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Cardenio or Double Falsehood

openliterature - April 15, 2010 in Community, Musings, News, Releases

There’s been a bit of a stir in the Shakespearian community recently, what with the release of a new play by the Bard. To be fair, it is not quite so sensational as it sounds: the possibility that part of Cardenio or, as the Arden edition entitles it, Double Falsehood might be by Shakespeare goes back to at least the 18th Century.

What’s new is that textual and historical evidence is now available that confirms this play to be from some time in the early 17th century. It contains, for example, the word “absonant”, which is found only in texts by Shakespeare…and by his successor as writer for the King’s Men, Fletcher. Thus the play is most likely a collaborative work between the two, as was perfectly normal for the period. Other Shakespeare/Fletcher collaborations include King Henry VIII, and possibly parts of Pericles.

I post this news here because such a claim was only made possible thanks to advances in technology dealing with texts. New databases of texts make searches for references to a play far faster and easier, whilst new stylometric algorithms make the most of such databases to pick up minute differences in vocabulary usage that allow an author’s DNA to be distinguished. For the curious, Shakespeare uses “thee” and “hath“, whilst Fletcher, being fifteen years his junior, uses the more modern “ye“.

Perhaps one day, The Open Shakespeare Project will contribute to such breakthroughs. Until then, we have a separate issue to deal with: do we add Cardenio / Double Falsehood to our site?

What do you think? Could you write an introduction to it?

Shakespeare Quarterly

openliterature - April 2, 2010 in Community, Musings, News, Publicity

We received an email from The Shakespeare Quarterly a while back asking for our responses to an online edition of the journal, entitled “Shakespeare and New Media”. The articles cover everything from the online presence of Shakespeare institutions to the impact of video blogs about Shakespeare.

There is no review of our project on the site, but I have written a long comment to the 25th paragraph of Andrew Murphy’s article, ‘Shakespeare goes digital’, outlining the advantages of our social media approach to Shakespeare in relation to the other sites he has reviewed.

Do have a look, and leave any comments of your own. I shall probably try and write something in response to the Trettien article over the next few days, given that this article also focuses on new approaches to Shakespeare.

More words of the day shall also be forthcoming. I’m rereading Shakespeare’s tragedies at the moment and have had a few ideas for articles on the use of:


Let us know which ones you’d like to see!

Annotation is here!

openliterature - March 16, 2010 in Community, News, Releases, Technical, Texts

The fabled ability to annotate any text of Shakespeare is now part of the Open Shakespeare website! Massive thanks to Nick for all his work on something far too complex for me to even describe its complexity (apparently there were difficulties with there being ‘no TextRange in the DOM’).

Here’s how to get annotating:

  1. Click ‘read texts’ on the homepage.
  2. Scroll down to find your play of choice in the list and click on ‘annotate’.
  3. Find the line you wish to annotate, then highlight it, then click on the little notepad that appears.
  4. In the newly-present dialogue box, type your words of wisdom.
  5. Press enter to save your annotation and close the dialogue box.

Work has already begun on Hamlet, but feel free to annotate wherever you wish.

As to what you should write in an annotation, we currently have no guidelines: shorter is usually better, and, obviously, offensive comments will be removed – but apart from that, all insights and explications are very welcome.

Improvements to come include: restricting editing and deletion to the owner of each annotation, showing user information on annotations, the ability to filter annotations, and the capacity to use markdown in each comment.

Open Shakespeare @ the ADC

jack-belloli - February 22, 2010 in News, Publicity

Open Shakespeare is continuing to advertise itself around Cambridge. This week, audience members at the ADC Theatre’s ‘The Merchant of Venice’ will find one of our flyers in their programmes.

We’re very grateful for the ADC’s support, so do go along to see the play if you can. It runs from Tuesday 23rd to Saturday 27th at 7.45pm (with a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm), and looks set to be a very stylish production…

Facebook, Newspaper Article, and Other Things

openliterature - February 15, 2010 in Community, News

The Open Shakespeare Project has been getting some more publicity recently: we have founded a facebook group, with an amazing picture; and a student newspaper, Varsity, has published an article on our work.

In other news, I need to point out that the translation of Hamlet published on the website is one dating from around 1830, and that we will be trying to get more modern translations up soon. That said, Guizot’s work, as well as being conveniently outside of copyright, is also interesting in its own right: it was one of the earliest unadulterated translations published in France, and both influenced and provoked future translators. Since then, there have been many more, and, doubtless, there are many more to come…

Look out for this week’s word of the week, courtesy of Colette and arriving soon!

Shakespeare en Français

openliterature - February 9, 2010 in News, Texts

Bonsoir tout le monde,

If you’ve ever wondered what Hamlet looks like in French, you can now find out via the Open Shakespeare website. The standalone text, based on Guizot’s translation of Shakespeare can be found here.

If you want to see how good a job Guizot did, you can compare the English Hamlet with the French one here.

There’s some work to do on streamlining the system to make uploading further translations a bit easier, but hopefully one day you’ll be able to trace Shakespeare’s progress around the globe through our website. (Please forgive the pun).

Pour l’instant, amusez-vous bien de Hamlet!

Word of the Day: Lapwing

jack-belloli - February 9, 2010 in News, Word of the Day

Better late than never, this week’s word is LAPWING.

The name given to a variety of species of crested plover, the lapwing is associated with forwardness and decisiveness (ironically) in Hamlet, based on the legend that the chick would burst out of their egg so quickly that the remained engrained on their head. As Horatio says of Osric,

This lapwing runs away with the shell on his head. (V.2)

It is also associated with deceit and treachery – an association which Shakespeare inherited from Chaucer’s description of the bird in The Parliament of Fowls – given its habit of luring other birds from their nests by flying past them. In Measure for Measure, the roguish Lucio admits to Isabella:

… ’tis my familiar sin,
with maids to seem the lapwing and to jest
tongue far from heart (I.4)

‘The lapwing cries tongue far from heart’ went on to become a proverb.

To see the plays that this week’s word is taken from, see Open Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Open Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure.

And, if you want to volunteer a future word of the week, or get involved with Open Shakespeare more generally, click here.


jack-belloli - December 3, 2009 in News, Texts

Members of Open Shakespeare are gradually writing and uploading a series of short introductions for each of the plays. These will eventually be supplemented by longer critical introductions and general essays to enhance your reading. All of these introductions can, like the primary texts themselves, be annotated and edited by visitors to the site.

As an example, here’s the short intro to Measure for Measure:

Enjoy reading!

Creating an “Open Shakespeare Edition”

Open Knowledge Foundation - February 26, 2009 in News

Jokey Hamlet

We’ve been thinking for a while that it would be a nice addition to the Open Shakespeare project to produce an “Open Shakespeare Edition” of the Bard’s works.

By an ‘Edition’ we meant something designed as a book and suitable for printing: so an elegant title page, relevant front-matter, properly typeset text etc. This could then be downloaded by users and printed or even offered in dead-tree version directly using print-on-demand.

Recently, we’ve made a start on this endeavour using the moby XML sources, xsl and latex. An example of the results can be seen at:

As a cursory look at that will show, while the body of the play doesn’t look too bad, the front-page could do with improvement (and the front-matter generally needs some planning). So, questions for readers:

  1. Anyone out there with design skills or suggestions who could help us out?

    • Would it make sense to run a design competition?
  2. What kind of general look should we go for? For example, should we go for:

    • Ultra traditional (but perhaps with some mods e.g. replacing the standard ‘copyright’ section with something about open knowledge)
    • Something irreverent, for example along the lines of the sketch on

Any ideas or suggestions post a comment or drop us a line we’d love to know what you think.

Shakespeare v0.6 Released

Open Knowledge Foundation - October 29, 2008 in News, Releases

See which includes full installation instructions. We’ve also reorganized the sites so that the news/blog is here at and the Shakespeare package web interface is at

Main changes include: