Cover image for Shakespeare's unorthodox biography : new evidence of an authorship problem
Shakespeare's unorthodox biography : new evidence of an authorship problem
Price, Diana, 1949-
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Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xvi, 357 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm.
Format :


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PR2937 .P75 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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As the world's greatest author, Shakespeare has attracted attention from scholars and laypersons alike. But more and more people have questioned whether the historical Shakespeare wrote the plays popularly attributed to him. While other books on the subject have argued that some other particular person, such as the Earl of Oxford, wrote the plays, this is the first book in over 80 years to comprehensively revisit the authorship question without an ideological bias, the first to introduce new evidence, and the first to undertake a systematic comparative analysis with other literary biographies. It successfully argues that William Shakespeare was the pen name of an aristocrat, and that William Shakespeare of Stratford was a shrewd entrepreneur, not a dramatist.

Price exposes numerous logical fallacies, contradictions, and sins of omission in the traditional accounts of Shakespeare's whereabouts; his professional activities; his personality profile; the play chronology; autobiographical echoes in the plays; the dramatist's education and cultural sophistication; circumstances of publication of the plays and poetry; and the testimony of his supposed literary colleagues, such as Ben Jonson. New or previously ignored documentation is used to reconstruct Shakespeare's career as a businessman, investor, theater shareholder, real estate tycoon, commodity trader, money-lender, and actor, but not a writer. In fact, Shakespeare is the only alleged writer from his time for whom no contemporaneous literary paper trail survives.

Author Notes

DIANA PRICE is an independent scholar who has published her Shakespearean research in such journals as The Review of English Studies , Research Opportunities in Renaissance Drama and The Elizabethan Review . Her three part lecture series, Shakespeare and Documentary Evidence , was first presented in classrooms at Cleveland State University.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Was William Shakespeare really a playwright and poet or a savvy businessman of little learning who acted as a shield to a talented but anonymous aristocrat? In this new work, independent scholar Price posits that there is not enough documented evidence to prove that Shakespeare was a writer and a great deal of biographical evidence to show that he was not. She cites Thomas Heywood, Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Kyd, and Edmund Spenser, who, unlike Shakespeare, had the necessary education and left behind correspondence or documents mentioning their writing, evidence of payment for writing, and extant original manuscripts. Does Price prove her point? She certainly gives the Shakespeare doubters some very good ammunition, and her book will join ranks with John Michell's well-conceived Who Wrote Shakespeare? (Thames & Hudson, 1999) and Charlton Ogburn's The Mysterious William Shakespeare (W. Clement Stone, 1992). However, since her point is not to identify the real author but to argue that it was not Shakespeare, her suggestions, evidences, and comments fall rather flat. It is one thing to posit a mystery and another to solve it. Academic libraries should buy this book for the debate it will spark and the in-depth literary detective work it provides. Public libraries can safely pass.ÄNeal Wyatt, Chesterfield P.L., VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

This title is a specimen of literary theology. A born-again anti-Stratfordian with all the fervor of a recent convert to whom new truths have been vouchsafed, Price argues that Shakespeare could not have written the works attributed to him. The author marshals her evidence with care and presents it in a manner that will doubtless seem coolly convincing to the members of this sect's choir. Those who are not part of the choir will find the volume representative of a primal need to fill in a very large blank in what seems to be a sensible way, instead of acquiescing resignedly before the often incomprehensible silences of history. Thus, the book is of some interest psychologically. In all other respects, it is a deeply uninteresting exploration of a question that, for most scholars, is even more deeply unnecessary. Collections with a focus on Shakespeare and a fetishistic desire for "completeness" will acquire the book. So too might collections that specialize in extraordinary popu lar delusions and the madness of crowds (even small crowds), or the misuse of logic in analyzing evidence. D. Traister University of Pennsylvania

Table of Contents

Illustrationsp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introductionp. xiii
Part 1 Biographical Evidence
1 What's the Question?p. 3
2 Shakspere's Footprintsp. 11
3 The Theatrical Scrapbookp. 25
Part 2 Inadmissible and Controversial Evidence
4 Johannes Factotump. 45
5 Shake-speare in Sportp. 59
6 Monstrous Theftp. 79
7 The "Poet-Ape"p. 91
8 Literary Paper Trailsp. 111
Part 3 Misleading and Missing Evidence
9 A Moniment Without a Tombp. 153
10 The First Foliop. 169
11 Shakspere's Drinking Buddiesp. 195
12 Conspiracies and Chicaneryp. 217
Part 4 Overwhelming Evidence
13 Shakspere's Educationp. 233
14 Country Lad or Courtierp. 251
15 Autobiographical "Echoes"p. 267
16 Chronological Disorderp. 275
17 A Playwright by Any Other Namep. 289
Appendix Chart of Literary Paper Trailsp. 301
Bibliographyp. 315
Indexp. 341