The Great Shakespeare Fraud: The Strange, True Story of William-Henry Ireland

The Great Shakespeare Fraud: The Strange, True Story of William-Henry Ireland

by Patricia Pierce
     
 

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William-Henry Ireland, at only nineteen, perpetrated the greatest Shakespeare forgery ever attempted. In this true crime history, Patricia Pierce uncovers drama, pathos, scandal and ultimately tragedy, in a tale which began with a 'dull-witted' youth longing for his father's love and grew to involve a host of famous names from the playwright Sheridan to the Prince

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Overview

William-Henry Ireland, at only nineteen, perpetrated the greatest Shakespeare forgery ever attempted. In this true crime history, Patricia Pierce uncovers drama, pathos, scandal and ultimately tragedy, in a tale which began with a 'dull-witted' youth longing for his father's love and grew to involve a host of famous names from the playwright Sheridan to the Prince of Wales, Mrs. Siddons and James Boswell.

Brought up in late eighteenth-century London, William-Henry was the son of Samuel Ireland, a collector and dealer in engravings. Fed on a daily diet of Shakespeare - whom Samuel regarded as 'a divinity' - William-Henry fell upon a unique method for winning his father's love and approval - forgery. Beginning with a deed 'signed' by Shakespeare, William-Henry followed this with a rapid succession of poems, letters and even an entirely new play, Vortigern. His success was phenomenal. James Boswell knelt to kiss 'the relics of Shakespeare', eminent clergyman Dr. Joseph Warton proclaimed 'Shakespeare's Profession of Faith' to be better than anything in either the church service or the litany, and Sheridan agreed to stage Vortigern.

Yet the play marked the beginning of the end for the great Shakespeare forger. Staged two days after the expert Edmond Malone irrefutably exposed the forgeries, the esteemed actors were greeted with hoots of derision during Vortigern's single performance.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780750933940
Publisher:
The History Press
Publication date:
09/25/2005
Edition description:
New
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.06(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.71(d)

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