Oxfordian Theory of Shakespeare Authorship

Oxfordian Theory Of Shakespeare Authorship

The Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare authorship proposes that Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (1550–1604), wrote the plays and poems traditionally attributed to William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon. Though nearly all scholars reject any alternative authorship candidates, including Oxford, popular interest in various authorship theories persists. Since the 1920s, Oxford has been the most popular candidate among "anti-Stratfordians", a collective term for adherents of the various alternative-authorship theories.

The convergence of documentary evidence of the type used by academics for authorial attribution—title pages, testimony by other contemporary poets and historians, and official records—sufficiently establishes Shakespeare's authorship for the overwhelming majority of Shakespeare scholars and literary historians, and no evidence links Oxford to Shakespeare's works. However, Oxfordians (as adherents of the theory are usually called) reject the historical record, often proposing the conspiracy theory that the record was falsified to protect the identity of the real author, and invoking the dearth of evidence for any conspiracy as evidence of its success. Some Oxfordians believe that Shakespeare acted as a "front man", receiving the plays from Oxford and pretending to have written them, but others claim that he was simply a merchant from Stratford who had nothing to do with the theatre.

The Oxfordian case is based on purported similarities between Oxford's biography and events in Shakespeare's narrative works; parallels of language, idiom, and thought between Oxford's letters and the Shakespearean canon; and marked passages in Oxford's Bible that appear in some form in Shakespeare's plays. Oxfordians interpret the plays and poems as autobiographical and use them to construct a hypothetical author, a method most literary specialists consider unreliable as far as attributive value. Oxfordians deduce from the works that the author must have been an aristocrat of great formal learning, intimate with the Elizabethan court and widely travelled through the countries and cities mentioned in the plays. They say that this inferred profile of the author fits Oxford's biography better than the documented biography of William Shakespeare.

Though Oxford died in 1604 before approximately 12 of the plays were written according to the generally-accepted chronology, Oxfordians say that regular publication of new, "newly augmented", and "corrected" Shakespeare plays stopped with Oxford's death in 1604, and they interpret certain written references to Shakespeare between 1604 and 1616 to mean that the writer was dead. They date most of the plays earlier and say that the post-1604 plays, some of which show evidence of revision and collaboration, were completed by other playwrights for posthumous release.

Read more about Oxfordian Theory Of Shakespeare AuthorshipHistory of The Oxfordian Theory, Variant Oxfordian Theories, Biographical Evidence, Chronology of The Plays and Oxford's 1604 Death, Oxfordian Citation of Mainstream Scholars, Oxfordian Cryptology, Parallels With The Plays, Parallels With The Sonnets and Poems, References in Popular Culture

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