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  • The Shakespeare Authorship Debate and Historical Responsibility

  • By: Ian Mortimer
  • Narrated by: Ian Mortimer
  • Length: 1 hr and 27 mins
  • 5.0 out of 5 stars (3 ratings)

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Summary

The text of a lecture first delivered by Dr. Mortimer in the chapter house of Exeter Cathedral in 2015 and repeated at the Reform Club, London, in 2018, and revised in March 2022 for this audio recording.

There is much rhetoric flung about these days by supporters and denigrators of William Shakespeare. Did he write the plays and poems that bear his name—or were they the work of another Renaissance genius, such as Marlowe or Bacon? Or was it the Earl of Oxford? Or a whole committee of intellectuals? Why is there so much doubt when the first folio of Shakespeare’s works clearly has his name on the cover? 

However, of all the questions that arise from the Shakespeare authorship debate, one is more perplexing than any other. Why does neither camp apply the sort of analysis that professional historians are able to apply to the question? In any other debate about 16th century events, historians would be summoned in droves. But when it comes to Shakespeare, everybody feels he or she is at liberty to proceed without professional historical input—from literary scholars to amateur sleuths. 

In this speech, Dr. Mortimer applies a professional historical methodological approach to the authorship question and demonstrates what direct evidence there is for the authorship and what is merely circumstantial. But his conclusion is just the first half of a powerful speech that demands greater rigor and discipline in history generally—and for society to act more responsibly toward understanding its own past.

©2016, 2022 Ian Mortimer (P)2022 Ian Mortimer

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  • Desiree Matlock
  • 22-07-22

It says debate but is only a refutation

I wanted something that covered all sides of the debate evenly. But while this is a well reasoned and compelling statement in defense of the Stratfordian position, it does not in any way cover the debate suggested by the title. I have nothing against this work except that the title is false advertising. I was looking for a coverage of the history of Shakespeare’s authorship as a debate and I thus cannot be faulted for assuming this misleading book title would provide the authorship debate itself.