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Shakespeare and Co.

Brian Vickers cannot literally mean that “all the NOS [New Oxford Shakespeare] attributions are wrong” (Letters, July 16), since many of them agree with his own conclusions about plays once thought to be by Shakespeare alone being in fact co-written with other men. According to Vickers’s book Shakespeare, Co-Author (2002), George Peele co-wrote Titus Andronicus, Thomas Middleton co-wrote Timon of Athens, George Wilkins co-wrote Pericles, John Fletcher co-wrote Henry VIII, and Hand D of Sir Thomas More is Shakespeare’s. At the New Oxford Shakespeare we agree with all these once controversial attributions, because they have been independently confirmed by our new methods, which Vickers says are unreliable. Vickers also agrees with us when our new methods point to Shakespeare’s hand in the anonymous play Edward III, the 1602 Additions to Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy and Thomas Nashe’s hand in Henry VI Part One.

This is rather a long list of agreements between our methods, which Vickers says do not work, and his own conclusions. Coincidence? Or does Vickers propose that our methods are intermittently reliable, managing to point to the right authors in all the cases where he agrees with us but lapsing into error in all the others? In any case, the critiques of the methods that he mentions have all been comprehensively refuted by us in the scholarly literature, most often by correcting his team’s misunderstandings of how they work.

Gary Taylor, John Jowett, Terri Bourus, Gabriel Egan General Editors, the New Oxford Shakespeare