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Psychology and Shakespeare's Authorship

With Anouchka Grose

What psychological impulse might lie behind the questioning of Shakespeare's authorship?


Grose: Doubting Shakespeare’s authorship might be a way of dealing with envy and competition. So if great people aren’t actually that great, then you don’t have to feel quite so measly in relation to them. Then there’s also the fact that conspiracy theories often try to give rational explanations for things that are just too sublime or irrational. So the famous figure who dies in a stupid accident must have been killed by the CIA, or whatever. 

So the idea that Shakespeare was able to do so many things—to know so much about the world, and about the interior lives of human beings, and then to be able to articulate all of that, using strict rhyme and meter, across such a huge body of work—makes him a kind of uncanny figure. And it might be more comforting to think that his works were written by a group of writers (maybe including men and women), or that he actually only wrote a couple of the plays himself.


Anouchka Grose

Anouchka Grose is a writer and psychoanalyst, practicing in London.

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