Shakespeare and His Betters: A History and a Criticism of the Attempts Which Have Been Made to Prove That Shakespeare's Works Were Written by Others


O, be some other name!
What's in a name! that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
SHAKESPEARE: Romeo and Juliet.

'His thesis is the perennially fascinating one--one that has become almost a national pastime--that our greatest poet was not the person we suppose him to have been.'

Thus the distinguished historian, Sir Arthur Bryant, introducing a book by Claud W. Sykes which claims that Roger Manners, fifth Earl of Rutland, wrote the plays and poems commonly attributed to the actor William Shakespeare of Stratford-on-Avon (Alias William Shakespeare?, 1947). Sir Arthur does not himself agree with the Rutland theory: 'Nothing in Mr. Sykes's narrative . . . makes me think that the William Shakespeare commemorated in Stratford church did not write his own plays.' But he admits the fascination of the thesis, and most readers, whatever their opinion, will agree with him.

The 'pastime', however, is much more than a national one: it can truly be called international. The particular theory with which the book of Mr. Sykes was concerned, the theory which gives the works of Shakespeare to the Earl of Rutland, was first put forward by German writers, then taken up by Belgian, American, and Argentinian, and has more recently been made the subject of a book written by a Russian. The Baconian theory has included in its ranks writers from England, Ireland, the United States, Canada, South Africa, Australia, France, Holland, Germany, Austria, Serbia, Hungary, Poland, and Italy. The chief propagandists for the Earl of Derby have been Frenchmen; for Florio German and Italian; for Sir Walter Raleigh American and Australian; for the Earl of Oxford British and American; while the advocates for various Group and Dual Theories have come from England, Scotland, the United States, Germany, and France. There are, in fact, few countries which have not produced at least one writer on the subject, as there are few members of the Elizabethan aristocracy . . .

Additional information

Includes content by:
  • Wilbur Zeigler
  • Roger Manners
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • London
Publication year:
  • 1938


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