£40,000! That’s the wager. Did he, or didn’t he?
On December 6th The Shakespeare Authorship Coalition (SAC) challenged The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT) to a mock trial, before a neutral panel of judges, during which both sides of the “authorship issue” would be debated and judged by the impartial rules of logic and evidence. To show how serious they are, SAC put up £40,000 (that’s British Pounds!).
After a fair presentation of the facts, if the judges rule that the SBT proved “beyond a reasonable doubt” that their man wrote the plays, then their organization (a charity) is £40,000 richer. If, on the other hand, the judges rule that there is “reasonable doubt” about the man to whom they attribute the works, then . . . well: in either case the truth will have been served.
Seems like an attractive offer. Are the defenders of the Shakespeare orthodoxy willing to subject their arguments to anything like impartial rules of evidence? Or will they decline the chance to add £40,000 to their Shakespeare charity. Will they? Or, won’t they?
You couldn’t ask for a better debate. In this corner, The Shakespeare Authorship Coalition, a worldwide group dedicated to increasing awareness of reasonable doubt about the identity of William Shakespeare. ( Shakespeare Authorship Coalition ) And in the opposing corner, The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, who claim to be the world’s leading charity in promoting the works, life and times of William Shakespeare. ( http://www.shakespeare.org.uk/home.html ) They are linked to all the Stratford sites, and the tremendous Shakespeare PR machine. (See our blog of August 8 for more on this running rivalry)
We of course encourage the SBT to accept the challenge and present their case in a fair and open public forum.
Below is a copy of the press release and the full-page ad placed December 6,in the Times Literary Supplement,
FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, 6TH DEC., 2013
Contact Persons: U.K.: Alexander Waugh, SAC Honorary President
U.S.: John M. Shahan, SAC Chairman and CEO
Taunton, Somerset, U.K., December 2, 2013 – Today the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition (SAC) announced an offer to donate £40,000 to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT) in Stratford if it proves ‘beyond doubt’ in a mock trial that William of Stratford wrote ‘Shakespeare.’ The donation offer, conveyed to the SBT in an open letter, appears in a full-page ad published today in the Times Literary Supplement (TLS) (text shown below). The Birthplace Trust hasn’t yet responded to the offer, so the SAC decided to put it on the public record. In addition to the £40,000, the SAC has offered to raise all of the money to pay for the mock trial. No deadline has been announcedfor when the offer expires.
The mock trial challenge was communicated to the SBT in the book Shakespeare Beyond Doubt? (Shahan and Waugh, eds.; 2013), written in response to the similarly-titled book, Shakespeare Beyond Doubt, edited by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells, both of the Birthplace Trust. Today’s TLS also includes a full-page ad for Shakespeare Beyond Doubt? ‘Our book presents a compelling case for reasonable doubt,’ said Alexander Waugh. ‘We only decided on the donation offer after it became clear that the SBT had no intention of defending its claim’, he added.
The open letter includes a list of those who pledged to put up the money – 40 pledges, totaling £40,000 (see list after the open letter below). Among the 43 people named are SAC patrons Derek Jacobi and Michael York; 23 Americans, 14 Brits, 3 Canadians, and 3 Dutch/Germans; 34 people with advanced degrees (23 doctorates); 17 current/former academics; authors of 10 authorship books; and 1 retired USAF general.
The following is the text of the open letter ad in today’s Times Literary Supplement:
SAC challenges Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to Mock Trial!
Offers £40,000 donation if they prove Shakspere wrote works.
Why would they decline if the case for him is “beyond doubt”?
The following letter was sent to the Birthplace Trust on 8th November, 2013:
Open Letter to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
c/o Peter Kyle, Chairman, Board of Trustees
Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon
Re: £40,000 Donation Offer
Dear Mr. Kyle,
On 4th July, we wrote to you with the Shakespeare Authorship Coalitions invitation to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to take part in a mock trial of its claim that the identity of the author of the works of William Shakespeare is beyond doubt. On 6th September, you replied, rejecting our invitation.
While we understand the position the Trust is taking, we hope you agree that it would be desirable to resolve our diametrically opposed viewsyours that it is beyond doubt that Shakspere of Stratford was the author Shakespeare; ours that there is reasonable doubt, and that the authorship issue should therefore be regarded as legitimate. While you say that you have nothing to add, it yet remains for you to test your stated position against the opposing case in an orderly, objective and neutral forum that would be appropriate to and in keeping with the Parliamentary Charter under which the Birthplace Trust operates.
As an inducement to participate, the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition hereby offers to donate £40,000 to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust if it proves, in a mock trial before a panel of neutral judges, that Shakspere of Stratford wrote the works you attribute to him.
We are, of course, open to alternative formats, procedures and venues for the mock trial, as long as they are even-handed, they provide a valid test of the Birthplace Trusts claim, and each side has ample opportunity to present evidence and for challenges and rebuttals. Both the Coalition and the Trust should be responsible for the costs of its own team. The Coalition will, however, undertake to raise the funds needed to pay the costs involved in putting on the mock trial after we have reached agreement on all necessary arrangements.
A list of those who have pledged to contribute towards the £40,000 donation is enclosed. Once weve reached agreement on all of the important details (format, venue, dates, etc.), the SAC will collect the money pledged and place it in an escrow account before the trial.
Alexander Waugh John M. Shahan
Honorary President Chairman and CEO
Shakespeare Authorship Coalition Shakespeare Authorship Coalition
[For the list of 40 pledges totaling £40,000, visit the SAC website at: doubtaboutwill.org;
and, while you are there, be sure to read and sign the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt.]