A Lost Shakespeare Play?
THEOBALD, Lewis. Double Falshood; or, The Distrest Lovers. A Play. London: Printed by J. Watts, at the Printing-Office in Wild-Court near Lincolns-Inn Fields, 1728.
8vo., recently rebound in full calf with ruled borders; contrasting red leather label to spine; date direct in gilt; A-E8, p. 64; half-title with early ink annotations and corner repair; previous ownership name in ink to title; chip to edge of pages A4, B3 (not affecting text); some toning and very light water marks; p. 37&43 (D3 & D6) closely shaved at head; a few small ink marks to final pages, with paper rubbed through in a couple of very small spots, repairs to gutter, and slight loss of one or two letters; still a remarkably intact example of this scarce work.
Second edition of this unusual play. Although attributed to the English writer and playwright Lewis Theobald, the authorship has been contested ever the play was first published in 1727, with some scholars considering that it may have been an adaptation of a lost play by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher known as Cardenio. Of course, this claim has been the subject of much speculation, and accusations of forgery abounded from contemporaries such as Alexander Pope.
In 2015, a study at the University of Texas published research in the journal of Psychological Science which cited statistical and psychological evidence suggesting Shakespeare and Fletcher may have co-authored Double Falsehood. "By aggregating dozens of psychological features of each playwright derived from validated linguistic cues, the researchers found that they were able to create a 'psychological signature' for each authorial candidate. These psychological signatures were then mathematically compared with the psycholinguistic profile of Double Falsehood. This allowed the researchers to determine the probability of authorship for Shakespeare, Fletcher, and Theobald. Their results challenge the suggestion that the play was a mere forgery by Theobald. Additionally, these results provided strong evidence that Shakespeare was the most likely author of the first three acts of Double Falsehood, while Fletcher likely made key contributions to the final two acts of the play." Psychological Science, 2015.