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Did William Shakespeare Actually Write 'Henry VIII'? Artificial Intelligence May Have the Answer

Czech artificial intelligence researcher, Petr Plecháč, decided to solve this mystery by training a machine-learning algorithm on the works of Shakespeare, Fletcher, and other contemporary writers.

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Updated:November 27, 2019, 9:45 AM IST
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Did William Shakespeare Actually Write 'Henry VIII'? Artificial Intelligence May Have the Answer
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'Henry VIII' was a collaborative work by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher.

After Shakespeare’s death in 1616, Fletcher replaced him as the house playwright for acting troupe The King's Men. It was a known fact to literary experts that the play was written by both Shakespeare and Fletcher, but it remained unknown as to who penned what parts of the play.

Czech artificial intelligence researcher, Petr Plecháč, decided to solve this mystery by training a machine-learning algorithm on the works of Shakespeare, Fletcher, and other contemporary writers.

As per his findings, the algorithm proved that several scenes of the play were written by Fletcher including much of the second act. It also found a lot of joint scenes and collaboration.

Literary analyst James Spedding, in 1850, was the first one to propose the theory that ‘Henry VIII’ was partly contributed by Fletcher after he noticed similarities between Fletcher's works and parts of 'Henry VIII'.

In fact, Spedding had even suggested that Fletcher regularly writes 'ye' instead of 'you' and 'em' instead of 'them' and these characteristics were found in Henry VIII as well.

“Our results highly support the canonical division of the play between William Shakespeare and John Fletcher proposed by James Spedding,” Mr Plecháč from the Czech Academy of Sciences told the MIT Technology Review.

As per a report by the Daily Mail, the AI takes a body of the author's work to train the algorithm, then a smaller body of their work to test it on. Also, since a writer's style can change over their lifetime, the AI needs to be tested on work from a similar period.

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