Samuel William-Henry Ireland
1775 - 1835
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 'neatly made', with a flashing left eye. The complete description from a copy of William Henry's Confessions is shown below, and the following link will take you to an online copy:
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
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
Mr. Ireland's Vindication of his Conduct respecting the Publication of the Supposed Shakspeare MSS...1796.
By Samuel Ireland.
If you want to grab a real feeling for the mind of William-Henry then you must read his poetry.
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.
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
William Henry Ireland’s ‘Authentic Original Forgeries’: An Overdue Rediscovery.
By Professor Jack Lynch
Visit Jack's website
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.