Pericles – Who wrote this stuff?

OK, so after finishing my first read-through of Pericles, I gotta ask, who wrote this stuff?

Well, Shakespeare, of course. But not just him.

For at least the last two hundred years, there’s been thought this late play was a collaboration. Some of the leading candidates are: John Day, one of Philip Henslowe’s playwrights; Thomas Heywood, the playwright of A Woman Killed with Kindness; and George Wilkins, the guy I made elliptical reference to back a few days back when discussing sources, the now leading candidate.

Why is he the leading candidate?

One: we know he knew Shakespeare–they were both witnesses in a lawsuit (Bellott v. Mountjoy, 1612 [yes, I know that was four or five years later, but still…]).

Two: he was the author of The Painfull Aduentures of Pericles Prince of Tyre. In the Argument of the book, he mentions a play that seems to be “Shakespeare”’s Pericles. So this is seen as a kind of novelization of the play (so much so that editors used his content to correct stage directions and passages that don’t seem to make sense in the Quarto).

Three: his style is similar to both Shakespeare’s generally and what is found in the first two acts.

So it seems that Shakespeare wrote the stuff after the wedding of Pericles and Thaisa, and Wilkins the stuff before. I could almost see those first two acts as a (very short) stand-alone piece. The last three acts, possibly but less so.

This raises questions much like those we had for Timon of Athens: in what way did this collaboration occur? Did Wilkins write a short play, that Shakespeare extended? Did Wilkins write a kind of prequel to the Shakespearean acts three through five?

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