Rus Articles Journal

Who are you, Mr. Shakespeare?

William Shakespeare - not only the greatest of English-speaking poets, but also one of the most mysterious characters in the history. Already several honeycombs of years go disputes whether he was the true author of the works published under his name.

The first doubt in this question belongs to the gentleman by the name of John Uilmot living in the middle of the 18th century. He was a passionate admirer of the great bard. And having received the offer to write Shakespeare`s biography, started business with all gravity.

Most of all Uilmot confused that after Shakespeare`s death there is no book left or the manuscript; they were not also mentioned in the will. Uilmot could not imagine that the great poet had neither manuscripts, nor books. He was sure that Shakespeare before death presented books to any of friends. And he decided to find their successors.

Having outlined a circle with a radius of 50 miles around Stratford, Uilmot decided to visit all houses in which there was a library in this circle. He devoted to it 15 years, bypassing the house behind the house, talking to owners and making detailed entries of everything that could put on a track of missing of Shakespearean books.

And in 15 years he came back home in the absolute frustration and burned all the records in 15 years. Then he sent to the customer the letter with refusal to write Shakespeare`s biography as he was convinced that someone another was the author. Did not tell about the reasons of the opening of Uilmot to anybody to the death.

In the 19th century there were new sceptics among whom there were Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Walt Uitmen, Ralf Waldo Emerson. In the 20th century this list was replenished with John Galsworthy, Bernard Shaw, Siegmund Freud, Charles Chaplin, Vladimir Nabokov, James Joyce, Henry James and Daphne du Maurier`s names. And also a set of names of historians, writers and fans - enthusiasts.

What reasons of doubts that William Shakespeare wrote the works published in 1623 in the first collected works known as The First Folio ?

In brief these reasons were expressed by the famous English historian sir Hugh Trevor Rouper:

Among all immortal geniuses of literature there is no more vague and ephemeral personality, than William Shakespeare. This fact seems amazing and almost improbable. Eventually, he lived in bright light of the English Renaissance in times about which the set of documents remained, - during an era of reign of Elizabeth I and Jacob I. Since his death, especially last century, the biggest cohort of the researchers who were ever studying the identity of one person was engaged in it. Crowds of the scientists equipped with the best means scrupulously checked all documents which could contain though the slightest hint addressed to Shakespeare. One 100-th of these efforts devoted to the most insignificant of his contemporaries would be enough for creation of the most detailed biography .

What it was succeeded to find out this army of scientists?

They found the records demonstrating that Shakespeare began the career in theater as the watchman then was an actor, the theatrical producer, earned a fortune from the activity, having become the usurer, the brewer and the house owner (landlord) later.

However it was not succeeded to find any lifetime certificate that he was an author. There are no manuscript left or the letter written by Shakespeare`s hand and any record about receiving any literary fee by him.

The letters directed to Shakespeare were lucky more. One of them managed to be found. But it has no relation to literature - it is written not to the author, but the usurer, and contains a request to lend money.

From all hand-written heritage of Shakespeare there were only 7 signatures written by extremely rough and clumsy handwriting. Two of them are similar, the others strongly differ among themselves. It seems that the great poet hardly wrote own name.

One more riddle - where and when Shakespeare gained the phenomenal and versatile knowledge? How he managed to study ancient philosophy, medicine, law, navigation, history, subtleties of the international diplomacy and several foreign languages - Latin, Greek, French, Italian, Spanish?

It is known that Shakespeare never studied at university. It is unknown whether he studied at school. However not only his parents, but also both daughters were illiterate. Amazingly: the great humanist who in the works is hotly standing up for education of women did not teach to read and write the daughters! And in the will where all household goods are scrupulously transferred, up to spoons and forks, it did not leave not a stiver on education of the beloved granddaughter, the native school - if, of course, he in it studied. Any of teachers never mentioned the ingenious pupil, and any of contemporaries - the great schoolmate.

It seems that poetic gift of Shakespeare remained secret even for his relatives - neither his daughters, nor the son-in-law who, unlike the wife, was an educated person and the doctor knew about it. The only entry in its diary made next day after Shakespeare`s death says: My father-in-law passed away .

In London Shakespeare`s death remained so unnoticed, as well as in Stratford. While other, much less talented poets and playwrights, buried with honors and glorifications in Westminster abbey, they were followed by crowds of pupils to the grave, and notable patrons put on mourning and generously paid a funeral, on the death of Shakespeare nobody responded the uniform word. The London writers did not come to say goodbye to it and to follow him to the grave. The columns Southampton to which Shakespeare devoted the creations, did not dress mourning. It seems, he did not even notice death of that whose patron was during lifetime.

The first mention that Shakespeare was a writer appeared 7 years later after his death. It belonged to Ben Johnson`s feather, in the long poem eulogizing a swan from Avon . During lifetime of Shakespeare, however, Johnson kept the same silence, as well as all other contemporaries.

And what all - with books? Alas - them did not manage to be found. Considering that at that time books were very expensive, and Shakespeare was an economical and zealous owner, it is impossible to imagine that he threw out them or destroyed. It seems that it just did not have them.

All these facts led many sceptics to thought that under a name of Shakespeare other author who for some reason could not tell of the real name disappeared. Now there are 63 applicants for this role among whom are in the lead Francis Bekon, the columns Oxford and Christopher of Marlo.

In the middle of the 20th century the American journalist and the millionaire Kalvin Hoffman so was fond of a question of authorship of Shakespeare that he devoted to it many years. Being convinced that Marlo was the original author, Hoffman bequeathed an annual prize in 10000 pounds to the author of article in which any proof of authorship of Marlo, and one million pounds to the one who will prove that all works of Shakespeare are written by Marlo`s hand will be provided. It is the biggest literary award in the history!

Actors of the well-known Shakespearean theater " Globe; also adhere to various opinions on the one who wrote plays in which they play. In theater there is a gallery of portraits of various applicants.

For now the riddle remains a riddle. And hardly it will be solved in the near future. Though - who knows: ruins of Troy and Camelot`s wreck disappeared underground thousands of years. Perhaps, and among admirers of the great bard there will be new Shliman and will reveal to the world an original name and shape of the genius.