- Vortigern and Rowena
"Vortigern and Rowena", or "Vortigern, an Historical Play" is a play that was touted as a newly-discovered work by
William Shakespearewhen it first appeared in 1796. It was eventually revealed to be a piece of Shakespeare Apocrypha, the product of prominent forger William Henry Ireland. Its first and only performance was April 2, 1796, when it was ridiculed by the audience. Its titular protagonists, Vortigernand Rowena, are figures from Britain's traditional history.
Ireland had produced several earlier documents he claimed represented the writings of Shakespeare, but "Vortigern and Rowena" was the first and only play he attempted. Hearing of a newly recovered "lost" Shakespeare play, Irish playwright
Richard Brinsley Sheridanpurchased the rights to the first production at Drury Lane Theatrein Londonfor 300 pounds and the promise of half the revenues to Ireland's family. After reading the play, Sheridan noted its relative simplicity compared to Shakespeare's known works. Actor John Philip Kemble, the manager of Drury Lane, and who would play the title role in the play's only production, had serious doubts about "Vortigern"'s authenticity. Irish Shakespearean scholar Edmond Malonepublished "An Inquiry into the Authenticity of Certain Miscellaneous Papers and Legal Instruments" on March 21, 1796, about the authenticity of "Vortigern" and the other documents "discovered" by Ireland.
When "Vortigern and Rowena" opened on
April 2, 1796, Kemble used the chance to hint at his opinion by repeating Vortigern's line "and when this solemn mockery is o'er," and the play was derided by the audience. It was never performed again. Some early critics accused William Henry Ireland's father Samuel of the forgery, though William assumed responsibility in two printed confessions. Neither Ireland's reputation recovered from the fiasco, and William eventually moved to France, where he lived for several decades. He tried to publish "Vortigern and Rowena" as his own work when he returned to England in 1832, but met with little success.
Like other apocryphal plays attributed to Shakespeare, "
The Birth of Merlin" and " Locrine", "Vortigern and Rowena" takes as its subject the Matter of Britain, drawing especially from Geoffrey of Monmouth's " Historia Regum Britanniae". Shakespeare used Britain's mythical history in several of his plays, including " King Lear" and " Cymbeline", based on the stories of Leir of Britainand Cunobelinus, respectively.
The story concerns Vortigern, who usurps the throne of Britain from the rightful king Constantius. He eventually falls in love with
Rowena, the daughter of the Saxon king Hengist. He finally receives his comeuppance from Constantius' brothers Aurelius and Uter (Uther Pendragon, King Arthur's father).
*Ireland, William Henry (1805). "The Confessions of William Henry Ireland". [http://www.elibron.com/english/other/item_detail.phtml?msg_id=10024805] Reprinted 2001. Elibron Classics. ISBN 1-4021-2520-8.
*Ireland, William Henry. [http://www.vortigernstudies.org.uk/artlit/vortigern.htm"Vortigern, an Historical Play"] . From Vortigernstudies.org.uk. Retrieved
May 26, 2007.
* [http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/ireland.html William Henry Ireland's Shakespeare Forgeries]
* [http://www.vortigernstudies.org.uk/artlit/vortigern.htm A text of "Vortigern and Rowena"]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Rowena — was the daughter of the Anglo Saxon leader Hengest and a wife of the Briton High King Vortigern, according to British legend. Described as a beautiful femme fatale, she won her people the Kingdom of Kent through her scheming seduction of… … Wikipedia
Vortigern — (pronEng|ˈvɔrtɨɡɝːn; also spelled Vortiger and Vortigen, and in Welsh Gwrtheyrn), was a 5th century warlord in Britain, a leading ruler among the Britons (Brythons). His existence is considered likely, though information about him is shrouded in… … Wikipedia
Vortigern — Vortigern. Vortigern (pronunciado en inglés ˈvɔrtɨɡɝːn; también deletreado Vortiger y Vortigen, y en galés Gwr … Wikipedia Español
Vortigern — Vortigern, wahrscheinlich ein romano keltischer Kriegsherr des 5. Jahrhunderts, wird in späteren Quellen bezichtigt, die Angelsachsen eingeladen zu haben, als Söldner nach Britannien zu kommen. Später hätten diese Söldner dann revoltiert und… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Rowena (disambiguation) — Rowena is a figure in Geoffrey of Monmouth s Historia Regum Britanniae , the daughter of the Saxon king Hengest and wife of Vortigern.Rowena can also refer to:* Rowena King, actress * Rowena Meeks Abdy (1887 1945), 20th century American painter * … Wikipedia
Rowena — This rare and interesting surname is of Anglo Saxon origin, and is a metronymic from the female given name Rowena. The name is believed to have derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century Hrothwyn , composed of the elements hreod , fame, with… … Surnames reference
William Henry Ireland — (2 August 1775 ndash; 17 April 1835 [ [http://www.nndb.com/people/180/000104865/http://www.nndb.com/people/180/000104865/] ] ) was a forger of would be Shakespearean documents and plays. He is less well known as a poet, writer of gothic novels… … Wikipedia
Ireland Shakespeare Forgeries — The Ireland Shakespeare Forgeries were a cause célèbre in 1790s’ London, when author and engraver Samuel Ireland announced the discovery of a treasure trove of Shakespearean manuscripts by his son William Henry. Among them were the manuscripts of … Wikipedia
Samuel Ireland — (May 21 1744 – July 1800), British author and engraver, is best remembered today as the chief victim of the Ireland Shakespearean forgeries created by his son, William Henry Ireland.Early lifeHe ate life as a weaver in aasdfafdssadfaffddddddas,… … Wikipedia
Shakespeare Apocrypha — The Shakespeare Apocrypha is the name given to a group of plays that have sometimes been attributed to William Shakespeare, but whose attribution is questionable for various reasons. This is separate from the debate on Shakespearean authorship,… … Wikipedia