|June 2014 - I had a real bad experience with Shakespeare in High School. Apart from seeing the Olivia Hussey film version of Romeo and Juliet, the one and only Shakespeare play I studied during 3 years of English classes was Macbeth. At the same time, I also had a very boring History teacher as well. All she ever did was to hand out purple inked (mimeographed) lists of dates and events and told us to memorise them for the exams. So by the time I left High School, I hated Macbeth, I hated History and I hated Shakespeare. That was around 30 years ago. We're talking the early 1980s here.
I have since discovered the wonders of History. Especially the glorious History of the Elizabethan Golden era, and now I read anything I can, about the people of that era. Which is why I'm happy to read about Shakespeare and Marlowe, but I'm still somewhat reluctant to read the actual plays.
I have of course seen a few Shakespeare plays done as movies over the last 20 years. Movies such as Clair Danes & Leonardo's version of Romeo and Juliet and my favourite - Keanu Reeves, Denzel Washington and Emma Thompson in Much Ado about Nothing.
But in the first 10 years after I left school, I began reading stories and hearing rumours that maybe Shakespeare didn't write those plays. Well if he did not, then who did? The general consensus is that Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford, wrote them.
The biggest reason to suggest Oxford, is that to have written these plays, the writer had to have had knowledge of Italian customs, law, culture and history. Since Shakespeare was supposedly a poor fellow with nothing more than a grammar school education, the chances that he ever travelled to Italy are very small. Oxford on the other hand is known to have spent several years in Europe.
However, there are other contenders as well. I have become quite obsessed with determining who exactly DID write those plays, and in the last 20 years I have amassed a collection of books, most of which favour various different authors.
Other names that have been suggested as the REAL playright (other than the Earl of Oxford) include, Kit Marlowe, Ben Jonson, Philip Sidney, Henry Neville, Francis Bacon, Amelia Bassano and William Stanley.
As for me, well at this point, I have not definitely made up my mind.
But I did come across a movie recently (made in 2011) called Anonymous (Movie Trailer), about Shakespeare and his plays. This movie supports the theory that Oxford was the real author.
June 2015 - More recently I have discovered a new possible author for the Shakespeare plays. Mary Sidney Herbert - Countess of Pembroke - and sister of Phillip Sidney.
I am sure that we are all aware of how many women heroines there are in shakespeares plays!! Practically every single play has at least one major female character - most plays have 2 or 3 major female characters. So why would a MAN be writing about all these women? Literate women too. Many of them spoke of writing letters. If the author agreed with women being literate - then why were Shakepeares own daughters illiterate?
Evidence - One of Shakespeare’s daughters, Judith, signed her name with an X. His other daughter Susanna’s first name is on a deed (nothing else in her writing has been found), but she could not read nor even recognize her husband’s handwriting when asked.
The Women in Shakespeares Plays
Hero in Much Ado About Nothing is a virtuous woman unjustly accused of gross infidelity by her fiancé and thus also spurned by her own father and Don Pedro. She agrees to fake her death until her honor is restored.
Hermione in The Winter’s Tale is a virtuous wife unjustly accused of infidelity by a jealous husband. With her waiting woman, she fakes her death and hides herself for fifteen years, until exonerated.
Mrs. Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor is a virtuous wife unjustly accused by a jealous husband, whom she brings around with humor and a good nature. She also humiliates a lecherous and sleazy knight.
Desdemona in Othello is a virtuous wife unjustly accused of gross infidelity by her husband. She defies her father and society to marry the man of her choice.
Juliet in Romeo and Juliet defies her belligerent father to marry the man of her choice.
Lavinia in Titus Andronicus defies her father to marry the man of her choice.
Anne Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor defies her father and mother to marry the man of her choice.
Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream defies her father to marry the man of her choice.
Sylvia in The Two Gentlemen of Verona defies her father to marry the man of her choice. Her father throws her in jail, she escapes, and is captured by outlaws.
Bianca in The Taming of the Shrew defies her father to marry the man of her choice.
Perdita in The Winter’s Tale defies her lover’s father to marry the man of her choice.
Imogen in Cymbeline defies her father and wicked stepmother to marry the man of her choice. She dresses as a man, runs away, and later joins the Roman army.
Jessica in The Merchant of Venice defies her father to marry the man of her choice. She dresses as a man and runs away.
Portia in The Merchant of Venice dresses as a man (a judge) and wins an eminent court case. She is the head of a large estate. She manipulates and shames her new husband for his fickleness.
Nerissa in The Merchant of Venice dresses as a man (a law clerk) to appear in court. She manipulates and shames her new husband for his fickleness.
Rosalind in As You Like It dresses as a man, runs away into the forest, buys property, arranges the forest society, and marries the man of her choice.
Viola in Twelfth Night dresses as a man, takes a job, and marries the man of her choice.
Joan of Arc in 1 Henry VI dresses as a man and leads armies into battle. In this play she possibly has lovers.
Julia in The Two Gentlemen of Verona dresses as a man and runs away. She is a steadfast woman scorned by an inconstant lover.
Helen in A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a steadfast woman scorned by an inconstant lover.
Celia in As You Like It runs away from her father to be true to herself and to her girlfriend. She marries the man of her choice.
Cordelia in King Lear defies her father to be true to herself.
Olivia in Twelfth Night runs an estate and marries the man of her choice.
Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing is a brilliant woman who wittily chooses not to marry (but eventually does marry the man of her choice). Against several men, she is true to her female cousin.
Helena in All’s Well That Ends Well With her medical knowledge, she cures a king of a fatal disease that his male doctors have been unable to treat. She travels from Paris to Florence as a pilgrim. She manipulates events to marry the man of her choice.
Isabella in Measure for Measure is a noble, virtuous woman who manipulates a powerful leader. She dupes a man with the bed-trick. There is no indication that she chooses to accept the twice-offered marriage proposal from the Duke.
Diana in All’s Well That Ends Well conspires to hoodwink a profligate man and plays the bed-trick on him.
Maria in Twelfth Night devises a plot to make a fool of a man.
Mrs. Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor is a middle-aged woman, wise and witty, who humiliates a sleazy knight. She defies her husband’s preference of a marriage choice for her daughter.
Mistress Quickly in The Merry Wives of Windsor takes advantage of all the men and makes buffoons of them.
Princess of France & her ladies Rosaline, Maria, and Katharine in Love’s Labor’s Lost: The Princess is the political emissary for her country. These self-possessed women baffle and torment the men. They consign the men to a year of meditation and celibacy before they will even consider marrying them.
Regan and Goneril in King Lear are indomitable, power-hungry sisters who defy their father and husbands. Each takes a lover.
Queen Margaret in 1, 2, 3 Henry VI and Richard III rules her husband, leads an army into battle for the sake of her son, murders the usurper, takes a lover, and prophesies truths.
Queen Elizabeth (Grey) in 3 Henry VI and Richard III refuses the sexual advances of the King until he marries her and then manipulates life at court for the betterment of her family. She scorns Richard III and refuses him her daughter.
Constance of Bretagne in King John goes into battle for the sake of her son. Her intense grief over the death of her son is scorned by the men.
Eleanor of Aquitaine in King John, almost 80 years old, marches off to battle in France to support her son.
Volumnia in Coriolanus rules the country while her son is away. She saves Rome from destruction by controlling her son, the country’s most forceful man.
Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra is a powerful ruler of her country. She loves whom she pleases.
Fulvia in Julius Caesar leads a Roman army into war and is first on the field.
Tamora, Queen of the Goths in Titus Andronicus leads an army, fights for her sons, murders when necessary, loves whom she pleases.
Queen Katherine of Aragon in Henry VIII is a virtuous, steadfast woman who perseveres with grace through her husband’s perfidy.
Lady Macbeth in Macbeth has the strength and mettle “of a man” to do what needs to be done to have power. She wishes she could be a man so she would have the capacity to be cruel.
Portia and Calpurnia in Julius Caesar, exhibit quiet wisdom and family values that are ignored by their husbands. Portia commits suicide by holding hot coals in her mouth to avoid the shame of her husband’s defeat.
Adriana and her sister Luciana in The Comedy of Errors debate “obedience” to a husband vs. “servitude.”
Emilia in Othello, after long being obedient to her husband, Iago, finally stands up for what is true, speaking truth to power and proving her husband’s guilt.
Katharina in The Taming of the Shrew is a strong, complex woman who defies men (and their marriage plans for her) until she permits “wooing” by one of her own mettle.
Mistress Quickly in 1, 2 Henry IV and Henry V runs a business, a tavern.
Paulina in The Winter’s Tale is strong and undaunted, she stands up to powerful men, including the King. She keeps a secret with another woman for fifteen years, until the oracle is proven true.
Charmian in Antony and Cleopatra, is so absolutely loyal that she commits suicide with Cleopatra.
SOURCE - Mary Sidney Society
So on the grounds that men do not understand women, and that Shakespeare from stratford on avon kept his own daughters illiterate, the evidence dies seem to suggest that a women wrote these plays.
Mary Sidney Herbert was born in 1561 - 3 years before Shakespeare - and died in 1521 - 5 years after Shakespeare. Whomever the author really was - they must have been very familiar with court life, with foreigh languages, with law, both english and foreign nobility, the sports of falconry and bowls, with sailing on ships, and many other things. We don't even know if william Shakespeare attended the local grammar school, let alone if he had the connections or the money to travel throughout Europe and study languages and law and falconry. Mary Sidney however did do all of those things. She is also known to have written poems and helped her brother Phillip to have written his poems as well. This fits in with her having possibly written the sonnets. Instead of assuming that the author is a man with a homosexual lover, it makes much more sense if the author was a women who had a lover outside of her marriage.
In addition to the arts, Mary had a wide range of interests. She had a chemistry laboratory at Wilton House, where she developed medicines and invisible ink. From 1609–15 Sidney probably spent most of her time at Crosby Hall, now a private residence that was relocated to Chelsea, London. She traveled with her doctor, Sir Matthew Lister to Spa on the Continent, where she relaxed by shooting pistols and played cards.