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Authorship and other Conspiracy Theories

With Kate McLuskie

What other theories might be compared to the Shakespeare Authorship Conspiracy Theory and why?


McLuskie: Shakespeare knew: telling and believing stories is the best, and the worst, way to get at the truth. His plays are full of figures telling stories, and lies; and the most unlikely truth of all—that Banquo’s ghost could come to the banquet—is dismissed as a woman’s story by a winter’s fire. Small wonder, then, that the tale of a Stratford glover’s son who became the greatest poet-playwright in England, might be misbelieved.

The stories that are believed always involve dark and sinister forces, hidden truths, stolen documents. From the death of Diana to the president’s complicity in 9/11, the stories of conspiracy always seem more satisfying than the messy complexity of truth. They certainly make for better movies. If we prefer to believe that fair is foul, and foul is fair, the case for Shakespeare’s authorship of his plays will remain a mystery. Alternatively, you can engage with the more removed mysteries of the plays themselves.

Kate McLuskie

Kate McLuskie

Kate McLuskie was Director of The Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham, from 2005 to 2011 and is the author of Writers and their Work: Macbeth. She is also a member of The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust's consultative Council.

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