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British Literature: In Support of William Shakespeare

In my blog entry entitled "British Literature: The Case Against William Shakespeare" I presented the argument some people, especially the Anti-Stratfordians, consider in an effort to discredit William Shakespeare, who is highly regarded as the World's Greatest Playwriter of All Time, as the true author of his famous works of art. This entry will now attempt to present positive evidence that William Shakespeare, the "Bard of Avon," did indeed write his wellknown plays.

Referred to as England's National Poet William Shakespeare is best remembered as the creator of many of the world's most popular plays such as The Merchant of Venice, A Midsummer Night's Dream, As You Like It, King Lear, Coriolanus, The Taming of the Shrew, Twelfth Night, All's Well That End's Well, Love's Labour's Lost, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, MacBeth, Hamlet, Othello, and Anthony and Cleopatra, approximately 38 plays in all, that he allegedly wrote between 1589 and 1613, many of which were published in his First Folio collection where Shakespeare is stated to be "not of an age but for all time".

Shakespeare's popularity did not reach its peak until the 1800s when the Romantics, a literary, artistic and intellectual movement that was a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, a revolt against the Age of Enlightenment, and a reaction to the scientific rationalization of nature, as well as the Victorians, a 64 year long period of prosperity, peace and national self-confidence in England during the reign of Queen Victoria, who also established "bardolatry," a term invented by George Bernard Shaw, to describe an excessive worship of William Shakespeare, carried the writer to his loftiest heights.

From his earliest known works including Henry VI and Richard III, to his later creations including The Winter's Tale, Cymbeline, and The Tempest, Shakespeare was very heavily influenced by Christopher Marlowe, who was famous for his use of blank verse and his overachieving protagonists, as well as for being the foremost Elizabethan Tragedian of his day. Other major influences on Shakespeare were the English Dramatist Thomas Kyd, who is famous in his own right as the author of The Spanish Tragedy that developed the Revenge Play style of English theater, and by the Roman Dramatist Lucius Annaeus Seneca, who became famous during the Silver Age of Latin Literature, that was also known as the Classic Latin Era.

But where is the proof William Shakespeare did indeed write his famous plays? Well, consider these attributes including the fact that many literary scholars state the question of whether Shakespeare wrote his plays or not is a shining example of the argument from silence where conclusions are based on the absence of evidence rather than on the existence of evidence. Other proof they claim include Shakespeare's ability to have his characters act and speak according to their dramatic natures, Shakespeare being named as the author of several of his plays by the English Author Francis Meres in his Commonplace Book entitled Palladis Tamia, Wits Treasury, an important source on Elizabethan Poets that also lists the chronology of Shakespeare's plays, by Ben Johnson's eulogy of William Shakespeare entitled "To the Memory of My Beloved the Author Master William Shakespeare and What He Hath Left Us," by the Poet Leonard Digges in "To the Memory of the Deceased Author Master William Shakespeare," and by the Poet Hugh Holland in "Upon the Lines and Life of the Famous Scenic Poet Master William Shakespeare".

Other famous personalities of the same period that Shakespeare lived who proclaimed him the author of the Shakespeare plays include the English Renaissance Actor, and Financial Manager of the King's Men Theatre, where Shakespeare did most of his writing, John Heminges, the Actor Henry Condell who worked with Shakespeare for about 20 years, the Elizabethan and Jacobean Printer and Publisher William Jaggard who was extremely familiar with the Shakespeare plays contained in his First Folio collection, the English Playwriter Thomas Heywood, and the English Dramatist John Webster, a contemporary of William Shakespeare.

Other sources considered fairly reliable that William Shakespeare wrote his famous plays include Shakespeare's own writing abilities, as investigated by a 2010 study completed by Ward Elliott and Robert J. Valenza in what was known as the Claremont Shakespeare Clinic, that determined Wiliam Shakespeare was one person, not a committee as proposed by the Anti-Stratfordians, and determined none of their proposed alternative authors could have possibly written Shakespeare's plays.

And now, after having presented both sides of this matter, and since the jury is still deliberating these positions, as it has been for about 170 years or so, it is left up to you to decide which side of the coin you fall on regarding the question as to who you believe wrote these famous plays, as William Shakespeare himself so eloquently put it, "To be or not to be, that is the question".