WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE the identity debate "Isn't it odd, when you think of it, that you may list all the celebrated Englishmen, Irishmen and Scotchmen of modern times, clear back to the first Tudors - a list containing 500 names, shall we say - and you can go to the histories, biographies and cyclopedias and learn the particulars about every one of them. Every one of them except one - the most famous, the most renowned - by far the most illustrious of them all - Shakespeare!" -Mark Twain There are a lot of theories claiming that Shakespeare’s works haven’t been written by William Shakespeare but by several other playwrights. The so called “identity debate” already had its start in the 1700s. Potential candidates Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford This contemporary of Shakespeare has been strongly advanced since the 1930s as the true author of Shakespeare's plays. The author Charlton Ogburn (“The Mysterious William Shakespeare”) tried to find parallels of the Earl's life with material from Shakespeare’s plays - for instance, there are similarities between Polonius of Hamlet and the Earl's guardian, William Cecil. The Earl of Oxford apparently stopped writing at an early and possibly continued writing under the pen name of William Shakespeare. Francis Bacon, Philosopher and Writer Bacon has a high place on the list of potential candidates. Bacon wrote lots of letters but his style and expression vary a lot from that of Shakespeare's works. As Bacon was a very busy man and also produced such a big output of his own, it's hard to think about him finding enough time to produce the quality output of work attributed to Shakespeare. Though modern critics claim that Francis Bacon was not a poet, the book “Francis Bacon and his Secret Society” proves that he was definitely able to write in a poetic way. Dr. Abbott who wrote the book “Life of Bacon” says that Francis Bacon is a man with a mind that is “not truly philosophic but truly poetic”. Christopher Marlowe, Playwright Marlowe would be a possible candidate, as he was stabbed to death in a tavern fight in 1593 and there are quite a few people who say that he actually didn’t die at all. According to some, he was a spy in the employ of the Crown. If so, Marlowe would have had to die a fake death, after which he went on writing some poetry and plays under the name of William Shakespeare for an undetermined time. Summary The list of potential candidates is very long and even Queen Elizabeth I. herself is on it. In the end, it’s not sure whether Shakespeare wrote his works. It’s not even sure if he existed at all, because according to Mark Twain, the huge number of Shakespeare’s biographies are just composed of guesswork. Only six examples of his handwriting are known to exist: six signatures, each spelled differently. When he died, nobody seems to have noticed.