A new film Anonymous is parading an old theory. The BBC reports:
Shakespeare’s name is being removed from signs in Warwickshire in a campaign against a new film which questions whether he wrote his plays.
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is taping over nine road signs for the day to coincide with the premiere of Anonymous at the London Film Festival.
It criticised the film as an attempt to “rewrite English culture and history”.
A memorial in William Shakespeare’s home town of Stratford-upon-Avon is being covered with a sheet. . . . .
The trust said it wanted to highlight the potential impact of the film’s “conspiracy theory” that William Shakespeare was the “barely literate frontman for the Earl of Oxford“.
Shapiro is clearly in no doubt about Shakespeare’s being the true author of his plays. Before swallowing the film’s thesis I suggest a careful read of his book (for my review see link). Despite this conviction, he manages to convey, in a thoroughly engaging fashion, a sympathetic view of why it seemed so plausible to some otherwise intelligent and well-informed people that he could not have written them.
His journey covers issues of identity, reality, scholarship and literature that are of concern to us all. It sheds much light on how any of us could come to entertain misguided ideas. That these ideas about Shakespeare do not directly entail patterns of action that threaten anybody’s life does not devalue this investigation of them. In fact, the Looney advocacy of Oxford’s authorship cannot be separated completely from his views about how society should be organised.
This is a very good read indeed for any one concerned about these things. It is not just for Shakespeare fans like me!