The original edition attributed the play to Massinger alone. Nineteenth-century scholars devoted much attention to the study of the canon of Fletcher and his collaborators, including the plays of Fletcher and Massinger. In the context of that general study, A Very Woman attracted attention; F. G. Fleay was the first commentator to recognize Fletcher's presence. Given Fletcher's highly distinctive textual and stylistic preferences, scholars have found it easy to distinguish between the two authors in the extant text. Their respective shares break down this way:
- Massinger — Act I; Act II, scenes 1, 2, and 3a (to Duke's exit); Act IV, 2; Act V;
- Fletcher — Act II, scene 3b (from Duke's exit); Act III; Act IV, 1 and 3.
Massinger's friend Sir Aston Cockayne borrowed heavily from A Very Woman for his own play The Obstinate Lady (published 1658).
The uncertainties of the play's origin led early critics astray in one particular. The name of the character Cardenes led some to wonder if A Very Woman had some connection with the lost play Cardenio, attributed to Fletcher and Shakespeare. Modern critics dismiss any connection between the two.
Speculation has also linked A Very Woman with the lost play The Spanish Viceroy.
Read more about this topic: A Very Woman
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“The Bible is good enough for me, just the old book under which I was brought up. I do not want notes or criticisms, or explanations about authorship or origins, or even cross- references. I do not need, or understand them, and they confuse me.”
—Grover Cleveland (18371908)