Sir Thomas More

From the British library the only original manuscript to survive of Shakespeare’s is “Sir Thomas More” generally ascribed to Anthony Munday but on closer examination the work of several collaborators. However, it would appear that the Master of the Revels, Sir Edmund Tilney found a large proportion of the text to be politically controversial and the required revisions attempted did not meet his expectations so consequently it was never licensed for printing or performance until after the death of Queen Elizabeth Ist (circa 1603). Probably drawn up from Hollinshed’s Chronicles and William Roper’s Life of More. Other sources include Nicholas Harpsfield’s Life & Death of Sir Thomas More and Thomas Stapleton’s Latin biography; Vita Thomae Mori.

Some scholars say it actually features examples of “Shakespeare’s” handwriting style although it was largely transcribed by an anonymous penman. Charlton Ogburn suggests that it was written by John Lyly, the secretary of the Earl of Oxford. Presumed to have been written when the Earl had denounced his Catholic cohorts Arundel, Howard, and Southwel (mid 1580)l. It also coincides with the courtship of Queen Elizabeth by the Duke of Alencon. Alterations and contributions to the text are ascribed to Henry Chettle, Thomas Decker and Thomas Heywood and date back to the 1590’s. From the evidence later discovered in the Northumberland manuscript it appears that Sir Francis Bacon was charged by the Pembroke circle with the task of restoring and amending Shakespeare’s manuscripts and he employed several scribes for this purpose. Several examples of Shakespeare’s signatures had been practised by these scribes on the Northumberland manuscript to give the impression that the author was still alive and able to confirm his permission and ownership of the work.

William Roper’s title page, the Life of Sir Thomas More
The links to my publications “Shakespeare’s Qaballah”, a Companion to Shakespeare Studies and my anthology of poetry, “Parthenogenesis” are as follows:


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