Did Shakespeare write Shakespeare? If your immediate and certain answer to this question is an outraged YES! then you may be in the wrong place. Turn and go back the way you came. Deeply held beliefs are unlikely to change: perception filtering and confirmation bias keeps them firmly in place, and you will not do yourself any good by hanging around in places that are liable to make you angry. This website is very probably not for you, and I certainly have no wish to make anyone apoplectic. (If you don’t know what apoplectic means, you’re probably in the wrong place too.)
But if your answer to this question is ‘I’m not sure’ then stick around.
And if your answer is “you’ve spelt that first name wrong… it’s Shaksper or Shakspere”… I know where you’re coming from. But I am attempting to communicate with the wider world here, and most people will think that’s a typo.
And if your answer is “Definitely NOT. The author of the works we know as Shakespeare’s was undoubtedly The Earl of Oxford/Christopher Marlowe/Francis Bacon/Henry Neville/Mary Sidney/Sir Walter Raleigh/Lady Jane Grey/Uncle Tom Cobley and all” then let me insist: there are no certainties.
Orthodox scholars are now accepting that parts of the canon we once thought as entirely by William Shakespeare were written by other hands. Most agree there is a central author – the author, let’s say, of the Sonnets, which were written by a single intelligence, not a committee. People who begin to question the traditional narrative often feel the urge to immediately substitute an alternative author. But the throne is not yet vacated. For now, the only critical question is Did Shakespeare write Shakespeare? And until we can get agreement that this question is a valid question, and worth asking, then arguments for other candidates are going to fall on stony ground.
So let’s begin.