Anonymous: Was Shakespeare a Fraud?

Thanks so much to Elizabeth Files visitor, Alexis, for telling me about this movie which is due to be released in the USA in the Autumn (Fall). “Anonymous”, from Sony Movies and 2012 director Roland Emmerich, asks the age-old question, “Who was Shakespeare?”, which has been debated for many years.

Did the man William Shakespeare from Stratford-upon-Avon really write the many plays and sonnets we associate with him? “No”, argue some notable scholars and actors who argue for the likes of the Earl of Oxford (Edward de Vere), Francis Bacon or Christopher Marlowe, but “yes” argue the Stratfordians. You can read more about the debate and the various theories in the following articles/websites:-

I can’t say that I’ve really looked into the subject and the only book I have read on the Oxfordian theory just did not convince me but I must say that I’m looking forward to Anonymous, which stars Vanessa Redgrave as Queen Elizabeth I, her daughter Joely Richardson as the young Elizabeth and Rhys Ifans as Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford. Here is what the SonyPictures You Tube channel says about the film:-

“Set in the political snake-pit of Elizabethan England, Anonymous speculates on an issue that has for centuries intrigued academics and brilliant minds ranging from Mark Twain and Charles Dickens to Henry James and Sigmund Freud, namely: who was the author of the plays credited to William Shakespeare? Experts have debated, books have been written, and scholars have devoted their lives to protecting or debunking theories surrounding the authorship of the most renowned works in English literature. Anonymous poses one possible answer, focusing on a time when cloak-and-dagger political intrigue, illicit romances in the Royal Court, and the schemes of greedy nobles hungry for the power of the throne were exposed in the most unlikely of places: the London stage.”

and here is the trailer:-

20 thoughts on “Anonymous: Was Shakespeare a Fraud?

  1. I saw Anonymous in March this year. It is absolutely awesome. Best film I’ve seen since 1996’s Trainspotting.
    I will go and see it again. I hope they haven’t edited too much out. It was 3.5 hours when I saw it.
    The theory behind it is fascinating (except it goes to far with its Oedipus-theme) – and the best the Bill Shakspere supporters can retort with (Simon Callow) is that the Edward de Vere believers are just snobs. What an out-of-date and faintly amusing riposte.
    What undermines old Bill from the obscure hamlet of Stratford is the complete absence of evidence that his closest friends and family had even an inkling that he wrote anything. His son-in-law, a local doctor, mentions some minor local worthy as a well-known poet but never once boasts he is married to the daughter of the “soul of the age”!

  2. I came to read this article but couldnt because you have this stupid pop ad with out a way to close sitting in the middle of the page. USER EXPERIENCE FAILURE!!!

    1. Sorry you had problems with the site. The pop up has a close button and is only there when you first visit so if you refresh or come back to the page you don’t see it again.

  3. I remember asking my father about this very question when I had first heard the different theories. My father was a political author and journalist and his answer was simple…does it really matter what the name of the author was, the amazing thing is that there was only ONE author. It always stuck with me.

  4. I honestly don’t lean one way or the other as far as the theories go. Does it really matter that much to condescend and belittle those who do not agree with you and providing vague allusions to textual research to elevate yourself? No. As far as I am concerned Shakespeare should not be appreciated or judged by a literal personage that cannot be pinpointed within the annals of recorded history. Shakespeare is first and foremost and embodiment of literary genius, and icon of poetic beauty, and a master of his craft who has left us wonderful texts that have yet to be matched in their eloquence and wonder. Whether or not those words were composed by a body carrying a the title or earl or not doesn’t really make a difference in the long run. Would anyone’s opinions of Hitler change if it was proposed with good reasoning that he was a fall guy? Doubtful.

  5. I saw “Anonymous” the day after it opened. It wasn’t what I expected. I won’t go into details of how I thought the movie would play out. But I must say, it was awesome!! It was a wonderfully talented cast and I recommend that everyone go see this movie. And also, to keep an open mind. The fact is, there is no evidence that Shakespeare did or did not write these plays, poems and sonnets. I enjoyed seeing it from the perspective of the Earl of Oxford that he might be the one who was the true author. Although it really doesn’t matter who wrote the plays, Will Shakespeare will always go down in History as the author. But, I still find it interesting that he (Shakespeare) did not leave one book, or diary, no manuscripts, no letters, etc to his family or friends in his will. A man of such literary stature, I find that quite strange. And because of that reason, it intrigued my interest that it is possible he didn’t write the plays and could have been a front man to the Earl of Oxford. A great movie!!

  6. The Oxfordian theory has two things going for it. Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet both existed before Shakespeare could have written them, and William of Stratford would never have been allowed to satirize so many high born individuals as he does in the plays, showing that he knew way more about the Cecil family than an outsider would. I agree with the group authorship theory, because no other man has ever had that large of a vocabulary.

  7. As a scholar and poet, I suggest that anyone who believes this should go at once to an anthology of Renaissance poetry and see how much poetry the Earl of Oxford is credited with! More important, such people need to compare his style and talent compared with that of Shakespeare’s. Serious thought will prove that Oxford cannot possibly have written Shakespeare’s work. Moreover, nobody ever thought of such a thing at the time. There is no reason Shakespeare needed a university degree to write his masterpieces. He could–and did–find the materials he needed to writer whatever he wanted just by reading the literature of his day. He was no different than Lincoln or my grandfather, both of whom were as well educated as any lawyer of his day. My grandfather used to say that you can learn anything you want to if you work at it and without a college degree.

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