Phase 1 - Background: Something for Everyone
Use the Internet information linked below to answer
the basic questions of who? what? where? when? why? and how? Be creative in exploring the information so that you answer these
questions as fully and insightfully as you can.
1. What is the Shakespeare authorship problem?
• The Shakespeare
authorship problem is that people don’t believe that he didn’t write many of plays. This situation was introduced
in the 1780’s, by Rev. James Wilmont who spent 4 years tying to connect Shakespeare’s works to him.
literary, cultural, and political figures doubt that Shakespeare was the sole author of the work?
• The literary,
culture and political figures that doubt Shakespeare’s work are Stratfordian scholars.
3. Make a chronological history
of the doubts that surround the authorship of the Shakespearean canon.
1728 - Publication of Captain Goulding's Essay
Against Too Much Reading says that it is possible and most likely that Shakespeare wrote his own works.
1769 - Publication
of The Life and Adventures of Common Sense, an anonymous story which describes a reckless Shakespeare cast and storyline.
1785 - Rev. James Wilmot, D.D. attributed authorship to Sir Francis Bacon, Lord Verulam.
1786 - The Story of the Learned
Pig , an anonymous allegory by an "Officer of the Royal Navy," in which he says that Shakespeare didn't write the numerous
plays, Hamlet, Othello, As You Like It, The Tempest , and Midsummer's Night Dream. I
1848 - In The Romance of Yachting
by Joseph C. Hart favors Jonson as probable author of Shakespeare's plays.
1852 - In an issue of Chambers' Edinburgh Journal
the author suggests that Shakespeare "kept a poet."
1856 - Bacon is proposed as author of Shakespeare's plays in Putnam's
Monthly supports Shakespeare.
1857 - Publication of The Philosophy of the Plays of Shakespeare Unfolded, a book by Delia
Bacon in which she considers the possibility of several authors.
1891/92 - James Greenstreet, a British archivist says
that Earl of Derby was author of the Shakespeare plays.
1892 - Homer and English writer says that Marlowe, Greene, Peele,
Nashe, Lodge, Bacon and many others wrote Shakespeare's plays.
1930 - Eva Turner Clark published a book that says the
17th Earl of Oxford wrote the plays and at a much earlier date than supposed.
1955 - Calvin Hoffman said Christopher Marlowe
wrote the Shakespeare plays
1984- Publication of Charlton Ogburn's book still brings up questions on who the real
1995 A Oxford Home Page on Shakespeare has brought information on the authorship to the globe
4. Now do
the same for the doubts surrounding the Stratfordian attribution.
• In Shakespeare’s life there is no evidence
of any doubts of his work. In the 17th century this questions of this authorship came up. With the there is no evidence that
Shakespeare had any of that information. To try and see if these plays actually belonged to Shakespeare they are using his
signatures to see if they can match handwriting. there is still no evidence that he left for London before 1585, the fact of this is that commentators find plays written
before this time.
5. Consider the logic/illogic of each position and evaluate the effectiveness of each argument.
there is no evidence of him writing the plays. So many people have over looked his life and the fact of where he lived could
not have given him the information that contributed to his plays. The illogical part is that there is also information that
he supposedly has to have written his plays. People say that they have the true names of the authors but where is the information
on their lives why did they not come forward.
6. Make a list of the six contenders for the authorship question. Then add
to each as much significant evidence that is presented.
• The six contenders for authorship are:
o Edward de
- He is well educated and well traveled. He has been championed by the author Charlton Ogburn. He stopped his writings
at an early age, unless he continued to write under the name William Shakespeare.
o Francis Bacon
- High intelligence.
His works, styles and expressions vary greatly from Shakespeare’s work.
o Christopher Marlow
- Ultimate ghost
writer. Stabbed to death in 1593. Some say that he did not truly die. Some say he was a spy and because of this he wrote poetry
and writings under the name of William Shakespeare.
o William Stanley
- Lived through his period. Had an interest
in plays and writings. Others say it is not him it not him because he had abandoned his family one year after Shakespeare
had died. There is not enough information other than his love for theatre that he was the writer of Shakespeare’s work
o Ben Johnson
- He wrote plays for the Admiral’s men. There seemed to be a brotherly relationship between the
two men. They were very close.
o Thomas Middleton
- Wrote many plays and wrote plays that collaborated with Shakespeare