• Relics said to be linked to William Shakespeare. In 1787, 171years after the playwright's death, the only genuine relic - apart from certain legal documents - appeared to be his chair.However, by the late 19th century inhabitants of Stratford-upon-Avonhad mysteriously unearthed Shakespeare's walking-stick, gloves, tobaccobox, cutlery, and many other curiosities associated with him - even the sword he is supposed to have used while playing Hamlet (despitethe well-established tradition that the author took only minor rolesin his own works). The owners of two local hotels claimed to haveShakespeare's clock and shovel-board, while his old school proudlydisplayed the actual desk at which he sat.

    The most spectacular items of Shakespeareana were the forgeriesof William Henry Ireland (1777 - 1835), which included the playVortigern and Rowena and letters between 'Willy' Shakespeareand 'Anna' Hathaway (see Ireland forgeries). He wasso insistent that these were genuine that several distinguished visitors,including James Boswell, were persuaded to sign a 'Certificate ofBelief', attesting to their origin. Others remained sceptical: atthe height of Ireland's success the Telegraph printed its ownsatirical item of Shakespeareana, a letter from Shakespeare to hischeesemonger:

    Thee chesesse you set mee werree tooee sweattie, and tooerankee inn flauvorre, butte thee redde herringges were addmirablee.