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Shakespeare Bites Back is a book Stanley Wells and I have co-authored. It’s a polemical essay and is bound (we hope) to ruffle a few feathers. In this audioboo we speak together about what you might say to anyone that asks you about Shakespeare’s authorship. Have a listen and let us know in the comments what you think.

Download your free copy of the book Shakespeare Bites Back: Not So Anonymous.

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Stanley Wells & Paul Edmondson on the ebook Shakespeare Bites Back (mp3)

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Author:Paul Edmondson

Head of Research and Knowledge and Director of the Stratford-upon-Avon Poetry Festival for The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. Follow Paul on Twitter @paul_edmondson
  • jake

    Hey ron , Sorry for being a little off-topic. You said that field theory can be learned quickly from reading some wilsonian reviews. Can you be more specific ? I’m interested in learning these.

  • Ron Maimon

    He’s not a NAZI, you imbecile, he just blindly believes what everyone else does. Like Eichmann, except not evil. Just stupid.

    This is not about “cultural subversion”, it is about “academic stupidity”. Like Phlogiston, or the early days of relativity. What the academics say is factually and provably WRONG, and they must have their noses pressed against their own feces until they learn to stop defecating in the literature.

  • brainbiter

    Yes, he must be a Nazi to even think of disagreeing. What feeble, needy, tantrum-prone emotional train wrecks we’re producing these days. Doubtless you’re one of those feminised, infinitely empathetic lefties who feels everyone’s pain and recommends mass arrests as the only conceivable remedy to the world’s problems. A ludicrous, hysterical response and proof positive this is more about cultural subversion than any search for truth.

  • Ron Maimon

    You are beaten, it is useless to resist.

  • Ron Maimon

    You wonder, you wonder, as long as authority is behind you, and then, when the weight of authority starts to push the other way, you’ll say you knew it all along, you were just playing. People like you are worthless, you can’t think without someone powerful telling you what to think. Say hi to Adolph Eichmann when you die.

  • Ron Maimon

    That’s because you’re mentally retarded. Also, you should know that this isn’t youtube, people are trying to be somewhat more careful in their intellectual positions here.

  • Ron Maimon

    Sure, I promise you I’ll do that if I ever run into him. I thought he was stupid for other reasons anyway, regardless of this Shakespeare business. I tried to tell Shapiro that he was stupid to his face, I worked at Columbia briefly, but he wasn’t in his office the two days I came by to yell at him, so I gave up. I did manage to tell Stanley Fish off once (on something unrelated), and we had a nice talk outside the hall after his lecture, where he told me “You are much too optimistic regarding the intelligence of the general public” or something to that effect. I am not intimidated by authoritative numbskulls, I have been around at least two ACTUAL academic revolutions. These aren’t done by that class of conservative authoritative idiot, those are done by the borderline insane people that dress funny and talk to themselves, the kind of people I try my best to emulate. I am also not overestimating the intelligence of a public with access to an internet, something Stanley Fish will soon learn, and Harold Bloom. The internet is quite something, isn’t it?

    I was however, too optimistic regarding your intelligence. So I’ll start by telling you that you’re stupid.

  • UncleJoe223

    Can someone point me to an Elizabethan with a beautiful signature? Thanks.

  • UncleJoe223

    If Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare, who wrote the Shakespeare Apocrypha?

    Answer: Not Shakespeare?

  • UncleJoe223

    Oh, but you love calling academicians, “stupid.” Oh, that doesn’t display anything. No. . .

  • UncleJoe223

    I would like you to tell Harold Bloom TO HIS FACE, that he is stupid.

  • UncleJoe223

    A poor cut and paste job.

  • UncleJoe223

    So, there have been NO conspiracies, ever? No group of people have ever conspired, in secret, to achieve some goal? And kept the secret for many years? And theories only exist for pathological reasons.


    Sorry, but conspiracies DO actually occur. I don’t believe there’s one here, that is, regarding Shakespeare, but JFK, 9/11, Gulf of Tonkin, the Liberty, the Riechstag Fire, on and on throughout history. Conspiracies are commonplace and often successful.

  • UncleJoe223

    I am an avid defender of Shakespeare as the author of his plays, and as such have enjoyed reading this little pamphlet. However, I am taken aback, indeed offended, by the dismissive manner with which you deal with what you consider to be the nature of “conspiracy theories.”

    You seem to suggest that conspiracies have never actually occurred. And that they are somehow, impossible, and the domain of the psychologically damaged. I hope you realize just how ridiculously uniformed that sounds.

    Please re-think this point. It does little but discredit your efforts and serve no useful purpose in defending Shakespeare.

  • Richard Malim

    If you mean the Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter or its predecessors – not recently.

  • UncleJoe223

    I think you have too much time on your hands.

  • UncleJoe223

    Do you write for SNL?

  • UncleJoe223

    Christopher Marlowe is clearly a pseudonym for William Shakespeare. Marlowe, who was a mere shoe-makers son was a spy for the Queen and was clearly murdered by Shakespeare in a perverse homosexual triangle. Come on, look at the facts!

  • UncleJoe223

    “Opposing arguments”? There are no serious arguments to oppose. The whole thing is nonsense and I wonder that any serious scholar even take the time to address the issue.

  • UncleJoe223

    Vince Bugliosi is a charlatan, a mountebank, a liar. His “Kennedy” book is an absolute embarrassment of cherry-picking and lies. Although one truth he told at a lecture I attended is that in writing the “Oswald Acted Alone” book, he STARTED from the supposition that Oswald was the lone gunman, because we know that he was, and then simply eliminated all the evidence that did not support that supposition. Unbelievable.

  • UncleJoe223

    Well, I’ve just come from reading Farey’s arguments on his web page, and now that I’ve stopped laughing, I wish to thank you for recommending it. I haven’t laughed so hard in weeks!

  • Ron Maimon

    This is nonsense you made up. There is no sub-stylistic difference in Bible reference, and they are manifestly the same author for even the most casual reader. As for keeping him alive in Italy, the research in “Shakesepare Guide to Italy” demonstrates the familiarity with the country. The fact that he is alive and writing the plays is demonstrated by the plays existence, and the stylometric match, which is just plain impossible.

  • psi

    Sorry, not so. Kindly review the evidence of the sub-stylistic factor of Bible references in the two writers. They could not be more difference. This leaves aside the matter of the fact that Marlowe died, even by the most conservative estimate, before most of the plays were written. It makes a nice fairy tale to keep him alive in Italy for another two decades, but that’s about it. There is a reason why the only serious academic minds who have adopted an alternative view of authorship support the Oxfordian attribution.

  • psi

    I found the oral aggression, especially the characterization of Oxfordians as Vampires, to be humorously illustrative of the deep seated feelings of desperate inadequacy that appear to lie behind this curious and largely irrelevant display of inherited prejudice.

  • Richard Malim

    Page 12: “It seems surprisingly easy to persuade lawyers to take part in The Shakespeare Authorship Conspiracy Theory”
    Two Points
    First: Lawyers are experts on evidence and many judge the evidence against William Shakspeare’s authorship as complete enough. Shapiro tells us that “Shakespearean scholars have a different view of evidence, and hold a comparatively dim view of what (Supreme Court) Justice Stevens and others think adequate.” We are not told by Shapiro in what way the expert’s view of evidence is defective. You will find no lawyers (let alone historians) in the list of contributors to “Shakespeare Without Doubt”
    Secondly, as I have written before, for Oxfordians there is NO CONSPIRACY THEORY. Everyone who knew, knew: they also knew when to keep their mouths shut. Compare the treatment of the national hero Philip Sidney’s affair with Penelope Rich, a taboo subject virtually never mentioned. Conspiracy theory is a figment foisted upon Oxfordians by the ‘orthodox’ as they stuff straw arguments into our mouths.
    Perhaps we could persuade a few ‘orthodox’ actually to read what members of the De vere Society ( of which I am the Secretary) actually to read what we write. Try The Earl of Oxford and the Making of “Shakespeare”: The Life of Edward de Vere in Context (McFarland 2011)

  • Ron Maimon

    This is indeed a difference in Marlowe and Shakespeare, but it is reasonably explained by maturity. If you believe this— make a sentence length stylometry, plot it for Shakespeare and Marlowe, and show the sentence length is constant in the two authors, and has a discontinuity at 1593. This would be good evidence for your position. But having seen the ridiculous coincidence in the other stylometries, I would bet that you wouldn’t find an actual discontinuity, but a smooth transition. This might be “run on lines” you are talking about, and Peter Farey had a plot of run on lines plus feminine endings, which showed a smooth transition between Marlowe and Shakespeare

    The Jew of Malta is a bit obscene at the end, and that stuff, plus Faustus, is a good reason for a chastised humble Marlowe to change his style, he was ashamed of his youthful bombast. But whatever, if you can find a quantitiative difference (sentence length is fine, but I doubt it will be really different), then you have evidence. Until you do, you have no evidence, and the balance of the evidence goes Peter Farey’s way.

  • Ron Maimon

    Hi Peter—

    I am more certain than you by now, I am relatively close to 5 sigma sure, because I not only looked over your stylometries (which gave me good confidence, about 3 sigma) but also additional ones— the ones published to refute Marlovian ideas by Charniak et al last year.

    The result of the new stylometries not only failed to refute the Marlovian idea, they confused Marlowe and Shakespeare more completely than Mendenhall, and this is after these guys tried hard to look for a stylometry specifically to distinguish these two. This is the last straw, that pushes me to five sigma.

    When you have independent stylometries, each one could independently fail. Your stylometries each had a 1 in 4 chance of being a coincidence, but you had 5 of them, and some of them were published specifically to distinguish Marlowe and Shakespeare. This means that one gains 1/4^5 confidence from this, about 1/1000 chance of coincidence.

    The newest stylometries confused four separate Marlowe plays as early Shakespeare, by two separate methods! These methods were much more rigorous— they involved careful statistical analysis of vocabulary and function words in baskets compared across works, and this gives another 1/1000 likelihood. So I’m sure, there’s no more evidence necessary, you guys are right, and there’s no need to be so circumspect.

    In addition, if you want more certainty, each independent stylometry is additional independent evidence— so I would run your “letter stylometry” on 100 different letter-baskets, and see if you get a smooth match Marlowe-Shakespeare in all 100 cases (you certainly will, since they are the same author). Even if each coincidence is 50% likely (it much less likely than that), 1/2^100 is scientific certainty.

    Stylometry of this quality is enough to say “enough, they’re the same guy” with scientific standards of certainty, especially considering the fact that you have shown that the circumstantial evidence is equally friendly to this notion as to any other.

    Plus, stop being so nice to the academics. They aren’t returning the favor. You’re right and they’re stupid.

  • Ron Maimon

    All patterns match, including metrical and grammatical ones. The enjambments plus feminine endings curve for Shakespeare matches Marlowe, so does function word stylometry, which is sensitive to length of clauses. Whatever metric you use, Marlowe is mathematically indistinguishable from Shakespeare, and this is an unacceptable coincidence for stylometry, it is obviously a sign of common authorship, and considering the number of stylometries, it is mathematically illiterate, and just plain stupid, to deny it.

    Sorry Shakespearian scholars, your goose is cooked. You’ve been exposed, you are frauds and nincompoops. It’s nice that the Copernican revolution of English literature has finally arrived.

  • Truthseeker

    “Scholars such as Dr. Edmondson and Prof. Wells feel no need to take the Shakespeare authorship question seriously because when the question is “who wrote Shakespeare’s works?,” all the direct evidence points to the Stratford actor.”

    Although his name was registered in some plays or appeared in the so called “First Folio”,

    Shakespeare authorship must face at least two serious problems, first Shakespeare’s biography, second Marlowe’s existence.

    William Shakespeare

    Yes, we do have a lot of information about William Shakespeare’s life, especially legal records, but,

    No manuscript letters of any kind,

    No working notes,

    No allusion of his name from other writers before June 1593*,

    No diaries,

    No mention in his will of any book or any relation with the literally world,

    No trace of a writer in his biography,

    His illiterate daughters,

    He had information of several Marlowe’s works before being published,

    His sonnets, although they seem biographic, there is nothing in Shakespeare’s biography that can be related to the person that the sonnets reflect,

    He didn’t show any hint of concern about literary immortality. He desperately wanted prestige and status.

    The Shakespeare revealed in his plays submerges his voice in that of his characters, gaining immortality at the price of anonymity.

    He had the greatest vocabulary ever seen in English literature, but there is no sign of him attending to school past the age of fourteen.

    The writer of the plays and poems appears to have intimately acquainted with matters of court, foreign intrigue, and the culture, language, and politics of continental Europe, with which Shakespeare apparently had no experience.

    * The “shake-scene” appears on Robert Green’s “Groatsworth of Wit” in 1592.

    In his swan song. Green complains about actors in general and one actor in particular, whom he hates.

    He admonishes his fellow playwrights, Christopher Marlowe first and foremost ( whom he calls ” famous grocer of Tragedians” ) , to stop selling their plays

    to this actor. This actor , says Green, only uses the plays he´s purchased to feather his own nest and increase his reputation and purse.

    This actor, Edward Alleyn is well-known to Green.

    Alleyn is described as a Puppet, an Atic, and an Ape. He is garnished in our ( playwrights’) colours, … beautified with our ( playwrights’) feathers”.

    He is full of conceit over his ability to “shake a scene” with his bombast.

    Every biography of Shakespeare leaves the reader with the impression that there is ” absolutely no doubt” that Green was referring to William Shakespeare.

    In the “Shake-scene” reference. The evidence suggest otherwise. In reality, Allyen has so much more claim to the upstart crow” insult than Shakespeare that it is astonishing biographers would maintain there is no question of Green’s intent.

    The question scholars should be asking themselves is not whether we think Green was referring to Alleyn as the “Shake-scene”, but whether Edward Alleyn would have thought Green was referring to him as the “Shake-scene”.

    The identification of “Shake-scene” with Shakespeare has been accepted without challenge in order to fill the need for Shakespeare’s authorship to begin before Marlowe’s disappearance.

    The context of Green’s statements and his relationship with Edward Alleyn are completely ignored because it is essential for Shakespeare to exist as a writer before Marlowe’s death.

    ( Extracted from Daryl Pinksen’s Marlowe’s Ghost )

    Christopher Marlowe.

    We don’t need to appeal to “Miracle of Genius”, “Double Consciousness”, “lost part of the will that must have referred to his books”, “friendly rivalry”.

    The biography of Marlowe meets perfectly the sonnets.

    As a spy who visited Europe, he had that preparation that Shakespeare did not.

    He was the best english playwright before Shakespeare.

    He had the same style that Shakespeare did. It is so difficult to find differences in style between the last Marlowe and the first Shakespeare that scholars agree that Marlowe was a part author of at least four Shakespeare’s plays.

    Shakespeare quotes Marlowe or alludes to his plays repeatedly. Shakespeare echoes Marlowe and only Marlowe.

    Marlowe alone demonstrated the ability to write “Shakesperian” plays. If Marlowe had remained alive after 1593 and continued to grow as a writer, his plays could have equalled the Shakespeare plays.

    The death of Marlowe.

    Three days before Marlowe dismiss, Richard Baines provided the Privy Council information that would lead in formal accusation of heresy, blasphemy , atheism and being a freethinker all of them punishable by death.

    His was going to front torture. he could no longer use his name in a printed work.

    In 1925 the coroners report of the “Deptford incident” was discovered. It describes a mundane tale of a quarrel over the bill, followed by a fight in which Walsingham’s personal servant, Ingram Fritzer, killed Marlowe in self defense.

    Most scholars do not believe that this report is a faithful description of the incident.

    There is an alternative that should be at least considered as a part of a thorough investigation: that the meeting was a cover-up for a staged death and escape into exile orchestrated by Burghley and Walsingham with the help of Poley, Frizer, and Skeres.

    If this was the case, “William Shakespeare” was just a front man, that would have profited economically of giving his name to a blacklisted writer. This same case has appeared many times in writing history during periods of ideological prosecution.

    “Seeking to know is only to often learning to doubt”

  • Sabrina Feldman

    If Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare, who wrote the Shakespeare Apocrypha?
    Scholars such as Dr. Edmondson and Prof. Wells feel no need to take the Shakespeare authorship question seriously because when the question is “who wrote Shakespeare’s works?,” all the direct evidence points to the Stratford actor.

    A problem they have neglected is that when a different question is asked, “who wrote the Shakespeare Apocrypha?,” all the direct evidence again points to William Shakespeare. If one sets aside the assumption that the Stratford actor was a gifted poet who wrote in the Bard’s style, much indirect evidence also points to William Shakespeare as the author. This poses a serious challenge to the traditional authorship belief. How could a dozen-odd apocryphal works have been printed under the Stratford actor’s name, or otherwise credited to him by his contemporaries and near-contemporaries, if he didn’t write them? It is a genuine mystery.

    The last edition of the Shakespeare Apocrypha was brought out in 1908 by C. F. Tucker Brooke. Indeed, The Apocryphal William Shakespeare (2011) by Sabrina Feldman is the first book-length study of William Shakespeare’s relationship to these mysterious plays. This is a research area that scholars have neglected.

    Think of the Shakespeare Apocrypha as an elephant roaming the halls of Shakespeare studies: a large, strange object that shouldn’t be there, but whose presence is taken for granted due to long familiarity.

  • truthseeker

    During the life of William Shakespeare, earth was the centre of the universe.

    That was the official truth.

    Anyone who expressed a different opinion would be condemned.

    Giordano Bruno wrote “the universe is infinite and has no centre”, all the stars

    we see, Bruno said , they are suns like our own, with planets around them like our sun has.
    !n 1600 he was burned at the stake for his beliefs.
    Bruno has never received an apology from the Catholic Church.

    Christopher Marlowe was taken out of history. The Privy Council

    took great effort in destroying his image.

    He was a ” freethinker and an atheist ” something that in those times was punish-

    able by dead.

    Would they have accepted an atheist being the best play writer ever? of course not.

    William Shakespeare’s authorship became an official truth.

    Yes, they may rise up to several million those who have no doubts about WS authorship.

    Most of them even don’t know who Marlowe was. Their opinion, in most cases, is not based in studying the information and using their own reasoning to reach a conclusion.
    They are official truth believers.

    Should we give much importance to those opinions?

    I woud not.

  • Hilary Peters

    Is there a petition  where we can sign to oppose the authorship coalition? They have only received 2,500 signatures in 5 years –  I’m sure a petition signed by pro-Stratfordians would get that many in 5hours!

  • truthseeker


     Stratfordians   have been looking for biographical
    connections between William Shakespeare 
    and his writings   for decades.
    Now after those many years of wasted time , 
    finding no  similarities between
    the story that sonnets tell and the life of WS, they urge us to avoid searching
    for a biographical record.

    The sonnets look really biographical they are
    different from the rest of his writings. Sonnets look personal, full of passion , real.

    Sonnets appear to be written  by a person
    that has been forced to exile and even to resign to his name. They are the
    reflection of someone that has chosen anonymity over immortality.  This doesn’t fit with the WS of Stratford.
    the man who bought a coat of arms and had a statue of himself erected in his
    parish church.

    But don’t take my words for granted ,

    Sonnet 81

     Or I shall live your epitaph to make,
    Or you survive when I in earth am rotten;
    From hence your memory death cannot take,
    Although in me each part will be forgotten.
    Your name from hence immortal life shall have,
    Though I, once gone, to all the world must die:
    The earth can yield me but a common grave,
    When you entombed in men’s eyes shall lie.
    Your monument shall be my gentle verse,
    Which eyes not yet created shall o’er-read,
    And tongues to be your being shall rehearse
    When all the breathers of this world are dead;
    You still shall live–such virtue hath my pen–
    Where breath most breathes, even in the mouths of men.

    What do you think?


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  • Edward Nilges

    Counting words? Give me a break. Try metrical patterns and above the length of clauses.

  • Edward Nilges

    Actually, micro-stylistically and in the grand plan, Marlowe’s plays are unlike Shakespeare’s.

    Marlowe everywhere contains the thought within the line. Shakespeare, commencing with “So shaken we are so wan with care” (Henry IV Act 1 Sc 1) spreads the thought over several lines.

    So shaken as we are, so wan with care,Find we a time for frighted peace to pant,And breathe short-winded accents of new broilsTo be commenced in strands afar remote.No more the thirsty entrance of this soilShall daub her lips with her own children’s blood;Nor more shall trenching war channel her fields,Nor bruise her flowerets with the armed hoofsOf hostile paces: those opposed eyes,Which, like the meteors of a troubled heaven,All of one nature, of one substance bred,Did lately meet in the intestine shockAnd furious close of civil butcheryShall now, in mutual well-beseeming ranks,March all one way and be no more opposedAgainst acquaintance, kindred and allies:The edge of war, like an ill-sheathed knife,No more shall cut his master.

    Settle thy studies, Faustus, and begin
    To sound the depth of that thou wilt profess:
    Having commenc’d, be a divine in show,
    Yet level at the end of every art,
    And live and die in Aristotle’s works.
    Sweet Analytics, ’tis thou hast ravish’d me!
    Bene disserere est finis logices.
    Is, to dispute well, logic’s chiefest end?The sentence length in Shakespeare is JUST LONGER.In the Jew of Malta, Marlowe turned tragedy (death of the protagonist) into comedy of the sort that Shakespeare never wrote (not even in Titus Andronicus), comedy at the sordid level of reality TV in which the audience is invited to “purge pity and terror” by laughing at a character’s agonizing death.

    Despite the fact that torture and death were public entertainments in Shakespeare’s time, we find no-one jeering at pain and death in Shakespeare without having to undergo the same, and the audience is never invited to cheer.

    Edward II never once attains self knowledge, Richard II does.

  • Edward Nilges

    Vince Bugliosi, a serious man, the Los Angeles district attorney who nailed Manson, thinks that the raft of conspiracy theories surrounding President Kennedy’s death are an attack on memory. They, and Shakespeare denial, are like the burning of the Sarajevo library by the Chetniks in 1992 and the burning of Baghdad’s library in 2003 (while Marines guarded the Oil Ministry).

    Let me be precise. Most people who deny the facts are the sort of people who cannot read a single play because it’s too “hard” to understand Early Modern English, and they can’t stand this aporia.

    Conspiracy theory counterposes a DOUBT to an empirical truth. The doubt is always certain, it is certain that any meaningful scientific, legal, or historical statement, from “industrial activity causes global warming” to “the President was shot by a crazed pro-Castro loner” to “Shakespeare wrote the plays” CAN BE DOUBTED. But precisely because “I doubt x” is certain it is also unfalsifiable in Sir Karl Popper’s sense, and for this reason may not be taken seriously as part of ANY scientific, legal or historical conversation!

    Rich and vulgar people can no longer abide the very idea that there are people who ain’t rich and are smart. “They think they are the gods of antiquity” in Elvis Costello’s words. Therefore, if they did a grand total of one or two Shakespeare plays for their goddamn A levels, they cannot abide any more depth and turn to unfalsifiable and meaningless doubt.

  • Edward Nilges

    When Turde it calls to Turde, and in Replie,That which is not a Turde sings from but ClayeIn tones melodyus, in sweet Euphonie,The mere Turde knoweth not what Worde to say.The Cybernetick Mob this end of TymeWithin itself fynds but a rag bone shoppe:Impotent, to make life to scanne or rhymeThe Mobbe decides to give my Rep, the choppe.And so the herd of fell swyne GadarinA-creeps to the feet of its InquisitoreAnd says, it a noble lordling musta binWho wrote MY worke. But less is less, not more.I care not for your fell foule wicked Lyes:Looke on my work. And Gape with wild surmise.

  • Peter F

    Forgive my arriving at this party rather late – most untypical for me, having lost count of the number of hosts/hostesses still in their undies who have reacted in horror at my turning up on their doorstep at the earlier of the times suggested.

    Of course I appreciate the comments of “Shakescene”, and am delighted that my arguments appear to have been received so positively. I must say, however, that the certainty which he or she expresses sits a a wee bit uncomfortably with my own viewpoint (and, I think, those of Ros Barber and Daryl Pinksen whose works are also cited. All I conclude we are entitled to claim is that the facts surrounding Marlowe’s reported death can most logically be explained by it having been faked, and that (if he did survive) there are many reasons for finding that he was most probably the true author of the Shakespeare canon.

    What therefore saddens me most is the perpetual refusal of Shakespearian scholars to deal honestly with the arguments we offer in support of these opinions, something which Prof. David Small has pointed out so cogently. We start off with a detailed explanation of why the most likely explanation of why those particular people would have met at that particular place on that particular day would have been to fake Marlowe’s death. We then point out the seven-year “apprenticeship” Shakespeare is said to have served under Marlowe (who was only two months older than him!) and we remind everyone that the first work clearly attributed to Shakespeare appeared less tnan a fortnight after Marlowe’s apparent death. Ah yes, say the authors of the article under discussion, but the record says that he was killed. End of discussion.

    The record also tells us that he was killed in self-defence though. To which a huge majority of commentators say that the record was a tissue of lies.

    Personally, I believe that arguments which deny the death of Marlowe at that time deserve more consideration than, for example, James Shapiro offered in his “Contested Will” (the refutation of the cases for Oxford and Bacon is enough to show that ALL anti-Stratfordian cases must be flawed) or, as here (the records show that Marlowe died then – so there is no question, and the question mark should be removed.) Is this really the best that the academic establishment can do? No of course it isn’t, so why is there such a reluctance to engage in a sensible debate?

    The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust posted on the internet an item called “60 Minutes with Shakespeare” in which a whole lot of eminent scholars, actors and personalities answered (given a minute each) questions related to the Shakespeare authorship. It’s good. Well worth listening to. In the interest of fair debate, however, the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition (a collection of anti-Stratfordians who think all of the others are wrong, but agree on just one thing!) responded with a detailed comment upon each of the “60 minute” arguments. As far as The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust website is concerned, this never happened. Why on earth not?

    We are promised a more detailed refutation of anti-Stratfordian claims in a forthcoming collection of essays. I await with interest some argument as to why the Marlovians’ explanation of the Deptford death is wrong, how the mass of scholarly opinion claiming how similar Shakespeare’s early work was to Marlowe’s is as irrelevant as they claim, and (if I may be permitted a personal bee in my bonnet) that the monument to Shakespeare in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford, should not be read as a riddle which tells us that “Christofer Marley” (as Marlowe signed his own name) was somehow “in” the monument with Shakespeare.

    Peter Farey

  • Truthseeker


      In the Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey, there is a
    memorial window dedicated to Christopher Marlowe. There is a question mark
    beside the year of Marlowe’s death. It seems funny that the authors of this
    book claim this question mark to be removed.


     “In properly honouring Marlowe by installing a
    commemorative window in Poets’Corner, the Dean and Chapter authorized the
    presence of a question-mark to precede the year of Marlowe’s death. In doing so
    they flew in the face of a mass of unimpugnable evidence. Marlowe died on 30
    May 1593 as a result of being stabbed in the eye by an identified criminal,
    Ingram Frizer. The coroner’s report survives. It was witnessed by a jury of sixteen
    men who inspected the corpse.”


    “The evidence of the
    coroner’s report is unimpeachable. The question mark in Marlowe’s memorial
    window should be removed”


     The discovery in 1925 of the coroner’s report not only
    did not settle the matter of Marlow’s death. Instead, it produced the opposite

     Although there is no agreement of whatever could
    have happened at Dame Bull’s house on Deptford that night, it is  almost impossible to find any scholar
    credulous enough to believe the sequence of facts related in the report.

     There is no record in the Coroner’s Report as
    to who identified the body, beside the three implicated professional liars, all
    of them associated with Marlow’s patron Thomas Walsingham, and certainly no
    mention of anyone else.

     Those who believe William Shakespeare’s to be
    the author do not even consider the possibility of Christopher Marlowe’s not
    being death that night, no matter the lack of evidence.

    anomalies in William Shakespeare biography and the overwhelming    amount of circumstantial evidence of Marlowe’s
    authorship make the date of his death to be of crucial importance. 

      If hard evidence of Marlowe’s being alive
    after the Deptford incident is discovered, then the William Shakespeare’s
    authorship pillars will collapse forever.

    For an enlightening
    explanation of the Deptford incident I recommend watching Dr. Rosalind Barber’s
    video “Rethinking Shakespeare”

      In the Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey, there is a
    memorial window dedicated to Christopher Marlowe. There is a question mark
    beside the year of Marlowe’s death. It seems funny that the authors of this
    book claim this question mark to be removed.


     “In properly honouring Marlowe by installing a
    commemorative window in Poets’Corner, the Dean and Chapter authorized the
    presence of a question-mark to precede the year of Marlowe’s death. In doing so
    they flew in the face of a mass of unimpugnable evidence. Marlowe died on 30
    May 1593 as a result of being stabbed in the eye by an identified criminal,
    Ingram Frizer. The coroner’s report survives. It was witnessed by a jury of sixteen
    men who inspected the corpse.”


    “The evidence of the
    coroner’s report is unimpeachable. The question mark in Marlowe’s memorial
    window should be removed”


     The discovery in 1925 of the coroner’s report not only
    did not settle the matter of Marlow’s death. Instead, it produced the opposite

     Although there is no agreement of whatever could
    have happened at Dame Bull’s house on Deptford that night, it is  almost impossible to find any scholar
    credulous enough to believe the sequence of facts related in the report.

     There is no record in the Coroner’s Report as
    to who identified the body, beside the three implicated professional liars, all
    of them associated with Marlow’s patron Thomas Walsingham, and certainly no
    mention of anyone else.

     Those who believe William Shakespeare’s to be
    the author do not even consider the possibility of Christopher Marlowe’s not
    being death that night, no matter the lack of evidence.

    anomalies in William Shakespeare biography and the overwhelming    amount of circumstantial evidence of Marlowe’s
    authorship make the date of his death to be of crucial importance. 

      If hard evidence of Marlowe’s being alive
    after the Deptford incident is discovered, then the William Shakespeare’s
    authorship pillars will collapse forever.

    For an enlightening
    explanation of the Deptford incident I recommend watching Dr. Rosalind Barber’s
    video “Rethinking Shakespeare”

  • Ron Maimon

    The mathematics disagrees with you. First, the stylometries. By “stylometry” I mean things like: how many times do they use “than” or “of” compared with “and” and “to”. These things are not controllable or copyable at the conscious level, and Marlowe fits Shakespeare’s style in time in all cases, and at those times where they (nearly) overlap, in 1593, matches Shakespeare exactly.  Marlowe’s later work is indistinguishable from Shakespeare’s early work, and even the early work is stylistically very similar, when compared with anybody else.  If you can’t distinguish them stylometrically, they are almost certainly the same person. There is nothing more to say. Marlowe’s stuff is more bombastic, more horror, but it isn’t Schlock. Faustus is a masterpiece, as is all of Marlowe, even Jew of Malta. It is more 1970s horror than Shakespeare subtlety, but this is all easily explained by maturity. The Einstein of 1916 differs more than the young Einstein than Shakespeare from Marlowe, and the Joyce of Finnegan’s Wake from the Joyce of Dubliners. Marlowe wrote the Shakespeare plays in the period from 1593-1623, and it is possible that quite a few were written well after Shakespeare’s death. The source material can be used to date the plays, as well as stylistic tics in time.

  • Unlawfulwaffle

    i like trains

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  • Keith

    To say Marlowe was/is the author of the Shakespeare plays is total and absolute piffle.
    His plays are one dimensional, shlock horror productions  – its like comparing a diamond with a cabbage.
    Marlowe was killed in 1593,he had lead a sensational life, pretty much openly gay, atheistical and with much sinister tones through his involvement with the Elizabethan security services.
    Marlowe’s supporters can’t work out whether he was really killed and just had an enormous backlog of plays in the pipeline or whether his death was faked and he then got Shakespeare to cover for him.
    Interesting, that the Oxford supporters take the former line with their hero i.e. he died in 1604 but all the later plays were already in the pipeline and penned under the assumed name of Shakespeare.
    Time and again the conspiracists have to fit the time line to their man because there in no natural fit.
    The evidence that indeed Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare is overwhelming.

  • Shakescene

    It is manifestly obvious to anyone with half a brain and an internet connection that Christopher Marlowe is the author of the works attributed to William Shakespeare. Shakespeare was Marlowe’s front, in the same way that Ian Hunter was Dalton Trumbo’s.

    The case has already been persuasively made by Peter Farey, following Mendenhall, Hoffman, and a slew of lesser known 19th century and 20th century voices, followed by Pinsker, Rubbo and Barber. The arguments are based on both stylometric science and old-fasioned document sleuthing, but most importantly, on just reading the darn works. If you read all of Marlowe and all of Shakespeare, it is manifestly obvious that these are the works of one author.

    Marlovian authorship resolves the mysteries surrounding the works of William Shakespeare all at once, and it must be emphasized that the most striking of these is “How could a man who ripped off Marlowe so shamelessly and so relentlessly, and continued to do so throughout his career, without a comparable stylistic innovation of his own, have been capable of any works of genius at all?” Any rip-off immitator of such a degree must be the worlds most talentless hack. But Shakespeare’s output is not that of a hack, but of a wild original.

    There is also the second question: “How could Shakespeare have successfully ripped off Marlowe anyway?” Marlowe is such a distinctive writer, nobody else has successfully done it. He read Ovid, he had a comprehending pagan theology that was dismissive of Jewish and Christian thinking both, and sympathetic to the era’s black-magick-y secret-society anti-church free-thinking. These questions used to be pressing for Shakespearean scholars— they assumed that Shakespeare and Marlowe were the closest of collaborators. Some even suggested that Marlowe was Shakespeare’s pen-name before 1593.

    The answer is obvious in hindsight.

    Many people do not appreciate the creative genius of Marlowe/Shakespeare, because these “two” authors are usually the only ones people read and compare from that era. With Shakespeare to Marlowe as your two data points, you are immediately struck by the false impression that everyone in that era wrote with insane erudition and high artifice, with a deliberate pagan restoration motive, in a style of blank verse that is essentially mastered only by these two. It only takes a few minutes with Kyd and Lyly to see that this is completely false, that only Marlowe and Shakespeare write this way, and no-one else.

    The content of the plays is immediately enriched by knowing the life story of the author, and the sonnets become transparently autobiographical. One can understand the nationalist and anti-clerical machinations of the early moderns much more clearly. The goal of producing an English national literature seems to be prominent above all else.

    Since the Marlovian idea exists, the The Stratfordian position is as intellectually bankrupt as geocentrism. It is a damning shame that English departments defend it, and it suggests that the internet has dealt the humanities a drubbing as complete as the printing press dealt to the natural philosophers in Marlowe’s age, or just after.

  • Shakescene

    The fact that Marlowe wrote Shakespeare (and I have no doubt anymore) is obvious to anyone who reads both playwrites and their contemporaries, and who reads Peter Farey’s web page, and Ros Barber’s. I have nothing to add to Farey’s arguments, since they are fully and rigorously persuasive, and there should be no more debate on this issue.

    The more damning point here is that the English departments hire frauds such as James Shapiro. This reveals an intellectual bankruptcy in academia which has not been since the days that Copernicus challenged geocentrism. It is shameful and outrageous that people such as this, who have taken Stratfordian positions in public, still teach students. Their work is valueless, they are charlatans, and they should be fired.

  • Shakescene

    The Marlovian anti-strats, especially Peter Farey and Ros Barber, have a much much higher standard of rigor than any of the Stratfordians, which is simply because they are right and the stratfordians are wrong. There is no stratfordian argument, because it is manifestly obvious to anyone who reads Farey that Shakespeare is not the author.

  • Shakescene

    Greene was certainly not talking about William Shakespeare with the “Shakescene” “upstart crow” nonsense. It is a pathetic lie, exposed multiple times. Robert Greene was talking about another actor, now forgotten. It is shoddy scholarship, and anyone who mentions it should be ignored.

    I firmly believe that Marlowe wrote Shakespeare. Further, thanks to the sleuthing work of Peter Farey, the balance of evidence has shifted to the point where anyone arguing any other position is basically exposed as an ignorant know-nothing.

  • Hamiltonpaul

    Great book. Thank you for writing it . . . Very succinct and informative. I have used it as a reference when these questions come up. Highly recommended.

  • Prof. David H. Small

    I am very disappointed in this e-book.  It is factually inaccurate,  lacks scholarship and completely ignores opposing arguments.  I understand that it is not a scholarly work, but to resort to “ad hominem” remarks is inappropriate.  Statements like “These facts alone are surely enough to demonstrate beyond doubt, to anyone with the least respect for historical evidence, that William Shakespeare (1564-1616) bornand buried in Stratford-upon-Avon was an actor, a poet and a dramatist.” don’t help.  Clearly these facts alone do not demonstrate to everyone that this is the case.  Unless, of course, the authors are implying that all of the doubters have no “respect for historical evidence”?
    and buried in Stratford-upon-Avon was an actor, a poet and a dramatist.” don’t help.  Clearly these facts alone do not demonstrate to everyone that this is the case.  Unless, of course, the authors are implying that all of the doubters have no “respect for historical evidence”?

    Having read arguments on both sides of the debate, I can say that until Stratfordians deal with the specific issues, particularly those raised by the Marlovian theory, there will continue to be doubters.  Glossing over the issues by stating, essentially, that Shakespeare’s name is on the plays and sonnets and that the first folio and Shakespeare memorial are the proof misses the point that Shakespeare’s name is on works that are demonstrably not his and that the first folio and the memorial in Stratford are distinctly odd in their presentation of his contribution.

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  • Anonymous

    oops, double post.

  • Anonymous

    I’m pretty sure my signature speaks to my illiteracy too.

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  • Tom Reedy

    > Is this a recent discovery?

    No, it is an error.

  • Tomreedy

    You are disgusting.

  • Harber

    I was way too polite and cautious in my last posting.
    Using this
    as evidence that Judith could write (in any sensible interpretation of that
    word) is just plain ridiculous. Edmondson and Wells better watch out, cause
    this is touching the level of argumentation found among the anti-strats.

  • Sabrina Feldman

     Hi Maria,

    In my opinion, a distinct authorial voice can indeed be heard in essentially all of the works which were directly or indirectly attributed to William Shakespeare by his contemporaries and near-contemporaries. I can’t adequately address this complex topic in a short comment (see for a book-length argument), but here’s one really interesting thread among the early apocryphal works: their habit of pilfering lines and even whole speeches from the works of Christopher Marlowe, Robert Greene, and other popular writers of the late 1580s and early 1590s.

    Recall that as the London writer Robert Greene lay dying of poverty and hard living
    in the late summer of 1592, he accused William Shakespeare, whom he dubbed “Shake-scene,” of being an
    “upstart crow” prone to beautifying his bombastic and inferior dramatic
    works with feathers stolen from the works of Marlowe,
    Greene, and their contemporaries (according to wide scholarly
    consensus). There
    is no doubt that one of Greene’s contemporaries was prone to decorating
    his bombastic and inferior plays with feathers lifted from the works of
    Marlowe, Greene, Peele, and others. Direct and indirect evidence, long
    overlooked on both sides of the authorship debate, indicates that this
    playwright was William Shakespeare — but as the author of the
    Shakespeare Apocrypha, rather than the Shakespeare Canon.

    Around 1589, an Elizabethan playwright who probably had no
    more than a grammar school education wrote a play titled The Taming of A
    Shrew (either the source of the Bard’s The Taming of The Shrew, or —
    as several respected Shakespeare scholars have argued — a probable
    adaptation). A Shrew’s author imitated the bombastic playwriting style
    that was then the height of fashion, and embellished his play with
    fine-sounding lines and phrases imported verbatim or nearly so from
    Christopher Marlowe’s Tamburlaine plays, and to a lesser extent from
    other works. “Undeniably he was a magpie of the drama of his day who
    took up what caught his ear,” wrote Steven Roy Miller of A Shrew’s

    In 1589, Thomas Nashe wrote a preface to his friend
    Robert Greene’s pastoral romance Menaphon in which he mocked an
    imitative upstart writer for taking pride in getting “Boreas by the
    beard,” an apparent allusion to an absurd metaphor about Boreas’s beard
    that Ferando used while wooing Kate in A Shrew. Nashe also inveighed
    against incompetent poets “who (mounted on the stage of arrogance) think
    to outbrave better pens with the swelling bombast of bragging blank
    verse. Indeed, it may be the engrafted overflow of some kill-cow
    conceit…” Many scholars assume that Nashe was mocking William
    Shakespeare, whom tradition reports killed cows in high style as a
    youth, and who began to establish himself as a popular actor and
    playwright around this time. 

    Greene amplified Nashe’s mockery of A Shrew’s author in
    Menaphon through the character of Doron, a plain country shepherd whose
    speech is “stuffed with pretty similes and far-fetched metaphors.” Doron
    recyles the image of Boreas’s icy chin hairs which Nashe mocked in
    Menaphon’s preface, and Ferando used in a ridiculous fashion in A Shrew. 

    The Bard’s Taming of The Shrew was printed for the first
    time in the 1623 First Folio under The Taming of A Shrew’s publishing
    license, implying they were viewed as roughly equivalent works by the
    same author.

    Around the same time that Greene wrote Menaphon, he wrote
    his play Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay. Soon after, according to
    scholarly consensus, an unidentified dramatist wrote a play titled Fair
    Em in imitation of Greene’s popular play. Here is J. Churlton Collins’s
    assessment of the similarity between the two works: “The sentiments are
    often identical; there is the same blending of rustic and courtly life;
    the blank verse is often indistinguishable from Greene’s.” Fair Em was
    bound with Mucedorus and The Merry Devil of Edmonton in the volume
    “Shakespeare Vol. 1” from the library of King Charles II.
    Greene published his 1591 Farewell to Folly, he took square aim at Fair
    Em’s author as one of those who, “if they come to write, or publish
    anything in print, it is either distilled out of ballads, or borrowed of
    Theological poets [who] get some other Batillus to set his name to
    their verses. Thus is the ass made proud by this underhand brokery. And
    he that cannot write true English without the help of clerks of parish
    churches will needs make himself the father of interludes.” 

    Around 1591, a yet-to-be identified playwright wrote The
    Troublesome Reign of King John in imitation of the popular drama of the
    period. Rupert Taylor described Troublesome Reign’s author as “a chronic
    imitator,” and Honigmann viewed Troublesome Reign as little more than
    “a network of stolen lines—Marlowe, Shakespeare and lesser dramatists
    were plundered to pad out verse.” Troublesome Reign was printed as a
    work by “W. Sh.” in 1611, and by “William Shakespeare” in 1622. This is
    strong evidence for the Stratford actor’s authorship of the work, as
    literary historians place a very high value on contemporary title page
    testimony. The Bard’s King John was printed for the first time in the
    1623 First Folio under Troublesome Reign’s publishing license, implying
    these works too were viewed as roughly equivalent works by the same

    Locrine is another play composed around 1591 which contains a
    network of lines plundered from works by Edmund Spenser and others.
    Registered with the London Stationers’ Company in 1594, it was published
    in 1595 as “Newly set foorth, overseene and corrected, By W.S.” Locrine
    was later included in the Third and Fourth Folios of Shakespeare’s
    works. The scholar C. F. Tucker Brooke found so many similarities
    between Locrine and the acknowledged works of Robert Greene that he
    convinced himself Greene had written the play. “How continually in
    Locrine we find Greene’s favourite epithets, phrases, and classical
    divinities forcing themselves uncalled for into the lines will not
    escape the notice of any one who will, for example, make a cursory
    catalogue, as I have done, of the mythological references in Locrine,”
    he wrote in 1908. 

    Two plays viewed as Shakespearean ‘bad quartos,’ similarly dated
    to the early 1590s, also contain lines resembling those found in the
    acknowledged works of Christopher Marlowe, Robert Greene, and George
    Peele. These are The First part of the Contention Betwixt the Two Famous
    Houses of York and Lancaster and The True Tragedy of Richard Duke of
    York, inferior versions of Shakespeare’s Henry VI Part 2 and Henry VI
    Part 3. The Contention and True Tragedy were published anonymously in
    1594 and 1595, but reprinted in 1619 as “Written by William Shakespeare,
    Gent.” The Bard’s versions of these plays first appeared in the 1623
    First Folio under the inferior plays’ publishing licenses, just as
    occurred with The Taming of the Shrew / The Taming of a Shrew and King
    John / The Troublesome Reign of King John.
    As the amateur
    scholar Jane Lee discovered in the late nineteenth century, The
    Contention and True Tragedy contain “numerous instances of lines
    verbally transcribed, or reproduced with but slight alterations” from
    popular works of the period, particularly those by Marlowe. “That an
    author should so closely repeat himself is unusual; but that any one
    else should so openly borrow from the works of a living writer
    universally known is still more unusual.” 

    Given this history, when Robert Greene urged Christopher
    Marlowe, Thomas Nashe, and George Peele in the late summer of 1592 not
    to share any of their future plays with the untrustworthy players
    because the upstart crow Shake-scene had been beautifying his bombastic
    works with feathers stolen from their plays, how likely is it that
    Greene had the Bard in mind? Isn’t it more likely that he meant to
    attack the pilfering author of The Taming of A Shrew, Fair Em, The
    Troublesome Reign of King John, Locrine, The Contention, and True

  • Harber

    Here is the part of the signature that Judith, according to Wikipedia, wrote herself: . I can agree that this scrawl is evidence that Judith was able to sign her name. But Edmondson and Wells’ claim is that this is evidence that Judith could write. If we by “A can write” mean that A is able to write at least one particular name or word, then the scrawl maybe could be evidence that Judith could write. But this is a very strained interpretation of “can write”. More natural interpretations of “A can write” would be “A is able to write arbitrary sentences” or “A is able to write small notes”. I am not an expert, but I cannot see how this: can be evidence that Judith was able to write arbitrary sentences or small notes.
    But, not being an expert, I could be wrong. Maybe this scrawl displays some particular properties that would tell a skilled graphologist that the person making the scrawl would be able to write complete sentences. I doubt that this rather counterintuitive idea is correct, but maybe Edmondson and Wells have had a graphologist make just that kind of analysis with said conclusion?
    If not, this minor point makes me suspicious of the argumentative strategies in the rest of Edmondson and Wells’ book.

  • Maria Thomas

    And we should add that reading and writing were taught as separate skills so ability to write might come well after ability to read.  Shakespeare’s father John held the highest elected office in Stratford but always signed official documents with a mark.

  • Maria Thomas

    I’d always assumed the plays we could group under the title Shakespeare Apocrypha were labelled as by WS in order to sell the print copies – a bookseller’s come-on.  If that’s right, it suggests that there must have been a top-selling author by the name of William Shakespeare around at the time.  And actually, A Yorkshire Tragedy is not so much a bad play as in a different style altogether.  Are all the plays in your Apocrypha of a distinct but different style, or is it a pick’n’mix?
    Maria Thomas.

  • JWW

    Harber, don’t read too much into the assertion about the signatures. Wells and Edmonson are responding to the argument that the daughters were illiterate and couldn’t even sign their names. This is unquestionably factually incorrect, since we have their signatures. How well they could read is still an open question (and one that neither Wells nor Edmonson would argue with, I’d wager). But they evidently could both sign their names, which is one point against those who fallaciously assert that they could not.

    You should ask yourself to what extent you can trust your own interpretation of other people’s words, but the text does not state nor imply that either daughter was anything other than rudimentarily literate.

  • Stratfordian

    Why do you say the scrawl is “definitely not evidence that Judith could write”?  Are you an expert on handwriting of the period? 

  • Harber

    If the information in the Wikipedia article is correct, that only the scrawl representing Judith’s forename is by her, I would say that it doesn’t look like the scrawl of a competent writer, and one wonders why another person had to write her last name.

    If this is the signature referred to on page 23 of “Shakespeare Bites Back”, it is highly misleading by Wells and Edmondson to write that “Evidence that Shakespeare’s daughters could write is provided by the signatures of Susanna and Judith which survive in the archives of The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust”. The scrawl could be made by a competent writer, although I don’t think so, but it is definitely not evidence that Judith could write.

    I have to ask my self to what extent I can trust the other arguments they put forward in the book.

  • Stratfordian

    Have you ever noticed that many highly educated people have illegible signatures, sometimes mere scrawls such as Judith’s? 

  • CarrieVS

    We don’t know a great deal at all about Shakespeare the man, and it’s hard to imagine we will ever find out a great deal more – I am informed that the little we know is actually a startling amount compared to his contempories. So to me, Shakespeare is the person (or people, I understand is a theory) who wrote Shakespeare’s collective works. He did a great deal for writing.

  • Sabrina Feldman

    Hmm…fascinating theory. Actually, I acquired my last name by marriage. (My own ancestors were Catholic peasant farmers in Ireland and Germany.)

    Here’s the point I wanted to make. What interests me, and mystifies me, is that the traditional Shakespeare authorship theory doesn’t explain the direct title page evidence that WS wrote a series of lesser plays that scholars are certain he didn’t really write. For instance, on May 2, 1608, the London bookseller Thomas Pavier applied for permission to publish “A Yorkshire Tragedy written by Wylliam Shakespere.” Soon after, Pavier began selling copies of the play at his shop on Cornhill Street in London. The 1608 title page boasts that A Yorkshire Tragedy had been “acted by his Majesty’s Players at the Globe” and was “Written by W. Shakspeare.” The King’s Men did routinely play at the Globe, and William Shakespeare was their leading playwright. Pavier’s claim, if it were false, would have been a remarkable deception practiced on London’s reading public. Pavier could have been denounced in print by any of William’s contemporaries, but as far as is known this never happened. He reprinted A Yorkshire Tragedy under William Shakespeare’s name in 1619, three years after the actor’s death. Although the play was excluded from the 1623 First Folio and 1632 Second Folio of Shakespeare’s works, it was added to the 1664 Third Folio and 1685 Fourth Folio. Despite this direct historical evidence pointing to William Shakespeare as A Yorkshire Tragedy’s author, and the lack of evidence pointing to any other author, modern scholars reject the possibility that William wrote it. Their reasoning is two-fold: A Yorkshire Tragedy’s author was not capable of writing at the Bard’s level, and the play was excluded from the First Folio. “If the Folio did not exist,” admitted the renowned Shakespearean scholars Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor in William Shakespeare: A Textual Companion, “we could not distinguish—without resorting to stylististic evidence—between the documentary testimony for King Lear (1608) and the documentary testimony for A Yorkshire Tragedy (1608): both look equally valid, and hence both are equally worthless.” Scholars’ willingness to entertain Middleton as A Yorkshire Tragedy’s author, but not William Shakespeare, is puzzling. Here is a play printed under William Shakespeare’s name, during his lifetime, and performed by his theatrical company. There is no evidence that any of his contemporaries disputed his authorship. So why are modern scholars so sure that William Shakespeare didn’t write A Yorkshire Tragedy? One can’t just say that direct title page evidence of William’s authorship is irrefutable when the play is good, but meaningless when the play is bad, without better justification. The same holds for other plays now assigned to the Shakespeare Apocrypha.

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  • Anonymous

    BANG ON! What a great
    weapon for the arsenal, we should keep pushing this right through the
    release of that ‘intellectually immoral’ film (Professer Wells had it
    right on twitter)

  • Anonymous

    Yes but – and with the greatest respect – your people have never really forgiven the old boy for Shylock have you, so one wouldn’t really expect you to say any different. MoV still banned in sunny Tel Aviv? That’s the ticket.

  • Anonymous

    This is entirely got up as part of Hollywood’s relentless cultural attack on England and the English. Historical truth isn’t changed for ‘dramatic purposes’. It is changed for political purposes, and because film-makers know people will choose to believe the lie if it suits their prejudices. ‘Braveheart’, made to lionise our enemies, was another does of historical claptrap with emotional punch – profitable for the Scottish Tourist Board, a delight for an anti-English television service and a source of inspiration for credulous Americans anxious for some of the stardust showered regularly on self-designated ‘victim’ cultures. In the 1970s the Scottish authorities instructed a team of academics to unearth a link with Shakespeare – however tenuous- that would allow them to claim the writer for their own. They failed but culture wars never end. Come back in ten or fifteen years. Having prepared the public psychologically with a series of well publicized, if recycled, attacks the time should be right for ‘incontrovertible evidence’ of a Scottish source for Shakespeare’s plays to be unexpectedly disgorged by a dusty attic in a long-disused part of a house somewhere in Auchtermuchty……

    This is how the world really works. You read it here first……

  • Harber

    If Judith’s signature is the “pigtail” signature found here:
    I would say it speaks more for illiteracy, at least when it comes to being able to write, than it speaks against it.

  • Sabrina Feldman

    In my opinion, traditional Shakespeare scholars have failed to adequately explain why William Shakespeare was credited with writing not only the Bard’s canonical works, but also a series of ‘apocryphal’ Shakespeare plays during his lifetime and for many decades afterwards. Because scholars have never viewed the Shakespeare Apocrypha as a coherent group of plays, they haven’t looked for evidence that the works were mainly authored by a single playwright, who might also have played a role in creating the ‘bad quartos.’ Sty­listic threads linking these lesser works suggest they shared a common author or co-author who left the following sorts of fingerprints in his writings: wholesale pilferings (especially from the works of Christopher Marlowe and Robert Greene during the late 1580s and early 1590s, consistent with Robert Greene’s 1592 attack on WS as an “upstart crow”), bombast, a breezy style, clumsy blank verse, a salty sense of humor, food jokes, crude physical slapstick, inventive slang, very funny clown scenes, a penchant for placing characters in disguise, jingoism, bungled Latin tags and inept classical allusions, unsophisticated but sweet romances, shrewish and outspoken women, camaraderie among men, an emphasis on who is or isn’t a gentleman, and a complete lack of interest in political nuance and philosophical digressions. The overall sense is of a brash and confident writer with little more than a grammar-school education, seeking to create works of maximum popular appeal by whatever means necessary, with little regard for posterity. 
    The existence of two bodies of work exhibiting distinct poetic voices printed under one man’s name invites legitimate speculation concerning whether WS was the main author of the canonical works, or the apocryphal plays. Sabrina Feldman, author of The Apocryphal William Shakespeare (available in mid-November) 

  • Steve Gustafson

    Whatever else you can say about the author of Shakespeare’s plays, he was versatile.  The late plays written for the Blackfriars indoors stage differ from the ones meant to be played at the Globe as outdoor spectacle: the Globe plays were popular pieces featuring swordfighting and SFX, far less prominent in the more intimate Blackfriars pieces. 

    This is not genius; this is skill.  Whoever wrote them understood what worked best on each stage.  Neither the Earl of Oxford nor the Lord Chancellor strike me as likely people to have possessed it.  Shakespeare the actor and impresario knew what he was doing. 

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  • Richard-Nathan

    Thank you for the book.  I have long known that there were surviving copies of Susanna Shakespeare (Hall)’s signature, but this was the first time I’ve heard there was a copy of Judith’s signature.  I would like to learn more about this.  Is this a recent discovery?

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