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‘Anonymous’ questions the veracity of Shakespeare’s work

William Shakespeare is the world’s greatest playwright. He wrote almost 40 plays and 150 sonnets, he was a master of nearly every genre and he changed the way the world saw the arts. Almost 400 years after his death, his plays are still being put on all over the world. His impact on both the English language and history itself cannot be understated.

However, what if it's not true? What if Shakespeare never wrote a word?

This is the concept behind the new film “Anonymous.” The film is a dramatic portrayal of the theory that Shakespeare was claiming someone else’s work as his own.

Although the idea that Shakespeare was a fraud is not a popular one, it is also not a new one. The theory began to gain legitimacy in the late 19th century. While many names have been suggested for who is the real author, most theories settle on a man named Edward de Vere as the true author.

How can anyone question Shakespeare’s authorship? The basic argument is that Shakespeare comes from a family that was more than likely illiterate and that there was no evidence he had ever had any education. How then could he have gone on to write some of the most well-thought-out and compelling plays to ever written?

The theory doesn't hold much water. So little is known about the life of Shakespeare that it would be nearly impossible to make any sort of guess as to how educated the man was or how he could have created such complex plots. The era Shakespeare wrote in was filled with playwrights that came from almost identical backgrounds. Yet, his works are the only ones that are questioned based on his upbringing.

His authorship was not questioned until long after his death in 1616. No one during Shakespeare’s era ever questioned that he wrote the plays because they had no reason to.

Despite the fact that there really is very little question that Shakespeare was indeed the one to pen his own plays, the concept that someone else wrote them is intriguing. His works are the cornerstone of modern English literature.

Even if Shakespeare never wrote a word and it was all someone else, it wouldn't matter. Shakespeare the man has been dead for many years, but Shakespeare the poet lives on — not just in the plays he wrote, but also in almost every facet of modern storytelling. The plays he left behind changed culture and, over time, Shakespeare became something more. He became an idea.

As Shakespeare himself wrote, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet."

“Anonymous” opens in theaters everywhere on Oct. 28.

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