By Marcia Smith
Everyone knows of William Shakespeare, the author of thirty-seven full length plays and 154 sonnets. Romeo and Juliet is one of the most popular stories as it is read in most high school English classes. There is not a theatre goer anywhere who has not heard of, or seen, Hamlet. Anyone involved in the theatre, on a regular basis, will tell you that they never say Macbeth in any space they call a theatre. What if it was all a lie? What if Shakespeare was not the great Shakespeare? What if someone else wrote “his” works? There are many books and theories in the world today about the true authorship of Shakespeare’s works. Edward de Vere the 17th Earl of Oxford, Francis Bacon a philosopher and writer, and Christopher Marlowe a Playwright are among the top suspected authors of these works. It is important to know that there is a debate over the true identity of the author, and there are many theories. This paper will discuss Edward de Vere as the possible William Shakespeare.
To be or not to be; that is the question. Since the early 1700’s scholars have been asking themselves the question of Shakespeare’s identity. The great William Shakespeare, who was known throughout history to have existed and to have written the greatest literary works of all time, is being questioned over and over again. Did the William Shakespeare that is on record actually write Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, etc.? This debate has suggested many names as the possible Shakespearian author. However, none have had so much evidence to support his case than the 17th Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere. As Oxfordians that has done extensive research and wrote numerous books on the subject cannot prove there point either way, there is no possible way that this paper could be presumptuous enough to prove it either. Instead this paper is going to discuss the evidence of the de Vere being William Shakespeare.
The William Shaksper (of Stratford is spelled different) on record was born in Stratford-upon-Avon on April 23rd in 1564. He was then baptized on April 26th, 1564 at Holy Trinity Church. His father was John Shakespeare who was a glover and leather merchant, and his mother, Mary Arden was a landed local heiress. Scholars believe Young William attended the free grammar school in Stratford; however there is no hard evidence to support this claim. He never went on to university. William married Anne Hathaway on November 28th 1582 when he was 18 and she was 26 and pregnant. They had three children together though one died at age eleven. William disappeared for a while after the birth of his twins. This is what many call the lost years. He didn’t turn back up again until he comes back to London in or around 1588. Scholars believe that this is when he started to act as well as practice playwriting. By 1594 he was acting and writing for the Lord Chamberlain’s Men (which is called the King’s Men after James I takes the thrown in 1603), and was also a managing partner. He retired to Stratford and wrote his will in 1611. Supposedly he died on his birthday, which is probably a myth, however it is the only date entered (“Shakespeare Resource Center”).
17th Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere was born at Castle Hedingham in Essex on April 12th, 1550 by the old calendar but April 23rd by the new calendar. Is it a coincidence that Shaksper’s birthday is that same day? He lived there until he was twelve and then he was sent to London to be a Royal Ward when his father died. The Queen made Sir William Cecil his guardian. He had a love of the theatre and letters right away. He underwent an extremely strict education. His first tutor was his mother’s brother Arthur Golding. He received an A.B. degree from St. John’s College, Cambridge when he was fourteen and a half. When he was sixteen he received an M.A. from Christ’s Church College, Oxford. He also spent three years as a student of law at Gray’s...