William Henry Ireland
1777-1835; b. London; son of the Shakespeare scholar Samuel Ireland (d.1800); ed. France; forged deeds of or relating
to Shakespeare when employed in New Inn, 1794-95, to please his father; proceeded to 'find' Shakespearean letters to Anne Hathaway and Queen Elizabeth; faked books with Shakespeare's notes, a transcript
of Lear and extracts from Hamlet; findings published by his father in Miscellaneous Papers and Legal Instruments under the Hand and Seal of William Shakespeare (1796), deceiving scholars incl.
Dr. Parr, Joseph Wharton, and George Chalmers; forged pseudo-Shakespearean
plays, Vorgtigern and Rowena, selling rights to R. B. Sheridan, the who suspected forgery from relative simplicity of plot; the former produced
by Sheridan at Drury Lane (2 April 1796), with sceptical lines added to the epilogue by Kemble (And when this solemn mockery is o'er), closing to cat-calls from the knowledgeable audience; Ireland's forgeries conclusively
revealed by Edmund Malone in An Inquiry into the Authenticity of Certain Miscellaneous Papers and Legal Instruments (March 1796); his admission of the fraud in Authentic Account
was afterwards expanded as Confessions (1805); subsequently sold his forgeries
and wrote ballads, narrative poems, and romances; his forgeries destroyed
by fire in Birmingham Library, 1879; d. in obscurity. ODNB
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An Authentic Account of the Shaksperian Manuscripts ; Confessions (1805; rep. 1872).
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See Fact Index website [link].
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