More Writers Than You Can Shake A Spear At

May 3, 2013

April 23rd is generally assumed to be Shakespeare’s birthday. Since there’s no official birth record no one, other than, possibly, his mother Mrs. Shakespeare, really knows when he was born, and she might have been under the influence of an epidural and unaware even of what year it was. Anyway, he was baptized on April 26th, and in those days it took new mothers at least three days to recover from an epidural. Whether Shakespeare’s birthday is relevant, though, depends on whether Shakespeare really wrote Shakespeare’s plays, although whether the question of who wrote Shakespeare’s plays is something we should even be asking is probably the more important question.

For most of us asking who wrote Shakespeare’s plays is like asking who’s in Grant’s tomb. However among scholars it’s been a topic of hot debate for decades, proving the old adage that the fights in academia are so big because the turf is so small. Since some scholars consider it ridiculous that a working class guy from a hick town like Stratford-on-Avon could have written some of the greatest plays and poems in the English language, and they’ve found several potential contenders, although they have ruled out Marlon Brando, who merely could have been a contender. Among other things there’s no record of Shakespeare receiving any education, and he didn’t mention any plays or other works in his will. Adding to the suspicion than Shakespeare didn’t write Shakespeare’s plays is the fact that someone else published the plays, and someone else decided that the plays should all be divided into five acts, with most acts ending with everyone exeunting severally. F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said that there are no second acts in American lives, proving that Americans had short attention spans decades before the invention of MTV. Fitzgerald then proved his point by exeunting, or “dying” at the age of forty-eight, although he really was just trying to get out of paying an enormous bar tab. I’m not really sure if anyone’s life is really divided into acts, although you could say turning points in our lives mark the change in acts. Shakespeare had several significant turning points in his life, such as when he went to London, and, several years later, when his son Hamnet died, after which his plays stopped ending with everyone getting married and started ending with everyone dying. That’s assuming that Shakespeare wrote the plays, though.

Some scholars believe the real author of Shakespeare’s plays was Christopher Marlowe. The biggest problem with this theory is that Marlowe died at the age of 29, supposedly in a bar fight, although it’s believed by some that he went underground after he was marked for death for playing “got your nose” with the son of the Duke of Cambridge but forgetting to give the nose back. It’s also been suggested he went into hiding after getting bad reviews of Doctor Faustus, or just to get out of paying an enormous bar tab. Another possible author of Shakespeare’s plays is Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, because in those days being a playwright was something a nobleman would be ashamed of. And de Vere knew about shame because, after accidentally farting in front of Queen Elizabeth, he fled the country and lived abroad for seven years, so, even if he were writing plays, it’s unlikely he was getting any of them produced in London because in those days email couldn’t handle really large attachments. Another possible author who’s been considered is Francis Bacon. Bacon froze solid in his backyard in 1626 and was thawed out almost three-hundred years later. He then became a famous painter but never tried to collect royalties for Shakespeare’s plays. I have my own suspicions about who really wrote Shakespeare’s plays, which I’ll get to in a minute, but if I had to make a second choice it would be William Henry Ireland. Ireland was an expert forger who produced and sold “original” documents written by Shakespeare that were so convincing James Boswell got down on his knees and kissed them, although it was later found that Boswell was also recovering from an epidural at the time. Ireland’s forgeries were only exposed after he produced an “unknown” Shakespeare play, Vortigern and Rowena, that was so bad only Liam Neeson could be convinced to be in it. Still I think there’s a possibility he’s the real author of Shakespeare’s plays. Even though Shakespeare died in 1616 and Ireland was born in 1775 he was an incredibly clever forger. Really, though, I think the most likely author of Shakespeare’s plays is a working class guy from that hick town Stratford-on-Avon.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

CommentLuv badge

%d bloggers like this: