Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0309. Tuesday, 23 April 1996.
Date: Monday, 22 Apr 1996 17:57:02 +0100
Subject: Authorship Web Site
In honor of William Shakespeare's 432nd birthday (Happy Birthday, Will!),
we are happy to announce
The SHAKESPEARE AUTHORSHIP WEB SITE
Dedicated to critically examining claims that someone other than
William Shakespeare wrote the works attributed to him.
Many books and articles have been written arguing that someone other than
William Shakespeare, the glover's son from Stratford-upon-Avon, wrote the plays
and poems published under his name. There exist sincere and intelligent people
who believe that there is strong evidence that Edward de Vere, Seventeenth Earl
of Oxford, was actually the author of these plays and poems. Yet professional
Shakespeareans -- those whose job it is to study, write, and teach about
Shakespeare -- are unanimous in declaring Oxfordian claims to be groundless,
often not even worth discussing.
Why is this? Oxfordians claim that these scholars are blinded to the evidence
by a vested self-interest in preserving the authorship of "the Stratford Man",
and some more extreme Oxfordians claim that there is an active conspiracy among
orthodox scholars to suppress pro-Oxford evidence and keep it from the
attention of the general public. The truth, however, is far more prosaic.
Oxfordians are not taken seriously by the Shakespeare establishment because
(with few exceptions) they do not follow basic standards of scholarship, and
the "evidence" they present for their fantastic scenarios is either distorted,
taken out of context, or flat-out false.
This web site is aimed at the intelligent nonspecialist who doesn't know what
to make of these challenges to Shakespeare's authorship. Oxfordian books can be
deceptively convincing to a reader who is unaware of the relevant historical
background and unused to the rhetorical tricks used by Oxfordians. Our aim is
to provide context where needed, expose misinformation passed off by Oxfordians
as fact, and in general show the nonspecialist reader why professional
Shakespeare scholars have so little regard for Oxfordian claims. We know from
experience that we are not likely to convince any Oxfordians to change their
views, but we hope that other readers will find something of value here. We
will be updating and adding new material as time permits, and we welcome any
comments or suggestions.