Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?

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Simon and Schuster, Apr 6, 2010 - Biography & Autobiography - 352 pages
18 Reviews
For more than two hundred years after William Shakespeare's death, no one doubted that he had written his plays. Since then, however, dozens of candidates have been proposed for the authorship of what is generally agreed to be the finest body of work by a writer in the English language. In this remarkable book, Shakespeare scholar James Shapiro explains when and why so many people began to question whether Shakespeare wrote his plays. Among the doubters have been such writers and thinkers as Sigmund Freud, Henry James, Mark Twain, and Helen Keller. It is a fascinating story, replete with forgeries, deception, false claimants, ciphers and codes, conspiracy theories—and a stunning failure to grasp the power of the imagination.

As Contested Will makes clear, much more than proper attribution of Shakespeare’s plays is at stake in this authorship controversy. Underlying the arguments over whether Christopher Marlowe, Francis Bacon, or the Earl of Oxford wrote Shakespeare’s plays are fundamental questions about literary genius, specifically about the relationship of life and art. Are the plays (and poems) of Shakespeare a sort of hidden autobiography? Do Hamlet, Macbeth, and the other great plays somehow reveal who wrote them?

Shapiro is the first Shakespeare scholar to examine the authorship controversy and its history in this way, explaining what it means, why it matters, and how it has persisted despite abundant evidence that William Shakespeare of Stratford wrote the plays attributed to him. This is a brilliant historical investigation that will delight anyone interested in Shakespeare and the literary imagination.
  

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Review: Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?

User Review  - John Yeoman - Goodreads

This is a generous eyeful of a book but with a big mote in its eye. Shapiro's scholarship cannot be faulted but his premises are shaky. He is a closet Stratfordian. The belief that the man of ... Read full review

Review: Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?

User Review  - Steve Turtell - Goodreads

I have no doubt that the man called William Shakespeare from Stratford is the author of the plays attributed to him--and if I did have any doubts, this book would have laid them to rest completely. It ... Read full review

All 3 reviews »

Contents

shAkespeAre
15
bAcon
81
oxford
151
shAkespeAre
221
Epilogue
261
Bibliographical Essay
281
Acknowledgments
323
Index
325
Copyright

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About the author (2010)

James Shapiro is the Larry Miller Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, where he has taught since 1985. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, he studied at Columbia and the University of Chicago. He is the author of several books, most recently A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599. He has been awarded numerous fellowships and grants from institutions such as the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. He has written for The New York Times, the Financial Times, the Los Angeles Times, and other publications. Mr. Shapiro lives in New York with his wife and son.

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