OXFORD, ENGLAND – Scholars have made a startling discovery on the eve of William Shakespeare’s birthday. According to recently unearthed documents, Shakespeare’s genius could be attributed to a feather from a magic goose.
“We believe that William Shakespeare, author of Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, and King Lear, may not be the genius we think he is,” Professor Henry Thistlewhittle of Oxford University said. “My team of researchers and I have discovered a manuscript that purports Shakespeare used one quill to write all his plays, the feather of which belonged to a magic goose.”
Professor Thistlewhittle had been investigating documents related to Shakespeare’s lost play, Love’s Labours Won, when he stumbled across a dusty parchment. “It was a fantastic discovery,” the professor said. “Here was an intimate history of Shakespeare’s life laid out, with one major difference. The author claimed that a magic quill, or more specifically a feather from a magic goose, gave Shakespeare his power.”
Shakespeare, considered by many to be the greatest playwright and writer to ever live, has had his share of detractors and conspiracy theorists. Some claim that contemporary playwright Christopher Marlowe or the 17th Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere, were the true authors of the plays. Others believe Shakespeare was an amalgamation of many different writers. But according to Professor Thistlewhittle, there is a new pretender to Shakespeare’s throne.
“We have to rethink our entire knowledge of The Bard,” the professor said, referring to Shakespeare’s nickname. “And we really have to start learning more about The Bird. Gosford the Goose, whoever he is.”
The manuscript, The Wondrous and Tragicall Tale of Gosford, a Goose, was written by the waterfowl whose feather was used in Shakespeare’s quill. The book tells of his collaboration with William Shakespeare.
“’Twas Christmas morning and a young poet of virtue true came to fetch me, not as an acquaintance or friend but as supper. This young man had a mind that was feeble and empty like an upside down pail. He paid two pence for me, though I was worth my weight in gold and then some. This man was William Shakespeare, and so began our illustrious and tumultuous relationship.”
The goose goes on to describe how Shakespeare, feeling mercy for the creature, decides to set the bird free rather than kill it. This, according to the manuscript, broke a gypsy’s curse of silence on the magic goose. As a reward for sparing the goose’s life, Gosford gave Shakespeare a feather and told him to use it as a quill.
“I told him to take my covering and dip it in ink and let the feather fly across the page. The result ’twould yield more bounty than all the henhouses of all the Kings of England,” Gosford wrote.
While Shakespeare had already produced some plays before meeting Gosford, the quality of his work dramatically improved when he used the magic quill. Gosford marks the year he met Shakespeare as 1593, right as Richard III was being written and, according to scholars, “Shakespeare started to get good.”
While the claim about the quill is shocking enough, the manuscript makes even more assertions. “What is even more remarkable than the quill is that Gosford takes full responsibility for some of the plays,” Professor Thistlewhittle said. “‘Will,’ as Gosford called Shakespeare, originally wanted Hamlet to be just the play within the play—that is, just about the king getting murdered. It was Gosford’s idea to expand it and he created the character of Hamlet.”
“And it seems Gosford wrote both Henry IVs, Macbeth, and The Tempest entirely by himself,” the professor added.
Gosford’s manuscript ends abruptly. However, in the later pages Gosford writes that Shakespeare let his success go to his head. He tried writing some plays, likeTimon of Athens, without the magic quill or with input from Gosford, leading to a critical failure.
“We don’t know what happened to Gosford, or why he didn’t write plays under his own name,” Professor Thistlewhittle said. “But the last pages of the manuscript don’t bode well for poor Gosford.”
“I see a glint in Will’s eye these days,” the final page goes. “I believe he is planning something, perhaps something to keep me quiet. He would not want me to reveal his secret to the world, which is why I must write in haste and in secret. He keeps saying he is hungry, and that his pillow could use new stuffing.”