We crave to know: Did Shakespeare write this play?
The academic types love to dispute
This work or that; the tool they ply today,
A software program, used in the pursuit
Of plagiarism in college papers. Now
It serves to tally up the phrases seen
In this and Shakespeare’s plays, and thus allow
Comparisons made, among them and between.
Two Hundred matches found, of phrases three
Words or more in length. (In truth, they did
Find as many for another—thus, we see
That Shakespeare shared the task with Thomas Kyd)
“Linguistic fingerprints”, it seems, have shown
He wrote the play, but did not work alone.
The software program “Pl@giarizm” was intended to catch cheating students. It may have caught an entirely different fish. Scholars have disagreed as to the authorship of The Reign of King Edward III, although at least some Shakespeare anthologies include it. Much of it seemed… just not Shakespeare.
Sir Brian Vickers, an authority on Shakespeare at the Institute of English Studies at the University of London, believes that a comparison of phrases used in The Reign of King Edward III with Shakespeare’s early works proves conclusively that the Bard wrote the play in collaboration with Thomas Kyd, one of the most popular playwrights of his day.
The program found about 200 matches between Shakespeare and the play, and about 200 between Kyd and the play:
The Shakespeare matches came from four scenes, about 40 per cent of the play. The remaining scenes had about 200 matches with works by Kyd, best known for The Spanish Tragedy, a play known to have influenced Shakespeare, indicating that he wrote the other 60 per cent of the play.
But according to the software, some of my students must have collaborated with some pretty impressive researchers! I should show them a bit more respect!