Did Shakespeare Really Write All Those Plays?

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We have all studied William Shakespeare’s plays either in school or college or both, at times willingly and the others aided with multiple cans of RedBulls and SparkNotes. The following conspiracy theory may please the haters but those who loved his works, be prepared to be scarred for life!

 The Shakespeare authorship question is the argument that someone other than William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon wrote the works attributed to him. Anti-Stratfordians believe that Shakespeare was merely a front to shield the identity of the real author or authors, who for some reason did not want or could not accept public credit.

There are many accusations made against Shakespeare’s authorship. Firstly,the Anti-Stratfordians point out that nobody knows if Shakespeare spelled his name as indicated in his signatures. The only surviving examples of his handwriting are six scraggly signatures spelled several different ways. They even counter that his contemporaries only refer to him as an actor, never explicitly as a playwright.

There is also an apparent disconnect between the life that William Shakespeare lived and the ones he wrote about. Shakespeare’s plays show a strong grasp of literature, language, court life and foreign travel which are unlikely things that a small-town actor without a university education would be familiar with. There is also the allegation that the language of his will is mundane and unpoetic and makes no mention of personal papers, books, poems, or the 18 plays that remained unpublished at the time of his death.

There are a number of names that come up as to who could have written the plays if not Shakespeare. Amongst these are Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford and a courtier poet. Some believe there are references in the plays to his life and that there are a series of codes in the writing that implicate him as the author.

 It is also thought possible that Sir Francis Bacon, writer of New Atlantis, essayist and scientist, could have written the plays because of the similarities in the plays to his own.

Now as it mostly happens, with the start of these theories, another particularly intriguing one came out that the playwright, Christopher Marlowe was writing at the same time as Shakespeare and it is likely that the two crossed paths. The theory goes that the reports of Marlowe’s death were falsified to protect him from going to prison for being an atheist. Marlovians believe that Shakespeare was named as the play’s author to protect the truth of what really happened to Marlowe.

With the initials WS, William Stanley, the 6th Earl of Derby, is another strong candidate. Through his marriage to Elizabeth de Vere, he was related to William Cecil, on whom many believe the character of Polonius in Hamlet is based.

While these are theories compacted for your ease (feel free to google them, they’re super interesting!) I’m pretty sure that your mind has been successfully blown! Although there is an ample amount of evidence to prove this theory to be accurate, it is still considered one of the most popular conspiracy theories. So why don’t you put on your investigative caps and go out in the search of the truth?

 

Sources: http://content.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1661619,00.html , https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakespeare_authorship_question , http://www.telegraph.co.uk/theatre/playwrights/shakespeare-the-conspiracy-theories/