One of the most popular theories–if not the most popular one–about Shakespeare is that he never really existed. And this theory as one might put it, more of a hypothesis really, has garnered a lot of mainstream traction. It wasn’t until centuries after his death that there was any question in regards to his authorship. And it wasn’t until the mid-70s when we began seeing popular media portraying Shakespeare as anything but a real guy called Shakespeare.
Perhaps the most well known work that addressed this is the movie Anonymous, released in 2011 and depicting the lover/son of Queen Elizabeth as the actual author of the numerous plays and sonnets attributed to the Bard. But there are several other candidates– let’s have them come on down.
- One of the most popular theories is the “Group Theory”– that a group of oppressed, otherwise committed, or dignified men gathered together to write under the same name, that of William Shakespeare.
- The first candidate to rear his head above the rest in the race for authorship credit was that of Sir Francis Bacon. This theory is rooted in some letters that Bacon wrote along with his proposed knowledge of ciphers. He is often depicted as the front man in the Group theory.
- William Stanley, as known as WS or Will, is thought to have adopted the pseudonym. His lifespan fits the works and most supporters of Stanley cite is travels to France as inspiration for Love’s Labours Lost.
Now do these ideas hold water? Probably not. Most, if not all, Shakespearean scholars agree that the authorship crisis is strictly a fringe affair with little academic backing. And this might sound a little strange for the most studied secular writer ever, but its actually the mistakes that make his authorship almost certain.
While Shakespeare’s works are lewd, hilarious, emotional, and interesting, they hold in them many classical blunders that are addressed in any decent literature survey course. And many of the so called candidates would be educated enough to avoid these blunders altogether. And while some of his late plays are apparent and cited collaborations, no one can deny the Shakespeare etched into every gender-swap or mistaken identity.