleaf – published by Humphrey Moseley

Guide Voice: Reference to a Shakespeare play, probably written in collaboration with John Fletcher and called Cardenna or Cardenno appears in the King’s Treasurer’s accounts for 20 May and 8 June 1613, recording payments to the actor John Heminges. This suggests that a play based on the Cardenio story from Don Quixote was performed twice at Court at the latter end of the 1612/13 theatrical season.

In the latter part of his career Shakespeare collaborated with Fletcher on two known plays, Henry VIII and The Two Noble Kinsmen. Confirmation that the lost Cardenio play was another such collaboration can be found in the Stationers’ Register for 9 September 1653 made by the bookseller/publisher Humphry Mosely.

Among a list of playtexts recorded as Mosely’s own property there’s a reference to “The History of Cardenio, by Mr. Fletcher. & Shakespeare.”

01:50    SOT: Prof. Hammond“I’ve discovered some material in Oxford that suggests that the Publisher Jacob Tonson bought the Humphrey Mosely copyrights in 1718, so in 1718 something’s still kicking around. In 1727 we get Lewis Tibbald presenting the play to an unsuspecting public. The public’s impressed, the early reception of the play is very positive; Lewis Tibbald is riding the crest of a wave."

02:21            Advertising flyer for “Double Falsehood”
                      Drury Lane road sign
                      Exterior, Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
                      Detail from “Don Quixote” book cover showing title and writer
                      Heading page for Part IV “Don Quixote”
                      Detail from text showing name of Cardenio (highlighted)
                      Wide – front page of Double Falsehood text
                      c.u. of text showing W. Shakespeare and L. Theobald
                      Wide, front page and cast of characters
                      Wording of Royal Licence

Guide Voice: Tibbald's Double Falsehood opened at the DruryLaneTheatre on the 13th December 1727. This was also based on the Cardenio story from Don Quixote and Tibbald claimed it as a contemporary adaptation of a lost original by William Shakespeare.

Though there are no independent records of the manuscripts he claimed to have for the Shakespeare play, he clearly believed he held a valuable property, going to the trouble of obtaining a Royal licence. So why are so few people aware of this play?

02:50    SOT: Prof. Hammond“Its come to attention at various times. Scholars have paid some attention to it in the 20th Century but I think the prevailing view has perhaps been that this is a hoax or a forgery. What, perhaps, is new is that we, along with the Arden Shakespeare series, are regarding this and trying to show that it is a genuine Shakespeare relic with bardic provenance, so we haven’t dismissed it and we are looking to see what evidence we can find for its authenticity”.

03:27            Wide, Prof. Hammond reading text
                      c.u. – Act 1 Scene 1 of Double Falsehood with Shakespearean text highlighted.
                      Prof. Hammond and books
                      Double Falsehood flyer
                      c.u. showing names

Guide Voice: Professor Hammond believes that, although Double Falsehood is heavily adapted for its 18th century audience, there is language in the text that predates this and shows evidence of being Shakespeare or collaboration between Shakespeare and Fletcher. This, coupled with the previous evidence leads him to believe that Double Falsehood could well be the link to Shakespeare’s lost play. If so, what has happened to Tibbald’s original manuscripts?

03:51    SOT: Prof. Hammond - “There are newspaper reports which date from 1770 which say that the manuscripts are quote “treasured up” unquote, in the Covent Garden Theatre Museum. The Covent Garden Theatre, an ancestor building of the present Royal Opera House, had a library or museum where it kept valuable literary properties and in 1770 it seems to be worth treasuring this up in that museum. Regrettable however, in the year 1808 that particular Covent Garden Theatre building burnt down.”

04:27            Exterior – Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London
                      Detail from frieze
                      c.u. statue in recess
                      Wide – Prof. Hammond reading text
                      c.u. Prof. Hammond

So, do the last remnants of Shakespeare’s lost play lie in the dust below the Royal Opera House? It would seem likely – but then, Tibbald did claim to have three copies. Perhaps the other two are still out there somewhere.

For Professor Brean Hammond, the hunt goes on.

04:45            END

Page contact: Shuehyen Wong Last revised: Tue 19 Apr 2005
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