• “The book is motivated by a perceived recent upsurge in interest in the claims of the Earl of Oxford, Marlowe and 78 others, the ‘Declaration of Reasonable Doubt’ issued by those who do not accept the Stratford-born actor as the proven author of the works and the film Anonymous. It hadn’t looked like that to me, though. I thought the absurdity of the evidence compiled by the supporters of other candidates meant that by now there was hardly a case to answer and so these assembled Stratfordians look to me a little bit paranoid in their keenness to defend a position that should be an easy win.”
  • “It can be a difficult thing in which to maintain an even tone. Most readers of the book will come to it with an opinion more or less on one side of the argument rather than the other and so a scornful, droll or ridiculing attitude towards the opposing camp, while often entertaining, doesn’t present itself as impartial, forensic and objective and an argument isn’t won by stating that it is ‘clearly’ or ‘obviously’ the case when it needs to be demonstrably so. But it is a partisan issue and a gathering of several contributors and so there will be different levels of blasé confidence among them as well as possible minor contradictions in which, for example, some will deny it is possible to establish authorship of work by finding biographical correspondences in it and then, a few chapters later, suggest that the plays mention the references to place names not far from Stratford to show it must have been him.”
  • “And so, the book progresses from a very fair assessment of the work of Delia Bacon, the American credited with beginning the debate in the mid-C19th, through Stanley Wells’ survey of direct references to William Shakespeare to 1642 to an analysis of Anonymous, the box office disaster, that the film perhaps doesn’t quite warrant. But the chapter on Shakespeare as collaborator by John Jowett seems to me as important as any because, in the unlikely event of any consensus being arrived at between these two (mostly) firmly entrenched points of view, it might be here. The idea that Shakespeare was the figurehead, the name, the stooge or the editor of a committee of writers that produced this body of work, in the same way that American television programmes like The Simpsons are made, is only a big stretch of generous effort from the widely accepted idea that Shakespeare collaborated with other writers on some plays.”
  • “I don’t know how much better the job could have been done but I remain a little bit surprised that it was required given the lack of a candidate to replace the Stratford man’s name on those books of plays and poems.”

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