Tahlequah Daily Press


September 17, 2012

Solving the mystery of Shakespeare

TAHLEQUAH — The literary works of William Shakespeare have been touted through the ages as some of the greatest ever written. But did Shakespeare really write all of those plays, sonnets and poems?

Dr. Robert McQuitty, Northeastern State University English professor emeritus, hoped to settle the long-standing dispute during a recent discussion hosted by Tahlequah Friends of the Library.

Little is known about Shakespeare’s early life, outside of the fact that at age 18, he married Anne Hathaway, whom he divorced two years later after the couple had three children.

McQuitty said Shakespeare, after arriving in London some time later, acquired debt, defaulted on property taxes, bought a mansion and loaned money to others at high interest rates.

In 1598, the bard was named a principal actor in a play by Ben Johnson, and a year later, he purchased interest in the Globe Theater. Soon after, Shakespeare’s name appeared on a number of plays, but he also often wrote under a pen name, William Shaxberd.

McQuitty said these snippets of information create questions about the kind of man Shakespeare was, and whether he actually had the talent to create the works for which he’s credited.

“Shakespeare had the largest vocabulary of any known writer,” said McQuitty. “He introduced 3,000 new words into the English language.”

McQuitty pointed out Shakespeare’s use of language suggests an expansive background in a number of subjects – including the law, military, mythology, mysticism, painting, musical terms and travel.

“Yet there is no evidence that Shakespeare had a background in any of these areas,” he said.

While Johnson declared Shakespeare the author of the plays, the bard himself never rejected or claimed authorship.

There are no manuscripts in Shakespeare’s handwriting, and twice he was accused of plagiarism.

McQuitty offered six candidates who could be viable authors of the body of work credited to Shakespeare: philosopher and scientist Sir Francis Bacon, viscount of St. Alban; Edward deVere, earl of Oxford; William Stanley, earl of Derby; Roger Manners, earl of Rutland; poet/playwright Christopher Marlowe; and a group of other writers.

“Was it Sir Francis Bacon?” asked McQuitty. “Bacon was an educated man, had knowledge of the law, traveled in France, and had a large vocabulary, but no military experience, and he wrote in a distinctly different style.”

Edward deVere, like Bacon, was an educated man who was also familiar with the law, a member of the aristocracy, knew army and navy terms, and had a reputation as a poet and writer of comedies. But deVere died 12 years before Shakespeare, and there is no manuscript in deVere’s handwriting.

Stanley, another educated man with a background similar to Bacon’s and deVere’s, was a patron of the theater, but according to McQuitty, was a weak writer with no poems or plays to his credit.

McQuitty said Rutland paralleled some of the characters in Shakespeare’s plays, but he was probably too young to have been the author, as 14 plays had already been written by the time Rutland turned 20.

McQuitty said there is strong evidence of a collaboration between Shakespeare and Marlowe, a known and respected playwright.

“He influenced Shakespeare’s writing, and their styles prove to be identical in statistical studies,” said McQuitty. “But the critics say Marlowe’s writing is not as good as Shakespeare’s. And we must believe Marlowe lived on after his recorded death in 1593 and kept turning out Shakespeare’s plays [if we believe Marlowe is the author].”

Program participants cast ballots, voting for the candidate they believed most likely to have written Shakespeare’s works. Of 30 respondents, 20 indicated they believe William Shakespeare wrote his own plays, sonnets and poems; two said they believe Marlowe was the author, and two said they believe Marlowe “might” be the author; three voted for a consortium of writers led by Shakespeare; and three said the works “might have been written by a group led by the bard; one believes a group headed by deVere is responsible for the writing.”

Participant Justin Carnes said he’s skeptical one man could create such a volume of work.

“I believe Shakespeare’s plays were written by a secret society of the greatest minds n Elizabethan England,” said Carnes. “It seems unlikely that any one man could have such knowledge of diverse subjects [as dealt with in the plays], particularly for a man with Shakespeare’s limited formal education.”


To see the complete version of this article, subscribe to the Daily Press e-edition by following the link below.

Click here to get the entire Tahlequah Daily Press delivered every day to your home or office.

Click here to get a free trial or to subscribe to the Tahlequah Daily Press electronic edition. It's the ENTIRE newspaper (without the paper) for your computer, iPad or e-reader.

Text Only
  • Dream, Brewdog’s to host music festivals

    One sign of spring’s arrival is the scheduling of music festivals, and 10 bands will visit a Tahlequah venue May 24, the Saturday before Memorial Day.

    April 17, 2014

  • rf-Zoe-thing.jpg Conference attendees get words of encouragement

    Words of encouragement and door prizes were bountiful Saturday morning at the annual Zoë Institute’s Women’s Conference.
    Ten women shared words of wisdom in areas from happiness to health, and 100 gifts were given out, including the grand prize of gasoline for a year.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • sp-symposium-art-panel.jpg Panelists discuss impact of Southeastern art

    Until recently, most people had a certain expectation of American Indian art – and it didn’t include images familiar to people in and around Cherokee County.
    “A lot of times, when people think about Native art, they immediately think of Plains art or Southwestern art,” said Roy Boney (Cherokee), Tahlequah artist and moderator of the panel discussion “Southeastern Indian Art: Building Community and Raising Awareness,” held Friday, April 11, at the NSU Symposium on the American Indian.
    Boney and the other panelists are frustrated by the divide between mainstream expectations of Native American art and their need for genuine self-expression.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • rf-Teacher.jpg Dickerson believes in putting the student first

    As a child growing up in Elk City, Cherokee Elementary teacher Debra Dickerson lined up the neighborhood children and animals to play school.
    “I’ve been a teacher ever since I could talk. My mother always said she knew where I was because she could hear me bossing everyone,” she said.
    The classroom then was a blanket tossed over limbs of her big cherry tree on Eisenhower Street. Recess was spent tree-climbing, running, riding in the bus (her red wagon) and being creative.
    “Those were the days before video games and TV,” she said.
    Dickerson, 2013-’14 Cherokee Elementary Teacher of the Year, believes a classroom should be a safe haven for children, because school is often the best part of their day.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • kh-trash-pickup.jpg Cleaning things up

    Lowrey was part of the Cherokee Nation’s Career Service Center contingency of 11 volunteers. Other volunteers cleaned up trash along the roadway from the Cherokee Casino to the NSU campus.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • SR-NinthAmendment.jpg Right to privacy leans partly on Article 9

    While the other articles of the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights are straightforward – at least, enough for Americans to bicker over in court – the Ninth Amendment might cause a bit of confusion.
    It reads: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
    There are no rights enumerated, and it might be difficult to argue one’s Ninth Amendment rights in court, though it has been done successfully.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • stickball-2.jpg Stickball

    The American Indian Science and Engineering Society and Native American Student Associationat Northeastern State University hosted a traditional stickball game as part of closing cultural activities during the 42nd annual Symposium on the American Indian Friday. Participants included, from left: Nathan Wolf, Disosdi Elk and Chris Smith.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • green-bldng.jpg City council to discuss ‘green building’

    Tahlequah City Council will hold a special meeting Friday, April 11, at 5:30 p.m. to discuss, among other items, applying grant money to renovate the city’s “green building” at the corner of Water and Morgan, near Norris Park.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • alcohol-info.jpg Alcohol screening can be critical

    It has been decades since Prohibition brought Americans gangsters, flappers and speakeasies, but statistics for alcohol addiction are staggering.
    Millions of Americans suffer from alcohol addiction and abuse, which affects families and friends.
    Today, April 10, is the annual National Alcohol Screening Day, and raising awareness through education, outreach and screening programs is the goal, according to the website at www.mentalhealthscreening.org.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • jn-CCSO-2.jpg Law enforcement agencies to get new facility

    Area law enforcement agencies will soon have a new training facility in Cherokee County.
    The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office is building the new training room near its gun range, located north of the detention center. Sheriff Norman Fisher said tax dollars were not used for the building.
    “This is something we’ve been trying to work on, and it was built with no money from the taxpayers,” said Fisher. “It was paid for with drug forfeitures and gun sales.”

    April 9, 2014 2 Photos


What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest