Knowledge of Shakespeare's religion is important in understanding the man and his works because of the wealth of biblical and liturgical allusions, both Protestant and Catholic, in his writings and the hidden references to contemporary religious tensions that are claimed to be found in the plays. The topic is the subject of intense scholarly debate. There is no direct evidence of William Shakespeare's religious affiliation; however, over the years there have been many speculations about the personal religious beliefs that he may have held, if any. These speculations are based on circumstantial evidence from historical records and on analysis of his published work. Some evidence suggests that Shakespeare's family had Catholic sympathies and that he himself was a secret Catholic; although there is disagreement over whether he in fact was so, fewer scholars now maintain the former consensus position that he was a member of the established Anglican Church.
Due to the paucity of direct evidence, general agreement on the matter has not yet been reached. As one analysis of the subject puts it, "One cannot quite speak of a consensus among Shakespeare scholars on this point, though the reluctance of some to admit the possibility of Catholicism in Shakespeare's family is becoming harder to maintain."
However Father Thomas McCoog SJ, the archivist of the English Province of the Society of Jesus, takes a sceptical line on the question of Shakespeare's supposed Catholic sympathies, saying that "the quest for such proof has progressed from a demiconfessional cottage industry to a non-sectarian semicircus".
- 1 Shakespeare's family
- 2 Shakespeare's schooling
- 3 The "lost years" (1585–1592)
- 4 Catholic sympathies
- 5 Protestantism
- 6 Atheism
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes and references
- 9 External links
In 1559, five years before Shakespeare's birth, the Elizabethan Religious Settlement finally severed the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church. In the ensuing years, extreme pressure was placed on England's Catholics to accept the practices of the Church of England, and recusancy laws made illegal not only the Roman Catholic Mass, but also any service not found in the Book of Common Prayer. In Shakespeare's lifetime there was a substantial and widespread quiet resistance to the newly imposed reforms. Some scholars, using both historical and literary evidence, have argued that Shakespeare was one of these recusants.
Some scholars claim that there is evidence that members of Shakespeare's family were recusant Catholics. The strongest evidence is a tract professing secret Catholicism signed by John Shakespeare, father of the poet. The tract was found in the 18th century in the rafters of a house which had once been John Shakespeare's, and was seen and described by the reputable scholar Edmond Malone. Malone later changed his mind and declared that he thought the tract was a forgery. Although the tract document itself has been lost, 20th century evidence has linked Malone's reported wording of the tract definitively to a testament written by Charles Borromeo and circulated in England by Edmund Campion, copies of which still exist in Italian and English. However other research suggests that the Borromeo testament is an 17th-century artefact (at the earliest dated from 1638), was not printed for missionary work, and could never have been in the possession of John Shakespeare. John Shakespeare was listed as one who did not attend church services, but this was "for feare of processe for Debtte", according to the commissioners, not because he was a recusant.
Shakespeare's mother, Mary Arden, was a member of a conspicuous and determinedly Catholic family in Warwickshire. In 1606, his daughter Susanna was listed as one of the residents of Stratford who failed to take (Anglican) Holy Communion at Easter, which may suggest Catholic sympathies. It may, however, also be a sign of Puritan sympathies; Susannah's sister Judith was, according to some statements, of a Puritanical bent.
Four of the six schoolmasters at the grammar school during Shakespeare's youth, King’s New School in Stratford, were Catholic sympathisers, and Simon Hunt, who was likely to have been one of Shakespeare’s teachers, later became a Jesuit priest. Thomas Jenkins, who succeeded Hunt as teacher in the grammar school, was a student of Edmund Campion at St John's College, Oxford. Jenkins's successor at the grammar school in 1579, John Cottam, was the brother of Jesuit priest Thomas Cottam. A fellow grammar school pupil with Shakespeare, Robert Debdale, travelled to the Catholic seminary at Douai and was later executed in England for Catholic proselytising, along with Cottam.
The "lost years" (1585–1592)
John Aubrey, in 1693, reported that Shakespeare had been a country schoolmaster, a tale augmented in the 20th century with the theory that his employer might have been Alexander Hoghton of Lancashire, a prominent Catholic landowner who left money in his will to a certain "William Shakeshafte", referencing theatrical costumes and paraphernalia. Shakespeare's grandfather Richard had also once used the name Shakeshafte. Peter Ackroyd adds that study of the marginal notes in the Hoghton family copy of Edward Hall's Chronicles, an important source for Shakespeare's early histories, shows that they were, in "probability", in Shakespeare's writing.
Possible Catholic wedding
The writer's marriage to Anne Hathaway in 1582 may have been officiated, amongst other candidates, by John Frith in the town of Temple Grafton a few miles from Stratford. In 1586 the crown named Frith, who maintained the appearance of Protestantism, as a Catholic priest. Some surmise Shakespeare wed in Temple Grafton rather than the Protestant Church in Stratford in order for his wedding to be performed as a Catholic sacrament. He was thought to have rushed his marriage ceremony, as Anne was three months pregnant.
In 1611 the historian John Speed asserted Shakespeare's links with Catholicism, accusing him of satirising the Protestant martyr John Oldcastle (first portrayed by Shakespeare under his character's real name, then the alias John Falstaff after complaints from Oldcastle's descendants) and linking the playwright with Jesuit Robert Persons, describing them together as "the Papist and his poet". Modern critics have attributed other motives for Shakespeare's portrayal; the story of Oldcastle was a popular one and telling the tale from the "Papist" perspective (while acknowledging that perhaps this was a perspective with which Shakespeare already had some affinity) was an effective and familiar way to bring it to his audience. A direct explanation, however, comes from the facts of the story in the contemporary accounts of the period; Prince Henry had left his dear friend Oldcastle to his fate after he had failed to persuade the stubborn old knight to recant when he was imprisoned for lollardry. The historical basis was all the reason Shakespeare needed to include the character in his plays.
Archdeacon Richard Davies, a 17th-century Anglican cleric, wrote of Shakespeare: "He dyed a Papyst". The Catholic Encyclopedia (1912) states that "Davies, an Anglican clergyman, could have had no conceivable motive for misrepresenting the matter in these private notes and as he lived in the neighbouring county of Gloucestershire he may be echoing a local tradition" but concludes that Davies' comment "is by no means incredible, but it would obviously be foolish to build too much upon an unverifiable tradition of this kind".
Following E. K. Chambers and Ian Wilson, Joseph Pearce maintains that one of the most compelling pieces of evidence is Shakespeare's purchase of Blackfriars Gatehouse, a place that had remained in Catholic hands since the time of the Reformation, and was notorious for Jesuit conspiracy, passageways and priest holes to hide priests, and for covert Catholic activity in London. Shakespeare ensured that the tenant John Robinson remained in the house, and Susanna Shakespeare continued his tenancy until 1639. The same year that Robinson was named as Shakespeare's tenant, Robinson's brother entered the seminary at the English College in Rome. Schoenbaum, however, assigns a purely fiscal motive to the purchase: after examining the complex financial arrangements surrounding the transaction he concludes, "an investment, pure and simple".
An increasing number of scholars look to evidence from Shakespeare’s work, such as the placement of young Hamlet as a student at Wittenberg while old Hamlet’s ghost is in purgatory, as suggestive of a Catholic worldview, but these speculations can be contradictory: the University of Wittenberg was an intellectual centre of the Protestant Reformation and the whole of Hamlet can be read as filled with "cryptic allusions to the Protestant Reformation". Other indications have been detected in the sympathetic view of religious life expressed in the phrase "thrice blessed", scholastic theology in The Phoenix and the Turtle, sympathetic allusions to English Jesuit St. Edmund Campion that are claimed to exist in Twelfth Night and many other matters. More recently it has been suggested that Shakespeare was simply playing upon an English Catholic tradition, rather than actually being Catholic, and was utilizing the symbolic nature of Catholic ceremony to embellish his own theatre. Schoenbaum suspects Catholic sympathies of some kind or another in Shakespeare and his family, but considers the writer himself to be a less than pious person with essentially worldly motives:"...the artist takes precedence over the votary". Literary scholar David Daniell arrives at a similar conclusion, but from the opposite direction: as a good Protestant Shakespeare used many biblical allusions and quotations in his works, but only because his audience, well versed in the Bible in English, would quickly take his meaning. However, David Beauregard points out that the plays echo both Protestant and Catholic translations of the Bible, with some forty verbal correspondences to the 1582 Rheims New Testament, and they also conflict with the Elizabethan Homilies on at least ten theological topics, such as purgatory, prayers for the dead, indulgences, pilgrimages, merit, auricular confession and satisfaction.
Literary scholar and Jesuit Father Peter Milward and the writer Clare Asquith are among those who have claimed that Catholic sympathies are detectable in his writing. Asquith claims that Shakespeare uses terms such as "high" when referring to Catholic characters and "low" when referring to Protestants (the terms refer to their altars) and "light" or "fair" to refer to Catholic and "dark" to refer to Protestant, a reference to certain clerical garbs. Asquith also detects in Shakespeare's work the use of a simple code used by the Jesuit underground in England which took the form of a mercantile terminology wherein priests were 'merchants' and souls were 'jewels', those pursuing them were 'creditors', and the Tyburn gallows where the members of the underground died was called 'the place of much trading'. The Jesuit underground used this code so their correspondences looked like innocuous commercial letters, and Asquith claims that Shakespeare also used this code. Asquith's particular claims, however, have met with some "damning" criticism and, according to professor Jeffrey Knapp, the work of scholars like Peter Milward, who believe that "the deepest inspiration in Shakespeare's plays is both religious and Christian", has had "little influence on recent Shakespeare scholarship".
Revision of older plays
Although Shakespeare commonly adapted existing tales, typically myths or works in another language, Joseph Pearce notes that King John, King Lear and Hamlet were all works that had been done recently and in English with an anti-Catholic bias, and that Shakespeare's versions appear to be a refutation of the source plays. Pearce believes otherwise he would not have "reinvented the wheel", revisiting recent English plays. Peter Milward is among those who hold the view that Shakespeare engaged in rebuttal of recent English "anti-Papist" works. Again, David Beauregard points out that, in the Italian source for Measure for Measure, the secular heroine is seduced and finally married, but Shakespeare revises his characterization, so that her counterpart Isabella becomes a Poor Clare novice who maintains her virginity and does not marry. On the other hand, Jonathan Bate describes the process of Leir's transformation into Lear as replacing the "external trappings of Christianity" with a pagan setting. He adds that the devils plaguing "Poor Tom" in Shakespeare's version have the same names as the evil spirits in a book by Samuel Harsnett, later Archbishop of York, that denounces the "fake" Catholic practice of exorcism.
Inscriptions at the Venerable English College
The names “Arthurus Stratfordus Wigomniensis” and “Gulielmus Clerkue Stratfordiensis” are found within ancient inscriptions at the Venerable English College, a seminary in Rome which has long trained Catholic clergy serving in Britain. Scholars have speculated that these names might be related to Shakespeare, who is alleged to have visited the city of Rome twice during his life.
Other research by Jesuit scholars argues strongly against this speculation 
Shakespeare editor and historian A. L. Rowse is firm in his assertion that Shakespeare was not a Catholic: "He was an orthodox, confirming member of the Church into which he had been baptised, was brought up and married, in which his children were reared and in whose arms he at length was buried". He identifies anti-Catholic sentiment in Sonnet 124, taking "the fools of time" in the last lines of this sonnet "To this I witness call the fools of time, which die for goodness who have lived for crime." to refer to the many Jesuits who were executed for treason in the years 1594-5. John Klause of Hofstra University accepts that Shakespeare intended "the fools of time" in the sonnet to represent executed Jesuits, but contends that the poet, by alluding to executed Jesuit Robert Southwell's Epistle of Comfort and its glorification of martyrdom, sympathises with them. Klause maintains that Southwell's influence is also identifiable in Titus Andronicus. A later assessment places Klause's interpretation as "against most recent trends".
Notwithstanding Pearce's identification (above) of Shakespeare's King John as a reworking of The Troublesome Reign of King John, made to refute its anti-Catholic bias, strong examples of Protestant sympathies, such as the denouncement of the Pope as an "unworthy and ridiculous...Italian priest" with "usurped authority", remain in the text. Yale's David Kastan sees no inconsistency in a Protestant dramatist lampooning the martyr Oldcastle in Henry IV (above): a contemporary audience would have identified Shakespeare's unsympathetic portrayal as a proof of his Protestantism because the knight's Lollardry was in the author's time identified with Puritanism, by then abhorred for undermining the established church.
Stephen Greenblatt acknowledges the convention that the "equivocator" arriving at the gate of hell in the Porter's speech in Macbeth is a reference to the Jesuit Father Henry Garnet, who had been executed in 1606. He argues that Shakespeare probably included the allusion for the sake of topicality, trusting that his audience would have heard of Garnet's pamphlet on equivocation, and not from any hidden sympathy for the man or his cause — indeed the portrait is not a sympathetic one. Literary editor Bishop Warburton declared that in the mind of Jacobean playgoers the policy of equivocation, adopted as an official doctrine of the Jesuits, would have been a direct reminder of Catholic treason in the "Gunpowder plot". Shakespeare may have also been aware of the "equivocation" concept which appeared as the subject of a 1583 tract by Queen Elizabeth's chief councillor Lord Burghley, and the 1584 Doctrine of Equivocation by the Spanish prelate Martin Azpilcueta that was disseminated across Europe and into England in the 1590s.
Perhaps Shakespeare's most direct reference in the plays to contemporary religious issues comes at the birth of Queen Elizabeth in Henry VIII, during whose reign, as the character Archbishop Cranmer, architect of the reformation, predicts: "God shall be truly known".
One perspective is that to deduce from the evidence a definite Anglican Shakespeare is to misapprehend the religious circumstances of the time, the word "Anglican" not existing until nearly two decades after the writer's death and contemporary historians not recognizing Anglicanism as a firm organization or religious identity during his lifetime. In a similar vein, Maurice Hunt, Jean-Christophe Mayer and others have written of a Shakespeare with a syncretic or hybrid faith, in some sense both Catholic and Protestant. However, Eamon Duffy points out that although the majority of Tudor people were muddled and uncertain, accepting of compromise and accommodation, “Religious diversity was not a notion to conjure with in Tudor England… Ritual and doctrinal diversity were evils, aspects of social and religious disunity.” 
The fact of Shakespeare’s Christianity is in itself not universally accepted. William Birch of Oxford University was, in 1848, probably the first to air the notion of atheism, based solely on his interpretation of sentiments expressed in the works, but the theory was dismissed as a "rare tissue of perverted ingenuity" by a contemporary, the textual editor H. H. Furness. The 1912 edition of the Catholic Encyclopedia questioned not only Shakespeare's Catholicism, but whether "[he] was not infected with the atheism, which...was rampant in the more cultured society of the Elizabethan age." Some evidence in support of Shakespeare's supposed atheism, and then only in the form of "evidence of absence", exists in the discovery by John Payne Collier, a notorious forger of historical documents, who examined the records of St Saviour's, Southwark, and found that Shakespeare, alone among his fellow Globe actors, was not shown as a churchgoer. According to Joseph Pearce, the obvious conclusion is recusancy, but modern scholars sometimes cite this as evidence of atheism. Russian Shakespeare scholar Vadim Nikolayev thinks "that Shakespeare put forward anti-church ideas and did not consider suicide to be a sin", that he "skillfully avoided conflicts with censorship".
George Orwell commented that "We do not know a great deal about Shakespeare's religious beliefs, and from the evidence of his writings it would be difficult to prove that he had any", but also considered that in some of his tragedies there is at least implicitly a non-Christian world view.
- The Quest for Shakespeare, television series from Eternal World Television Network, about the evidence of Shakespeare's Catholicism.
- Beauregard, David (2008). Catholic Theology in Shakespeare’s Plays. Newark: U Delaware P. ISBN 978-0-87413-002-7.
Notes and references
- Schoenbaum, Samuel (1977). William Shakespeare : a compact documentary life (1987 ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. p. 61. ISBN 0-19-505161-0.
- Doherty Fenty, Kathleen. "The Bard of Rome? Shakespeare and the Catholic Question" America Magazine, September 14, 2009. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
- Sams, Eric, The Real Shakespeare, pp. 11-13, Yale University Press, 1998
- Pearce, Joseph (2008). The Quest for Shakespeare: The Bard of Avon and the Church of Rome. Fort Collins, CO: Ignatius Press. pp. 30–38. ISBN 978-1-58617-224-4.
- Miola, Robert S., Early modern Catholicism, p. 352, Oxford University Press, 2007, ISBN 0-19-925985-2, ISBN 978-0-19-925985-4
- Shell, Alison. "Why Didn't Shakespeare Write Religious Verse?", in Kozuka, Takashi and J. R. Mulryne (eds.), Shakespeare, Marlowe, Jonson, p.86, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2006. ISBN 0-7546-5442-7, ISBN 978-0-7546-5442-1
- McCoog, T., "The Bard and the Archbishop",Thinking Faith 7 June 2011 
- Greenblatt, Stephen (2004). Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare. London: Jonathan Cape. p. 100. ISBN 0-224-06276X.
- The Shakespeares and ‘the Old Faith’ (1946) by John Henry de Groot; Die Verborgene Existenz Des William Shakespeare: Dichter Und Rebell Im Katholischen Untergrund (2001) by Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel; Shadowplay: The Hidden Beliefs and Coded Politics of William Shakespeare (2005) by Clare Asquith.
- Wilson, Richard (19 December 1997). "Shakespeare and the Jesuits: New connections supporting the theory of the lost Catholic years in Lancashire". Times Literary Supplement: 11–3. Retrieved 1 July 2009.
- Quoted in Schoenbaum (1977: 49) "In my conjecture concerning the writer of that paper I certainly was mistaken".
- Holden, Anthony. William Shakespeare: The Man Behind the Genius Little, Brown (2000).
- Bearman, R., "John Shakespeare's Spiritual Testament, a reappraisal", Shakespeare Survey 56  pp 184-204.
- Mutschmann, H. and Wentersdorf, K., Shakespeare and Catholicism, Sheed and Ward: New York, 1952, p. 401.
- Ackroyd, Peter (2005). Shakespeare: the Biography. London: Chatto and Windus. p. 29. ISBN 1-85619-726-3.
- Ackroyd (2005: 451)
- Thurston, Herbert."The Religion of Shakespeare" Catholic Encyclopedia (1912). Accessed 2012-02-17.
- Ackroyd (2005: 63-64)
- Hammerschmidt-Hummel, H. "The most important subject that can possibly be": A Reply to E. A. J. Honigmann, Connotations, 2002-3. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
- Ackroyd (2005: 61)
- Schoenbaum (1977: 110–11)
- Oakes, Edward T. "Shakespeare’s Millennium" First Things, December 1999. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
- Honigmann E. A. J. (1999). Shakespeare: The Lost Years. Revised Edition. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1. ISBN 0-7190-5425-7; Wells, Oxford Shakespeare, xvii.
- Ackroyd (2005: 76)
- Schoenbaum (1977: 87)
- William marries Anne Hathaway In Search of Shakespeare, PBS. (MayaVision International 2003)
- Young, Robert V. (22 January 2007). "Decoding Shakespeare: The Bard as Poet or Politician". Raleigh, NC: Faculty Affiliate Network, University of North Carolina. Retrieved 13 November 2009. "At the very least such references suggest that the poet had a reputation as a Catholic, and that the charge was not wholly implausible"
- Taylor, Gary (2003). "The fortunes of Oldcastle". In Alexander, Catherine M. The Cambridge Shakespeare Library 1. Stanley Wells. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. pp. 320–321. ISBN 978-0-521-82433-0. "Shakespeare...got into trouble for his caricature of a famous proto-Protestant. John Speed (in 1611) and Richard Davies (c. 1660) both alleged or assumed that Shakespeare was a 'papist'...Such evidence does not prove that Shakespeare was a secret Catholic, but it does demonstrate his willingness to exploit a point of view which many of his contemporaries would have regarded as 'papist'"
- Dutton, Richard (2006). "The dating and contexts of Henry V". In Kewes, Paulina. The uses of history in early modern England. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. p. 172. ISBN 978-0-87328-219-2. "John Speed, for example, was quite certain that Shakespeare was acting as a Catholic apologist in travestying the historical Sir John Oldcastle as Falstaff"
- Weil, Herbert; Weil, Judith (1997). "Falstaff". The Fist Part of King Henry IV (2007 ed.). pp. 68–9. ISBN 978-0-521-86801-3.
- E. K. Chambers, William Shakespeare: A Study of Facts and Problems. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon P, 1930. 2:165-69, and Ian Wilson, Shakespeare: The Evidence. NY: St. Martin’s P, 1993, pp. 396-97, 412. ISBN 978-0312200053
- Pearce (2008: 158-163; 165; 167))
- Wilson, Richard, Secret Shakespeare, p. 5, Manchester University Press, 2004
- Beauregard, David (2008). Catholic Theology in Shakespeare’s Plays. Newark: U Delaware P. p. 87. ISBN 978-0-87413-002-7.
- Pearce 158-163
- Schoenbaum (1977: 272)
- Oakes, Edward T. "The Age of Shakespeare, Shakespeare The Trial of Man" First Things, June/July, 2004. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
- Feldhay, Rivka (2003). Park, Katherine; Daston, Lorraine, ed. The Cambridge history of science. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. p. 736. ISBN 0-521-57244-4.
- Diehl, Huston (2002). "Religion and Shakesperian Tragedy". In McEachern, Claire Elizabeth. The Cambridge Companion to Shakespearean tragedy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 92. ISBN 0-521-79359-9.
- Klause, John (2008). Shakespeare, the Earl, and the Jesuit. Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. p. 72. ISBN 0-8386-4137-7.
- "Allusions to Edmund Campion in Twelfth Night" by C. Richard Desper, Elizabethan Review, Spring/Summer 1995.
- Groves, Beatrice (2007). Texts and Traditions: Religion in Shakespeare, 1592-1604. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. pp. 4–6. ISBN 0-19-920898-0.
- Schoenbaum (1977: 60–61):
- Daniell, David (2001). "Shakespeare and the Protestant Mind". Shakespeare Survey 54: 1–12. doi:10.1017/CCOL0521803411.001. "Shakespeare knew his English Bible well ... that suggests he was a good Protestant. [His] use of Bible references implies that he expected his audience and readers to take them on the spot, because they knew their English Bibles. The references were not intended to wait for explication by clever scholars" Daniell cautions that Shakespeare's religious inclinations are not reliably deduced from his use of sources: Shakespeare knew Ovid and Plutarch well, but that didn't make him a Pagan.
- Beauregard, David (2008), pp. 24-39, 157-85
- Milward, Peter. The Catholicism of Shakespeare's Plays. Tokyo: Renaissance Institute, Sophia University (1997); reprinted Southampton: Saint Austin Press (1997). ISBN 1-901157-10-5.
- Milward, Peter. Shakespeare the Papist. Ann Arbor, MI: Sapientia Press (2005). ISBN 1-932589-21-X.
- Shadowplay: The Hidden Beliefs and Coded Politics of William Shakespeare (2005) by Clare Asquith.
- Hackett, Helen (2009). Shakespeare and Elizabeth: The Meeting of Two Myths. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. p. 236. ISBN 978-0-691-12806-1. "Asquith's book received damning reviews from eminent academics...her assertion of a hidden code in his plays is highly dubious."
- Knapp, Jeffrey (2001). "The religion of players". In Holland, Peter. Shakespeare and Religions. Shakespeare Survey 54. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. p. 61. ISBN 978-0-521-80341-0. "Some scholars do assert that ‘the deepest inspiration in Shakespeare’s plays is both religious and Christian’ (Peter Milward, Shakespeare's Religious Background (Chicago, 1973). p.274), but they have had little influence on recent Shakespeare scholarship, in large part because they tend to allegorize the plays crudely, as Shuger says."
- Pearce (2008: 181-182)
- Beauregard, David (2008: 71-74)
- Bate, Jonathan (2008). Soul of the Age: the Life, Mind and World of William Shakespeare. London: Penguin. p. 394. ISBN 978-0-670-91482-1.
- From Harsnett, Samuel (1603). A Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures, quoted in Bate (2008: 154)
- Owen, Richard. "Cryptic signatures that ‘prove Shakespeare was a secret Catholic’" The Times, 22 December 2009. (article behind paywall).
- Merriam, Thomas (2003). "Guiliemus Clerkue Stratfordiensis at the English College, Rome: inconclusive evidence for a Catholic Shakespeare". Religion and the Arts (Boston, MA: Brill) 7 (1–2): 167. ISSN 1079-9265.
- Mccoog. T, Davidson, P., "Shakespeare and the Jesuits" Times Literary Supplement March 16, 2007
- Rowse, A. L. (1963). William Shakespeare: a biography. London: Macmillan. p. 43. ISBN 0-06-013710-X.
- Rowse, A. L (1964). Shakespeare's Sonnets. London: Macmillan. p. 256. ISBN 0-333-36387-6.
- Klause (2008: 136)
- Schiffer, James (1999). "Reading new life into Shakespeare's sonnets". Shakespeare's sonnets: critical essays. New York: Garland. p. 55. ISBN 0-8153-2365-4.
- The life and death of King John: Act III, Scene 1
- Kastan, David Scott (1999). Shakespeare after theory. New York: Routledge. p. 99. ISBN 0-415-90113-8. "the mark of a Protestant bias rather than a papist one."
- Greenblatt (2004: 388)
- Huntley, Frank (September 1964). "Macbeth and the background of Jesuitical equivocation". Publications (New York: Modern Language Association of America) 79 (4): 390. "...this kind of equivocation was in the public mind when Shakespeare's Macbeth was written in honor of the king who had escaped from the gunpowder."
- Miola, Robert S (2007). Early modern Catholicism: an anthology of primary sources. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 82. ISBN 978-0-19-925985-4. "The practice of equivocation [drew] ridicule from all sides including even Shakespeare…[but] Continental theologians such as Martin Azpilcueta…justify the deception."
- Playwright John Fletcher may have contributed to the text.
- Henry VIII, Act V, Scene 5
- Rist, Thomas, Shakespeare Now and Then: Communities, Religion, Reception in Writing and religion in England, 1558-1689: studies in community-making and cultural memory, pp. 125-126, Roger D. Sell and Anthony W. Johnson eds., Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2009
- Duffy, Eamon (1996). “Continuity and Divergence in Tudor Religion” in Unity and Diversity in the Church, ed. R. N. Swanson. Oxford: Blackwell, 1996, pp. 172, 187. ISBN 978-0631198925
- Klause, John, Shakespeare, the Earl, and the Jesuit, p.260 fn.5, Associated University Presse, 2008
- Birch, William John (1848). An Inquiry Into the Philosophy and Religion of Shakspere. London: C Mitchell. OCLC 162952347.
- Furness, H.H. (ed.) A New Variorum Edition of Shakespeare: King Lear. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co. (1880), p.135, n. lines 156–169. OCLC 249150403
- Pearce (2008: 126) "Such a conclusion misses the obvious and logical point…that Shakespeare remained…a believing Catholic"
- (Russian) Creed of Shakespeare | The electronic encyclopedia World of Shakespeare
- (Russian) Shakespeare Readings 2008. Abstracts. Moscow, Publishing House of Moscow Humanitary University, 2008.
- http://www.orwell.ru/library/essays/lear/english/e_ltf Orwell Lear, Tolstoy and the Fool
- Harper, S. B. A. "Was Shakespeare a Catholic?," The American Catholic Quarterly Review, Vol. IV, 1879.
- Taylor, Dennis (Boston College): Shakespeare and Religion Chronology.