Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?

Front Cover
Simon and Schuster, Apr 6, 2010 - Biography & Autobiography - 352 pages
32 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.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
15
4 stars
16
3 stars
1
2 stars
0
1 star
0

Review: Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?

User Review  - Kerry Hennigan - Goodreads

Professor James Shapiro's "Contested Will. Who Wrote Shakespeare?" is an enlightening read for anyone who (a) wants to know if Shakespeare really didn't write the plays and poems etc attributed to him ... Read full review

Review: Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?

User Review  - Caroline - Goodreads

This is a book about the Shakespeare authorship controversy - but it's more about the history of that controversy, and how and why people came to believe that someone other than Shakespeare wrote the ... Read full review

All 3 reviews »

Contents

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

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2010)

James Shapiro is the Larry Miller Professor of English at Columbia University, where he has taught since 1985. He is the author of several books, including 1599 and Contested Will, and is the recipient of many awards and fellowships. Shapiro is a Governor of the Folger Shakespeare Library. He lives in New York with his wife and son.

Bibliographic information