DeVere or William Shakespeare? Essay

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DeVere or Shakespeare?

Abstract: The debate over the legitimacy of the authorship of Shakespearean works has been disputed for centuries. While many scholars have held beliefs that Shakespeare's works have been written by figures such as Christopher Marlowe, Francis Bacon, William Stanley, and others, the most heated debate today is between William Shakespeare and Edward DeVere, the Earl of Oxford. Each side of this debate has many followers, the Stratfordians, or those who claim Shakespeare to be the true author, and the Oxfordians who believe that true credit should go to DeVere. My paper, far from being a complete analysis of the possibilities of Shakespearean authorship, attempts to summarize and rationalize the
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While the ideas of the true identity of Shakespeare have differed over the years in an almost trend-like fashion, a very popular idea has surfaced over the last century. The most prolific debate today is between the Stratfordians, or those who claim Shakespeare to be the true author, and the Oxfordians, those who claim Edward DeVere, Earl of Oxford, to be the true author.

The first question to ask in such a circumstance is why doubt exists. For instance, no scholars question the works of writers and philosophers such as Montisqueu, Hobbes, or Locke. Why then, is there any question as to who wrote Shakespeare? It would seem to most people that the name on the plays should logically be the name of the author. Stratfordians claim exactly this fact as one of their strongest arguments. The only problem with this seemingly simplistic argument lies in the spelling differences between the man named Will Shakespere and the name written on the plays, William Shakespeare (Whalen 8). In fact, the "records of (Shakespere's) lifetime almost always spelled his name Shakespere" while the names on the plays were always spelled "Shakespeare, about half the time with a hyphen which generally denoted a made up name or pseudonym" (Whalen 8). Such a slight difference may seem insignificant, but for those who doubt authorship, this is a way of questioning the very basis of Stratfordian claims that authorship is inarguable, and introducing the possibility of

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