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The “Real” Shakespeare


Many English Literature students are surprised when they learn that some people believe William Shakespeare may not have written the plays we think he did write. However, the question of who wrote these plays has plagued literary historians for decades.  So much that it has its own name: the “Shakespeare Authorship Question.”


By the mid-1800s, Shakespeare’s plays had been enjoying widespread admiration since their original performances more than 200 years earlier. Indeed, as scholars began to examine Shakespeare’s biography, some became skeptical. The son of a glove maker in Stratford-Upon-Avon, the formal education Shakespeare did have was brief. Moreover, his writing often uses complex vocabulary and appears to have been written by someone with a deep understanding of history and existing literature. That couldn’t possibly be William Shakespeare.


[1] Since the Shakespeare Authorship Question first arose, many men have been suggested as the true authors of Shakespeare’s plays. [2] In general, those put forward had more formal education than did Shakespeare. [3] They include: Francis Bacon, an English philosopher; Edward de Vere, a nobleman and poet; and Christopher Marlowe, a playwright who lived at the same time as William Shakespeare. [4] In fact, Shakespeare was said to have known him. [5] Marlowe was the author of Doctor Faustus, one of the most famous plays of the era. 


[ ] Today, people whom doubt the accepted authorship of Shakespeare’s plays are few and far between. Not only does historical evidence support the idea that Shakespeare himself wrote the plays, but he was also legally recognized as the author of the plays within his lifetime. William Shakespeare had many contemporaries, including actors, playwrights, and other authors, these men also celebrated him as a genius. [ ]


In the end, some scholars ask, “Does it really matter who wrote Shakespeare’s works?” Neither scholars nor fans of his plays succeed for answering with any certainty, though. However, we don’t truly need to know who wrote it to be able to appreciate its lasting beauty and effects on modern literature.

Directions: Choose the option for the underlined portion that best expresses the idea in standard written English and that is most consistent with the style and tone of the passage. If the original version is correct, select NO CHANGE. If there is a question provided, choose the best answer to the question.

The son of a glove maker in Stratford-Upon-Avon, the formal education Shakespeare did have was brief.


Many English Literature students

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