HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHETHER SHAKESPEARE WROTE EDWARD III? The large number of suggested attributions shows that there is no dispositive evidence of authorship. Using the First Folio test would give a clear answer to to the question of authorship. It would exclude Shakespeare as the author of Edward III. J.J.M. Tobin in the Riverside Shakespeare gives the history: Although the play had been registered in 1595 and had been published as quarto editions in 1596 and 1599, the play was not claimed by Shakespeare’s company and was not included in the First Folio.

However, Tobin gives an alternative explanation for the play not being in the First Folio: The play contains harsh satire directed at King David of Scotland and Sir William Douglas. It was “politically incorrect in the extreme”, especially after there was a Scottish king on the throne of England. There was still a Scottish king on the throne when the First Folio was published.

Statistical analysis gives differing results. The opinion of Brian Vickers giving the attribution 60% to Thomas Kyd and 40% to Shakespeare is based on statistical analysis, but so is Gary Taylor’s opinion that “”of all the non-canonical plays, Edward III has the strongest claim to inclusion in the Complete Works”.

Another kind of evidence is the frequent parallels (captured in the Riverside Shakespeare’s footnotes) with Shakespeare’s language in other plays. The most striking is in II.i.451 (“Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds….”) which is verbatim from Sonnet 94. But could these references be imitations or copying by another writer?

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