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30th Jun, 2022

Remarkable Shakespeare notebook could prove priceless to scholars

Ian Hughes 2nd Apr, 2017 Updated: 4th Apr, 2017

A 17th CENTURY notebook featuring contemporary comments on Shakespeare’s plays could be worth more than £30,000 at auction – but could prove priceless to scholars.

Antiques Roadshow manuscripts specialist Matthew Haley was left “trembling” when the tiny pad was brought along to a valuation day for the BBC1 show at Caversham Park in Berkshire.

It is thought to have come from the collection of 18th century antiquarian and traveller John Loveday of Caversham. It was found by the five times great grandson of Loveday among his mother’s belongings.

While much of the writing is all but illegible on first inspection, references to the Bard’s plays could clearly be picked out.

Mr Haley – who described the notebook as one of the most remarkable items ever seen on the show – suggested the jottings could have been the work of a student analysing Shakespeare’s work.

He added: “It’s amazing, it’s almost completely illegible, but you can pick out the odd word, and you can pick out phrases that appear in Shakespeare.

“This is someone making notes in the same century as Shakespeare. It is absolutely extraordinary. The value to scholarship is enormous.”

Professor Sir Stanley Wells, honorary president of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said research needed to be done into the notebook.

“There are other documents like it, but they are rare, and the notebook needs to be transcribed and assessed.

“It looks like an early 17th century hand and I am sure it is perfectly genuine.

“I think it certainly ought to be in a public collection.”

The 17th century notebook brought along to the Antiques Roadshow could prove invaluable to Shakespeare scholars. (s)

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