Essay on Who Wrote Shakespeare: Defining Authorship

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The works of Shakespeare are some of the most respected in English literature. They have set the standard for all the great writers who followed. Although these works have been attributed to William Shakespeare of Stratford, they could have been written by anyone. The definite authorship of a work is always uncertain, but these works are particularly contested. There are those who believe someone besides Shakespeare of Stratford wrote the works, while others believe his identity, as a whole, is a conspiracy. Clearly the author of a work is important, but some wonder if knowing the author’s identity is really worth all the fuss. The works of Shakespeare will still reign at the top of English literature no matter who wrote them. Therefore, …show more content…
A will from Shakespeare of Stratford has his signature at the bottom, but this will does not leave his plays to anybody. There are a few signatures from a Shakespeare on documentation from different contracts for actors and such. However, all of these signatures spell their name differently than William Shakespeare does on his will. These documents from the plays also have the signature of two men mentioned in Shakespeare of Stratford’s will. This would appear to be factual evidence linking the plays to him, except for one slight issue. These men’s names are scribbled in-between two lines and appear to have been added after the original will was written. Did someone add these names to give credence to William Shakespeare’s authorship? Or did William Shakespeare himself simply add them at a later date? It is questions like these that place doubt on Shakespeare of Stratford’s authorship of these works. (Bedford Companion, Chapter 1)
There are of course other sources of information that seem to support William Shakespeare of Stratford as the true author. For instance, James Shapiro, an English professor at Columbia University, and avid supporter of Shakespeare from Stratford, has spent years trying to figure out who really authored the Shakespearean works. He eventually came across some evidence that helped his case. One of his main arguments was that until about two hundred years after William