History of the Shakespeare authorship question
Note: In compliance with the accepted terminology used within the Shakespeare authorship question, this article uses the term ""Stratfordian"" to refer to the position that William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon was the primary author of the plays and poems traditionally attributed to him. The term ""anti-Stratfordian"" is used to refer to the theory that some other author, or authors, wrote the works.Claims that someone other than William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon wrote the works traditionally attributed to him were first explicitly made in the 19th century. To that date, there is no evidence that his authorship was ever questioned. This conclusion is not accepted, however, by proponents of an alternative author, who discern veiled allusions in contemporary documents they construe as evidence that the works attributed to him were written by someone else, and that certain early 18th-century satirical and allegorical tracts contain similar hints.Throughout the 18th century, Shakespeare was described as a transcendent genius and by the beginning of the 19th century Bardolatry was in full swing. Uneasiness about the difference between Shakespeare's godlike reputation and the humdrum facts of his biography continued to emerge in the 19th century. In 1853, with help from Ralph Waldo Emerson, Delia Bacon, an American teacher and writer, travelled to Britain to research her belief that Shakespeare's works were written by a group of dissatisfied politicians, in order to communicate the advanced political and philosophical ideas of Francis Bacon (no relation). Later writers such as Ignatius Donnelly portrayed Francis Bacon as the sole author. After being proposed by James Greenstreet in 1891, it was the advocacy of Professor Abel Lefranc, a renowned authority on Renaissance literature, which in 1918 put William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby in a prominent position as a candidate.The poet and playwright Christopher Marlowe was first proposed as a member of a group theory by T.W. White in 1892. This theory was expanded in 1895 by Wilbur G. Zeigler, where he became the group's principal writer. Other short pieces supporting the Marlovian theory appeared in 1902, 1916 and 1923, but the first book to bring it to prominence was Calvin Hoffman's 1955 The Man Who Was Shakespeare.In 1920, an English school-teacher, John Thomas Looney, published Shakespeare Identified, proposing a new candidate for the authorship in Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. This theory gained many notable advocates, including Sigmund Freud, and since the publication of Charlton Ogburn's The Mysterious William Shakespeare: the Myth and the Reality in 1984, the Oxfordian theory, boosted in part by the advocacy of several Supreme Court justices, and high-profile theatre professionals, has become the most popular alternative authorship theory.