Smoking Guns

First Two Smoking Guns

Over the past few years, June Schlueter and I have published works confirming North’s authorship of certain source-plays. Our most recent work, Thomas North’s 1555 Travel-Journal: From Italy to Shakespeare, shows that North used his diary and experiences of his trip to Rome to write early versions of The Winter’s Tale and Henry VIII. Similarly, our essay, “The Shakespeare/North Collaboration: Titus Andronicus and Titus and Vespasian,” published in Shakespeare Survey 67 (2014), reveals numerous independent lines of evidence indicating that North wrote Titus and Vespasian, the source-play for Titus Andronicus, in 1560-1.

What we refrained from mentioning in these works was that we could have also provided a similar series of compelling arguments for North’s authorship of essentially every play in the canon, each focusing on a particular time period of North’s life. We could with nearly all the plays reveal little-known texts and manuscripts from the years in question, showing how North used personal events and material from his latest writings, studies, and travels to create the play. All this evidence, extending across five decades, is mutually reinforcing and thoroughly comprehensive.

Still, within this ocean of facts, some discoveries are so compelling that, even when examined in isolation, they prove North’s original authorship of a particular source-play beyond all reasonable doubt. In these cases, we need not examine the hundreds of Shakespearean passages that derive from North’s translations, or know about the satires that discuss Shakespeare’s adaptation of North’s source-plays, or understand how North based the plays on the events of his life. With these particular facts, we really need to know nothing else; they are probative in and of themselves. These are the smoking guns.

This video, “How we know North wrote Henry VIII,” shows examples related to North’s authorship of the history play.

Similarly, this video shows, “How We Know North Wrote Richard II:”

These posts also discuss some smoking-gun discoveries: