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SAC Issues Mock Trial Challenge to Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Press release from the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition:



                                                                                           Contact Persons: U.K.: Alexander Waugh, SAC Honorary President

                                                                                                                             U.S.: John M. Shahan, SAC Chairman and CEO

Taunton, Somerset, U.K., December 2, 2013 — Today the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition (SAC) announced an offer to donate £40,000 to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT) in Stratford if it proves ‘beyond doubt’ in a mock trial that William of Stratford wrote ‘Shakespeare.’ The donation offer, conveyed to the SBT in an open letter, appears in a full-page ad published today in the Times Literary Supplement (TLS) (text shown below). The Birthplace Trust hasn’t yet responded to the offer, so the SAC decided to put it on the public record. In addition to the £40,000, the SAC has offered to raise all of the money to pay for the mock trial. No deadline has been announced for when the offer expires.

The mock trial challenge was communicated to the SBT in the book Shakespeare Beyond Doubt? (Shahan and Waugh, eds.; 2013), written in response to the similarly-titled book, Shakespeare Beyond Doubt, edited by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells, both of the Birthplace Trust. Today’s TLS also includes a full-page ad for Shakespeare Beyond Doubt? ‘Our book presents a compelling case for reasonable doubt,’ said Alexander Waugh. ‘We only decided on the donation offer after it became clear that the SBT had no intention of defending its claim’, he added.

The open letter includes a list of those who pledged to put up the money — 40 pledges, totaling £40,000 (see list after the open letter below). Among the 43 people named are SAC patrons Derek Jacobi and Michael York; 23 Americans, 14 Brits, 3 Canadians, and 3 Dutch/Germans; 34 people with advanced degrees (23 doctorates); 17 current/former academics; authors of 10 authorship books; and 1 retired USAF general.

The following is the text of the open letter ad in today’s Times Literary Supplement:



SAC challenges Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to Mock Trial!

Offers £40,000 donation if they prove Shakspere wrote works.

Why would they decline if the case for him is “beyond doubt”?


The following letter was sent to the Birthplace Trust on 8th November, 2013:

Open Letter to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

c/o Peter Kyle, Chairman, Board of Trustees

Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon

Re: £40,000 Donation Offer

Dear Mr. Kyle,

On 4th July, we wrote to you with the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition’s invitation to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to take part in a mock trial of its claim that the identity of the author of the works of William Shakespeare is ‘beyond doubt.’ On 6th September, you replied, rejecting our invitation.

While we understand the position the Trust is taking, we hope you agree that it would be desirable to resolve our diametrically opposed views—yours that it is ‘beyond doubt’ that Shakspere of Stratford was the author Shakespeare; ours that there is ‘reasonable doubt,’ and that the authorship issue should therefore be regarded as legitimate. While you say that you have ‘nothing to add,’ it yet remains for you to test your stated position against the opposing case in an orderly, objective and neutral forum that would be appropriate to and in keeping with the Parliamentary Charter under which the Birthplace Trust operates.

As an inducement to participate, the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition hereby offers to donate £40,000 to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust if it proves, in a mock trial before a panel of neutral judges, that Shakspere of Stratford wrote the works you attribute to him.

We are, of course, open to alternative formats, procedures and venues for the mock trial, as long as they are even-handed, they provide a valid test of the Birthplace Trust’s claim, and each side has ample opportunity to present evidence and for challenges and rebuttals. Both the Coalition and the Trust should be responsible for the costs of its own team. The Coalition will, however, undertake to raise the funds needed to pay the costs involved in putting on the mock trial after we have reached agreement on all necessary arrangements.

A list of those who have pledged to contribute towards the £40,000 donation is enclosed. Once we’ve reached agreement on all of the important details (format, venue, dates, etc.), the SAC will collect the money pledged and place it in an escrow account before the trial.

Sincerely yours,

Alexander Waugh                                                         John M. Shahan

Honorary President                                                    Chairman and CEO

Shakespeare Authorship Coalition                       Shakespeare Authorship Coalition


[For the list of 40 pledges totaling £40,000, visit the SAC website at: doubtaboutwill.org; and, while you are there, be sure to read and sign the ‘Declaration of Reasonable Doubt’.]


Persons pledging to contribute to the SAC’s offer to donate £40,000 to the Birthplace Trust if it can prove in a mock trial that the authorship of Shakespeare’s works is ‘beyond doubt’:

Pledging £500 (20)

Mark Anderson, M.S. – Journalist/Science Writer; author, Shakespeare by Another Name

Charles Berney, Ph.D. – Senior Research Associate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (retired); Founding President, Shakespeare Fellowship

Richard Clifford – Actor, Director

Ren Draya, Ph.D. – Professor of British and American Literature, Blackburn College, Carlinville, Illinois; author of numerous publications related to the Shakespeare authorship controversy

Michael Egan, Ph.D. – Professor of English (retired); author of ten books and multiple articles; taught in the UK and USA, most recently at Brigham Young University, Hawaii; former Editor, Cambridge Review and first Contributing Literary Editor, Times Higher Education Supplement

Graeme Garrard, D.Phil. – Reader, School of European Languages, Translation and Politics, Cardiff University; Fellow, Royal Historical Society; Fellow, Royal Society of Arts

Sir Derek Jacobi – Actor; Patron, Shakespeare Authorship Coalition

Michael Langford, Ph.D. – Professor of Philosophy, emeritus, The Memorial University of Newfoundland; now teaching part time at the University of Cambridge

Kristin Linklater – Professor of Theatre Arts, Columbia University School of the Arts;

Guggenheim Fellow, 1983; author, Freeing Shakespeare’s Voice (British born and educated)

Felicia Hardison Londré, Ph.D. – Curators’ Professor of Theatre, University of Missouri-Kansas City; Dean, College of Fellows of the American Theatre

Luke Prodromou, Ph.D. – English Language and Literature Teacher; M.A., Shakespeare Institute, Birmingham University; (doctorate in Applied Linguistics, Nottingham University); author of over twenty books; co-author of the award-winning Dealing with Difficulties

Thomas Regnier, J.D., LL.M. – Immediate Past President, Shakespeare Fellowship; author, ‘Could Shakespeare Think Like a Lawyer?’ University of Miami Law Review (2003)

Virginia J. Renner, M.L.S. – Head of the Reader Services Department (retired), Huntington Library, San Marino, California; Secretary, Board of Directors, Shakespeare Authorship Coalition

John M. Rollett, Ph.D. – Physicist/Electrical Engineer (retired); British authorship researcher; first to discover and propose that the ‘Reverend James Wilmot’ manuscript might be fraudulent

Richard H. Smiley, Ph.D. – Senior Research Associate (retired), Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, Portland, Oregon; former trustee, Shakespeare Oxford Society

Roger A. Stritmatter, Ph.D. – Associate Professor of Humanities, Coppin State University; co-author (with Lynne Kositsky), On the Date, Sources and Design of Shakespeare’s The Tempest

Peter A. Sturrock, Ph.D. – Emeritus Professor of Applied Physics, Stanford University; author, AKA Shakespeare: A Scientific Approach to the Authorship Question (British, Cambridge grad.)

Richard F. Whalen, M.A. – Past President, Shakespeare Oxford Society; author, Shakespeare: Who Was He? and dozens of research articles, reviews of books on the authorship controversy

Robin Williams – President, Mary Sidney Society; doctoral candidate in English, Brunel University, West London; author, Sweet Swan of Avon: Did a Woman Write Shakespeare?

Michael York, M.A. (Oxon) – Actor/Author; Patron, Shakespeare Authorship Coalition

Pledging £1,000 (10)

Keir Cutler, Ph.D. – Actor, Playwright; adapter of Mark Twain’s book Is Shakespeare Dead?

Christopher Dams, M.A. (Cantab) – President, The De Vere Society

Robert Detobel and Hanno Wember – Co-chairmen, Neue Shake-speare Gesellschaft, Germany

John Hamill, M.S. – President, Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship; author of numerous articles on the authorship controversy

Alex McNeil, J.D. – Court Administrator, Massachusetts Appeals Court (retired); Founder trustee and Past President, Shakespeare Fellowship; author, Total Television

Don Rubin, M.A. – Professor of Theatre Studies and Former Chair, Department of Theatre, York University, Toronto; Founder and Editor, World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theatre

Jan Hendrik Scheffer, M.D. – Psychoanalyst, Utrecht, The Netherlands; co-organizer of four Dutch Shakespeare authorship conferences at the University of Utrecht

Earl Showerman, M.D. – Emergency Physician; Former President, Shakespeare Fellowship; author of articles on Shakespeare’s knowledge of medicine and the Greek sources of the plays

Jack Shuttleworth, Ph.D. – Brigadier General, USAF (retired); Professor of English, Emeritus, and Former Chairman, Department of English, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Heward Wilkinson, D. Psych. – Psychotherapist; member of The De Vere Society, U.K.

Pledging £2,000 (10)

Ben August – Businessman; former trustee, Shakespeare Fellowship; commissioned ‘Bronze Shakespeare Bust’ by Paula Slater

The Crowley Family – In memory of Barbara Gilfillan Crowley, Pasadena attorney, co-founder, Shakespeare Authorship Roundtable of Los Angeles; matriarch of a family of authorship doubters

Frank Davis, M.D. – Fellow and Past President, Florida Neurosurgical Society; Past President, Shakespeare Oxford Society; author of multiple research articles on the authorship controversy

Richard Joyrich, M.D. – Former Chairman, Oberon Society; Past President, Shakespeare Oxford Society; contributor to ‘Exposing an Industry in Denial’ in the book Shakespeare Beyond Doubt?

The Miller Family – In memory of Judge Minos Miller and Ruth Loyd Miller, pioneers of the modern Shakespeare authorship movement; Founders, Minos Publishing Co., Jennings, LA

Sally Mosher, J.D. – Pasadena attorney; musicologist, composer, performer of Renaissance music, author; co-founder, Shakespeare Authorship Roundtable of Los Angeles

A. J. Pointon, Ph.D. – Emeritus Professor of Applied Physics and Former Director of Research, University of Portsmouth; author, The Man Who Was Never Shakespeare

Robert R. Prechter, Jr. – President, Socionomics Institute; author of published papers on finance, electoral politics and Shakespeare authorship

John M. Shahan, M.S. – Chairman and CEO, Shakespeare Authorship Coalition

Alexander Waugh – Author/Scholar; Honorary President, Shakespeare Authorship Coalition

40 Pledges, £40,000 Total

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