Authorship Controversy Project

By Elizabeth

The Potential Faces of Shakespeare

For decades writers and historians alike have been searching for evidence that Shakespeare was actually a real person. Some theories suggest that Shakespeare was actually a pen name or a mask to create a diversion from the real author. Historians have come up with three potential writers they are: Edward de Vere 17th Earl of Oxford; or playwright Christopher Marlowe, or even an actor from Stratford.

Christopher Marlowe

Christopher Marlowe was a poet and playwright, he was at the very top in the 16th Century in terms of the dramatic renaissance. Marlowe was born in Canterbury in 1564. He was awarded a scholarship which allowed him to study at Corpus Christi College, in Cambridge (1580-1587). Marlowe was recruited to become a secret service agent by a man named Sir Francis Walsingham. During his literary times he spent the majority of his time in London which only really lasted six years. He was killed May 30th, 1593.

Edward de Vere

Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford is known to have written, directed and acted in plays around the same time period that Shakespeare was around. Edward was apart of an acting troupe like Shakespeare named "Oxford's Boys." He was also a leaseholder in Blackfriars Theatre that rivaled The Globe. Historians have noticed similarities to de Vere and Shakespeare's writing. Their style is very similar however Edward died long before the last plays that were written by Shakespeare were public. Edward de Vere was born in April 1550 in Essex, England. He died June 1604 at Kings Place in Hackney, England.

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare was born in April 1564, he is widely considered the greatest dramatist of all time. William attended school at King's New School, unlike his rival Christopher Marlowe, Shakespeare did not attend university. In 1582 he married Anne Hathaway. She was 8 years older than him and 3 months pregnant. Shakespeare wrote 38 plays, 154 sonnets, and two narrative poems. He died in April 1616, leaving his legacy in his works.

Proving and Disproving Theories

Christopher Marlowe- Marlowe's education level compared to Shakespeare's was very different. Marlowe studied at a University and he was fluent in many different languages unlike Shakespeare. Shakespeare didn't have the opportunity to learn extensive knowledge like Marlowe. The only similarity they share is their writing style. Historians believe that Marlowe's works were attributed to Shakespeare's name. It's very clear that Shakespeare was not very educated and the argument is he wasnt smart enough to write what he wrote without going to University. Therefore, Christopher Marlowe would have to be the masked man who used the name as Shakespeare as a pen name.

Edward de Vere- Now Edward de Vere could not be Shakespeare. The reason for this is because he was a leaseholder in a Theatre that rivaled The Globe. He also died way before the last work by Shakespeare was put out. There are similarities between the two but de Vere was also much more educated than Shakespeare was. The biggest facts here that marks de Vere off the list would be the fact he died too soon and he had higher education.

My Thoughts

I believe that the only real contender here to fill Shakespeare's giant shoes would be Christopher Marlowe. The similarities with where the lived and the style they wrote is uncanny. The facts all seem to fit into place, they were both in the same time period but they had never met before face to face. If you look at the time period and the similarities of their writings its quite interesting to compare the two. Though Marlowe is the only fit, Shakespeare still has a very tangled background. He was married and had two daughters, Marlowe has very information about his personal life. There are many aspects to this case that have been left unanswered. So we might never know for sure who wrote what and if Shakespeare was just an illusion.