Ep. 3: The Group Project from Hell: Who was William Shakespeare?
We all know Shakespeare’s plays, but do we actually know the man? This week we explore the theory that Shakespeare is not at all who he says he is. Was he merely a player? Or a woman? Or even the QUEEN OF ENGLAND?! Come expound on all the possibilities with us!
Speaker A: Hello. Hi, I'm Shannon. I'm Emma, and welcome to this podcast. Doesn't exist. What have we got today? Well, Emma, buckle, uh, up. Shakespeare? Yes, I do. You love him? I kind of do. Or you hate him, depending who you are. The King of chaotic bisexual energy, if ever there was one. Well, we knew that you probably enjoyed some of his greatest hits. Emma, she's the man. Yes. The Lion King, West Side Story. The list goes on and on. But, Shannon, you say. But, Shannon, those were, um, all written by different people, not by Shakespeare himself. Am I supposed to repeat you? No, you don't have to, dear listener. Or maybe just Emma and our moms. Hi, mom. Hi, mom. Uh, is the question, um, on the table for today's discussion? Shakespeare one genius mind or the product of the best group project ever? Ooh, dude. Group projects were the worst thing on the planet. Yes. No conspiracy there. We hate it. All right, so the mostly agreed upon facts. I say mostly because Elizabethan England record keeping was not essential if you were not a Royal person. Fair enough. So the man we know as William Shakespeare was born to an illiterate glove maker in the town of Stratford upon Avon in 1564. So long ago. Yeah, sorry. I mean, last Thursday seems a long time ago is just so long. But he became an actor and a playwright and toured with his Merry band of men. Basically, he was an Elizabeth and rock star. Yes. I mean, have you seen Shakespeare in love? Yes, I have a wonderful movie. Queen Elizabeth was a top broad, but she had a soft spot for good storytelling, so she loved it. We loved it good. And, uh, we're doing real shortened, abbreviated, agreed upon facts because we have a lot to get into. He's a rock star. He's writing stuff. He's performing stuff. Cut. 216, 16. He dies depending on who you believe, which records you believe. Either three days short of his 53rd birthday or on his 53rd birthday. I had an English teacher in high school who was like, he died on his birthday. I was like, all right, but rip. Yeah. And most of his works, his plays, his sons, et cetera were collected into the first Folio, which was published in 1623. So seven years after his death. Yeah. Conspiracy. Several articles. Which sources will be listed in the show notes, but several articles posit that it was just casual and normal for authorship to be either questioned or unknown. Um, in Elizabethan times, um, which I just found really funny. Imagine if that were true. Nowadays, I'm really enjoying this new, happy, sad novel about teenagers having formative experiences. Might be John if the House is Green, but who knows? It's casual. So famous contrarians. So people who really don't think Shakespeare was Shakespeare, okay, include Sigmund Freud. I think I knew that one. Charlie Chaplin, Malcolm X, Mark Twain. Okay. Orson Welles Walt Whitman, as well as SCOTUS, justices. So, Supreme Court Justices O'Connor, Scalia and Stevens. Okay. And they actually in I believe it was the mid 90s, had sort of a mock trial. They put Shakespeare on trial for SCOTUS, and they said that Shakespeare was Shakespeare, but some of them didn't believe this. And then I'm going to read you a quote from The Atlantic. So their doubt so contrarians is rooted in an empirical conundrum. Shakespeare's life is remarkably well documented by the standards of the period. Yet no records from his lifetime identify him unequivocally as a writer. The more than 70 documents that exist show him as an actor, a shareholder in a theater company, a, um, money lender, and a property investor. But none of them say, I, Bill Smith, pay one William Shakespeare of Stratford upon Avon for his poems or anything like that. So interesting. But also with the deposit that, uh, record keeping wasn't as big of a deal back then. Okay, so weigh those two as you will. So, Wikipedia, our beloved mother source. Yes. Lists 87 possible contenders for the quote. Unquote real Shakespeare. Jeez, don't worry, we're not getting it. All of them. Just the big ones. But also I have a few honorable mentions that I think are either interesting or weird or just funny. I know we're going to go through those real quick up first, under the qualification of funny William Butts, a patron of literature proposed by Walter Conrad Orangeburg in, um, scroll too far in my notes. Okay. Miguel, uh, disavantes. I can't say things Spanish. Uh, novelist Don Quixote. He was a poet as well, and a playwright. And this was proposed by Carlos Fuentes in 1976. Also died in 1616. So, the same year as Shakespeare. Um, another notable contender, Daniel, uh, Defoe, who was a novelist. Yes. He wrote Robinson Crusoe. And this was proposed by George McGruder Beatty. No year given. Um, but here's the problem. Daniel Default wasn't born until 1660, uh, so many decades after Shakespeare died. Yeah. All right. And then we have Sir Francis Drake, a naval commander. Adventurer. Which also. What a job title, right? Just put that in my resume. Line. Adventurer, adventurer. My lower third. Uh, proposed in WM. And, um, WM huntingham. Also proposes that Sir Francis Drake was a member of the Freemasons. Everyone, Mark your card. Your bingo card. Um, Sir Thomas Moore is also a proposed candidate who is also a Freemason. Yes. Another contender. Queen Elizabeth I herself. Yes, Queen. It was proposed anonymously in 1857, and it was reproposed by several people in 1913 and 1956, respectively. Okay. I personally kind of love the idea of Queen Elizabeth being a boss Queen and just writing all this stuff herself and then finding some poor himbo actor to be her beard. Like her literary. I really love that. You know what I mean? Yeah. Like, she was the boss. She refused to get married. She didn't want to have kids like God's feed. But I don't know if the evidence is really there, but similarly, James the Sixfirst, King of Scotland and England, was proposed by Malcolm X as the real Shakespeare, in which is 65 choice, which is a sentence I never thought I would say. Right. Lots of connected things. That's the end of the notable. Interesting list of contenders. But additional theories and candidates had been presented as early as 1856 and as recently as, uh, 2019. Okay. And actually, even before Shakespeare's death, there were people who were questioning the legitimacy of his authorship. Uh, yeah, shade was being thrown. Um, in 1592, dramatist, Robert Green on his deathbed warns fellow playwrights about, quote, an upstart, uh, Crow beautified with our feathers. So Crows in folklore and other, like, Legends of the time were portrayed as plagiarists, as stealing fancy feathers from other birds and making themselves pretty because they're thieves. So just interesting. And there was a TV show a, uh, while ago. I don't know if it's still going on, but it was called Upstart Crow, and it was about Shakespeare, but it was like a comedy show. Uh, it was supposedly very good. My parents watched it, and my mother told me about it, but they genuinely don't like, you know, them. The way that they watch television is like, it's got on in the background. Sometimes they're actually paying attention to it. They, uh, said it was funny, so I believe them. All right, well, right in if you actually watched it. I think Stephanie watched it, too, but, yeah, tell us, friends of the show. All right, so here's a quote from the Washington Post for you. Behind every one of these claims is the assumption that only an aristocrat could have composed the immortal words of Hamlet or written with such precision about Italy, or divulge the thoughts of Kings and Queens. Here's my first thought on that. Eat the rich. That's some classic BS. It also doesn't make you can put words in the mouth of anybody, and you can pretend that you know what those words might be. I could pretend to talk like the Queen, and I might get away with it. Um, plug for my favorite show of all time, The West Wing. Aaron Sorkin has never been President of the United States, but his President is very emotional and informed and well rounded. Writing like it is a human. Um, some people claim that the reason that Shakespeare is able to speak to these high level ways of living with such accuracy is actually because, uh, of events in his past, uh, lives. Mark, your bingo card for ghosts or spirits. Didn't think we were going to do that. I did not know we were going here. There's more that you don't know that we're getting to, so I'm excited. Here we go. Um, some pro Shakespeare, uh, scholars proposed that perhaps Shakespeare joined the military and or became a tutor. And that is how he got to travel through the world and gain experiences that would help him to why you would know what Verona looked like. Exactly. Yes. But my one concession to the contrarians is that why would such a prolific writer not have composed poetry or letters or any record of that period of his life? That's fair. You know what I mean? Maybe he sent them to his wife and she ended up burning them for fuel. I don't know. Uh, maybe if I could time travel on a tangent, if I could time travel, I would go back. And if I had an assurance that in doing this, I wouldn't ruin the world, but I would just stop. Every historical figure who their wife or their brother burned all their letters, I'd be like, Stop. Don't do it. I just want to know. Slap and Hathaway. I know your wife. Not the accuracy. All. Um. Right, so here's another quote, this one's from a site called Inside Hook. And as I mentioned previously on this show, my Liberal arts College honor code has just put the fear of plagiarism deep in my heart. So they said it so well that I can't just plagiarism quote. The reality is that most of the evidence given by antistrate frodians contrarians is easier for me to say, but that's how they said it's, either cherrypicked or incorrect. For example, much is made of the fact that Shakespeare never left England, yet his plays featured the geography of Europe, hint maps existed. Last mentioned is the fact that Shakespeare made basic geographical errors, such as claiming Bohemia, modern Czech Republic, had a coastline. It may be hard to imagine a commoner wrote such brilliant plays, but it's harder to imagine how this conspiracy would have actually worked in practice. The real Shakespeare was undisputedly a famous actor who was involved in the small and gossipy London theater world. He knew and worked with other famous playwrights and actors. He was involved in the productions, he collaborated with other writers. If he was a fraud, especially an illiterate and uneducated one, wouldn't everyone have known it? Which I feel like this sums it up so well before we're even getting into the major vendors in that there are some people who claim Shakespeare didn't even exist, which I'm like that's a bit better. Maybe, uh, if you feel he didn't right everything that he claimed to, but people were talking about him on their deathbeds, and that's recorded fact. And if we have records of his birthplace, marriage, and all that, we know that he is a person existed in some capacity. Yes, and there are many contemporary, um, records from that time, whether it's writings or letters between folks allusions to Shakespeare and his social climbing ways, like his family did eventually earn um, or was gifted a coat of arms, which is very significant socially during that time. So the level of conspiracy that would have to exist for Shakespeare to not truly exist is mind boggling because the Crown would be involved. There would be too many things going on in the 1600. Yes, like late 1500s. That would need a lot of people to be really on top of their game. Yes, truly. So I agree. I don't think that could possibly. I believe, at the minimum, we should all agree that there was a human man who lived at one time who went by the name of William Shakespeare. Greek. We should not question that. I'm going to agree with that. All right, so, main contender number one, we have Sir Francis Bacon. Mr. Bacon, not to be confused with Kevin. Um, I'm going to start you off with a short quote from the Francis Bacon Society website. The authorship question may or may not be settled by reasoning about facts, but this is not the important point for Baconians. So even the people who feel that he might have been the real Shakespeare aren't willing to debate about the facts, like, they don't care that much. That's so weird. Which made me kind of hesitant to even really go into it that much. But here we go. So he described himself in letters to his contemporaries as a concealed poet. Okay. Because during that time, poetry was seen as very frivolous, and plays were especially seen as lower class because the locations where they were taking place were just dirty. There were scandalous things happening. Gambling, prostitution, all sorts of lowly things. So fancy people with sur and their name, their title should not have bothered with those things. No consortium with the pins. Yes. In 1615. So Shakespeare is still alive. Um, there's a publication which mentions Sir Francis Bacon in the company of, uh, several poets, including Willie Shakespeare Spear. Did they call him Willie? W-I-L-L-I. Yeah, they call him Willie. Willie. So it shows they were both still alive. And this is important proof, because it does indicate that Sir Francis Bacon was on the same artistic level as Shakespeare and these other well known, established writers and poets. Fascinating. Okay, then we just got into some really weird stuff that I, in the depths of the night when I was researching, just would not buy into. One of the pieces of evidence that's presented by Baconians is that there's an engraving that shows one figure dressed like a scholar, assumed to be Bacon being raised out of a well, like, rescued out of a well, and another dressed like an actor, meant to be Shakespeare, uh, to be falling off of a high rock. Where is this? No clue. My note underneath that description is. I don't know. It all feels very DA Vinci Code to me. Yeah, but then it gets more. It gets more national treasureish. Separately, there's a cipher. Okay. Whose origins there were so many paragraphs, my professors would be disappointed. I did not fully execute the research. But when you take this cipher to Shakespeare's burial monument, in Stratford, and you arrange the letters that are listed on that monument. Supposedly, the message that is disclosed is Francis Bacon author. That's it, yes. But then when you go to the Westminster Abbey version, it enciphers Francis Bacon using very odd spelling mistakes and certain things grammatically that are just very weird and wrong, like putting the letter N in a word that does not have the letter N whatsoever. So that was a little suspicious to me. Okay. However, um, I feel that this is a Jesus in your toast situation. Like, if you are looking for something, you will find a way to make it work. My parents have a, uh, bread stamp with the Virgin Mary on it. A Bell. It's a miracle. Yeah. I don't remember why they have it, but it's in the drawer with all of the measuring cups and stuff. And so if you do anything, like Bake anything in their house, you open it, and it's just the Virgin Mary looking up at you, and you're like, oh, Hi. It's true. God does want me to eat carbs. So that's kind of the case for Sir Francis Bacon. Okay, there are some more pieces of quote unquote evidence. They're available on the Francis Bacon Society website. If anyone is curious, I, uh, personally was not especially convinced. It all felt very national treasure to me. Very cherry picked. Like that earlier quote was saying, this little piece is going to hook to this little piece, and then we all figure it out. Says it kind of, yes. Okay, so the next candidate we have is Edward De Vir, the Earl of Oxford. And as I mentioned before, same thing applies to him. Even more so because he's an Earl. Poetry is frivolous. Plays are dirty. Not about it. Dirty. Um, plays the first piece of evidence that they present. Um, scholars present. This one is more piece together research. It's not specifically from a society or a publication. Is the poem Venus and Adonis shout out to Tony Lily, because I studied this in his gender studies class in College. So this is the first poem that is published under the name Shakespeare. Okay. And in this poem, Adonis is described as wearing a bonnet. And what's interesting about that is that there is only one painting in the historical record that depicts Adonis wearing such a garment. Because this is a well known piece of mythology. It's depicted in lots of classical art. But the only painting that Adonis is wearing a bonnet sort of head covering is displayed in Venice, where dear old Eddie, Earl of Oxford had studied abroad. So people indicate, oh, he got to see that painting. And that influenced his description of this Greek. Greek. Probably Greek hero. Interesting. Yeah. Bonnet meaning what? Like head covering. Okay, so not urban, but no, like what you're thinking of. Probably not. Like in a Paisley print, like A Little House on the Prairie. But we'll look it up. We'll try and include it in, uh, the Instagram for this post. The next piece that they offer is that Avid's Metamorphosis, which, um, is recognized as one of Shakespeare's very influential sources, second only to the Bible. Because the Bible is inspo for a lot of people. It's translated into English by Arthur Golding, who is the Earl of Oxford's uncle. They were living in the same household when this piece, when Metamorphosis was translated into English. That's another thing. They indicate that he kind of would have had first dibs to this translation, to this knowledge. The next thing that I found notable is that the character of Polonius in Hamlet. So the full of hot air never shuts up. Advisor to the King father, um, of Ophelia. Yes, correct. And, um, of, uh, Larities is inspired by the real life person of William, uh, Cecil, Lord Bergley. Pardon me, everyone. So this William Cecil. Cecil, I really want to say, but I'll let you say whatever you think. I would have looked it up. But you have other things to look up. You can just shout at your, uh, car. I almost said your ipod. No one has an ipod anymore. You can shout at your listing device if I'm incorrect. Right in with the correction. But. So, um, William Cecil was Oxford's Guardian first, and then his fatherinlaw. So Polonius. Yes. Okay. It was tense. Um, like, at least you've never had to stab your inlaws through an errass. Am I right? I mean, just kidding. We love Adam's family. They're great. Adam Stanley. Right. So that's my husband, by the way. He's a pilot. Yes, he's great. So that's an interesting little comparison. And then the real life William Cecil actually had, like, a, um, list of advice for his household that was not released to the public until after Hamlet was produced. List of advice. Yeah. Like ways to comport yourself. So that to have a peaceful household. So you look good to the world. Which is what Polonius says. Like when Lairthis is going to France, he lists this whole long to himself be true. He has that whole monologue. Yeah. Other, uh, things related. Hamlet. The character was captured by Pirates, as was Oxford in real life. He's looking more and more promising. And then we have another quote. In the first 17 sonnets, the poet encourages the fair youth to marry and procreate. It would have been entirely presumptuous for William Shakespeare, a commoner to write sonnets offering marital advice to a young nobleman. The sonnets make much more sense if they are seen as coming from an older nobleman to a younger one, whom the older nobleman hopes will become his soninlaw. So basically, Oxford, Earl of Oxford, our main candidate, he had children, he had a daughter. He was trying to encourage the fair youth to marry into the family. So that's what they found out, that the first 17 sonnets are encouraging this person to join his family. Interesting way to get your son in law to listen to you. Look, I don't know, dad. Feel like writing anything? I mean, I'm already married, but I'm sure Adam would really appreciate. Well, no, I think it was more of a political thing because William Sessel was this Mary, like the grandfather in law of these pair youth? Never mind, dad. I mean, if you want to write something, Doctor K, you do it. All right. Um, the problem with the Earl of Oxford theory is that he died in before Macbeth, King Lear, Cory Lanas, The Winter Sale and The Tempest were written and or staged. Yes. And people don't really have any explanation for that. I didn't see any sort of reasoning around it other than maybe he was so prolific that he wrote them all and they just hadn't been produced yet. And the Earl um of Oxford is the theory that the 2011 film Anonymous is based on. If anyone was curious, it's not on Netflix. I was really looking forward to looking at it, not as my research, but as a supplement, too. But someday I'll watch it and it'll be we'll add it to our, um, long list as well. A resource list. All right. And then we have another, I think, more interesting candidate, Christopher Marlowe. Yay. I know this one. Yes. So he actually only wrote four plays, but that is not a detriment to his ability. People point to the fact that literally all four of his plays, which are The Jew of Malta, Dr. Faustus, Edward II and Timberlain the Great, all of four of those are still performed to this day. So four for four. Yeah, he did pretty well in his time over 400 years later, and very few pre Shakespearean, Elizabethan or English plays in general were revived, if they even survived. So it's very significant for him. We're not really going to talk about his early life because it doesn't really matter. 1584, he gets a Bachelor of Arts from Cambridge, but it almost didn't happen because some important people thought that he was secretly a Roman Catholic. Dunstan DA. How dare you? But the Privy Council steps in because he's a spy. Wait, what? Bingo. Whoa. Yeah, you didn't see that one coming. Not at all. So, um, apparently, throughout his College career, there were his University career. Excuse me? His time at Uni. Um, there were long absences from the University and accounts that he spent a lot on food and drink at a time when he logistically did not have the income to support it, which my slight take issue with that is it's called depression and poor decision making, my dudes, have you never been to College? Just saying. But, um, he does have to have cash on him at this point. True. Or rack up a tab that he's not intending to pay. Correct. Um, also going along with his absences from Uni, he's caught with counterfeit coins in the Netherlands in 1592. But when he sent back to England for punishment, he doesn't. Nothing happens. So they're just like, yeah, people think maybe he was on a mission as a spy. And I, um, disliked this. That his reputation as a drinker, a brawler, and a lady's man makes him an Elizabethan James Bonding. But make it a liar. Is that what it's called? That like little harp. Yeah. Mandolin. Let's say that you get it. Mandolin, but with a mandolin. All right. The year is 1593. Okay. It's may. Mr. Shakes is still alive. Yes. Okay, correct. It's may. Maybe it's starting to get a little warm, but the streets, uh, probably don't smell good. England, maybe not. So Marlowe's former roommate, Thomas Kidd, gets caught with some papers that basically just say bad stuff about Jesus, the Church maybe imply that doesn't exist, that, uh, isn't real. That's not good. Not cool. So he scapegoats rats out Marlow. It's a little contentious as to whether or not he actually wrote them or if Marlowe did. But either way, he blames Christopher Marlowe. And Marlowe is called before the privy Council to face these super serious charges, aka they're punishable by death. Ooh, Dang. Yeah, but, uh, before he can face the metaphorical music, mirror, mirror. Supposedly he's killed in a bar brawl. Supposedly about the billing of a play. So, like, whose name got to be at the top and bigger and stuff. So at this point, he's written all four of his plays. Yes. Wallet University. Or, like, before University. Do we know? I, uh, believe it might have been after. Okay. I don't have the years on those. And he was also, like, an actor as well. Yeah, he's in the zone, so people were like, oh, yeah, you know him. He's a drinker. He's a brawler. He's this performer. He's pissed that he didn't get to be top billing. He gets killed in a bar fight. Okay, everyone poor went out for the homie. Apparently, uh, he's buried in an unmarked grave. Why? They don't say. I just think it's suspicious. That's very suspicious. Don't be suspicious. Don't be suspicious. Some people, though, think it's deeper than a fight about a billing. Well, it feels like it has to be. Especially if he ends up, uh, getting buried in an unmarked plot. That feels weird. I mean, maybe because he was under suspicion for these anti, these alias beliefs. They didn't want to. They didn't want to give him a Christian. But it says on March, uh, grave, not that he was buried outside on a Holy ground. You know what I mean? Some claim that this killing was a political assassination due to his secret agent status. Others claim that he faced his own death, not again, to avoid the death penalty for atheism that they claim that he fled to Italy and continued to smuggle plays back across the Channel for years to come. Um, as Shakespeare. That's interesting, right? But Shakespeare and Marlowe knew each other. So that either adds to, um, the theory, I think, or it can. Well, it might add to the theory in that Shakespeare, uh, was the one smuggling them back into England. Perhaps. But Shakespeare never left England. No, but he might have been the one who put it on or produced it, perhaps. I don't know. And then my last main contender, which I find the most fascinating. And it's also a testament to how a well constructed article can really just win the day, which, um, I will actually scroll down and give you the specific one for this case. Again, all sources will be listed in the show notes. They always are. But most of my evidence is drawn from the following article in, um, The Atlantic, which is was Shakespeare A Woman by Elizabeth Winkler? And this was from 2019, I believe. So, basically, all of the following information is from that article in The Atlantic, just to fully disclose that for me. So her argument is that Amelia Basano, the daughter of Venetian, uh, immigrants and a highly praised writer of religious themed text. Of course, because patriarchy, she couldn't have really been allowed to write anything else publicly. She argues that the Sano is the true Shakespeare. And the reason that she argues that Shakespeare is a woman in general, a few of these points are in general is that how could a man write such nuanced and liberated female characters such as Beatrice from Much Ado, Kate from Taming of the Shrew, Roslyn from as You Like It. The list goes on and on. So, like, how could an Elizabethan man be so open minded as to, uh, think up these powerful female characters as main characters, too? Yes, as heroines. Similarly, um, how could a man conceive of such intimate and meaningful friendships between women? You see it across many of his plays. You have Beatrice and Hero in Much Ado, Juliet and her Nurse in Romeo and Juliet, Amelia and Desdemona and a Fellow. The list, again goes on and on, which I think is interesting, that female friendship, I think, still to this day, is still overlooked and in some cases, looked down upon or is seen as very frivolous. I mean, you, um, have the Bactell test, which, for a show or a movie to pass the Bactel test, they have to have two named female characters who exchange, I believe it's like three to five sentences of dialogue together that are not about a man. And you would be shocked at the number of shows and movies that do not pass the Bechtel test. So that's, uh, interesting, again, kind of in opposition to this, Shakespeare's will left no consideration for the education of his daughters, contrary to the powerful characters he supposedly wrote. So this is in opposition to the argument that Shakespeare was a woman. Or, like, I guess, in their argument, Shakespeare, the man didn't write the plays because he didn't leave any educational considerations for his daughters versus the artistic mind of Shakespeare was a woman, but obviously that woman wouldn't have control over the man. Shakespeare's will. My argument, though, is that not all authors practice what they preach. Jk. Rowling wrote of a magical world where everyone is accepted as exactly as they are. But she turned out to be a terrible turf. So, anyway, I'm going to quote directly from the Atlantic article now, but just think of how obsessed the work Shakespeare's work is with mistaken identities, concealed women forged and anonymous documents with the error of trusting and outward appearances, which I truly had not considered before me either. But there is a lot of cross dressing, a lot of mistaken identity. Whether it's twins, whether it's women pretending to be men. It's just very interesting. I think I like it narratively. It's very intriguing. Right. I think it's part of the reason we all love Shakespeare and love, you know, Gwenneth Paltrow's characters pretending to be a boy. So then she can perform in a show and yet somehow, uh, keeps all her long hair underneath that one cap, you know, movie magic. That's what I have to say. But back to the evidence for Amelia Visano. Variations on both her first and last names are found throughout Shakespeare's works. There are several, um, Amelia's throughout his plays. Um, variations on her last name of Bisano show up in, like, I believe it's The Merchant of Venice. I didn't write it down, but, um, just interesting pro Shakespeare scholars would point to the fact of, well, they would know each other. She was a patron of the arts. She was involved. She was around as much as she could be as a woman. So we don't look at every movie or every book and be like, oh, my gosh, you know, someone named Amy. So then this means that they're the one in the. Yeah. And also, like, what names are popular and what names people are liking because they would pay attention very close, probably to what's happening within the arts world and figure out who can I honor in this moment? Who can I write into this play that I'm writing? So Shakespeare's troop did not perform in court at court until 1594, but several of his history plays had been written before then, and they seemed to show an insider knowledge of the ins and outs of court. So that's an argument that they make, that Shakespeare the man, could not have written these because he's just a commoner. He doesn't know anything about the politics and Basano. However, through her lover, which I don't really love, is a term. She was basically his teenage mistress. Like, she was like, 1718. He was, like, in his 40s. But through him, she had an in at court and was apparently well loved by the Queen until she was thrown out of court in 1592 due to an illegitimate pregnancy. She gets married off, though, like, that's her fault. Good Lord. Yeah. Anyway, sorry. The patriarchy. There's a sound bite. You're welcome. She does get married off, so she's, like, societally. She's okay, even though she's not in court anymore. But the argument is that she attended court during the time that several of the histories were written. Another piece, um, of evidence that they point to is that her family were suspected to be Jews posing as converted Christians. Once they immigrated into England, they were posing as Christians, obviously, because contrary views, as we talked about with Marlowe, not really appreciated. Especially under Elizabeth. Yes. So the reason that's important is that A Midsummer Night's Dream draws from a passage in the Talmud about marriage vows that's in the text, and then in, uh, all's well that ends well, spoken Hebrew is mixed in with the nonsense language that's included. If Shakespeare, the common boy from Straffford upon Avon who is Christian, why would he know? That is their argument. Um, in Basano's book of poetry, she writes about men who wrongly take credit for knowledge. And I'm going to read you a quote. Yet men will boast of knowledge, which he took from Eve's Fair hand as from a learned book, which I'm like. I feel like I need to snap the shade or, like, flash your fan. It's from a learned book. Um, okay. And then that's kind of the conclusion of those main contenders. Okay. Some, um, historians propose variations on a group theory, but I won't be going into depth about that. That's what we learned just due to time. But one concession that I will give is that theater is incredibly collaborative, so we will never know until time travel is invented. If there were instances in rehearsals where Richard Burbage or Will Kemp or another actor adlibbed a line that made the final cut, do I think that the majority of the piece could be written like that? I really hope not, because that sounds like the group project from hell. Any playwrighting, MFA students, please write in and let us know. So, um, the truth. Shakespeare was probably William Shakespeare, because Math EW that you didn't see that coming. Also, I feel like a clickbaity, like BuzzFeed headline. Shakespeare is Shakespeare cuz math. All right, which I found this really interesting. So in the late 1800s, a Polish philosopher and I wrote out the phonetics. But please forgive me if this is wrong. A Polish philosopher named Vincenti Lutzwatsky created Stylometry, which is where you take characters, not characters. Characteristics of an author's, uh, body of work, such as sentence length, sentence structure, vocabulary, both the breadth of vocab and the frequency of certain words. And you essentially place them on graphs. I'm going to show this picture to Emma. We'll include it on the Instagram. But so you take, for instance, the usage of the word the compared to other vocabulary terms, and you plot points based on each of the plays or of the works. And then you use something called principle component analysis, which is a cluster tool to measure the variance between the works. So you, um, group, and you see the majority of his works use the 64 times, but they use the word glorious 20 times, and it kind of creates a cluster where the majority of his work lies. Lies. So it's kind of this snapshot through statistics of what, uh, his work looks like. That's fascinating, but also terrifying. But then what's nice is that once you have that structure of what the Shakespeare format is, you can plug other playwrights or poets in. So you can see, if we were to take all of the Earl of Oxford's writings and plug them in, we could see if they really lined up or if he is all the way up here in a different field. But it's helpful for this. While it shows that Shakespeare is Shakespeare, no one else really slots into his same framework. It can show us when collaborations will happen. So, for example, through this, we can tell that Shakespeare and our old friend Christopher Marlowe collabs like old school YouTubers on Henry VI, parts one and two. Okay, so we're able to tell really cool. Yeah. So that you didn't think we were going to talk about math today. I didn't. Nope. As a wrap up, I would love to hear. I know you kind of mentioned it earlier, but from a grad school and English grad school perspective, or undergrad, did you guys talk about it? Was it just scoffed upon to even consider it? What? Was there any discussion about it? So in grad school specifically, I'll say because that's where I tended to learn the most about Shakespeare, because I remember in high school and early, like, undergrad, I had maybe one Shakespeare class, and it never was really delved into in that sense. But, um, once I got to grad school, specifically, when I was doing the class that was on early modern books, we talked about the first Folio. So there's a lot of very interesting stuff about the first Folio, and I'm doing this from memory. So if I get some of this wrong, let me know. And actually, um, Stephanie, you might know all of this more than I do, but this is what I remember from it, because they had a facsimile, uh, that they brought to special collections for us to see of the first Folio, which was beautiful, fascinating. But the professor who was teaching us, she used to be the head of the Shakespeare. I forget what it's called. Basically, the, uh, convention that they always have with all of the new theories, all the new paper black buyers. I don't know if it is. I think I still have a T shirt that says it on it. Don't remember. Anyway, she was, like, the President of it for a really long time, so she's a true Shakespearean scholar. And so, um, when we were looking through it. She was telling us that there was a very widespread theory within her group of cohorts. So the First Folio was printed after Shakespeare died. The, um, collaboration, like the collection of it. Of all of these, uh, plays, there are some missing that we now have as Canon as Shakespeare's plays. But there were some missing, uh, from the First Folio that ended up in the Cordo and all that. But the majority of those she had been researching and reading into that they were not necessarily all from his specific writing of pieces, uh, of paper that had his name signed on it. With all of the play on that piece of paper. There was a lot of it too, that was actually taken from the play being done in front of someone or the actors writing down their own lines in order, um, to write down the play for the Folio. So the idea that there was a lot of like, potential adlib that there was a lot of their own flair to certain words, certain phrases to, um, make their characters specific is very possible. But I find this plot point thing fascinating. I want to know if they've done anything like. If they've been able to put anything together like Amelia's writings and figure that out. Because I feel like there's a lot of factual stuff that we know about other people that seem to lean more towards certain aspects of the actual, uh, content of the place. Even if the phrasings in the words and the, uh, structure of the sentences are particularly Shakespearean. So I find that fascinating. I've also heard, um, the Amelia one before of, uh, the fact that there's no way that he could possibly be writing such a strong female character with a strong female friend within the play. And I've read a couple, um, of papers about that. But the majority of the scholars that I've read that dip their toes in that also lean back into, well, what about, uh, in the histories? What about in this and all of the like? Even in Hamlet, having Ophelia, is it Ophelia? It's Ophelia having Ophelia be almost like she's a femme fatale, but not in the gossip. I don't know what's the best way to describe her is, but there's a little bit of that too, where it's very specific which ones women are chosen to be key points in. And even with the cross dressing, it is meant to attract or be secret from men, but allow them to kind of know in much Ado about nothing, all of the trickery and hiding behind clothing. And he couldn't possibly know that I am me, even though I'm just wearing pants. Right. I would be interested. I didn't go into it for this, but I'd be interested to see which of the plays were like when they went to court, which were already in existence and which were plays that were written once they started going to court, because in my mind, it makes sense to present to the Queen the first Queen like a play with a strong, powerful woman, because that would, um, be acceptable and seen as complimentary. But, yeah, I don't know. I feel like we talked a little bit earlier about it. I think the people who claim that Shakespeare as a person didn't exist, the level is like, there would be a fake baptism, a faked wedding, death paperwork, a literal grave. You have to remember how expensive paper is at this point, too. You don't just write things down on a scrap of paper and hope someone sees it. Like, there are log books that churches keep, and there are, like, bank books and all of that. But it's not as if you, as an individual can buy a piece of parchment and use it for your scrap notes. That's not how it works. Also, the literacy level is very different at this time, too. So there's a little bit of that as well. Yes. So if any of this were to be real, which I feel like the math, the stylometry kind of eliminates that. But I will give the contrarians this small concession that because playwrighting and poetry was looked down upon. We don't have plays by the Earl of Oxford or by Sir Francis Bacon or Amelia Basano because they weren't allowed to. So it's not that we. You know what I mean? Yeah. Christopher Marlowe was a published playwright. Yeah. We can take the works that have his name and put it into that framework and compare and see. Oh, you did not write most of the things of Shakespeare, but you probably collaborated on these two plays. So I can see them being like, well, your math is Invalid because we can't compare. So I, um, feel like, if anything, the idea that Willis shakes with somebody's artistic beard while being a living, breathing, real life actor is more likely than him not existing at all. And then my last point, which I think is a little more philosophical, is just why are people eager to believe that it's a conspiracy? I have my feeling about it, but I wonder if you have any thoughts. I think people just really like, or I guess, dislike the idea that one person could possibly produce something as prolific as Shakespeare's works, sonnets plays, everything. So I think in their mind, they're like one person. It's like the ancient alien dudes being, like, one country couldn't possibly have known how to make a pyramid slavery existence. Also, you're racist. So I genuinely think that's everyone's inclination initially because it's easier to believe that a secret Noble was able to do this with all the benefits that they had from their status than a commoner with an 8th grade education. Because if he could do that in those times, with those resources, what are you doing with your one single life? You know what I mean? Like, you are just inadequate. We're making a podcast. We are. I'm not saying we're an adequate, but there's that feeling for I'm sure there's, there are people who and I feel we both fall into this that bask in the, uh, existence, uh, of genius. And then there are people who are so unwilling to confront their own lack of immortality in the way that Shakespeare died in 1616. And we're still talking about him today. Joe Schmo from down the street is probably not going to achieve that level. You know, Joe. Mr. Schmoe. Mr. Schmo, I feel like. Yeah, it's easier to eliminate the magnitude of his success and his achievement because, you know, you will never compare. And his proliferation, like the fact that we still do his plays, that we do adaptations, that we are still talking about him at all in terms of phrase that we use every day. You probably cheese. You don't even realize that our Shakespearean. Yeah. I just remember all my English teachers had that poster. It's like things you say thanks to Shakespeare wild goose chase. There was something, um, else that is very funny. Let me see. Because it might be Google. Sorry, come out. But I think so. I don't remember ASMR montage. Let's see. Let's check this article from BBC America. All right, we've got the game is afoot as. Good luck would have it. Bated breath. Brave new world. Break the ice. Brevity is the soul of which is this all alphabetical? Yes. How many are there? Dead is a door. Now it doesn't have this one's. 45. Fancy free. For goodness sake. For goodness sake. Yeah. So we go. For goodness sake. Thanks, Shakespeare. You're welcome. The holidays are coming. That's Shakespeare from the grave. You're welcome. Uh, I just appreciate him. And also, please know, when I was doing this research, I just kept picturing Christian Borol as Shakespeare from something dratten. It's, um, hard to be the buzz. Go Google it. Watch it on YouTube if you are interested. One of my friends is in the ensemble from the tour. Yeah. So just a quick little roundup of sources. The Washington Post, inside Hook, The Atlantic, The Guardian, The Irish Times, Ted Ed, uh, on YouTube, like Ted Talks, but the education branch, the Francis Bacon Society and the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship. Complete sources in the show notes. Thanks. The computer is closed. That's very well. Dine then. Thank you. I loved it. Yeah. Awesome. I mean, I feel that I started with an opinion and I'm ending with the same opinion, but I would love to see a movie with the woman element, which I feel like they kind of tried to give us the Shakespeare in love and that she was feeding him a lot of lines in their romantic relationship that he ended up putting in the play. But I would love to see an anonymous but with it being Amelia Basano or Queen Elizabeth. Queen Elizabeth. Yeah. I think it would be intriguing that's assuming Queen Elizabeth was a woman. What? Huh? There are so many things so many things in this world that we don't know. But if you would like to see any of the photographs and especially that little plot point graph that you showed me, if you'd like to see any of that, you can go and find them on our Instagram at this podcast doesn't exist without the apostrophe. And if you'd like to let us know what your conspiracy about Shakespeare is if we're wrong, Stephanie, go ahead and tell us how we're wrong. Yes, please send us an email or a voice memo. We could always play it on the show. But if you're not Stephanie, um, and you'd like to send us an email yes, we also accept messages from people other than our friend Stephanie Shakespeare's scholar you can, uh, reach us at this podcast doesn't firstname.lastname@example.org and that's all we have for today. I think that's good. Well and just remember this podcast doesn't exist.
-Inside the Weird World of Shakespeare Conspiracy Theories
-Was Shakespeare a Woman?
-"Who really wrote Shakespeare?" by Robert McCrum (who looks like the most dour middle-aged Englishman you can think of)
-Did Shakespeare write his plays?
-Francis Bacon Society
-Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, Was Shakespeare