Shakespeare's word against a computer's

Published: Friday 15 July 1994

COMPUTER has come up with primary evidence suggesting that Shakespeare may, after all, have plagiarised anonymous works often attributed to Christopher Marlowe.

UK's Aston University computer scientist Robert Mathews and literary scholar Thomas Merriam made the discovery using what are called neural networks -- a computer programmed to learn from experience, like a set of brain cells. The electronic critic scored 90 per cent success in comparing the styles of writers, according to how often a word was used.

Controversially, the finding indicts Shakespeare for having borrowed the plots of the plays Henry VI, parts II and III, The Contention and The True Tragedy of Richard, Duke of York, from Marlowe's early works.

Subscribe to Weekly Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.