I originally borrowed this as a library book, and impressed, looked to buy it on Amazon. I would encourage you to read this book and shop for the best deal.
I was sorry to learn that the author Eric Sams had passed away in 2004.
Edward III, first published anonymously in 1596 has lurked in the nether world of anonymous aprocryphal plays, until accepted into the Second Oxford edition in 2005, the year after Sams death. It also appears in the Riverside edition.
Sams contributions on this subject as detailed in this book, are detailed, comprehensive, and intriguing. He details that he did correspond with Wells and Taylor, Wells particularly, yet Wells and Taylor do not acknowledge Sams contribution in any way in their Second edition.
Their investigation as detailed in that edition appears to be entirely subjective. One major gap is checking to see if this play was written by Marlowe. The linguistic tests conducted by them show that Edward 2, written by Marlowe had consistent results with the early Henry VI plays. Why did they not check to see if Marlowe was a cowriter, and give him credit, if so? Many of the early Shakespeare scholars such as Malone concluded that early plays attributed to Shakespeare were written by Marlowe, or substantially by Marlowe.
Even if one believes that Marlowe was murdered in 1593, as many as 10 of the plays attributed to Shakespeare may have been written by Marlowe. Shakespeare's name did not appear on a play until 1598, five years after Marlowe's death, though many of thes plays were published anonymously in the interim.
Yet Wells consistently refuses to acknowledge Marlowe's influence in any way, and hedges his bets by acknowledging other writers were involved and that Shakespeare wrote Scenes 2, 3, 12, and possibly 13 out of the 18 scenes in the play. Hardly a ringing recommendation.
Edward II in the play by Marlowe, was the father of Edward III, published in 1594, so why would not an investigation start logically with determining whether or not the two plays are connected. E II does appear as a child in that play. Marlowe linked his plays by alluding to them in his other works, and that is present here. Both plays allude to Hero and Leander, Marlowe's poem about which he obsessed. A character named Lightborne assassinated Edward II and he makes a similar wordplay on the word lightborne in E III. A character named Piers Gaveston appears in Edward II, and E III features a similar wordplay on Piers and Peers. There are allusions to several other Marlowe plays.
Robert Greene in Francescos Fortunes 1590 alludes to Ned Alleyn as the cobblers crow, and asks not to disdain his tutor who taught him how to say 'Ave Caesar' in a Kings chamber. Marlowe, a cobblers son, was referred to as a cobbler by at least four contemporary writers. Marlowe was from Canterbury and Edward III is buried in Canterbury Cathedral.
The exact quote is: 'Why Roscius, art thou proud with Esops Crow, being pract with the glorie of others feathers? Of thy selfe thou canst say nothing, and if the Cobler hath taught thee to say Ave Caesar, disdain not thy tutor because thou pratest in a kings Chamber.'
No other Shakespeare play features the words Ave Caesar, and in the play it is stated in a Kings Chamber. Other plays such as Spanish Tragedy, and an early version of Hamlet have been attributed to Kyd on single uncorroborated references no stronger than this.
E III, is a beautifully written play, written by a highly skilled poetic author. I found the King's infatuation with the Countess of Salisbury to be quite the exercise in rhetoric. At the beginning he is inspired by her, and he instructs a poet on how to write love poetry. This is a poetic masterclass yielding some beautiful lyrical passages. Then he turns dark and attempts to have his way her through Machiavellian scheming. She, uses her own powers of rhetoric to resolve the situation. The woman being subjected to the will of the tyrant is a motif repeated in Marlowe plays such as Tamburlaine, where it occurs several times.
In addition to the play I found Sams research mostly impeccable particularly the new words coined in this play according to the OED. He does not mention Edward II in the index, so he has not read that play to exclude it.
Nevertheless as work of scholarship, if not necessarily investigation this is an outstanding work.
He mentions another apocryphal play Shakespeare's "Edmund Ironside": The Lost Play, which appears to be a prototype for plays such as Titus Andronicus, again rejected by many early scholars such as Malone, as being by Shakespeare, who credits Henry VI to Marlowe as does Tucker Brooke. I also bought Sams book on this play which I found very intriguing. The character of Edricus is a Machiavellian character we see come to full fruition on Richard III, again whom earlier Shakespeare scholars attribute to Marlowe.
I agree with his assessment that the hand that wrote E III wrote Ironside, and the anonymous Henry VI plays. I side with the likes of Malone, Fleay, Wraight and Brooke, in their view. Whatever your view, these plays are well worth a read.