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Questioning Shakespeare's Authorship

With Stuart Hampton-Reeves

What reasons do people give for questioning Shakespeare's authorship of the plays?


Hampton-Reeves: Of course there are as many reasons for doubting Shakespeare’s authorship as there are people who doubt them. And I think some people just love a good story and like to challenge accepted conventions. And I think those people who feel particularly strongly about this often start with a genuine passion for Shakespeare. It’s more like a love affair. But when they turn to the archives, and look at the records that have survived about the man, they find very little in there to fall in love with. They don’t find the voice of Romeo, or the voice of Hamlet, or the tragic absurdity of Lear

What they find instead is a story about what seems to be a fairly ordinary man, living an ordinary life. And since Shakespeare cannot live up to the author that they’ve fallen in love with, they turn to the archives to look for other, more colourful characters. I think this is a function of the way that Shakespeare writes. He was able to speak with many different voices, and the only conspiracy of silence is the conspiracy to silence his own voice in his works.

Stuart Hampton-Reeves

Stuart Hampton-Reeves

Stuart Hampton-Reeves is Professor of Research-informed Teaching at the University of Central Lancashire, Chair of the British Shakespeare Association and author of several books on Shakespeare in performance.

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