Shakespeare controversy: Why I need to be a Stratfordian against all odds.


A recent visit to the Pupop Globe in Sydney revived my interest in the sheer genius playwright: William Shakespeare. And in pursuing that interest I only just recently became aware of the so-called Shakespeare authorship question or controversy.

An ongoing debat on who wrote Shakespeare. The man from Stratford-upon-Avon or someone else. Someone smarter, someone more erudite, someone more educated. Not that one of my English teachers ever bothered to point out that many a question had been raised about the authorship . I guess they were Stratfordians, firm believers in the  son of illiterate parents.

Surely they couldn’t have been Anti-Stratfordians, Baconians, Oxfordians, or any other ian, or they would at least have raised the Shakespeare authorship question as an afterthought.

Fairly new to that question I have already come to believe that the Oxfordians make a most compelling case. Although there remains a lot to be said for Bacon and Christopher Marlowe  as well as possible authorship candidates. A smart Stratfordian  should at the very least admit that William Shakespeare must have had a few collaborators with whom he wrote so many wonderful things, collaborators that nurtured his talent. Connoisseurs that recognized William Shakespeare had what it took to become larger than life. Maybe even someone who understood what he dreamed up  and wrote it down .

But I’m not a smart Stratfordian. I’m just me.

And let’s face it, reflecting on the evidence, however well presented and argumented, all the Anti-Stratfordians have only one thing in common: they desperately want to prove to the world that a man from humble beginnings and little education could never have written Shakespeare. No way!  It is the backbone of their arguments. Such genius must have sprouted from the brilliant mind of someone more upper class, someone more aristocratic. At the very least someone highly educated.

And me being just me, and contrary to the evidence, I’m just gonna keep believing that the son of a glover from Stratford-upon-Avon was indeed capable beautiful things.

And maybe, looking back on things, that is the reason why my English teachers never talked about the controversy in the classroom: they just wanted us to believe that each and every one of us was capable of  extraordinary things,  no matter who we were or where we came from.








6 thoughts on “Shakespeare controversy: Why I need to be a Stratfordian against all odds.

  1. Personally, I believe our error may be in hanging the modern definition of ‘playwright’ on Shakespeare. The interesting comparison is between another contemporary – say Marlowe – and Shakespeare (a word which after all interprets best as ‘writer’). Marlowe was definitely an author, principally responsible for his work, and that shows in his more pedantic Elizabethan prose style. The Lord Chamberlain’s Company, it seems to me, were collectively responsible for the evolving of those old plots (not one of them original) to the degree of excellence tabulated by their ‘Shakespeare’ who happened to be a guy from Stratford. That doesn’t presume to say he wasn’t, as a member of that Company, extremely talented in his own right; witness the sonnets. But I believe that is the better way to judge Shakespeare as an individual.

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  2. The “Shakespeare Controversy” has always seemed to me like an elitist defence of academic learning. And there is another reason for teachers to ignore the question: once you notice how many creative geniuses (in all fields) don’t have a university degree, you may start wondering whether perhaps academic studies inhibit creativity – or at least disproportionately attract the uncreative.

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  3. Really enjoyed reading your post. James Shapiro published a fascinating study on the authorship debate titled Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? If you’d like to become a “smart Stratfordian,” it’s worth the read. On our site (, we dive into Shapiro’s book and argue a fresh take on how this debate is relevant to society (and politics) today. The post is titled “The Tragedy of Interpretation.”

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  4. He wrote the plays. There’s too much autobiographical allusions in the works. Hamnet, for example, was his son, to his Concubine. They would be the Young Man and Dark Lady respectively in the Sonnets. Which, Hamnet, if you read the poetry, was killed when his love affaire was discovered. Shakespeare is singing of his heeded parental advice to Hamnet, to find a suitor. That would be the inspiration of Romeo and Juliet. And of course there’s evidence that Hamlet is based on Hamnet. Not to mention, the writing style is purely Shakespeare’s. His diction evolves over time. Lots of writers have that. My writing is significantly different than what it was when I first started, but I can still see strings of similarity from the start to the finish. I was much more sentimental when I was younger. In fact, that could definitely explain the differences in Shakespeare’s diction over time.

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