Who Really Wrote the Plays and Poems of Shakespeare?

Have you ever heard the terms “Anti-Stratfordian” or “Oxfordian”?   Both of these terms refer to the belief held by a group of people that contend that there is evidence that the man from Stratford did not write the plays and poems attributed to him!   There are many people that could possibly be the true author of the Shakespeare works.    I am going to talk a bit about the top five people I believe are likely candidates, other than the man from Stratford!

Number 1: Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford

~Edward de Vere is one of the most likely candidates, and is so popular among Anti-Stratfordians that he is where the term Oxfordian comes from.    The theory that de Vere was the author is utilized in the film Anonymous.

Number 2: Sir Francis Bacon 

~The great English writer Sir Francis Bacon has long been linked with possible Shakespeare authorship!    It is not surprising given he is a great writer in his own right.

Number 3: Christopher Marlowe

~Christopher Marlowe is an interesting candidate given he was a great playwright around the same time Shakespeare had come to London as an actor.   Marlowe was also a spy for Queen Elizabeth I, and that is likely what led to his untimely and mysterious death!   This theory is predicated on Marlowe having faked his death for his own safety after a spy game gone wrong!

Number 4: Mary Sidney

~Mary Sidney was a noblewoman who was known for her intellect.   She was even known to be someone who experimented with alchemy!    Her gender and intellect make her a likely candidate for secret authorship!

Number 5: Aemilia Lanyer (nee Bassano)

~The woman long thought to be Shakespeare’s Dark Lady, and subject of his sonnets, was also the first female English poet!   She was the daughter of an Italian musician in the court of Elizabeth, and had a famous affair with the Queen’s cousin!   She was a truly cultured and well travelled woman.   She knew of the court, having spent so much time there, and is a very intriguing candidate for author!

Special Mention: Multiple Authorship Theory: While this theory is not one I find to be very likely I still wanted to touch upon it. Some Anti-Stratfordians believe that Shakespeare was not one single author, but in fact a group of authors working together!

~I hope that you have enjoyed this discussion of Anti-Stratfordians and my list of top five candidates.    They are all equally likely, and I hope this inspires you to look into each of them!   Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Further Reading