Shakespeare is still anonymous

Trash or not, the movie “Anonymous” is of little consequence in the Shakespeare authorship debate. What the debate really boils down to is this: like the creationism versus evolution debate, the Shakespeare of Stratford versus Earl of Oxford debate is a matter of received opinion versus evidence and reason.

On the one hand, the Stratfordian side accepts without question the tradition, while the Oxfordian side looks at the evidence, and lack of evidence, to try to identify the author. But why question the authorship in the first place? Because of the glaring lack of evidence in favor of the Stratford man, a lack that is embarrassing even to “orthodox” Shakespeare scholars.

For example, there is no evidence whatsoever concerning Stratford’s life between birth and the age of eighteen, when he married. No school records, letters, diary entries, court records–nothing. Later, there are in fact six dozen court records concerning this man. These records show him to be a businessman, apparently successful, who dealt in various commodities. There are no records whatsoever linking him to the writing or selling of plays. There are such records for dozens of lesser writers of the same period.

On the other hand, Oxford was a well-known playwright, in fact a child prodigy, well-educated and equally well-travelled, especially in Italy, where many of the plays are set. And he was in the court of Elizabeth, privy to all the manners, customs, and history of the royal court. Furthermore, dozens of the events depicted in the Shakespeare Canon are parallels to events in Oxford’s life.

Ironically, an open-minded person cannot read the plays of Shakespeare without coming to the obvious conclusion that the author was well-educated, well-travelled, and of royal stock. This is why, for over two hundred years, authorship candidates have always been members of the court or very close to it, never a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker, or any other commoner. Among these, the best candidate appears to be the Earl of Oxford, even though there is only circumstantial evidence linking him to the Canon.

In the end, both sides of the debate have to rely upon tradition and/or circumstantial evidence. The circumstantial evidence for Oxford far outweighs the evidence for the man from Stratford. And there are dozens of scholars, including PhDs in English Literature, who acknowledge that fact.

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