WHY I THINK SHAKESPEARE SHOULD GET FULL CREDIT FOR HENRY VIII. I posted here that, despite claims of many scholars that some other writer collaborated with Shakespeare on the Henry VI plays, when Mary Jane and I saw Rose Rage, the Chicago Shakespeare Company’s wonderful performance of the three Henry VI plays, the vividness of the scenes in Henry VI persuaded me that I was watching Shakespeare during all of the plays. I have the same feeling that the vividness of each scene in Henry VIII is that of Shakespeare.
Henry VIII also has verbal felicities characteristic of Shakespeare. For example, Buckingham describes his forthcoming execution by ax as: “…the long divorce of steel….” This phrase is in a scene in the play that is generally conceded to be by Shakespeare (at II,i,76).
The source for another famous phrase, Holinshed, quoted Cardinal Wolsey as he was dying: “if I had served God as diligentlie as I have doone the king, he would not have given me over in my greie haires.”
The writer of Henry VII rewrote this as:
“Had I but serv’d my God with half the zeal
I serv’d my king, He would not in mine age
Have left me naked to mine enemies.” (III,ii,455 to 457)
The majority of scholars apparently believe that these lines were written by Fletcher rather than Shakespeare.
The First Folio included Henry VIII as a play of Shakepeare’s. I see no reason strong enough to disturb that attribution.