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Contested Will
Who Wrote Shakespeare?
James Shapiro
read on June 1, 2012

I've been trying to get into more history books, just so that I'm not such a doofus when someone brings up pretty much anything that happened before I was born. I figure that everyone knows a little something about Shakespeare and sooner or later I'll get into a conversation about it with somebody and it just might pay off to know whether or not he actually wrote all those plays.

It's too bad then that this book is super freaking boring. I don't think it's written particularly badly, but I think the whole idea in general just wasn't nearly as interesting as I thought it would be. I mean, it pretty much goes:

  • WS was not well educated and did not have access to royalty, but wrote as though he was/did.
  • Toward the end of his life, WS was a loan shark and a malt trader.
  • WS just seemed to disappear. No one knew him that well or biographied him during his lifetime.
  • All WS left his wife in his will was a second rate bed - no huge gigantic fortune from being a father of modern literature. 


Anyway, that's really about it - at least until the halfway or two-thirds of the book I made it to. There were a whole bunch of forgeries and people that claimed things that didn't happen, and things that you would think would make for an interesting book, but it just fell flat. I kept asking myself why I even cared, and when I realized for the tenth time that I didn't - I put it down.

Author Bio:

James S. Shapiro (born September 11, 1955) is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University who specialises in Shakespeare and the Early Modern period. Shapiro has served on the faculty at Columbia University since 1985, teaching Shakespeare and other topics, and he has published widely on Shakespeare and Elizabethan culture.