James Shapiro

James Shapiro's book, Contested Will is an excellent history
of the so-called Shakespeare Authorship Question (theSAQ).

It's a book which all doubters and authorship theorists love to hate because it is well-researched, well reasoned and well-written, any one of which would be enough to make it unique in its field. It includes lots of research that the armies of Doubters didn't bother to do themselves and introduces them to thousands of things they didn't know. This is just a brief synopsis of his long survey. One of the reviews on Amazon neatly but unkindly described the book as 'A history of how irrational people think'.

For a brief overview, scroll down to the present day


SAQ History

  • 1990

    The Shakespeare Wars flared up in 1990, echoing up to today. They began with another Oxfordian initiative, involving the extension of Looney's ideas, using computers to identify similarities between the work of Will and De Vere. This looked dangerous but at first seemed sympathetic to the Oxfordian cause. Elliott and Valenza, of The Claremont Shakespeare Clinic, gradually took the lead in the early field, developing their tests through the 1990s as computers became faster and cheaper. It all ended in tears. E&V's research eliminated Oxford (and all the other main candidates). Ooops. They have offered £1,000 to anyone who can knock a hole in their method. No one has come close. Dealing with stylometry remains the most difficult aspect of maintaining a credible alternative candidacy. For Oxfordians, it has the further side-effect of placing the plays in a chronology which encompasses the whole of Elizabethan and Jacobean drama and which, disastrously, extends far beyond the life of their candidate. Double trouble. Oxfordians would love to rebut Elliott and Valenza but so far it has proved beyond them. Meanwhile the science of stylometry goes from strength to strength. And it has turned the case for Will's authorship into concrete. Reinforced concrete, one might say.