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Who was Shakespeare? Show more Show less

"What's in a name?" one of Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers asked. When it comes to the identity of the greatest writer in the English language, a great deal. That mantle has long been bestowed on a glover's son from Stratford-Upon-Avon. But since the 19th century, there have been doubts over William Shakespeare's identity as the writer of the works attributed to the playwright. Was the Bard from Stratford a front for another writer? Was he just one participant in a collective group of writers? Or was he a she?

The Stratfordian position Show more Show less

William Shakespeare wrote the plays that bear his name. Any claims otherwise are Much Ado About Nothing.
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It is there in black and white

So far, no authorship theory has presented stronger evidence than the name written on the works in black and white.
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Context

We know that a man named Shakespeare wrote the plays. He put his name on them.

The Argument

Contemporary documents show that this man was named William Shakespeare. He was the son of a glover and educated at Stratford Grammar School in the town of Stratford-Upon-Avon. We know he married Anne Hathaway. We know he was an actor and we know he died in 1616. This is what the documents say and there is no convincing evidence to the contrary to suggest he did not write the plays.

Counter arguments

All that tells us is that there was a man from Stratford called Shakespeare and that, for whatever reason, his name appeared on a number of plays attributed to him. That does not prove that he wrote them. [1] We don’t even know if that is how he spelt his name. The only surviving example of Shakespeare’s writing are six scratchy signatures spelt several different ways.[2] There is also significant evidence to suggest he did not write the plays. What we know of his education suggests he would not have had the necessary schooling to produce works of the calibre attributed to his name.

Framing

Premises

[P1] Shakespeare's name is on the plays in black and white. [P2] There is no compelling evidence to the contrary to suggest he did not write the plays. [P3] Therefore, the logical conclusion is that Shakespeare wrote the plays.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P3] There is significant evidence to suggest that Shakespeare did not possess the necessary education to write the plays and sonnets.

Proponents

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Further Reading

References

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2010/mar/14/who-wrote-shakespeare-james-shapiro
  2. http://content.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1661619,00.html

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This page was last edited on Friday, 28 Feb 2020 at 11:23 UTC