A few days ago, the Oxford University Press announced that they would be officially attributing co-authorship status to Christopher Marlowe, one of Shakespeare’s contemporaries, on three parts of Henry VI. Once again, the debate over the Bard’s authorship has reentered the field of academic debate.
Now, the stamp of the Oxford University Press does not settle the debate by any means, and their method for coming to this conclusion strikes me as dubious. The decision to grant this co-authorship was based on a scanning of the verse and examining the frequency and usage of certain words and phrases, and many words that are common to Marlowe’s writing showed up in these three plays. This is inconclusive data, but it does make plausible the debate over Shakespeare’s authorship over these plays (although keep all of your conspiracy theories about “who Shakespeare was” out).
Even though I do not agree with the conclusion, I do think this a valuable conversation to be had; the more we are prodded to dig back into the texts of classical geniuses such as Shakespeare and Marlowe and further analyze them, the better off we are. The Bard’s power says alive so long as we study him, and attempting to find the truth in these works simply brings them back out to the center stage that they so rightly deserve to be on. I may not personally agree with the statement by the OUP, nor do I necessarily think the question of authorship is necessarily important, as the texts stand on their own, the more conversations and discussions and conscious thought we put towards our artistic and literary history, the better.