A Beginner's Guide to the Shakespeare Authorship Problem

Essay by sw33tcheekz112High School, 12th gradeA+, May 2004

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Many books and articles have been written arguing that someone other than William Shakespeare, wrote the plays and poems published under his name. The Seventeenth Earl of Oxford was a recognized poet in his own day, and Oxfordians argued that he actually wrote the works of Shakespeare. Stratfordian scholars rebutted that the most obvious evidence that William Shakespeare wrote the works attributed to him is that everyone at the time said he did: he was often praised in writing as a poet and playwright, he was named as the author of many of the works while he was alive, and seven years after his death the First Folio explicitly attributed the rest of the works to him. Oxfordians try to account for this evidence by claiming that the man from Stratford was actually "William Shaksper" or "Shakspere", a man whose name was spelled and pronounced differently from that of the great poet "William Shakespeare," and that nobody at the time would have thought to confuse the two.

There are two assumptions that are universally held by Oxfordians are that: the author of Shakespeare's plays must have been a well-educated aristocrat, and William Shakespeare of Stratford could not possibly have had the education or social connections to have been that author. Stratfordians argued that since William Shakespeare did not have much formal education, he must have been a big reader on many subjects. They pointed out that Richard Field, who grew up down the street from Shakespeare and in very similar circumstances, became one of the leading publishers and booksellers in London.

After reading this article and viewing both sides of the debate, I would say that I agreed more with the Stratfordians. This is because they can come up with evidences that rebutted the arguments of Oxfordians.