HOW MANY PLAYS DID SHAKESPEARE WRITE? Carl Davidson commented in an e mail in connection with this post (which expressed my satisfaction with having completed seeing all 37 Shakespeare plays) that he had seen a New York Times article that gave a higher number. It may have been this mock obituary for Shakespeare, which has a correction attached to it: “Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article misstated the number of plays William Shakespeare is believed to have written. It is 37 to 40 plays, not 38 to 40 plays.”
The difference in the count results from scholarly disputes over whether Shakespeare had a hand in writing certain plays. Much of the evidence consists of analysis of the language—often computer-aided—to see whether certain passages are by Shakespeare. I am skeptical about the assumption that if Shakespeare had a collaborator, they would have neatly divided the text between them rather than marking up each other’s work. (I also can’t help feeling that sometimes passages which are deemed less good by a critic are assigned to Shakespeare’s putative co-author.)
My test is what the First Folio included plus Pericles. I am also the one doing the counting and I make the rules.