Vortigern And Rowena
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Basic Information

Samuel Ireland was an eighteenth-century bookseller and rabid collector of Shakespearean relics. In 1794 his 18-year-old son, William Henry Ireland, brought home a mortgage document signed by Shakespeare he claimed to have found among the estate papers of an anonymous client. Dad was overjoyed, especially when William found more discoveries, including a love letter from Shakespeare to Anne Hathaway and a previously unknown historical drama entitled Vortigern and Rowena.

The famous Irish playwright Richard Sheridan bought the play and arranged to have Vortigern performed at the Drury Lane Theater on April 2, 1796. The theater’s manager wasn’t sure the play was genuine, but figured the public would come to see it. His actors, however, hated the play and expressed their feelings by hamming the whole thing so dreadfully that the audience ridiculed it. The play was never performed again.

William Henry confessed that the play and the other documents were his own work, but his father refused to believe it; he went to his grave believing that these discoveries were the work of his idol.


Game and Story Use

  • A "Lost" Shakespeare manuscript, whether genuine or not, might make a good MacGuffin
  • In a historical or time travel campaign, the charcters might be attending the sole performance of Vortigen
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