Anonymous and the Authorship Question

In any year with Shakespeare, I think visiting the question of Shakespeare authorship question has to happen eventually.  This morning, I entertained that fiction by watching Anonymous.

Now, I side with Bill Bryson.  In his book Shakespeare: The World as Stage he takes time to examine many of the historical figures who have been offered as the “true” author of Shakespeare’s work.  He writes, “These people must have been incredibly gifted–to create, in their spare time, the greatest literature ever produced in English, in a voice patently not their own, in a manner so cunning that they fool virtually everyone during their own lifetimes and for four hundred years afterward.  The Earl of Oxford, better still, additionally anticipated his own death and left a stock of work sufficient to keep the supply of new plays flowing at the same rate until Shakespeare himself was ready to die a decade or so later.  Now that is genius!” (195).

That isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy this little bit of fiction to start my morning.  I actually think that I found something that I can use in class.  Around 35 minutes or so into the film, a play is being staged.  Not only does the scene show what a theater looked like, where people sat, etc., but it also demonstrates the rowdy Elizabethan audiences could be.  I’m going to attempt to find the clip on YouTube and then place it into my PowerPoint that I posted a few days ago.

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2 thoughts on “Anonymous and the Authorship Question

  1. I highly recommend reading Bryson’s book. I love that his one chapter (“Claimants”) expertly takes on all the published books (estimated to be over 5,000) that suggest that Shakespeare’s plays were written by someone who was not William Shakespeare.

    That said, I think the draw for such theories is definitely the same as those that you listed. As human beings, we are forever going to be drawn to conspiracy theories, aren’t we?

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