Samuel William-Henry Ireland

1775  - 1835

title confessions william henry ireland 1.jpg

A portrait of William-Henry Ireland, author of the Shakespeare Papers, along with the title page to his Confessions.  His given name was William-Henry but it is said that his father started calling him Samuel after his first son Samuel died - some psychological undertones at play here.  

William-Henry provided huge entertainment at the latter end of the 18th century and on into the 19th, and continues to delight more than 200 years later. So give a guy a chance, read and enjoy his works from the links below. 

When only 20 years of age, and specifically to impress his father, he perpetrated, an audacious but hare-brained forgery, that culminated in his self-penned play Vortigern, which he claimed was a long lost play by Shakspear (that's how his father thought Shakespeare should be spelled), being performed to ridicule and laughter at Drury Lane. 

William-Henry has plenty to say about Chatterton. He even spoke with Mary, Chatterton's sister, and noted her description of him. So, is Chatterton stout or skinny?  William Seward says stout, but William-Henry says that Mary told him her brother was thin, with a flashing left eye.

THIS PAGE IS A WORK IN PROGRESS -  Started  2/02/2022, what's not to love!

Samuel William-Henry Ireland stands with a small group of characters that I would dare to call my favourites of the genre,  but then what do I know - well, for a start, I knows what I likes, and here's my growing list: Thomas Chatterton; William Henry Ireland; George Symes Catcott; Henry Burgum (you figure it out); William Barrett; Joseph Cottle; Jean C. Rowles A.L.A; EHW Meyerstein; Donald S. Taylor; William George; Frederick Fox; yes of course the romantic poets; Nick Groom;  John Goodridge; Daniel Cook, Michael Doble, Oscar Wilde; William Blake; Tom Waits; Lee Morgan; Chet Baker; - you get the drift, all mostly related to the Chatterton phenomenon (or Jazz, after all Chatterton was master at improvisation). More to add but I've side-tracked myself, so back to Samuel William-Henry:

The Confessions of William- Henry Ireland

Includes a description of Chatterton, gleaned from Mary Newton, his sister.

Miscellaneous Papers and Legal Instruments Under the Hand and Seal of William Shakspeare

The book includes King Lear and a small fragment of Hamlet. Samuel Ireland produced the book but the forgeries are all by his son, William-Henry Ireland. [Shakespeare]

Vortigern an Historical Tragedy in Five Acts...and Henry the Second an Historical Drama...

Published in 1799, three years after the infamous performance at Drury Lane.

An Authentic Account of the Shaksperian Manuscripts, &c

Published 1796

Willliam-Henry has his say on the matter.

Anecdotes sur Napoléon, publiées par Ireland

Obviously a French language book.

Willliam-Henry was a fluent French speaker

Rhapsodies 1803

If you want to grab a real feeling for the mind of William-Henry then you must read his poetry.

Neglected Genius 1812

A Poem. Illustrating the Untimely and Unfortunate Fate of many British Poets; from the period of Henry the Eighth to the Aera of the Unfortunate Chatterton containing Imitations of Their Different Styles, &c. &c.

Chalcographimania 1812

or, the Portrait-Collector and Printseller's Chronicle with Infatuations of every Description. A Humorous Poem. In Four Books. With Copious Notes Explanatory. By Satiricus Sculptor, Esq.


Books and Essays &c about William-Henry Ireland

The Great Shakespeare Fraud

Patricia Pierce 2004 (cheap to buy online)

An enjoyable read but there are a couple of silly errors re the life of Chatterton.