An Abbreviated History of Shakespearean Scholarship (1976-2011)

Posted By on October 17, 2011

Once upon a time, the world was simple.  We were confident that we had Shakespeare: A Documentary Life (1976).

But then came Charlton Ogburn’s Mysterious William Shakespeare (1984)…

and naturally we began Puzzling Shakespeare (1988).

It seemed that Reinventing Shakespeare (1989) was now advisable.

The result was Shakespeare, IN FACT (1994), bolstered in due time with The Real Shakespeare (1995) and, eventually, Shakespeare: The Evidence (1999).




We could have rested from our labors, but somehow, it was not enough. We decided to live dangerously, and tried a spin in our Miata:  Will in the World (2004). It would explain to us how Shakespeare became Shakespeare.


But a year later (not to mention six years later) we were still In Search of Shakespeare (2005).








We tried to go cold turkey with Contested Will (2010)….


…and it was then that we caught the first glimpse of a shadow over our shoulder – a tsunami called Anonymous.

About the author

Roger Stritmatter is a native liberal humorist who lives in Baltimore, Maryland. Contrary to rumor, he does not live on North Avenue. He does, however, work on North Avenue. A pacifist by inclination, one of his heroes is John Brown. But he thinks that Fredrick Douglass, another of his heroes, made the right decision. Stritmatter's primary areas of interest include the nature of paradigm shifts, the history of ideas, forensic literary studies, MS studies, renaissance literature, and the history of the Shakespearean question, the latter a field in which he has published extensively.


4 Responses to “An Abbreviated History of Shakespearean Scholarship (1976-2011)”

  1. Kathryn Sharpe says:

    Roger–Enjoyed the graphical mystery tour. Want a full report on the Folger tour.

  2. Roger Stritmatter says:

    Hi Kathryn —

    The Folger tour was awesome. I think that Georgianna and Betsy were shocked that the Oxfordians weren’t as dumb as they thought and were actually educating them about their own holdings. However, they put out a lot of holdings. The only one they seemed reticent to show — I think I may know why — is Edith Singleton’s Shakespearean Fantasia manuscript. The fact that they own it shows that Folger was an Oxfordian, or at least a fellow traveler, and that above all must be kept secret. The bookstore was another story. It didn’t have a SINGLE Oxfordian or ant-Stratfordian book. Not one. But it did have lots of “Shakespeare is Shakespeare” t-shirts. So, the tour was impressive, but the bookstore was a frippery. 🙂

  3. Roger, I think the fact that the tee-shirts are there at all, is a first phase recognition that there is a problem. It was also interesting to hear them say that the Ashbourne Portrait – some say Shakespeare, some say Edward de Vere, the Folger’s official position is Hugh Hammersley, in a relatively benign way.

    Of course that we had the tour AT ALL is a tribute to your seminal work…. We have come a very long way already. I suspect we are just beginning to be a public relations asset to the Folger!

    Wait till Stratford realises we could be a public relations asset to them!

    Remember how Deep Thought in the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy explained to the philosophers how they could keep their jobs even though he was going to reveal the Ultimate Answer to Life the Universe and Everything….. Or was it the Ultimate Question….

  4. Roger Stritmatter says:

    Heward, right you are, of course, as usual, especially the part about the authorship question being the best thing that ever happened to Shakespeare studies. As for the rest, ….wasn’t the answer “42”? 🙂

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