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Collage of the 4 major alternative candidates for the authorship of Shakespeare's works, surrounding the Folio engraving of Shakespeare of Stratford. Clockwise from top left: Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, Francis Bacon, William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby and Christopher Marlowe.

The Shakespeare authorship question is the debate about whether the works traditionally attributed to William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon were actually composed by another writer or group of writers.[1] The subject has attracted wide attention and a thriving following, including some prominent public figures, but is dismissed by the great majority of academic Shakespeare scholars.[a][2] Those who question the attribution believe that "William Shakespeare" was a pen name used by the true author (or authors) to keep the writer's identity secret.[3] Of the numerous proposed candidates,[4] major nominees include Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, who currently attracts the most widespread support,[5] statesman Francis Bacon, dramatist Christopher Marlowe, and William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby, who—along with Oxford and Bacon—is often associated with various "group" theories.[6]

Authorship doubters cite evidentiary gaps in Shakespeare of Stratford's biography, and believe if he was involved at all, it was more likely as a front man or play-broker.[7] Skeptics such as Charlton Ogburn and John Michell believe he lacked the extensive education necessary to write the collected works, which display a comprehensive knowledge of classical literature, law and foreign languages,[8] and noted writers such as Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, and Henry James have questioned how he could have gained the life experience and adopted the aristocratic attitude that is evident in them.[9] In an approach which has its foundation in biographical criticism,[10][11][12] many authorship researchers also focus on the relationship between the content of the plays and poems, and a candidate’s known life experiences and recorded history.[13][14]

The hypothesis remains essentially without support among mainstream Shakespeare scholars and literary historians.[b][15] Orthodox reaseachers say that both the First Folio and the Stratford monument bear witness to a correlation between the theatrical author and Shakespeare of Stratford, and that scarcity of biographical data is normal for this period. Mainstream critics including James Shapiro and Jonathan Bate believe that biographical interpretations of literature are unreliable for attributing authorship,[16] and, according to most Shakespearean experts, title pages, testimony by other contemporary poets and historians, and official records are also cited to support the mainstream view.[17]

Despite the lack of mainstream support, the subject has attracted research from independent scholars and a small minority of academics.[18] Anti-stratfordians continue to make efforts to gain acceptance of the authorship question as a legitimate field of academic inquiry, and to promote one or another of the various authorship candidates through publications, organizations, online discussion groups and conferences.[c][19]


For the purposes of this article the term “Shakespeare” is taken to mean the poet and playwright who wrote the plays and poems in question; and the term “Shakespeare of Stratford” is taken to mean the William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon to whom authorship is credited.

Minority view[edit]

An important principle for many of those who question Shakespeare of Stratford’s authorship is the belief that most authors reveal themselves in their work, and that the life experience and personality of an author can generally be discerned from his or her writings.[20] With this in mind, many authorship doubters find parallels in the fictional characters or events in the Shakespearean works and in the life experiences of their preferred candidate. They also find a disparity between the biography of Shakespeare of Stratford and the content of Shakespeare's works, raising doubts about whether the author and the Stratford businessman are the same person. [21] [22] [23]

Anti-Stratfordian Mark Twain, wrote "Is Shakespeare Dead?" shortly before his death in 1910.

This perceived dissonance, first expressed in the early 19th century, has led many authorship doubters to look for alternative explanations. Notable figures who have expressed criticism include Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, Mortimer J. Adler, John Galsworthy, and Tyrone Guthrie, among others. More recently, Supreme Court Justices Harry A. Blackmun, John Paul Stevens, and Sandra Day O'Conner, and prominent Shakespearean actors John Gielgud, Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance have all made public announcements regarding their skepticism.[24] In September 2007, the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition sponsored a "Declaration of Reasonable Doubt" to encourage new research into the question of Shakespeare's authorship, which has been signed by more than 1,700 people, including over 300 academics.[25]

Some doubters, such as independent researcher Diana Price, and Oxfordian researcher Charlton Ogburn, Jr., say there is no direct evidence clearly identifying Shakespeare of Stratford as a playwright, and that the majority of references to "William Shakespeare" by contemporaries refer to the author, not necessarily the Stratford businessman.[26] Price believes that for a professional author, Shakespeare of Stratford seems to have been entirely uninterested in protecting his work. Price explains that while he had a well-documented habit of going to court over relatively small sums, he never sued any of the publishers pirating his plays and sonnets, or took any legal action regarding their practice of attaching his name to the inferior output of others. Price also notes there is no evidence Shakespeare of Stratford was ever paid for writing, and his detailed will failed to mention any of Shakespeare's unpublished plays or poems or any of the source books Shakespeare was known to have read.[27][28]

Ogburn also questioned why, when Shakespeare of Stratford died, he was not publicly mourned.[29] Mark Twain wrote, in Is Shakespeare Dead?, "When Shakespeare died in Stratford it was not an event. It made no more stir in England than the death of any other forgotten theater-actor would have made. Nobody came down from London; there were no lamenting poems, no eulogies, no national tears — there was merely silence, and nothing more. A striking contrast with what happened when Ben Jonson, and Francis Bacon, and Spenser, and Raleigh, and the other literary folk of Shakespeare’s time passed from life! No praiseful voice was lifted for the lost Bard of Avon; even Ben Jonson waited seven years before he lifted his."[30]

While the great majority of the academic community continues to endorse the traditional attribution, the authorship question has achieved some degree of acceptance as a legitimate research topic. In late 2007, Brunel University of London began offering a one-year MA program on the Shakespeare authorship question,[31]and in 2010, Concordia University (Portland, Oregon) opened a multi-million dollar Shakespeare Authorship Research Centre, under the direction of authorship doubter Daniel Wright, a Shakespeare scholar and Concordia's professor of English.[32]

Mainstream view[edit]

John Shakespeare's house, believed to be Shakespeare's birthplace, in Stratford-upon-Avon.

The mainstream view, overwhelming supported by academic Shakespeareans, is that the author known as "Shakespeare" was the same William Shakespeare who was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564, moved to London and became an actor and sharer (part-owner) of the Lord Chamberlain's Men acting company (later the King's Men) that owned the Globe Theatre and the Blackfriars Theatre in London and owned exclusive rights to produce Shakespeare's plays from 1594 on,[33] and who became entitled to use the honourific of gentleman when his father, John Shakespeare, was granted a coat of arms in 1596.

According to the traditional attribution, William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon is identified with the writer by at least four pieces of contemporary evidence that firmly link the two: (1) His will registers bequests to fellow actors and theatrical entrepreneurs, two of whom edited his works, namely (Heminges and Condell); (2) His village church monument bears an inscription linking him with Virgil and Socrates;[34] (3) Ben Jonson linked the writer with the Stratford territory, in calling him the 'Swan of Avon'; and (4) Leonard Digges, in verses prefixed to the First Folio, speaks of the author's 'Stratford Monument'.[35][36][37]

Mainstream critics such as Scott McCrea believe that certain anti-Stratfordian approaches for establishing an alternative candidate, such as finding coded messages and cryptograms embedded in the works, or creating conspiracy theories, are both unreliable and unscholarly.[38] This, they argue, explains why so many candidates have been nominated as the author.[39][40][41] Shakespearean scholar Jonathan Bate believes that the idea that Shakespeare revealed himself in his work is a Romantic notion of the 18th and 19th centuries, applied anachronistically to Elizabethan and Jacobean writers.[42]

Orthodox scholars including Harold Love say that no alternative theory satisfactorily accounts for the positive contemporary evidence documenting Shakespeare’s authorship—title pages, testimony by other contemporary poets and historians, and official records—and the lack of any such supporting evidence for any other author.[43] Terence Schoone-Jongen, writing in Shakespeare's companies: William Shakespeare's Early Career and the Acting Companies, 1577-1594, asserts that no one questioned his authorship during his lifetime or for centuries after his death, and that biographical interpretations of literature are invalid for attributing authorship.[44]

Although little biographical information exists about Shakespeare of Stratford compared to later authors, Bate writes that more is known about him than about most other playwrights and actors of the period.[45] This lack of information is unsurprising, they say, given that in Elizabethan/Jacobean England the lives of commoners were not as well documented as those of the gentry and nobility, and that many—indeed the overwhelming majority—of Renaissance documents that existed have not survived until the present day.[46]

Pseudonymous or secret authorship in Renaissance England[edit]

Hyphenated "SHAKE-SPEARE" on the cover of the Sonnets (1609)

Archer Taylor and Frederic J. Mosher identified the 16th and 17th centuries as the "golden age" of pseudonymous authorship and maintain that during this period “almost every writer used a pseudonym at some time during his career.”[47] Anti-Stratfordians say that aristocratic writers used pseudonyms to write for the public because of what they assert was a prevailing "stigma of print", a social convention that ostensibly restricted their literary works to private and courtly audiences - as opposed to "commercial" endeavors - at the risk of social disgrace if violated.[48]

Diana Price has analyzed several examples of Elizabethan commentary on anonymous or pseudonymous publication by persons of high social status. According to Price, "there are two historical prototypes for this type of authorship fraud, that is, attributing a written work to a real person who was not the real author". Both are Roman in origin and both are mentioned by contemporary Elizabethan writers with what skeptics believe are implications that apply to the authorship of Shakespeare's plays:[49]

  • The Roman performer Bathyllus was known to have taken credit for verses written by Virgil. In 1591, pamphleteer (Robert Greene) described an Elizabethan "Batillus", who put his name to verses written by certain poets who, because of "their calling and gravity" did not want to publish under their own names. This 'Batillus' was accused of "under-hand brokery." [50]
  • A second prototype is the classical playright Terence, several of whose comedies were believed to have been written by his patrician patrons Scipio Africanus and Laelius.[51].

An example of Elizabethan authorities raising the issue is provided by the case of Sir John Hayward:

  • In 1599, Hayward published The First Part of the Life and Raigne of King Henrie IV dedicated to Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex. Queen Elizabeth and her advisers disliked the tone of the book and its dedication, and on July 11, Hayward was interrogated before the Privy Council, which was seeking "proof positive of the Earl's [sc. Essex's] long-standing design against the government" in writing a preface to Hayward's work.[52] The Queen "argued that Hayward was pretending to be the author in order to shield 'some more mischievous' person, and that he should be racked so that he might disclose the truth".[53]

"Shake-Speare" as a possible pseudonym[edit]

Anderson and other anti-Stratfordians say that the name "Shakespeare" would have made a symbolically apt pseudonym because it alludes to the patron goddess of art, literature and statecraft, Pallas Athena, who sprang from the forehead of Zeus shaking a spear.[54] They also believe that the hyphen in the name "Shake-speare", which appeared in 15 of the 32 editions of Shakespeare's plays published before the First Folio, indicated the use of a pseudonym.[55] Tom Tell-truth, Martin Mar-prelate (who pamphleteered against church "prelates"),[56] and Cuthbert Curry-knave, who "curried" his "knavish" enemies,[57] are examples of other hyphenated pseudonyms of the period.

However, Stratfordians say that no scholar of Elizabethan literature or punctuation affirms that a hyphen signaled a pseudonym, and that the claim is unknown outside of anti-Stratfordian literature.[58] Matus writes that proper names hyphenated in print were not uncommon in Elizabethan times, citing the examples of poet and clergyman Charles Fitzgeoffrey, often printed as "Charles Fitz-Geffry"; Protestant martyr Sir John Oldcastle, as “Old-castle”; London Lord Mayor Sir Thomas Campbell, “Camp-bell”; printer Edward Allde, “All-de”; and printer Robert Waldegrave, “Walde-grave”.[59]

Front-man or play broker[edit]

"Poor POET-APE, that would be thought our chief,
Whose works are e'en the frippery of wit,
From brokage is become so bold a thief,
As we, the robbed, leave rage, and pity it.
At first he made low shifts, would pick and glean,
Buy the reversion of old plays; now grown
To a little wealth, and credit in the scene,
He takes up all, makes each man's wit his own.
And, told of this, he slights it.
Tut, such crimes
The sluggish gaping auditor devours;
He marks not whose 'twas first: and after-times
May judge it to be his, as well as ours.
Fool, as if half eyes will not know a fleece
From locks of wool, or shreds from the whole piece?"

On Poet Ape, Ben Jonson, c.1612.

Independent research Diana Price acknowledges that Shakespeare's name appears on the title pages of numerous play texts, but questions the traditional implication, asking "But what if his name is on the title pages for another reason? What if he were a play broker who took credit for the works of others?"[60]

Similarly, skeptic Mark Anderson has suggested that when poet John Davies referred to Shakespeare as "our English Terence, Mr Will. Shake-speare", he could be naming Shakespeare of Stratford as a front man, given that one tradition has it that some of Terence's plays were written by Roman nobles. Anderson also notes that "Greene's Groatsworth of Wit" could imply Shakespeare of Stratford was being given credit for the work of other writers.[61]

Diana Prices writes that "In Shakespeare's day, those who traded in used costumes were called frippers or brokers. Those who traded in plays, as in other commodities, were also brokers." Price also says that Ben Jonson used both terms in the epigram, "On Poet-Ape", written between 1595-1612, and often regarded as concerning Shakespeare:[62]

Prices writes that "this underhand play broker was passing off other men's work as his own". Price explains further, stating "If Shakespeare was, in fact, a Battillus or "under-hand" play broker who bought manuscripts from various authors, then we might reasonably expect to find plays published over the name 'William Shakespeare'," but written by various other authors... And we do." Price says that a number of plays including The London Prodigal (1605) and A Yorkshire Tragedy (1608) were "published during Shakespeare of Stratford's lifetime and attributed to 'William Shakespeare' yet nobody thinks that they belong in the [Shakespearean] canon..." [63]

John Michell writes that the "straightforward, orthodox view is that Jonson was merely saying what Shakespeareans have always admitted, that Shakespeare borrowed freely from contemporary as well as ancient authors, and that certain parts of his plays were probably contributed by other dramatists".[64] Other candidates for the 'Poet Ape' include Thomas Dekker, John Marston, and most recently, Thomas Heywood.[65]

History of authorship doubts[edit]

Like most issues having to do with the debate over Shakespeare's authorship, documenting the history of the Shakespeare authorship question is often contentious. There is no agreement, academic or otherwise, as to when the theory was first proposed or alluded to. Numerous Shakespeare scholars, including Jonathan Bate and William Hasting, have written that during the life of William Shakespeare and for more than 200 years after his death, no one suggested that anyone other than Shakespeare wrote the works.[66] However, some researchers, including authorship skeptics Diana Price and John Michell, believe that several 16th and 17th century works, including allusions by Elizabethan satirists Joseph Hall and John Marston[67] hint that the Shakespearean canon was written by someone else.[68]

Joseph Hall ((1574–1656)) may have been an early authorship doubter.[69]

According to mainstream critics William and Elizebeth Griedman, the first possible allusions to doubts about Shakespearean authorship arose in certain 18th century satirical and allegorical works.[70] Throughout the 18th century, Shakespeare was described as a transcendent genius and by the beginning of the 19th century Bardolatry was in full swing.[71] Uneasiness about the difference between Shakespeare's godlike reputation and the humdrum facts of his biography began to emerge in the 19th century. In 1850, Ralph Waldo Emerson expressed the underlying question in the air about Shakespeare saying, "The Egyptian [i.e. mysterious] verdict of the Shakspeare Societies comes to mind; that he was a jovial actor and manager. I can not marry this fact to his verse."[72][73]

In 1853, with help from Emerson, Delia Bacon, an American teacher and writer, travelled to Britain to research her belief that Shakespeare's works were written to communicate the advanced political and philosophical ideas of Francis Bacon (no relation). Later writers such as Ignatius Donnelly portrayed Francis Bacon as the sole author. The American poet Walt Whitman declared himself agnostic on the issue and refrained from endorsing an alternative candidacy. Voicing his skepticism, Whitman remarked, "I go with you fellows when you say no to Shaksper: that's about as far as I have got. As to Bacon, well, we'll see, we'll see."[74]

In 1918, Professor Abel Lefranc, a renowned authority on French and English literature, put forward William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby as the author, based on biographical evidence found in the plays and poems [75] In 1920, an English school-teacher, John Thomas Looney, published Shakespeare Identified, proposing a new candidate for the authorship in Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. This theory gained many notable advocates, including Sigmund Freud. By the early 20th century, the Bacon movement faded resulting in increased interest in Stanley and Oxford.[76] In 1923, Archie Webster wrote the first serious essay on the candidacy of playwright Christopher Marlowe.[77]

In the 1950's and 60's, the "group theory" of Shakespeare authorship was quite popular. It is known that during the late 16th century, collaboration in the writing of plays was not uncommon. For example, John Fletcher appears as the co-author of Henry VIII. Francis Bacon, Edward de Vere, William Stanley, Roger Manners and Mary Sidney Herbert were proposed as members of such a group. In addition, playwrights including Thomas Nashe, Christopher Marlowe, and Robert Greene have been proposed as co-authors of the plays.[78]

Since the publication of Charlton Ogburn's The Mysterious William Shakespeare: the Myth and the Reality in 1984, the Oxfordian theory, boosted in part by the advocacy of several Supreme Court justices, high-profile theatre professionals, and a limited number of academics, has become the most popular alternative authorship theory.[79]

In 2007, the New York Times surveyed 265 Shakespeare professors on the topic. To the question "Do you think there is good reason to question whether William Shakespeare of Stratford is the principal author of the plays and poems in the canon?", 6% answered "yes" and an additional 11% responded "possible". When asked what best described their opinion of the Shakespeare authorship question, 61% answered that it was a "A theory without convincing evidence" while 32% called the issue "A waste of time and classroom distraction". When asked if they "mention the Shakespeare authorship question in (their) Shakespeare classes?", 72% answered "yes". [80]

Doubts about Shakespeare of Stratford[edit]

Literary paper trails[edit]

Diana Price’s Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Biography: New Evidence of an Authorship Problem approaches the authorship question by going back to the historical documents and testimony that underpin Shakespeare’s biography. Price believes that centuries of biographers have suspended their standards and criteria to weave inadmissible evidence into their narratives.[81] She offers new analyses of the evidence and then reconstructs Shakespeare of Stratford’s professional life.

According to Price, literary biographies, i.e., lives of writers, are based on evidence left behind during the writer’s lifetime, such as manuscripts, letters, diaries, personal papers, receipts, etc. Price calls these "literary paper trails" - the documents that allow biographers to reconstruct the life of their subject as a writer. Price acknowledges that Shakespeare of Stratford did leave behind a considerable amount of evidence, but asserts that none of it traces his alleged career as a playwright and poet. In his case, the first document in the historical record that “proves” he was a writer was created after he died.[82] Price says that historians routinely distinguish between contemporaneous and posthumous evidence, and they don’t give posthumous evidence equal weight - but Shakespeare’s biographers do.

The central chapter on Literary Paper Trails, and an associated appendix chart, compare the evidence of two-dozen other writers with that of Shakespeare of Stratford’s.[83] The criteria are simple and routinely employed by historians and biographers of other subjects. Evidence that is personal, contemporaneous, and supports one statement, “he was a writer by vocation or profession,” qualifies for inclusion in the comparative chart.[84] Price sorted the evidence into numerous categories, which were then collapsed into 9 categories, with a 10th one created to serve as an all-purpose catchall to ensure that no qualifying paper trail was excluded.

Each of these two-dozen Elizabethan and Jacobean writers left behind a variety of records shedding light on their writing activities. For example, historians know how much some of them got paid for writing a poem or a play, or how much a patron rewarded them for their literary effort. Some left behind letters referring to their plays or poems. A few of them left behind handwritten manuscripts or books with handwritten annotations.

Price records that Shakespeare of Stratford left behind over seventy historical records, and over half of these records shed light on his professional activities. Price notes, however, that every one of these documents concerns non-literary careers – those of theatrical shareholder, actor, real estate investor, grain trader, moneylender, and entrepreneur. But he left behind not one literary paper trail that proves he wrote for a living. In the genre of literary biography for Elizabethan and Jacobean writers, Price concludes that this deficiency of evidence is unique.


Dramatist Ben Jonson is often cited by both sides of the authorship debate.

Authorship doubters such as Ogburn and Michell believe that the author of Shakespeare's works manifest a higher education, displaying knowledge of contemporary science, medicine, astronomy, rhetoric, music, and foreign languages. They further assert that there is no evidence that Shakespeare of Stratford ever attained such an education. In addition, the writer of the Shakespeare canon exhibited a very extensive vocabulary, variously calculated, according to different criteria, as ranging between 17,500 to 29,066 words.[85] Many anti-Stratfordians, such as Mark Anderson, believe that mainstream scholars have failed to explain Shakespeare's knowledge of foreign languages, modern sciences, warfare, law, statesmanship, hunting, natural philosophy, history, and aristocratic sports including tennis and lawn bowling.[86]

Regarding Shakespeare's possible attendance at the Stratford grammar school, many skeptics say that as the records of the school's pupils have not survived, Shakespeare of Stratford's attendance cannot be proven;[87] that no one who ever taught or attended The King's School ever claimed to have been his teacher or classmate; and that the school or schools Shakespeare of Stratford might have attended are a matter of speculation as there are no existing admission records for him at any grammar school, university or college. Skeptics also say that there is clearer evidence for Ben Jonson's formal education and self-education than for Shakespeare of Stratford's. Several hundred books owned by Ben Jonson have been found signed and annotated by him[88] but no book has ever been found which proved to have been owned or borrowed by Shakespeare of Stratford. It is known, moreover, that Jonson had access to a substantial library with which to supplement his education.[89]

According to Shakespearean scholar Honan Park, the Stratfordian position maintains that Shakespeare of Stratford would have received the kind of education available to the son of a Stratford alderman at the local grammar school and at the parish church, including a comfortable mastery of the Bible, Latin, grammar and rhetoric. The former was run by a number of Oxford graduates, Simon Hunt, Thomas Jenkins and John Cottom, and the latter by Henry Heicroft, a fellow at St John's College, Cambridge.[90]

Though there is no evidence that he attended a university, a degree was not a prerequisite for a Renaissance dramatist, and mainstream scholars have long assumed Shakespeare of Stratford to be largely self-educated, with such authorities as Jonathan Bate devoting considerable space in recent biographies to the issue.[91] A commonly cited parallel is his fellow dramatist Ben Jonson, a man whose origins were humbler than those of the Stratford man, and who rose to become court poet. Like Shakespeare of Stratford, Jonson never completed and perhaps never attended university, and yet he became a man of great learning (later being granted an honorary degree from both Oxford and Cambridge).

Life experience[edit]

Anti-Stratfordians have long commented that a provincial glovemaker's son who resided in Stratford until early adulthood would have been unlikely to have written plays that deal so personally with the activities, travel and lives of the nobility. The view is summarised by Charles Chaplin: "In the work of greatest geniuses, humble beginnings will reveal themselves somewhere, but one cannot trace the slightest sign of them in Shakespeare. . . . Whoever wrote them (the plays) had an aristocratic attitude."[92] Authorship doubters say that the plays show a detailed understanding of politics, the law and foreign languages that would have been near impossible to attain without an aristocratic or university upbringing. Skeptics note that while the author's depiction of nobility was highly personal and multi-faceted, his treatment of commoners was quite different. Tom Bethell, in Atlantic Monthly, commented "The author displays little sympathy for the class of upwardly mobile strivers of which Shakspere (of Stratford) was a preeminent member. Shakespeare celebrates the faithful servant, but regards commoners as either humorous when seen individually or alarming in mobs".[93]

Orthodox scholars such as Jonathan Bate have responded that the glamorous world of the aristocracy was a popular setting for plays in this period and that numerous English Renaissance playwrights, including Christopher Marlowe, John Webster, Ben Jonson, Thomas Dekker wrote about the nobility despite their own humble origins. These scholars say that Shakespeare was an upwardly mobile man: his company regularly performed at court and he thus had ample opportunity to observe courtly life. In The Genius of Shakespeare, Bate writes that the class argument is reversible: the plays contain details of lower-class life about which aristocrats might have little knowledge. Many of Shakespeare's most vivid characters are lower class or associate with this milieu, such as Falstaff, Nick Bottom, Autolycus, Sir Toby Belch, etc.[94]

Last will and testament[edit]

Anti-Stratfordians such as Ogburn say that Shakespeare of Stratford's will is long and explicit, bequeathing the possessions of a successful middle class businessman but it makes no mention of personal papers or books (which were expensive items at the time) of any kind, any mention of poems or of the 18 plays that remained unpublished at the time of his death, nor any reference to the valuable shares in the Globe Theatre that the Stratford man reportedly owned.Template:Ogburn, 1984 This contrasts with Sir Francis Bacon, whose two wills refer to work that he wished to be published posthumously.[95] Price finds it unusual that the Stratford man did not wish his family to profit from his unpublished work or was unconcerned about leaving them to posterity, and find it improbable that he would have submitted all the manuscripts to the King's Men, the playing company of which he was a shareholder, prior to his death.Cite error: A <ref> tag is missing the closing </ref> (see the help page). , </ref> Anti-Stratfordians also note that the only theatrical reference in Shakespeare of Stratford's will (gifts to fellow actors) were interlined—i.e., inserted between previously written lines—and thus are subject to doubt.

Stratfordians such as David Kathman have responded that the complete inventory of Shakespeare's possessions, mentioned at the bottom as being attached (Inventarium exhibitum), has been lost, and that is where any books or manuscripts would have been mentioned. Kathman also noted that not one of Shakespeare's contemporary playwrights mentioned play manuscripts in their wills.[96] According to G.E. Bentley, in The Profession of Dramatist in Shakespeare's Time: 1590–1642, the plays were owned by the playing companies, who sold the publishing rights at their discretion, so Shakespeare's plays were not his to dispose of, being owned by the King's Men.[97] It is not known whether William Shakespeare still owned the shares in the Globe Theatre at his death, but three other major share holders besides Shakespeare who were positively known to hold shares when they died—Richard Burbage, Augustine Phillips, and Henry Condell—also didn't mention Globe shares in their wills.[98]

Funerary monument[edit]

Shakespeare's Stratford Bust, from Dugdale's Warwickshire (1656). Doubters note what appears to be a woolsack and the absence of pen and paper suggests the figure more likely represents Shakespeare, the merchant-businessman.
Shakespeare's Stratford Bust, as published by Nicholas Rowe in 1709, with similar woolsack and absence of pen and paper.
Shakespeare's "Stratford monument", with pen in hand, engraved in 1723 by George Vertue.[99]
The Stratford Bust, as it was represented in print between 1656 and 1723. Mainstream critics maintain the first two illustrators were simply inaccurate as to details.

Shakespeare's grave monument in Stratford, built within a decade of his death, currently features an effigy of him with a pen in hand, suggestive of a writer, with an attached inscribed plaque praising his abilities as a writer. But some anti-Stratfordians say that the monument was clearly altered after its installation, as the earliest printed image of the monument in Sir William Dugdale's Antiquities of Warwickshire, published in 1656, merely portrays a man holding a grain sack.[100] The monument is portrayed similarly in Nicholas Rowe’s 1709 edition of Shakespeare’s works. The earliest record of the pen (which evidently broke from the hand in the late eighteenth century and is now represented by a real goose quill) dates from an engraving of the memorial made by George Vertue in 1723 and published in Alexander Pope's 1725 edition of Shakespeare's plays.[99]

When the effigy and cushion, made of a solid piece of Cotswold limestone, was removed from its niche in 1973, Shakespeare scholar Sam Schoenbaum examined it and rendered an opinion that the monument was substantially as it was when first erected, with the hands resting on paper and writing-cushion, saying that "no amount of restoration can have transformed the monument of Dugdale's engraving into the effigy in Stratford church."[101]

In 2006, researcher Richard Kennedy proposed that the monument was originally built to honour John Shakespeare, William’s father, who was described by Rowe as a “considerable” wool dealer, and that the effigy was later changed to fit the writer. Kennedy’s theory gained the support of orthodox scholars Sir Brian Vickers and Peter Beal.[102] According to Vickers, "[W]ell-documented records of recurrent decay and the need for extensive repair work . . . make it impossible that the present bust is the same as the one that was in place in the 1620s."[103]

Date of playwright's death[edit]

Dedication from SHAKE-SPEARE'S SONNETS (1609).

Some authorship doubters, including Ruth Miller and Mark Anderson, believe that the actual playwright was dead by 1609, the year Shake-speare's Sonnets, appeared with "our ever-living Poet"[104] on the dedication page, words typically used[105] to eulogize someone who has died, yet has become immortal.[106] Shakespeare himself used the phrase in this context in Henry VI, part 1 describing the dead Henry V as "[t]hat ever living man of memory" (4.3.51). And in 1665, Richard Brathwait used the exact same terminology referring to the deceased poet Jeffrey Chaucer, "A comment upon the two tales of our ancient, renovvned, and ever-living poet Sr. Jeffray Chavcer, Knight."[107]

In 1987, mainstream researcher Donald Foster says that the phrase “ever-living” appears most frequently in Renaissance texts as a conventional epithet for eternal God.[108] Foster also believes that the term "begetter” was frequently used to mean "author" in Renaissance book dedications.[109] Thus, Jonathan Bate, leaving out the initials, translates the largely formulaic dedication in modern English as “Thomas Thorpe, the well-wishing publisher of the following sonnets, takes the opportunity upon publishing them to wish their only author all happiness and that eternity promised by our ever living poet.”[110]

Fosters claim, and the resulting Bate translation, however, does not represent the more traditional mainstream belief, espoused by noted Shakespearean scholar Sydney Lee, that "In Elizabethan English there was no irregularity in the use of 'begetter' in its primary sense of 'getter' or 'procurer'". Lee compiled numerous examples of the word used in this way and asserts that any doubt about the definition is "barely justifiable".[111] Some modern scholars, such as Katherine Duncan-Jones, believe the sonnets were published with Shakespeare’s full authorization,[112] this theory, however, stands in contrast to the more general believe noted by Lee, that "The corrupt state of the text Thorpe's edition of 1609 fully confirms that the enterprise lacked authority,...the character of the numerous misreadings leaves little doubt that Thorpe had no means of access to the authors MS."[113]

"Shakspere" vs. "Shakespeare"[edit]

Many anti-Stratfordians conventionally refer to the man from Stratford as "Shakspere" (the name recorded at his baptism) or "Shaksper" to distinguish him from the author "Shakespeare" or "Shake-speare" (the spellings that appear most often on the publications). Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, a noted Oxfordian, has stated that most references to the man from Stratford in legal documents usually spell the first syllable of his name with only four letters, "Shak-" or sometimes "Shag-" or "Shax-", whereas the dramatist's name is more consistently printed as "Shake".[114]

Stratfordians reject this convention, pointing out that there was no standardised spelling in Elizabethan England, and Shakespeare of Stratford's name was spelled in many different ways, including "Shakspere", "Shaxper", "Shagspere" and "Shakespeare";[115] that examples anti-Stratfordians give for Shakespeare of Stratford's name are all handwritten and not printed; that anti-Stratfordians are factually incorrect in that most of those examples were spelled either Shakespeare, Shakespere, or Shakespear;[116] and that handwritten examples of the author's name exhibit the same amount of variation.[117] Stratfordian David Kathman also believes that the anti-Stratfordian characterization of the name—"Shakspere" or "Shakspur"—incorrectly characterizes the contemporary spelling of Shakespeare's name and introduces prejudicial negative implications of the Stratford man in the minds of modern readers.[118]


Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford[edit]

Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford is the leading alternative candidate for the author behind the alleged pseudonym, Shake-Speare

The most popular present-day candidate is Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford.[119] After being proposed in the 1920's, Oxford rapidly overtook Bacon to become within two decades the most popular alternative candidate.[120]

Oxfordians point to the acclaim of Oxford's contemporaries regarding his talent as a poet and a playwright, his reputation as a concealed poet, and his personal connections to London theatre and the contemporary playwrights of Shakespeare's day. They also note his long-term relationships with Queen Elizabeth I and the Earl of Southampton, his knowledge of Court life, his extensive education, his academic and cultural achievements, and his wide-ranging travels through France and Italy to what would later become the locations of many of Shakespeare's plays.

The case for Oxford's authorship is also based on perceived similarities between Oxford's biography and events in Shakespeare's plays, sonnets and longer poems; parallels of language, idiom, and thought between Oxford's personal letters and the Shakespearean canon;[121] and underlined passages in Oxford's personal bible, which Oxfordians believe correspond to quotations in Shakespeare's plays.[122] Confronting the issue of Oxford's death in 1604, Oxfordian researchers cite examples they say imply the writer known as "Shakespeare" or "Shake-speare" died before 1609, and point to 1604 as the year regular publication of "new" or "augmented" Shakespeare plays stopped.

Sir Francis Bacon[edit]

Sir Francis Bacon is often cited as a possible author of Shakespeare's plays

The leading candidate of the 19th century was Sir Francis Bacon, a major scientist, philosopher, courtier, diplomat, essayist, historian and successful politician, who served as Solicitor General (1607), Attorney General (1613) and Lord Chancellor (1618).

Supporters of the theory, known as Baconians, note that Bacon concluded a 1603 letter with the words "so desiring you to be good to concealed poets",[123] which supporters consider a confession. The hypothesis itself was formally presented by William Henry Smith in 1856, and was expanded the following year by both Smith and Delia Bacon. Notable supporters of the Baconian Theory have included Ignatius L. Donnelly, Friedrich Nietzsche and Harry Stratford Caldecott.

As early as the 1890's Baconians began drawing attention to similarities between a great number of specific phrases and aphorisms from the plays, and those written down by Bacon in his private wastebook, the Promus of Formularies and Elegancies,[124]. They also point to Bacon's comments about being "strongly addicted to the theatre"[125] and that "play-acting was used by the ancients "as a means of educating men's minds to virtue,"[126] Baconians conclude that since he outlined both a scientific and a moral philosophy in his Advancement of Learning, but only his scientific philosophy, Novum Organum, was known to have been published, that he imparted his moral philosophy to the public by way of the Shakespeare plays (e.g. the nature of good government exemplified by Prince Hal in Henry IV, Part 2).

Baconians also believe the circumstances surrounding the first known performance of The Comedy of Errors, and the close proximity of Bacon to the William Strachey letter upon which many scholars think The Tempest was based, provide a unique connection to Bacon. Also, since Bacon had first-hand knowledge of government cipher methods,[2] most Baconians see it as feasible that he left his signature somewhere in the Shakespearean work, and numerous ciphers have been interpreted as implying that Bacon was the true author.

Christopher Marlowe[edit]

Christopher Marlowe has been cited as a possible author for Shakespeare's works

A case for the gifted young playwright and poet Christopher Marlowe was made as early as 1895 in Wilbur Gleason Zeigler's foreword to his novel, It Was Marlowe: A Story of the Secret of Three Centuries.[127] Although only two months older than Shakespeare, Marlowe is recognized by scholars as the primary influence on Shakespeare's work, the "master" to Shakespeare's "apprentice". Unlike any other authorship candidate, Marlowe is believed to have been a brilliant poet and dramatist, the true originator of "Shakespearean" blank verse drama, and the only candidate to have actually demonstrated the potential to achieve the literary heights that Shakespeare did,[128] had he not been killed at the age of 29, as the historical record shows.

Those who subscribe to this theory, called "Marlovians", believe that he didn't really die in 1593, however, and that his biographers approach his alleged death in the wrong way by trying only to discover why he was really killed, as this has resulted in considerable disagreement amongst them.[129] Marlovians argue that a better approach is to seek the most logical explanation for those particular people—given their backgrounds—to have met at that particular time and place. They conclude that it was to fake Marlowe’s death so he could escape what would have been almost certain execution after being tried on charges of subversive atheism.

If he did actually survive, they cite as evidence for his authorship of Shakespeare's works how much of an influence Marlowe was on Shakespeare, how indistinguishable their works were to start with (surprisingly so, given the differences in their levels of education and in their social and 'working' backgrounds) and how seamless was the transition from Marlowe's works to Shakespeare's immediately following the apparent death. In fact, a central plank in the Marlovian theory is that the first clear association of William Shakespeare with the works bearing his name—Venus and Adonis, the "first heir" of Shakespeare's "invention"—was registered with the Stationers' Company on 18 April 1593 with no named author, but was printed with William Shakespeare's name signed to the dedication, and on sale just 13 days after Marlowe's supposed death, when the first copy is known to have been bought.[130]

William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby[edit]

William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby was reported to be writing plays for the "common players".

One of the chief arguments in support of Derby's candidacy is a pair of 1599 letters by the Jesuit spy George Fenner in which it is reported that Derby is "busy penning plays for the common players." Professor Abel Lefranc (1918) claimed his 1578 visit to the Court of Navarre is reflected in Love's Labour's Lost. His older brother Ferdinando Stanley, 5th Earl of Derby formed a group of players which evolved into the King's Men, one of the companies most associated with Shakespeare.

It has been theorized that the first production of A Midsummer Night's Dream was performed at his wedding banquet. Born in 1561, Stanley's mother was Margaret Clifford, great granddaughter of Henry VII, whose family line made Stanley an heir to the throne. He married Elizabeth de Vere, daughter of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford and Anne Cecil.[131]

Elizabeth's maternal grandfather was William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, the oft-acknowledged prototype of the character of Polonius in Hamlet. In 1599 he is was reported as financing one of London's two children's drama companies, the Paul's Boys and, his playing company, Derby's Men, known for playing at the "Boar's Head" which played multiple times at court in 1600 and 1601.[132]Derby was also closely associated with William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke and his brother Philip Herbert, Earl of Montgomery and later 4th Earl of Pembroke, the two dedicatees of the 1623 Shakespearean folio. Around 1628 to 1629, when Derby released his estates to his son James, who became the 7th Earl, the named trustees were Pembroke and Montgomery.

Asserting a similarity with the name "William Shakespeare", supporters of the Stanley candidacy note that Stanley's first name was William, his initials were W. S., and he was known to sign himself, "Will". Stanley is often mentioned as a leader or participant in the "group theory" of Shakespearean authorship.[131]

Group theory[edit]

In the 1960s, the most popular general theory was that Shakespeare's plays and poems were the work of a group rather than one individual. A group consisting of De Vere, Bacon, William Stanley, Mary Sidney, and others, has been put forward, for example.[133] In 2010, the theory was advocated by renowned actor Derek Jacobi, who told the British press, "I subscribe to the group theory. I don't think anybody could do it on their own. I think the leading light was probably de Vere, as I agree that an author writes about his own experiences, his own life and personalities."[134][135]

Other candidates[edit]

At least fifty other candidates have also been proposed, including the writer and literary patron Mary Sidney,[136] William Nugent, a less well known candidate first put forward in the 1970's by the distinguished Meath historian Elizabeth Hickey,[137] Fulke Greville, 1st Baron Brooke(1554–1628), proposed in 2007 by A. W. L. Saunders, and Henry Neville, a contemporary Elizabethan English diplomat and distant relative of Shakespeare, proposed in 2005 by Brenda James and William Rubinstein, professor of history at Aberystwyth University. Other candidates include the poet Emilia Lanier (1569–1645), Sir Edward Dyer; and Roger Manners, 5th Earl of Rutland (sometimes with his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Philip Sidney).[138]


  • a. ^ On age 29, H. N. Gibson writes, "Although it is not properly my business, I feel that in the interests of fairness I ought to point out that most of the sins of omission and commission I have just laid to the charge of the theorists can also be found among the orthodox Stratfordians when they write a panegyric of their hero. They even have a group - the Bardolators - who are almost as wild and woolly as the Bacon Cryptologists." On page 30, Gibson continues, "Most of the great Shakespearean scholars are to be found in the Stratfordian camp; but too much must not be made of this fact, for many of them display comparatively little interest in the controversy with which we are dealing. Their chief concerns are textual criticism, interpretation, and the internal problems of the plays, and they accept the orthodox view mainly because it is orthodox. The Stratfordians can, however, legitimately claim that almost all the great Elizabethan scholars who have interested themselves in the controversy have been on their side.[139]
  • b. ^ However, Chandler writes:'while Oxfordians have sometimes attacked the academy for ignoring them, the fact is, on the whole, that "mainstream" Shakespeare scholarship has shown more interest in Oxfordianism than Oxfordians have shown in "mainstream" Shakespearean scholarship. SeeDavid Chandler, 'Historicizing Difference: Anti-Stratfordians and the Academy,’ in Elizabethan Review.
  • c. ^ In the New York Times(30 August 2005), Niederkorn writes, "The traditional theory that Shakespeare was Shakespeare has the passive to active acceptance of the vast majority of English professors and scholars, but it also has had its skeptics, including major authors, independent scholars, lawyers, Supreme Court justices, academics and even prominent Shakespearean actors. Those who see a likelihood that someone other than Shakespeare wrote the plays and poems attributed to him have grown from a handful to a thriving community with its own publications, organizations, lively online discussion groups and annual conferences."[140]


  1. ^ McMichael, George, and Edgar M. Glenn.Shakespeare and His Rivals: A Casebook on the Authorship Controversy (1962), 56.
  2. ^ Kathman, 621; Niederkorn, William S.William S.Niederkorn, The Shakespeare Code, and Other Fanciful Ideas From the Traditional Camp,, New York Times, 30 August 2005; Declaration of Reasonable Doubt About the Identity of William Shakespeare;Did He or Didn’t He? That Is the Question,New York Times; Matus, Irvin. Doubts About Shakespeare's Authorship ─ Or About Oxfordian Scholarship?; McCrea, Scott. The Case for Shakespeare (2005), 13: “It was not until 1848 that the Authorship Question emerged from the obscurity of private speculation into the daylight of public debate.”
  3. ^ Charlton Ogburn,The Mysterious William Shakespeare: the Myth and the Reality (1984); Jonathan Bate, The Genius of Shakespeare, pg 69.
  4. ^ James, Oscar, and Ed Campbell.The Reader's Encyclopedia of Shakespeare (1966), 115.
  5. ^ Gibson, H. N.The Shakespeare Claimants: A Critical Survey of the Four Principal Theories Concerning the Authorship of the Shakespearean Plays(2005) 48, 72, 124; Kathman, David. "The Question of Authorship" in Shakespeare: An Oxford Guide, Stanley Wells, ed. (2003), 620-632, 620, 625–626; Love, Harold. Attributing Authorship: An Introduction (2002), 194–209; Samuel Schoenbaum. Shakespeare's Lives, 2nd ed. (1991) 430–40.
  6. ^ N.H. Gibson, The Shakespeare Claimants, (Barnes and Noble 1962), Routledge reprint 2005 p.10
  7. ^ Price, Diana. Shakespeare's Unorthodox Biography: New Evidence of An Authorship Problem Author's website: Diana Price: About Shakespeare's Unorthodox Biography Westport, Ct: Greenwood, 2001. pp. 96-97.
  8. ^ Michell, pp 17-36
  9. ^ Mark Twain "Is Shakespeare Dead?", Whitman, as per
  10. ^ Rosenberg, Saul,About an Author, Much Ado, Wall Street Journal, April 16, 2010, Accessed Sept 14, 2010.
  11. ^ Benson, Jackson J. (1989) "Steinbeck: A Defense of Biographical Criticism" College Literature 16(29): pp. 107-116, page 108
  12. ^ Writing essays about literature: a guide and style sheet(2004), Kelley Griffith, University of North Carolina at Greensborough, Wadsworth Publishing Company , pages 177-178, 400
  13. ^ Looney, J. Thomas, "Shakespeare" Identified (NY: Frederick A. Stokes, 1920), 79-84.
  14. ^, graphs 26 & 27
  15. ^ David Chandler, 'Historicizing Difference: Anti-Stratfordians and the Academy,’ in Elizabethan Review]
  16. ^ Bate, Jonathan. The Genius of Shakespeare, (1998), 36-37
  17. ^ Love, 198-200, 303-207; Bate, 68-73.
  18. ^ Niederkorn, William S.William S.Niederkorn,The Shakespeare Code, and Other Fanciful Ideas From the Traditional Camp,, New York Times, 30 August 2005
  19. ^ Did He or Didn’t He? That Is the Question, New York Times; [1]]
  20. ^ Schoenbaum, Sam, Shakespeare’s Lives, 2nd ed(Oxford: Oxford UP, 1991), 405, 411, 437; Looney, J. Thomas, "Shakespeare" Identified (NY: Frederick A. Stokes, 1920), 79-84.
  21. ^ Derek Jacobi,"Introduction" in Mark Anderson, Shakespeare by Another Name Gotham Books, 2005, page xxiv
  22. ^ Twain, "Is Shakespeare Dead?"
  23. ^ Looney, Shakespeare Identified
  24. ^ Online 'Declaration of Reasonable Doubt', accessed 6/14/10|
  25. ^ Online signatory page, accessed 6/14/10|
  26. ^ Ogburn, p.11, pp. 95-98, p. 110
  27. ^ Price, Diana.Shakespeare's Unorthodox Biography: New Evidence of An Authorship ProblemAuthor's website: Diana Price: About Shakespeare's Unorthodox BiographyWestport, Ct: Greenwood, 2001. pp. 130-131.
  28. ^ Sobran, Joseph. Alias Shakespeare: Solving the Greatest Literary Mystery of All Time. Free Press, 1997, pp. 25, 146.
  29. ^ Ogburn (1984), pp. 112, 759.
  30. ^ Twain, Mark. Is Shakespeare Dead? 1909.
  31. ^ Online course catalogue: Shakespeare Authorship Studies MA, accessed 6/14/10 |
  32. ^ = Who Wrote the Works Attributed to William Shakespeare? Academics Officially Challenge... =, Business Wire, April 23 2007, accessed 6/14/10|;
  33. ^ Bate, 20.
  34. ^ funerary monument in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford, compares Shakespeare to Virgil and refers to his "living art"), and records by visitors to Stratford from as far back as the 1630s described it in this way. See McMichael, George and Edgar M. Glenn. Shakespeare and his Rivals: A Casebook on the Authorship Controversy (1962), 41.
  35. ^ Stanley Wells, Shakespeare: The Poet & His Plays, Methuen, 1997 pp.10f.,p.10
  36. ^ Chambers, E. K. (1930), William Shakespeare: A Study of Facts and Problems, 2 vols., Oxford: Clarendon Press, Vol. 2: 207-211, 228-230; vol.1:377,463; vol.2 218,220,221
  37. ^ For a full account of the documents relating to Shakespeare's life, see Samuel Schoenbaum, William Shakespeare: A Compact Documentary Life (1987)
  38. ^ McCrea, Scott. The Case for Shakespeare (2005), xii-xiii, 10.
  39. ^ Love, 200; McCrea, 14.
  40. ^ Gibson, N.H. The Shakespeare Claimants, (1962, 2005), 10.
  41. ^ McCrea, Scott. The Case for Shakespeare (2005), xii-xiii, 10.
  42. ^ Bate, Jonathan. The Genius of Shakespeare, (1998), 36-37
  43. ^ Love, Harold. Attributing Authorship: An Introduction (2002), 198
  44. ^ Terence Schoone-Jongen. Shakespeare's companies: William Shakespeare's Early Career and the Acting Companies, 1577-1594 (2008), 5
  45. ^ Bate, 4
  46. ^ Petti, Anthony G. English Literary Hands from Chaucer to Dryden (1977), 1-4.
  47. ^ Taylor and Mosher,Bibliographical History of Anonyma and Pseudonyma. Chicago: The University Press, 1951, 85.
  48. ^ Saunders 1951, pp. 139–164
  49. ^ Price 2001, pp. 55–76
  50. ^ Price 2001, pp. 55–56
  51. ^ 'it is well known by good record of learning, and that by Cicero's own witness, that some Comedies bearing Terence['] name were written by worthy Scipio and wise Laelius'. Roger Ascham, The Scholemaster, edited by Edward Arber, Westminster: A. Constable & Co., 1903, p. 143. For further discussion on this point, see Price, pp. 63-64
  52. ^ Zaller, Robert. The discourse of legitimacy in early modern England (2007) Palo Alto, CA:Stanford UP, 41–42: "Much turned on the authorship of the critical preface...which Hayward insisted was his own although many had attributed it to Essex."
  53. ^ Sohmer, Steve. "12 June 1599: Opening Day at Shakespeare's Globe." Early Modern Literary Studies 3.1 (1997): 1.1-46
  54. ^ Anderson, intro
  55. ^ Charlton Ogburn, The Mystery of William Shakespeare, 1983, pgs 87–88
  56. ^
  57. ^ Anderson, Shakespeare by Another Name, 2005, intro
  58. ^ Kathman; Partridge, A. C. Orthography in Shakespeare and Elizabethan Drama (1964); Taylor, Archer, and Fredric J. Mosher. The Bibliographical History of Anonyma and Pseudonyma (1951, 1993)
  59. ^ Matus 28-30
  60. ^;col1
  61. ^ Anderson, Mark. "Shakespeare" by Another Name. New York City: Gotham Books. xxx. ISBN 1592402151. 
  62. ^ Scott McCrea,The case for Shakespeare: the end of the authorship question, 2005, Greenwood Publishing Group, pg 21.
  63. ^;col1
  64. ^ Michell, page 71
  65. ^ McCrea 2005, p. 21
  66. ^ “No one in Shakespeare’s lifetime or the first two hundred years after his death expressed the slightest doubt about his authorship.” Bate, p. 73; ". . . no suspicions regarding Shakespeare's authorship (except for a few mainly humorous comments) were expressed until the middle of the nineteenth century (in Hart's The Romance of Yachting, 1848). For over two hundred years no one had any serious doubts," p. 486. Hastings, William T. "Shakspere Was Shakespeare" in The American Scholar (28) 1959, pp. 479-88: Kathman, 622; Martin, 3-4; Wadsworth, Frank W.The Poacher from Stratford (1958), 8-16; "It was not until 1848 that the Authorship Question emerged from the obscurity of private speculation into the daylight of public debate.” McCrea, 13
  67. ^ Gibson, H.N. The Shakespeare Claimants, New York: Barnes and Noble, 1962, 59-65; Michell, John, Who Wrote Shakespeare, London: Thames and Hudson, 1996, 126-29
  68. ^ Price, Diana. Shakespeare's Unorthodox Biography (2001), 224-26.
  69. ^ Michell, John, Who Wrote Shakespeare, London: Thames and Hudson, 1996, 126-29
  70. ^ Friedman, William F. and Elizebeth S. The Shakespearean Ciphers Examined (1957), pp. 1-4, quoted in Shakespeare and His Rivals, George McMichael, Edward M. Glenn, eds. (1962) pg. 56; Wadsworth, 10.
  71. ^ Sawyer, Robert (2003). Victorian Appropriations of Shakespeare. New Jersey: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 113. ISBN 0838639704.
  72. ^ Ralph Waldo Emerson, 'Shakspeare; or, the Poetì in Joel Porte (ed.) Essays & lectures By Ralph Waldo Emerson,Library of America, 1983 p.725
  73. ^ Wadsworth, 19.
  74. ^ Traubel, H.: With Walt Whitman in Camden, qtd. in Anon, 'Walt Whitman on Shakespeare'. The Shakespeare Fellowship. (Oxfordian website). Retrieved April 16, 2006.
  75. ^ Michell, 191.
  76. ^ Schoenbaum (1991), 431
  77. ^ Schoenbaum (1991) 446.
  78. ^ McMichael, pg 154
  79. ^ Gibson, 48, 72, 124; Kathman, David (2003), 620; Schoenbaum, Lives, 430–40.
  80. ^ [Did He or Didn’t He? That Is the Question. New York Times
  81. ^ Price, Diana, Shakespeare's Unorthodox Biography: New Evidence of an Authorship Problem, pgs 5-6, 11-12, Greenwood Press, 2001
  82. ^ Diana Price, Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Biography: New Evidence of an Authorship Problem (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2001), 153-194. See also Price, “Evidence for a Literary Biography," The University of Tennessee Law Review (fall 2004):143-146 for additional analyses of the posthumous evidence.
  83. ^ Price, Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Biography, 111-150, 301-313. Errata and additions on Price’s website at For an expansion on this section, see Price “Evidence for a Literary Biography, 111-147.
  84. ^ For a comparable analysis of personal literary paper trails for two candidates for the authorship of The Arte of English Poesie, see Gladys D. Willcock & Alice Walker, eds. The Arte of English Poesie (Cambridge Univ. Press 1936) xvii-xviii, xxiii. For a discussion of criteria, see Robert C. Williams, The Historian’s Toolbox: A Student’s Guide to the Theory and Craft of History (M.E. Sharpe 2003), who defines a “primary source [as] a document, image, or artifact that provides evidence about the past. It is an original document created contemporaneously with the event under discussion” [emphasis added], 58. See also Paul M. Kendall, The Art of Biography (1965. Reprint, W.W. Norton 1985), xiii.
  85. ^ Terttu Nevalainen ‘Early Modern English Lexis and Semantics’, in Roger Lass (ed.)The Cambridge History of the English Language, vol.3, 1476-1776, Cambridge University Press 1999 pp.332-458, p.336. The low figure is that of Manfred Scheler. The upper figure is that of Marvin Spevack.
  86. ^ Anderson, Mark. "Shakespeare" by Another Name. New York City: Gotham Books. ISBN 1592402151. 
  87. ^ Germaine Greer Past Masters: Shakespeare (Oxford University Press 1986, ISBN 0-19-287538-8) pp1–2
  88. ^ Ridell, James, and Stewart, Stanley, The Ben Jonson Journal, Vol. 1 (1994), p.183; article refers to an inventory of Ben Jonson's private library
  89. ^ Riggs, David, Ben Jonson: A Life (Harvard University Press: 1989), p.58.
  90. ^ Park Honan,Shakespeare: A Life, Oxford University Press, 1999, ch,4. esp.pp.49-51
  91. ^ Bate, Jonathan (2008). "Stratford Grammar; After Palingenius; Continuing Education: the Art of Translation; The School of Prospero; Shakespeare's Small Library". Soul of the Age; the life, mind and world of William Shakespeare. London: Viking. pp. 79–157. ISBN 978-0-670-91482-1. 
  92. ^ Chaplin, Charles. My Autobiography (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1964), 364.
  93. ^
  94. ^ Bate, Jonathan, The Genius of Shakespeare (London, Picador, 1997)
  95. ^ Spedding, James, The Life and Letters of Francis Bacon (1872), Vol.7, p.228-30 ("And in particular, I wish the Elogium I wrote in felicem memoriam Reginae Elizabethae may be published")
  96. ^ Kathman, David. 'Shakespeare's Will',
  97. ^ G. E. Bentley, The Profession of Dramatist in Shakespeare's Time: 1590–1642 (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1971)
  98. ^ Honigmann, E. A. J. and Susan Brock's 'Playhouse Wills, 1558-1642, (1993).
  99. ^ a b Scharf, George (23 April 1864). "On the principal portraits of Shakespeare". Notes and Queries. London. 3:5 (121): 336. 
  100. ^ Ogburn, Charlton. The Mysterious William Shakespeare: The Myth & the Reality (1984), 210-214.
  101. ^ Schoenbaum (1987), 306–13
  102. ^ ‘Shakespeare’s True Face’, Times Literary Supplement, 30 June and 14 July 2006,
  103. ^ Vickers, Brian. "The face of the Bard?", Times Literary Supplement, Aug. 18 & 25, 16-17; quoted at
  104. ^ These researchers note that the words "ever-living" rarely, if ever, refer to someone who is actually alive. Miller, amended Shakespeare Identified, Volume 2, pgs 211–214
  105. ^ Oxford English Dictionary 2nd edition, 1989
  106. ^ Bate, Jonathan, The Genius of Shakespeare, pg 63
  107. ^
  108. ^ Notably in William Covell's Polimanteia (1595), reprinted in Alexander B. Grosart’s Elizabethan England in Gentle and Simple Life, p. 34, available at; Foster, Donald. "Master W. H., R. I. P."PMLA 102 (1987) 42-54, 46-48.
  109. ^ Foster, 44-46; Bate, 61.
  110. ^ Bate, 61.
  111. ^ Shakespeares Venus and Adonis: being a reproduction in facsimile of the first edition, 1593, from the unique copy in the Malone collection in the Bodleian library, pgs 38.
  112. ^ Duncan-Jones, “Was the 1609 Shakes-Speares Sonnets Really Unauthorized?”
  113. ^ Lee, pg 40.
  114. ^ Justice John Paul Stevens "The Shakespeare Canon of Statutory Construction" UNIVERSITY of PENNSYLVANIA LAW REVIEW (v.140: no. 4, April 1992)
  115. ^ John Mitchell, Who Wrote Shakespeare? London, Thames and Hudson, 1996, page 14
  116. ^ Kathman, David. "The Spelling and Pronunciation of Shakespeare's Name",
  117. ^ Matus, 24-26;
  118. ^ Shakespeare: An Oxford Guide, David Kathman, Editors Wells/Orlin, Oxford University Press, 2003, page 624
  119. ^ Bryson, Bill (2008). Shakespeare. London: Harper Perennial. p. 86. ISBN 9780007197903. ; name="brit">"Edward de Vere, 17th earl of Oxford". Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-31. ; name="usnews">Satchell, Michael (2000-07-24). "Hunting for good Will: Will the real Shakespeare please stand up?". U.S. News. Retrieved 2007-08-31. ; McMichael, George and Edgar M. Glenn. Shakespeare and his Rivals: A Casebook on the Authorship Controversy. Odyssey Press, 1962. p. 159.
  120. ^ Wadsworth, 121.
  121. ^ Fowler, William Plumer. Shakespeare Revealed in Oxford's Letters. Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Peter E. Randall, 1986.
  122. ^ Stritmatter, Roger A."The Marginalia of Edward de Vere's Geneva Bible: Providential Discovery, Literary Reasoning, and Historical Consequence" (PhD diss., University of Massachusetts at Amherst, 2001). Partial reprint at The Shakespeare Fellowship.
  123. ^ Lambeth MS 976, folio 4
  124. ^ British Library MS Harley 7017; transcription in Durning-Lawrence, Edward, Bacon is Shakespeare (1910)
  125. ^ Pott; Pott: Did Francis Bacon Write "Shakespeare"?, p. 7.
  126. ^ Bacon, Francis, Advancement of Learning 1640, Book 2, xiii
  127. ^ Wilbur Gleason Zeigler. It Was Marlowe: A Story of the Secret of Three Centuries (1895), Donohue, Henneberry & Co, v-xi.
  128. ^ See for selection of relevant quotations.
  129. ^ A range of responses is given in Peter Farey's Marlowe's Sudden and Fearful End, 2001.
  130. ^ Samuel Schoenbaum, William Shakespeare: A Documentary Life, (1976), p.131.
  131. ^ a b
  132. ^ Gurr, Andrew. The Shakesperian Playing Companies. "My Lord Darby hath put up the playes of the children in Pawles to his great paines and charge." Gurr's source is: Historical Manuscripts Commission, Report on the manuscripts of Lord de L'Isle and Dudley ed. C. L. Kingsford
  133. ^ McMichael, pg 154
  134. ^
  135. ^ Concord University Authorship Conference website
  136. ^ Robin P. Williams - Sweet Swan of Avon: did a woman write Shakespeare? Wilton Press, 2006. Illustrated by John Tollett. ISBN 978-0321426406
  137. ^ Hickey, Elizabeth, The Green Cockatrice (Tara, 1978).
  138. ^ Ilya Gililov, Evelina Melenevskaia, Gennady Bashkov, Galina Kozlova, The Shakespeare Game: The Mystery of the Great Phoenix, Algora Publishing, 2003
  139. ^ Gibson, H.N. The Shakespeare Claimants (1962, 2005) pp. 29-30
  140. ^ Niederkorn, William S.William S.Niederkorn, The Shakespeare Code, and Other Fanciful Ideas From the Traditional Camp,, New York Times, 30 August 2005

External links[edit]

General non-Stratfordian[edit]

  • The Shakespeare Authorship Coalition, home of the "Declaration of Reasonable Doubt About the Identify of William Shakespeare" -- a concise, definitive explanation of the reasons to doubt the case for the Stratford man. Doubters can read, and sign, the Declaration online.
  • The Shakespeare Authorship Trust, survey of all the authorship candidates, a site patronised by the actor Mark Rylance and Dr William Leahy of Brunel University, UK
  • Shakespeare Authorship Roundtable, an examination of the authorship debate, overview of the major and minor candidates for authorship of the canon, literary collaboration and the group theory, bibliography and forum.





Other candidates[edit]