Shakespeare Authorship (sigh): They’re At It Again

April 20th, 2009

Yet again, we have Supreme Court justices giving credence to the wacky notion that William Shakespeare of Stratford did not write the plays of William Shakespeare. Reported in the the WSJ.

It just goes to show that even supreme court justices who have long histories of probity and prudence can issue totally loony opinions. (cf Taney, Dred Scott.)

I’m not going to take the time to address the ridiculous points made in the article. It’s already been done, and at length. (What an unfortunate waste of good scholarly skills.)

My main point: we have 29 extant editions of Shakespeare’s plays (not counting poems and etc.) that were published during his lifetime with his name on them as author. By many different printers and publishers. And the First Folio — published seven years after his death by his decades-long business partners, compatriots, and dedicatees in his will — trumpets him as author with attestations by them and several other leading writers of the day.

No anti-Stratfordian has explained how this vast, decades-long conspiracy could or would have been coordinated so hermetically that the “truth” only emerged in the nineteenth century, the discovery of an industrious fellow named “Looney.”

Read the pamphlets and broadsheets of Shakespeare’s day — their closest equivalent to today’s news outlets — and you’ll see how similar those writers were to today’s bloggers. They loved uncovering juicy news and insider gossip. (And yes — not that it’s pertinent to the matter at hand — like today’s bloggers they did their fair share of embroidery.)

Do anti-Stratfordians really believe that a huge conspiracy — requiring hundreds of people (and theater people at that) to keep a Really Big Secret for more than three decades — never came to anyone’s attention? Or if it did, that all of those broadsheetbloggers agreed to supress it?

Yeah, and alien abductions are common occurrences.

Here’s an admittedly condensed conversation I had with my friend Robin Williams, who’s published a beautifully written and wonderfully produced book (like all her books) arguing that Mary Sidney Herbert wrote the Shakespeare plays:

Me: Robin, we have all these published plays with his name on them.

Robin: Yeah, but even traditional scholars admit that some of them weren’t written by him.

Me: Well, yeah… [That’s because publishers were trying to capitalize on his name to sell books.]

Robin: See? There’s not a single shred of evidence that Shakespeare wrote the plays.

Like I said: sigh.

I’d really like to see how these judges would rule if there was a human life, a billion dollars, or a fundamental constitutional principle at stake.

My favorite comment on this subject:

The plays weren’t written by William Shakespeare. They were written by another guy with the same name.

  1. jim knight
    September 28th, 2013 at 19:18 | #1

    Why are you going on about “the plays” ? Don’t you know that Shake-speare wrote many things other than “plays” ?

  2. Asymptosis
    September 29th, 2013 at 07:43 | #2

    @jim knight
    Because that’s what authorship contrarians contest the most.

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