Friday, March 23, 2012

University of Mississippi students analyze Shakespeare's signature

Before William Shakespeare created such literary and stage classics as "Macbeth" and "Romeo and Juliet," the legendary playwright may have labored over property deeds and other mundane legal documents.

Did Shakespeare work as an attorney before achieving immortality at the Globe Theatre? That's one of the theories a University of Mississippi professor speculated on this week after he and three of his students compared a known signature by the Bard of Avon with another signature on the title page of "Archaionomia," a well-known legal treatise housed at Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.

Gregory Heyworth accompanied UM seniors Andrew Henning of Batesville, Mitchell Hobbs of Madison and Kristen Vise of Jackson, all students in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, to the nation's capitol, where they spent their spring break studying the Folger documents. Using state-of-the-art digital imaging equipment, the Ole Miss team verified that the previously unknown signature is indeed from the same 17th century period as the playwright.

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