Counterfeiting Shakespeare: Evidence, Authorship, and John Ford's Funerall Elegye

By Brian Vickers | Go to book overview

APPENDIX III
Establishing Ford's canon

As explained in chapter 8, in order to provide the fullest possible archive of John Ford's writings, I have drawn not only on the seven plays canonically ascribed to him – Love's Sacrifice, Perkin Warbeck, The Broken Heart, The Fancies, Chaste and Noble, The Lady's Trial, The Lover's Melancholy, and 'tis Pity She's a Whore – but also on two plays written by him alone, The Queen and The Laws of Candy, and five extant co-authored plays:The Witch of Edmonton (with Dekker and Rowley), The Spanish Gypsy, The Sun's Darling, The Welsh Ambassador (all three with Dekker), and The Fair Maid of the Inn (with Massinger and Webster). 1 It seems all the more urgent to set out the case for his participation in these co-authored plays since the relevant scholarship has been lost from view in recent discussions of his work. In the authoritative-seeming Dictionary of Literary Biography Paul Cantor dismissed 'scholars [who] have tried to ascribe to Ford works credited to other playwrights, such as The Spanish Gypsy, published originally as a work by Middleton and Rowley', 2 not disclosing that those scholars were among the leading authorities in the field, nor discussing the criteria they used. Cantor never mentioned The Laws of Candy, apparently unaware of the certain identification of Ford's hand in it, and observed dismissively that his authorship of The Queen has been claimed 'on the basis of a few verbal parallels and a general resemblance to the situation in a number of Ford's plays', adding: 'One wonders why anyone would go out of his way to include the play in the Ford canon: it adds nothing to our understanding of his art or to our appreciation of his skill or range as a playwright' (Cantor 1987, p. 105). This comment betrays a total failure to understand the rationale of authorship studies. The useful collection, John Ford. Critical Re-Visions (Neill 1988), sadly ignores Ford's co-authored plays, as well as The Laws of Candy and The Queen, and none of these works (with the exception of The Witch of Edmonton) is covered in a recent survey of scholarship up to 1989. 3

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