Walpole was at first enthusiastic, asking him to send more of the Rowley poems, but then, after Thomas Gray, his friend, convinced him that these were forgeries (Gray must have observed that lines 22-25 of Elinoure and Juga bore obvious similarity to his own poem Elegy in a country churchyard; Hare 2011: XIX), he showed doubt regarding the authenticity of the texts.
This Rowleyan imaginary world gave rise to the "Rowley controversy," "one of the most important cultural debates of the eighteenth century, establishing standards of criticism and scholarship, and also launching the posthumous career of Thomas Chatterton"; the controversy finally, more or less, came to an end with the publication of Walter Skeat's etymological Essay on the Rowley poems in his 1872 edition of Chatterton's Poetical works (Groom 1999: 4-5), but this still does not eliminate all mystery and ambiguity in the matter, especially if one considers William Blake's attitude:
In his very short life--he was not yet eighteen when he committed suicide--Chatterton had won a veritable fame in Bristol as a "transcriber of the Rowley poems" (Masson 1874: 29) and a poetic "mad genius" (Masson 1874: 78, quoting Chatterton's "satirical will" or "suicide's farewell," dated April 14, 1770).
Chatterton as a consequence went to London (he arrived there on April 25, 1770) with no more than probably five guineas and a pile of manuscripts (the Rowley poems and Alla, his masterpiece to date, included), ancient and modern.
Here are further instances as found in Skeat's modernized 1883 edition of the Rowley Poems:
London: George Bell & Sons (in the second volume, the Rowley Poems are rendered in modernized English)
(3) A closer parallel to Chatterton's recreation of fifteenth-century Bristol in the Rowley poems, however, may be Keats's depiction of ancient Greece in Endymion, a poem dedicated "to the Memory of Thomas Chatterton." (4) For both poets, the attempt to revive a past world is in part a consequence of their social positions and has political implications.
In addition, Chatterton's Rowley poems, which seek to revive a pure native tradition and language uncorrupted by Norman and later influences, draw upon many Renaissance and eighteenth-century writers such as Shakespeare, Milton, Dryden, Rowe, and Pope.
(5.) Maria Grazia Lolla comments on the anxieties inherent in the resistance of the Anti-Rowleyan, establishment scholars to those who argued for the authenticity of the Rowley poems. The Rowleyans, like Chatterton himself, tended to be drawn from the ranks of middleclass antiquarians and philologists, whose study of English literature and history challenged those "at the center of society and academia" who wished to retain exclusive access to these fields ("'Truth Sacrifising to the Muses': The Rowley Controversy and the Genesis of the Romantic Chatterton," Thomas Chatterton and Romantic Culture, ed.
A shrewd literary detective, he was one of the first to doubt the authenticity of Thomas Chatterton 's Rowley poems
and the purported Shakespearean works of William Ireland.