Okay, it’s soapbox time; I’m here today to discuss one of my pet hates and that is the ridiculous idea that anyone, other than Shakespeare himself, wrote Shakespeare’s plays. It is the biggest load of nonsense going and worse, it is nothing but pure snobbery. Its just a bunch of stuck up morons who don’t want to believe that some commoner from Stratford could possibly wrote such works of utter genius. But why not? The upper classes do not have a monopoly on genius and for that matter Shakespeare himself was not as common as they make him out to be. His father was mayor of Stratford so he was not an uneducated peasant.
I must give thanks to Bill Bryson because a lot of the facts I’m about to quote come from his book entitled “Shakespeare”. His last chapter is on the conspiracy theories surrounding the plays authorship and I quote “So it needs to be said that nearly all of the anti-Shakespeare sentiment – actually all of it, every bit – involves manipulative scholarship or sweeping mistatement of fact.” ( Shakespeare, Bill Bryson, p. 180, 2008)
The anti Stratford brigade say that there were no mentions in contemporary documents of Shakespeare as a author but this is just a flat lie. “In the Master of Revels’ accounts for 1604-5 – that is, the record of plays performed before the King, Shakespeare is named seven times as the author of plays performed before James I. He is named as author of several quarto editions of his plays and John Webster identifies him as one of the greatest playwrights of his age in his preface to The White Devil.” (Shakespeare, Bill Bryson, p. 181, 2008) The number of ridiculous candidates put forward as ‘the real author’ gets sillier with every telling. Some say Elizabeth I herself was the real author although where she found the time is not explained. Francis Bacon is a favourite candidate despite the fact that in his private notebooks he repeatedly goes on about how much he hates the theatre. The Earl of Oxford is another favourite despite the fact that he rather inconveniently died before all the plays were written.
I let Bill Bryson have the final word; “One really must salute the ingenuity of the anti-Stratford enthusiasts who, if they are right, have managed to uncover the greatest literary fraud in history, without the benefit of anything that can be reasonably called evidence, four hundred years after it was perpetrated.” (Shakespeare, Bill Bryson, p. 195, 2008)