There will be a panel debate in London this April 30th on the Shakespeare Authorship Question, just one more sign that the question (and the debate surrounding it) will not be going away anytime soon. On a private listserve there was some discussion about this upcoming debate, and a comment expressing wariness over the sentence, “But is this really a significant cultural phenomenon, or just a minor academic squabble?” My reaction to that same sentence is not wariness, but rather that it sounds more like progress. For me, the right question is being posed (“is this a significant cultural phenomenon?”), and the right answer to that question would be, “Yes, it is.” The Shakespeare authorship question is really just a mirror of much broader questions about our own culture, especially significant during these troubled times in which we now live:  just what is the truth about anything (and who decides?), just how many secrets are there behind all those closed doors (and how can we get at them, and should we get at them?), and, finally, just who writes history anyway? These are all things worthy of some serious consideration, by everyone. As many of us engaged in this debate have learned over the years, the truth about who wrote Shakespeare is just a beginning, a gateway into understanding not just what he and his works are all about, but also what history itself is all about. It is not a minor squabble, it’s a big deal.

From the Facebook page:

The Shakespeare Authorship Question – for over 200 years a number of people have openly questioned whether William Shakespeare of Stratford-Upon-Avon wrote the plays and poems that have been attributed to him. But is this really a significant cultural phenomenon, or just a minor academic squabble?

On 30th April 2014 at the Ye Olde Cock Tavern, a panel of experts on the subject will explain to the general public why exactly it does matter who wrote Shakespeare, the details of the question and it’s broader relevance to society at large.

On the panel so far we have William Leahy of Brunel University in London, Ros Barber (author of “The Marlowe Papers” and “Shakespeare: The Evidence”) and Alan H.Nelson (author of “Monstrous Adversary”) along with actor and writer Alain English of the Central London Debating Society.

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