Who was Shakespeare?

"What's in a name?" one of Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers asked. When it comes to the identity of the greatest writer in the English language, a great deal. That mantle has long been bestowed on a glover's son from Stratford-Upon-Avon. But since the 19th century, there have been doubts over William Shakespeare's identity as the writer of the works attributed to the playwright. Was the Bard from Stratford a front for another writer? Was he just one participant in a collective group of writers? Or was he a she?

The Stratfordian position

William Shakespeare wrote the plays that bear his name. Any claims otherwise are Much Ado About Nothing.

It is there in black and white

So far, no authorship theory has presented stronger evidence than the name written on the works in black and white.

Shakespeare was a common man from Warwickshire

By reading the plays, it is clear the author was clearly not a wealthy individual. He is also clearly from Warwickshire.

Shakespeare's name is on the plays and poems attributed to him

During a time when it wasn't common practice for an author to include a name on a play or poem, Shakespeare is named as the author on the work attributed to him.

The Post-Stratfordian position

William Shakespeare did not write the works that bear his name.

Where is the documentation?

Unlike his contemporaries, there is no historical documentation to suggest Shakespeare made a living from writing plays.

There were rumors during Shakespeare's life

His contemporaries at the time appear to have harboured suspicions.

An education gap

The education Shakespeare received would not have encompassed the themes and references visible in his work.

Shakespeare’s detailed will makes no mention of books or literature

Shakespeare’s will was meticulous in its details and he seemed to divide all of his materialistic possessions between his children. However, not a single book, manuscript, or instrument was mentioned, though, his supposed writings were filled with them.

Not all of Shakespeare's plays were published in his lifetime

Around 16 plays were published following his death. As a career writer that published for money, this is highly irregular.

The two Shakespeares

Shakespeare the playwright and Shakespeare the man are vastly different.

The case for Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon wrote the works associated with the Bard.

The case for Christopher Marlowe

The Elizabethan playwright and poet wrote Shakespeare's works.

The case for Edward de Vere

Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, wrote Shakespeare's collected works.

The case for Walter Raleigh

Due to his life experiences, familiarity with Shakespeare phrases, and familial connection to Shakespeare, Walter Raleigh was the man behind Shakespeare's collected works.

William Shakespeare was a woman

'He' was a 'She', something not often discussed.

The feminization of Shakespeare

Scholars have stated that many of Shakespeare’s female characters are given opportunities to demonstrate intelligence and possess a great amount of boldness; these are qualities that were, during Shakespeare’s time, largely associated with male characters.

There is sufficient motive

A female writer would have a clear need for a pseudonym like William Shakespeare.

William Shakespeare was an 'excellent gentlewoman'

A well-known Elizabethan literary critic was raving about an anonymous woman writing around the time.

Shakespeare had a hidden code

Shakespeare's use of feminine endings reveals a female author trying to include subtle hints at her gender.

The case for Emilia Bassano

A case has been built promoting Emilia Bassano as the author of Shakespeare's works.

William Shakespeare was part of a collective

Shakespeare may have contributed to the works but did not write them single-handedly.

Several of Shakespeare's plays are collaborative efforts

We know several of his plays were collaborative efforts. It is possible many more were.

Edward de Vere, the 17th earl of Oxford was Shakespeare

Vere's biography matches countless details in Shakespeare's Works; he had the means, education, travel experience to Italy and other canonical settings and knowledge of law and history; his surviving correspondence and poetry under his own name corroborate his authorship.
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This page was last edited on Monday, 5 Oct 2020 at 07:26 UTC