Internet Shakespeare Editions


Shakespeare as pseudonym

It is one of life's odd facts that the most frequently asked question about Shakespeare is whether he wrote the plays that were published under his name. In recent times it has become almost fashionable to find all kinds of other people who, it is alleged, actually wrote the plays. The following pages provide some background on this odd flowering of conspiracy theories.

It began with what was often called the Baconian Heresy--but perhaps the term "heresy" is a little excessive, since the metaphor implies that the unbelievers should be damned, and probably persecuted. The Baconian Absurdity is a better label.

It started innocently enough with Ben Jonson's wonderfully appreciative poem on Shakespeare. The passing phrase he uses to introduce his judgment that Shakespeare should be compared only with the great Greek and Roman authors rather than English writers--"though thou hadst small Latin and less Greek"--fitted well with the prejudices of the Restoration and eighteenth century, finding in Shakespeare a "natural" rather than a learned writer.

It became a cliché to defend Shakespeare from the attacks of neo-classical critics who were bothered by Shakespeare's "violation" of the so-called unities by claiming that he was unlettered, a writer of nature not of artifice.

Enter Lord Bacon (and others). . .

The Shakespeare Authorship Page is "dedicated to the proposition that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare." It offers a critical examination of claims that someone other than William Shakespeare wrote the works attributed to him.