October 25, 2011

William Shakespeare: Genius or Stand-In

Do filmgoers care about a movie's historical accuracy? Does an audience take the plot of a docudrama "based on historical events" literally? The Guardian has asked its readers just this question in the case of the new film Anonymous, which takes the position that someone other than William Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare.

Candidates and alternative theories abound. Did Francis Bacon actually write the plays and poems? Christopher Marlowe? The Earl of Essex? Sir Walter Raleigh? The Earl of Derby? Steven Dutch surveys some of the candidates and theories hereJames Shapiro in his recent book Contested Will discusses the issue at length.  Schools and institutions have sponsored symposia on the subject. Frontline presented a program on the authorship of the plays. Even Justice Stevens offers an opinion.  His pick is the Earl of Oxford.

If you can't decide, you can take a fallback position on the question of who wrote Shakespeare's works. William Shakespeare.


James Shapiro, Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare (Simon and Shuster, 2010).

Symposium: Who Wrote Shakespeare: An Evidentiary Puzzle  72 Tenn. L. Rev 1 (Fall 2004).

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