The traditional (Stratford) view; Shakespeare did
write 37 plays and 154 sonnets.
Most academics agree that William Shakespeare wrote
Shakespeare. Evidence for this comes from Parish records
confirming his birth in 1564, records of his life in
London in the 1600s, his name as a part shareholder
of the Globe, his marriage certificate, his application
to change his familys coat of arms, and his recorded
death in 1616.
Evidence for the Bard having written his plays comes
from the First Folio of 1623. This book compiled 36
of William's plays, recording and publishing them for
the first time. Its co-author John Hemminges was also
a shareholder of the Globe and belonged to the same
acting company (The Lord Chamberlains Men later
named The Kings men) as did Shakespeare and so
would have been privy to the true author.
John Hemminges and Henry Condell even remark of their
late playwright that "His mind and hand went together
and what he thought, he uttered with that easiness that
we have scarce received from him a blot in his papers."
They also prove he wrote the plays contained within
the Folio, since the Folio contains a verse dedicated
to the playwright's memory. This can be specifically
read within the Folio.
Proof that the famous Bard was also a poet is equally
clear; his first poem Venus and Adonis was published
More circumstantial evidence comes from the fact that
the famous playwright performed for Queen Elizabeth
at her court (The Merry Wives of Windsor in 1596
and A Midsummers Nights Dream in
1603) and James I watched many performances by
the Bard, commending The Kings Men personally
for their performances of The Merchant Of Venice
Besides performing many of his own plays, the Bard
is recorded as being an actor in Ben Jonsons play
Sejanus in 1603.
Criticisms by other playwrights also suggest he authored
his work. Why else would Robert Greene in his 1592 pamphlet
"Greenes Groatsworth of Wit", criticize
the famous Bard as an "upstart crow" who borrowed
ideas for his plays from other playwrights if the playwright
did not write his own plays?
Ben Jonson, his rival and friend, also criticized his
work in Timber: or, Discoveries of 1640. Francis
Meres criticized the Bard's work as "mellifluous"
and honey tongued in his 1598 Palladis Tamia. Similarly
Samuel Pepys ruthlessly described the 1595 "A Midsummers
Nights Dream" as "the most insipid, ridiculous
play that I ever saw in my life."
Even Voltaire himself stepped into the ring, by saying
"Shakespeare is a drunken savage with some imagination
whose plays please only in London and Canada," before
adding that "Shakespeare is the Corneille of London,
but everywhere else he is a great fool".
Could Voltaire, Robert Greene, Samuel Pepys, Francis
Meres and Ben Jonson have all suffered from a massive
case of mistaken identity in the close-knit theatre
world to which they largely belonged?
Similarly, we know the Bard at least wrote some of
his plays because one of his later works, The Noble
Kinsmen (1613), was recorded in the Stationers
Registry in 1634 as being the work of both Shakespeare
and noted dramatist John Fletcher.