A Very Staunch Stratfordian Am I...

And I know all this Shakespeare authorship stuff must be getting very tiring, what with the movie all about it by Roland Emmerich coming out this weekend and the mild media deluge that it's prompted. I say 'mild' because the authorship debates have been very popular to debate long before Mr Emmerich decided to make Anonymous, and will likely continue until we find a draft of Hamlet in Shakespeare or the 17th Earl of Oxford or Christopher Marlowe or Francis Bacon or Elizabeth I's own hand.

I decided that this was as good a time as any to state what I believe regarding this topic. From the title, you may have gathered that I am of the not too uncommon belief that if Shakespeare's name was on the plays, then it was Shakespeare who wrote them. My rationale for this belief is, I think, reasonable, despite the scant evidence for either side of this debate.

I know William Shakespeare was referenced and commented upon by several of his contemporaries, such as Ben Jonson, who wrote of Shakespeare as a rival and a colleague. I know that Jonson referred to Shakespeare as the 'Sweet Swan of Avon', implying that this was indeed a man who was born in the town that he references.

I know William Shakespeare did not receive the education that his contemporaries received. I know also that his contemporaries' plays are nowhere near the quality of his, implying that a university education is not a replacement for true inspiration.

I know William Shakespeare was alive for the premieres of all 38 plays accredited to him, which is more than can be said for Christopher Marlowe, Elizabeth I, or Edward de Vere, other candidates for authorship.

I know William Shakespeare was born of a glover rather than nobility, and given the Shakespearean canon's lack of accuracy in its depictions of court life, this is not surprising in the least.

These are all very bland observations, I know, and most of these observations may be strictly circumstantial. Given how cagey records were at the time, and how little we know about anyone who wasn't a royal or a soldier of some repute, it's hard to make a reliable case for anyone's identity. But to my knowledge there aren't thriving communities of anti-Marlovians or counter-Jonsonians, though if there are I'd love to come to a social of yours.

I won't go out of my way to attack anti-Stratfordians. We are all entitled to our own beliefs and these particular theories are held in high esteem by several people who I admire and who do great things for the Shakespearean canon, Bill or nil. I discuss these manners only in a forum of cordial debate, because when people of a certain scholarly fixation start to have screaming matches, the only things that result are bruised egos and unintentional hilarity.

I enjoy reading articles about the authorship debate. Often there are several points and analyses that are of great interest to me, and they have come a long way to convince me that Shakespeare probably cowrote several of his plays. I also love some of the more off-the-wall theories; the ones that favour Marlovian authorship with a side of Bacon and a long history of identity theft are particularly dear to me.

And in my bland little world of 'William Shakespeare was born on April 23rd in Stratford-Upon-Avon...' such vibrancy and variety is most welcome.

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