So Who Did Write Shakespeare Then? Favoured Books

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‘Who Wrote Shakespeare?’ by John Michell (Thames & Hudson) is, in my opinion, probably the best book of introduction to the ‘Shakespeare AuthorshipQuestion. However, this book is not so easy to find these days.

I have been fascinated by this Shakespeare puzzle for several years now, though I am still a long way short of doing enough research, and even further away from coming to a firm answer which sits well in my mind. It is an enigma which has occupied many individuals their whole lifetime over the last two hundred years, or more.

So why is there any doubt that the man of Stratford Upon Avon in central England is the true author of the plays which bear the name William Shakespeare? The chief problem is that the known life of William Shakespeare, or Shakspere (the spelling of his name is a subject unto itself), does not appear to be that of the greatest writer of all time.

Where is Will?

To cut a long story short, there are around half a dozen known signatures purportedly of this man, but they are all poorly written. Some say that is because all those that survive are from when he was ill at the end of his fifty two year old lifespan.

More than this, out of around seventy or so pieces of other documentary evidence, none refer to anything to do with literature, or books.

What the records do seem to show are the dealings of a business man, with a keen interest in litigation. This man does appear to be in London at the right time and involved in the theatre, though not as a writer, but as a minor player – at best. His dealings with the London stage scene of the late Elizabethan and early Jacobean times all centre around business.

Shadowy Aristocrats

These are the prime reasons for doubt. But who might have written the plays and the poems?

John Michell, who had a very find mind and wrote some fascinating, enlightening books, put the arguments across superbly. He has chapters for the prime candidates, including Shakspere (the spelling of his name is a subject unto itself) of Stratford. First comes Francis Bacon, a known intellectual of the period, a writer and philosopher with all the prerequisite knowledge and library of books to have written the works – if not the genius.

Then comes the 17th Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere, who has consistently been the favourite candidate for around a century, even though he died in 1604 and the plays of Shakespeare are thought to have been written as late as 1611 with The Tempest. There is much to link his life to the works of Shakespeare, even down to a broad knowledge of Italy and other European areas which feature so prominently in Shakespeare.

Two other earls appear in Michell’s list, namely William Stanley the 6th Earl of Derby and Roger Manners the 5th Earl of Rutland. They both have intriguing links to the mystery, though we still apparently lack definitive and documentary evidence. Why are there so many aristocrats here? The primary reason is that when one looks at Shakespeare’s works as a whole, he does appear to have a deep familiarity with and love of the workings of courtly things and of history. A midlander with barely a grammar school education is far less likely to have been able to write what Shakespeare did. Yes, genius does exist, but even genius needs an education.

Nom de Plume

What is more, in those days it was rather unseemly for high ranking individuals, such as the aristocracy, to publish work in their own name – they would often use a nom de plume for disguise.

Equally intriguing is the case of Christopher Marlowe, born just two months before Stratford Will and the one man whose sheer brilliance as a playwrite and poet can stand alongside the author we know as Shakespeare, creating such masterpieces as ‘Tamburlaine’ and ‘Dr Faustus’.

A Reckoning Over A Bill

However, always a controversial figure, Marlowe’s candidacy is fatally flawed in that he officially died on May 30 1593 at Deptford, London, apparently murdered over a dispute about a bill, or ‘reckoning’. Marlowe was also an intelligence operative and much of his activity is murky. However, some feel that this story and the subsequent inquest are totally unsound, that he somehow survived and continued to write in secret with the nom de plume, William Shake-speare.

There are also proponents who believe that Shakespeare was a collaborative effort, involving two or more of the above. As strange as it sounds, at this point in my research, I tend to favour this, though as to the candidates involved I am not yet certain.

So there it is, a very fine book – if you can find it, whatever you may think of the subject. So who wrote Shakespeare? I don’t know! But I will continue to investigate, little by little. Many still close their ears and shout ‘conspiracy theorist!’ Cognitive dissonance is a feature of our times and is surely something to get over. Do we believe in freedom of thought, or not? That is the question.

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I have only skimmed over the candidates here, but I intend to write some more involved pieces about specific men – and even a couple of women. I will also bring my astrological knowledge into play where I can.

Copyright Francis Barker 2020

10 Classic Works That Should Get Screen Adaptations — Pages Unbound | Book Reviews & Discussions (reblog)

What Is Classic Remarks? Classic Remarks is a meme hosted here at Pages Unbound that poses questions each Friday about classic literature and asks participants to engage in ongoing discussions surrounding not only themes in the novels but also questions about canon formation, the “timelessness” of literature, and modes of interpretation. How Can I Participate? […]

via 10 Classic Works That Should Get Screen Adaptations — Pages Unbound | Book Reviews & Discussions

*** Very good and interesting discussion here. There is still a lot of scope for adaptation in the realm of classic literature to make classic films!

Inching forward with “Finnegans Wake” — The Argumentative Old Git (Reblog)

Ah – the plans one makes for retirement! So many things I had wanted to do, but had told myself I would do once I was retired, when I no longer had the pressure of work to contend with, that day-to-day grind. What one doesn’t take into account when making such plans are the increasing […]

via Inching forward with “Finnegans Wake” — The Argumentative Old Git

Sons And Lovers Review — NottsReader (Reblog)

The novel Sons and Lovers by D.H, Lawrence, is a story of an aspiring young artist Paul Morel growing up in a mining village in Nottinghamshire, at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. It starts from the marriage of his parents Gertrude Coppard, from a good family and Walter Morel, a poor […]

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Reblog: Dubliners by James Joyce: A Letter to the Book Cover #A2Z Challenge — Bookishloom

James Joyce, the name synonym to Ulysses and with it, the fear to ever accomplish the task of reading it in one’s lifetime. I wanted to begin James Joyce’s journey with an easy step. Then, I found ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’ in one of the book fairs and was drawn […]

via Dubliners by James Joyce: A Letter to the Book Cover #A2Z Challenge — Bookishloom

Haibun: Ulysses in Chains

hallway with window
Photo by Jimmy Chan on Pexels.com

I lied about reading Ulysses.
I started it, just didn’t get to the end.
I wanted to sound cool,
as if I understood Joyce’s intellect,
his significance in literature.

I day dream each day
Make out I am some hero
In truth I am snared

copyright Francis Barker 2020