The question of authorship can completely change a person’s view on William Shakespeare, because it speaks to what we think is possible in life. And it's not a matter that we want to discuss further, either within the films or in the forum. Throughout his life, there are a range of people who refer to Shakespeare as a writer, and indeed as a great writer. I'm here today with Jonathan [Bate] to talk about the authorship question. Reid: Well, you certainly convinced me. For four hundred years, doubts have been recorded about whether William Shaksper from Stratford actually wrote the works attributed to him. And equally, Looney was a schoolmaster. Delia Bacon was an American. The Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship is a non-profit, educational organization dedicated to investigating the Shakespeare authorship question and disseminating the evidence that Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, is the true author of the poems and plays published under the pseudonym "William Shakespeare." Find out more. But early on in the book is a wonderful poem in praise of Shakespeare by Ben Jonson. And there's so much more evidence than that, that the writer was the actor, the actor was the man from Stratford. Years before, while studying pulsars, Sturrock devised a new method to process information using statistics. This page shows the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition's "Declaration of Reasonable Doubt About the Identity of William Shakespeare," which provides an introduction to the Shakespeare authorship controversy, or Shakespeare authorship debate. The Shakespeare authorship question is the argument that someone other than William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon wrote the works attributed to him. He worked closely with Shakespeare's fellow actors, John Heminges and Henry Condell, the leading surviving actors from his time. Indeed, Jonson talks in his conversations with other writers in his notebooks about Shakespeare's techniques of writing. How did Shakespeare know about the life of the court? Yeah, this is the one that if you're a Shakespeare scholar, and you get in a taxi anywhere in the world, the first question is, "So, was Shakespeare really Shakespeare? This is where the implications for people reading Shakespeare today 400 years on are most important. The Shakespeare authorship question is the argument that someone other than William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon wrote the works attributed to him. That was the very rationale of having acting companies. Here, we treat the authorship of the works attributed to William Shakespeare from Stratford-upon-Avon as a hypothesis (rather than received truth) and review the current methods available for testing this hypothesis. Behind me on the wall is a facsimile of his bust in Holy Trinity Church here in Stratford, in which he's got his hand on a piece of paper. She had hoped to dig up Shakespeare's bones and find some secret document. And so I think it sort of became inevitable that people would think well, we need Shakespeare to have a bit of glamour, to be a lord. I think the answer is wherever there is great fame and a kind of cult, then inevitably, heresies, alternative views, conspiracy theories tend to emerge. And underneath that bust, there's also an inscription. So nobody doubts that Shakespeare the player, came from Stratford, was the son of John Shakespeare and Mary Arden. She came from a country where it was supposed to be possible to go from a log cabin to the White House. This was the bust put there - his monument above his grave - very soon after his death. Celebrating Shakespeare is at the heart of everything we do. But the really interesting thing is that one of the two men in the heralds' office who defended Shakespeare the player's right to a coat of arms also spoke about Shakespeare the writer, Shakespeare the poet and dramatist. And he describes Shakespeare there, in that poem, as "the sweet swan of Avon.". Pseudohistory-Wikipedia Because, of course, it was with the Romantics that the great cult of Shakespeare took off. Hi, I’m Jennifer Reid, and I am the course mentor on Shakespeare and His World. "For comedy, witness his Two Gentlemen of Verona, his Comedy of Errors, Love's Labours Lost, Love's Labours Won" (that's a lost play) "Midsummer Night's Dream, Merchant of Venice. And indeed, Meres goes on a few pages later to say that "The greatness of Shakespeare as a writer was the range of his work." The Shakespeare Authorship Question is the historical and academic debate about whether the works traditionally attributed to William Shakspere of Stratford-upon-Avon were actually composed by another writer, or a group of writers. So the complaint about the coat of arms for Shakespeare the player is intimately linked to the references back to Stratford. And there is ample evidence that William Shakespeare, a man from Stratford-upon-Avon, and born in this place, became an actor, became a playwright, then eventually returned to Stratford and died. Because, marvellous thing that the internet is, the problem is that there isn't a system of independent verification where you can discover which websites are actually based on evidence, and which are based on conspiracy theory. The Shakespeare authorship question is the argument about whether someone other than William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon wrote the works attributed to him. Was it the man from Stratford?" So in a way, I think it's a kind of off-shoot of the Romantic movement. But in terms of external verification -- again, scholarship always looks for external verification. I think the way to begin an answer to that is to think about other conspiracy theories. It was the Romantics who were the first to say, Shakespeare is the greatest genius there has ever been. And what's more, Jonson was very involved in the production of the First Folio. Bate: Yes, indeed. I've got In front of me here a facsimile of the First Folio. The thing about any kind of scholarship is that you begin with the evidence. He was also an actor in the company that performed his plays, and as an actor for the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, one of the most prominent playing companies in London, his annual income would have been sufficient to enable him to take shares in the theatre company and rise up socially. The Main Culprits in the Authorship Debate Are Christopher Marlowe . Bate: OK, thanks very much, Jen. Some people say that some of the works attributed to William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon were not actually written by him. There was a schoolmaster called Thomas Looney who accepted it wasn't Bacon, but again thought; how could this grammar schoolboy from the provinces have known so much about courts and aristocracy? The Shakespeare authorship question is the argument about whether someone other than William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon wrote the works attributed to him. Who really wrote Shakespeare's plays? They're the ones who put together the First Folio, and they talk about Shakespeare as a writer. But Meres, who seemed to know everybody in the London literary world, is quite clear that they're different people from Shakespeare. Was there a second gunman assassinating John F. Kennedy? We’re in week one of Shakespeare and His World, and it’s bound to have come up by now. You had to go to an office called the heralds' office. Shakespeare, known as a man from Stratford. Created in collaboration with Warwick Business School, University of Warwick as part of our Massive Open Online Course, 'Shakespeare and His World'. Continue Reading. The Shakespeare authorship question is the argument that someone other than William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon wrote the works attributed to him. As we'll discover later in the course, Shakespeare was very concerned with the fact that his father's reputation had decayed as a result of financial problems. But from our point of view, from the point of view of the course, we feel, on the basis of the evidence we've laid out, other evidence that's available in a number of books that we'll be listing on the course site, the matter is settled. The Shakespeare authorship question is a fringe theory which claims that the works attributed to William Shakespeare were actually written by someone other than William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon. Watch: Prof Carol Rutter and Prof Stanley Wells discuss the authorship question in a video conversation. Reid: Hi, I'm Jennifer Reid, and I am the course mentor on Shakespeare and His World. It was published in 1598, so quite early in Shakespeare's career, by a man called Francis Meres, who was very keen on literature. And he'd been Ben Jonson's schoolmaster at Westminster School. So there's a tight nexus of relationships between these people. For 200 years the question didn't occur to anybody. Ben Jonson; friend, rival, fellow actor, fellow playwright. These authors did not want their real names to become public, for various resons. And for tragedy, his Richard II, Richard III, Henry IV, King John, Titus Andronicus, and Romeo and Juliet.". If there is such strong evidence, why is there this controversy, and when did it start? And in one of his books, which is a kind of overflow from his history of England – it was called "The Remains of a Greater History" – he talks about the great writers, the pregnant wits, as he calls them, of his own time. She ended up in a private lunatic asylum not far from Stratford, actually. He was born in the same year as Shakespeare, but died around the same time that Shakespeare started to write his plays. Anti-Stratfordians say Shakespeare of Stratford was a false name to shield the identity of the real author or authors. The authorship question, he reasoned, could be addressed by a scientific approach. This belief stirs what is known today as the Shakespeare authorship question. So we'd like to just address the question in person and put it to bed once and for all. But he duly got it, and the coat of arms is reproduced here. Why should we care if William Shakespeare wrote all those plays himself, or not? Reid: So what is the strongest piece of evidence we have that Shakespeare the actor from Stratford-upon-Avon was the Shakespeare that wrote the plays? But I think the most fascinating piece of external verification is the combination of these two things, a document and a book. Join our site and tell us about it! So it does seem that a lot of the arguments come down to a kind of snobbery-- the idea that such a great mind could not have come from such a humble background. The Shakespeare authorship question is the argument that someone other than William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon wrote the works attributed to him. So we find him here, for example, saying that just as the Latin tongue, the Latin language was glorified by great writers like Virgil, and Ovid, and Horace, so the English language has been glorified by the wonderful poetry of Sir Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, Samuel Daniel, Michael Drayton, William Warner, Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Chapman. And, of course, over the years there have been a number of theories of this sort. He wanted to give a sense of the greatness, the dignity, of all the new English literature being written in the 1590s, in his time. Certainly, Shakespeare came from relatively humble beginnings, and was not a member of royalty or part of the nobility - but, I argue, that is no reason to suppose that someone from his background could not write as well as he did, or accrue the wealth, position and influence in London theatrical society that he did. So if we ask ‘When did this begin’, the idea that Shakespeare, the actor from Stratford, was not the author of the plays, the answer is round about the Victorian period. And there's a list of the writers there, and William Shakespeare is bang in the middle of it. I’m here today with Jonathan to talk about the authorship question. So the evidence of Meres, and, as I say, a number of other people publishing books in Shakespeare's lifetime praising his poetry, make the connection with the actor, with the man from Stratford. Shakespeare: The Evidence is a comprehensive survey of all the evidence relevant to determining whether William Shakspere of Stratford wrote the works attributed to him, with clear arguments from both sides of the Shakespeare Authorship Question, arranged in a simple bullet-pointed format. Nobody had any doubts. The Shakespeare authorship question is the argument over whether someone other than William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon wrote the works attributed to him. The evidence about Shakespeare's actual life is really rather boring. Do you have a point of view on a books related subject? But then, of course, with the advent of the internet, it came back in a big way. In the other hand, there would have been a quill, although, over time, the quill tended to be stolen and had to be replaced. that Shakspere wrote ‘Shakespeare’: he was a genius, arising with other writing talents just after Elizabeth’s reign began, and as Theatre began to demonstrate a new professionalism with the passing of…Continue Reading Of course, Heminges and Condell, the fellow actors, are remembered in the will of Shakespeare, the man from Stratford. Given a chance, the Shakespeare from Stratford became one of the greatest playwrights the world has ever seen. Bate: OK, well, we've seen the evidence from Stratford itself -- the bust. Reid: Hi, I'm Jennifer Reid, and I am the course mentor on Shakespeare and His World.I'm here today with Jonathan [Bate] to talk about the authorship question. Not only his poems, which Meres suggests are like those of the Roman poet Ovid, but also his comedies and tragedies. 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