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on 30 April 2016
Seems a reasoned view. Idries Shah, who wrote The Sufis, first indicated to me that there was a problem with who wrote Shakespeare's plays and sonnets. Whoever wrote Shakespeare’s plays was a widely travelled polymath, master of several languages, of classics, law, medical knowledge, hermeticism and the behaviour of people in the courts of Europe. There is no substantive evidence that the ‘sage’ who injected such wisdom into England was the tax-evading provincial businessman from Stratford. This book gives the evidence for the lack of evidence.
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on 10 November 2014
I began to read this book as a convinced Stratfordian, and finished it with the conviction that there are grounds for reasonable doubt, which is all the various contributors seek to assert. Probably we shall never finally resolve the question of the authorship; certainly, though, this work is wholly fascinating. Right or wrong, the Stratfordians stand convicted of bluster.
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on 25 October 2015
An excellent investigation, clear exposition and well-researched.
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on 16 July 2013
This is an excellent book and does exactly what it claims, i.e. it exposes the weakness of the Stratfordians' claims. If you are new to this subject, or if you have already done a bit of research, (or a lot!) this book is a must. It puts the case for doubting that William Shakspere, the glover's son from Stratford-upon- Avon, was the author of the works of William Shakespeare, clearly and eruditely. Read also 'Shakespeare Beyond Doubt,' edited by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells. (To suggest that the similarity in title is to fool the gullible, as a previous reviewer has, is childish, and to suggest that readers of these books would be fooled is condescending to say the least!) Compare both books. Edmondson and Wells begin with a gross insult by referring to doubters as anti-Shakespeareans. All doubters, in my experience, love Shakespeare; but you can see what they are doing. This is one of their ploys, to deliberately muddy the waters by making no distinction between 'Shakespeare' and 'Shakspere,' when it has been shown 'beyond doubt' that the Stratford man always used 'Shakspere' or, occasionally, a close variant; never 'Shakespeare,' whereas when the name started to appear on the plays it was always 'Shakespeare' or 'Shake-speare, not once did it appear as 'Shakspere.' This is just one of their tricks. Another is to suggest, which they do often, that all doubters are snobs, not willing to believe that a 'common' person could write the plays and poems. This is utter nonsense, of course. These, and other underhand Stratfordian tactics are exposed in 'Shakespeare Beyond Doubt?' Notice how the Edmondson/Wells book never answers the really important questions. These are discussed lucidly in the Shahan/Waugh book. Buy it; read it. Make up your own mind!
Terry McIntee
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on 26 July 2013
For anyone who is genuinely interested in why some people doubt that the works of William Shakespeare were written by the man from Stratford-upon-Avon, this book is essential reading. Here you can forget the usual slurs that it is because they are snobs, conspiracy theorists or crackpots, and simply look at the evidence they present which leads them to suspect that for all these years we have most probably been the unwitting victims of a hoax.

Wisely omitting any mention of just who the real author might have been if not "William Shakspere" of Stratford, the book sticks closely to the simple question of whether or not there are reasonable grounds for doubt. This is an obvious response to the recently published Shakespeare Beyond Doubt: Evidence, Argument, Controversy, edited by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells, in which the clear assertion is that there are not.

In the first part of the book, the Stratford-born William Shakspere (the most common spelling of his name) is looked at in depth. The name itself, his signatures, the documentary record, what was said about him, his Will, reactions to his death - each of these is put under the microscope. Some will complain that much of this concerns what is not there rather than what is, and that absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence. The answer here is that it is absence of evidence which really *should* have been there (such as there being not a single tribute paid to him at the time of his death), and that such absences are just as significant.

It then considers the amount of knowledge apparently possessed by the author William Shakespeare, concentrating upon just three areas - the law, medicine, and his detailed knowledge of Italy, wondering just how Mr. Shakspere could have acquired it. The next section discusses the two main pieces of evidence apparently linking the playwright to Stratford-upon-Avon - the First Folio and the Stratford monument. Although I do not personally find the argument that today's monument is significantly different from how it was originally all that convincing, I was particularly impressed by John Rollett's chapter on the engraving cut "for gentle Shakespeare" in the First Folio. In this he shows quite clearly that what appears to be the front of the sitter's left shoulder is in reality the back view of his right shoulder. There can be no doubt that this was done deliberately, and is as clear an indication as there can be that there's something fishy about the whole thing!

In September 2012 the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust's website launched its campaign against doubters with "60 Minutes With Shakespeare" in which 60 eminent actors, writers and scholars were recorded addressing one of 60 authorship-related questions for 60 seconds each. Part two of the book transcribes all of these answers, together with a response to each of them by some of the best scholars in the authorship movement. Only the half dozen questions related to specific candidates are omitted.

For anyone who has, just out of interest, read either James Shapiro's Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? or Edmondson & Wells's Shakespeare Beyond Doubt and found it quite convincing, this book is precisely what they need to understand the opposite viewpoint, which anyone with a reasonably open mind must surely want to do.

Peter Farey
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on 31 August 2013
This book falls short in providing essential proof.

For the theory that WS is not the author to be considered true, four people must be proven to be liars. Each of them knew Shakespeare personally and professionally, and each put their names to works that give Shakespeare's name as the author.

They are: John Heminges - Editor of the 1st folio; member of the same acting company as WS; mentioned in WS's will; and a shareholder in the Globe.

Henry Condell - like Heminges an editor of the 1st folio; member of the same acting company as WS; mentioned in WS's will; and a shareholder in the Globe.

Ben Jonson - Contributed introductory material to the 1st folio; mentioned WS to other writers who recorded the conversation; WS is listed as a cast member in a Jonson play.

Richard Field - Was the first publisher of WS's poetry; like WS he was born in Stratford Upon Avon and was the same age as Shakespeare; it is highly likely that they knew each other as boys and attended the same school.

All four of these people could not be mistaken or misled. They all worked with and knew Shakespeare personally, and by placing their names to works that give WS as the author they are either telling the truth or lying.

In history when four individuals, who definitely should know, make a claim then the weight of evidence is that the claim is true.

The alternative is a conspiracy. Conspiracies do happen but undiscovered conspiracies are rare and they require proof (not theories) before they can displace the documentary evidence.
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on 7 May 2015
Exceptional scholarly book ,it buries the feeble so called academic Oxford press book of the same name.Alexander Waugh and John Shahan ,are fighting the good fight with impeccable research and faultless logic ,argued incisively and exceptionally.This along with "Shakespeare by another name" and of course J.Thomas Looneys pioneering work ,hypothesising that Edward de Vere was the author ,are 3 corners to a Triad of excellence and stunning intelligent work of exceptionally lucid clarity.All of the points made so incessantly by antequated Stratfordians have been taken apart and demolished down to the atomic level, i've run out of superlatives to pick for the minute detail in this monumentally profound academic work.Please all you orthodox Ostriches take your head out of the sand and marvel at your days of arrogance and helping to propagate an absurd fallacy and come join the real debate .View Shakespeare as he truly come's alive after burying Shakspere all too belatedly aswell as once and for all.Though this work primarily demolishes mainstream belief ,this will point you with at least the right inquisitive reasoning ,towards which other books will conclusively help your academic epiphany.
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on 23 April 2015
Excellent! It should be read in all schools, colleges and universities.
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on 12 November 2013
A must read for all students of Shakespeare. It answers most of the questions regarding did the bard from Stratford write the plays and sonnets, it does not concern itself with who was the actual writer, which is perhaps the more interesting question. However a great addition to the topic.
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on 1 July 2013
having read and compared this alongside Shakespeare Beyond Doubt (whose title it so apes - presumably hoping that some gullible innocents will buy the wrong one) I can only say that the authors should be ashamed to have any pretence to academic or intellectual credibility. Their false premises, contorted logic and fundamentally biased propositions make the whole book and its foundation a nonsense. Whereas I had hoped for a balanced debate this is pure propoganda aimed solely at supporting what is clearly an unsupportable proposition. Only for 'flat earthers'.
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