- May 31 - King Library Opens at 1:00 PM
The new movie Anonymous fictionally advances the notion that William Shakespeare didn’t write the plays that history has attributed to him. So who did actually write these plays, according to the movie? Today’s most popular alleged Shakespeare ghost-writer, Edward de Vere. Why has Shakespeare been considered the author for so long and not the rightful de Vere, according to the movie? Apparently because of a conspiracy begun during the cloak-and-dagger regime of Queen Elizabeth I.
The question “Who wrote Shakespeare?” has been written about since the early 1800’s but seems to be increasingly embraced by a conspiracy-craving popular culture (this movie Anonymous, PBS Frontline's Much Ado About Something, novels such as Chasing Shakespeares, etc.). Candidates alleged to be the real Shakespeare are de Vere, also known as the Earl of Oxford; Francis Bacon; Christopher Marlowe; and a host of others, including Elizabeth I.
If you are interested in this question, I can recommend two entertaining books on the subject —
This book is a good starting point for those who are as yet uncommitted on the question of Shakespeare authorship.
The book examines why there is a question of authorship, why many think a theater man incapable of writing the plays, the nature of conspiracies, why the question has persisted for such a long time, and many other topics.
It is a good introduction that covers in detail the claims of Oxford and Bacon. But Shapiro is a Shakespeare scholar, and this book does not hide his opinion that William Shakespeare of Stratford-on-Avon wrote the plays and poems attributed to him.
Who Wrote Shakespeare? by John Michell
This book is a fine introduction to popular as well as seemingly lesser candidates to the real Shakespeare that have been proposed by conspiracists over the past two centuries.
Michell opens with an analysis of the characteristics possessed by the author of the Shakespeare plays and then marshals evidence for each candidate, including William Shakespeare, with regard to these characteristics in an even-handed, objective but enjoyable way. Some of the author's conclusions might not be as definitive as we would prefer, but this is because the question is not an easy one.
Of course, the library contains many more titles about this subject, including books written in support of an individual candidate such as de Vere or Marlowe.
For a quick online overview of this subject, see Wikipedia’s article on the Shakespeare Authorship Question.
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