William Shakespeare was born on April 20, 1564, and died on April 22, 1616. In his 52 years, he is alleged to have written some of the world’s greatest plays, tragedies, dramas, comedies and poetry. As for me, I don’t buy it.
For several years, I was a member of the Shakespeare Oxford Society — a 501(c)(3) that is dedicated to getting to the bottom of who actually wrote the works of Shakespeare. The Society leans toward Edward de Vere – the 17th Earl of Oxford. DeVere was born on April 12, 1550, and died on June 24, 1604. It was de Vere who likely wrote the works of “William Shakespeare” — despite the fact that several plays were arguably (but disputably) written after his death.
The real William Shakespeare’s personal details do not ring true to one annointed with the amazing literary gift ascribed to “Shakespeare.” There was actually doubt about his authorship dating back to when the plays were first written(!). De Vere (or “Oxford”) was in the mix of speculation from the very beginning.
As a collector of historic manuscript material, there is another — significant — factor in this disputed attribution. For a man who allegedly wrote thousands of pages of glorious literature, there is not one sentence of handwritten text penned by “Shakespeare” (or de Vere for that matter). In fact, there are only six known examples of Shakespeare’s handwriting — and those are scratchy signatures on legal documents.
In my post of August 18, 2011, I spoke of my interest in searching for a copy of the Gutenberg Bible (of some 200 sets printed, only 47 are known). Another quest that I’m sure I would enjoy is a hunt for the handwritten proofs used for setting the type of Shakespeare’s works. I’m sure there are manuscripts out there. Somewhere. Waiting. Perhaps waiting for me. . . . .
Maybe I need a sabbatical. 🙂