Above is the recently discovered acrostic to Thomas Watson, Marlowe's teacher and friend.  It appears in the precise line center of the Sonnets. Can you spot it?  Start with the forth line, the first letter is T, next line starts with W, etc., ATSO for TWATSO.  The missing "N" is the sound value for the first word of the next line, which starts with "A", i.e.,  "And...."  This gives us TWATSON for Thomas Watson. (:} )  Very clever this guy.  

*The line center is discovered by eliminating the one sonnet that asks to be left uncounted (136) and then dividing the remaining total lines, by two.  For a rider on a fast horse, the center would lie in the middle line of 76, i.e., line seven: 154 sonnets, minus 1 = 153 / 2 = 76.5.  However one sonnet is missing two lines (126) and one sonnet (99) has 15 lines, so the line center moves from the seventh line in 76 to the middle of the 6th line, the line that holds the "A" of Watson's last name. So this acrostic, which has been missed by Stratfordian scholars for all these many years, spans the center point of the sonnets with Watson's name.    (:} )  Talk about a hidden tribute to a dead friend.  Indeed if we are to ignore the extra line in sonnet 99 and a revised line that was or should have been crossed out, and suppose the poet wanted us to make up the two missing lines in sonnet 126, then then the middle is actually line 7 the line that reads: "That every word doth almost tell my name." I'd say that's an important line and one that the poet intended to be placed dead center in the sonnets. 

The Manuscript of Henry IV:


What is the manuscript of Henry IV known as D? (Folger MS, V.b. 34) D surfaced in the mid-19th century in the remains of the library of Sir Edward Dering (1598 -1644), in Pluckley, Kent, a small village near Maidstone.

Dering's Church in Pluckley, Kent A Dering Funeral Bronze in the    Pluckley Floor about 2' high


 Among  Dering's papers is the plan for his "widows" for his church in Charring Cross, Kent. Here are the "windows" partly covered with church paraphernalia.   

Fortunately there are no questions regarding D’s late 16th or early 17th century provenance. So why isn’t D studied and celebrated?

Above is flr of the Manuscript said to be in Sir Edward Dering's Hand by the Folger.  (The History of King Henry The Fourth as revised by Sir Edward Dering, Bart., University of Virginia Press, 1974, 5) Below is a sample of Sir Dering's hand.  The two hands are not even similar in styles.  The hand in D, called A, is an Elizabethan Secretary hand with no evidence of Italian forms.  Dering's hand is an advanced "transitional" hand, mainly here Italian, but with a hint of the older Secretary hand still in evidence.  Notice how Dering's "y"s trail to the left as modern forms do, while Hand A's trail to the right as Secretary forms did. (Note: look in the text of the ms., the title and the heading are in Italic not Secretary, i.e., they are printed.)

Like the Ashbourne portrait, D’s obscurity traces to the manuscript’s owner, the Folger Shakespeare Library, which consigned D to a derivative status striping it of any connection to Shakespeare. The evidence considered here shows this assignment premature, unethical and false.

Professional ethics dictate institutions which house treasures not be involved in the determination of their status. Such a authentication should hinge upon the objective outside evaluations. Unfortunately the Folger has relied exclusively on staff and paid fellows for opinions, while ignoring, even libeling, independent evaluators.

Giles Dawson and Leatitia Yeandle, both long time curators of manuscripts for the Folger, along with G. Blakemore Evans and George Walton Williams, who brought out the Folger Facsimile of the manuscript under contracts with the Folger in 1973, maintain D is dependent on printed sources dating to the late 16th and early 17th centuries and thus, the claim, lies outside the author’s provenance.

This opinion fails catastrophically when we realize the author, who was then alive, could have relied upon these printed texts. Given the abundant evidence provided by the First Folio versions of previously published plays, revisions were made on the face of printed quartos, including, however improbably, the 1622 edition of Othello. (Greg, EP)

No one knows who made these revisions to Othello but the others, to Richard II, Henry V, Merry Wives of Windsor, etc., are supposed authorial.

So it only stands to reason scholars must consider the possibility that Shakespeare, working from the printed texts c. 1613, returned to this play and cut it back to his original one part version, a play rich in history but short on Falstaff. This would explain any alleged bibliographic parallels between this play and the printed texts and still allow D to become the most important manuscript in Shakespearian studies.

This fact notwithstanding, the Folger employees have, over the past half century, maintained this unique manuscript was "copied out" c. 1622 by Sir Edward Dering (1598-1644) and his staff from printed versions of Henry IV, I and II, specifically from Q5 (1613) of Part One and Q (1600) of Part Two.

Initially they supposed this because a) the manuscript surfaced in his library; b) they thought Dering’s hand was similar to one of the hands evidenced in the manuscript, the hand designated as A; and c) because they cited erratum from Q5 in D.   None of these are proof that the manuscript was Dering’s and not Shakespeare’s. 

A) Dering’s library was vast and contained authorial manuscripts of several plays including the extant Love’s Victories, now at the Huntington.  Love’s Victories isn’t Dering’s, but Lady Mary Worth’s, Sidney’s other sister. So there is no reason to suppose D to have been Dering’s just because it was in his library. 

Above is the opening scene from Love's Victories, surely not in Dering hand.  Nor is the face of the page marred with changes and notations as is D. (HM 600)  Lady Mary Worth (c. 1586-1640) would have been 12 years Dering's senior.

B) Even if D contains evidence of Dering’s hand, this doesn’t imply Dering responsible for the reductions. He may simply have glossed it or supplied a missing sheet from a printed text, as was customary both then and now with imperfect privately owned copies.  There is, for example, a manuscript page of Edward II supplied by an anonymous owner that looks very much like the Italic hand in Love's Victories and in the so called "Aryan Heresy Notes" said Marlowe's and held as evidence against him.  So finding Dering's hand in D doesn't mean D was his doing.

C) Any correspondence between erratum in D and Q5 may simply be coincidental, since D is vastly different than Q5. (To this thread we shall return later.)  It is only when D follows Q5 closely that we can be sure that D was transcribed from it.  Since it does not, we have to looked deeper.

Eventually, after a payment from Dering to a "mr Carington for writing oute ye play of K: Henry ye fourth " dated 27 February 1622/23, was discovered by myself and, later, Laetitia Yeandle, the Folger cited this payment as proof D was Dering’s own creation. (S.Q, 37 (1996) 224)

However that ledger records Dering paid for a transcription by the sheet at the rate of "1d 0b." Since D is 55 sheets long, payment should have totaled either 55d or 82d, depending on whether "1d 0b" meant 1d or 1 ½ d as Yeandle claims. However as we have seen D is just 110 pages longs, so either way this math is carried out D cannot be what Dering paid for, since he paid just 4 shillings.

Indeed Yeandle concedes this when she writes "the number of leaves presently in the manuscript does not coincide with then number implied in this entry." (224)

Below is an E-Mail touching on this Problem from Ian Haste, a scholar and native born Englishman who went to the trouble to look fully into this vexing question.
To "John Baker" <marlowe@localaccess.com>

Subject on account of...on pain of... 1d ob' p[er]

Hello John

I think we might have hammered the final nail into the 1d ob' coffin, and it would appear to prove your point. By this reckoning there are 96 pages in the ms as the ob' has no numerical significance. Therefore it cannot be the same manuscript. Here is the exerpt from the email of my brother in England. He spends his Fridays, by the way, researching family history in the Essex Records Office in Chelmsford which contains many ancient documents.

I think I have found the answer to the ob' mystery. As soon as I arrived at the Record Office I asked one of the staff if he knew what the two letters signified, he asked me to leave the paper with him and he disappeared into the room near the reception counter. Fifteen minutes passed and he came to bring me the good news. In his hand he held a slender volume containing hundreds of abbreviations I assume were associated with ancient writing, this is what he came up with,

For ob' he showed me the following examples,

1. on account of

2. because of

3. for

For the p[er] he showed me these examples,

1. through

2. by means of

3. throughout

4. in the course

5. on pain of

But he thinks it was used then, as it is described in the dictionary today, as a "Latin preposition, in the sense of by or for."


Henry ye fourth att 1d ob' p[er] sheete


Henry ye fourth att 1d for throughout sheete ???


I will leave you to play with this. My part is done! Have fun!


Good luck with it.




His earlier message is also of use here.
To <marlowe@localaccess.com>

Subject 1d ob' Problem Solved ?


I find it hard to come to a conclusion until we define leaves; sheets; page

I am assuming the following, is this correct?- 1 sheet is two pages. ("D is 55 sheets long, D is just 110 pages long")

- And 1 page is one side of one sheet

- 1 Leaf equals one page

Ms. Yeandle is saying

Fact 1 - Four shillings (48d) was paid.

Fact 2 - Rate of pay is one and a half pennies per sheet. (1d ob' = 1 1/2 d)

Therefore 32 sheets were copied.

There are two pages per sheet

Therefore there are 64 pages in the ms.

Problem. How can we resolve these 64 pages with the 110 pages known (or thought) to exist?

Resolution ?

.John is saying

Fact 1 - D is 55 sheets long. At 2 pages per sheet, D is 110 pages long

Therefore there are 110 pages in the ms - assuming every single sheet had writing on both sides.

Problem. How can we resolve the payment of 1d ob' per sheet with the 110 pages?

Resolution ?

.Ian is saying

Fact 1 - Four shillings (48d) was paid.

Fact 2 - Rate of pay is one penny per sheet.

Therefore there are 96 pages in the ms

Problem. 96 pages is not equal to the Truth of 110 pages - being 55 sheets x 2 sides.

Resolution The resolution depends upon the meaning of 1d ob'

I feel sure it means one penny paid per sheet, if the obverse is also copied. Otherwise you don't get the full 1d. To put it another way, each sheet if written on both sides is 1d, but if written on only one side it is worth half a penny.

If, of the 55 ms sheets, 41 were written on both sides and 14 were written on one side only, then he would be paid as follows

41 sheets @ 1d equals 41d

14 sheets @ 1/2d equals 7d

Totals 55 sheets 48d equals four shillings.

That is to say, although there were 55 sheets, he was only paid for 48 sheet equivalents, or 96 pages.

This way shows there can be 55 sheets but only 96 actual pages as some sheets were not written on both sides.  Note this conclusion by Ian was false, since all sheets were two sided.


1. The meaning of 1d ob' is 1d = 1 penny ob' = abbreviaton of obverse, meaning both sides of sheet.

The implication is, as both sides of sheet cost one penny, one side costs half of one penny.

2. Ms Yeandle is wrong in saying there are 32 sheets and 64 ms pages because 1d ob' does not equal 1 1/2 d.

3. John is correct in saying there are 55 sheets, but is not correct in assuming 110 ms pages because it is impossible to reconcile 110 pages with payment of 48d.

4. Ian is correct in saying there are 41 double sided sheets and 14 single sided sheets making 96 ms pages, as this is the only way the math makes sense. Note this is correct but wrong since there were 110 folio pages, or 55 sheets double sided.  The problem remains the math doesn't make sense, so D isn't what Dering paid for.

I hope this is not too presumptious of me, John, but it is one solution to a vexing problem



This is hardly the only problem. I traced Dering’s "Mr. Carrington" to nearby Wootton Kent, where he was Rector.  His hand, which is a lovely and tidy Italian, is very confidently not that of the transcriber, Hand B. Yeandle, after an exchange of letters with me, wrote, "Carrington’s will does not appear to be in the same handwriting as the play." (225) I add, nor do his church records.

Hand B in D a "Pure secretary "  Mr. Carrington's Hand in his Church Record is pure Italian.

So let us regroup. The Folger believes D a copy of the printed quartos paid for by Sir Edward Dering as evidenced in his ledger, even though 1) his order doesn’t match with D’s length, 2) the hand of Mr. Carrington does not match with D’s and 3) D is not a copy of any printed material. Such is the power of a well established paradigm. 

That D is a not copy of Henry IV Part One, let alone of Henry IV, Part Two, is obvious on its face. Copy means "the reproduction of an original." However D is a single five act play which contains only some of the action of the two-part ten act drama. To be precise, D contains 90% of Part One and 30% of Part Two.   D is thus not a "copy".

To avoid this pitfall the Folger supposes D an abridgement and/or a "revision" one that was simply transcribed from the printed materials cited above, as the revisor(s) worked through it.

Against this viewpoint D isn’t anymore a "transcript" of the printed versions than it was a "copy." If we take the word in the broadest sense, "to write out," we would expect D to follow the stylized aspects of the sources very closely. However D bears little relation to the spelling, capitalization, punctuation, lineation or pagination of the printed works. D is thus neither a copy nor a transcript.  

What D looks like is the pre-quarto version of Henry IV, when it was one part, not two, as first suggested by the venerable Shakespearian scholar Hardin Craig.  To avoid this fact the Folger and its editors misrepresented what Hardin had written about the manuscript, to make it seem Craig supported their view that the text was dependent on the printed versions.  Here's how their footnote reads:

While repeatedly asked to set the record straight, by merely a clarification published as a note in their house organ the, Shakespeare Quarterly, stipulating Craig maintained D was independent of the printed text and the confusion was due to faulty grammar, the Folger has steadfastly refused to cooperate. 

Returning to the appearance of D, the anticipation is the copyist would set, at the very least, his number of lines per page to reflect the printed text, so it could be followed line for line. We also expect no evidence of indecipherables in the manuscript because each word in the quarto would have been resolved and printed.  Yet D evidences indecipherables on nearly every page.  Consider this muddle on f31r:

Moreover D’s lines vary from twenty-five lines (f19v) to 47 (f3r). Obviously the printed text’s thirty-two lines per page fits nicely within this range and Hand B would have had no difficulty following Q5 line for line and page for page. Since Sir Dering’s account ledger proves he paid for the transcription "by ye sheet," what copyist paid by the sheet would reduced his remuneration by nearly half by doubling the number of lines per sheet from page to page? Why would a contractor pay for substandard work by the sheet?  Why would the scribe use his own spelling and punctuation? 

Generally only rough transcripts or authorial foul papers evidence this kind of "wild" variation in lines. The Timon, ms., said a precursor of Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens, and a transcript, evidences two hands which used slightly different numbers of lines per sheet. The Malone editors write, "B contrives to accommodate more lines per page than does A." (vii-viii)

The Folger manuscript of the banned history, The Life and Raigne of King Henrie IIII, by John Hayward, which is the work of a single scribe, as is most of D. That manuscript has precisely 33 lines per sheet from front to back. ( Manning, Camden, 1991, 51)

All of this means that D looks more like an author’s manuscript and not the transcript of a printed text, as first suggested by Hardin Craig and afterwards by Louis Ule and myself. 

Least the reader suppose Hand B was simply incompetent, as the Folger authorities have, one must consider Folios 10 and 11 which are perfect sheets and all the proof we need that Hand A was entirely competent. Indeed these two sheet would have served Dering as examples of what the entire copy should have looked like and he would have paid, surely, for nothing less.

These sheets prove Hand B’s problems were with his copy source not his skills as a scribe. Indeed Yeandle eventually came to this same conclusion when she noticed that he appears to have patched in without notice what is not the division point of the two plays.  This patching in accounts for the great variation in lines per sheet. What seems to have happened is that B frequently had a sheet already copied out. It began at a certain point, so he would fall back, re-transcribe a few pages, packing or expanding his lines, so the joint would work out and appear seamless. He was so good at this no one noticed for a century.

If D was cut, how was the cutting achieved? Cutting generally requires the construction of "bridge lines." But D evidences very few bridge lines and thus was cut without them. No one knows how this could have been accomplished. Indeed in the few cases where they are bridge lines they are unquestionably superior lines. Such as the matchless "then fear gave wings to flight" and the marginal note "I'll take say of thee," given the Falstaff while sparring verbally with Prince Hal. (f43; f20r) If Dering and his scribe could write like this they were wasting their time in Pluckley.

Indeed a comprehensive study proves that the "bridge lines" are in the printed texts. This is because an author when he re-enters a short text and expands it, supplies bridge lines as he goes. These lines and in this case scenes are obviously revisions, when seen side by side to D’s compact text. Indeed they are clearly longer lines. So the case is clear: D is the early version of Henry IV, before it became two parts. By comparing D to the two-part version we can see how the author enlarged it, line for line and scene for scene, as Craig first suggested.

So to review. So far nothing in D suggests that it was a transcript of printed materials or transcribed by Dering. So why has D been claimed as a spurious transcript of these materials?  Why would the Folger risk ethical and scholarly problems in doing so? The answer lies in the nature of D and its potential impact on the Stratfordian paradigm and thus on the Folger’s prestige.

Lets jump back to Sir W. W. Greg. Greg wrote, in rejecting Pollard’s thesis that Shakspere produced what scholars call "authorial fair copies" of his works, i.e., legible well organized manuscripts, like D, as opposed to "foul papers," that Pollard’s proposition failed "for lack of a connective link." (EP) Since Pollard’s opinion stemmed from the First Folio’s own statements to this effect, Greg’s opinion set them aside also.

The implications are complex, but may be summarized as running counter to orthodox treatments of Shakespeare’s life. According to the paradigm the rustic Shakespeare simply lacked both the time and the skill to have produced authorial fair copies of his works. Allowing that he did, would force a paradigm shift.

So strong was the paradigm and its influence on its fellows that the Folger’s facsimile edition was nearly rendered useless to scholars because it did not furnish a true transcript of D. In its place is a "transcript" in which they "restored," in many places, "silently and without record," readings in the quartos! Their "reasoning" ran as thus, since D was a copy of the printed texts it is acceptable to "correct" muddles and mistakes of Hand A, "silently and without record."

Above is D's reading "for yowrs the good of heavon blighten it" .  "Blighten" would be a neologism and is clearly what was meant here, since she is cursing Northumberland, her father-in-law, over the death of his son and her husband, young Sir Henry Percy, or Hotspur. 
Below is the Folger "transcript" which reads "For yowrs the God of Heaven brighten it:" (f45v).  The Folger editors have changed "good" to "God" and "blighten" to "brighten."  Why? Notice also the added punctuation, two full colons and the capital "F".  Where did they come from?  Thin air?

These same scholars libeled Hardin Craig as we have seen. Years later Craig returned to this view and wrote about how his discoveries had placed him in "danger" in that they ran counter to the "theories" of highly respected Shakespeare scholars. (Hamlet: The First Quarto; The Late Quartos of Shakespeare)

Against Dering’s involvement in D is the fact that his hand, which was a classic example of a transitional hand, one that evidences both Italic and Secretary letter forms, does not appear to be Hand A, despite Folger claims to the contrary. More importantly Dering, who harbored theological aspirations, does not seem likely to have cut out one of the canon’s few nods to Christ and to have replaced it with godless humanism, as evidenced on f1r in the lines penned by Hand A.

How close were Hand A and Hand B? Did they work together or were they independent? Let us consider f6r. From it we can see Hand B came to the end of his materials and had nothing else to transcribe. Note the lack of a cue word and the ending flourish.

Hand A then read the sheet, made several changes, as glosses, including crossing over the "Enter Warcester" and Hand A then supplied the next line "But I will lift ye downe - trodd Mortimer".

After these changes were made, Hand B then transcribed the verso, which would have been senseless without the additional line supplied by Hand A to the verso of folio 6. This page alone documents that Hand B and Hand A were working closely together and that contrary to the Folger’s position Hand B’s interaction cannot have been that of an outside contractor (i.e., Carrington).


Even more disastrous for the Folger’s case are the presence of discontinuous stints in the manuscript. Stints are by nature continuous runs. However D evidences a stint in what is now the middle of D (f33) that can also be found at the end of D on f55. This means D has been expanded by the process of "interweaving" or inter-leafing where new materials are inserted between existing materials. D gives us evidence of a version of Henry IV where the ending came hard on the heels of the King’s victory at Shrewsbury.  A version that would have been slightly shorter than Part One now is, i.e., about 91% of the present text.

This isn’t at all likely to have happened if the Folger view is correct, but it seems likely enough if D represents the original go at these materials. At one time Shakespeare planned on Henry IV ending shortly after the battle of Shrewsbury. Now V, v, in Part Two, beginning with line 43. The first 42 lines are missing from D.

Indeed D evidences dozens of individual stints. These stints offer us samples of Hand B’s writing that seems to span many months, if not several years of time, likely enough if D was transcribed as the author wrote it over a period of several months.  Here's Hand A correcting "trustful" to "tristful," a neologism, not emendated until the early Twentieth Century:


So all in all D seems most likely to be Shakespeare’s original version of Henry IV before it became two parts. It might date to a transcription c. 1614 which relied in part on his original notes and in part on printed texts that he had annotated and abridged. This possibility would account for any transcription of q5 variants and still retain the authorial nature of D. It would also preserve, more or less in tact, the Stratfordian paradigm. For it could easily be argued that in Stratford in his late 40s and early 50s that Shakespeare had both the training and the dilatory time to have produced this authorial fair copy of Henry IV. A copy long on history and short of Falstaff and a copy, judging from the hole in the First Folio, that was seriously considered by the printers for inclusion in that most remarkable of all first editions.

Above is the First Folio's beginning of Henry IV,  notice the page number "46", which appears in the upper left-hand corner. 
Below is the end of Part Two set or numbered at page 100.  So the two-part version printed out to 64 pages plus an epilogue, or 65 pages.
Yet below is the opening page of Henry V which is contiguous to the ending of Henry IV, Part Two.  Notice its page number is 69.  This means the printers, having come to the end of Richard II, on page 45, moved on to print Henry V, while allowing a space of only 22 pages for all of Henry IVPart One required 28 pages and Part Two 26 pages.   However D, or something like it, can easily be fit into that space or "hole."  


The So Called Bacon Henry IV Manuscript Page

Return to John Baker's Home Page





Hi John,

Well, I still like Hardin Craig's point that it just doesn't make sense to argue that the manuscript derives from the two quartos. It's got to be the other way around. Evan's bibliographic argument is pretty bad. And since the middle 1980s (after Mackenzie's Printers of the Mind) people are much less impressed by such arguments.

Good luck with the paper,

Bill  (W. R. Streitberger, University of Washington)

A recent e-mail on the Dering Manuscript from the University of Washington paleographic authority, Professor W. R. Streitberger, Ph.D., who is currently preparing the Revels' Accounts for the Malone Society Edition.