Hello again readers. A chance encounter with a newspaper article has got me blogging today. The subject will be familiar to many and centres on the debate about the actual author of a number, though maybe not all of Shakespeare’s plays. There have been a number of conspiracy theories circulating for some time. Now Paul Edmonson and Stanley Wells of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust have decided to publish “Shakespeare Beyond Doubt” in an attempt to counter the numerous theories.
The book includes chapters on three chief “suspects”: De Vere The Earl of Oxford, Bacon and Marlowe. These chapters provide historical evidence or suggest that none of these three could have written Shakepeare’s plays. So if these three did not write any of the plays, did Shakepeare have any help or collaborators? Dr Edmonson states ” We know he collaborated with John Fletcher on Cardenio, Two Noble Kinsmen and Henry VIII. We also know that Thomas Middleton adapted MacBeth, we know he worked with George Wilkins and George Peele.”
For some, the claims that he “worked with” doesnt really cut the mustard. Lets just look at Thomas Middleton. A very quick google search for “Shakespeare Thomas Middleton” came up with a host of useful links and the text below comes directly from this hyperlink…..http://litreactor.com/news/john-middleton-named-as-shakespeares-collaborator
“Researchers at Oxford University have named writer Thomas Middleton as a likely collaborator on at least one play attributed to William Shakespeare, All’s Well That Ends Well.
Professor Laurie Maguire and other members of the English department have extensively studied the play’s grammar, rhyming, and vocabulary. Distinct stylistic differences and other inconsistencies point to at least one other person co-authoring the manuscript. According to Maguire, most plays written during Shakespeare’s era had more than one author, but the Bard’s iconic status has left academics reluctant to assign co-authors to any of his better-known works.
The researchers fingered Middleton as a likely culprit based on several factors, including the rhyming and rhythm of certain sections, phrasing, spelling, and specific words that all point to Middleton’s style more than Shakespeare’s. Though Middleton would go on to achieve great acclaim through his own works, The Changeling and Women Beware Women, Maguire says at the time that All’s Well That Ends Well was written, the writer likely served a more subordinate role to the wildly popular Shakespeare.
Professor Maguire went on to say that there is no reasonable evidence that Shakespeare did not write, at least in part, any of the plays commonly attributed to him.”
Returning now to “Shakespeare Beyond Doubt” the authors go on to debunk the two most common accusations which some use as evidence that William Shakespeare could not have written all of the plays attributed to him; that he did not receive a university education and that he did not travel!
Well reader, what do you think? Does a writer, a poet, a playwright need to have those two “qualifications”. I am left to reflect that despite having had the benefit of a University education and having travelled widely in Europe, North Africa and North America I have still not managed to publish a single play, book or poem! It is clear that I will reach my 60th year at least before this can happen. In a previous blog about “So who or what inspired Shakespeare to write?”, I explained how Shakespeare must have been influenced by current affairs including growing numbers of published accounts of travel and adventure. I have to agree with the two authors and I dont subscribe to the conspiracy theories. I do however find something of great interest here: Shakespeare does seem to have worked with others on at least some of his plays. Does any writer live in a bubble or write in a vacuum? Where do we get our ideas if we do not read the works of others? Isnt a fertile imagination the really important thing coupled with the ability to synthesise thoughts, ideas, emotions and expressed in words? Now if you have a kindly collaborator who can act as a sounding board, can read and maybe edit your drafts then so much the better. The argument is over, I rest my quill……………….
These are the mutterings of aspiring writer and researcher Michael Sheridan …. who is likely to get his bus pass before he ever gets into print!