William Shakespeare Wrote Shakespeare

I cannot believe this is still a debate but apparently so. In the trivia thread septimus writes:

“Oxford authorship” - the claim that Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford wrote Shakespeare - is ridiculous crankery that was invented centuries after Shakespeare died by a guy named Thomas Looney. de Vere died before all Shakespeare’s works were written (there are a bunch of silly excuses for this extremely inconvenient fact in Oxfordian theory) and essentially Looney’s entire hypothesis rests on the notion that a commoner couldn’t have written really brilliant plays.

I have been among the Oxfordians, and confess that I don’t buy their arguments, but it doesn’t help your case to say that he died “before all of Shakespeare’s plays were written.” de Vere’s death in 1604 preceds the pretty certain date of several Shaespeare plays, but not of all of the,

What I meant was not that he died prior to the completion of ALL the plays, but that not all of them had yet been written by 1604. Some had, not all.

My point, of course, is that you might have meant this, but you didn’t say it. “…before all of Shakespeare’s plays were written.” is pretty naturally interpreted to mean that he died before all of the plays were written. That it could be interpreted as meaning that he died before the later plays were written is grammatically defensible, but pretty stilted usage. Certainly I took the first sense as being what you had intended.

All =! Any

I took it to mean exactly what RickJay meant: that de Vere died before the complete set of Shakespeare’s plays were written.

By the way, RickJay, are you meaning to start a new theory, that the plays were written by some Welshman? Williams Shakespeare? :wink:

I too had little trouble parsing RickJay’s meaning. You could say “all” is ambiguous, but not that it is wrong.

It was multiple authors, all of whom had the same name. The Williams Shakespeare.

Ah yes: “But how can Falcon if not posh!”

Whoever wrote Shakespeare also though France had lions and Bohemia had a coastline.

Kyle Kallgren has the best takedown of this IMHO:

The deeper you go into any anti-stratfordian arguement the dumber it gets. It some versions they count the number of times a word appeared on a page - never mind how different editions would condense or contract page amounts to fit their needs.

It’s Lord Byron’s fault, really. After him everyone needed their poets to be noble and tormented. Some middle class kid wasn’t gonna cut it.

His first name’s spelling is obviously still not standardized. This is indisputable evidence that a space lizard pretending to be Queen Elizabeth wrote the plays. :cool:

The plays/sonnets were credited to Shakespeare in his day. The amount of evidence (especially stuff dug up 300ish years after the fact) I’d need to see to believe that someone else entirely wrote them all is massive.

Mark Twain, who had a fifth grade education, pointed out in his work Is Shakespeare Dead? that William Shakespeare could not have written the works ascribed to him because he was an uneducated country bumpkin.

Yeah, it’s pretty obvious in context what the intent was.

This is the same fallacy that leads to Chariots of the Gods type nonsense. The idea that only special people can create great works.

And this is where it falls apart. If a person with Shakespeare’s education and social status had written his plays solely from his own imagination, then, yes, that would be an incredible feat. But, that’s not how he wrote the plays.
Shakespeare was a member of a troop of actors. All of whom were expert in their roles. These roles being derived from stock characters having well established characteristics and the actors would contribute significantly to the arc of their characters within the play.
The plots of his plays came not from his mind either. These were already established stories rewritten for The Chamberlains Men. Several of the plotlines were lifted wholesale from already extant plays.
Shakespeare’s talent was in taking these plotlines and words from the actors and turning them into beautiful verse. And this, while certainly remarkable and an indication of genius, is well within the purview of a man like Shakespeare. So there is no need to even look for someone else to have written these plays.


Yes, septimus is our local Oxfordian and has maintained this for years.

If 97% of scientists affirm human activity increased carbon dioxide to create global warming, that number pales before the percentage of academics who state unreservedly that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare. Both stopped being debatable decades ago.

As people smarter than I have pointed out, Shakespeare sets many of his plays in Italy but is clearly REALLY shaky on its geography. He puts Milan on the coast, which is quite something. Verona, too. Neither is anywhere near the coast. It would be like me writing a movie about people who surf in California called “The Beaches of Sacramento.”

Now, it’s quite possible an English playwright just wouldn’t have given a shit about details like that, but if de Vere had written those plays, having been to Italy, why not just put those references in coastal cities? It’s the kind of error you’d expect from someone who’s read about Italy and is enchanted by the idea of it, but hasn’t been there.

In truth, though, what I find comical about the Oxfordian theory, as well as the Bacon theory and all the rest, is there’s no smoking gun. It’s all supposition and stuff like “Oxford was a patron of the arts” and “he had a house near Stratford,” all circumstantial stuff that is extremely typical of nonsensical conspiracy tales. There isn’t any direct, contemporaneous evidence. Not a sniff of it.

The take from Stephen Fry at QI is one of my favorites:

[QUOTE] What do Sigmund Freud, Mark Twain, Henry James, a loony from Newcastle and the Holy Ghost all have in common?

Is that they did not believe that the plays of Shakespeare were written by Shakespeare himself. Professor Looney wrote a book in 1920 called Shakespeare Identified in which he claimed this. The Shakespearean sceptic movement began in the 19th century, with some people claiming that the plays may have been written by Francis Bacon. An insane American woman called Delia Bacon (No relation to Sir Francis) wrote a 625 page book claiming Shakespeare did not write the plays, but made no reference to Francis Bacon. Before she died she claimed that she was the Holy Ghost.

Other candidates for the authorship include Christopher Marlowe and the Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere. Freud had an Oedipus complex theory about Hamlet. Looney claimed that after the Earl’s death in 1604 (at which point Shakespeare was still alive) he left lots of plays which his servant Shakespeare then produced. More modern sceptics include Mark Rylance and Derek Jacobi. There is however no real evidence to support the sceptics claims. While sceptics claim we know little about Shakespeare, there are also very few Elizabethan people we know more about.

Wait a minute. Was Twain being sarcastic in Annie’s quote? Or, was he a doubter too?

All evidence suggests he was sincere in his doubts (note: Annie-Xmas wasn’t directly quoting Twain).

But he wasn’t above poking fun, even at himself. He more or less admits in that work (though not in so many words) he’s not going to convince anybody with his arguments.

Aren’t the plays full of commoners as well as nobles? How could an aristocrat like Oxford know enough about commoners to write them so well?

The nerve of him! Who did he think he was, Shakespeare or somebody like that? :wink:

I was too young to pay attention to any of this when Dylan first came up, but I understand that at first, a lot of people didn’t believe he was writing his own stuff, but that his songs were largely written by various major-league folkies of the day. Didn’t take long to dispel that notion, of course, but it’s the same sort of thing: how could this kid from Duluth be writing these songs?