On Issues of Authorship

I finished Doug Wilson's article on Shakespeare, Martin Marprelate, and Edward de Vere, the thesis being that Edward de Vere and Martin Marprelate were the same person and that he wrote the plays attributed to good ol' Guilllaume Shakspar. It was a great article, but I'm still not buying it. I remain one of the naïve few that believe Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare, Homer wrote Homer, and Brutus founded Britain.

Despite the fact that Edward de Vere died in 1604 (before Shakespeare's later plays were written), many insist that he or someone like him must have written Shakespeare's plays. After all, the historic Shakespeare was born to a middle class family and, as far as we know, not formally educated. How could he have produced such sublime work? It requires at least a degree of academic snobbery in order to make this argument work. Only formally educated men are allowed to be brilliant, say the scholars. However, many of the most brilliant men throughout history have been self-educated working-class men. Socrates, anyone?

Perhaps the reason I don't get terribly interested in the debates over the authorship of various works can be summed up in the words of another genius born to a middle class family and without a college education, G.K. Chesterton:

“The whole advantage of those who think Bacon wrote Shakespeare lies simply in the fact that they care whether Bacon wrote Shakespeare. The whole disadvantage of those who do not think it lies in the fact that (being folly) they do not care about it. The sane man who is sane enough to see that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare is the man who is sane enough not to worry whether he did or didn’t.”

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