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But what about Sigmund Freud, Mark Twain, Sir John Gielgud, Hugh Trevor-Roper, Orson Welles, Walt Whitman, Ted Hughes? She ended up in a private lunatic asylum not far from Stratford, actually. It’s a remarkably popular theory: famous historical figures such as Walt Whitman, Charlie Chaplin and the actor Orson Welles were doubtful about Shakespeare’s authenticity, and even today renowned Shakespearian actors Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance believe there is “reasonable doubt about the identity of Willian Shakespeare”. Now, you might say, if you're a conspiracy theorist, well, that's only saying that these works were performed and published with the name William Shakespeare on the page. Of course, Heminges and Condell, the fellow actors, are remembered in the will of Shakespeare, the man from Stratford. Shakespeare probably attended a grammar school in Stratford-upon-Avon, the town of which his father was Mayor, and where he himself probably studied Greek and Latin, so the idea that Shakespeare himself was not educated enough to be writing such impressively allusive plays seems absurd. And underneath that bust, there's also an inscription. I'm rather disappointed in both Delia Bacon and Thomas Looney. The question of Shakespeare’s authorship initiates controversy about whether or not William Shakespeare wrote the famous works by “Shakespeare”. So he suggested that it was Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford. Was Marilyn Monroe secretly murdered? There are several candidates for the category of “real” author: Sir Francis Bacon, the English philosopher, statesman, scientist, jurist, orator and author is one. 400 years after his death, the Shakespeare authorship controversy continues. The Shakespeare authorship question is the argument about whether someone other than William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon wrote the works attributed to him. That's a way of obviating the idea that, oh, it was all a conspiracy, and Ben Jonson and Shakespeare's family were all in on it. Key Words: Shakespeare, Shakespeare Authorship Question, Shakespeare and academy, Literary Criticism, genius This essay is a response to the fascinating collection of articles on the Shakespeare Authorship Question that appeared in the last issue of this … So there's a tight nexus of relationships between these people. But then, of course, with the advent of the internet, it came back in a big way. And in one of his books, which is a kind of overflow from his history of England – it was called "The Remains of a Greater History" – he talks about the great writers, the pregnant wits, as he calls them, of his own time. And he describes Shakespeare there, in that poem, as "the sweet swan of Avon.". The Shakespeare authorship question is the argument that someone other than William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon wrote the works attributed to him. "For comedy, witness his Two Gentlemen of Verona, his Comedy of Errors, Love's Labours Lost, Love's Labours Won" (that's a lost play) "Midsummer Night's Dream, Merchant of Venice. We've seen the evidence of his fellow actors. But from our point of view, from the point of view of the course, we feel, on the basis of the evidence we've laid out, other evidence that's available in a number of books that we'll be listing on the course site, the matter is settled. Celebrating Shakespeare is at the heart of everything we do. Anti-Stratfordians - the name given to those backing multiple authorship theories - believe that Shakespeare (who came from Stratford-upon-Avon) was used as a front to shield the identities of the real writers, who did not want or could not accept, for various reasons, credit for the original works. The Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship is a non-profit, educational organization dedicated to investigating the Shakespeare authorship question and disseminating the evidence that Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, is the true author of the poems and plays published under the pseudonym "William Shakespeare." Given a chance, the Shakespeare from Stratford became one of the greatest playwrights the world has ever seen. Now, there were two other men in the heralds' office who disagreed, and they defended Shakespeare's right to have a coat of arms on the grounds that his father and mother had a good pedigree in Stratford-upon-Avon. In the other hand, there would have been a quill, although, over time, the quill tended to be stolen and had to be replaced. that Shakspere wrote ‘Shakespeare’: he was a genius, arising with other writing talents just after Elizabeth’s reign began, and as Theatre began to demonstrate a new professionalism with the passing of…Continue Reading Because, of course, it was with the Romantics that the great cult of Shakespeare took off. It is important to discuss the question of authorship, because the facts are not undisputed. William Shakespeare, the third of eight children born, was born in 1564 from the rural town of Stratford-upon-Avon. But it is more important, I think, to keep such a debate in perspective, because if Shakespeare did write those works (and all the evidence makes that more likely than not) it reminds us that genius is not delimited by our start in life. Transcript. The scientific argument behind this claim is known as the Shakespeare authorship question.Anti-Stratfordians say Shakespeare of Stratford was a false name to shield the identity of the real author or authors. As we'll discover later in the course, Shakespeare was very concerned with the fact that his father's reputation had decayed as a result of financial problems. We're in week one of Shakespeare and His World, and it's bound to have come up by now. The Shakespeare authorship question is the argument about whether someone other than William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon wrote the works attributed to him. Well, the answer to that is yes. Believers of the alternative authorship theory often argue that William Shakespeare lacked the education, aristocratic sensibility and familiarity with the royal courts which is clearly evident in his works. Bate: OK, well, we've seen the evidence from Stratford itself -- the bust. Delia Bacon was an American. Reid: So what is the strongest piece of evidence we have that Shakespeare the actor from Stratford-upon-Avon was the Shakespeare that wrote the plays? How do I get involved in the Guardian children's books site? Written in an accessible style without the bitterness that characterizes some Oxfordian writings, Sobran's book presented a superficially plausible … She came from a country where it was supposed to be possible to go from a log cabin to the White House. Was there a second gunman assassinating John F. Kennedy? And there's so much more evidence than that, that the writer was the actor, the actor was the man from Stratford. Reid: Hi, I'm Jennifer Reid, and I am the course mentor on Shakespeare and His World.I'm here today with Jonathan [Bate] to talk about the authorship question. So Shakespeare there, in the company of other writers. "Shakespeare, among the English, is the most excellent in both kinds for the stage", both comedy and tragedy. This free course from the University of London explores critical thinking, and the interpretation of texts, through the Shakespeare authorship question. Shakespeare, known as a man from Stratford. So we find him here, for example, saying that just as the Latin tongue, the Latin language was glorified by great writers like Virgil, and Ovid, and Horace, so the English language has been glorified by the wonderful poetry of Sir Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, Samuel Daniel, Michael Drayton, William Warner, Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Chapman. If so, how would that affect our understanding of these works and their historical context? As part of our MOOC, "Shakespeare and his World", Professor Jonathan Bate joins us to discuss the question of who wrote the plays of William Shakespeare. The Shakespeare authorship question is the argument that someone other than William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon wrote the works attributed to him. But that was sort of where it began. Offered by University of London. So in a way, I think it's a kind of off-shoot of the Romantic movement. The Shakespeare Authorship Coalition runs this website to introduce the Shakespeare authorship controversy, or Shakespeare authorship question, and let people sign the “Declaration of Reasonable Doubt About the Identity of William Shakespeare.” Do you have a point of view on a books related subject? It can never be definitively proved one way or the other - the historical evidence may well be lost for ever - but it seems to me that the authorship theory is mainly based on preconceptions of what people expect Shakespeare to be; their own personal idea of him. And he'd been Ben Jonson's schoolmaster at Westminster School. This page shows the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition's "Declaration of Reasonable Doubt About the Identity of William Shakespeare," which provides an introduction to the Shakespeare authorship controversy, or Shakespeare authorship debate. It was the Romantics who were the first to say, Shakespeare is the greatest genius there has ever been. And among them, he said, was Shakespeare the player. So it does seem that a lot of the arguments come down to a kind of snobbery-- the idea that such a great mind could not have come from such a humble background. Jonathan. What then happened in the Victorian period is there was a rather eccentric American lady called Delia Bacon who became convinced that Shakespeare couldn't have been Shakespeare, and that maybe someone called Francis Bacon, a famous writer, a famous politician, was Shakespeare. Shakspere Wrote Shakespeare ! Using doubt about Shakespeare’s authorship as our playground, we will explore the key concept of authorship attribution, while developing skills in literary analysis, interpretation, and argument. Find out more. He was also an actor in the company that performed his plays, and as an actor for the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, one of the most prominent playing companies in London, his annual income would have been sufficient to enable him to take shares in the theatre company and rise up socially. This was the bust put there - his monument above his grave - very soon after his death. I’m here today with Jonathan to talk about the authorship question. Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, and Christopher Marlowe, an English playwright, poet and translator are two more. And there is ample evidence that William Shakespeare, a man from Stratford-upon-Avon, and born in this place, became an actor, became a playwright, then eventually returned to Stratford and died. And on that inscription, it describes him as having the greatest intellect since Socrates in ancient Greece, and being the greatest poet since Virgil in ancient Rome. There's pretty strong evidence that Stratford, his family, his neighbours, remembered him as a great writer. So I'm afraid it's not going to go away. Created in collaboration with Warwick Business School, University of Warwick as part of our Massive Open Online Course, 'Shakespeare and His World'. Was it the man from Stratford?" You know in the Romantic period, the most famous poet in Europe was Lord Byron. Thank you for your support to help care for the world's greatest Shakespeare heritage and keep his story alive. This belief stirs what is known today as the Shakespeare authorship question. Shakespeare Authorship Controversy 1886 Words | 8 Pages. And there's a list of the writers there, and William Shakespeare is bang in the middle of it. He worked closely with Shakespeare's fellow actors, John Heminges and Henry Condell, the leading surviving actors from his time. The Shakespeare authorship question is the argument that someone other than William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon wrote the works attributed to him. Maybe he was just a stooge, just a front man, and someone else actually wrote them. This website offers the chance to explore different arguments for the most prominent authorship candidates. But the intriguing thing about Meres is that he does mention Christopher Marlowe, Francis Bacon, the Earl of Oxford, elsewhere as writers. And so I think it sort of became inevitable that people would think well, we need Shakespeare to have a bit of glamour, to be a lord. Throughout his life, there are a range of people who refer to Shakespeare as a writer, and indeed as a great writer. It was published in 1598, so quite early in Shakespeare's career, by a man called Francis Meres, who was very keen on literature. So if we ask ‘When did this begin’, the idea that Shakespeare, the actor from Stratford, was not the author of the plays, the answer is round about the Victorian period. There was a schoolmaster called Thomas Looney who accepted it wasn't Bacon, but again thought; how could this grammar schoolboy from the provinces have known so much about courts and aristocracy? You should see the emails I get. He was born in the same year as Shakespeare, but died around the same time that Shakespeare started to write his plays. Well, some of them. Shakespeare’s works have long symbolised for us all aspects of the human condition - and I would argue that he writes equally as honestly, profoundly and comically about Mistress Quickly, an inn-keeper in The Merry Wives of Windsor, as he does King Henry V. The psychological precision and incision of his portrait of Richard III is more than matched by the intricacy with which he writes about Iago, the thwarted lower class ensign in Othello. And then all sorts of other people came forward. And equally, Looney was a schoolmaster. The Shakespeare Authorship Question is the historical and academic debate about whether the works traditionally attributed to William Shakspere of Stratford-upon-Avon were actually composed by another writer, or a group of writers. What is the Shakespeare authorship question? So we'd like to just address the question in person and put it to bed once and for all. And, of course, over the years there have been a number of theories of this sort. While most people agree that Shakespeare did, in fact, write the plays many around the world know of today, there are a few scholars and writers who believe that Shakespeare was not the true author of the plays. He makes it clear that his fellow writer, the author of these 36 plays is a writer from by the river Avon. For 200 years the question didn't occur to anybody. So we’d like to just address the question in person and put it to bed once and for all. Rylance finds a compelling logic in the Shakespeare conspiracy theories: "The nature of authorship was different then," he argues. Or even people suggesting maybe Queen Elizabeth or King James wrote the works of Shakespeare. Listen: Guest speakers on a range of topics in our 60 Minutes with Shakespeare podcast. Who really wrote Shakespeare's plays? Elvis is alive and well, and that kind of idea. Nobody had any doubts. The thing about any kind of scholarship is that you begin with the evidence. reasonable doubt about the identity of Willian Shakespeare. [1] So the complaint about the coat of arms for Shakespeare the player is intimately linked to the references back to Stratford. I've got a fascinating book here. Because, marvellous thing that the internet is, the problem is that there isn't a system of independent verification where you can discover which websites are actually based on evidence, and which are based on conspiracy theory. And what's more, Jonson was very involved in the production of the First Folio. Some people say that some of the works attributed to William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon were not actually written by him. But one of the officials in the heralds' office who gave out these coats of arms said that various people from vulgar backgrounds, sort of insufficiently high-class people, were getting coats of arms. Camden defending Shakespeare the player, coat of arms, Camden saying Shakespeare the writer. Is it possible the wrong person has been credited with writing the plays and poems of Shakespeare? Anti-Stratfordians say Shakespeare of Stratford was a false name to shield the identity of the real author or authors. The Shakespeare authorship question is the argument that someone other than William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon wrote the works attributed to him. The Shakespeare authorship question is a theory (which was first proposed during the Victorian era) that William Shakespeare did not write the plays and poems which were accredited to him. Behind me on the wall is a facsimile of his bust in Holy Trinity Church here in Stratford, in which he's got his hand on a piece of paper. Are the people who doubt Shakespeare’s authorship crackpots? Certainly, Shakespeare came from relatively humble beginnings, and was not a member of royalty or part of the nobility - but, I argue, that is no reason to suppose that someone from his background could not write as well as he did, or accrue the wealth, position and influence in London theatrical society that he did. Join our site and tell us about it! Personally, I would say that as a dedicated reader of Shakespeare’s works, many of these claims do not seem to be supported by any reasonable evidence. Justification for this investigation arises from the recent identification of several of Shakespeare’s coauthors. Bate: Well, that's a great question. For four hundred years, doubts have been recorded about whether William Shaksper from Stratford actually wrote the works attributed to him. © 2020 Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Registered Charity Number 209302, Read the latest about our response to Covid-19 Yeah, this is the one that if you're a Shakespeare scholar, and you get in a taxi anywhere in the world, the first question is, "So, was Shakespeare really Shakespeare? Maybe it was the sixth Earl of Derby, or the fifth Earl of Stanley, and so the list goes on. But early on in the book is a wonderful poem in praise of Shakespeare by Ben Jonson. And then it was really in the early twentieth century that other theories emerged. She had hoped to dig up Shakespeare's bones and find some secret document. 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