New doubt over Shakespeare's authorship

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Sunday, September 9, 2007

William Shakespeare, 16th century playwright.
Image: John Taylor.

A debate has been launched by almost 300 people, seeking further research into William Shakespeare and the many masterpieces attributed to him. The group, named the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition, are reluctant to believe that the Bard wrote all of the plays that make him internationally famous, and are keen to unravel the mysteries surrounding his life and work.

Although it is widely accepted that Shakespeare existed and penned many works, the group question why all records of Shakespeare are non-literary, and how so many high-quality plays could be written by someone born into an illiterate household. The Coalition also asks why none of his plays mention his home town of Stratford-upon-Avon, and also how a 16th Century commoner could have such extensive and accurate knowledge of the worldwide settings in which they take place.

Conspiracy theories since the 18th century have claimed that the works could have been written by authors using the pen name Shakespeare, particularly Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe and Edward de Vere. Sir Derek Jacobi, actor and member of the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition, believes that the famous plays could have been written by more than one writer. "I subscribe to the group theory," Sir Derek said. "I don't think anybody could do it on their own."

A "declaration of reasonable doubt" was presented to Dr William Leahy, Head of English at London's Brunel University. Speaking about the conspiracies, he said, "It's a legitimate question, it has a mystery at its centre and intellectual discussion will bring us closer to that centre."

The Coalition has set up a website, inviting people to sign the declaration and keep up-to-date with new research.


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