The Shakespeare Controversy

LeAnn Marie Husted

Did Shakespeare actually write his plays?

There has been some controversy that Shakespeare actually didn't write his plays and poems, due to similarities with other authors.

The Oxfordian Theory

The Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare authorship holds that Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, wrote the plays and poems traditionally attributed to William Shakespeare. Since the 1920s, the Oxfordian theory has been the most popular alternative Shakespeare authorship theory.

Christopher Marlowe

Marlowe was a poet and playwright of the 16th century. He is known as an innovator of blank verse drama. His works influenced Shakespeare and generations to follow.

Marlowe was born in England in 1564, and had a literary career of less than 6 years. Marlowe was murdered in 1593 by Ingram Frizer. Conspiracy theories have abounded since, with Marlowe's atheism and alleged spy activities at the heart of the murder plots, but the real reason for Marlowe's death is still debated. What is not debated is Marlowe's literary importance, as he is Shakespeare's most important predecessor and is second only to Shakespeare himself in the realm of Elizabethan tragic drama.

Edward De Vere

Many Oxfordians believe that the true author of Shakespeare’s plays was an aristocrat named Edward De Vere. The evidence for this comprehensive, ranging from Edward de Vere’s aristocratic knowledge of the upper classes through to his education and the structural similarities between his poetry and Shakespeare’s.

Sir Francis Bacon

The Baconian theory of Shakespearean authorship holds that Sir Francis Bacon, philosopher, essayist and scientist, wrote the plays, which were publicly attributed to William Shakespeare. Various explanations are offered for this alleged subterfuge, most commonly that, Bacon's rise to high office might have been hindered if it became known that he wrote plays for the public stage. Thus the plays were credited to Shakespeare, who was merely a front to shield the identity of Bacon.

My opinion?

I truly believe that we can't really know. I think that people will be ignorant and believe films and stories like Anonymous though, because everyone wants to enjoy a good conspiracy theory. I can honestly say that I don't know enough about Shakespeare, Sir Francis, De Vere, or Marlowe and their writing to even form my own opinion. Although I do believe there is not enough proof that Shakespeare actually didn't write his plays.