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firstname.lastname@example.orgHappy Birthday William Shakespeare? Or Have James Shapiro and the Shakespeare Academic Establishment Been “Barding” Up the Wrong Tree?
Shakespeare Oxford Society calls for creation of an unbiased Shakespeare Authorship Commission to resolve the authorship mystery
YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, NY – April 23, 2010 – Traditional Shakespeare biographers – including James Shapiro with his new book (Contested Will) on the Shakespeare authorship mystery – believe the great poet and playwright, William Shakespeare, was born on April 23, 1564.
Before you raise your glass to salute the Bard’s 446rd birthday, consider this: You just might be paying tribute to the wrong person.
Matthew Cossolotto, former president and current vice president of the Shakespeare Oxford Society, says there is plenty of room for reasonable doubt about the traditional authorship theory professor Shapiro’s new book notwithstanding. “It’s a little sad to see Shakespeare’s birthday celebrated around the world every April 23rd,” says Cossolotto. “What if we’ve been honoring the wrong guy all these years? What if we’ve been ‘barding up the wrong tree’ and the so-called Stratfordian attribution is wrong? I think any reasonable, unbiased person looking at the evidence objectively would have to conclude the jury is still out, that there truly is a legitimate Shakespeare authorship question.”
Indeed, there is a long and distinguished history of doubting the Stratfordian attribution of the Shakespeare works. Noted doubters over the years include Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, Henry James, Sigmund Freud, and Charlie Chaplin. More recently, the ranks of doubters include noted Shakespearean actors like Orson Welles, Michael York, Mark Rylance, Jeremy Irons and Sir Derek Jacobi, not to mention current or former US Supreme Court Justices Harry A. Blackmun, Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthonin Scalia and John Paul Stevens.
The Shakespeare Authorship Coalition (SAC) has been collecting signatures on a “Declaration of Reasonable Doubt About the Identity of William Shakespeare.” Concordia University in Portland, Oregon, and Brunel University in West London have launched degree programs in Shakespeare authorship studies.
Needed: A Shakespeare Authorship Commission
To resolve the Shakespeare authorship mystery once and for all, the Shakespeare Oxford Society has called for the creation of an independent, blue ribbon commission composed of distinguished, internationally recognized experts in relevant fields – including historians, biographers, jurists, and other esteemed writers and scholars.
“All members of the proposed Shakespeare Authorship Commission must be unbiased,” said Cossolotto. “They must declare going in that they have open minds on this subject and are willing to follow the evidence wherever it leads – using internationally recognized evidentiary standards employed by leading historians and biographers.”
Cossolotto explained that the initial task of this commission would be to take a fresh look at the available evidence and determine whether there truly is reasonable doubt as to the true identity of the famous author.
The Society is proposing that an unbiased educational institute, think tank, foundation, or concerned educational philanthropist should take the lead in sponsoring the proposed Shakespeare Authorship Commission. “After all, this is Shakespeare,” Cossolotto said. “He’s the greatest writer in the English language, perhaps the greatest writer ever. We should make sure we’re honoring the right author. That’s the least we can do. The evidence for the Stratfordian theory just isn’t sufficient. That case is full of holes. An unbiased, multidisciplinary panel of real experts should take a fresh look at the evidence and give the world the benefit of their judgment in this important matter.”
Cossolotto continued: “I hope Shakespeare enthusiasts in the media, the entertainment industry, and the foundation community will embrace this challenge. All Shakespeare lovers around the world should be able to agree that it’s important to determine the true identity of the author. It’s a matter of basic fairness to give credit where it’s due. In addition, knowing the identity of the author will also help us better understand the works and the author’s motivations. Let’s get the facts and reach a scientific, evidence-based conclusion.”
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