Today’s Shakespeare research assumes that doubts about William Shakespeare’s author from Stratford are unfounded in the work traditionally attributed to him. For more than 150 years, however, a debate has been held about the “true” origin. This is due not least to the fact that the romantic image of the “genius poet” seems incompatible with a person like the business-oriented London theater entrepreneur Shakespeare. The first folio edition of 1623, with its concrete definition of the Shakespearian dramatic body, ignoring the preceding apocryphal dramas, did not help to outline the image of a genius that suddenly appeared, which could easily be transformed into that of a Strohmann. Shakespeare’s scholarly scholarship is not a legitimate research subject. However, some Shakespeare researchers criticize the refusal of academic literary scholarship, with non-academic (and now some academic) scholars, Also referred to as “Antistratfordians”. (Stratfordians are, therefore, such persons who believe that William Shakespeare, born in Stratford, is the author of the works attributed to him.)
The background of the author’s deportations to many “Antistratfordians” is that the poet of Shakespeare’s works could not have been a simple man of little education from the province. The teaching of a Grammar School, as Shakespeare had probably attended in Stratford, gave the basic knowledge and competences required to acquire knowledge acquired in his dramas. In the 18th century, Shakespeare was considered an uneducated author. One can not well maintain both: the author of the plays has an unexplainedly high level of education, and at the same time he has had very little education. Against the authority of Shakespeare in his works, it should also be said that no original manuscripts of his works are handed down, can be seen from the controversial manuscript of the play Sir Thomas More. However, this is not a special feature in 16th century authors. In addition, the six received handwritten signatures of Shakespeare are regarded as so awkward by some reviewers that they could have literally been illiterate. But this too is an assessment from a modern standpoint that does not take into account historical reality.
The discussion about the author of the works of Shakespeare begins with the writer Delia Bacon. In her book The Philosophy of Shakespeare’s Plays (1857) she developed the hypothesis that behind the name William Shakespeare a group of writers, consisting of Francis Bacon, Sir Walter Raleigh and Edmund Spenser, concealed themselves. Their publication sparked further speculation, which continues until today, with ever-new candidates being named for the title.
Among the persons who are named as possible writers of the works of Shakespeare are Francis Bacon, William Stanley, and, more recently, Edward de Vere, the most frequently mentioned. In addition, Christopher Marlowe plays a certain role (see Marlowe theory). In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries prominent personalities, such as George Cantor, Henry James and Mark Twain, publicly expressed their position in the sense of the antistrathfordian theses.