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Authorship Evidence: Shakespeare Beyond Doubt

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    • Here begins a series of posts on the new book Shakespeare Beyond Doubt (2013) from a cadre of Shakespeare scholars purporting to demonstrate that the man from Stratford, and only him, could have been the primary author of the Shakespeare works.
    • So it looks now that we’re moving into arguments by evidence, which is where the question should be examined.
    • The Declaration of Reasonable Doubt has some commonality to the U.S. Declaration of Independence in the 18th century. Then the American scientist, statesman, and diplomatic leader Benjamin Franklin, who was in France seeking support for the American cause, was demonized by the then propaganda as a “traitor to his king”, the “dean of all charlatans,” who “deceived the good with his white hairs, and fools with his spectacles”. It kind of makes it seem like he was a part of some feeble-minded conspiracy than one of many individuals that disagreed with a group with great power and self-claimed ‘authority’.
    • One response to this argument would be: On what basis are the mainstream Shakespeare scholars ‘authorities’ on the authorship question? There have been doubters who have spent 20 years or more on the authorship question, or more specifically, on just one aspect of this question. Have any of the mainstream scholars researched the authorship question for that length of time?
    • More recently, on the mainstream or establishment side of the debate, there is the emphasis on not questioning any approved ‘authority’ on the topic. For instance, Paul Edmondson of the SBT wrote:  “There is the loaded assumption that even though one may lack the necessary knowledge and expertise, it is always acceptable to challenge or contradict a knowledgeable and expert authority. It is not.
    • We hope also that we are finally moving beyond the name calling, slanders, and insinuations that ‘doubters’ are  ‘Holocaust deniers’, vampires, psychologically aberrant, mentally deficient, etc. Why would anyone have implied such a characteristic to so many high-achieving intellectuals like Henry James, Walt Whitman, Charles Dickens, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mortimer Adler, Harry Blackmun, leading Shakespearean actors such as Sir Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance, and some modern authors on this topic like Peter Usher, Ph.D, professor of astronomy and astrophysics, Peter Sturrock, Ph.D, a Stanford astrophysicist, and Barry Clarke, a writer of logic puzzles for MENSA? These are not people who should be in strait-jackets and locked in dark rooms, just because, like Galileo, they “looked through the telescope”!
    • We now find that both sides of the dispute are in agreement that ‘the authorship question’ is important. Professor Shapiro lamented the lack of scholarly interest in the topic; the stylometric analysts Elliott and Valenza agreed, the leaders of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust now say it’s important, and now also many other scholars supporting them say it’s important. So, from any Shakespeare enthusiast, we shouldn’t hear “it’s [the authorship question] not important” or “it doesn’t matter who wrote them”. Now, more Shakespeare enthusiasts, are likely to become at least somewhat knowledgeable about the basic arguments on both sides of the question
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Shakespeare identity debate reignited with TV challenge

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    • The perennial dispute over Shakespeare’s true identity has been reignited after Alexander Waugh threw down a challenge for Shakespeare scholars to appear in a televised debate.
    • “The academics are cornered, they have no evidence at all,” said Waugh. “Our declaration of reasonable doubt has forced their hand. They have been idle, and swept other theories under the carpet, dismissing us as fragmented lunatics.”
    • Waugh, who is the grandson of the novelist Evelyn Waugh, is one of the authors of Shakespeare Beyond Doubt?
    • The new book, co-authored by the founder of the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition John Shahan, comes hard on the heels of Shakespeare Beyond Doubt – an attempt by leading scholars to refute Bard deniers, edited by Stanley Wells and Paul Edmondson – and riffs off its title and cover design.
    • “What we resent is that Shakespeare Beyond Doubt and its many contributors are not speaking on behalf of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, it’s published by Cambridge University Press,” he said. “The implied slur is that we’re trying to protect our financial interest, it’s impugning our scholarly integrity to say we’re taking up that stance purely for this reason.” Shakespeare scholars have not shied away from the evidence, he continued. “We have put our case very firmly and strongly. We have had many very vigorous debates and discussions.”

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David Green: Shakespeare Beyond Doubt

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  • “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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Reviewed: Shakespeare Beyond Doubt by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells

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A review by Jonathan Bate of the new Shakespeare authorship book, Shakespeare Beyond Doubt. “With Anonymous, the Shakespeare authorship controversy hit the Hollywood big time. Fortunately, the film bombed but the idea that Shakespeare didn’t write Shakespeare remains one of those myths that just won’t go away…”

Read more:

http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2013/05/reviewed-shakespeare-beyond-doubt-paul-edmondson-and-stanley-wells

Academic book aims to place Shakespeare authorship beyond doubt | The Australian

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EDWARD DE VERE, Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe and more than 70 other people suggested as candidates for having written the works of William Shakespeare are subjected to new academic rigour by Stratford-upon-Avon in a book that seeks to

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/academic-book-aims-to-place-shakespeare-authorship-beyond-doubt/story-fnb64oi6-1226624361103