Apocrypha

introduction

As the First Folio is, in essence, Shakespeare's Bible, any and all works attributed to him but not found there are, by definition, "apocryphal". These include not only the more obvious omitted works such as Pericles and Two Noble Kinsmen, but the many works published in quarto used by editors to cobble and conflate into the larger, more perfect texts we accept today as scripture. And yet some of these, including Richard II, Troilus & Cressida, Lear, 2HIV, and Titus Andronicus, are actually recommended in quarto form in preference over their Folio counterpart. Whats more, consider the case of Timon, printed as a stop-gap and not otherwise intended for the First Folio - what other works were unknown, un-owned, or simply deemed unfit by the First Folio's compilers?

 Ignorance and an unhealthy dose of idolatry have caused many scholars to conceive of Shakespeare as a solitary dramatist, burning the midnight oil to finish another of the 3 or 4 plays he cranked out every public theater season. As it turns out, these writers were the ones working in a vacuum in the dark, whereas Shakespeare worked with a coterie of writers, contributing to story ideas, writing specific monologues or scenes, revising and transforming older scripts, and devising new ones along the way. That some unscrupulous merchants got their hands on these scripts, as well as others completely unconnected to the author or his retinue, and capitalized on the name William Shakespeare - sometimes in nothing more than allusion, viz. "W.S." - is hardly surprising. As the name Shakespeare was a pseudonym for a writer who couldn't reveal his hand, the unscrupulous had a field day. This is why the otherwise litigious William Shaksper never raised a hand or voice against the practice.

 Over the years, spurious decks have appeared, claiming unauthorized use of the bard's name, in whole or in part. As with the Bad Quartos and False Folios, some of these claimants have more credibility and probity than others. Rather than discard these works out of hand, The Shakespeare Tarot has chosen to present here what cards claiming authorship it has in its possession and allow the querant to determine legitimacy for themself.