The “Forgeries of Jealousy”: John Hayward’s The Life and Raigne of King Henrie the IIII, William Henry Ireland’s Forged Marginalia, and the Multiple Lenses of Historical Reconstruction
(A Lesson Plan for Introduction to Shakespeare)

John Mitchell, Oakland Community College

This project grew out of some sketches for lesson plans. In the winter semester of 2012 I planned a section of “Introduction to Shakespeare” built around James Shapiro’s A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599. The course uses the four plays that Shapiro assigns to this year: Henry V, Julius Caesar, As You Like It, and Hamlet. I followed the chronology of his book, so Henry V is the first play the students will encounter. Contemporary students have the most trouble with the history plays and I always look for ways to enhance their understanding of how and why Shakespeare’s chronicle plays embedded themselves in Elizabethan culture.

I like to build the metaphor that history plays engage a “triple lens” of historical perspective for us. There is the original time setting of the play (in this case the early fifteenth-century world of the Henriad), there is the perspective of Shakespeare and his time, and there is the modern perspective (which in many cases has more “historically accurate” knowledge of the original time frame). The students use these lenses to discuss ideas about transmission of information, historiography, the Elizabethan use of history as a didactic moral lesson (a tendency to which our contemporary perspective is not immune), and the censorship and control of history by government and ecclesiastical authorities.

Chapter 7 of A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599 is called “Book Burning,” and it is a fascinating comparison of Shakespeare’s four plays (Richard II, Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2, Henry V) with a book by John Hayward (1564?–1627) called The First Part of the Life and Raigne of King Henrie the IIII. Hayward’s book was published in 1599, the same year that quarto editions of 1 Henry IV appeared. Shapiro compares the fates of the two publications as they were censored, altered, and in Hayward’s case, destroyed by nervous authorities because of the touchy issue of Henry’s deposition of Richard II.

While examining one of the Folger’s copies of Hayward, I discovered another “lens” to incorporate into the lesson plan! This copy was once owned by William Henry Ireland (1777–1835), a notorious (and notoriously bad) forger of Shakespeareana who had inscribed “William Shakespeare” on the title page and added the volume to a collection of early modern books that he presented as belonging to Shakespeare’s library. He then filled the book with annotations (all hilariously signed “W. S.” and in the worst parody of Elizabethan spelling), which he helpfully transcribed on “4x6 cards” inserted between the pages.

Hayward, John, Sir. The first part of the life and raigne of King Henrie the IIII. Extending to the end of the first yeare of his raigne.

I want to use the images of Ireland’s forged marginalia to extend the lesson about historical lenses to developments of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. That period saw the rise of critical editions of Shakespeare, the scramble to find Shakespeareana, the commercial and aesthetic temptations to forge these materials, and the beginnings of “Bardolatry.” The forged annotations also allow students to ponder the attribution of Shakespeare’s sources for the history plays, because Ireland assumes that Hayward was used as a source by Shakespeare.

Suggested Reading

Baines, Paul. The House of Forgery in Eighteenth Century England. Brookfield: Ashgate, 1999.

Dutton, Richard. Licensing, Censorship, and Authorship in Early Modern England. New York: Palgrave, 2001.

Kahan, Jeffrey. Reforging Shakespeare: The Story of a Theatrical Scandal. Cranbury: Lehigh University Press, 1998.

Kinney, Arthur. “Essex and Shakespeare Versus Hayward.” Shakespeare Quarterly 44 (1993):464–466.

Lemon, Rebecca. “The Faulty Verdict in ‘The Crown v. John Hayward.’” Studies in English Literature 41 (2001): 109 –132.

Levy, F. R. “Hayward, Daniel, and the Beginnings of Politic History in England.” Huntington Library Quarterly 50 (1987): 1–37.

Manning, John, ed. The First and Second Parts of John Hayward’s The Life and Raigne of King Henrie the IIII. Camden 4th Series, Volume 42. London: Camden, 1991.