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• Questioning Shakespeare's Authorship

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Questioning Shakespeare's Authorship

The Folger Shakespeare Library has been a major location for research into the authorship question, and welcomes scholars looking for new evidence that sheds light on the plays' origins. If the current consensus on the authorship of the plays and poems is ever overturned—no decisive evidence has been unearthed thus far proving that the plays were produced by anyone but the man from Stratford-upon-Avon—it will be because new and extraordinary evidence is discovered. The Folger is the most likely place for such an unlikely discovery.

—Michael Witmore
    Director, Folger Shakespeare Library

Since the mid-1800s, some have argued that Shakespeare could not have written the plays that bear his name. Suggested alternative authors have included Queen Elizabeth, Sir Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe, and Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford.

The existing documents that provide evidence for the facts of Shakespeare's life, however, tie him inextricably to the plays and poems. These seem clearly to have been produced by a man from Stratford with an excellent "grammar-school" education and a life of experience in London and the London theater.

How he produced works that dominate much of the world's cultures is one of life's mysteries, teasing our imaginations even as we delight in his writings.

Back ... Shakespeare's Story

Adapted from Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine (editors), Folger Shakespeare Library editions. © 2005 Folger Shakespeare Library
Mark Twain. Is Shakespeare Dead? Manuscript, 13 February 1909

Folger Magazine

Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? excerpt

Q & A with scholar James Shapiro on the authorship question

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