“Shakespeare Beyond Doubt:” or “Beyond Doubt?”


Shakespeare Beyond Doubt: Evidence, Argument, Controversy by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells (May 27, 2013)

Shakespeare Beyond Doubt? — Exposing an Industry in Denial by John M. Shahan and Alexander Waugh (May 23, 2013)

“Shakespeare Beyond Doubt:” and “Shakespeare Beyond Doubt?”; one a declaration of fact. The other an inquiry and counter-argument to the first.

These two books, both published in late May, offer perhaps the best opportunity to date to examine in detail and from multiple points of view the current evidence and arguments regarding the authorship of the Shakespeare Canon. Were the works created by a singular genius born in Stratford on Avon, or were the names “Shakespeare”, “Shakspeare” and “Shakspere” pseudonyms, used to conceal the true author(s) of the most extraordinary literary works ever written?

SBD.1

sbd“Shakespeare Beyond Doubt: Evidence, Argument, Controversy” argues adamantly for the traditional story. It was edited by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells, and although the book was published by Cambridge Press, both of the editors are officially associated with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the sole purpose of which is to preserve the official legacy. The fact that Mr. Wells, Mr Edmondson and the Birthplace Trust felt such a strong compulsion to compile this collection of essays in support of their orthodoxy is telling; and represents a shift in the “authorship zeitgeist.” As more and more people throughout the world have begun to question the traditional story, Wells and Edmondson recruited an esteemed group of scholars and writers to try and shore it up.

 

The second book, “Shakespeare Beyond Doubt? – Exposing an Industry in Denial” is a fierce and thoroughly informed response to the arguments made in the Wells book. It takes them on point by point. The book was compiled by John Shahan and Alexander Waugh. Shahan has been an articulate spokesman for the anti-Stratfordian position for many years. He founded the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition and launched the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt, which has succeeded in getting academics, artists and professional lay people throughout the world, including Mark Rylance, Sir Derek Jacobi and two Supreme Court justices to state categorically that there is definitely “reasonable doubt” about the identity of William Shakespeare. The two books offer an excellent opportunity to learn from the debate: Beyond Doubt? Or Reasonable Doubt? You decide.

The position of the Roundtable is that authorship is a legitimate question worth asking. Most academic institutions not only refuse to make the inquiry, but demean those who do. Our goal is to encourage more research, provide a forum for new evidence and ideas and oppose unofficial censorship.

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