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Is That A Fact?

William Shakespeare Authored a Play Titled "King Lear".

There is certainly a great deal of evidence to support this assertion.  Indeed, all you need do is pick up any printed copy of King Lear to see the attribution.  Until 1989, I did not consider it an open question.  However, after watching the 1989 Frontline documentary, The Shakespeare Mystery, I'm no longer certain.

The authorship question first surfaced in the mid 19th century, and has been debated with increasing ferocity ever since.  Looking back, I'm surprised that I failed to hear of it before 1989.  Rather than do it injustice by attempting to summarize it here, I encourage you to explore it for yourself.

Here are some good places to begin.

  1. The Frontline web site developed around the 1989 documentary is exemplary.  There you will find a transcript of the 1989 program, copies of articles and transcripts from the fray, and much more.
  2. In the October 1991 issue of The Atlantic Monthly, a proponent from each side makes his best case, then responds to the other's argument.  This issue also includes a fascinating article on the uses of computer analysis in an attempt to resolve the authorship question, and an introduction that serves as a very good synopsis of its history
  3. The authorship question is periodically addressed in daily news media too.  Here are links to two fine articles.
  1. This Google search lists all available web pages dealing with the authorship question.
  2. In January 2003, Frontline broadcast a new documentary on the Authorship Question.  Titled Much Ado About Something, it explores the evidence for Christopher Marlowe as the Bard.

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original web posting: Monday, May 20, 2002
last modified: Wednesday, April 16, 2003