Willdenthal on Reflections on Spelling and the Shakespeare Authorship Question


Bryan H. Wildenthal, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, is publishing Reflections on Spelling and the Shakespeare Authorship Question: ‘What’s in (the Spelling of) a Name?’ at the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship website (Forthcoming). Here is the abstract.

What’s in a name? Perhaps, as Juliet recognized, not much (see Romeo and Juliet, act 2, sc. 2). This essay argues that the differences in spelling between “Shakspere,” “Shakespeare,” and their variants do not in themselves provide a very strong argument for doubt about the authorship of the works of “William Shakespeare” (the likely pseudonym of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, 1550-1604), conventionally said to be written by William Shakspere of Stratford-upon-Avon (1564-1616).

While this essay does not go as far as the late Oxfordian scholar Peter Moore (one of our best), who called it a “zero argument,” it does agree with Moore—and to some extent with David Kathman, a Stratfordian scholar—that many non-Stratfordians have placed too much emphasis on spelling issues.

But the spelling issues do raise interesting questions as part of the broader Shakespeare Authorship Question (SAQ). They add to the evidence indicating early doubts about the identity of the author “Shakespeare,” the subject of Professor Wildenthal’s 2017 conference presentation and forthcoming book.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.



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