Harley MS 7368, folio 9 recto Creative Commons Public Domain/The British Library

The only surviving handwritten work by William Shakespeare will be on display this month at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C, as part of an exhibition of the rare writings of the Bard.

The three pages of writing, on loan from a top secret, protected collection from the British Library, comes from the mysterious play, "The Booke of Thomas More," which follows the life of Henry VIII’s Catholic Advisor who was imprisoned in the Tower of London before his execution in 1535.

The play is an adaptation of the original, now lost work by Anthony Munday and was re-written by Shakespeare in 1603.

The manuscript is thought to contain notes and revisions from Munday himself, as well as playwright Thomas Heywood. The pages are reported to be near impossible to read with an untrained eye and are interpreted by Folger Shakespeare Library curator Heather Wolfe.

Although only published versions of Shakespeare's plays have survived, scholars believe on the basis of poetic style, these three pages of writing contain Shakespeare's own hand.

The last remaining pages of Shakespeare’s own writing will be returned to the British Library after the exhibition in the USA, where they will remain securely preserved.