This month sees the publication of Shakespeare Beyond Doubt (Cambridge University Press), edited by Professor Stanley Wells and Dr Paul Edmondson of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the second book published by an academic press to address the Shakespeare authorship question. The first was Diana Price’s Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Biography (Greenwood Press, 2001), recently re-published in an affordable paperback edition. Twelve years on, and following James Shapiro’s Contested Will, orthodox Shakespearean scholars have written an accessible academic text putting forward their side of the argument.
On April 26th at 6.30 BST, I’ll be discussing Shakespeare Beyond Doubt with Professor Wells and Dr Edmondson in a free global webcast organised by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. If you’d like to know what we have to say to each other, you can register by clicking here (you’ll be sent a link to the webcast). This is separate from my live event at Stratford Literary Festival earlier in the afternoon. In this event, at 4.30, Professor Wells and Dr Edmondson will be discussing my book, The Marlowe Papers, with reference to the lives and works of Marlowe and Shakespeare. Both events promise to be very interesting indeed.
3 thoughts on “Shakespeare Beyond Doubt?”
I am most interested in the Shakespeare authorship debate. I have spent four years researching the life of Mary Sidney and launched a novel in January on AMAZON.CO.UK/ KINDLE EDITION called the WILTON CIRCLE. I feel that Mary Sidney and her friends in the Wilton Circle should have some recognition. There is surely no doubt that their efforts were very important and must in some way, together with Francis Bacon who was determined to write historical plays, have been part of the work contributed to Shakespeare.
You may be interested to know that I am in the process of developing a set of diagnostic tools which can identify different hands in Shakespeare, using ‘data-mining’ techniques. The results thus far suggest a significant involvement of Mary Herbert in 3 Henry VI and Richard III, and that she has a hand in Hamlet and Henry V. There is also a strong likelihood of her significant involvement in later plays, like Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra and The Winter’s Tale, though my investigations on the later plays are limited so far. It is very possible that she has a hand in other plays, too.
Pauline may well be interested in your technique, since its results confirm her belief that Mary Sidney is involved. But I am yet to be convinced there is any way of ‘data-mining’ the texts that offers definitive results for identifying authorship. I am aware of arguments for various different techniques apparently “finding” the hand of this or that author in Shakespeare’s works. My background is in science and IT, and every claim of this nature that I have looked in to is fundamentally flawed in its methodology. Which is obvious, really, since they come up with different and conflicting conclusions from the same data. Tony, if you want to send me a link to anything you have published on this, do feel free, but only on the understanding I might publicly take it apart, as I am planning to do with some of the other studies of this kind.