Is EEBO-TCP / LION suitable for attribution studies?

Brian Vickers


The value of digital resources to authorship studies seems undeniable, and MacDonald Jackson, that frequent pioneer, recognised their potential in an essay published in 2001. It is an accepted fact that, due to the intense competition between Elizabethan theatre companies, dramatists regularly wrote under time pressure and were prone to repeat words and phrases that they had used before. One basic method in attribution work is to search for verbal parallels between a text of known authorship and one where the authorship is unknown, and the provision of these vast databases seems an ideal resource. When attribution scholars search for repeated phrases and collocations stretching over several lines of verse, how do they know that they have found all the relevant data? In this essay I wish to raise some doubts about its efficacy by reviewing two recent studies using EEBO on the Shakespeare canon, by MacDonald Jackson, Anna Pruitt.


EEBO-TCP; attribution studies; digital humanities

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