Cardenio, or a ‘Double Falsehood’

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Back in November I attended a fascinating one day conference at the University of Chichester about Shakespearian theories.

Professor Tiffany Stern (University College, Oxford) gave a splendidly candid paper which cast doubt over there being any Shakespearian connection with the so-called lost play Cardenio. It’s a compelling and involved argument which in part relied on looking afresh at the entry in the Stationer’s Register. Lewis Theobald who claimed to have adapted a lost Shakespearian original in the eighteenth-century, Double Falsehood, was a famous theatrical entrepreneur who knew what sold. He was editing Beaumont and Fletcher at the time and working on Cervantes. In other words, he was well placed to have produced a play that sounded like Shakespeare, Fletcher (with whom Shakespeare is supposed to have collaborated on Cardenio), and its source, the Cardenio episode from Don Quixote.

Last year we were happy to work with The Arden Shakespeare and hosted a special event marking the publication of Brean Hammond’s new edition of Double Falsehood for the series.

And on Saturday 11 June from 2.30-4.30 p.m., I shall be hosting ‘Cardenio in Conversation’ here at the Shakespeare Centre. This will be an opportunity for Tiffany Stern and Greg Doran (Chief Associate Director at the R.S.C., Honorary Fellow of The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, and the director of the new production of Cardenio in The Swan Theatre) to explore the fact, fiction, and phenomenon of this lost Shakespeare and Fletcher play.

Greg’s new show is a vibrant re-imagining of what Cardenio might have been like which is part informed by the scholarship that Tiffany is casting fresh eyes upon. We are co-hosting this event with The British Shakespeare Association.

If you would like to come along, then please register your interest by e-mailing

This could be an important chapter in this on-going Spanish mystery…

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Author:Paul Edmondson

Head of Research and Knowledge and Director of the Stratford-upon-Avon Poetry Festival for The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. Follow Paul on Twitter @paul_edmondson

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