Shakespeare - real or not?

Essay by DemulUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, January 1996

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Over the years, various persons have expressed doubt as to the authorship of William Shakespeare. These doubts are as old as his plays. American author, Henry James once said, "I am haunted by the conviction that the divine William is the biggest and the most successful fraud ever practiced on a patient world. (Hoffman 27) On the other hand, author Calvin Hoffman was convinced that Shakespeare was "the author of the most magnificent English dramatic prose and poetry ever written. (Hoffman 27) But, he reiterated this belief nineteen years later, stating, "They are magnificent! Only, William Shakespeare of Stratford-on- Avon never wrote the plays and poems." (Hoffman 27)

Crime, guilt, fraud, exile, hate, deceit, and murder are all woven into this shroud of authorship that hides the identity of the world's most renowned writer. Cranks have proposed over fifty candidates for authorship, from Queen Elizabeth to the Jesiuts.

Although many doubt that William Shakespeare ever wrote the works attributed to him, some still resort to pro-Shakespearean arguments.

John Drinkwater, author and believer, felt that the flowers, banks, brooks, pastures, and woodlands of Shakespeare's boyhood home, Stratford, were all transfigured in his plays by his wonderful verse, but yet they still remained the scenes to which he was bred. Drinkwater believed too, that not only in Shakespeare's humble folk, shepherds, gardeners, and serving men, but also in his princes and kings, he reflected the humanity with which he was familiar in Stratford. The knowledge and wisdom he acquired directly from his own enviroment was quite true to life. Drinkwater also said that mere book- knowledge in Shakespeare's works was usually incorrect because he used knowledge outside the range of his own experiences, with a "grand audacity."

It is true that William Shakespeare attended grammar school in Stratford, and tha he...