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William Shakespeare & John Fletcher

Cardenio or the Second Maiden’s Tragedy

Charles Hamilton¬† –

For three centuries lovers of Shakespeare have searched vainly for the Golden Fleece of literature — a lost play titled Cardenio, by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher. The lure of this missing play about Cardenio, a bizarre character in Cervantes’s Don Quixote, has led lovers of Shakespeare on a chase through libraries and archives, into attics and ancient barns, and even abandoned privies.

The manuscript of Cardenio is entirely in Shakespeare’s Own hand — the handwriting is identical down to the very dots on the i’s with the script in Shakespeare’s holograph will — and in every other way the play fulfills the requirements of the lost Cardenio. It is undeniably a superb play, one that leading critics usually ascribe to such outstanding dramatists as Cyril Tourneur or Thomas Middleton. Written with John Fletcher in 1611 but likely not produced until 1612-13, Cardenio may have been the great dramatist’s last tragedy and penultimate play.

This chilling drama by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher may have been suppressed by the poet’s first editors in 1623 because it dealt with taboo subjects. Full of terrifying suspense and horror, it is a beautifully written play about love run amuck — seduction, swordplay, grave robbery, suicide, madness, murder-and featuring a beguiling ghost and the uncontrollable passion of a powerful king for the corpse of a beautiful woman.

¬†¬†“Charles Hamilton . . . is calling attention to one of the great achievements of the English dramatic imagination. The [Royal Shakespeare Company] or the National [Theater] should produce it. If they do, go see it; if they don’t, go read it. . . .” Welton Jones, The San Diego Union-Tribune

CHARLES HAMILTON’s experience as a handwriting expert extends over sixty years. Since the age of nine, Hamilton has searched for documents in Shakespeare’s hand. His ambition was realized in 1983 when, as the first forensic document examiner ever to study Shakespeare’s will, he discovered that the entire three-page will was in Shakespeare’s hand. Later, Hamilton was amazed to discover that the handwriting in the play, popularly known as The Second Maiden’s Tragedy, was identical, precisely matching in minute detail, to the script in Shakespeare’s will. Hamilton is the author of eighteen books. His recent books are The Hitler Diaries and In Search of Shakespeare.


Cloth, 310 pages, 7×10
ISBN 0-944435-24-6
LC 93-73354


List price $27.95
Our price $20.97


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