Monday, September 10, 2007

Actors question Bard's authorship

[or, When Will this Utter Nonsense End?]

from the BBC wesbite, ...

Sir Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance (left and right) are in the group
Actors including Sir Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance have launched a debate over who really wrote the works of William Shakespeare.
Almost 300 people have signed a "declaration of reasonable doubt", which they hope will prompt further research into the issue.

"I subscribe to the group theory. I don't think anybody could do it on their own," Sir Derek said.

The group says there are no records of Shakespeare being paid for his work.

While documents do exist for Shakespeare, who was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564, all are non-literary.

In particular, his will, in which he left his wife "my second best bed with the furniture" contains none of his famous turns of phrase and it does not mention any books, plays or poems.

Illiterate household

The 287-strong Shakespeare Authorship Coalition says it is not possible that the bard's plays - with their emphasis on law - could have been penned by a 16th Century commoner raised in an illiterate household.

The group asks if one man alone could have come up with his works
It asks why most of his plays are set among the upper classes, and why Stratford-upon-Avon is never referred to in any of his plays.

"How did he become so familiar with all things Italian so that even obscure details in these plays are accurate?" the group adds.

Conspiracy theories have circulated since the 18th Century about a number of figures who could have used Shakespeare as a pen-name, including playwright Christopher Marlowe, nobleman Edward de Vere and Francis Bacon.

"I think the leading light was probably de Vere as I agree that an author writes about his own experience, his own life and personalities," Sir Derek said.

The declaration, unveiled at the Minerva Theatre in Chichester, West Sussex, also names 20 prominent doubters of the past, including Mark Twain, Orson Welles, Sir John Gielgud and Charlie Chaplin.

'Legitimate question'

A copy was presented to Dr William Leahy, head of English at London's Brunel University and convenor of the first MA in Shakespeare authorship studies, to be launched later this month.

"It has been a battle of mine for the last couple of years to get this into academia," Dr Leahy said.

"It's a legitimate question, it has a mystery at its centre and intellectual discussion will bring us closer to that centre.

"That's not to say we will answer anything, that's not the point. It is, of course, to question."


Blogger Crispinella said...

Head. Hurts. Make. It. Stop.

Of course a large part of the problem is that most of these people never read anything early modern that isn't by Shakespeare... (Though when they do, the kind of thing that tends to arise is Parker Woodward's mag.op., Euphues the Peripatician (London: Gay and Bird, 1907), described on the BL catalogue as "Essays in Elizabethan biography, maintaining that John Lyly and Thomas Nash were pen names of Francis Bacon, and attributing to him the authorship of the works of Edmund Spenser, Robert Greene, Christopher Marlow, Thomas Kyd, and George Peele." Yours for only £60.94 on Abebooks ["Good. No Jacket. Stamp of previous owner inside front cover. Lower right corners of cover bumped."].)

5:32 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

This really is just another form of bardolotry -- not for the "man." Just his work.

I wonder if they'll ever take a look at some other plays by early modern playwrights ... like city comedies.

(or the other playwrights' backgrounds, or Shakespeare's sources, or any of those things).

12:27 AM  
Blogger Adam said...

i think the only productive way to respond to this craziness is not to refute their claims with logic but instead raise the madness stakes: shakespeare wasn't shakespeare, he was ... elizabeth I, thomas more, john bunyan, charles dickens, alistair darling, steve mclaren, a horse, any horse, the bloke beside me now in the british library cafe ...

1:42 PM  
Blogger Crispinella said...

Hasn't someone already tried to make a "serious" case for Elizabeth I?

My money's on John Gower. Who - obviously - didn't die in 1408 but lived on for another 200-odd years and cleverly signalled his own authorship in Pericles.

9:37 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from