Texas Tech Expert: Shakespeare Existed Despite Emmerich’s Theories in ‘Anonymous’

A Texas Tech Elizabethan staging expert, who recently presented a paper at the American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Conference, says doubting the Bard is bunkum.

Pitch

In the new film, “Anonymous,” director Roland Emmerich casts doubt that William Shakespeare wrote some of the world’s most famous scripts and credits Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. A Texas Tech Elizabethan staging expert, who recently presented a paper at the American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Conference, says doubting the Bard is bunkum.

Expert

Bill Gelber, associate professor and head of the Acting/Directing Program, Department of Theatre and Dance at Texas Tech University, (806) 742-3273, bill.gelber@ttu.edu.

Talking Points

  • In 1785, Oxford University scholar James Willmot first questioned the authorship of the plays after he couldn’t find Shakespeare’s books and papers. He suggested perhaps Sir Francis Bacon wrote the plays.
  • The idea that Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, wrote the plays is from the book, “ ‘Shakespeare’” Identified, by J.T. Looney, published in 1920.
  • Many famous people doubt Shakespeare as the author, including Mark Twain, Sigmund Freud, and Shakespearean actors such as Mark Rylands, the former artistic director of the New Globe Theatre, and Sir Derek Jacobi.

Quotes

  • “The idea seems to be that no one from Shakespeare’s social position could have written such wonderful plays. On the contrary, passage after passage suggests that his life as a player, playwright, man from Stratford and frequenter at court when the plays were given before royalty would make him the perfect candidate.”
  •  “We don’t know for sure, but we also don’t have to prove a negative. Just because we don't have many papers written in Shakespeare’s own hand doesn’t mean that they didn't originally exist. Many copies of his plays were published during the period and we do have Shakespeare’s signature on some documents.”
  • “All of the other candidates seem to have died before many of the plays were written. The Earl of Oxford died in 1604 before some of the best plays appeared including “Macbeth,” “King Lear,” “The Winter’s Tale,” “Antony and Cleopatra” and “Coriolanus.” The argument seems to be that these later plays were written beforehand and then slowly distributed over the years. That wouldn’t make much sense to a commercial theatrical company that had to have a new play ready to run every ten days or so.”