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Shakespeare Beyond Doubt: Evidence, Argument, Controversy Paperback – 18 Apr 2013

3.1 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 298 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (18 April 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1107603285
  • ISBN-13: 978-1107603288
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.4 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 514,206 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


'Until now no book has provided the comprehensive evidence necessary to satisfy those 'Reasonable Doubters'.' James Shapiro, Columbia University, and author of Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?

'The Shakespeare debate has never been hotter.' London Evening Standard

'This book helpfully pulls together irrefutable evidence that Shakespeare really was Shakespeare.' New Statesman

'Well conceived and energetic.' The Times Literary Supplement

'… salutary …' Standpoint

'Shakespeare Beyond Doubt shows, once more, that the fickle authorship controversy still exists not because there is no evidence that Shakespeare was Shakespeare but because anti-Shakespeareans refuse to acknowledge it and prefer the creative route of constructing an imaginary and speculative truth. History does not work like that. It is not a Hollywood movie.' The Huffington Post

'Thorough, rigorous, scholarly, and a lot of fun.' History Today

'The range of evidence, from dialect, through manuscript analysis, to stagecraft, makes it a wonderfully rounded introduction to the period, as well as to the playwright.' Judith Flanders, The Times Literary Supplement

'This excellent collection, edited by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells, assumes that it is possible to engage with the doubters in an honest, honourable, and constructive dialogue.' Quarto

'… a most useful volume …' The New Criterion

'The achievement here is substantial. Edmondson and Wells have curated an impressive collection that leaves few stones unturned and sets out a weighty case that defies easy rebuttal.' Cahiers Élisabéthains

'All the essays are brief and accessible. Often summarising their own groundbreaking research, the contributors accomplish a two-fold task: they expose the feebleness of the anti-Shakespeareans' contentions and simultaneously provide accounts of the most recent developments in various branches of Shakespeare studies, whose scope and interest go well beyond the authorship question.' Laura Talarico, Memoria di Shakespeare: A Journal of Shakespearean Studies

'The volume's distinguished editors, Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells, have assembled a tight volume that both addresses the questions at the heart of the so-called authorship controversy and discusses the phenomenon in critically sophisticated ways.' Curtis Perry, SEL: Studies in English Literature 1500–1900

Book Description

Did Shakespeare write Shakespeare? The authorship question has been much treated in works of fiction, film and television, provoking interest all over the world. The book explores the issues surrounding the debate in the light of biographical, textual and bibliographical evidence to bring fresh perspectives on an intriguing cultural phenomenon.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
It was actually this book that made me a firm anti-stratfordian. It offers no contemporary evidence whatsoever and Stanley Wells admits as much:

" Price writes that ‘Shakespeare is the only alleged writer of consequence from the time period for whom he [we?] must rely on posthumous evidence’ to prove that Shakespeare the writer was the man from Stratford.’ So far as documentary evidence goes this is true " - Stanley Wells

A large portion of the book is dedicated to the theory of 'group authorship' because the idea that Shakspere of Stratford wrote the works by himself is so completely unbelievable - so much for Shakespeare 'beyond doubt.'
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Format: Paperback
In conjunction with James Shapiro's `Contested Will,' the ruthlessly lucid 'Shakespeare Beyond Doubt' has shifted the parameters of the authorship debate in significantly productive ways. Without these two books, we could go on niggling about signatures, fantastical feathers, the number of River Avons in Britain, graceful swans versus cannibalistic swans, John Shakespeare's trade versus Oxford's glove fetishism, inverted snobs versus right- way -up snobs, the sweet muses of Stratford upon Avon versus those of Stratford near Hackney, round and round in circles for all eternity. Or at least until the first piece of solid, undeniable evidence for alternative authorship is finally revealed.

We have now left behind these entertaining disputes and have entered a more unforgiving arena where all points proffered require predication on the basis of some tough questions. What is good historical evidence and what is dodgy historical evidence? How do you argue with the evidence of stylometrics? What is the difference between literature and autobiography? How does the human imagination work? How did a candidate who died in 1604 manage to collaborate with others in plays written after that date? How do we distinguish between logical and illogical speculation? What exactly is the relationship between the premise, `This man was a moneylender,' and the conclusion, `Therefore he could not have been a playwright'?

Two essays in the book shine a very specific floodlight into the arena which will be particularly unsettling for the anti-Shakespearians.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Illuminating, thought provoking and very well sourced "Shakespeare Beyond Doubt" sets a landmark in the field of one of the greatest wars in literary history. Did Shakespeare write Shakespeare? The ambitious goal of Prof Stanley Wells and John Edmondson is to offer a conclusive answer to an offensivo take that comes from the Eighteenth Century. The book includes multi-discplinary analyses on the subject by reputed authors, particular chapters devoted to those more mentioned candidates as would-be authors, like Marlowe, De Vere and Bacon, and a priceless account of the most hillarious attemps to prove the eventual fake, through cryptograms or Da Vinci Code style anecdotes. The book represents the Shakesperian view, Stratford based, and it will sure become a source for those who want to find an answer to Anonymous. Along with James Shapiro Contested Will, is a formal argumentation for a contention that went beyond time.
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Format: Paperback
The book consists of three parts. In "Sceptics", the authors take a close look at the roots of anti-Shakespeareanism which started in 1856 when an American lady named Delia Bacon became determined to prove Shakespeare was, in fact, Francis Bacon. Like bubonic plague, the idea infected many others and today there are over 70 candidates promoted for a post they will never get. Among other prominent candidates are Marlowe, Edward de Vere - 17th Earl of Oxford, and Elizabeth I.

Mathematically, each time an additional candidate is suggested, the probability decreases that any given name is the true author. -- Matt Kubus

In "Shakespeare as Author", the scholars expand on interesting topics like extant allusions to Shakespeare to 1642, Shakespeare's collaboration with other playwrights, his schooling. The chapter by David Kathman on Shakespeare's Warwickshire connections and the Warwickshire words in his plays is especially noteworthy.

In general, anti-Shakespearians' depictions of sixteenth-century Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwickshire are rooted in distortions, driven by an irrational hatred of William Shakespeare of Stratford and all he represents. Those who would deny Shakespeare's authorship and disparage his home town must turn a blind eye to a mountain of evidence showing that Stratford's leading residents, including Shakespeare's closest friends there, were educated and cultured by just about any standard. -- David Kathman

MacDonald P. Jackson shows how stylometric analysis of Shakespeare's texture proves the collaborative nature of the works. Anti-Shakespeareans, instead, automatically deny this evidence by favouring a proposition that a single author with a better formal education penned the canon.
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