Research Symposium on the Cowell Manuscript

A KEY DOCUMENT IN THE HISTORY OF THE SHAKESPEARE AUTHORSHIP CONTROVERSY: A Research Symposium upon the Cowell Manuscript in the Durning-Lawrence Library, Senate House Library. Sponsored by: The Institute of English Studies, the Senate House Library and The Friends of Senate House Library

The theory that Francis Bacon wrote Shakespeare’s plays was given a dramatic boost when the Cowell Manuscript (MS294) at the University of London came to light in 1932. Here, it seemed, was evidence in the form of two lectures by James Corton Cowell from 1805 that the Warwickshire clergyman James Wilmot had been a Baconian in about 1785.

When the manuscript was publicised, it transformed scholarship, moving the theory back by over sixty years. But in 2010 Professor James Shapiro of Columbia University used textual evidence to expose the manuscript as an early-twentieth-century forgery in his Contested Will (Faber).

In this symposium, four contributors will explore the Cowell manuscript and its background. New insights on the manuscript’s provenance from its editor, Karen Attar, and evidence from a recent forensic examination of the manuscript’s paper, by the paper historian and analyst Peter Bower, and its ink, by Nicholas Eastaugh of Art Access and Research, will augment the textual and literary findings of James Shapiro, currently S. T. Lee Visiting Professor in the School of Advanced Study, thus shedding new light on a long-standing and fiercely contested theory.

Click here for an article by James Shapiro on the Cowell Manuscript from the TLS, March 2010:

Institute of English Studies
Karen Attar, Peter Bower, Nicholas Eastaugh and James Shapiro, SAS S. T. Lee Visiting Professor
Event date: 
Wednesday, 19 June 2013 - 1:00am
Download on iTunes