During Shakespeare's life, the History Plays were more than a collection of history lessons. They were cause to compare and contrast with the current monarchy and perhaps draw out some allegories and allusions. They were political and therefore dangerous. Yet William Shakespeare from Stratford-on-Avon never spent time in prison, unlike his fellow playwrights, Marlowe, Kyd and Jonson. The identification of authorship candidate, Henry Neville, by James and Rubinstein (2005), has opened the door to reinterpret the canon, particularly the History Plays. With this key, we review these plays. Neville had intimate access to a major history source, the Holinshed Chronicles (1587), had been ambassador to France and spoke French (Henry V), knew the descendents of Jack Cade (Henry VI), knew Crosby Place (Richard III) and lived in Blackfriars (Henry VIII). When Neville became a political prisoner, 'Shakespeare' stopped writing History Plays.
We have accessed Neville's library containing annotated books, suggesting they are source material for the plays. By reference to the Holinshed Chronicles, in particular, we have identified numerous anomalies in the plays that indicate a consistent bias that portrays his ancestors in a positive light, reveals Neville's politics, and his self-portrait.
Mark Bradbeer is a registered nurse with research experience and a publication record in the biomedical literature. He lives in Australia. John Casson has extensively investigated the therapeutic use of drama and has published two previous books on Neville/Shakepeare. He lives in England.