Mystery Monday

Mystery Monday – Was Shakespeare a Fraud?

Lest Friday we saw Roland Emmerich’s new film, ANONYMOUS. The movie provides a fictionalized version of the questions surrounding Shakespeare and whether or not he was in fact the author of the 30+ plays and sonnets said to have been penned by him.

It’s an interesting question. While the movie puts forth the hypothesis that the plays were actually penned by Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, there has long been controversy surrounding the name William Shakespeare, mostly because the “real” William Shakespeare was said to be an uneducated son of a glover. Since many of Shakespeare’s themes involved extensive knowledge of politics, law, and philosophy — almost exclusively the province of the wealthy at the time in question — many scholars and lay people believe that Shakespeare could not have penned the plays and sonnets.

In reality, de Vere is only one of many candidates put forward as possible authors of Shakespeare’s works. Others include the Elizabethan philosopher Francis Bacon and even two women.

Whatever the truth, it’s an interesting mystery, non? And one certainly worthy of a Mystery Monday.


What do you think? Was William Shakespeare a pseudonym? And if so, who is the most likely candidate as the author of Shakespeare’s legendary work?


3 replies on “Mystery Monday – Was Shakespeare a Fraud?”

The pseudonym idea is interesting to me. We had a lengthy discussion about it in my British Lit class last year. Shakespeare would have received a grammar school education (his father was also a local politician, not just a glover), which would have given him sufficient skills to write his plays.
I think it’s also recognized now that because there were no intellectual property rights, collaboration/”borrowing” often occured. In Shakespeare’s case, he took a lot of “inspiration” from previously existing stories or characters. For example, King Lear was based off of a myth/story called King Leir. I’m willing to believe that he was definitely guilty of what we would called plagarism, but I have yet to see enough proof to convince me that it was someone else using a pseudonym. I will have to check out Anonymous though!

I always thought that this was a very interesting theory, and I am very excited to go and the see the new movie. I don’t really have a view on this subject though, it is such a hard thing to decide whether you think he was or was not, because from what I know there is not much evidence to support either side! 🙂

I think it’s very interesting, but I’m not sure what to believe. There’s a Norwegian man who is convinced that Francis Bacon really was the writer of Shakespeare’s plays, and that he left secret messages and everything. There was a three-part documentary about him, which I though was very interesting to watch. 🙂

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