by Richard Joyrich
As many of you know, the Authorship Question is about to enter another phase. In what I consider to be somewhat of a triumph of the growing collection of "Authorship Doubters" or "Antistratfordians" (or "AntiShakespeareans" as the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust would have it in an obvious attempt at ad hominem attack), the "academic establishment" has finally realized that ignoring the doubters will not make them go away.
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is trying again (somewhat pathetically in my opinion) to silence the doubters and show that there is "no doubt" that William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon is the author of over 37 plays and several narrative poems.
They failed miserably with James Shapiro's book and, despite their best efforts to sabotage the recent movie Anonymous, the word continues to get out.
The latest attempt is a new book called Shakespeare Beyond Doubt by Paul Edmonson and Stanley Wells, to be published by Cambridge University Press at the end of May.
There are sure to be many responses to this book by various "doubters" in the coming weeks and months, which will again show that the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust can only respond by evading the question and instead attacking the doubters. They can point to no real evidence to support their man.
Their favorite tactic (which you will see in their book when it comes out) is to automatically assume that anytime the name "Shakespeare" is used by someone in the Elizabethan or Jacobean era in writing about the plays or poems that they are referring to William Shakespeare of Stratford. Then they can say that "it is obvious that everyone at that time knew the author to be from Stratford". Of course, this is the whole point of the Authorship Question, whether in fact we are dealing with one or two men. To automatically equate them in the way the Birthplace Trust does is to end the argument by just assuming the conclusion.
The first response to Shakespeare Beyond Doubt that I have become aware of (even before the book has been published) is the one prepared by the Shakespeare Fellowship. It can be found by using this link: www.shakespearefellowship.org/doubt.htm.
The response is particularly to the chapter by Professor Alan Nelson in Shakespeare Beyond Doubt (excerpts of which have already been released).
I urge all of you to look at the Fellowship Response. It is very well reasoned and provides a great introduction to what we will be seeing in the near future.