Shakespeare may have plagiarized long-lost 1576 manuscript.

     Plagiarism software used to check student essays for copied work has uncovered an unpublished 1567 manuscript as the possible source for more than 20 excerpts from the plays of William Shakespeare.The handwritten work by George Noth, titled A Brief Discourse of Rebellion, has been highlighted by independent scholar Dennis McCarthy and La Fayette College professor June Schlueter as the potential inspiration behind several of the Bard’s famed monologues after running it through plagiarism detection software WCopyfind.The duo found traces of Noth’s work, focused on the dangers of rebelling against a king, in over 20 of Shakespeare’s passages, including, among other things, the Fool’s Merlin prophecy in King Lear and the comparison of dog breeds to different classes of men in Macbeth.  When taking one example of a similar passage in Shakespeare’s writing – the Duke of Gloucester’s opening monologue in Richard III – the scholars found the software detected “a tight juxtaposition of the same eight terms: glass, proportion, fair, feature, deformed, world, shadow, nature. Having run these words – which occur within 77 words in Noth’s writing and within 92 in Shakespeare’s – through a database of over 60,000 English books, McCarthy and Shlueter found no other work featured the same eight words in a single passage comprised of 200 words.In the book, they go onto claim that “the likelihood of Shakespeare juxtaposing these four shared terms by chance is less than one in a billion”.They added: “By sheer chance, Shakespeare hit these first four words, he still then has to match the next four words: Nature, shadow, deformed, world. This would be like hitting a national lottery twice in a row.”

From The Independent (Jacob Stolworthy )




Be patient, vengeance will be all the more satisfying if you take your time in getting back at someone.

     The modern wording of this phrase is often thought to come from the eighteenth-century French novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre Ambroise François Choderlos de Laclos,  as la vengeance est un plat qui se mange froid.

     In fact, the phrase does not appear in the original novel and features only in the later adaptations.

     The theme of revenge has featured in art since the early Greek dramas; the most famous example in English is perhaps Shakespeare’s Hamlet.


From  Judy Parkinson, Spilling the Beans on the Cat’s Pyjamas, Michael O’Mara Books Limited


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Pandora’s box is a troublesome “can of worms”, a gift that seems of great value, but is actually a curse, generating all sorts of unmanageable problems.  In Greek mythology, Pandora was the first woman, sent by Zeus, as a gift to Epimetheus, who married her, against the advice of his brother Prometheus. As a wedding present, Zeus gave Pandora  a beautiful box, but instructed her that she must never open it. Over time, Pandora was tempted to defy this condition…but when she finally opened the box, all the evils of the world escaped, ever after to afflict mankind.

     According to some, hope was the last thing that flew out; others believe that hope alone remained in the box.

From  Judy Parkinson, Spilling the Beans on the Cat’s Pyjamas, Michael O’Mara Books Limited


Mum’s the word 

     Mum’s the word is an admonition to keep something quiet, to keep something secret, to remain silent.

     The word mum to mean silent is related to the word mummer, which is a type of entertainment from Medieval times. Mummers performed dances, games or plays in silence. Therefore, the ‘mum’ of ‘mum’s the word’ is ‘mmm’ – the humming sound made with a closed mouth, indicating an unwillingness or inability to speak.

     In Shakespeare’s play Henry VI, Part 2 written in 1592 we find: “Seal up your lips and give no words but mum.” In this case, the word mum has no relation to the word mummy or Mum, a name for mother.