Vol. 5 (2016): The Many Lives of William Shakespeare: Biography, Authorship and Collaboration
Part Two - Case Studies

Hand D and Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Literary Paper Trail

Diana Price
Laboratorio editoriale OA / Dip. LILSI

Published 2016-03-09


  • Forensic,
  • ‘Foul Papers’,
  • Hand D,
  • Handwriting Shakespeare

How to Cite

Price, D. (2016). Hand D and Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Literary Paper Trail. Journal of Early Modern Studies, 5, 329–352. https://doi.org/10.13128/JEMS-2279-7149-18095


The biography of William Shakespeare exerts an influence on various areas of research related to Shakespeare, including textual, bibliographical, and attribution studies. A case in point is the theory that Shakespeare wrote the Hand D Additions in the Sir Thomas More manuscript. That theory is now part of received scholarship, even though many of the assumptions and arguments first published in 1923 have been challenged. The original palaeographic argument can be reappraised with reference to the criteria and procedures of the forensic document examiner. Recent scholarship relevant to an investigation of the case that the Hand D Additions are Shakespeare’s ‘foul papers’, including Paul Werstine’s Early Modern Playhouse Manuscripts and the Editing of Shakespeare, provides the foundation for a brief reconsideration of that topic. Supporting arguments for the Hand D attribution, in particular those based on orthography, prove vulnerable to challenge.