Wednesday 16 March 2016

On an amazing Hamlet disovery, and other matters

It's been a busy few months, and the blog has suffered. But finally, two results have appeared, both intended to celebrate the Shakespeare anniversary - and I'm not sure which is the more significant.

The first, out on 24 March, is The Oxford Dictionary of Shakespearean Pronunciation - the result of a decade of work presenting all the words in the First Folio in OP (original pronunciation), along with the relevant evidence of rhymes and spellings. An associated website will have some extra material and an audio file, accessed by a special code that comes inside each copy of the book.

And then, on 1 April, The Amazing Hamlet Discovery - my finding in a Stratford garden of a hitherto unknown early quarto of Hamlet, showing conclusively that Shakespeare suffered from octolitteraphilia. A most moving document, published in its entirety for the first time. An oulipian experience.


  1. Perhaps it is called Hammlett, Prince of Denmark?

  2. I saw no letter duplication in the manuscript, but the writing was very faded, and I could not be sure. I had intended to subject it to palaeograhical radiology, but alas, this is no longer possible as the text was stolen as part of the Hatton Garden heist.

  3. Initial reactions from the theatrical and scholarly world have been uniformly positive. They also show that octolitteraphilia is catching, so perhaps I should add a health warning to this post.

    From Patrick Spottiswoode, Shakespeare's Globe: hats heavenwards! hardly hammering hemmings' honeyed hackwork. hellishly hysterical. hastening homewards.

    From Professor Henry Widdowson: humble hugs. Hyper- handiworked highly humorous historical hoax! Here's homage,
    Henry Widdowson

    From Professor Rene Weis: I have a Shakespeare seminar on Monday. I can hardly wait to tell them about it. I was tempted to write my note in h/H - Hamlet, but fat chance. One would have to be to the manner born. I am on 3.1 of your discovery, Hamlet having his heroine hike hereabouts.

    From Professor Paul Meier: What an exciting discovery! And how odd that octolitteraphilia should strike at a time when that letter was still largely silent! [This would exacerbate the condition. DC]

    Andrew Dickson, Shakespeare author: Ha! Wot fun.

    Peter Florence, Hay Festival: Haunting, huh?

    Hardy Cook, editor of the Shaksper site: All I can say is HHHHHHHHHHHHHHaa.

    Professor Keith Johnson: My very first thought is that perhaps this says something about authorship. Perhaps a sign that the plays were written by Holinshed (well, we already know most of them were), or even by the Earl of Hoxford. On the authorship question, what would happen if I were to find another manuscript with every word beginning with 'O'? That would prove Oxford's case. Of course, the play would then be called 'Omlet'. Food for thought.

    Tim Carroll, theatre director: This looks brilliant! Can’t wait to read it all.

    Nick Robins, editor Around the Globe: Amazing doesn't come close, David. You've sat on this discovery long enough.

    From Geoff Barton, headteacher: You clearly have far too much time on your (Terry) Hands.