Who Wrote Shakespeare?
[I hesitated before reprinting this article, since I don’t want to start a discussion of the “authorship debate” on this blog. To be clear, between the number of Warwickshire colloquial expressions and landmarks mentioned in the plays, combined with - given the need to manage entrances and exits of a limited group of players in Shakespeare’s sometimes complex plays, for a playwright thoroughly immersed in the theater (as opposed to a dabbling nobleman), combined with the fact that no one questioned that Shakespeare’s plays were written by William Shakespeare of Stratford for generations after his death – I think the question of “who wrote Shakespeare’s plays” is thoroughly settled. But an article published in Hopkinsville, Kentucky in 1880 with this many bad Shakespearean shout-outs is worth reprinting just for itself.]
From The South-Kentuckian (Hopkinsville, Kentucky), September 28, 1880
Hamlet overheard Julius Caesar tell King Lear on the twelfth Night after the Tempest that Anthony and Cleopatra had told Coriolanus that Two Gentlemen of Verona were the authors of Shakespeare’s plays. Lear said, “You may take it as you like it, but I don’t believe it, for I heard Romeo and Juliet say it was Love’s Labor Lost when Troilus and Cressida stole Comedy of Errors and sold it to the Merchant of Venice. Timon, of Athens, and Cymbeline were parties to the theft, and after drinking Measure for Measure with the Merry Wives of Windsor told King John all about it. Richard the Third (a competent critic) said “Bacon could not write even A Winter’s Tale, and Henry VI says, “That settles it, so why make so much ado about nothing.” Othello was busy dealing a game of cards to the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Henry’s and the only remarks made by them were an occasional “don’t pass,” “hold on,” and a few other forcible remarks of the same cursory nature; and as Richard the Second was absent Taming the Shrew, I could get no further evidence as to who wrote Shakespeare, but All’s Well That Ends Well, isn’t it?