Did they ever resolve the theory that Francis Bacon wrote the Shakespeare plays?

The Baconian theory was tried in the Supreme Court in the US and found to be wholly without merit. My Google-fu is being overwhelmed by conspiracy theorist sites complaining about said case, rather than me finding an actual record of the case. I’ve looked at a few of those conspiracy sites JIC they accidentally included some facts or a link, but no such luck - and God, the evidence they come up with almost makes me feel sorry for them.

The second-best bed was the family bed, where their children would have been conceived. The best bed was more of a display feature - it would have been in the room where they entertained guests.

Nobody has ever claimed that Shakespeare published the first folio - it was his friends who did so, crediting him with the writing of the plays and including an homage from Ben Jonson which mentioned Shakepeare many times. Having friends publish a collection of written versions of your plays (which was itself unusual and a mark of his renown at the time) is rather different to writing plays and crediting them to yourself.

Shakespeare was in one of the ‘best’ families in a town that had a good grammar school; he definitely was an actor with the King’s Men (people don’t usually deny that) and he was mentioned numerous times by other playwrights of the time. Famously, he was referred to as an ‘upstart crow’:

Which really sounds like bitterness against someone who’s not posh behaving as if he can do as well as the posh people. That’s not something that would be levelled against Bacon or DeVere or any of the conspiracy theorists’s favourites. It also makes it very clear indeed that the playwright Shakespeare was once an actor; Bacon was never an actor.

There is actually more evidence for the existence of a man called Shakespeare, who was a playwright, than there is for the existence of, say, Marlowe - and yet he’s another usual suspect.

I actually think it’s a little bit disgusting that there are still so many people who venerate poshness so much that they can’t believe a working-class man could have written those plays. The plays display mostly really clever wordplay and insight into humanity, not great education. Hell, I understand the tiny bits of Latin in his plays, and that’s without having ever studied Latin at all. Advanced it is not.

The funny thing is, I bet it’d be really easy to apply Baconian cryptology to the works of Bacon and come out with the conclusion that Bacon never wrote them at all, but paid Shakespeare to do so.

That doesn’t strike me as being proof. It’s really quite circumstantial. And you say the only contemporaneous reference to Shakespeare’s authenticity is a quote from Jonson. Well, how many contemporary quotes are there of de Vere being Shakespeare? When you hear hoofprints, it’s best to think horses, not zebras.

edit: I am familiar with the various explanations for the secondbest bed. None really appear to be more than an educated guess and don’t really tackle the mystery of why she got only the secondbest bed and not also a chair or two or a tapestry. Seems a bit much to leave the only remembrance of your wife in your will as a raunchy joke.

Avoiding dealing with the fact that the later works of Shakespeare referred to incidents that happened after de Vere was dead, that is really a silly argument, the folio was posthumously published and the connection to Shakespeare was clear,

http://www.william-shakespeare.info/william-shakespeare-first-folio.htm

My theory is that the works of Shakespeare were actually written by Roger Bacon, who was over 350 years old at the time.

Who has ever claimed that Shakespeare published the First Folio? The Folio was compiled and published, after his death, by Heminges and Condell, who had been actors in Shakespeare’s company. Shakespeare wsa not interested in publishing his plays during his lifetime, because he could make better money by putting on performances, and keeping control of the scripts so others could not put on competing performances (although some of them got pirated anyway).

There is nothing particularly unusual about an author’s works being published posthumously. However, apart from the Earl of Oxford, no author has ever been known to write works posthumously.

I think you are right. If anyone had discovered the elixir of life, it would have been doctor mirabilis, Roger Bacon, and unlike Francis he would have had plenty of free time to write all those plays and sonnets. :slight_smile:

Unfortunately, as he should know, it was pronounced Lone-ey.

The rest of the theory is complete bilge. There are quite lengthy books that show how much we know about Shakespeare and how times times other people referenced him. My favorite is the person who compiled lists of the best authors of the time in various categories. He listed both Shakespeare and de Vere, and ranked Shakespeare much higher. You don’t hear the loonies mentioning that one too often, do you?

What’s most fascinating about this controversy is not merely the elitism reflected in the thought, pounded home over and over, than Shakespeare was a mere unlettered commoner, who couldn’t have done the wonderful things in the plays compared to the vast learned gentlemen and noblemen who must have hidden their contributions.

It’s the reverse elitism of today that states that even though every single professional English professor is unanimous that Shakespeare was the actual writer - often because of technical tools that the loonies never once think of to apply - a bunch of non-professionals proclaim that they know more than the people who have spent their entire lives in the profession.

We see this here all the time, but usually it’s about physics. Someone posts telling us that every scientist has been wrong about relativity for the last 100 years. The physics boffins cut him (always a him) to quark-sized pieces with real science. It doesn’t always convince the OP, but everybody else bows before the weight of their expertise.

We don’t have many professional English professors that I’ve noticed. That means we don’t get the technical vocabulary that would be convincing, and the references to published papers that nobody else has the expertise to read. The situation is identical, though. You amateurs are making silly mistakes that are obvious to anyone who has done even a bit of decent research, but we don’t know enough to produce the killing blow. Really, though, you need to ask yourselves: why do all the professionals who know all about not just Shakespeare but about all the contemporaries and the times and printing and playwrights and theater and schooling and travel and libraries and the thousand other things that go in to true expertise not count but mere amateurs who make statements as wrong as

Unfortunately, as he should know, it was pronounced Lone-ey.

The rest of the theory is complete bilge. There are quite lengthy books that show how much we know about Shakespeare and how times times other people referenced him. My favorite is the person who compiled lists of the best authors of the time in various categories. He listed both Shakespeare and de Vere, and ranked Shakespeare much higher. You don’t hear the loonies mentioning that one too often, do you?

What’s most fascinating about this controversy is not merely the elitism reflected in the thought, pounded home over and over, than Shakespeare was a mere unlettered commoner, who couldn’t have done the wonderful things in the plays compared to the vast learned gentlemen and noblemen who must have hidden their contributions.

It’s the reverse elitism of today that states that even though every single professional English professor is unanimous that Shakespeare was the actual writer - often because of technical tools that the loonies never once think of to apply - a bunch of non-professionals proclaim that they know more than the people who have spent their entire lives in the profession.

We see this here all the time, but usually it’s about physics. Someone posts telling us that every scientist has been wrong about relativity for the last 100 years. The physics boffins cut him (always a him) to quark-sized pieces with real science. It doesn’t always convince the OP, but everybody else bows before the weight of their expertise.

We don’t have many professional English professors that I’ve noticed. That means we don’t get the technical vocabulary that would be convincing, and the references to published papers that nobody else has the expertise to read. The situation is identical, though. You amateurs are making silly mistakes that are obvious to anyone who has done even a bit of decent research, but we don’t know enough to produce the killing blow. Really, though, you need to ask yourselves: why do all the professionals who know all about not just Shakespeare but about all the contemporaries and the times and printing and playwrights and theater and schooling and travel and libraries and the thousand other things that go in to true expertise not count but mere amateurs who make statements as wrong as the following do:

I refute it thus:

IOW, The Oxfordians stopped dead when they hit a fact for their side. The Shakespearians didn’t; they picked it apart to reveal that is said nothing. And nothing is exactly what all the counter-evidence says.

Read that whole page. It probably represents far more work on the subject than any Oxfordian has ever encountered.

It would be a remarkable coincidence, would it not, that one of the actors in the troupe that performed the plays happened to have almost exactly the same name as the name the real author used as a pseudonym.

As for the whole second-best bed bit, sure, it’s a bit puzzling. But trying to use that as evidence that someone else wrote Shakespeare’s works is rather a case of the Wookie Defense. Why would the real Shakespeare have willed his wife his second-best bed? I don’t know, maybe some kind of inside joke we’re outside of. Why would de Vere or Bacon or whoever have forged a will for a different guy and willed that guy’s wife his second-best bed? I have even less clue on that one.

TBH, although I gave a reason for it above and there are reasons for the rest too - he basically didn’t need to will stuff to her, because she had to be looked after by her kids - but I also find it plausible that maybe he didn’t really like her very much. They got married when he was 18 and she was 26 and she was pregnant, and he spent most of his working life far, far away from her. His sonnets are to a ‘dark lady’ and a young man, and it never sounds like the dark lady is someone he’s married to.

Interestingly, very few people ever dispute the authorship of the sonnets, yet the style is so close to the plays that you couldn’t really dispute the authorship of one medium without the other. Most likely it’s because the Shakespearean conspiracy theorists tend to be, apart from some real nutjobs, people who don’t actually know very much about Shakespear’s work at all.

And the problem is that sometimes, like with Little Nemo’s posts, there are so many elementary errors that it’s hard to know where to start.

I mean, I suppose it’s just ordinary ignorance to not know that spelling wasn’t consistent at the time, even for names, and a more understandable level of ignorance to not know that Shakespeare hardly ever signed his name at all (as most people didn’t) but usually signed it as Shakspere…

But if William Shaxper/Shaksper were unrelated to William Shakespeare, then how on Earth would we ever know how he pronounced his name?

Names still don’t have consistent pronunciation, especially unusual names (Shakespeare is a very unusual name indeed) and in a time with inconsistent spelling, we can only know (or make reasonable guesses at) the pronunciation when they’re used in rhyme, wordplay or when the pronunciation is specifically mentioned.

God, even reading the names when written in drippy quill-impelled ink as a signature (and signatures are intentionally less straightforward than other written words) doesn’t make it easy to be certain whether you’re reading an a or an o or mistaking a u for a flourish. Marlowe also spelt his name as Marlow on at least one occasion, and his name is far simpler to read than Shakespeare.

Using the pronunciation of a signature as some sort of irrefutable evidence is not ignorance, but making stuff up. Not Little Nemo making it up, but someone else doing so, and him falling for it.

All of this conspiracy theorist stuff is not necessarily a bad thing, however. It makes people more interested in an esoteric subject, provides free publicity for the plays and the films of the plays, and for the Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust and other Stratfordian organisations, and it gives Shakespeare scholars occasional work writing articles debunking the conspiracies.

In the ongoing ‘Bardbiz’ debates in the London Review of Books years ago, several people seriously advanced the theory that all this controversy is actually started by those organisations; a conspiracy theory about a conspiracy theory. :smiley: But that one has some actual merit.

I’m not saying I think it’s evidence the Bard was someone else. I’m just saying if people are going to devote lots of brainpower to things like this, the bed issue is one that I’m more interested in hearing about.

Heh, I mistyped Shakespeare at least once in that post. :smiley: It’s an arse of a name to type - when I was working on my PhD (incomplete for complicated reasons) I eventually gave up on typing it correctly; it came out so often as Shakesperae that I just let it be then did a find and replace.

There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that anyone other than William Shakepeare wrote the plays attributed to him. None. Zero. Nada. It’s all lunacy.

Every argument I’ve ever heard against Shakespeare’s legitimacy is asinine. He didn’t spell hs name consistently, really? Sir Walter Raleigh spelled his name about twenty different ways (that is not an exagerration) often in ways that defy the common pronounciation thereof, and the one way he never spelled it was the way we spell it now, but nobody doubts Walter Raleigh was the guy we know he was.

Shakespeare knew too much to be a commoner? Bollocks. He knew no more than a moderately educated man who was willing to pick up a few books could have known. (As many have pointed out, he often got facts wildly wrong; his references to Italian geography are very much those of a guy who’s never been to Italy and didn’t bother to check a map.)

Edward de Vere is no more likely to have written the works of Shakepeare than is Stephen King. It’s a ridiculous theory.

Oh my God! Edward de Vere was really Muammar Gaddafi!

I consider myself an agnostic on the question, but the case against Shakespeare’s authorship is much stronger than many acknowledge. The writer of “How do we know that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare?” pretends to not even understand that those who doubt, do not claim misidentification but instead a deliberate hoax.

Some ridiculing the doubters in this thread, pursue the weakest arguments to ridicule. Would it not be more honest intellectually to attack the strongest arguments? I would ask those so confident of Shakespeare’s authorship to prove their seriousness by citing the best contrary webpage you’ve read, and mention its strongest argument. If all you have is “nada … ridiculous” then you’ve not taken an objective look.

I consider “9/11 Truthers” to be crackpots although I’ve never studied their arguments. Turn about is fair play, and I think many Dopers regard the anti-Stratfordian crowd as crackpots a priori, without actually reviewing the arguments.

(Although agnostic, I wouldn’t mind playing “Devil’s Advocate” and debating on the side of “de Vere wrote the Sonnets” against sincere open-minded people. But I tried to start such a thread once, and was met by such snark, insolence and ignorance, I’ve thought of starting a BBQ Pit thread about it.)

No, because attacking the weakest arguments shows that those who are willing to believe them have not put any thought into the stronger ones.

Oh, and the fact that no one’s offered a single one in this thread. Every piece of evidence that has actually been brought up in this thread has been refuted. If you have stronger evidence, bring it. Otherwise, the default position is that they don’t exist.

Could Shakespeare have been an editor, rather than an author? Could he have taken other men’s plays, slightly modifyed theM
Take Marlowe’s play “The Jew of Malta”-could Shakespeare have sed this play as the model for his “Merchant of Venice”?
As for output, Shakespeare was not exceptional-his (Spanish) contemporary, Lopes de Vega, wrote over 900 plays.and nobody questions his authorship.

So, if I believe A, and someone else believes A and B, you think that by refuting B, you’ve refuted A? :smack:

I could make a list of some of the more convincing “anti-Stratfordian” or “Oxfordian” facts, but many are readily available, even at the Wikipedia pages. I presented a simple test that anyone with a smidgen of sincerity can pass easily.

But since it’s pretty obvious most of the people arguing against the doubters know little or nothing about the debate, I’ll mention some of the very basics:

Shakespeare’s will mentions no manuscripts, books, or business interests in London. No manuscript by, or book owned by, Shakespeare ever surfaced in Stratford. No contemporary document suggests anyone in Stratford suspected Shakespeare was a writer. None of his descendants produced any object, document or utterance connecting their ancestor to “his” writings. There is no evidence any of his children were literate, and specific evidence to suggest each of his adult daughters was illiterate.

Shakespeare’s son-in-law, John Hall, was an educated physician who wrote many letters which have survived, including one praising a neighbor as “an excellente poet.” Neither Hall, nor any other contemporary resident of Stratford ever mentions a connection to this “famous” poet. The local historian produced two pamphlets (including a 1616 Yearbook) which would probably have mentioned Shakespeare if he were known in town as a famous playwright.

These two paragraphs barely scratch the surface of circumstantial evidence. There are many cryptic hints (e.g. the “A never writer to an ever reader” preface) which conventional scholars dismiss as “undecipherable inside jokes” or such. Conventional scholars resort to special pleading upon special pleading.

I just know someone is going to respond “But we’re not debating the literacy of Shakespeare’s daughters!” :smiley:

Fine. The greatest wordsmith in history, so concerned about his progeny’s future as to apply for a coat-of-arms, might have let them grow up unable to read or write. (It is attested that Hall’s wife was unable to identify her husband’s handwriting.) So this is just circumstantial, and not a convincing “smoking gun.” There are much “smokier guns” on view for the open-minded but if “beyond a reasonable doubt” is to be the standard for the anti-Stratfordian case, it will surely lose.

Seriously, Septimus? That’s the best you’ve got? None of that is proof. It’s literally all suppostions. You as a 20th century man can’t conceive that nobody would have mentioned being related to Shakespeare and therefore he can’t have written his plays? Come back when you have actual proof. You keep saying no one tackles the real argument and yet you can’t be bothered to offer any.

QFT, I was really expecting better from Septimus, if that is the best evidence it is no wonder that it is being dismissed even by people who are skeptics for a living.