Found this on the wire. Exciting news.
LONDON — There have been numerous claims about a “lost play” by William Shakespeare through the years, but none have stirred the juices quite like The History of Cardenio.
But after a number of false alarms through the centuries, scholars at Oxford claim to have finally located a copy of the original manuscript. Their discovery will be featured in a special program to air on The History Channel in 2009.
The History of Cardenio is known to have been performed by the King’s Men in 1613, and the play was attributed to Shakespeare and John Fletcher in 1653 in a Stationers’ Registry entry by the bookseller Humphrey Moseley. But Moseley was known to have falsely used Shakespeare’s name in other such entries. Fletcher was a late collaborator of Shakespeare’s, sharing credit on The Two Noble Kinsmen and Henry VIII.
The content of the play has not been known, until now, but it has long been thought to have been based on incidents involving the character Cardenio in Don Quixote.
In 1727, Lewis Theobald claimed to have obtained three Restoration-era manuscripts of an unnamed play by Shakespeare, which he edited, “improved”, and released under the name Double Falsehood. But this was later proved to be a forgery.
In 1990, handwriting expert Charles Hamilton, after seeing a 1611 manuscript known as The Second Maiden’s Tragedy, identified it as a text of the missing Cardenio in which the characters’ names had been changed. This attribution is not generally accepted by experts on Shakespeare. In fact, the principal plot in this play bears no resemblance to the Cardenio tale in Don Quixote.
But Dr. Christopher Marlowe Earle, Oxford University, said that after years of scouring numerous mis-filed and unlabeled boxes and bins at the British Archives, he was finally able to locate what he called a “treasure trove” of materials related to Shakespeare, including the long-lost Cardenio.
“Just like everyone else, I found Hamilton’s claims dubious, but the possibilities he raised were truly exciting, and that initiated my quest,” said Dr. Earle.
“It’s truly an honor to bring the world one more tale from the greatest writer the English language has ever known,” he said. “You will not be disappointed.”
Talks are already underway for a possible film version to star Kenneth Branagh, Dr. Earle of Oxford said. There has also been some discussion of using new CGI techniques to allow Olivier and even Orson Welles to have “starring roles,” or at least brief cameos, but some doubt whether the technology is up to the task.
“The John Gielgud estate, apparently, isn’t interested,” said Dr. Earle.