Shakespeare Authorship Questioners
Why Is There An Authorship Question At All?
Perhaps it's necessary to ask, 'Why should there be an authorship question at all?'
Elizabethan England kept extremely good records. Better than anyone until modern times.
In other countries there is no confusion over the authorship of Dante or Goethe or Milton. Only of Shakespeare.
Since Shakespeare left a towering body of work, we would expect there to be a great amount of documentation of his comings and goings.
He lived in a London of only 200,000 people and his estimated booksales over his lifetime have been placed at 50,000. This is an extreme bestselling author in a mainly illiterate society.
He was the most famous and celebrated man in the kingdom, rivaled only by the Earl of Essex and Sir Walter Raleigh. And yet there is almost nothing in Elizabethan records concerning his life, thought or actions. Not even in the informal diaries of his peers and friends. There are perhaps a total of a dozen mentions over a period of 25-30 years, all spent at the heart of the London theater as a superstar.
This suggests that whatever was happening, it was something out of the ordinary.
This is why the record is unclear, something unusual was taking place in regard to the authorship of the plays, allowing the authorship question to arise, by virtue of the mysteriously missing documentation of Shakespeare’s life.
This suggests that in his time, Shakespeare was a public nom de plume, whose real identity was unknown to the public at large.
Probably at the time this was explained by the suggestion that he was of noble birth, and therefore forced to write lowly theater drama anonymously..
Shakespeare Authorship Questioners
These are some of the more famous Shakespearean authorship doubters and their remarks:
"It is a great comfort, to my way of thinking, that so little is known concerning the poet. The life of Shakespeare is a fine mystery and I tremble every day lest something turn up."
"I no longer believe that William Shakespeare the actor from Stratford was the author of the works that have been ascribed to him."
"It is undeniably painful to all of us that even now we do not know who was the author of the Comedies, Tragedies and Sonnets of Shakespeare, whether it was in fact the untutored son of the provincial citizen of Stratford, who attained a modest position as an actor in London. "
Ralph Waldo Emerson:
"The verdict of the Shakespeare Societies comes to mind, that he was a jovial actor and manager. I cannot marry this fact to his verse: Other admirable men had led lives in some sort of keeping with their thought, but this man is in wide contrast."
"So far as anybody actually knows and can prove, Shakespeare of Stratford-on-Avon never wrote a play in his life. Shall I set down the rest of the Conjectures which constitute the giant Biography of William Shakespeare? It would strain the Unabridged Dictionary to hold them. He is a Brontosaur: nine bones and six hundred barrels of plaster of Paris." "Isn't it odd, when you think of it, that you may list all of the celebrated Englishmen, Irishmen, Scotchmen, clear back to the first Tudors. A list of five hundred names, shall we say? And you can learn the particulars of the lives of every one of them. Every one of them except one, the most famous, the most renowned, by far the most illustrious of them all, Shakespeare!"
"I am firm against Shakespeare, I mean the Avon man, the actor."
"I am haunted by the conviction that the divine William is the biggest and most successful fraud ever practiced on a patient world."
"We went to Stratford for the first time. The absolute extermination and obliteration of every record of Shakespeare save a few sordid material details, and the general suggestion of narrowness and niggardliness which ancient Stratford makes, taken in comparison with the way in which the spiritual quantity 'Shakespeare' has mingled into the soul of the world, was most uncanny, and I feel ready to believe in almost any mythical story of the authorship. In fact a visit to Stratford now seems to me the strongest appeal a Baconian can make."