London Forum for Authorship Studies

Welcome to the London Forum for Authorship Studies

The London Forum for Authorship Studies, established in January 2005, is intended to provide a focal point for discussing the aims and methods of authorship studies.

Forum & Meetings

The Forum

The Forum meets regularly in the Institute to hear papers on authorship issues in all areas of English Literature. Its goals will be: to advance understanding of the methodologies of attribution studies; to give younger scholars the opportunity to present their work and benefit from more experienced practitioners; and to organize workshops on electronic computation and statistical methods.

Speakers so far have included MacDonald Jackson, Joseph Rudman, Richard Proudfoot, Tom Merriam, Marina Tarlinskaja, Gary Taylor, Richard Forsyth, Brian Vickers, Marcus Dahl and Lene Petersen.

The Forum announces its activities and meetings on this website and posts abstracts of papers presented at meetings (password-protected area for members).

Steering Commitee: Brian Vickers, Institute of English Studies (Chair); Warwick Gould, Institute of English Studies; Richard Proudfoot, King’s College London; MacDonald Jackson, Auckland University; Jonathan Hope, Strathclyde University.

If you are interested in authorship studies, please join us at our meetings or email us.


The London Forum for Authorship Studies usually meets four times each academic term.

Please visit the events pages for listings of meeting dates.

Meetings usually start at 5:30 pm and take place at the Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Study, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Wine will be served after the lectures. All are welcome.


LFAS papers will be made available.


The Canon of Thomas Kyd

This research project is a re-examination of Kyd's canon, testing the hypothesis that it should be enlarged by adding the anonymously published plays Arden of Faversham, The True Chronicle History of King Leir, Fair Em, and a substantial part of The First Part of King Henry VI.

The texts used are, for the latter, the 1623 Folio, and for the other three plays the Malone Society Reprints version. However, Act line and scene references to I Henry VI are given to the Riverside edition; for Arden of Faversham to the Revels edition by M.L. Wine (1973); for The Spanish Tragedy to the Revels edition by Philip Edwards (1959). For Cornelia all references are to The Works of Thomas Kyd, ed. F.S. Boas (Oxford, 1901); for Soliman and Perseda to the edition by J.J. Murray (New York, 1971); and for King Leir to the edition by Donald M. Michie (New York, 1991).

The software programs used in this enquiry are:

I gratefully acknowledge the help of Dr. Marcus Dahl for introducing me to these programs, and to Valerie Hall for typing the results of my research. Any errors are mine alone. 
Professor Sir Brian Vickers, FBA, 18 July 2010

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Macbeth Not Adapted by Middleton

In Thomas Middleton: The Collected Works (Oxford, 2007) Gary Taylor has claimed the Middleton adapted Macbeth in 1616, and was responsible for "about eleven percent" of the text as published in the First Folio (1623). I deny this attribution, and together with my colleagues Dr Marcus Dahl and Professor Marina Tarlinskaya have subjected Taylor's claims to close textual examination.

We present our findings in the attached pdf file, to which is added the page proof of my essay, "Disintegrated. Did Thomas Middleton really adapt Macbeth?", which appeared in the Times Literary Supplement on 28 May 2010, pp. 13-14.
Professor Sir Brian Vickers, FBA, 19 July 2010

Shakespeare's Macbeth files
Title File type/size
Shakespeare's Macbeth [pdf,137kb] 3 September 2010
Disintegrated. Did Middleton adapt Macbeth? [pdf,82kb] TLS, 28 May 2010

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The Authorship of 1HVI and other related plays and the Early Modern Collaborative Canon

This research project is a re-examination of new and old data on the authorship of 1HVI in order to analyse its place in the canon of works written around the same time. Using the program Plagiarism in conjunction with a database of ninety-five play texts from the period approximately 1590 - 1600 (also including early texts such as Gorboduc as well as the Shakespeare canon of first Quarto texts) a comparison of rare and common vocabulary matches between 1HVI and other plays of the period was made. Related texts which have been previously noted for their close textual/ authorial links - for instance Tamburlaine Parts 1&2; Edward II and 2HVI and Selimus and Locrine were also compared. Overall, fifty nine two-text comparisons were made. The programs used were:

The results are tabulated in an excel spread sheet with all three word (or more) 'common triples' noted in the individual workbooks for each 2 play comparison. A chart shows the variation of 'rare' matches (common triple matches between two plays not found elsewhere in the database) and a table of matches shows the exact figures for each 2 play group. Another tab lists all of the texts in the database. The other workbook tabs of the excel spreadsheet show matches with 2 or more plays for each two play analysis. Those interested can therefore see the exact nature of the rare (and less rare) matches and compare the different types. For instance it will be seen that though the number of rare matches between Selimus and Locrine does not at first seem particularly striking (35), the length and nature of the matches is indeed quite remarkable.

Also included in this section is a longer reappraisal of some of the types of evidence used to attribute authorship to the parts of 1HVI . Some of my old work on the subject is revisited and added to (including a brief look at some of the new evidence from the plagiarism analysis and database above).

It will be seen that there is much still to be done on both the authorship of 1Henry VI and the overall 1590s canon of plays. It is hoped that some of the data offered here will encourage others to both reappraise what new evidence is available as well as add to that evidence themselves. This database is only the beginning to the creation of a grand unified theory of authorship in the early modern period. 
Marcus Dahl, Institute of English Studies, London, July 2008.

The Authorship of 1HV1 and other related plays
Title File type/size
'The Authorship of 1HVI and other related plays' Word, 196kb
Individual Plays Excel, 4317 kb

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All’s Well that Ends Well: an attribution refuted

In April 2012, the Times Literary Supplement published an article by two Shakespearean scholars in Oxford arguing that All’s Well That Ends Well was the work of two hands, William Shakespeare and his contemporary, Thomas Middleton.
Brian Vickers and Marcus Dahl counter that this claim of dual authorship is based on long discredited methods, the ignoring of evidence and wilful misinterpretation. Like it or not, they conclude, All’s Well is all Shakespeare’s.

Title File type/size
'All’s Well that Ends Well: an attribution refuted' (with annotations) PDF, 70kb
'A New Shakespeare Collaboration?  All’s Not Well (in the data)' PDF, 141kb

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This site is under construction. Further details will be added. 


London Forum for Authorship Studies
Institute of English Studies
University of London
Senate House
Malet Street



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