Playwriting

Do you believe in Shakespeare?

The argument over whether Shakespeare wrote the plays that have been attributed to him has waged for years and years. Some say that it’s impossible that someone of his background could ever be so prolific. Others say there is primary source proof that connect Shakespeare to his plays and no proof that they belong to anyone else.

There’s a movie coming out next week called Anonymous that suggests Edward De Vere is the man behind the screen, the true author. This is not a made up for the movies thesis. There is a De Vere Society. The Shakespeare Oxford Society calls itself the “primary source” on the doubts of Shakespeare authorship and exploring De Vere’s place as the real writer.

The New York Times presents an interesting article which doesn’t buy this notion.

What do you think? Does knowing without a shadow of a doubt who the author of A Midsummer Night’s Dream change your view of the play? Would you think less of the play if it wasn’t written by Shakespeare? Does authorship really matter? For me, the play is more important. I enjoy the works immensely and always will. But on the other hand, how would I feel if someone else received credit for my plays years later?

About the author

Lindsay Price

3 Comments

  • I think Shakespeare wrote most of the plays he was given credit for however, I also think he at the very least had help with some of it.

  • Good job by the Times. The Oxford theory stems from the same kind of thinking as the occasionally-appearing claim that Elizabeth I was really a man. The latter argument is that no woman could have ruled so wisely; support comes from the notion that Elizabeth never married because “her” true sex would have been discovered. Let’s set aside the fact that a king’s life would have been much easier than a queen’s life at that time so a gender deception would have been pure nonsense: the heart of the argument is that sexist notion. Similarly, no “commoner” could have written Shakespeare’s plays, witness the insights presented in court scenes and royal characters. Set aside, of course, all the insights in scenes involving commoners, laborers, and other low-lifes, and the amazing opportunities for meeting people of all walks of life in London at the time, and set aside the fact that genius is not linked to wealth or lineage. I hate these Oxford people and CANNOT believe Derek Jacoby is one of them. The clearest evidence that Shakespeare wrote his own plays was identified by an actor I worked with some time ago: the lines were written to be spoken by actors. No non-actor writer of the time wrote with such felicity and integral stagecraft. I do think that the plays are their own excuse for being; I think further that Shakespeare is a remarkably self-effacing author, disappearing so completely into his characters as to be invisible, and thus identifying the author is less important for these plays than for most works. But I don’t think alternative claims should be indulged, just the same, because they reflect an unwillingness to believe a glover’s son and stage actor could achieve such deep humanity and high art while at the same time assuming quite easily that somebody else with more money could have easily done so. Shame.

  • For ten years I had a play brewing about this… oh well. I think it’s a fun discussion. I’ve read so much – but Will in the World convinced me that Shakespeare did indeed write his plays – and sometimes others threw in their two cents. And if their two cents was good – Shakespeare probably used it!