The question of Shakespeare's authorship has been debated since the 18th century. The orthodox view is that the author of the works of Shakespeare was the actor of Stratford-upon-Avon, but the meagre facts known about this man contrast with the learned philosopher revealed in the Sonnets and plays.
The riddle of Shakespeare's authorship remains one of the great mysteries of the modern world. Was the famous writer and poet a fraud and a plagarist? Was Shakespeare the "upstart crow" described by Greene as strutting in borrowed feathers, or Johnson's "Poet-Ape" who patched together plays from other's work? Was his name merely a pseudonym for a well known contemporary figure. The orthodox view is that the author of the works of Shakespeare was the actor and businessman of Stratford-upon-Avon. But the known facts about this man are suprisingly meagre and contrast puzzlingly with the learned courtly philosopher revealed in the Sonnets and plays. Scholars and eccentrics have devoted years to the search for evidence and many different theories have been put forward. Some believe that Francis Bacon may have used the name of an obscure actor to disseminate his philosophy; others thought that Hamlet mirrored the psyche of the Earl of Oxford; and yet others suggest that Marlowe was not killed, as thought, in a drunken brawl but lived on secretly to write as Shakespeare. This book investigates the many claims and counter-claims of Shakespeare's identity. It lays out the evidence and arguments for various candidates, not forgetting Shakespeare himself, and provides a dry commentary on the research.
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