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Carly's avatar

Do you think Shakespeare was the real author of his works, or do you think it was an aristocrat trying to hide their name from the public (or some other reason)

Asked by Carly (4515 points ) February 6th, 2012

I’m currently reading the Bedford Companion to Shakespeare (2nd ed.), and one of the chapters mentions that there have been people who do not believe that William Shakespeare was the real author of the texts that most of society associates with his name.

To quote my book, it says, “Although a slew of nominees have been proposed over the last two centuries, from Christopher Marlowe to Queen Elizabeth, the favorites are Francis Bacon and Edward de Vere, earl of Oxford,” (McDonald, 24).

If any of you smart, literary jellies are aware of this debate, what is your current stance and support? I’m interested in this topic not only out of curiosity, but also because I’m considering researching more about this type of criticism for a paper I’m planning to write in the future. Thank you :)

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9 Answers

Nullo's avatar

It is generally believed that everybody was ripping off everybody else in those days. Shakespeare most likely wrote what he wrote as himself, but no guarantees.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I fully believe that William Shakespeare is the author of the works that have been handed down to us over the centuries as his. The ludicrous idea that somebody else wrote them and gave them his name arose in the nineteenth century. Shakespeare’s own peers commonly referred to him as the author. Ben Johnson wrote an ode to Shakespeare for the first folio, and Johnson and Shakespeare knew each other personally.

It is a ridiculous conspiracy theory to suggest that William Shakespeare was a front for some other writer, and it fails the test of Occam’s razor that the simplest explanation is the correct one.

Many of those arguing against Shakespeare as the author do so with elitist sentiments. They deny that a man from a small town with only the barest education could produce works of such genius. That’s nothing but rubbish.

People in Shakespeare’s own time spoke of him as the author. The ridiculous notion that he wasn’t arose more than 200 years after his death. That is reason enough to doubt the latter.

auhsojsa's avatar

Study theatre, or english in college. You will bow down to Shakespeare.

ratboy's avatar

This is still hotly debated among crackpots. The part of the story that I find most interesting is the role of the great cryptographer William F. Friedman and his wife.

fundevogel's avatar

A really good way to appreciate Shakespeare is to try reading Marlowe first. Then laugh at the people that claim they’re the same writer.

All the “who wrote Shakespeare really?” seems like a bunch of leg-humping conspiracy nonsense. It doesn’t seem to be based on anything beyond an appetite for scandal and conspiracy. Writing a salacious re-imagining of history has always been a good way to generate unworthy bestsellers.

ragingloli's avatar

Yes. The real author was a German or a Klingon and shakespeare only translated them.

skfinkel's avatar

Shakespeare. Although I understand why people would want to spread the credit around. That was a gift, like Mozart—who, as far as I know, still gets the credit for his work.

Aethelflaed's avatar

I’m definitely a Stratfordian, not a Baconian or an Oxfordian. I think what we do know is more than antiStratfordians do, but even more than that, I think antiStratfordians don’t present more proof or more solid evidence than the Stratforidan case. Like the movie Anonymous (which, I genuinely don’t understand why all Oxfordians aren’t trying to get the hell away from, because it so poorly makes their case) may have tried to poke some holes the Stratfordian case, but presented no real evidence for why de Vere would then be the author. (Also, I had a hard time not screaming in the movie theatre when Roland said that he only had a “grammar school education”. You know, that place where students learned Latin and the classics (Ovid, Virgil, Cicero, etc). But yeah, couldn’t write.) And a lot of the antiStratfordian evidence is actually negative evidence, or a lack of a specific evidence. But, that doesn’t really prove anything, partially because evidence gets destroyed over time and that’s just something historians have to deal with, and partially because so often we don’t have that evidence for anyone else, so they’re putting modern demands on a different time. There’s actually a lot of putting modern demands on a different time in antiStratfordian cases, which is frustrating to no end. And, obviously, Occam’s Razor, as mentioned above – we’re not just talking about thinking zebras before horses, we’re talking thinking winged half-man half-beasts before horses.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

I’m in the Stratfordian (or possibly Klingonian) school.

@ragingloli didn’t the Klingons also claim Wagner?

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