Whodunnit: The Passionate Pilgrim

Annotations – Poems VII and XII of The Passionate Pilgrim (annotated)

Analysis – Stylometric analysis for authorship attribution

Visualizations – A series of data visualizations and interpretations

Reflection – Project Reflection


In 1599, an anthology of 20 poems was published under the title The Passionate Pilgrime and attributed to “W. Shakespeare.” Only 5 of the poems have been confirmed as Shakespeare’s – two were later published along with his sonnets and three were included in the play Love’s Labours Lost (Smith, 1974).

4 other poems have been confidently attributed to Richard Barnfield, Bartholomew Griffin, and a joint effort between Christopher Marlowe and Sir Walter Raleigh (Smith).

This leaves 11 poems originally attributed to Shakespeare with unknown authorship. Stylistic analysis by the Shakespeare Clinic at two of the Claremont colleges in California in the late 1980s and early 1990s claimed that 8 of the unattributed poems may have been Shakespeare’s work. They found that these poems were, based on their model, more like Shakespeare’s poetry than 83% of his confirmed work (Elliot and Valenza)

Our aim with this project is to attempt to attribute authorship of the unknown poems by comparing the stylistic fingerprints of poetry by Shakespeare and his contemporaries.

We have acquired bodies of work by William Shakespeare (his sonnetsVenus and Adonis, and The Rape of Lucrece), Richard Barnfield (The Affectionate Shepherd), Bartholomew Griffin (Fidessa), and Christopher Marlowe (his selected works). All text files have been acquired from Project Gutenberg and are under the public domain.

Project Contributors:

Ben Warren (Dickinson College ’25) – Literary analysis, website, programming, data analysis, visualizations

Sid Lamsdal (Dickinson College ’25) – Programming, data analysis,

Pranav Mishra (Dickinson College ’25) – Programming, data analysis


Smith, Hallett. “The Passionate Pilgrim”. The Riverside Shakespeare, edited by G.  Blakemore Evans, Houghton Mifflin, 1974, pp. 1881-1882.

Elliott, W.E.Y. and R.J. Valenza. “A Touchstone for the Bard”. Computers and the Humanities, Vol. 25, No. 4 1991, pp. 199-209.