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Shakespearean Conspiracy Theory

Lauren Gallander, Writer

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William Shakespeare is famous for many works; Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet are two of the most well-known. However, there are many who believe that he didn’t write the plays and poetry he is known for.

Sir Francis Bacon and Edward de Vere, an Earl of Oxford, are the most commonly cited as the true authors of Shakespeare classics. Others believe that Ben Jonson, the Earls of Derby, Rutland, Southampton, and Essex, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Christopher Marlowe are also possible figures that could be credited with the writings.

Shakespeare, as someone who held a low position in the social order, had an unusual knowledge of the ways of the court, distant places, languages other than common English, and the sports of the aristocrats, such as bowling and hunting.

Sir Francis Bacon, who was born to Sir Nicholas Bacon and Lady Anne Cooke Bacon and attended Trinity College in Cambridge, and Edward de Vere, who was born to the 16th Earl of Oxford and later attended Queen’s College in Cambridge, would have had much better education and greater knowledge of the upper class than Shakespeare, the son of a merchant.

Bacon and de Vere would have had a greater capacity to write in the dramatic style of Shakespeare’s works, given their higher social class and education.

Shakespeare is also rumored to be illiterate, as there are next to no samples of his handwriting (The six signatures that have been verified seem to be simply an illiterate scrawl), he did not have a formal education, and most of his own family was illiterate.

There are only a few legal documents, such as that of his marriage to Anne Hathaway (no, not the actress), a standard will, two portraits, and some business papers remaining of Shakespeare aside from the works in his name. William Shakespeare’s will states nothing about his poetry, and is written in simple, mundane terms.

On the other hand, several other authors of the time mentioned Shakespeare and often praised him and his work. Many other significant authors of the time came from backgrounds that were just as, if not more, humble than Shakespeare’s. Shakespeare’s friend Ben Jonson, whose father was a bricklayer, has not had the legitimacy of his works questioned.

Furthermore, the amount of records remaining for Shakespeare is just as scarce as those of other playwrights from the time. The records from Elizabethan times of Much Ado About Nothing, King Lear, and Henry IV Part 2 show the plays being printed in Shakespeare’s name, and his authorship of them being confirmed by the official stationers. However, no evidence exists of Shakespeare’s enrollment in any school.

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