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:
Yet, there are critics that point to a large number of Gallicisms in the Rowley poems (cf.
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.
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.
7) Warton further discredits "the school of the people" when he exposes the sources of the Rowley poems as not the actual "life or practice" of fifteenth-century Britons or even primary texts such as Chaucer's poetry and the Doomsday Book but instead "glossaries and etymological English lexicons," "plays, poems, novels, histories, and other books of entertainment," and in one instance "a miscellany called the MUSES LIBRARY, printed in 1738, a book likely to be found in a Circulating Library" (Warton 43, 53, 72, 110).
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.
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.
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.