Delia & the Doubters

Posted by on Mar 3, 2014

Delia Bacon (1811-1859)

“What new race of Calibans are we, that we should be called upon to worship this monstrous incongruity — this Trinculo — this impersonated moral worthlessness? Oh, stupidity past finding out!”

The American scholar Delia Bacon went mad in Stratford-Upon-Avon while writing her dense 1857 magnum opus, The Philosophy of the Plays of Shakspere Unfolded.

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Shakespeare is a brontosaur…
nine bones and six hundred barrels of plaster of Paris.

—Mark Twain

Delia devoted her life’s work to her doubts about Shakespeare, but she was neither the first to doubt, nor the last. Her book made a doubter of Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain, among others.

Both of them believed that Sir Francis Bacon wrote Shakespeare’s plays. Other doubters have made other choices. Still others have simply registered a degree of doubt that William Shakespeare of Stratford wrote the plays, without declaring allegiance to any other particular author.
Other Doubters Authors and Intellectuals

  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Walt Whitman
  • Charles Dickens
  • Henry James
  • Mark Twain
  • Sigmund Freud
  • David McCullough
U.S. Supreme Court Justices
  • Harry Blackmun
  • Lewis F. Powell, Jr.
  • John Paul Stevens
  • Antonin Scalia
  • Sandra Day O’Connor
Actors and Directors
  • Sir John Gielgud
  • Sir Derek Jacobi
  • Orson Welles
  • Mark Rylance (the first artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe, London)
  • Charlie Chaplin
Political & Military figures
  • Lord Palmerston (Victorian Prime Minister)
  • Admiral Paul Nitze, USN
  • Malcolm X
  • Prince Philip

For more, see “Past Doubters”, by The Shakespeare Authorship Coalition.

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