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Very informative this post. I know almost nothing of the details of this controversy, except that it exists.

It reminds me of a critique of Arthur Conan Doyle's authorship of Sherlock Holmes by "skeptic" Martin Gardner, who contrasting the credulity of Doyle with the rationalism and logic of Holmes, argued that it was unlikely that Doyle was the real creator of Holmes.

I look foward to read both books mentioned by Michael above.

Any reliable information or recommendation about Doyle's authorship controversy?

Any reliable information or recommendation about Doyle's authorship controversy?
I don't know about this controversy, but Doyle copied Edgar Allen Poe's Purloined Letter for the style and use of deductive reasoning.

Michael this was a fascinating post.

"Any reliable information or recommendation about Doyle's authorship controversy?"

I have to assume Gardner was kidding. There has never been an authorship controversy involving Doyle, as far as I know. Unlike Shakespeare, Doyle's life is very well documented.

"Teller of Tales," a biography of Doyle by Daniel Stashower, is well worth reading. It even treats Doyle's interest in spiritualism with respect! (Not that Stashower is a spiritualist, but he refrains from ridicule and carefully explains how Doyle reached his conclusions.)

Gardner's comments on Doyle are in Gardner's book Science: Good, Bad and Bogus

I have the Spanish edition of it.

I'll try to translate the relevant part of it. Excuse any mistake in the translation (it would help if some of you have Gardner's book in English):

"There are many reasons to believe that Doyle had very few to do with the manuscripts of Watson as Cervantes with Sancho Panza's... The stronger internal evidence that neither Cervantes nor Doyle wrote the works that made them famous is, simply, the great contrast existent between the mentality and philosophical perspective of the supposed author and the heroe..."

"I don't think Doyle created that immortal couple. Rather than, it was the contrary case. Watson and Holmes, in their attempt to preserve their privacy, enabled Sir Arthur to capitalize their invention.

On Cervantes, Gardner said "Now we know, thanks to the lastest effors of spanish erudites, that these adventures (i.e. Don Quijote) weren't written by Cervantes, but by Sancho Panza. After the death of his boss, Sancho sold his memories to Cervantes, who, with much cleverness, coverted them until Sancho died"

If any person has Gardner's book in English, please post the relevant parts here. It is in the chapter 9.

It doesn't seem Gardner is kidding, but who knows...

As Michael says, it seems there has never been an authorship controversy involving Doyle. At least, I haven't heard any of it except in Gardner's book.

By the way, with his well-known rhetorical skills, Gardner makes Doyle look like a complete fool or stupid person in that book. Literally, he demolishes him there.

The whole of Gardner's book is a ridiculization, debunking and misrepresentation of parapsychology, Uri Geller, Puttoff and Targ, etc. It took me much time of reading and thinking to discover Gardner's fallacies and smart misrepresentations.

It's smart and experienced pseudo-skepticism at its best.

He must be joking. I'm sure nobody thinks Sancho Panza (a fictional character) wrote "Don Quixote."

Sherlock Holmes buffs often pretend that Dr. Watson was the real author of the stories, and that Doyle merely served as his literary agent. I think Gardner is having some fun with that idea. I can't imagine he's serious.

Michael, this Shakespeare mystery is pretty intriguing. You present a compelling argument here for Oxford. What do you think is the strongest argument that Oxford is NOT the author of the plays?

The strongest argument is that Oxford died in 1604, and some of the plays may have been written after that date. "Macbeth" is sometimes seen as reflecting the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, and "The Tempest" has often been connected with reports of a shipwreck in 1610. But both the Gunpowder connection and the 1610 shipweck connection have been disputed.

See this Google books excerpt for a brief discussion of "The Tempest" from an anti-Stratfordian perspective:

A much longer and more technical discussion is here:

Still more discussion of "The Tempest," on Mark Anderson's blog:

Note the comments by Anderson himself at the end of the comments thread, which considerably amplify the argument.

Thanks. So I just Googled, and the first page I came up with shows that at least 10 of the plays were first performed after 1604, some as late as 1612-1613. It doesn't say when they were written.

I take it that, as a supporter of Oxford, you believe that all those plays were written in 1604 or earlier?

Did de Vere and Shakespeare know each other?

I'm an agnostic myself with regards to the authorship question--I think the answer to "Who wrote Shakespeare?" will always be, "we did," because, whether we're talking about the man from Stratford or any of the alternate candidates, what we're really trying to do is construct a character by deciphering the clues left in his words--an exercise so subjective that we might as well be reading tea leaves.

But I think you might be interested in my upcoming novel from Harper Perennial, The Lunatic, the Lover, and the Poet. It's a "prequel" to Hamlet, narrated by Horatio and with a plot inspired by Shakespeare's sonnets. A subplot makes tongue-in-cheek references to the authorship controversy, and Edward DeVere is mentioned, along with Kit Marlowe and all the other usual suspects. You can check it out at the link below:

"I take it that, as a supporter of Oxford, you believe that all those plays were written in 1604 or earlier?"

I think the dating of the Shakespearean canon is probably off by ten years or more. The dating was largely developed to fit the timeline of Will Shakespeare's life, resulting in unrealistically late dates for most of the material (in my opinion).

But I am only a layman and it has been a few years since I've been intensely interested in this controversy, so whatever I say should be taken with a healthy dose of salt.

"Did de Vere and Shakespeare know each other?"

There is no record that Will Shakespeare knew any member of the nobility. Two poems are dedicated to the Earl of Southampton, but (even assuming Will Shakespeare wrote those poems) it is unknown whether Southampton ever acknowledged them.

Of course, if Will did serve as a front man for Oxford, then presumably they must have had some contact. Interestingly, in several Shakespearean plays, a Will-like figure is lampooned as a dunce from the boondocks. Stratfordians take this as evidence of Will's ability to make fun of himself; Oxfordians see it as Oxford ridiculing the common player who was taking credit for his work.

The most obvious example is the prologue to "The Taming of the Shrew," in which a Warwickshire man, Christopher Sly, is discovered by a nobleman. Sly is dead drunk, passed out on the road. The noble, as a joke, takes Sly into his house and has him put in the noble's own bed. When Sly comes to, the noble's servants tell him that he is the master of the house and that he merely dreamed of being a low-born commoner. Sly is taken in by this deception and persuades himself that he is, indeed, an aristocrat. The story serves no evident purpose in the play, but could be seen as Oxford's comment on the low-born player (from Warwickshire) who was posing as the author of plays written by a noble, and who had half-persuaded himself that he deserved the accolades he got.

The best general introduction to this whole subject is probably "Who Wrote Shakespeare?" by John Michell, a fast-paced, even-handed account of the various claimants to authorship (Oxford, Marlowe, Bacon, etc., as well as Will himself). Michell seems partial to the idea that the canon was the work of a group, a theory I find untenable, but his presentation of the various arguments, pro and con, is very good.

I'm new to this, so I don't have a dog in this particular fight, but it seems there's enough evidence for each faction to defend it's position on the matter.

Without some yet to be discovered conclusive evidence, agreement seems impossible. Every one is a recluse in his own suite. Nobody celebrates an occasion together in the ballroom.

About a year or two ago, didn't some researcher claim that he'd found conclusive evidence--writings found in a manor house--that "Shakespeare" was a different aristocrat? He said he'd publish his research soon. Does anyone know what became of that?

"Does anyone know what became of that?"

Not me. But if any conclusive evidence had been found, I think the world would know of it by now.

"When Sly comes to, the noble's servants tell him that he is the master of the house and that he merely dreamed of being a low-born commoner."

I think that's what happens when we "die"—we wake up from a long, troubled, dream into the full knowledge of how magnificent we are.

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