Who wrote Shakespeare’s Plays? Did he or didnt he? That is the Question!


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!

shakespeare image

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About bakersfieldlad

July 2015...... I published my first book on Amazon - "Savilles Spinnney". On April 1st 2015 I published my second book - "Arsenic Sally". Christmas Day 2015 I published my third book " Murder Mystery and Mayhem on the Railways 1830-1899. That's 3 books in roughly 18 months. I enjoy researching and see no reason to stop writing. There will be many many more books and while I would love to be taken in by a publisher I am content to make my books available via Amazon. Keep checking my blogs for updates about my upcoming projects......
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3 Responses to Who wrote Shakespeare’s Plays? Did he or didnt he? That is the Question!

  1. Reblogged this on poetreecreations.org and commented:
    Interesting!

  2. colonialist says:

    I think a fair amount of collaboration is likely. As for the travel side, at random, A Merchant of Venice – does it really give any background which suggests anything more than an anecdotal knowledge of the place?

  3. Fair comments colonialist. I often wondered what if any scenery was used in the Globe Theatre when the plays were first performed? I imagine very little. Given the way the plays were structured and written in rhyming couplets its clear the power of the word was all important and those viewing the plays would have to fill in any gaps with their imaginations? Many plays do reference events in history but plays like a Midsummer Nights Dream and The Tempest interest me most, where did they come from? Ah that is the question!

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