William Shakespeare is the only major literary figure whose personal identity is a matter of long-standing and continuing dispute. That he is also generally considered the greatest poet/ dramatist the world has ever known adds to the extraordinary nature of the controversy. To the casual reader it might seem incredible that doubts should still be raised about the very identity of so famous a literary figure. He flourished in London at the height of the Renaissance and at a time when Queen Elizabeth's England was emerging as the premier naval power of the world. His work was not hidden; his poems and plays were among the most successful of his time. Since then, his works and his biography have been the subject of the most intense scholarly study. Still, the doubts about his identity persist.
This book is intended for the general reader who would like to know why the controversy over his identity continues and what is known about the leading challenger for authorship honors. For those who enjoy probing a mystery, the literary works and historical records provide fascinating puzzles, intriguing clues, and provocative evidence. Life magazine once called it "history's biggest literary whodunnit." 1
The life of no other literary figure has been so intensively researched, studied, and debated. The experts in the literary and