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Contested Will

Cover of Contested Will

Contested Will

Who Wrote Shakespeare?
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For nearly two centuries, the authorship of William Shakespeare's plays has been challenged by writers and artists as diverse as Sigmund Freud, Mark Twain, Henry James, Helen Keller, Orson Welles, Malcolm X, and Sir Derek Jacobi. How could a young man from rural Warwickshire, lacking a university education, write some of the greatest works in the English language? How do we explain the seemingly unbridgeable gap between Shakespeare's life and works?

Contested Will unravels the mystery of Shakespeare's authorship, retracing why and when doubts first arose, what's at stake in the controversy for how we value Shakespeare's achievement, and why, in the end, there can be no doubt about who wrote the plays.

For nearly two centuries, the authorship of William Shakespeare's plays has been challenged by writers and artists as diverse as Sigmund Freud, Mark Twain, Henry James, Helen Keller, Orson Welles, Malcolm X, and Sir Derek Jacobi. How could a young man from rural Warwickshire, lacking a university education, write some of the greatest works in the English language? How do we explain the seemingly unbridgeable gap between Shakespeare's life and works?

Contested Will unravels the mystery of Shakespeare's authorship, retracing why and when doubts first arose, what's at stake in the controversy for how we value Shakespeare's achievement, and why, in the end, there can be no doubt about who wrote the plays.

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  • AudioFile Magazine The idea that someone other than Shakespeare wrote the world's most beloved plays has been around for more than two centuries. In the cleverly titled CONTESTED WILL, American scholar James Shapiro explains how "the authorship controversy" has evolved, along with prevailing ideas about literature, creativity, and even celebrity. The Golden Voice of Wanda McCaddon brings an erudite feel to the production. Her British accent fits comfortably with the material, and she narrates the passages from the plays with the confidence of a stage actor. Shapiro's lucid and fair-minded account and McCaddon's exemplary narration combine to make this work accessible to anyone who loves Shakespeare. D.B. (c) AudioFile 2010, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from February 22, 2010
    Shapiro, author of the much admired A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599,
    achieves another major success in the field of Shakespeare research by exploring why the Bard's authorship of his works has been so much challenged. Step-by step, Shapiro describes how criticism of Shakespeare frequently evolved into attacks on his literacy and character. Actual challenges to the authorship of the Shakespeare canon originated with an outright fraud perpetrated by William-Henry Ireland in the 1790s and continued through the years with an almost religious fervor. Shapiro exposes one such forgery: the earliest known document, dating from 1805, challenging Shakespeare's authorship and proposing instead Francis Bacon. Shapiro mines previously unexamined documents to probe why brilliant men and women denied Shakespeare's authorship. For Mark Twain, Shapiro finds that the notion resonated with his belief that John Milton, not John Bunyan, wrote The Pilgrim's Progress.
    Sigmund Freud's support of the earl of Oxford as the author of Shakespeare appears to have involved a challenge to his Oedipus theory, which was based partly on his reading of Hamlet
    . As Shapiro admirably demonstrates, William Shakespeare emerges with his name and reputation intact. 16 pages of b&w photos.

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    Tantor Media
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    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

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Contested Will
Contested Will
Who Wrote Shakespeare?
James Shapiro
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