A 400-year-old botany book contains what could be the only known portrait of Shakespeare made in his lifetime, according to an academic expert, the BBC reports.
Botanist and historian Mark Griffiths cracked an “ingenious cipher” to identify the playwright in an engraving in the 16th-Century work.
“This is what Shakespeare looked like, drawn from life and in the prime of life,” he said.
Details of his discovery are revealed in this week’s issue of Country Life.
Mark Hedges, the magazine’s editor, hailed it as “the literary discovery of the century”.
Speaking at London’s Rose Playhouse, he said the Shakespeare portrait was the “only known verifiable portrait of the world’s greatest writer in his lifetime”.
He added that the engraving showed the Bard aged 33 and “in his prime”.
“He’s written Midsummer Night’s Dream and he’s shortly to write Hamlet. He has a film star’s good looks.”