May 3, 2013
April 23rd is generally assumed to be Shakespeares birthday. Since theres 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 Shakespeares birthday is relevant, though, depends on whether Shakespeare really wrote Shakespeares plays, although whether the question of who wrote Shakespeares plays is something we should even be asking is probably the more important question.
For most of us asking who wrote Shakespeares plays is like asking whos in Grants tomb. However among scholars its 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 theyve found several potential contenders, although they have ruled out Marlon Brando, who merely could have been a contender. Among other things theres no record of Shakespeare receiving any education, and he didnt mention any plays or other works in his will. Adding to the suspicion than Shakespeare didnt write Shakespeares 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. Im not really sure if anyones 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. Thats assuming that Shakespeare wrote the plays, though.
Some scholars believe the real author of Shakespeares 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 its 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. Its 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 Shakespeares 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, its unlikely he was getting any of them produced in London because in those days email couldnt handle really large attachments. Another possible author whos 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 Shakespeares plays. I have my own suspicions about who really wrote Shakespeares plays, which Ill 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. Irelands 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 theres a possibility hes the real author of Shakespeares 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 Shakespeares plays is a working class guy from that hick town Stratford-on-Avon.