The Mystery of Shakespeare’s Tomb

Special Report: A radar scan of William Shakespeare’s supposed tomb in a Stratford church came up empty, fueling the old debate about who really wrote the famous plays and sonnets, writes ex-CIA analyst Peter W. Dickson.

By Peter W. Dickson

The 400th-anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare — to be observed in late April — was supposed to be a moment for global celebration of the literary genius long believed to have been from Stratford-on-Avon. But, in a classic case of “unintended consequences,” a reluctant decision by Anglican Church officials to permit scientists to use modern technology to study his presumed grave inside the local church has backfired because the inconclusive results of this investigation — the apparent failure to confirm conclusively the presence of any human remains in the tomb — is casting a shadow over the celebration.

Indeed, the fiasco may cause more people to doubt – or even reject – the longstanding claim that the man with this famous name from a market town in the British Midlands was the true author of the Shakespearean works.

A portrait of William Shakespeare.

A portrait of William Shakespeare.

That concern may explain, in part, why the scientists who conducted a radar scan of Shakespeare’s alleged tomb have been busy obscuring the curious results of their inspection and refusing to admit the possibility that no one was buried in the floor tomb. Instead, the scientists have been distracting a media with a dubious suggestion that the Bard’s skull is missing from the tomb and perhaps was stolen.

The serious shortcomings in this scientific investigation of the spot traditionally believed to be Shakespeare’s final resting place validates the need for a closer, meticulous examination of the entire historical context surrounding his death and burial, including what those facts say about whether the wealthy businessman from Stratford-on-Avon actually penned the Shakespearean dramas and the famous sonnets.

Many are well aware that there has been, for more than 150 years, an often bitter debate about the true authorship of the extraordinary body of work attributed to the name Shakespeare. Given this longstanding dispute, the deepening of the mystery surrounding Shakespeare’s supposed tomb – what we might call “Tomb-gate” – further erodes the traditional narrative.

Unwittingly, the tomb project has drawn public attention to arguably the most dubious part of the official Shakespeare narrative, that the esteemed author was buried unceremoniously and anonymously under a slab of stone in a small church in Stratford. The ultimate damage to the Stratford orthodoxy may prove profound.

Nonetheless, the true believers, including those in a media deferential to the Stratford orthodoxy, will still gather in the town (about 100 miles northwest of London) in late April to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death. The celebrants will pay homage at this grave where their attention will be drawn to a floor tomb containing only a maledictory epitaph, a curse warning others not to move his bones. The core problem with this grave site is that there is not now and never has been a person’s name carved on this gravestone.

Furthermore, there is no record of any reaction in 1616 to Shakespeare’s passing, despite the astonishing fact that he died only a few weeks after the less distinguished and much younger dramatist Francis Beaumont was given a high-profile burial in the Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey – next to Chaucer and Spenser. Shakespeare’s interment could not have been more dissimilar.

The notion that the remains of this literary genius, supposedly the senior dramatist at the royal court for almost 20 years, whom Ben Jonson declared the greatest since the ancient Greek dramatists in the First Folio collection of Shakespeare’s works in 1623, would have been dumped into an anonymous tomb, with no surviving tribute to his memory at the time of his death in 1616, is not only counter-intuitive; it is totally preposterous.

Along with the absence of a personal literary paper trail for this man during his own lifetime, this bizarrely obscure burial has helped to keep alive persistent doubts that the wealthy William Shakespeare of Stratford-on-Avon really was the author of the great literary works that carry this name.

The Nameless Tomb

Embarrassed Shakespeare biographers tend to deflect attention from this nameless tomb – and what it might signify – but the Shakespeare Trust in Stratford, along with a British film company, nonetheless persuaded reluctant officials at the Holy Trinity Church to permit a radar scan of the floor tomb to “learn more” and in the process prove to the skeptics that the Bard really was buried in that anonymous tomb.

The purported tomb of William Shakespeare inside a church in Stratford-on-Avon, England.

The purported tomb of William Shakespeare inside the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-on-Avon, England.

This was a risky decision by the church and the Shakespeare establishment for a number of reasons, not the least of which are the limitations of ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to detect human remains (bones) beneath solid material like concrete or in this case a limestone gravestone slab.

And no matter what the results, the bottom line is that there is no way to prove to whom any bones belonged, especially those beneath a nameless tomb, without direct physical access to conduct DNA analysis of the kind in 2014 that helped prove where Richard III was buried after he lost his crown following defeat at the famous battle at Bosworth Field in 1485.

Ironically, it was the stunning discovery of Richard’s remains – a monarch whose historical legacy Shakespeare did so much to disparage – that built pressure on the church officials to investigate Shakespeare’s tomb. The examination proceeded despite the doubts about how conclusive it would be and despite other credible indications that it was likely to backfire on the Shakespeare establishment and the Anglican Church.

For instance, there was a published account of an earlier direct visual inspection of the contents of Shakespeare’s supposed tomb in the church floor. During a visit to this church in late 1815, American author Washington Irving spoke with an elderly sexton who told Irving that a few years earlier that he had an opportunity to see beneath the gravestone in the floor when an excavation was underway to create another vault adjacent to this gravestone.

The sides of the excavation collapsed and in the process created a hole permitting a view of what was underneath the alleged floor tomb for Shakespeare. Irving states in his Sketch Book, published in 1819, that the sexton “told me he had made bold to look in at the hole, but could see neither coffin nor bones, nothing but dust.” For his part, Irving lamented his inability “to have at least seen the dust of Shakespeare.”

Some two centuries after Irving’s visit, the documentary film, entitled “Secret History: Shakespeare’s Tomb” (shown on Britain’s Channel 4 on March 26), endeavored to take a modern scientific peek beneath the stone. Like the sexton, it found no evidence of Shakespeare’s skeleton. The radar scan also found no signs of a coffin, such as metal nails for sealing a coffin shut.

The Missing Skull?

The scientists who conducted the scan did claim there are hints in the radar imagery of the location where they speculate one might expect to find a skull that suggest some “disturbance” of the soil. That led to their curious theory that perhaps the tomb was opened by grave robbers who took the skull.

The wording of the inscription chiseled into the tombstone over the purported grave of William Shakespeare.

The wording of the inscription chiseled into the tombstone over the purported grave of William Shakespeare.

The problem with that analysis is that ground penetrating radar did not detect any part of a human skeleton which means that this claim of a missing skull is unsubstantiated speculation and “spin” coming from scientists who seem eager to show that they had produced some meaningful — or at least newsworthy — results.

Under pressure to prove the value of the project, they tried to defend their claim about a missing skull by citing an article in a magazine called Argosy in 1879 that alluded to an oral tradition that some grave robbers stole Shakespeare’s skull, or perhaps someone did that during an effort to repair the gravestone in the mid-1790s. But this claim was called into question by Shakespeare scholars, especially after the same scientists were permitted to study an alleged stolen Shakespeare skull kept in a parish church 13 miles north from Stratford and determined that it was the skull of a woman.

Nevertheless, the senior supervisor of the radar-scan project – Kevin Colls of Staffordshire University– seems undeterred. He insisted that this project “should open up a whole new line of research for us. We believe that his skull is probably located somewhere else, and further research is required to figure out where that might be.”

But the bottom line is that you cannot speculate about a missing skull without radar imagery clearly proving that the rest of a human skeleton is present below this nameless tomb. And even if some remains were ultimately recovered, you would still have to match the DNA to Shakespeare’s descendants to establish that the skull or bones belonged to Shakespeare – and that still wouldn’t help prove whether the wealthy Stratford merchant named Shakespeare was, in fact, the Bard.

For these reasons, it should not come as a total surprise that the rector of Holy Trinity Church, the Reverend Patrick Taylor, issued the following statement tinged with some regret about having permitted this radar scan:

“We are not convinced that there is sufficient evidence to conclude that his skull has been taken. We intend to continue to respect the sanctity of his grave, in accordance with Shakespeare’s wishes, and not allow it to be disturbed. We shall have to live with the mystery of not knowing fully what lies beneath the stone.”

Taking everything into account, there is little doubt that this embarrassing outcome will fuel legitimate skepticism about the Stratfordian tradition as the 400th anniversary approaches in late April to be followed by the World Shakespeare Congress in London in late July.

Indeed, it is a huge embarrassment and a major setback for the orthodoxy because the unintended consequence of this attempt to learn more about the alleged author’s grave has drawn public attention to what is essentially a clandestine tomb – one with no proper personal identification and quite possibly no human remains inside.

What About the ‘Other’ Tomb?

Arguably, however, the most devastating and damaging consequence of this attempt to prove where Shakespeare was buried is that this mindless attachment to a dubious oral tradition that he was buried in an anonymous floor tomb flies in the face of a clear and emphatic declaration about where the body may have been buried inside this same church.

The statue of William Shakespeare on the north wall of the church where he is believed buried.

The statue of William Shakespeare on the north wall of the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-on-Avon, where he was believed buried.

Most Shakespeare biographers mention — but pray that others do not pay close attention to — the expensive, huge memorial with a bust of Shakespeare mounted high on the church wall overlooking the altar and the nameless tomb. They hope others will ignore the fact that the eulogy – an inscription beneath the bust – signals twice that the remains were interred within the church wall. The inscription asks visitors to the church:

Stay Passenger Why Goest Thou By So Fast.

Read If Thou Canst, Whom Envious Death

Hath Plast With In This Monument Shakespeare.

With Whom Quick Nature Dide Whose Name

Doth Deck this Tombe.

Burials within walls are unusual but not unknown. One Medici prince arranged for that and apparently this practice happened in some monasteries. The Vatican once issued an edict to prohibit any burials inside churches because of the health and other risks, especially if the tomb was not properly sealed, but the practice continued.

Samuel Schoenbaum, arguably the preeminent Shakespeare scholar until his death in 1996, insisted in his famous book, Shakespeare’s Lives (1970), that the eulogist (whom he suggests was in London where the bust was made) made a mistake because he was not informed that (inexplicably) Shakespeare’s remains were to be placed in an anonymous floor tomb. This was a rather pathetic theory which Schoenbaum dropped from the second edition of his book in 1991.

A floor tomb right in front of the altar rail involved a substantial fee and the wall memorial with the bust was even more expensive. So why not spend a little more to have “William Shakespeare” inscribed on the floor tomb?

For his part, Shakespeare curiously left no instruction in his will concerning his burial. But why should his wife (Ann Hathaway) and daughters pay big money for anonymity or (if the real tomb is in the wall) want any confusion to persist? But nothing was done.

Making Excuses

Stanley Wells, Schoenbaum’s successor as dean of Shakespeare scholars, speculated in The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare (2001) that an altar step was later extended outward and covered up Shakespeare’s name originally inscribed on the floor tomb. But who would ever allow this immortal name to be hidden? And this theory still does not get around the fact that the wall inscription clearly asserts Shakespeare’s remains are to be found inside the church wall.

Orthodox scholars are well-aware that Shakespeare’s wife (Hathaway) was buried in the floor almost flush to the church’s north wall and just below the wall memorial with the bust of her husband. But this arrangement makes no sense if we are asked to accept without question the oral tradition about where her husband was buried.

Portrait of Ann Hathaway, William Shakespeare's wife.

Portrait of Ann Hathaway, William Shakespeare’s wife.

Also, why should her tomb bear her name, give the date she died and her age at death with a nice Latin inscription in honor of motherhood, when her husband (supposedly the most illustrious literary figure since the ancient Greek dramatists) had his remains (in stark contrast to those of Beaumont a few weeks earlier) dumped into a nameless tomb?

This storyline is quite absurd. The chronology and the contradictory pattern of evidence reeks of a later attempt to concoct the visual impression of a tomb, the one in the wall with Hathaway buried as physically close to her husband’s wall tomb as possible. It is significant that Hathaway died in August 1623, only four months before the massive folio of Shakespeare’s 36 dramas went on sale in London bookstores, establishing the permanence of the playwright’s fame.

Yet, Ben Jonson, the renowned poet, playwright and literary critic who helped complete this folio, astonishingly asserted in his grand dedication that Shakespeare was “a moniment without a tomb.” Meticulous about editorial precision, did Jonson insist that the “i” in monument be put into bold type to emphasize that “moniment” can also mean a collected body of work as opposed to a physical monument?

Hard to know exactly what Jonson meant in referring to the Bard’s lack of a tomb. But the curious “i” in bold type was conspicuously changed to a “u” for the Second Folio edition in 1632 which is a strong hint that something was afoot to clear things up. But that has never really happened because the glaring contradiction between the Stratford man’s floor tomb and wall monument/tomb persists.

In any case, Jonson should have known that Hathaway had just died and would be buried close to her husband. Yet he speaks disrespectfully because the only persons denied a proper burial — meaning “without a tomb” — were persons who had committed suicide and were buried below intersections of roads.

Evidence of a Pen Name

Also disrespectfully, in the main dedication of the folio to the Earls of Pembroke and Montgomery, the Bard’s fellow royal actors say: “In that name, therefore, we most humbly consecrate to your Lordships, these remains of your servant Shakespeare.”

“In that name”? Why not say “In his name”? These remains? Why not say “these immortal works of your servant”? This strange impersonal language suggests that the Bard’s “remains” are to be found only in his plays and poems and that this immortal literary name “William Shakespeare” did not refer to a singular, physical Shakespeare, but was rather a pen name used by whoever wrote or collaborated on the famous works.

It was also false to assert that the Bard’s patrons were these two Earls, the oldest of whom was only 13 when Shakespeare became famous overnight with the publication of Venus and Adonis in 1593. His patron was Queen Elizabeth and then King James to whom the publishers and the royal actors — known as “the King’s Men” — curiously refused to dedicate the First Folio in 1623.

Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I

Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I

In my book, Bardgate: Shake-speare and the Royalists Who Stole the Bard (2011), I called for a non-intrusive scan of both tombs in Stratford to test Professor Wells’s absurd claim about a possible extension of the altar’s floor that covered up of Shakespeare’s name and whether Shakespeare actually rests in the church wall behind or near the memorial and his bust.

Since the radar scan of the floor tomb has not proven there are any human remains beneath the gravestone, it makes sense now to take the next step and scan the church wall behind and around the wall memorial to see if there is a cavity in the wall large enough to have placed some human remains.

However, given the Shakespeare establishment’s investment in the oral tradition of an anonymous floor tomb, there probably will be resistance to any proposal to scan the church wall, because if it shows the church wall is solid, then this would be prima facie evidence that the inscription beneath the Shakespeare bust is fraudulent, constitutes an act of deception and indicates that the true author was another person not from Stratford-on-Avon.

There is no doubt that a solid church wall, coupled with an anonymous floor tomb with no conclusive evidence that it contains human remains, would deepen the larger Shakespeare mystery.

The Reverend Taylor’s press statement suggests that church officials will not take that the risk and approve anymore high-tech research, nor is the Shakespeare establishment likely to roll the dice again on a wall scan.

After all, the stakes would be enormous. There are many professional reputations invested in protecting the Shakespeare orthodoxy that the Stratford businessman named William Shakespeare was the famous playwright.

Yet, I believe that, as the situation stands, the argument now favors those anti-Stratfordians who have challenged the orthodoxy and maintain that the businessman and the actual author are not one in the same person.

Taking everything into account, there is no credible reason to accept the claim that the literary genius (whoever that was) for whom “Shakespeare” or often “Shake-speare” appears on title pages of published quarto edition of these dramas was buried in the Stratford church in 1616 or in 1623 or any later time.

In his original folio dedication, Jonson surely revealed the truth behind Bardgate when with the revealing assertion – “thou art a moniment without a tomb” — he signaled that Shakespeare was not an identifiable person with a known resting place, but instead a pen name for a collection of dramas composed by a person or persons who wanted or needed to remain incognito.

Peter Dickson is a retired CIA political-military analyst and the author of an intellectual biography entitled Kissinger and the Meaning of History published by Cambridge University Press in 1978. This up-to-date article concerning Shakespeare’s death and burial summarizes much of Dickson’s analysis contained in chapter six in his book entitled, Bardgate:  Shake-speare and the Royalists Who Stole the Bard (2011). Copyright © Peter W. Dickson, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Note: For permission to reprint/republish this article in whole or in part, and/or for requests for a personal interview or approval for adaptations of the author’s copyrighted published analysis on this topic, contact Peter Dickson at [email protected].

65 comments for “The Mystery of Shakespeare’s Tomb

  1. April 12, 2016 at 03:01

    The day you find people the stature of Mark Twain accepting the Paul Is Dead hoax, then there will be a parallel.

    So far you have Jim Fetzer.

    • Dosamuno
      April 12, 2016 at 09:46

      Dickson used these same propaganda technique.
      It’s called “Appeal to Authority” and it relies upon citing prestigious people who support
      an issue that is outside their area of expertise.

  2. Dosamuno
    April 11, 2016 at 18:20

    “Scotty” and Mr. DiEugenio have convinced me of my error.
    Mr. Dickson’s article is accurate and relevant.

    I shall look forward to his next article about the evidence found on the covers of the albums of The Beatles
    that confirms the premature death of Paul McCartney.

  3. April 10, 2016 at 22:21

    Not really dosamuno.

    Mr. Dickson is absolutely correct on all the facts he has mustered in both of his replies. These are matters of record and they are only a small part of the record. He hasn’t even mentioned the mystery of the monument. Which is a real puzzler.

    The points he is making are pretty clear: 1.) Its a bit absurd to suggest that the greatest playwright of his age would be buried in a nameless plot, and 2.) The evidence suggests there is no one there anyway. He could have gone on an on about the facts of the burial and funeral, since they are also paradoxical.

    This is an important debate for anyone who thinks that credit should be assigned to those who actually deserve it, and it also shows that our vaunted academia slept on this issue for way too long.

  4. Dosamuno
    April 9, 2016 at 13:04

    By far, the best thing about this article was the comments it generated.
    I’ve never been more impressed by the erudition and eloquence of my fellow CONSORTIUM readers.

    Mr. Dickson sounds very annoyed about the lack of enthusiasm for his article.

  5. Peter Dickson
    April 8, 2016 at 18:08

    There is no reason you should care what the true is unless you are a person who is engaged in the highly controversial dispute since at least the 1850s over whether the incumbent Bard was the real is the author of the works. At least six major American literary figure — Emerson, Hawthorne, Whitter, Whitman, Henry James,perhaps also Melville and especially Mark Twain were skeptics or rejected outright that the wealthy merchant from Stratford was the real author since there is no personal paper trail showing him to have been as a flesh-in-blood person engaged in literary activity during his own lifetime. And several US Supreme Court Justices since the 1980s have expressed skepticism such as Brennan, Ginsburg, Scalia or are outright Oxfordians such as John Paul Stevens. Since the late 1800s lawyers and judges on both sides of the Atlantic have become involved in this dispute because the very sophisticated knowledge of the law reflected in the literary works points to a man trained in the law. The incumbent Bard is probably attended the local grammar school but there is no documentation for that and he never attended one of the univerisities or study the law at one of the Inns of Court in London. The real Bard’s knowledge of Italy down to very meticulous urban and topographical details is extraordinary and yet we have no evidence that the incumbent Bard ever crossed the English channel. The incumbent Bard left no letters, no library no unpublished manuscripts even though 18 dramas were still unpublished still until the Folio of 1623. Meanwhile Columbus who died 110 years earlier in 1506 left a veritable mountain of documents (including 105 personal letters) in his own handwriting. Shakespeare left nothing beyond six extremely crude signatures and only on legal/commercial documents. Hence the deep skepticism about him. And now the Stratfordian ideologues and true continue to insist that he was the true Bard and despite his great wealth and supposed 20 years service as the senior dramatist at the royal court, his body was dumped into a nameless tomb? This is rubbish and my essay calls them on it and pushes them up against the wall — the wall in the church where it is said that is where the true tomb is. They say no but cannot explain why we should swallow the idea that a wealthy man and his heirs would pay big money to be buried right in front of the altar and accept a nameless tomb for the money — especially since the inscription declares his remains were in the wall. My essay exposes the Stratfordians as mindless ideologues who have no credible answer to perhaps the most easy question they should be able to answer: where is your beloved Stratfordian Bard really buried? And if you cannot answer that basic question, why should any of us accept anything you have to say about Shakespeare?
    Peter Dickson.

    • scotty
      April 11, 2016 at 17:32

      If William Shakespeare were alive today he’d be rolling over in his grave ;-). Of course there’s no body, this is the bizarro world of WS we’re talking about. So much to do about nothing and with Shakespeare it’s all about what’s missing. No body, no manuscripts, no letters, no books, no education, no travel, NO WAY. Nothing you’d expect from a writer and everything, absolutely everything, we know of the stratford man ‘Shakspere’, whom no one ever connected with the works of Shake-speare during his life, is in direct opposition to that which the author himself has told us about himself in his works.

      There is an enormous mismatch, nothing fits, an empty tomb just figures, perhaps he has risen. Takes the same kind of stubborn snobbishness and faith to believe that as it does to blindly ignore the situation and believe in the stratford myth. I’m getting pretty tired of their nasty put downs and tone, I haven’t met a person with an interest in the authorship question who didn’t love Shakespeare the author. The real question is ‘who was Shake-speare?’.

      Bravo Mr. Dickson, your work is important. Years ago there was an attempt to find something, perhaps the missing manuscripts, in the ugly bust, it was shown in the Frontline documentary The Shakespeare Mystery I’m sure you’re aware of it. I don’t believe they looked below the statue they should have tried under the stupid pillow rather than just scanning the statue. Boy it would be wonderful to find those manuscripts.

  6. Peter Dickson
    April 8, 2016 at 12:36

    There is no “theory” about the Bard being interred within the wall. What is a fact is that is what is emphatically asserted in the inscription below the Shakespeare bust and a very expensive wall memorial. Hence, it the situation and there is no spin strategy that can overcome this clear fact. There is no obvious reason why persons should accept the idea that an nameless tomb in the floor is to be accepted as the real tomb. This is the situation it is clear that a scan of the wall would help to clarify but the Anglican church officials and the Shakespeare scholars who went along with this scan of the floor tomb have egg on the faces now. It has backfired on them for the reasons stated. Meanwhile I observe that intellectually mediocre people resort to personal attacks or nit pick about such things as the word “upon” to deflect the attention of others concerning their own intellectual shortcomings. In any case, I do not make any effort to argue who might be an alternative Bard or Bards. The first order of business was to expose the orthodox scholars as fools for peddling rubbish about where Shakespeare is buried when in fact they cannot tell us with certainty where he was buried. They have a massive credibility problem here. Peter Dickson

    • Dosamuno
      April 8, 2016 at 14:25

      “There is no obvious reason why persons should accept the idea that an (sic) nameless tomb in the floor is to be accepted as the real tomb.”

      Is there an obvious reason I should care?

  7. Andy Jones
    April 8, 2016 at 06:31

    Perhaps he rose from the dead.

  8. Brad Benson
    April 8, 2016 at 06:03

    It would seem to me that an ex-CIA Analyst who has written a book on the Bard might have known that the name of the town in which Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway lived is Stratford-upon-Avon, not Stratford-on-Avon.

    It’s nice to have all sorts of theories about walls, extended stone steps, “monIments”, stolen skulls and ground radar. However, if the author has ever visited the site, he should not have made this error. The town’s name is eminently displayed “upon” every road which passes through it (at least that was the case on the two occasions that I have visited the place)..

    Did this author also find evidence of WMD’s in Saddam’s Iraq? I’ve long been convinced that Shakespeare’s remains will be found in Baghdad.

  9. Eddie
    April 7, 2016 at 20:48

    For info refuting this ‘Oxfordian’ view, see

    The anti-Shakespearians remind me too much of the 9/11 ‘no-planers’.

    • David G
      April 9, 2016 at 21:01

      I hesitate to go there on the Internet, but yeah.

  10. anglia
    April 7, 2016 at 19:00

    Our own Mark Twain solved the authorship controversy long ago. He claimed the works were written by a different man with the same name.

    • Csemple
      April 16, 2016 at 21:36

      Anglia, I thought it was Woody Allen who arrived at that conclusion. Twain really was a Shakspere doubter, but based on the evidence he had he suspected Bacon to be the true author. Twain’s last book was IS SHAKESPEARE DEAD?, which considers the authorship question.

  11. Zachary Smith
    April 7, 2016 at 00:20

    “Despite William Shakespeare’s status as a literary giant, a small but vocal group of scholars, playwrights, actors, and conspiracy theorists have long argued that he is not the true author of his plays.”

    The link names ten candidates for being the Real Author of the works attributed to Shakespeare. These include two women and the “committee” theory.

    In my opinion it’ll take more than fast talking and a lot of agitated hand-waving to dethrone Shakespeare. Maybe somebody will eventually turn up some actual and convincing evidence, but I doubt it.

    By the way, I’ve never read a thing by Shakespeare for the same reason I’ve never read the King James Version of the Bible. Both are in language I don’t understand and I don’t care to invest the lifespan to acquire the skill. I also avoid like a plague all old books with the “long s” in the printing. No doubt if I stuck with it long enough I’d get the hang of reading them, but so far I’ve not seen the need.

    • Dr. Ip
      April 7, 2016 at 11:18

      Dear Zach,
      Thank you so much for this public display of your ignorance.
      Would that others had done as much before they even engaged in this… conversation?

      We are so besotted with the cult of personality that we constantly ask: Habeas corpus? Read the work done. Better yet, go see the plays as they live on stage. The reason we are still fascinated with them 400 years later is because they so resonate with life. One can’t say that of every play or book or piece of music or painting. Be thankful the works exist and that so many generations have been schooled by them.

      Oh yes, and don’t forget, soon after that golden age, the Ted Cruz of England came to power — Oliver Cromwell — and the Puritan Moses, as he liked to call himself, got rid of all that theater nonsense. His disgruntled loser followers eventually created their own intolerant colony in New England — the Puritans. So now you know what is in store for you (if you are a lover of the arts) when the religious fanatics take over the presidency. They have already taken over most of the states and you can see how much fun that is turning out to be.

      Get to work!

      • Zachary Smith
        April 7, 2016 at 13:15

        Thank you so much for this public display of your ignorance.

        You’re welcome.

        Adding to the list of books I’ve never read is anything by George R. R. Martin. Nor have I seen a single episode of the Game of Thrones. Ditto for the entire Harry Potter series. Or anything by Tolstoy.

        I enjoy reading historical essays about Shakespeare. I’ve seen and enjoyed several film adaptations.

        I have a huge stack of unread books on my bedside table now, and more coming in the mail. Everybody has their own priorities, and mine don’t include Shakespeare. Or the King James Version of the Bible.

    • Dosamuno
      April 7, 2016 at 12:01


      Shakespeare wrote plays, not novels or short stories.
      Plays are written to be performed and seen in a theater.
      If you have access to Netflix, try getting into the Bard’s work with the following:

      I’d be interested in knowing your reaction.



      • Zachary Smith
        April 7, 2016 at 14:29

        I’ve seen this one, and thought it nothing less than wonderful. Another film adaptation I liked so well that I bought my own DVD copy was A Midsummer Night’s Dream from 1935. Believe it or not, the lovely senior fairy in the film is still alive today at 100 years of age. Both of these movies I can recommend to anybody of any age.

        As for your other two suggestions, I’ll have to check with the local library to see if they have them.

        • Dosamuno
          April 7, 2016 at 16:03

          When I first heard this speech, I ran out to join the English army so that I might participate in the battle.
          I was crushed when they told me that it had ended almost 600 years ago.

        • Dosamuno
          April 9, 2016 at 18:00

          I too thought it was wonderful.
          You will probably like Henry V and Hamlet–also by and with Branagh.

        • Csemple
          April 16, 2016 at 21:31

          Zachary, the 1968 (or -9) Royal Shakespeare Company production of a MSND is also good. Helena and Dianna Rigg play Helena and Hermia! They were practically teenagers then (like their characters). Hippolyta is played by Judy Dench, and as I recall, has a brief nude scene.

          • Csemple
            April 16, 2016 at 21:58

            I meant to say Helen Mirren played Hermia in a MSND.

  12. Peter Dickson
    April 6, 2016 at 21:43

    Virtually none of these readers have offered a credble substantive explanation for the bizarro spectacle inside this church. If everything was straightforward and above board you would never see such a glaring contradiction between two tombs coupled with Ben Jonson declaring in the First Folio that the Bard was “without a tomb”. When you published a massive expensive anthology of his 36 dramas and put it out there for sale, why would Jonson want essentially to tell Bard’ lovers buying this folio, “forget about the idea of visiting his tomb to pay homage because he does not have one”. This is totally preposterous, utterly absurd unless Jonson was signalling to the reader (as surely he was) that the name was a pen name for a body of work — a “moniment”. Even if he meant a physical “monument” like the one on the church wall, it does not make any difference. He is still saying that don’t bother to look for an identifiable tomb. Schoenbaum and Wells look like fools trying to explain the situation inside this chruch. The best thing is for the Shakespeare Establishment and Anglican Church officials to roll the dice with a scan of the . Who knows? Maybe he really was buried within the wall as the inscription clearly asserts twice. But they will be risk averse. They are afraid. They can run, but they cannot hide now in the light of my essay. “The whole world is watching, the whole is watching”.
    Peter Dickson

    • Dosamuno
      April 8, 2016 at 11:14

      “Virtually none of these readers have offered a credble (sic) substantive explanation for the bizarro spectacle inside this church”

      Perhaps it’s because many of us are not interested in this arcane, esoterical drivel written by the ex-employee of an organization whose business is overthrowing foreign governments, murdering dissidents and union organizers, and making the world safe for the Washington Consensus.

      Screw you, Peter Dickson. And screw the CIA y la puta que la parió.

      Editors–as a supporter of Consortium, I would appreciate it if you found other sources for your articles besides ex-CIA thugs.

    • David G
      April 8, 2016 at 21:06

      As I mentioned in my earlier comment, refuting total bullshit point by point is a trap, whether it’s this nonsense or creationists’ “proofs” that evolution is a hoax.

      But I do appreciate the corrective that Peter Dickson provides to the impression readers might have that the estimable Ray McGovern is somehow representative of the CIA, with its peerless record of failure and mendacity, whose “legacy of ashes” is still accumulating.

    • Headlight
      April 13, 2016 at 16:06

      The reference to the tomb in Jonson’s poem is really a reference to the popular poem memorializing Shakespeare by William Basse, suggesting that he should have been buried in Westminster Abbey. There’s no reason to believe that Jonson would have any particular knowledge of the arrangements for Shakespeare’s burial. Reading Jonson’s poem as if it were intended as clues to a mystery, rather than as a memorial to his colleague and friend, is a fundamental error. Jonson is saying metaphorically that Basse is wrong about having Shakespeare buried in Westminster — and that Shakespeare hasn’t died if his works live on. Therefore, the works are a monument WITHOUT a tomb, because Shakespeare lives while the works are still read and enjoyed.

      It’s an unfortunate tendency for people to read poems literally that are written metaphorically. Those who suffer this condition cannot fully appreciate poetry. They also become Oxfordians.

    • Csemple
      April 16, 2016 at 21:16

      Maybe Shakespeare (that is, the works, the manuscripts, the moniment) is, after all, concealed within the walls behind or near the bust. These might be hard to find, but would seem worth the effort considering the value of what could be gained–at least in eliminating some possibilities, Sherlock Holmes-fashion. Charlton Ogburn suspected this might be the case, and I believe some technology was used in a cursory search back in the 1980’s, to no avail. Surely techniques have improved since then.

  13. Dosamuno
    April 6, 2016 at 18:27

    It’s simple: one day, on February 2nd, he went for a walk outside his tomb.
    He saw his shadow, ran back into the tomb, and they had six more weeks of winter.

    Unfortunately, Bill was a bit unsettled and thus he ran back into Christopher Marlowe’s tomb by mistake.

  14. Martin Williams
    April 6, 2016 at 18:18

    The argument in this article is not convincing. The parish records for Holy Trinity state that William Shakespeare (gent) of the parish was buried in the church. If there is an account of a late 18th century graverobber digging down three feet to steal the skull in a wager, a broken missing Elizabethan tombstone (smashed to pieces by a pickaxe) then obviously his skull was stolen. The people who claim someone else wrote his plays are just trying to make money from a false claim as controversy sells books and articles. The riddle by his tomb was placed centuries later, Shakespeare did not write that curse it was to try to prevent further theft

  15. Stephen
    April 6, 2016 at 14:59

    One has to smile as Shakspere’s defenders try force a square peg in a round hole. This man of Stratford-upon-Avon never mentioned any books at all in his will. How is this possible when he is generally acknowledged as the greatest writer in the English language? Why were his two daughters illiterate? Why does Shakespeare’s supposed drawing on the front of the First Folio have a clear mask-line down the side of the face, back-to-front doublet and two right eyes? It is obviously a joke to alert the reader to the image’s hidden meaning. All the anomalies of Shakespeare can be made clear when one reads publications such as, “Shakespeare’s Lost Kingdom”, by Charles Beauclerk, “Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Biography”, by Diana Price and “Shakespeare By Another Name”, by Mark Anderson. All the researchers make perfectly clear that Shakspere of Stratford could NOT have written those plays and sonnets. I leave it up to the readers to get these books, if you have not already done so, to find out which Earl in Elizabeth’s court was actually doing the writing under the pen name of Shakespeare.

    • Headlight
      April 13, 2016 at 11:11

      “This man of Stratford-upon-Avon never mentioned any books at all in his will.” He gave his house and everything in it to his daughter and son-in-law. Other than a few specific bequests, he doesn’t mention any personal possessions. That’s pretty typical, and unless the testator is giving some or all of his books to a person other than the residuary legatee, I can’t imagine why anyone would list books separately.

      “Why were his two daughters illiterate?” There’s little evidence of whether they were illiterate, though girls at the time were not admitted to schools and female illiteracy rates were over 90%.

      “Why does Shakespeare’s supposed drawing on the front of the First Folio have a clear mask-line down the side of the face, back-to-front doublet and two right eyes?” I agree that the engraving was poorly executed. Inventing some specific reason for the poor quality of the likeness (that just happens to confirm your existing bias) is a little silly, especially since the engraving was created more than five years after Shakespeare’s death and more than fifteen years after Oxford’s. Do you believe that they successfully suppressed Oxford’s true authorship from all contemporary works, and then instructed the artist to plant clues to the true author by the way he engraved the portrait?

      “All the researchers make perfectly clear that Shakspere of Stratford could NOT have written those plays and sonnets.” No, really they don’t. The Oxfordian narrative doesn’t make sense, and various versions are in conflict with each other. Price’s analysis is one of the worst of the lot — a quest to exclude evidence rather than interpret it, based on a demonstrably illogical methodology.

      Denial of Shakespeare’s authorship is a slowly dying pseudo-intellectual pursuit. Its Oxfordian proponents imagine a world where the power of the monarch was used to suppress the name of an author without suppressing the author’s works.

      But quite simply, Queen Elizabeth and her successor King James had a lot more on their minds than taking credit away from one of the nobility for writing “the Merry Wives of Windsor.” Oxford was above all obsessed with himself, and after a certain point with regaining his position in court and his squandered wealth. Oxford’s documented interests were carousing, traveling in Europe, sexual dalliances, fashion and court life (when he wasn’t banned by the Queen) and tin mining. He eventually was forced to accept a stipend from the monarch (with the intercession of his father-in-law the Lord Treasurer) and settle down. His extensive extant correspondence is all about business and (frequently) how unfair it is that people expect him to care about anybody but himself. When his first wife (daughter of the Lord Treasurer) died, he sent his three daughters off to live with their maternal grandfather and remarried in hopes of fathering a (legitimate) male heir. In this he was successful.

  16. April 6, 2016 at 14:47

    I find this piece peculiar for its failure even to mention Edward De Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, whose authorship of the “Works” is supported by more circumstantial evidence than ever found its way into any courtroom anywhere. Mr. Dickson alludes to the ridiculous idea that the the greatest writer, maybe ever, died, as I like to say, with neither book, nor manuscript, nor mention, as must have been the case if the man from Stratford were the author.

    Beside that should be placed the fact that Henry Peacham, writer and scholar and author of “the Compleat Gentleman” in 1622, the 4th Edition of which was published in 1644, neglected to place the name Shakespeare in his list of the greatest dead poets. Edward De Vere’s name heads the list next to the words, “above others.”

    As important as this small sampling of evidence is, the trove of preeminent importance lies within the pages of the plays and sonnets. “This Star of England” by the Ogburns was written in the 1950’s and contains analyses of most, if not all of the plays, and one is simply dumbstruck by the kind and quantity of autobiographical references to the life of Edward De Vere, from his actual escape from pirates by diving overboard, to his banishment from court, to his ever-present toothpick and the gift of perfumed gloves to the Queen. He led a faction in gang warfare against the Howard-Arundels who accused him of treason and every other sort of bad behavior after he sired a child out of wedlock with a cousin of theirs. Sound familiar? That is the merest start to the most fascinating story ever told, a wonderful and most astounding part of which made it to the screen in “Anonymous.”

  17. ae
    April 6, 2016 at 14:37

    Spear Shaker is OK theory

  18. Dr. Ip
    April 6, 2016 at 14:08


    n. 1. Something to preserve memory; a reminder; a monument; hence, a mark; an image; a superscription; a record.
    Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, published 1913 by C. & G. Merriam Co.

  19. Julie Bianchi
    April 6, 2016 at 12:27

    For those who insist it’s snobbish to believe that an aristocrat was the true author, these are the names Shakespeare gave his lower class characters: Bottom, (a weaver); Flute, (a bellows-maker); Snout and Sly, (tinkers); Quince, (a carpenter); Snug, (a joiner); Starveling, (a tailor) ; Smooth, (a silkman); Shallow and Silence, (country justices); Elbow and Hull, (constables); Dogberry and Verges, Fang and Snare, (sheriffs’ officers); Mouldy, Shadow, Wart, and Bull-calf, (recruits); Feebee, (a recruit and a woman’s tailor); Pilch and Patch-Breech (fishermen); Potpan, Peter Thump, Simple, Gobbo, and Susan Grindstone, (servants); Speed, (a clownish servant); Slender, Pistol, Nym, Sneak, Doll Tear-sheet, Jane Smile, Costard, Oatcake, and Seacoal (miscellaneous underlings.)

    • David G
      April 6, 2016 at 21:25

      Your implication being that this shows the writer looked down on common people by giving his characters funny names, thus revealing an aristocrat’s prejudices? Compellingly argued, Julie Bianchi.

      Tell me this: why would an aristocrat, and such a tiresomely narrow-minded one as you are implying the “real” Shakespeare was, portray mythological Adonis—in Shakespeare’s most popular work during his lifetime, and one dedicated to the Earl of Southampton—-as basically a country boy, and fill the poem with rustic observations about horses, snails, and whatnot? Could it be perhaps because the author was himself a young country boy just relocated to the big city from Stratford on Avon?

      • Csemple
        April 16, 2016 at 20:40

        Somewhat after the fashion of Marie Antoinette retreating to her country-girl garden beyond the confines of the palace.

  20. dahoit
    April 6, 2016 at 11:16

    Sheesh.I wrote it all,myself,in one of my previous lives.WTF?
    You can take all your smart modern writers,just give me WM Shakespeare.I’m a 21st century man,and I don’t wanna be here!

  21. John Barth jr.
    April 6, 2016 at 06:57

    I’m curious to know why my cautious and moderate comment here is still marked “Your comment is awaiting moderation” long after so many others were shown. There is nothing improper about it.

    • Zachary Smith
      April 6, 2016 at 11:46

      Never put more than one link in a post unless you are willing to risk it being buried for several hours or days.

      That’s the only thing I know for sure and certain to delay matters.

  22. April 6, 2016 at 04:53

    The words chiselled on the tombstone translate into modern English as:

    “Good friend, for Jesus’ sake forbear,”

    “To dig the dust enclosed here.”

    “Blessed be the man that spares these stones,”

    “And cursed be he who moves my bones.”

    Am I the only person to think that these are exactly the words someone would use if they didn’t want the tomb to be dug up because there wasn’t a body?

    • Headlight
      April 13, 2016 at 13:17

      Also the words of someone who did not want his bones exhumed.

      In early modern England, it was common for bones to be disinterred after a period of time to be transferred to a charnel house. Space for burials was not infinite. The Charnel House of Saint Paul’s contained an enormous quantity of bones disinterred over centuries; in 1549, on the orders of the Duke of Somerset, the bones of tens of thousands of people that had been transferred over the centuries to the charnel house were taken from there to Finsbury Fields, a swampy area just north of the City of London, part of which was called Shoreditch. More than a thousand cartloads of bones were taken from St. Paul’s charnel house and dumped in the swamp. Less than thirty years later, the two earliest purpose-built playhouses in London, the Theatre and the Curtain, were built there.

      So Shakespeare, treading the boards at these theaters, knew of the practice of disinterring even fairly recently interred corpses. One of the most famous scenes in all of theater, from Hamlet, includes the disinterment of Yorick’s skull while digging a grave.

      There was also the issue of where Shakespeare would be interred. William Basse’s famous poem entitled “On Mr. Wm. Shakespeare, he died in April 1616” suggested that Shakespeare should be buried at Westminster Abbey near other famous poets Chaucer, Beaumont and Spenser. It’s not clear whether this suggestion was ever taken seriously, but Jonson’s poem in the First Folio clearly referred to Basse’s suggestion. Perhaps the warning was to future generations against moving Shakespeare’s remains away from his family in favor of memorializing his literary legacy at Westminster.

      • Csemple
        April 16, 2016 at 20:35

        Or perhaps the author IS buried in Westminster. And maybe a good place to look next would be under the stone slab inscribed with the words “stone coffin underneath.” It lies in the de Vere family section, next to the elegant tomb of ‘Horatio’ Vere.

  23. John A
    April 6, 2016 at 03:46

    Apart from Pericles, the works have pretty much been proven to have been written by one and the same person rather than a collective, as it were. As David G notes above, it is mainly classic English establishment snobbery that claims someone who did not go to Oxford or Cambridge University (both bastions of private education privilege) could possibly have written such magnificent works.
    Incidentally, I am a huge fan of this website, but rather surprised this kind of tabloidese speculation has been published.

  24. David G
    April 5, 2016 at 22:37

    No, no, no, no!

    I refuse to accept that this website that publishes so many valuable articles, and supplies such a desperately needed perspective that is ruthlessly suppressed in the mainstream media, is going to squander its credibility on “anti-Stratfordianism”, or whatever these miserable liars and fools call their supposed search for the “real” author of Shakespeare’s plays.

    As with all bullshit of any ambition, refuting details risks reinforcing the overall fraudulent narrative. But suffice it to say that there is literally zero “anti-Stratfordian” evidence from the era of the texts, and this whole thing is entirely the invention of Victorian-era snobs who couldn’t abide that someone below their class produced art that critical opinion had elevated to almost supernatural, semi-sacred status.

    The New York Times published a straightforward article about the scan of tomb and the possibly missing head on March 25.

    Robert Parry turned out to be right about Tom Brady and “deflategate”, and mainstream media has mostly either vindicated his position or (in true establishment media fashion) simply dropped the story. There is an illuminating parallel there to the more momentous topics that are usually covered on this site, fully justifying the editorial choice to cover such an off-beat story.

    In stark contrast, here has gone off the track altogether, giving undeserved credibility to an enduring and really pernicious fraud.

    The appearance of this one story shakes (though certainly does not topple—yet) my confidence in the quality and integrity of what I read at As for Peter W. Dickson, I know in future to skip over anything under his by-line.

    • Zachary Smith
      April 6, 2016 at 00:42

      …and this whole thing is entirely the invention of Victorian-era snobs who couldn’t abide that someone below their class produced art that critical opinion had elevated to almost supernatural, semi-sacred status

      I’d never given a thought about motives, but that one is a dandy!

      • David G
        April 6, 2016 at 21:55

        Well it’s not entirely snobbery, of course. There’s also the human race’s inherent yahooism that compels so many people, regardless of social station, to tell and believe stupid lies such as those in this article.

    • April 6, 2016 at 18:51

      David H, I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news to a comrade, but you don’t know what you are talking about when you write that “there is literally zero “anti-Stratfordian” evidence from the era of the text.”

      The fact that you don’t know what that evidence is does not change that. Nor does your defensive tone of outrage lend substance to your belief. It rather illustrates its fundamental fragility.

      • April 13, 2016 at 08:59

        The evidence is circumstantial alone. And to quote Lil Wayne: you ain’t got nuthin.

        • Csemple
          April 16, 2016 at 20:14

          The evidence for Gravity is circumstantial, but I’ll still take the stairs.

      • April 13, 2016 at 09:29

        “” but you don’t know what you are talking about when you write that “there is literally zero “anti-Stratfordian” evidence from the era of the text.””

        I wouldn’t go as far as to say he has no idea what he is talking about. It’s clear that David G, (paying attention?) clearly has a sounder appreciation of authorship issues than you do. However, the sentence should read:

        ‘there is literally zero “anti-Stratfordian” evidence.’

    • Agnes
      April 7, 2016 at 07:00

      Thank you for the most down-to-earth and logical rebuttal of the “anti-Startfordian” theories!
      I totally agree with your arguments, and in particular the one about snobbery. And I would add it didn’t stop with the blessed Victorians, but continues with even greater ferocity today. Which is, to say the least, disheartening! I can understand an “educated” Victorian refusing to accept that a man of such ordinary background as Shakespeare could be a genius with words. But in today’s world it’s a bit sad to have this argument float up to the surface again. I’ve read so many ridiculous books and articles, with arguments like “How could Shakespeare write about Italy, he’d never been outside of England”. Really? Does that mean he lived in a cave and had no interaction with other people who had traveled? Have these people never heard about imagination?
      And please, spare me the De Vere theory! Is there anyone in his right mind who could believe that the proud author of “Fancy and Desire” could have penned Shakespeare’s work? Can anyone really believe that the face of Wriothesley’s lover is that of the genius who wrote Hamlet? Really?
      Shakespeare, the genius, the truculent, generous, inventive and creative writer was obviously a man of the middle classes: open-minded, witty and with an endless supply of ideas and imagination. He was certainly not a degenerate aristocrat. And to those, like the author of this article, who yell about it being impossible for a genius like Shakespeare to be buried in an unmarked tomb, I will only say one word: Mozart. I rest my case.

  25. Andrew
    April 5, 2016 at 20:37

    I am surprised that the church has not suggested that Shakespeare has “risen.”

  26. John Barth jr.
    April 5, 2016 at 20:33

    With due respect for the author and his research and good intentions, I must admit that I have not seen much basis for concern or speculation here. Whether he is buried there, whether in the wall or somewhere under the floor, or in the churchyard by some agreement to obscure the location to thwart grave robbers, matters little. The location does not answer any fundamental question raised. Also the controversy is moot, as is the “true” authorship, as it cannot affect the meaning of the works.

    The pre-1815 opening suggests that even then there was little concern about opening tombs just a bit for good reason, so there should be far less concern now. The UK church admin probably doesn’t fear that scientists are grave robbers, or that divine retribution shall strike them down, so they should not be averse to scanning the whole church and churchyard, and even carefully opening whatever is not demonstrably something else, in order of probability, until you find old Billy. Just get a grant and offer them an endowment of a million or so for their trouble, and they can chalk it up to maintenance and funding depreciation, plus get some free advertising and lots of tourism revenue for the congregation.

    What beyond genealogy can be learned from the remains? The doomed King Duncan in MacBeth (as I recall) looks upon the head of a loyal friend executed upon (false) accusation of disloyalty by Duncan’s (false) protectors, and says,
    “There is no art to find
    the construction of the mind
    in the face.”

    Nor is there an art to find the construction of the plays in the author’s remains. So Shakespeare is what Shakespeare wrote, and that is his proper memorial, not a grave. Very likely he and wife and his surviving associates agreed that he be buried anonymously to defeat graverobbers and the worshippers of remains who would distract attention from his proper memorial.

    But there is an art to find the minds that took out MH17 in Ukraine, for example, and denial of radar scan information is far more significant there. And what imperial usurpations were afoot. And what false texts we were fed to allow our false protectors to deceive us. That seems to me a better theatre of investigation.

    • John Barth jr.
      April 6, 2016 at 14:35

      Duncan says (Act I Scene 4) “There’s no art/ To find the mind’s construction in the face:”

    • Brad Benson
      April 8, 2016 at 11:04

      Now that was one of the most interesting responses I’ve ever seen on any site. The totally unexpected final paragraph was the perfect exclamation to a well written and almost poetic “on topic” response. Congratulations to you sir.

    • J. Ferraccio
      April 13, 2016 at 16:25

      Just food for thought: when Shakespeare passed away, he was not the most famous playwright in the world, just one of a handful of men who made their living writing for the London theatre (indeed, the term “playwright” didn’t appear until the year of his death). Wouldn’t his burial in the church likely prevent his grave being disturbed? Far too many people writing about what Shakespeare “would have” done fail to take into account he had no clue that centuries after his death people would turn him into a secular god.

  27. Zachary Smith
    April 5, 2016 at 19:41

    Under pressure to prove the value of the project, they tried to defend their claim about a missing skull by citing an article in a magazine called Argosy in 1879 that alluded to an oral tradition that some grave robbers stole Shakespeare’s skull, or perhaps someone did that during an effort to repair the gravestone in the mid-1790s.

    Mr. Dickson dismisses the 1879 article, but I’m not inclined to do so. For what it’s worth, here is a link:

    It’s a whale of a lot easier for me to believe that 222 years ago some punks played grave-robber than somebody else wrote Shakespeare’s plays.

    For those who are interested in learning more about the historical Shakespeare I’d recommend Michael Wood’s version. Your library likely has it on DVD.


    • Lu A. Lewellen
      April 6, 2016 at 13:30

      Feel free to ignore the thoroughly debunked Shakeshafte in Lancashire part of the tour de Shaksper. Michael Wood reportedly came around to Bearman’s POV but the documentary had already been filmed.

    • April 6, 2016 at 13:45

      “It’s a whale of a lot easier for me to believe that 222 years ago some punks played grave-robber than somebody else wrote Shakespeare’s plays.”

      Here are some resources that may allow you to offer a more informed opinion:

      The last link is to my own website. I’ve studied this topic for twenty years, starting as a graduate student, in the 1990s, before completing my PhD dissertation. For those interested in learning how bad an intellectual historian Michael Wood actually is, I recommend taking a walk on the wild side (to quote Lou Reed) before getting too high and mighty in defense of an ailing Shakespearean orthodoxy.

      it has no future.

      • Headlight
        April 13, 2016 at 09:13

        An article on the first site you link to gives the current theory of those who deny Shakespeare’s authorship about Shakespeare’s monument in Stratford. Alexander Waugh believes that the original monument was constructed as an elaborate effort to ridicule Shakespeare, with the figure of Shakespeare carved to look like an ape, and monkey faces carved on the pillars (which are now topped with a gilded acanthus leaf motif.)

        This seems ridiculous — why would anyone go to the expense of creating such a monument, and why would the church allow it to be erected only a short walk from Shakespeare’s home, where his widow and daughter still lived? Do you agree with Waugh’s view that the monument was originally intended to degrade Shakespeare in death?

        By the way, for those interested in learning about the real Shakespeare, a marvelous new site created by the British Library, the British National Archives, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Oxford’s Bodleian Library and the Folger Shakespeare Library,, now has high-def scans of hundreds of original documents related to many aspects of Shakespeare’s life and works.

  28. fosforos
    April 5, 2016 at 19:17

    In his will Shakespeare, very notoriously, left to Anne his “second-best bed.” So what did he consider his BEST bed and why didn’t he leave it to anyone? It was not, I maintain, a stone slab in a provincial church. No, his “best bed” was IN THE EARTH where he could fulfill the destiny of all men as he defined it in Hamlet: to fat the worms. So just take Jonson’s word at face value: “A moniment without a tomb.” Sorry, all you priests and prelates and tourist-trap profiteers, you’ve got nothing and never will find the bones you’re looking for.

    • Headlight
      April 13, 2016 at 08:57

      Anne had a widow’s right to a life interest in one-third of all of Shakespeare’s property — she was well provided for. The “best bed” in New Place would, of course, by right go to Shakespeare’s son-in-law and daughter, John and Susanna Hall, who were bequeathed the bulk of his estate.

Comments are closed.