To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
Who Wrote Shakespeare? Paperback – July 1, 1999
All Books, All the Time
Read author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more at the Amazon Book Review. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
From Publishers Weekly
Michell, whose books include The New View over Atlantis and a study of Celtic and Norse symbolic landscapes, concedes that no conclusive case has ever been made for Ben Jonson, Francis Bacon or any of the other candidates alleged to have written the plays and poems commonly attributed to William Shakespeare. Yet in this unconvincing piece of shaky scholarship, he finds Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, "a highly credible candidate," while the case for politician/theatrical patron William Stanley, Earl of Derby, is deemed "plausible on all levels." Worse, Michell endorses the theory that Christopher Marlowe was the principal author of 10 of Shakespeare's plays written before 1593, and he further hypothesizes that Marlowe, having survived his reported murder in 1593, went on to write more of the Bard's plays. Michell also speculates that Bacon secretly supported the production of Shakespeare's dramas. The best aspect of this lame study are the 116 fetching period illustrations.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Did it change my opinion? It made me less inclined than I had been to accept the Man from Stratford just on blind traditional faith, and more willing than before to accept Edward deVere, the Earl of Oxford ("more willing," but still far short of convinced). I was most interested in the Earl of Rutland, whom I'd never heard of before but thought his case had both the strongest positives *and* the strongest negatives of any in the book. All told, it made me a hard agnostic: I don't believe any of them can be proven, we may as well judge the works on their own without reference to any author.
What could be a wonderfully useful all-in-one-place, compare-and-contrast reference tool is marred in places by the author's sometimes light and breezy tone, and his own biases showing through too much in what are supposed to be the objective parts. Blurb on the cover says "the best overview yet," and pity 'tis if true.
Unfortunately, one volume cannot do justice to all the different data, issues, and perspectives needing consideration. And although there is a considerable bibliography for further study, there are also unkind omissions: Michell makes many statements and interpretations without citing his sources. In the study of Shakespeare it is essential to go back to primary sources, following Hamlet's imperative: Believe none of us! When some of Michell's pronouncements are tracked down, it turns out that they are not established fact but vigorously debated questions.
Nevertheless, Michell's volume is a much better place to start surveying the issues than those of true believers populating much of the Oxfordian, Baconian, and Stratfordian popular ranks. Plus... it's an entertaining, fun read.
The Shakespeare Claimants, a book from the 1960's on this subject, now out of print, is much better in my opinion, because its author is not afraid to comment on the relative rationality of the different theories. Author John Michell has chosen a different approach: Michell is equivocal in his treatment of the different theories of authorship. He therefore reports with a straight face such absurdities as the Baconian ciphers, and the idea that the Deptford police conspired with Christopher Marlowe to fake his murder.
In that his intent is to be neutral, he is extremely successful. And in all fairness, I'll note, that he does not give space to patent insanities, such as the theory that Queen Elizabeth I wrote the plays.
However, he does not, in my opinion, deal adequately with the issue of "the secret that was not a secret." He mentions all the times that theorists use as evidence, incidents when William Shakespeare the actor is passed over for some sanction that befalls one of the theorists over the text of one of the plays. This is proof positive, say the theorists, that someone knew Shakespeare the actor was not Shakespeare the author; this demolishes earlier arguments of the theorists that Shakespeare was used as a cover because the real author could not be known as a playwright. While such situations come up time and again, Michell never ties them all together to make one great sweep at the idea of an authorship question in the first place.
Indeed, this is something else I found lacking in the book. There is no general discussion of the unliklihood that anyone but the actor wrote the plays with the name "Shakespeare."
But Michell does add something to the picture that most of the theorists have lacked, and this admittedly does add strength to the question. This is a general knowledge of Elizabethan history, literature, and society. He is able to tame some of the wilder aspects of the theories with his superior knowledge.
If your interest is in Shakespeare, the actor, or in Shakespearean literature and criticism, you may want to throw this book against the wall after a couple of chapters. But if the Shakespeare Question intrigues you, or if crackpot conspiracy theories in general interest you, you'll love this book.