9. The History Of Cardenio
While most people are familiar with William Shakespeare’s famous lost play Love’s Labour’s Won, a less well-known, yet equally sought-after play is The History of Cardenio. Written by Shakespeare and John Fletcher, a man he also collaborated with on Henry VIII and Two Noble Kinsmen, the play was centered on a character in Miguel de Cervantes’ epic novel Don Quixote. Evidence of the play exists in a few places, including a list of the plays to be performed by the King’s Men (Shakespeare’s acting company) in May 1613.
However, the manuscript for the play was lost and never seen again. In the 18th century, Lewis Theobald, a Shakespeare editor and playwright, claimed to have found a copy of the manuscript and “improved” on it, turning it into a play known as Double Falsehood. The manuscript Theobald claimed to have was placed in London’s Covent Garden Playhouse, which burned to the ground in the early 19th century. Whether or not Theobald was telling the truth (and some scholars maintain that he was), we still don’t have the unadulterated version from the greatest playwright who ever lived.