The book I am currently reading, review to come soon, I hope, is very strange and I recently had to do a little research on what was about before I started to read it through for the second time. It is a long story one that I will undoubtedly tell you about in the coming review. Anyways, I came across the a few interesting things and ideas while researching it. One idea more or less shocked me as I had no knowledge of it prior to doing a bit of research.
What if I told you that there are those who believe, and have some convincing evidence, that the world’s greatest writer ever may have been a fraud. Have I got you attention yet? William Shakespeare is considered by almost all to be the most influential and most famous writer of all time. In fact here is a list of everyday terms that were first used by him.
Pretty amazing to say the least that quite a few of this guy’s stories that are over 400 years old are still talked about, dissected, and taught in almost every high school and college around the world. Now the interesting part. Little to nothing is known about Shakespeare’s childhood and upbringing. The records from his school have all been lost, adding to the mystery that he was never educated in any way. So this again adds to the mystery of who was this guy was. I think it is also important to note that just because there is no record of him going to school and excelling does not mean he never went.
There are quite a few individuals that claim that a person like Shakespeare, born to a glove maker in the Stratford-upon-Avon area could not have been capable of the complex plot lines of his stories, the in-depth knowledge of the royal courts, and some say a vocabulary of almost 30,000 words. It was also said that his mother and father were both illiterate signing a “mark” on legal documents that survived to this day. It was also said that his two daughters were illiterate also signing documents with a “mark” instead of their names. So if Shakespeare grew up in an illiterate household and raised two children who were also illiterate, where did he get this literary gift that seems to come from nowhere. I also think that based on these assumptions it is easy to also assume that Shakespeare was more than likely illiterate himself.
There are tons of weird theories that have do with this idea. Some of the most popular include, there is no documented evidence that says he was a writer, most say he was an actor if anything. His name was often misspelled on title pages, leading some to believe that it was a pseudonym for the author. His will upon his death made no mention of his poems, play, or any other stories that he is said to have written.
On the flip side there is documented evidence that says Shakespeare was a writer and famous poet, and those documents survived to this day and are authenticated by historians. I will play the devil’s advocate here and say that the ones who believe he did not write these stories, much less anything, say that the Shakespeare name was just a sort of pen name used by some very well to do names of the time including Sir Frances Bacon, Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, Christopher Marlowe, and William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby. William Shakespeare did in fact exist and he was a real person, that cannot be denied. What is in question is whether he actually wrote everything that is credited to him. There is also a group theory that states that many of the names listed above wrote the works and used Shakespeare’s name on them instead of their own.
So what does all this mean? I have no idea, like I said above this is totally new to me and I just came across it a few days ago. I knew next to nothing about Shakespeare other than he wrote a bunch of stuff a long time ago. I never knew his authorship was questioned so many times throughout the years. I do not want to make judgment one way or the other, but the thing I have trouble with is the fact that he seems to have no education what so ever, yet everything he has written is some of the most beautifully written and clever usage of the English language maybe in history. Again how does that happen? How does someone who may or may not have been able to write at all come up with that? I think that is what bothers me most about all of this. I will also say again that he may have received an education but no records exist.
I also found this which is also interesting and basically disputes the Group Theory mentioned above.
Beginning in 1987, Ward Elliott, who was sympathetic to the Oxfordian theory, and Robert J. Valenza supervised a continuing stylometric study that used computer programs to compare Shakespeare’s stylistic habits to the works of 37 authors who had been proposed as the true author. The study, known as the Claremont Shakespeare Clinic, was last held in the spring of 2010. The tests determined that Shakespeare’s work shows consistent, countable, profile-fitting patterns, suggesting that he was a single individual, not a committee, and that he used fewer relative clauses and more hyphens, feminine endings, and run-on lines than most of the writers with whom he was compared. The result determined that none of the other tested claimants’ work could have been written by Shakespeare, nor could Shakespeare have been written by them, eliminating all of the claimants whose known works have survived—including Oxford, Bacon, and Marlowe—as the true authors of the Shakespeare canon.(Wikipedia)
If I had to choose a side to the argument I would have to go with, he did in fact author all the works he was accredited to. I am just having a hard time dealing with the fact that someone with little to no education was considered a genius in his field. Although, he was also notorious for making historical and other errors in his works so maybe that was where his lack of education came into play. If you are interested in this idea there are plenty of books out there on the subject. Since all this was new to me I thought I would share it with everyone.
For my next post I will attempt to explain, buy giving a famous example, of how someone with very little education can become a major contributor in the field much like Shakespeare did. Yes, it is very neat that Shakespeare may have done what he did without a formal education in the literary world, but this guy I am going to talk about next did something similar in the field of mathematics. Pretty impressive! Stay tuned…