‘The Cowell Manuscript, or, The First Baconian’: New Publication about Senate House Library

MS294, ‘the Cowell Manuscript’, entered Senate House Library in 1931 as part of the Durning-Lawrence Library. It gained prominence in 1932 when Allardyce Nicholl

Shakespeare Survey

highlighted it in an article in the Times Literary Supplement, identifying it as the earliest piece of writing attributing Shakespeare’s plays to Sir Francis Bacon. In 2010 Prof. James Shapiro of the University of Columbia exposed the manuscript, allegedly written in 1805, as a later forgery. The time seemed ripe to present a transcript of the manuscript. Dr Karen Attar, who had already published several articles about Durning-Lawrence and his library, undertook the task. Her transcript, with an editorial introduction, has now appeared in Shakespeare Survey, 65 (2012), 323-36 – just a week before publication of the treasures volume Senate House Library, University of London, to which Prof. Shapiro has contributed a piece about the manuscript.

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