King Henry VIIKing Henry VII by David Collard

Is this the literary find of the year? The decade? The century? By good fortune the author has unearthed Shakespeare’s long lost play Henry VII. So, in the words of the Prologue

Gentles, one and all, you are invited

To hear our play, no longer now benighted.

All the well-known characters are present – Henry’s mother, Margaret Beaufort, his wife, Elizabeth of York, his sons Arthur and Henry and Arthur’s wife Katherine of Aragon. Even Katherine’s sister Juana the Mad makes an appearance. Henry VIII makes a triumphant entry in the final scene. And don’t let’s forget the villains – Perkin Warbeck, Lambert Simnel, William Stanley, Edmund Dudley and Richard Empson. In the Shakespearean tradition a Fool and a monkey lighten the action. Did Elizabeth really think that Perkin Warbeck could be her brother Richard? What happened onKatherine of Aragon’s wedding night? The play tackles these and other much debated historical puzzles. So what accounts for its neglect for over four hundred years? As it says in the Epilogue

But of our play’s neglect I cannot tell.

Some say ‘twas doubtful of the Tudor claim,

Some say ‘twas sympathetic to the Boar,

Some say ‘twas lost and quite forgot withal,

I say, perhaps, ‘twas never writ at all.