The case against Shakespeare gains momentum



Since the mid-19th century, serious questions have been raised about the identity of the true author of the Collected Works. William Shakespeare, the reputed author, was a mid-level Stratford businessman who left no record of his career as a writer.

There is almost no documentary evidence to use in tracking Shakespeare’s career, writing or life in general. The only evidence in his own hand is six poorly-written signatures on legal documents. Other than that, there exists no original copy, notes, or anything else in Shakespeare’s own writing. For being the (generally-accepted) author of such a vast quantity of writing, this is a relatively serious issue. Experts often rely on preliminary work or notes to determine the authenticity of works attributed to them, but no direct connection between Shakespeare and any of the works attributed can be found. Additionally, the poor quality of the signatures raises questions about Shakespeare’s experience in writing.

Additionally, when Shakespeare died in 1616, his death went seemingly unnoticed. No documents exist which mention the author’s passing. There is, in fact, no documentary evidence that the businessman was also a writer. This has prompted the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition (SAC) to offer a £40,000 grant to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust if it could establish in open debate, beyond a reasonable doubt, that William Shakespeare was in fact the true author of all the works attributed to him. The offer was turned down. A member of SAC reacted to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s actions by saying “[c]an you believe it? A registered charity turned down the opportunity of £40,000 to defend the very basis on which they are founded!”

SAC is also considering legal action to sue the Trust for all the money it has collected since 1922, money which SAC says was collected under false pretenses. Though it is unlikely that such a legal case will go anywhere, one can’t help but marvel at how much controversy can still exist over a man who has been dead for 400 years.