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Who was William Shakespeare?

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Who was William Shakespeare?

Post by Ivan on Sun Jan 15, 2012 12:26 am

The conventional wisdom is that Shakespeare was born in Stratford upon Avon on 23 April 1564 and attended the local grammar school, where at the age of seven, he studied classics in Greek and Latin. He is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. His main works were 38 plays and 154 sonnets. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

Records of Shakespeare's property purchases and investments indicate that he was a wealthy man who, in 1597 bought the second largest house in Stratford, 'New Place'. He is supposed to have stopped writing and retired from London to Stratford around 1611-13, when he was in his late forties, and to have died on his birthday in 1616.

There isn’t much information about the early part of Shakespeare’s life, and this has led to many theories about him and his plays. There are no records that he went to Stratford Grammar, and would a school in such a small country town have been capable of teaching him the extensive knowledge he had of so many subjects? Shakespeare had a great vocabulary, but there is never a mention of his own learning.

Most of the people around Shakespeare were illiterate. The two men who attended his wedding, being unable to write their names, made marks on the official documents. His parents and his wife were illiterate, and of his two daughters, one was illiterate and couldn’t even write her own name at the age of 27, while the other could merely sign her name. Would a man who could write so eloquently have children who were so uneducated? Perhaps. We know that it was only in modern times that most girls started to receive a proper education. However, there are only six known examples of Shakespeare’s own handwriting, all signatures, and three of these are on his will. They reveal a man unfamiliar with a pen and a hand that was probably guided by someone else.

Shakespeare’s will included his 'second best bed' and a broad silver gilt bowl, but nothing whatsoever to suggest that he wrote a single work of literature; didn’t he care what happened to his work? There's no evidence that he ever owned a book, though it isn't difficult to find books once owned by other Elizabethan writers, such as Shakespeare’s rival Ben Jonson. There's no evidence that he ever wrote a letter, despite the fact that he is supposed to have divided his time between London and Stratford; wouldn’t there have been lots of correspondence from a man who wrote so much? There is not even any evidence that he was ever written about in a letter. In short, there's no evidence that he was literate at all.

A few facts are known about this man from Stratford, but nothing that one would expect to hear of a great poet. In 1598, during a time of scarcity, he was listed as a grain hoarder. In 1604, he sued a Stratford apothecary for failing to pay him for some malt. The poetry on his tombstone is of inferior quality, not the sort of poetry that one would expect to find on the tombstone of a great poet. When he died in 1616, his death went unremarked; by contrast, when the poet Edmund Spenser died in 1599, his death was the subject of numerous elegies by contemporary poets.

Shakespeare's works contain a vast amount of knowledge, knowledge that this man from Stratford could scarcely have acquired. Why did Shakespeare write so much about the aristocracy and know so much about them when he was not of the same background? There’s no record that Shakespeare ever left England, yet his work contains much detail about Italian cities and life at the French court. One-third of his plays are set in Italy; how did he know so much about countries he never visited?

The Shakespeare monument in Stratford contains a number of suspicious features. In the original monument (different from the current one) Shakespeare is depicted holding a sack, as befits one who deals in grain, malt, etc. In the current monument, Shakespeare is depicted with a pen and a sheet of paper, and the sack of grain has become a cushion which he uses as a writing table. Those who built the original monument were evidently trying to set up the Stratford man as the poet Shakespeare, but they had to depict the Stratford man as a grain dealer since he was known as such in Stratford. Those who built the current monument were bolder, and emphasised literature rather than grain, though they didn't dare to erase all traces of the previous monument. So the sack of grain became a cushion, and the cushion became a writing table.

So if Shakespeare didn’t write the plays and sonnets, who did? Since the 18th century, rival candidates for the authorship of the works have been put up by those convinced that William Shakespeare was just a pen-name. Some people have argued that Shakespeare’s plays were written by his rival Christopher Marlowe, who was stabbed to death in May 1593, only a few days after being arrested for alleged heresy. As only five of Shakespeare’s plays had been performed by the time of Marlowe’s death, and new ones were still being performed for almost 20 years afterwards, I think we can discount the possibility that Marlowe was Shakespeare.

There is a stronger case for believing that Shakespeare was really just the pen-name of the poet and politician Francis Bacon. Bacon had a library and travelled to many of the places featured in the plays. On one page in Henry IV (Part One), the name Francis appears 33 times. In ‘The First Folio’, in which Shakespeare's plays were collected and published in 1623, the name Francis appears 21 times on one page. Shakespeare is known as the Bard. One definition of a bard is “a slice of bacon placed on meat or game before roasting”.

None of that is anything resembling proof; after all, the author of the plays could just have been an admirer of Francis Bacon. My belief – an opinion shared by the actor Derek Jacobi – is that the works of Shakespeare were written by Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, who concealed his true identity for social and political reasons. Jacobi has commented: “I think the leading light was probably de Vere, as I agree that an author writes about his own experiences, his own life and personalities”. Quite. Why doesn’t a single play or poem reflect Shakespeare’s life? Why didn’t he mention the death of his 11-year-old son in one of his sonnets? (On the other hand, Shakespeare’s son’s name was ‘Hamnet’, which sounds rather similar to the author’s most famous protagonist.)

Oxford was born in 1550, the only son of the sixteenth Earl of Oxford. In the hierarchy of the English nobility, his place was near the top. His father was an avid sportsman, and instilled in his son a taste for riding, hunting, falconry, etc. Like his ancestors before him, his father had his own troupe of actors; thus the young earl was exposed to drama from an early age. When Oxford was twelve, his father died. Like Gertrude in ‘Hamlet’, Oxford's mother re-married soon after her husband's death. After his father died, Oxford became a royal ward, and was put under the care of Lord Burghley, Queen Elizabeth I's most powerful minister. While living in Burghley's house, Oxford's education was supervised by tutors and dancing instructors etc.

When Oxford was thirteen, a poem was published called ‘The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet’, by Arthur Brooke. Yet nothing is known of Arthur Brooke. It’s possible that Arthur Brooke is a pseudonym, and that the real author was Oxford. When Oxford was fourteen, his uncle, Arthur Golding, dedicated a book to him, and noted his interest in literature and his "pregnancy of wit and ripeness of understanding". Golding's dedication was dated from Cecil House, that is, the house of Lord Burghley, where Oxford lived as a royal ward; Golding was probably one of Oxford's tutors.

When Oxford was eighteen, he slew a cook with his sword, but was exonerated on the grounds that the cook brought it on himself. The cook may have been a spy of Burghley's, a spy whom Oxford discovered and slew in a fit of anger; if so, the slaying probably inspired Hamlet's slaying of Polonius. Burghley had numerous spies on his payroll, and sometimes used them to learn about Oxford; likewise, Polonius uses a spy to learn about his son, Laertes.

Shakespeare knew the Greek and Roman classics; his works refer to the tragedies of Sophocles, the dialogues of Plato, and many other ancient classics. Shakespeare also had a firm grasp of politics; Bismarck, the German statesman, noticed Shakespeare's knowledge of politics, and said that Shakespeare must have been "in touch with the great affairs of state and behind the scenes of political life". (Bismarck was convinced that the Stratford man couldn't have written Shakespeare's works.) Shakespeare had a deep knowledge of legal matters, not just an intuitive understanding of the law, but a knowledge of legal details and specifics. Shakespeare understood naval and military matters. He had an intimate knowledge of plants and animals. He was thoroughly versed in the pastimes of the nobility, such as falconry; he often uses images borrowed from falconry. How could the Stratford man have acquired such knowledge?

There are no authentic portraits of Shakespeare. Everyone depicts him differently. The engraving of Shakespeare at the front of the First Folio - now the standard depiction of the poet - contains flaws that must have been intentional, including depicting Shakespeare with two right eyes. Those responsible for the First Folio were evidently mocking the Stratford theory, while at the same time they had to conceal Oxford's authorship.

Derek Jacobi started ‘The Shakespeare Authorship Coalition’, whose key belief is that a body of literary works which displays an understanding of law, history and mathematics could not have been written by a mere commoner from an illiterate household in Warwickshire. What is more, no records exist that the man usually assumed to be the greatest playwright in western literature ever received payment or personal preferment for his writing. The coalition contends it is proof of cause for doubt. The coalition's declaration lists 20 other well-known doubters of the past, including Mark Twain, Orson Welles, John Gielgud and Charlie Chaplin. A central plank in the document is the suspicion surrounding the fact that all of the plays are chiefly set among the upper class and about the author's familiarity with Italian culture.

What’s you theory? Do you believe the conventional story about Shakespeare, or do you think he could have been the pen-name of either Francis Bacon or Edward de Vere? If so, who was this wealthy grain hoarder who bought New Place in Stratford? Is it possible that a group of people could have written the collected works of William Shakespeare, or does the consistent style of the prose suggest that it was all the work of one man?

Sources:-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Shakespeare

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2007/sep/09/theatrenews.theatre

http://donsatalic.blogspot.com/2011/11/10-reasons-why-william-shakespeare-is.html

http://www.shakespeare-online.com/keydates/playchron.html

http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread440173/pg1

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Bacon

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Re: Who was William Shakespeare?

Post by mrcibubur on Sat Feb 18, 2012 1:59 pm

I am familiar with the Shakespeare Authorship and that there are many who believe that William Shakespeare did not write the Plays and Sonnets attributed to his name.  I note, Ivan, that you are supportive of Edward de Vere and not just because of the recent Emmerich movie 'Anonymous", I am quite sure.  Don Satalic, I know, supports, Christopher Marlowe.  I myself favour Francis Bacon but the authorship is not clear-cut in favour of any one candidate.

I am a Stratfordian by birth and speaking as an Englishman as well as a Stratfordian, I think it would be a hammer blow to the tourist industry of England if it were proven that another candidate had written the Shakespeare Plays.  I like St Albans as a city but it just does not have the same appeal as Stratford.

The most likely candidate is still William Shakespeare, though I share your general thinking that it seems barely conceivable that he could have written the Plays.  I am no expert of the Shakespeare Plays, though I have read on other Forums comments from those who clearly know their Plays and are of the opinion that Shakespeares genius is embedded in the Plays.  Who am I to argue against that?

I favour Francis Bacon because he was undoubtedly an incredible talented man of his time and he had much to contribute.  I like to believe that he is also the secret son of Queen Elizabeth I from her relationship with Robert Dudley, Lord Leicester but the evidence, although suggestive, is not convincing.  I am intrigued by the signatures on the Northumberland Manuscript and manuscripts found at Gorlambury Manor (ruins) and now at the Oxford Museum.  I believe Bacon had time motive and opportunity but possibly not the literary finesse required for the Plays.

As for Edward de Vere, well his own story was glamorized in 'Anonymous' and very overstated.  he was surely a literary person but not of the kind to write the Plays.  Certainly, much of the material in the Plays befits his life but this again is not conclusive and it is bits here and bits there.

I come to a conclusion like this.  Bacon was the Queens Son and was the main creator of the Plays but Edward de Vere contributed.  It could have been that as they knew each other well from days of wardship and residence at Burghley House, Bacon took advantage of the situation to write up about de Vere (unlikely the other way around)

The Plays were sensitive at the time and the Master of Revels demanded the Plays to be performed onlly by anonymity or under name of somebody else.  William Shakespeare, an actor and opportunist, seized the moment.  

The Shakespeare Plays were, in my opinion, a collaboration.  We must not underestimate William Shakespeare.  Stratford was no backwater in the 16th century, Theatre was on the up in terms of trend and fashion and Stratford was on the Theatre map, a stone's throw away from Warwick and Kenilworth Castle.

Certain things we cannot overlook.  William Shakespeare was a founder member of the Lord Chamberlains men, as was Richard Burbage, John Hemmings and Henry Cordell.  All three men were named in the Will of William Shakespeare written in 1616 a month before he died.  Burbage was a confirmed leading actor in the Shakespeare Plays.  Hemmings and Cordell were instrumental, along with others, in the publication of the First Folio in 1623.

Furthermore, let us consider Ben Jonson.  He knew Shakespeare and from what I understand, he knew Francis Bacon and lived with them for certain periods at St Albans.  I am not sure that Ben Jonson was ever acquainted with Edward de Vere.  Jonson was also involved in the First Folio.

I think we are only 'scratching the surface' on the topic.  In time we may well find that many other Playwrights were not involved in the collaboration of the Shakespeare Plays.

What I think is greatly misunderstood is why Bacon and De Vere in particular chose not to be credited with writing the Plays.  I doubt it is to do with the potential seditious nature of the Plays but more to do with the fact that they both had other agendas and neither could have imagined that the Plays would have created such worldwide interest four hundred years after being written.

It is an interesting discussion nonetheless.  As I have said elsewhere, we must remain open minded and non-conclusive.  History may have been inaccurately or erroneously recorded, we simply do not know
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Re: Who was William Shakespeare?

Post by biglin on Sat Jul 07, 2012 5:11 pm

Oh, the old anti-Stratfordian conspiracy theory!
Oh,
I love Shakespeare and I am a writer and poet and translator and I've read not only all Shakespeare's own stuff but also pretty well all the other stuff written in the Elizabethan and Jacobean period.

Let's start off by demolishing the 'argument from snobbery.' Oh, Shakespeare only went to a grammar school! Well, so what? He'd have learned to read, write and even a bit of Latin and Greek there so 'thou art answered, old Gruff and Grum!

Then let's look at the alternative 'authors.' Apart from the fact that two of the anti-Stratfordian authors are called Battey and Looney, the names they put forward are totally ridiculous on every level.

For a start, Oxford was KNOWN to have written plays so there would have been no reason for him to have disguised his authorship. Secondly, he was known as a coarse, violent man incapable of the delicacy, haunting lyricism and profound philosophical depths that Shakespeare displays so frequently in all his work.

Bacon, apart from being a prolific published author in his own right, was also a politician who would have had a hard time fitting in writing the plays, sonnets, the 'Phoenix and the Turtle,' 'The Rape of Lucrece' and so on as well. Besides which, you only have to read the cynical, jaundiced, wordly-wise writings of Bacon (and his utter lack of loyalty, compassion or any sense of the ideal of romantic love) to know that he was incapable by temperament, inclination and ability of writing the works of the 'sweet Swan of Avon.'

The ONLY contemporary of Shakespeare whose authorship is remotely credible is Christopher Marlowe. Marlowe IS incredibly similar to Shakespeare in many of his early works and he certainly stands second only to Shakespeare among poets of that era. On the other hand, Marlowe, even in his plays - look at 'Doctor Faustus' for instance - had a problem in creating women characters and in making them sympathetic while Will could paint us girls down to a tee!

And, of course, the biggest problem with Marlowe's authorship is that he was bumped off - probably by Walsingham's secret service - in 1594.

I could say a lot more but this post is already too long.

The unromantic truth is pretty simple - Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare!

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Re: Who was William Shakespeare?

Post by Blamhappy on Thu Aug 02, 2012 4:58 pm

What an absolutely fascinating thread. I must admit that I've done a bit of skimming here and there - I'm trying to do a few things at once, so didn't really have the time to read it all properly.

I always thought that the idea that Shakespeare wasn't the real author was merely a silly conspiracy theory. This thread has shed a new light on it!
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Re: Who was William Shakespeare?

Post by oftenwrong on Thu Aug 02, 2012 7:14 pm

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
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Re: Who was William Shakespeare?

Post by Ivan on Fri Aug 03, 2012 5:05 pm

Oh, the old anti-Stratfordian conspiracy theory!......I could say a lot more but this post is already too long….The unromantic truth is pretty simple - Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare!
biglin. Don’t worry about the length of your posts. Some of us are capable of reading more than 100 words or so. You’ve obviously done your homework on this topic and have your own views. However, I wouldn’t call this “a conspiracy theory” - more an exercise in historical research - and maybe we will never know the truth, we’re dealing with probabilities. As you can see, the poster mrcibubur agrees with you that “the most likely candidate is still William Shakespeare”, yet he agrees with me “that it seems barely conceivable that he could have written the plays”.

I’ve already said that Marlowe is hardly likely to have been Shakespeare, since new plays were still being performed for almost twenty years after his death. I also agree that Oxford was a violent and coarse man who murdered a cook, but plenty of people have more than one side to them. Changing political circumstances could have made Oxford write some works anonymously, and it’s not unusual for authors to use more than one name (Ruth Rendell has also called herself Barbara Vine).

Some Oxford academics have now suggested that ‘All’s Well That Ends Well’ has a co-author called Thomas Middleton. This follows some in-depth analysis of the play's vocabulary, rhyming, style and grammar. Professor Laurie Maguire says the latest literary research suggests groups of writers working together on plays and has suggested we compare the situation to “a film studio with teams of writers”.

A Sheffield University historian I spoke to on Twitter is of the opinion that the Shakespeare plays were probably written by more than one person, and mrcibubur talks of “a collaboration”. Isn’t that the most likely possibility? Professor Maguire says that a majority of plays written in that era had more than one writer - but the iconic status of Shakespeare has meant a reluctance to consider his work in this way.

At the end of the day, I doubt if we will ever have the definitive truth, but this is still an interesting topic to discuss. You haven’t addressed issues such as how Shakespeare knew so much about Italy when there’s no evidence that he ever left this country, so don’t be reticent, please write some more!

Source used:-
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-17828729
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Re: Who was William Shakespeare?

Post by oftenwrong on Fri Aug 03, 2012 5:36 pm

Cleese and Chapman; Simpson and Galton; Smith and Jones; Took and Cryer; Lyttleton and Fawkes ........... why not Shakespeare and friends?
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Re: Who was William Shakespeare?

Post by ROB on Fri Aug 03, 2012 5:40 pm


I’ll start by “coming clean.” I hated Shakespeare until the age of 20. Al through junior high school and high school, Willie was “the bane of the cool”, some old fogey Englishman who wrote boring, extremely long soliloquies designed for but one purpose, to torture my road dogs and me as we were forced to read aloud in English Lit classes plays that were originally inscribed in cuneiform on rocks somewhere across the waters in maybe 4000 BC.

Then one day, on a cross-country flight (JFK to LAX), the in-flight movie was “Taming of the Shrew”, and Shakespeare’s words came alive in the capable hands of Richard Burton. Since then, it’s been apparent that Shakespeare was a literary genius.

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why folks would attempt to disparage this prolific and exceptional author. Let him be. That’s my opinion, for whatever it’s worth.
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Re: Who was William Shakespeare?

Post by Phil Hornby on Fri Aug 03, 2012 7:02 pm

" Cleese and Chapman; Simpson and Galton; Smith and Jones; Took and Cryer; Lyttleton and Fawkes ........... why not Shakespeare and friends?"

There was no need for the display of modesty which denied us seeing oftenwrong and Ivan within that list.... cheers
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Re: Who was William Shakespeare?

Post by Ivan on Fri Aug 03, 2012 8:14 pm

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why folks would attempt to disparage this prolific and exceptional author
To write that shows that you haven't understood a word of what this thread is about! Nobody is disparaging the work, far from it. This is just a civilised discussion about who actually wrote what many people consider to be the greatest literature in the history of the UK.
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Re: Who was William Shakespeare?

Post by ROB on Fri Aug 03, 2012 8:54 pm

Ivan wrote:
For the life of me, I can’t figure out why folks would attempt to disparage this prolific and exceptional author
To write that shows that you haven't understood a word of what this thread is about! Nobody is disparaging the work, far from it. This is just a civilised discussion about who actually wrote what many people consider to be the greatest literature in the history of the UK.
 

So you are saying that Shakespeare didn’t write “what many people consider to be the greatest literature in the history of the UK?” It appears that I have “understood a word of what this thread is about”; in fact, I have understood, and do understand, that William Shakespeare, the acknowledged author of perhaps the greatest literature in the history of English-speaking people worldwide (which explains why Shakespeare’s works are required reading in US junior high and high schools literature classes) is being disparaged on this thread by having his authorship of at least a portion of the English language’s greatest literary works questioned three hundred ninety-six years, three months, eleven days after his death on 23 April 1616.

If that’s not what this thread is about, I stand corrected.
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Re: Who was William Shakespeare?

Post by Ivan on Fri Aug 03, 2012 9:37 pm

Nobody is trying to disparage these great works - this is just an attempt to reach a balanced conclusion about who actually wrote them!

Questions have also been asked about who Homer was (I'm not referring to the Simpsons!), and who wrote 'The Iliad' and 'The Odyssey', but that's not to take anything away from either the author or the literature.
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Re: Who was William Shakespeare?

Post by oftenwrong on Fri Aug 03, 2012 10:37 pm

You're safe with Herodotus, though. As well as recording Greek history from 484 – 425 BC his autobiography survived.
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Re: Who was William Shakespeare?

Post by Boudica on Mon Oct 15, 2012 9:55 pm

Such a difficult topic, and one that we have no way of answering fully, or to anyone's satisfaction.

My own opinion is that, although we have little conclusive proof that Shakespeare wrote the plays attributed to him, nor do we have any proof that he did not. The illiteracy of his family is certainly not conclusive, and nor is the idea that he may not have had the political knowledge.

According to Amanda Mabillard, Shakespeare invented over 1700 words in common use today, which would seem to negate the argumeny about his vocabulary. http://www.shakespeare-online.com/biography/wordsinvented.html

As a side-bar, I would also add that, having read the entire Complete Works, it is obvious that the playwright responsible for works like Hamlet, Twelfth Night and Richard III did not write every word of every play. For example, much of Henry VIII isn't in his style. However, it is equally obvious that Katherine of Aragon's speech is.

Returning to whether or not Shakespeare would have had the knowledge or opportunity to write the plays, there are things one should consider. For example, we know that he worked in the capitol as an actor, potentially for an extended period. This would certainly have allowed him to gain more historical and political information and perspective. Moreover, many plays were written and rewritten by the acting companies as they were being rehersed ad even performed. This is particularly clear in Hamlet due to the contradictary ages ascribed to the eponymous hero. This provides Shakespeare with opportunity.

I would say that William Shakespeare is no more or less likely a candidate for the authorship of the plays his name was put to as anyone else. To rule him out due to education, handwriting or the verse on his monument is to fail to take account of the spirit of human endeavour and the way in which genius will make itself known. Consider Stephen Hawking - would one necessarily believe that a man so unfortunate in his physical disabilities was capable of having such an astonishing mind without the proof that television and global media brings?
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Re: Who was William Shakespeare?

Post by Boudica on Mon Oct 15, 2012 9:58 pm

Ivan wrote:-
The conventional wisdom is that Shakespeare was born in Stratford upon Avon on 23 April 1564
To be fair, we have no proof of his actual birthday - we know only that he was baptised on the 25th of April. The 23rd is an assumption based on the convention that the majority of infants were christened within 48 hours of their birth.
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Re: Who was William Shakespeare?

Post by ROB on Mon Oct 15, 2012 11:26 pm

Boudica wrote:
Ivan wrote:-
The conventional wisdom is that Shakespeare was born in Stratford upon Avon on 23 April 1564
To be fair, we have no proof of his actual birthday - we know only that he was baptised on the 25th of April. The 23rd is an assumption based on the convention that the majority of infants were christened within 48 hours of their birth.
 

Boudica,

I appreciate your scholarly input. I was unaware until now of that forty-eight hour convention. I look forward to more of your thoughtful comments.

Thank you.
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Re: Who was William Shakespeare?

Post by oftenwrong on Tue Oct 16, 2012 10:28 am

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Re: Who was William Shakespeare?

Post by skwalker1964 on Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:12 pm

What an interesting thread! In the absence of any conclusive evidence, I'm sticking with WS himself for the time being.

However, I do find it interesting that in only 2 of his extant signatures is his name spelled the same way (Shakspere) - and in none of them is it spelled 'Shakespeare'.

Not that this is conclusive, as spelling was very fluid in those days and for a good while afterward. But interesting nonetheless.
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Re: Who was William Shakespeare?

Post by oftenwrong on Wed Jan 16, 2013 7:31 pm

At a time when many archives were maintained in Latin, by the clergy, written signatures were little more than a form of self-expression, because to a largely illiterate populace, one signature looked much like any other. Legal Documents were always given authority by Wax Seal.

Even a casual inspection of Chaucer reveals an "English" very different from the 21st. Century form, and if there had been tape-recorders at the time, we would probably not now understand a word of XVI Century conversation in the English Language.


Last edited by oftenwrong on Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:05 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typo)
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Re: Who was William Shakespeare?

Post by Phil Hornby on Wed Jan 16, 2013 7:36 pm

"...we would probably not now understand a word of XVI Century conversation in the English Language."

Have you met my two sons? You may not understand the English language in the 21st Century either... Shocked
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Re: Who was William Shakespeare?

Post by oftenwrong on Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:09 pm

You may not understand the English language in the 21st Century either.

OMG. I'm like .... WTF ? Totzz LOLZ.

Like that, you mean, Phil?
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Re: Who was William Shakespeare?

Post by Phil Hornby on Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:21 pm

Alas! Nothing so clear.

I blame their mother.... Smile
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Re: Who was William Shakespeare?

Post by boatlady on Wed Jan 16, 2013 9:04 pm

Maybe it isn't necessary to be literate or educated to produce great literature. Iambic pentameter, granted, is a bit technical, but once heard is easily mimicked.
Couldn't Shakespeare (the one from Stratford) have simply been a very gifted illiterate wordsmith with some educated friends, one or more of whom transcribed his plays?
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Re: Who was William Shakespeare?

Post by Ivan on Wed Apr 23, 2014 9:00 am

So far as anybody actually knows and can prove, Shakespeare of Stratford-on-Avon never wrote a play in his life.” (Mark Twain)
 
In 1848 the American Joseph C Hart wrote a book putting forward the argument that the plays were written by several different authors. In 1856 Delia Bacon, another American, wrote an article to support this theory and attributed the authorship to a group of people who were overseen by Sir Francis Bacon and Sir Walter Raleigh.
 
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre/william-shakespeare/8853306/Shakespeare-the-conspiracy-theories.html
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Re: Who was William Shakespeare?

Post by Dan Fante on Wed Apr 23, 2014 11:02 am

IIRC, Shakespeare's contemporaries weren't in the least bit doubtful as to who wrote the plays, sonnets etc. The conspiracies only emerged decades (centuries?) after he died. People love a good CT though.
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Re: Who was William Shakespeare?

Post by Ivan on Wed Apr 23, 2014 3:59 pm

Dan Fante. I know you like to write off some of my contributions as conspiracy theories, but did you bother to read the whole of this thread before being so dismissive of this subject? I used six sources in the opening post, whereas you’ve offered none in your attempt to shut down this discussion. Bismarck, Mark Twain, Orson Welles, John Gielgud, Charlie Chaplin and Derek Jacobi can all be ignored as conspiracy theorists, can they? I see that other posters have found the thread “interesting” and “absolutely fascinating”.
 
Conspiracy theorists will usually try to tell you something definitive, such as that man never landed on the moon, Philip Windsor murdered Diana, Madeleine McCann was killed by her parents, or that MH370 was shot down by American military forces or even captured by aliens. Nobody on this thread has offered any such ‘certainties’, instead there’s just been some historical research into the possible answers to ‘the Shakespeare Authorship question’. How is it that a man who wrote so much left only six examples of his handwriting? How did he have so much knowledge about the aristocracy, Italian cities and the French court? Why did his death go largely unnoticed? How do we account for the anomalies concerning his Stratford monument? Is it just coincidence that a bard was “a slice of bacon placed on meat before roasting”?
 
Since I wrote the opening post more than two years ago, I’ve changed my opinion on this question. I researched it with an open mind and originally concluded that Edward de Vere was the most likely author of all those great works. Having read some quite scholarly comments from others on this thread, I think it’s more likely that a group of people working together were responsible for what we know as Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets. This is also a plausible explanation:-
 
boatlady wrote:-
Couldn't Shakespeare (the one from Stratford) have simply been a very gifted illiterate wordsmith with some educated friends, one or more of whom transcribed his plays?
 
We can never be certain of the truth, and that might be in the best interests of the Stratford tourist trade…..  Neutral 
 
So what’s next? Who wrote the ‘Iliad’ and ‘Odyssey’? Who was Homer? (No, I’m not talking about ‘The Simpsons’.) Are we allowed to discuss that without being labelled as, or accused of pandering to, conspiracy theorists?  Rolling Eyes
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Re: Who was William Shakespeare?

Post by oftenwrong on Wed Apr 23, 2014 5:29 pm

Success has many fathers, while failure is an orphan

Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/success-has-many-fathers-while-failure-is-an-orphan#ixzz2zjBEGlUH
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Re: Who was William Shakespeare?

Post by Dan Fante on Thu Apr 24, 2014 9:04 am

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Re: Who was William Shakespeare?

Post by oftenwrong on Thu Apr 24, 2014 10:33 am

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Re: Who was William Shakespeare?

Post by Ivan on Sun Aug 09, 2015 9:25 am

Was William Shakespeare high when he penned his plays?

From an article by Francis Thackeray:-

State-of-the-art forensic technology from South Africa has been used to try and unravel the mystery of what was smoked in tobacco pipes found in the Stratford-upon-Avon garden of William Shakespeare. Residue from clay tobacco pipes more than 400 years old from the playwright’s garden were analysed in Pretoria using a sophisticated technique called gas chromatography mass spectrometry. Chemicals from pipe bowls and stems which had been excavated from Shakespeare' garden and adjacent areas were identified and quantified during the forensic study. The artefacts for the study were on loan from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

In Sonnet 76, Shakespeare writes about “invention in a noted weed”. This can be interpreted to mean that Shakespeare was willing to use “weed” (cannabis as a kind of tobacco) for creative writing ("nvention"). In the same sonnet it appears that he would prefer not to be associated with “compounds strange”, which can be interpreted, at least potentially, to mean “strange drugs” (possibly cocaine).

Sonnet 76 may relate to complex wordplay relating in part to drugs (compounds and “weed”), and in part to a style of writing, associated with clothing ("weeds") and literary compounds (words combined to form one, as in the case of the word “Philsides” from Philip Sidney).


For the whole article:-
http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/theatre-dance/features/william-shakespeare-high-cannabis-marijuana-stoned-plays-hamlet-macbeth-romeo-juliet-stratford-10446510.html
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Shakespeare as psychedelia?

Post by oftenwrong on Sun Aug 09, 2015 10:58 am

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Re: Who was William Shakespeare?

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