Day 9: Shakespeare or Sir Francis Bacon?
Shakespeare is one of the most well-renowned authors that the world has ever known. However, in the 18th century, it was found that there was no evidence to back up that Shakespeare even knew how to read or write. From this theory that Sir Francis Bacon actually wrote these works. From that theory stemmed the theory that these original works are buried on Oak Island.
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This theory is called the Baconian Theory since it has to do with Sir Francis Bacon. Sir Francis Bacon was a philosopher, diplomat, historian, scientist, and more. He is credited with many great things in the history of the world but Shakespeare’s works is not one of these things, even though many believe they should be.
James Wilmot was an English clergyman who is thought to have dove into research on Shakespeare. He is said to have done this because he wanted to write a Biography on Shakespeare. However, what he thought he would find was very far from what he actually found. In 1781 his Reflections on the research he did came out. Within these reflections, he noted that he came to the conclusion that Shakespeare could never have written what is attributed to him.
This information did not come out to the public until long after Wilmot’s death because he feared rejection by the public and only told someone that was close to him. After Wilmot’s death, his papers were seen as authentic and it was even thought he authored ‘The Story of the Learned Pig’ that debuted in 1786 and is said to have hints relating to Baconian Theory. John Rollett, Alan Nelson, and Daniel Wright changed this authenticity conclusion in 2002.
Rollett stated that a supporter of Sir Francis Bacon has to have forged the manuscript. They stated that this was probably to push Bacon into more popularity among the world's history. Wright never officially stated that these documents were forged because he was not able to have a paleographic analysis of the paper or handwriting.
The Baconian Theory was first presented in lectures in both England and America by Della Bacon. Della Bacon was an American Writer as well as a Shakespeare scholar. She later wrote a book that included Sir Bacon, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Edmund Spencer in a group among others that were trying to bring down the monarchy through secrets found in their writings.
The clearest claim that Bacon wrote under a second name was this quote from Tobie Matthew’s letter to Bacon in 1623: “The Most prodigious wit, that ever I knew of my nation, and of this side of the sea, is of your Lordship’s name, though he be known by another.”
Bacon’s need to publish under a second name is tied to the idea that he needed it to be separate from his high office that he held. He was supposedly trying to reform both the monarchy system as well as the morals of his nation which he could not be in the office and do at the same time. Therefore his works had to be under another unknown name.
This would go along with a lot of other things that are perceived about Bacon’s life. He is thought to have been part of multiple secret societies due to his intelligence and his philosophical views. His motto translates to ‘one lives best by the hidden life,’ which undeniably backs up this theory.
By the time the 20th century came about very well known people began to go for the Baconian theory. Mark Twain wrote an essay called ‘Is Shakespeare Dead?’ where he examines his thoughts on the Baconian theory. In 1916 a judge in Chicago ruled over a trial that ended in Bacon being declared the true writer of Shakespeare’s pieces.
There have been many others who have been claimed as the true writers of Shakespeare’s works besides Bacon. Roger Manners who was the 5th earl of Ruthland, William Stanley who was the 6th earl of Derby, and Edward De Vere who was the 17th Earl of Oxford were just three other candidates. So many more people believe that Shakespeare did not write his works, just not everyone believes Sir Francis Bacon wrote them.
Those who believe in the Baconian theory simply wanted to establish reasonable doubt in the case of Shakespeare’s works and they believe they have done just that. However, most in English literature seem to simply refuse to see or admit that there is some controversy. In 1985 Harry Caldecott stated this: “It is perfectly true, that the great bulk of English critical opinion refuses to recognize or admit the fact that there is any question or controversy about the matter. If it did so, it would find itself face to face with a problem which it would be absolutely unable to determine in harmony with preconceived ideas.”
There is said to be a lot of parallels from Shakespeare’s work with acquaintances of Bacon. It is believed that Bacon’s letter to William Stachey was the basis for the Tempest and if so that would be written by Bacon. There have also been very close similarities from Bacon’s philosophy and Shakespeare’s works that have been put at the forefront of this theory.
Those who believe in the Baconian theory over the Oxfordian theory or the theory that Shakespeare actually wrote his work reference the First Folio in 1623 as a main piece of evidence. Not only was Bacon alive long enough to write each of these works, as was Oxford and Shakespeare, but he lived until 1626 while Oxford died in 1604 and Shakespeare in 1616. This would mean that only Bacon would have been around to see the First Folio published.
Baconians, those who believe in the Baconian theory, are fond of cryptography. This would mean that there are hidden messages and evidence in the work of Shakespeare that shown Bacon was the real author of these works. However, many of these cryptography pieces that were once seen in Shakespeare’s work have been negated over time. Penn Leary is someone who sought out to figure out a cipher in Shakespeare’s work that had no mistakes. He assumed that by doing this he could prove that these works were actually by Bacon.
Leary starts out his theory by using a 21 letter alphabet without the letters, J U W X Z . Apparently, in Elizabethan times I and J were interchangeable as was U and V, W was often just two V’s put together as well. Therefore, these letters were not needed. The Roman alphabet did not use X or Z so that most likely means Bacon would not have either.
Once this 21 letter alphabet was figured out based on the historical development and use of the alphabet he figured out a cipher somehow. This cipher has each letter translate to the one four places later. A is then E, Y is then D, and so on. According to this cipher if TSVAI was found it would translate to Bacen with an E rather than an O. This is not odd as in that time there was not standardized spelling across the board. Which is why we even see Shakespeare spelled multiple different ways as of today. He stated to have found over 113 examples of this in Shakespeare’s work over his time studying it.
There is some evidence that people who have studied both Shakespeare and Bacon have come across that, to them at least, shows that Bacon was the true author of Shakespeare’s works.
Bacon was associated with many people who were known to be closely associated with the writer of Shakespeare’s plays this is also shown in many demonstrations of the plays. Bacon was in possession of a great vocabulary which is something that is greatly shown in Shakespeare’s works although it is not known on a historical basis that the real man names Shakespeare had access to this type of vocabulary.
The knowledge that Bacon had of arts, philosophy, and the world, in general, was not possessed by almost anyone at this point in time. However, the author of Shakespeare’s work was someone who possessed this same time of knowledge and intelligence. Many metaphors that were known to be used by Bacon himself are in these plays and they are not credited to really anyone else.
Characteristics in the writing of the Shakespearian plays are also found in writings that are confirmed to be Bacon’s. This is often one way to match some type of writing to a specific person since everyone has somewhat of a unique writing style. I would be very interested in knowing if they could do a handwriting comparison to see if the same person wrote these works.
One of the works by Bacon that shown these known characteristics was a sheet where he kept many phrases throughout his life. Many of these phrases later appeared in Shakespearian works.
Change of opinion over time is inevitable but for two people to have the exact same change in opinion is not of the norm. However, this is shown in Bacon’s writings and Shakespeare’s along the same time period. This is one point that seems to show the inner workings of only one mind through two different writings.
Some of Shakespeare’s plays seem to present scientific knowledge that he never could have held. Part of the Coriolanus that was published in 1623, 7 years after Shakespeare died, gave credit to Francis Bacon on scientific theories that were present in earlier works of Shakespeare.
Harry Caldecott who is a Baconian writer has stated time and time again that the knowledge presented in Shakespearian writings was too deep and too vast to belong to any playwright from that time, including Shakespeare himself. Harry stated this, “Had the plays come down to us anonymously – had the labour of discovering the author been imposed upon future generations – we could have found no one of that day but Francis Bacon to whom to assign the crown. He was all the things that the plays of Shakespeare demand that the author should be – a man of vast and boundless ambition and attainments, a philosopher, a poet, a lawyer, a statesman.”
Is it unthinkable that Shakespeare did not write his own works?
Do I believe that someone else wrote what is now credited to Shakespeare?
Would the works of Shakespeare being worldly accredited to another author change anything?
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