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Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great American author, once noted that in comparison to Shakespeare "the world of men has not his equal to show." However, when he looked at the man, the "jovial actor and manager," he claimed he "cannot marry this fact to his verse." Doubts of the true identity of William Shakespeare have plagued men and women such as Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, Sigmund Freud, Delia Bacon, and many others. The known facts of Shakespeare's life and career are few. It is probable, although not certain, that Shakespeare had a grammar school education in Stratford. The documents left from his life refer mostly to business affairs of which he had many and barely touch upon his acting career. In his will he does not mention books or manuscripts or any such item that would show him to be a literary man. At a time when eulogies for great men were very popular, Shakespeare's death was marked by a peculiar silence. Mark Twain was also a critic of William Shakespeare's work. He said:
So far as anybody actually knows and can prove, Shakespeare of Stratford-on-Avon never wrote a play in his life. So far as anybody knows and can prove he never wrote a letter to anybody in his life. So far as any one knows, he received only one letter during his life. So far as anyone can know and can prove, Shakespeare of Stratford wrote only one poem during his life. This one is authentic. He did write that one--a fact, which stands undisputed; he wrote the whole of it; he wrote the whole of it out of his own head. He commanded that this work of art to be engraved upon his tomb, and he was obeyed. There it abides to this day. This is it:
Good frend for Iesus sake forbeare
to digg the dust encloased heare!
Blest be ye man yt spares thes stones
And curst be he yt moves my bones.
Puzzled scholars, enthusiasts, and readers find it hard to believe this man, a moneylender and grain merchant, could be responsible for producing several major works of English literature. As more have become convinced that the actor from Stratford could not have written the great masterpieces, many candidates to the literary throne of Shakespeare have been suggested and supported.
Sir Francis Bacon, Lord Verulam, was the first man to be offered as the "real" Shakespeare. Many learned scholars agreed that the plays contained legal references and terms with which a lay man such as Shakespeare would not have been familiar. "Lawyers declare that the author must take rank among the greatest of lawyers, and must have been learned not only in the theory of law, but also intimately acquainted with its forensic practice (Durning-Lawrence 74)." Elizabethan society was also in a 'craze' for the Law. Dramatists and poets, in the interest of attracting an audience, included many legal references in their works (Gibson 53). Strong ambition led Bacon to pursue a legal career that, as Gibson notes, he came to dislike. Consequently, Bacon rarely used legal references in his known works. Baconians also rely on the use of cryptograms to prove Bacon is the true Shakespeare. One such revealing puzzle comes from the long word 'honorificabilitudinitatibus' found in Loves Labour's Lost. The letters of this word can be rearranged to form the sentence 'hi ludi F. Baconis nati tuiti orbi' which is translated 'these plays F. Bacon's offspring are preserved for the world' (Durning-Lawrence 94). By giving each letter a value between 1 and 24 (A=1, B=2, etc. with I and J and U and V counting as the same letter), a numerical value of 287 is assigned to the word. In the anagram sentence, the sum of the initial and terminal letters for the words total 136, and the remaining letters add up to 151. When the first collection of Shakespeare's work, the First Folio, appeared in 1623, the twenty-seven letter word appeared on page 136 on line 27 as the 151st word printed on the page (Durning-Lawrence 92-4). By assigning a numerical value of 33 to Bacon's name, we find on line 33 of the same page the line, "What is Ab speld backward with the horn on his head?" The reply in the following
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William Shakespeare, Conspiracy theories, Marlovian theory of Shakespeare authorship, Fringe theory, Pseudohistory, Shakespeare authorship question, Christopher Marlowe, Shakespeares life, Honorificabilitudinitatibus, Calvin Hoffman, Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare authorship, Baconian theory of Shakespeare authorship
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