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Scholars and literary critics Friday sternly questioned a claim by an Oxford University professor of poetry that 14 short handwritten verses in a California library are previously unattributed works of William Shakespeare.

Professor Peter Levi, holder of the Oxford chair of poetry, says the 62 lines were written by Shakespeare whose 424th birthday is Saturday for a private party or "masque" in an English stately home in July or August 1607 and were recited by women guests named in the margin.They spoke the words before handing over gifts in a 17th century "bridal shower" for Anne, daughter of the hostess, the countess of Derby, and hinted at the nature of the gift usually jewelry without naming it.