Baconian theory

Baconian theory

The Baconian theory of Shakespearean authorship holds that Sir Francis Bacon wrote the plays conventionally attributed to William Shakespeare.

The mainstream view is that William Shakespeare of Stratford, an actor in the Lord Chamberlain's Men (later the King's Men), wrote the poems and plays that bear his name. The Baconians, however, hold that scholars are so focused on the details of Shakespeare's life that they neglect to investigate the many facts that they see as connecting Bacon to the Shakespearean work. "It is perfectly true," declared Harry Stratford Caldecott in an 1895 Johannesburg lecture, "that the great bulk of English critical opinion refuses to recognise 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. Consequently, it endeavours to ignore or waive aside any suggestion of a doubt as to the authorship of these immortal works, as if it were an ugly spectre or troublesome nightmare. It is, notwithstanding, a perfectly tangible, flesh-and-blood difficulty and must sooner or later be faced and grappled with in a manly and straightforward way." [Caldecott: "Our English Homer", p. 5.] The Baconians' first objective is to establish reasonable doubt in the Stratford man's authorship claim and then, having justified the need to examine an alternative candidate, cite the many possible connections between Sir Francis Bacon and the Shakespearean work. (See Shakespearean authorship.)

The main Baconian evidence is founded on the presentation of a motive for concealment, the circumstances surrounding the first known performance of "The Comedy of Errors", the close proximity of Bacon to the William Strachey letter upon which many scholars think "The Tempest" was based, perceived allusions in the plays to Bacon's legal acquaintances, the many supposed parallels with the plays of Bacon's published work and entries in the Promus (his private wastebook), Bacon's interest in civil histories, and ostensible autobiographical allusions in the plays. Since Bacon had first-hand knowledge of government cipher methods, [Jardine, Lisa; Stewart, Alan: "Hostage to Fortune: The Troubled Life of Sir Francis Bacon" (Hill and Wang, 1999), p. 55.] most Baconians see it as feasible that he left his signature somewhere in the Shakespearean work.

As in the cases of every other candidate, the Stratford man is claimed to have acted as a mask for the concealed author. Supporters of the standard view, often referred to as "Stratfordian" or "Mainstream", dispute all contentions in favour of Bacon, and criticize Bacon's poetry as not being comparable in quality with that of Shakespeare.

Mainstream view

The mainstream view is that the author known as "Shakespeare" was the same William Shakespeare who was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564, moved to London and became an actor, and "sharer" (part-owner) of the acting company called the Lord Chamberlain's Men (which owned the Globe Theatre and the Blackfriars Theatre in London). He divided his time between London and Stratford, and retired there around 1613 before his death in 1616. In 1623, seven years after his death (and after the death of most of the proposed authorship candidates), his plays were collected for publication in the First Folio edition.

Shakespeare of Stratford is further identified by the following evidence: He left gifts to actors from the London company in his will; the man from Stratford and the author of the works share a common name; and commendatory poems in the 1623 First Folio of Shakespeare's works refer to the "Swan of Avon" and his "Stratford monument". [For a full account of the documents relating to Shakespeare's life, see Samuel Schoenbaum, "William Shakespeare: A Compact Documentary Life" (OUP, 1987)] Mainstream scholars believe that the latter phrase refers to the funerary monument in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford, which refers to Shakespeare as a writer (comparing him to Virgil and calling his writing a "living art"), and was described as such by visitors to Stratford as far back as the 1630s. [Shakespeare and his Rivals: A Casebook on the Authorship Controversy" by George McMichael and Edgar M. Glenn, a pair of college professors. It is copyright 1962, and published by The Odyssey Press, in NY. lib of congress card #62-11942., page 41.]

Several pieces of circumstantial evidence support the Stratfordian view: In a 1592 pamphlet by the playwright Robert Greene called "Greene's Groatsworth of Wit", Greene chastises a playwright whom he calls "Shake-scene", calling him "an upstart crow" and a "Johannes factotum" (a "Jack-of-all-trades", a man able to feign skill), thus suggesting that people were aware of a writer named Shakespeare.cite book |last=Anderson |first=Mark |authorlink=Mark Anderson |title="Shakespeare" by Another Name |origyear=2005 |publisher=Gotham Books |location=New York City |isbn=1592402151 |pages=xxx] Also, poet John Davies once referred to Shakespeare as "our English Terence". Additionally, Shakespeare's grave monument in Stratford, built within a decade of his death, currently features him with a pen in hand, suggesting that he was known as a writer.

Critics of the mainstream view have challenged most if not all of the above assertions, claiming that there is no direct evidence which clearly identifies Shakespeare of Stratford as a playwright. These critics note that the only theatrical reference in his will (the gifts to fellow actors) were interlined - i.e.: inserted between previously written lines - and thus subject to doubt; the term "Swan of Avon" can be interpreted in numerous ways; that "Greene's Groatsworth of Wit" could imply that Shakespeare was being given credit for the work of other writers [cite book |last=Anderson |first=Mark |authorlink=Mark Anderson |title="Shakespeare" by Another Name |origyear=2005 |publisher=Gotham Books |location=New York City |isbn=1592402151 |pages=xxx] ; that Davies' mention of "our English Terence" is a mixed reference as Cicero, Quintilian, Michel de Montaigne and many contemporary Elizabethan scholars knew Terence as a front man for one or more Roman aristocratic playwrights.; and they assert that Shakespeare's grave monument was altered after its original creation, with the original monument merely showing a man holding a grain sack.


Sir Francis Bacon was a major scientist, philosopher, courtier, diplomat, essayist, historian and successful politician, who served as Solicitor General (1607), Attorney General (1613) and Lord Chancellor (1618).

Those who subscribe to the theory that Sir Francis Bacon wrote the Shakespeare work generally refer to themselves as "Baconians", while dubbing those who maintain the orthodox view that William Shakspeare of Stratford wrote them "Stratfordians".

Baptised as William Shakspere, the Stratford man used several variants of his name during his lifetime, including "Shakespeare". Baconians use "Shakspere" [Caldecott: "Our English Homer, p. 7.] or "Shakespeare" for the glover's son and actor from Stratford, and "Shake-speare" for the author to avoid the assumption that the Stratford man wrote the work.

History of Baconian theory

In a letter to the barrister and poet John Davies in 1603, Bacon refers to himself as a "concealed poet". [Lambeth Palace MS 976, folio 4. The signature and docket is in Bacon's hand; the body of the letter is a transcription by one of his scriveners.] Baconians claim that certain of his contemporaries knew of and hinted at this secret authorship. The satirical poets Joseph Hall (1574-1656) and John Marston (1575-1634) in the so-called Hall-Marston satires, [Hall, Joseph: "Virgidemarium" (1597-1598), Book 2, Satire 1 ("For shame write better Labeo [...] ."); Book 4, Satire 1 ("Labeo is whip't and laughs me in the face [...] ."); Book 6, Satire 1 ("Tho Labeo reaches right ...")] [Marston, John, "The Metamorphosis of Pygmalion's Image And Certaine Satyres" (1598). See "The Authour in prayse" of his precedent poem, "So Labeo did complain his love was stone ...", and "Reactio" Satire IV: "Fond Censurer! Why should those mirrors seem [...] ."] discuss between them a character called Labeo in relation to Shakespeare's long poem "Venus and Adonis" (1593). Perceiving that Hall is criticising "Venus and Adonis" as a lewd Mirror-genre poem, [A Mirror for Magistrates (1559) was a collection of about 100 Renaissance moralistic poems on the subject of sinners suffering divine retribution. It is arguable that "Venus and Adonis" fits into the genre because Adonis's lust and his subsequent death in the boar hunt could be interpreted as divine retribution.] Marston writes "What, not "mediocria firma" from thy spight?", "mediocria firma" being the Bacon family motto.In 1781, a Warwickshire clergyman and scholar named James Wilmot, having failed to find significant evidence from his research in the Stratford district relating to Shakspere's authorship, suspected that Shakspere could not be the author of the works that bear his name. Wilmot was familiar with the writings of Francis Bacon and formed the opinion that he was more likely the real author of the Shakespearean canon. Persuaded of Bacon's authorship of the Shakespeare poems and plays, he related his view to James Cowell, who revealed it in a paper read to the Ipswich Philosophical Society in 1805.

The idea that Sir Francis Bacon penned the Shakespeare work was revived by William Henry Smith in a letter to Lord Ellesmere in 1856. [ [ PDF download of letter] from William Henry Smith to Lord Ellesmere.] This took the form of a sixteen-page pamphlet entitled "Was Lord Bacon the Author of Shakespeare's Plays?" [Smith, William Henry: "Was Lord Bacon the author of Shakespeare's plays?", a pamphlet-letter addressed to Lord Ellesmere (William Skeffington, 1856).] in which Smith noted several letters to and from Francis Bacon that apparently hinted at his authorship. A year later, both Smith and Delia Bacon published books expounding the Baconian theory. [Smith, William Henry: "Bacon and Shakespeare: An Inquiry Touching Players, Playhouses, and Play-writers in the Days of Elizabeth" (John Russell Smith, 1857).] [Bacon, Delia: "The Philosophy of the Plays of Shakespeare Unfolded" (1857); " [ The Philosophy of the Plays of Shakespeare Unfolded] ".] In the latter work, Shakespeare was represented as a group of writers, including Francis Bacon, Sir Walter Raleigh and Edmund Spenser, whose agenda was to propagate an anti-monarchial system of philosophy by secreting it in the text.

In 1867, in the library of Northumberland House, one John Bruce happened upon a bundle of bound documents, some of whose sheets had been ripped away. It had comprised numerous of Bacon's oratories and disquisitions, and also, once, the manuscripts of "Richard II" and "Richard III", but these had been removed. On the outer sheet was scrawled repeatedly the names of Bacon and Shakespeare. There were several quotations from the latter's poems and one, too, from "Love's Labour's Lost". The Earl of Northumberland sent the bundle to James Spedding, who subsequently penned a thesis on the subject, with which was published a facsimile of the aforementioned cover. Spedding hazarded a 1592 date, making it possibly the earliest extant mention of the Swan of Avon. The Northumberland manuscript, while not proving that Bacon wrote the plays, shows us that Bacon was in possession of their manuscripts. It is not known how he came to own them and why they were destroyed.

After a diligent deciphering of the Elizabethan handwriting in Francis Bacon's wastebook, the "Promus of Formularies and Elegancies", Constance Mary Fearon Pott (1833-1915) noted that many of the ideas and figures of speech in Bacon's book could also be found in the Shakespearean plays. Pott founded the Francis Bacon Society in 1885 and published her Bacon-centered theory in 1891. [Pott, Constance: "Francis Bacon and His Secret Society" (London, Sampson, Low and Marston: 1891); [, Constance Pott] .] In this, Pott developed the view of W.F.C. Wigston, [Wigston, W.F.C.: "Bacon, Shakespeare and the Rosicrucians" (1890).] that Francis Bacon was the founding member of the Rosicrucians, a secret society of occult philosophers, and claimed that they secretly created art, literature and drama, including the entire Shakespeare canon, before adding the symbols of the rose and cross to their work.

The late 19th-century interest in the Baconian theory continued the theme that Bacon had secreted encoded messages in the plays. In 1888, Ignatius L. Donnelly, a U.S. Congressman, science fiction author and Atlantis theorist, set out his notion of ciphers in"The Great Cryptogram", while Elizabeth Wells Gallup, having read Bacon's account of his 'bi-literal cipher' (in which two fonts were used as a method of encoding in binary format), claimed to have found evidence that Bacon not only authored the Shakespearean works but, along with the Earl of Essex, he was a child of Queen Elizabeth and the Earl of Leicester, who had been secretly married. No-one else was able to discern these hidden messages, and the cryptographers William and Elizabeth Friedman showed that the method is unlikely to have been employed. [Friedman, William and Friedman, Elizabeth: "The Shakespearian ciphers examined" (Cambridge University Press, 1957).]

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) expressed interest in and gave credence to the Baconian theory in his writings. The German mathematician Georg Cantor believed that Shakespeare was Bacon, but he was apparently suffering a bout of illness when he researched the subject in 1884. He eventually published two pamphlets supporting the theory in 1896 and 1897.

The American physician Dr Orville Ward Owen (1854-1924) had such conviction in his own cipher method that, in 1909, he began excavating the bed of the River Wye, near Chepstow Castle, in the search of Bacon's original Shakespearean manuscripts. Only his death in 1924 prevented him from persisting with the project.

The American art collector Walter Conrad Arensberg (1878-1954) believed that Bacon had concealed messages in a variety of ciphers, relating to a secret history of the time and the esoteric secrets of the Rosicrucians, in the Shakespearean works. He published a variety of decipherments between 1922 and 1930, concluding finally that, although he had failed to find them, there certainly were concealed messages. He established the Francis Bacon Foundation in California in 1937 and left it his collection of Baconiana.

More recent Baconian theory ignores the esoteric following that the theory had earlier attracted. [Michell, John: "Who Wrote Shakespeare" (Thames and Hudson: 2000) pp. 258-259.] Whereas, previously, the main proposed reason for secrecy was Bacon's desire for high office, this theory posits that his main motivation for concealment was the completion of his Great Instauration project. [Spedding, James: "The Works of Francis Bacon" (1872), Vol.4, p.112 (Bacon comments on whether his idea of compiling Histories (some of which he wrote up himself for the natural sciences) and then applying his inductive method to them, should only apply to natural science or whether Histories were also required for ethics and politics: "It may be asked [...] whether I speak of natural philosophy only, or whether I mean that the other sciences, logic, ethics, and politics, should be carried on by this method. Now I certainly mean what I have said to be understood of them all [...] ."] [Dean, Leonard: "Sir Francis Bacon's theory of civil history writing", in Vickers, Brian, (ed.): "Essential Articles for the Study of Sir Francis Bacon" (Sidwick & Jackson: 1972), p. 219: "Bacon believed that the chief functions of history are to provide the materials for a realistic treatment of psychology and ethics, and to give instruction by means of example and analysis in practical politics."] The argument runs that, in order to advance the project's scientific component, he intended to set up new institutes of experimentation to gather the data (his scientific "Histories") to which his inductive method could be applied. He needed to attain high office, however, to gain the requisite influence, [Spedding, James: "Of the Interpretation of Nature" in "Life and Letters of Francis Bacon", 1872). Bacon writes, "I hoped that, if I rose to any place of honour in the state, I should have a larger command of industry and ability to help me in my work [...] ."] and being known as a dramatist (a low-class profession) would have impeded his prospects. Realising that play-acting was used by the ancients "as a means of educating men's minds to virtue", [Bacon, Francis: "Advancement of Learning" (1640), Book 2, p. xiii.] and being "strongly addicted to the theatre" [Pott; Pott: "Did Francis Bacon Write "Shakespeare"?", p. 7.] himself, he is claimed to have set out the otherwise-unpublished moral philosophical component of his Great Instauration project in the Shakespearean work (moral "Histories"). In this way, he could influence the nobility through dramatic performance with his observations on what constitutes "good" government (as in Prince Hal's relationship with the Chief Justice in "Henry IV, Part 2").

Autobiographical evidence

It is known that, as early as 1595, Bacon employed scriveners, [Lambeth Palace MS 650.28, written in Bacon's hand to his brother Anthony: "I have here an idle pen or two [...] thinking to have got some money this term; I pray send me somewhat else for them to write [...] .') Some scholars believe that Anthony and others contributed to the composition of the Shakespearean plays, too, "content to see their work performed and preserved without the beggarly ambition of advertising their names on the title pages". See Caldecott: "Our English Homer", pp. 10-11.] which, one could argue, would protect his anonymity and account for Heminge and Condell, two actors in Shakspeare's company, remarking about Shakspere that "wee ["sic"] have scarce received from him a blot in his papers". [Heminge, John; Condell, Henry: "First Folio" (1623), dedication "To the great variety of Readers".] Baconians point out that Bacon's rise to the post of Attorney General in 1613 coincided with the end of Shakespeare the author's output. They also stress that he was the only authorship candidate still alive when the First Folio was published and that it occurred in a period (1621-1626) when Bacon was publishing his work for posterity after his fall from office gave him the free time.

"Henry VIII" (1613) may be interpreted as alluding to Bacon's fall from office in 1621, suggesting that the play had been altered at least five years after Shakspere's death in 1616. The argument relates to Cardinal Wolsey's forfeiture of the Great Seal in the play, which might be construed as departing from the facts of history to mirror Bacon's own loss. Bacon lost office on a charge of accepting bribes to influence his judgment of legal cases, whereas Wolsey's crime was to petition the Pope to delay sanctioning King Henry's divorce from Catherine of Aragon. Nevertheless, in 3.2.125-8, just before the Great Seal is reclaimed, King Henry's main concern is an inventory of Wolsey's wealth that has inadvertently been delivered to him::::"King Henry". [...] The several parcels of his Plate, his Treasure,:::Rich stuffs, and ornaments of household, which:::I find at such a proud rate, that it outspeaks:::Possession of a subject.

A few lines later, Wolsey loses the Seal with the stage direction:

:::Enter to Cardinal Wolsey the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, the Earl of Surrey:::and the Lord Chamberlaine.

However, in history, only the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk performed this task, [Holinshed, Raphael, "The Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland" (1587), pp. 796-7: "the king sent the two dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk to the cardinal's place at Westminster [...] that he should surrender up the greate ["sic"] seal into their hands".] and Shakespeare has inexplicably added the Earl of Surrey and the Lord Chamberlaine. In Bacon's case, King James "commissioned the Lord Treasurer, the Lord Steward, the Lord Chamberlaine, and the Earl of Arundel, to receive and take charge of it". [Spedding, James, "Life and Letters of Francis Bacon" (1872), Vol. 7, p. 262.] Given that Thomas Howard was the 2nd Earl of Arundel and Surrey, then the two noblemen that Shakespeare has added may be construed as references to two of the four that attended Bacon.

Credentials for authorship

"If we must look for an author outside of Shakespeare himself," said Caldecott, "the only possible candidate that presents himself is Francis Bacon." [Caldecott: "Our English Homer", p. 11. Caldecott held that the Shakespearean work was of such an incalculably higher calibre than that of such contemporaries as Francis Beaumont, John Fletcher, George Peele, Robert Greene, John Marston, George Chapman and John Ford that it could not possibly have been the making of any of them.] Proposed the illustrious Shakespearean scholar Horace Howard Furness, "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. In this case it would have been resting now upon his head by almost common consent." [Quoted in Morgan: "The Shakespearean Myth", p. 201.] "He was," agreed Caldecott, "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." [Caldecott: "Our English Homer", pp. 11-12.]

There is indeed much evidence to suggest that Bacon had the credentials to write the Shakespearean work. In relation to the Stratford man's extensive vocabulary, we have the words of Dr Samuel Johnson, author of the first dictionary: " [... A] Dictionary of the English language might be compiled from Bacon's writing alone". [ Boswell, James: "The Life of Samuel Johnson 1740-1795", Chapter 13.] The poet Percy Bysshe Shelly testifies against the notion that Bacon's was an unwaveringly dry legal style: "Lord Bacon was a poet. His language has a sweet majestic rhythm, which satisfies the sense, no less than the almost superhuman wisdom of his intellect satisfies the intellect [...] ." [Shelly, Percy Bysse: "Defense of Poetry" (1821), p. 10.] Ben Jonson writes in his First-Folio tribute to "The Author Mr William Shakespeare",

::Leave thee alone for the comparison::Of all that insolent Greece and haughtie ["sic"] Rome::Sent forth, or since did from their ashes come.

"There can be no doubt," said Caldecott, "that Ben Jonson was in possession of the secret composition of Shakespeare's works." An intimate of both Bacon and Shakespeare — he was for a time the former's stenographer and Latin interpreter, and had his debut as a playwright produced by the latter [Jonson's familiarity with Shakespeare is further evidenced in his communication with Drummond of Hawthornden.] — he was placed perfectly to be in the know. He did not name Shakespeare among the sixteen greatest cards of the epoch but wrote of Bacon that he "hath filled up all the numbers, [Verses.] and performed that in our tongue which may be compared or preferred either to insolent Greece or to haughty Rome [...] so that he may be named, and stand as the mark [Target.] and "acme" of our language." [Jonson, Ben: "Timber: or, Discoveries; Made Upon Men and Matter" (Cassell: 1889), pp. 60-61. (Definitions: "number" (n.) 1. (plural) verses, lines, e.g. "These numbers will I tear and write in prose", "Hamlet" II, ii, 119; "mark" (n.) 1. target, goal, aim, e.g. "that's the golden mark I seek to hit" ("Henry VI, Part 2", I, i, 241). Source: Crystal, David; Crystal, Ben: "Shakespeare's Words" (Penguin Books, 2002).] "If Ben Jonson knew that the name 'Shakespeare' was a mere cloak for Bacon, it is easy enough to reconcile the application of the same language indifferently to one and the other. Otherwise," declared Caldecott, "it is not easily explicable." [Caldecott: "Our English Homer", p. 15.]

Some time subsequent to Shakespeare's expiry, Jonson tackled the panoptic task of setting down the First Folio and casting away the originals. This was in 1623, when Bacon had lapsed into penury. Jonson would have been keen to allay his friend's straits, and the folio's yield would have fitted the bill nicely.

In 1645, there was printed a strange volume entitled "The Great Assizes Holden in Parnassus by Apollo and his Assessours". Atop the mountain sat Apollo and, immediately beneath him, Bacon ("The Lord Verulam, Chancellor of Parnassus"), followed by 25 writers and poets, and then, second last at number 26 (and only as a "juror"), "William Shakespere". This artifact has frequently been interpreted as suggesting that Francis Bacon was miles ahead of his coevals and second only to Apollo in the poetical stakes.

That Bacon took a keen interest in civil history is evidenced in his book "History of the Reign of Henry VII" (1621), his article the "Memorial of Elizabeth" (1608) and his letter to King James in 1610, lobbying for financial support to indite a history of Great Britain: "I shall have the advantage which almost no writer of history hath had, in that I shall write of times not only since I could remember, but since I could observe." [Spedding, James: "The Works of Francis Bacon" (1872), Vol. 6, p. 274.]

Bacon and Shake-speare cover completely the monarchs of the period 1377 to 1603 without duplicating one another's historical ground. In 1623, Bacon gave different excuses to Prince Charles for not working on a commissioned treatise on Henry VIII (which had already been covered by the Shake-speare play in 1613). [Spedding, James: "The Works of Francis Bacon" (1872), Vol. 6, p. 267. In a letter to his friend Tobie Matthew, dated 16 June 1623, Bacon writes, "Since you say the Prince hath not forgotten his commandment touching my history of Henry the Eighth, I may not forget my duty. But I find Sir Robert Cotton, who poured forth what he had in my former work, somewhat dainty in his materials in this". In a letter to Prince Charles in late October 1623, he continues, "For Henry the Eighth, to deal truly with your Highness, I did so despair of my health this summer, as I was glad to choose some such work as I might encompass within days: so far was I from entering into a work of any length".] In the end, he wrote only two pages.

The Tempest

Numerous scholars believe that the main source for Shake-speare's "The Tempest" was a letter written by William Strachey known as the "True Reportory (TR)" [Purchas, Samuel, "Hakluytus posthumus; or, Purchas his pilgrimes", (William Stansby, London: 1625), p.1758; in four volumes, beginning page 1734 in vol. IV. Published as "Purchas His Pilgrimes", Vol. 19 (James MacLehose and Sons: 1904). Includes extracts from the "True Declaration"] sent back to the Virginia Company from the newly established Virginia colony in 1610, about a year before the play's first known performance. [Vaughan, V.M., and Vaughan A.T., "The Tempest", Arden Shakespeare (Thomson Learning: 1999), pp.41] It was discovered when Richard Hakluyt, one of the eight names on the First Virginia Charter (1606), died in 1616 and a copy was found among his papers. Scholars have suggested that the letter was “circulated in manuscript” [Dobson, Michael, and Wells, Stanley, "The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare" (Oxford University Press: 2005), p.470] without restriction and that “there seems to have been an opportunity for Shakespeare to see the unpublished report, or even to have met Strachey”. [Kermode, F. (ed.), "The Tempest", Arden Shakespeare (London, Methuen: 1958), p. xxviii] However, Baconians point to evidence that the letter was restricted to members of the Virginia Council which included Sir Francis Bacon (and 50 other Lords and Earls) but not William Shakspere. For example, Item 27 of the governing Council’s instructions to Deputy Governor Sir Thomas Gates before he set out for the colony charges him to “take especial care what relacions [accounts] come into England and what lettres are written and that all thinges of that nature may be boxed up and sealed and sent to first of [sic] the Council here, ... and that at the arrivall and retourne of every shippinge you endeavour to knowe all the particular passages and informacions given on both sides and to advise us accordingly." [Swem, E.G., (Ed.), “The Three Charters of the Virginia Company of London”, in "Jamestown 30th Anniversary Historical Booklets 1–4" (Virginia 350th Anniversary Celebration Corporation: 1957), p.66] Louis B. Wright explains why the Virginia Company was so keen to control information: “ [the "TR" gave] a discouraging picture of Jamestown, but it is significant that it had to wait fifteen years to see print, for the Virginia Company just at that time was subsidizing preachers and others to give glowing descriptions of Virginia and its prospects". [Wright, Louis B., "The Cultural Life of the American Colonies" (Courier Dover Publications: 2002), p.156] Baconians argue that it would have been against the interests of any Council member, whose investment was at risk, to present a copy of the "TR" to Shakspere, whose business was public.

On November 1610, conscious that the criticisms of the returning colonists might jeopardize the recruitment of new settlers and investment, the Virginia Company published the propagandist "True Declaration (TD)" which was designed to confute “such scandalous reports as have tended to the disgrace of so worthy an enterprise” and was intended to “wash away those spots, which foul mouths (to justify their own disloyalty) have cast upon so fruitful, so fertile, and so excellent a country”. ["A True Declaration of the estate of the Colony in Virginia, with a confutation of such scandalous reports as have tended to the disgrace of so worthy an enterprise." Published by advice and direction of the Council of Virginia, London. Printed for William Barret, and are to be sold at the Black Bear in Paul’s Church yard, 1610.] The "TD" relied on the "TR" and other minor sources and it is clear from its use of “I” that it had a single author. There are also verbal parallels between (a) the "TD", and (b) Bacon's "Advancement of Learning" [Bacon, Francis, "The Major Works" (Oxford University Press: 2002)] that suggest that Sir Francis Bacon as Solicitor General might have written the "TD" and so, by implication, had access to the "TR" which sourced "The Tempest". Some examples of these are presented together with their correspondence to (c) the Shake-speare work.

Parallel 1:(a) The next Fountaine [sic] of woes was secure negligence:(b) but to drink indeed of the true fountains of learning (p.121):(c) "Thersites". Would the fountain of your mind were clear again,::that I might water an ass at it!::(1602-3 "Troilus and Cressida", 3.3.305-6)Parallel 2:(a) For if the country be barren or the situation contagious as famine::and sickness destroy our nation, we strive against the stream of reason::and make ourselves the subjects of scorn and derision.:(b) whereby divinity hath been reduced into an art, as into a cistern, and::the streams of doctrine or positions fetched and derived from thence. (p.293):(c) "Timon". Creep in the minds and marrows of our youth,::That 'gainst the stream of virtue they may strive,::And drown themselves in riot!::(1604-7 "Timon of Athens", 4.1.26-8)::"Lysander". scorn and derision never come in tears:::(1594-5 "A Midsummer Night's Dream", 3.2.123)Parallel 3:(a) The emulation of Cæsar and Pompey watered the plains of Pharsaly::with blood and distracted the sinews of the Roman monarchy.:(b) We will begin, therefore, with this precept, according to the ancient::opinion, that the sinews of wisdom are slowness of belief and distrust (p.273):(c) "Henry V". Now are we well resolved; and, by God's help,::And yours, the noble sinews of our power,::France being ours, we'll bend it to our awe,::Or break it all to pieces:::(1599 "Henry V", 1.2.222-5)

William Strachey went on to write "The History of Travel into Virginia Britannica", a book that avoided duplicating the details of the "TR". First published in 1849, three manuscript copies survive dedicated to Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland; Sir William Apsley, Purveyor of his Majesty’s Navy Royal; and Sir Francis Bacon, Lord Chancellor. In the dedication to Bacon, which must have been composed after he became Lord Chancellor in 1618, Strachey writes “Your Lordship ever approving himself a most noble fautor [supporter] of the Virginia Plantation, being from the beginning (with other lords and earls) of the principal counsel applied to propagate and guide it”. ["A True Declaration of the state of the Colony in Virginia with a confutation of such scandalous reports as have tended to the disgrace of so worthy an enterprise" in Wright, Louis B., "A Voyage to Virginia 1609" (University Press of Virginia: 1904), p.xvii]

The 1610-11 dating of "The Tempest" however, has been challenged by a number of scholars, most recently by researchers Roger Stritmatter and Lynne Kositsky [Shakespeare and the Voyagers Revisited, Stritmatter and Kositsky Review of English Studies, OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2007; 58, [ abbreviated Web version] ] who argue that Strachey's narrative could not have furnished an inspiration for Shakespeare, claiming that Strachey's letter was not put into its extant form until after "The Tempest" had already been performed on Nov. 1, 1611. The notion of an early date for "The Tempest" has in fact a long history in Shakespearean scholarship, going back to 19th century scholars such as Hunter [Hunter, Rev. Joseph, "Disquisition on the Scene, Origin, Date & etc. of Shakespeare's Tempest"] and Elze, [Elze, Karl. "The Date of the Tempest" in "Essays on Shakespeare," translated with the author's sanction by Dora L. Schmitz. London: Macmillan & Co., 1874 ] who both critiqued the widespread belief that the play depended on the Strachey letter.

Gray's Inn revels 1594-95

Gray's Inn law school traditionally held revels over Christmas: dancing and feasting were complemented by plays and masques. The evidence suggests that, prior to the revels of 1594 and '95, all performed plays were amateur productions. [Chambers, E.K.: "The Elizabethan Stage" (Clarendon Press, 1945), Vols I-IV. "Gordobuc" was presented before the Queen at Whitehall on 12 January 1561, written and acted by members of the Inner Temple. Gray's Inn members were responsible for writing both "Supposes" and "Jocasta" five years later; "Catiline" was performed by 26 actors from Gray's Inn before Lord Burghley on 16 January 1588, see British Library Lansdowne MS 55, No. iv )] In his commentary on the "Gesta Grayorum", a contemporary account of the 1594-95 revels, Desmond Bland [Bland, Desmond: "Gesta Grayorum" (Liverpool University Press: 1968), pp. xxiv-xxv.] informs us that they were "intended as a training ground in all the manners that are learned by nobility [...:] dancing, music, declamation, acting." James Spedding, the Victorian editor of Bacon's "Works", thought that Sir Francis Bacon was involved in the writing of this account. [Spedding, James: "The Life and Letters of Francis Bacon" (1872), Vol.1, p. 325: "his connexion with it, [al] though sufficiently obvious, has never so far been pointed out".]

The "Gesta Grayorum" ["Gesta Grayorum, The History Of the High and Mighty Prince Henry" (1688), printed by W. Canning in London, reprinted by Malone Society (Oxford University Press: 1914)] is a pamphlet of 68 pages first published in 1688. It informs us that "The Comedy of Errors" received its first known performance at these revels at 21:00 on 28 December 1594 (Innocents Day) when "a Comedy of Errors (like to Plautus his Menechmus) was played by the Players [...] ." Whoever the players were, there is evidence that Shakespeare and his company were not among them: according to the royal Chamber accounts, dated 15 March 1595 — see Figure [Public Record Office, Exchequer, Pipe Office, Declared Accounts, E. 351/542, f.107v, p. 40: "To William Kempe, William Shakespeare, & Richard Burbage, seruants ["sic"] to the Lord Chamberleyne ["sic" ...] upon the Councelle's ["sic"] warrant dated at Whitehall xv. to Marcij ["sic"] 1595, for twoe severall ["sic"] comedies or enterludes ["sic"] shewed by them before her majestie ["sic"] in Christmas tyme laste ["sic"] past viz St. Stephens Day ["sic"] and Innocents Day [...] .")] — he and the Lord Chamberlain's Men were performing for the Queen at Greenwich on Innocents Day. E.K. Chambers [Chambers, Edmund Kerchever: "The Elizabethan Stage", Vol. 1 (Clarendon Press: 1945), p. 225.] informs us that "the Court performances were always at night, beginning about 10pm and ending at 1am", so their presence at both performances is highly unlikely; furthermore, the Gray's Inn Pension Book, which recorded all payments made by the Gray's Inn committee, exhibits no payment either to a dramatist or to professional company for this play. [Fletcher, Reginald, (Ed.) "The Gray's Inn Pension Book 1569-1669", Vol. 1 (1901).] Baconians interpret this as a suggestion that, following precedent, "The Comedy of Errors" was both written and performed by members of the Inns of Court as part of their participation in the Gray's Inn celebrations. One problem with this argument is that the "Gesta Grayorum" refers to the players as "a Company of base and common fellows", [W.W. Greg (ed.): "Gesta Grayorum", p. 23.] which would apply well to a professional theatre company, but not to law students. But, given the jovial tone of the "Gesta", and that the description occurred during a skit in which a "Sorceror or Conjuror" was accused of causing "disorders with a play of errors or confusions", Baconians interpret it as merely a comic description of the Gray's Inn players.

Gray's Inn actually had a company of players during the revels. The Gray's Inn Pension Book records on 11 February 1595 that "one hyndred ["sic"] marks [£66.67] [are] to be layd ["sic"] out & bestowyd ["sic"] upon the gentlemen for their sports and shewes this Shrovetyde ["sic"] at the court before the Queens Majestie ["sic" ...] ." [Fletcher, Reginald (ed.): "The Gray's Inn Pension Book 1569-1669", Vol. 1 (London: 1901), p. 107.]

There is, most importantly to the Baconians' argument, evidence that Bacon had control over the Gray's Inn players. In a letter to Lord Burghley, dated before 1598, he writes, "I am sorry the joint masque from the four Inns of Court faileth [.... T] here are a dozen gentlemen of Gray's Inn that will be ready to furnish a masque". [British Library, Lansdown MS 107, folio 8] The dedication to a masque by Francis Beaumont performed at Whitehall in 1613 describes Bacon as the "chief contriver" of its performances at Gray's Inn and the Inner Temple. [Nichols, John: "The Progresses, Processions, and Magnificent Festivities of King James the First", Vol. II (AMS Press Inc, New York: 1828), pp. 589-92.] He also appears to have been their treasurer prior to the 1594-95 revels. [Fletcher, Reginald, (ed.): "The Gray's Inn Pension Book" 1569-1669, Vol. 1 (London: 1901), p.101.]

The discrepancy surrounding the whereabouts of the Chamberlain's Men is normally explained by theatre historians as an error in the Chamber Accounts. W.W. Greg suggested the following explanation:

:" [T] he accounts of the Treasurer of the Chamber show payments to this company [the Chamberlain's Men] for performances before the Court on both 26 Dec. and 28 Dec [...] . These accounts, however, also show a payment to the Lord Admiral's men in respect of 28 Dec. It is true that instances of two court performances on one night do occur elsewhere, but in view of the double difficulty involved, it is perhaps best to assume that in the Treasurer's accounts, 28 Dec. is an error for 27 Dec." [W.W. Greg (ed.): "Gesta Grayorum". Malone Society Reprints. Oxford University Press (1914), p. vi. This theory is echoed by Charles Whitworth (ed.) "The Comedy of Errors" (Oxford University Press, 2002), p. 3.]

Verbal parallels

Gesta Grayorum

The final paragraph of the "Gesta Grayorum" — see Figure — uses a "greater lessens the smaller" construction that occurs in an exchange from the "Merchant of Venice" (1594-97), 5.1.92-7:

:::"Ner". When the moon shone we did not see the candle:::"Por". So doth the greater glory dim the less,::::A substitute shines brightly as a King::::Until a King be by, and then his state::::Empties itself, as doth an inland brooke::::Into the main of waters ...

The "Merchant of Venice" uses both the same theme fact as the "Gesta Grayorum" and the same three examples to illustrate it — a subject obscured by royalty, a small light overpowered by that of a heavenly body and a river diluted on reaching the sea. In an essay [Spedding, James: "A Brief Discourse tounching the Happy Union of the Kingdom of England and Scotland" (1603), in "The Life and Letters of Francis Bacon" (1872), Vol. 3, p. 98.] from 1603, Bacon makes further use of two of these examples: "The second condition [of perfect mixture] is that the greater draws the less. So we see that when two lights do meet, the greater doth darken and drown the less. And when a small river runs into a greater, it loseth both the name and stream." A figure similar to "loseth both the name and stream" occurs in "Hamlet" (1600-01), 3.1.87-8:

:::"Hamlet". With this regard their currents turn awry:::::And lose the name of action.

Bacon was usually careful to cite his sources but does not mention Shakespeare once in any of his work. Baconians claim, furthermore, that, if the "Gesta Grayorum" was circulated prior to its publication in 1688 — and no one seems to know if it was — it was probably only among members of the Inns of Court.fact


In the 19th century, a notebook entitled the "Promus of Formularies and Elegancies" [British Library MS Harley 7017. A transcription can be found in Durning-Lawrence, Edward, "Bacon is Shakespeare" (Gay & Hancock, London 1910).] was discovered. It contained 1,655 hand written proverbs, metaphors, aphorisms, salutations and other miscellany. Although some entries appear original, many are drawn from the Latin and Greek writers Seneca, Horace, Virgil, Ovid; John Heywood's "Proverbes" (1562); Michel de Montaigne's "Essays" (1575), and various other French, Italian and Spanish sources. A section at the end aside, the writing was, by Sir Edward Maunde-Thompson's reckoning, in Bacon's hand; indeed, his signature appears on folio 115 verso. Only two folios of the notebook were dated, the third sheet (5 December 1594) and the 32nd (27 January 1595 [that is, 1596] ). Many of these entries also appear in Shakespeare's First Folio:

Parallel 1:"Parolles". So I say both of Galen and Paracelsus (1603-5 "All's Well That Ends Well", 2.3.11):Galens compositions not Paracelsus separations ("Promus", folio 84, verso)Parallel 2:"Launce". Then may I set the world on wheels, when she can spin for her living (1589-93, "The Two Gentlemen of Verona", 3.1.307-8):Now toe on her distaff then she can spynne/The world runs on wheels ("Promus", folio 96, verso)Parallel 3:"Hostesse". O, that right should o'rcome might. Well of sufferance, comes ease (1598, "Henry IV, Part 2", 5.4.24-5):Might overcomes right/Of sufferance cometh ease ("Promus", folio 103, recto)

The orthodox view is that these were commonplace phrases; Baconians claim the occurrence in the last two examples of two ideas from the same "Promus" folio in the same Shakespeare speech is unlikely.fact

Published work

There is an example in "Troilus and Cressida" (2.2.163) which shows that Bacon and Shakespeare shared the same interpretation of an Aristotelian view:

::"Hector". Paris and Troilus, you have both said well,::And on the cause and question now in hand::Have glozed, but superficially: not much::Unlike young men, whom Aristotle thought::Unfit to hear moral philosophy:::The reasons you allege do more conduce::To the hot passion of distemper'd blood

Bacon's similar take reads thus: "Is not the opinion of Aristotle very wise and worthy to be regarded, 'that young men are no fit auditors of moral philosophy', because the boiling heat of their affections is not yet settled, nor tempered with time and experience?" [Bacon, Francis: "De Augmentis", Book VII (1623).]

What Aristotle actually said was slightly different: "Hence a young man is not a proper hearer of lectures on political science; [...] and further since he tends to follow his passions his study will be vain and unprofitable [...] ." [Ross, W.D. (translator), "Aristotle: Nichomachean Ethics", Book 1, iii (Clarendon Press, 1908). The translation "political science" is given by Griffith, Tom (ed.): "Aristotle: The Nichomachean Ethics" (Wordsworth Editions: 1996), p. 5.] The added coincidence of heat and passion and the replacement of "political science" with "moral philosophy" is employed by both Shakespeare and Bacon. However, Shakespeare's play precedes Bacon's publication, allowing the possibility of the latter borrowing from the former.

Raleigh's execution

Spedding suggests that lines in "Macbeth" refer to Sir Walter Raleigh's execution, which occurred two years after Shakespeare of Stratford's death and fourteen years after the Earl of Oxford's. [Spedding, James: "Life and Letters of Francis Bacon", Vol.6, p. 372.] The lines in question are spoken by Malcolm about the execution of the "disloyall traytor ["sic"] / The Thane of Cawdor" (1.2.53) :

::"King". Is execution done on Cawdor?::Or not those in Commission yet return'd?::"Malcolme". My Liege, they are not yet come back,::But I have spoke with one that saw him die:::Who did report, that very frankly hee ["sic"] ::Confess'd his Treasons, implor'd your Highnesse ["sic"] Pardon::And set forth a deepe ["sic"] Repentance:::Nothing in his Life became him,::Like the leaving it. He dy'de ["sic"] ,::As one that had been studied in his death,::To throw away the dearest thing he ow'd,::As 'twere a carelesse ["sic"] Trifle.(1.4.1)

Several sources have remarked upon Raleigh's frivolity in the face of his impending execution [Williams, Norman Lloyd, "Sir Walter Raleigh" (Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1962), p. 254. The Dean of Westminster wrote to Sir John Isham, "when I began to encourage him against the fear of death, he seemed to make so light of it that I wondered at him [...] .")] [Spedding, James: "Life and Letters of Francis Bacon", Vol. 6, p. 373. Dudley Carelton wrote, " [H] e knew better how to die than to live; and his happiest hours were those of his arraignment and execution."] and the assertion that " [the Commission who tried him] are not yet come back" could refer to the fact that his execution was swift: it took place the day after his trial for treason. [Stow, John: "Annales, or Generall Chronicle of England" (London, 1631), p. 1030.] Raphael Holinshed, the main source for "Macbeth", mentions "the thane of Cawder ["sic"] being condemned at Fores of treason against the king" [Holinshed, Raphael: "Chronicles", Vol. V: Scotland (1587 ), p. 170.] without further details about his execution, so whoever wrote the lines in the play went beyond the original source.

In Raleigh's trial at Winchester on 17 November 1603, his statement was read out: "Lord Cobham offered me 10,000 crowns for the furthering the peace between England and Spain". [Williams, Norman Lloyd: "Sir Walter Raleigh" (Eyre and Spottiswoode: 1963), p. 188.] In 1.2.60-4 of "Macbeth", the King's messenger reports on the king of Norway, who has been assisted by the thane of Cawdor:

::"Rosse". That now::Sweno, the Norwayes ["sic"] king, craves composition:::Nor would we deigne ["sic"] him burial of his men,::Till he disbursed, at Saint Colmes ynch ["sic"] ,::Ten thousand Dollars to our general use.

Shake-speare was known for his use of anagrams (e.g. the character Moth in "Love's Labour's Lost" represents "Thom"as Nashe) [Quiller-Couch, Sir Arthur, and Dover Wilson, John, "Love's Labour's Lost" (Cambridge University Press: 1923), pp.xxi-xxiii] and here he has altered Cawder to Cawdor, an anagram of "coward". Some Baconians see this as an allusion to Raleigh's poem the night before his execution.fact

::Cowards [may] fear to die; but courage stout,::Rather than live in snuff, will be put out. [ Raleigh's Remains, (edited 1661), p.258]

Some scholars [Muir, Kenneth (Ed.), "Macbeth", The Arden Shakespeare (Thomson Learning: 2005), p.xxxii] believe that "Macbeth" was later altered by Middleton, but a reference to Raleigh's execution would be particularly advantageous to the Baconian theory because Bacon was one of the six Commissioners from the Privy Council appointed to examine Raleigh's case. [Spedding, James: "The Life and Letters of Francis Bacon", Vol. 6 (1872), p. 356.]

But more than one Elizabethan traitor put on a brave show for his execution. In 1793, George Steevens suggested that the speech was an allusion to the death of the Earl of Essex in 1601 (a date that does not conflict with Shakespeare's or Oxford's authorship): "The behaviour of the "thane of Cawdor" corresponds in almost every circumstance with that of the unfortunate Earl of Essex, as related by Stow, p. 793. His asking the Queen's forgiveness, his confession, repentance, and concern about behaving with propriety on the scaffold are minutely described." [George Steevens's 1793 edition of Shakespeare, quoted in "A New Variorum Edition of Shakespeare: Vol. 2: Macbeth", ed. Horace Howard Furness (Philadelphia: Lipincott, 1873), p. 44.] As Steevens notes, Essex was a close friend of Shakespeare's patron, the Earl of Southampton. [Earls Southampton and Pembroke, to whom the poems of Shakespeare were dedicated, were both friends of Bacon, but there is no evidence (the dedications aside) that Shakespeare knew them. It is a notable fact that the dedication to Southampton was withdrawn from subsequent editions of the poems "Venus and Adonis" and "The Rape of Lucrece", after he had ended his friendship with Bacon, whose involvement in Essex's schemes against the Queen riled him. See Caldecott: "Our English Homer", p. 12.] Essex also employed Bacon as an adviser in the latter's early career in Parliament, until Essex fell out of favour and was prosecuted with Bacon's help.

Most editors of "Macbeth" simply assume the speech to be fictional and not a deliberate allusion to a specific event.

Critical reception

Mainstream scholars reject the Baconian theory (along with other "alternative authorship" theories), citing a range of evidence — not least of all its reliance on a conspiracy theory. As far back as 1879, a "New York Herald" scribe bemoaned the waste of "considerable blank ammunition [...] in this ridiculous war between the Baconians and the Shakespearians", ["New York Herald" 1879.] while Richard Garnett declared that "Baconians talk as if Bacon had nothing to do but to write his play at his chambers and send it to his factotum, Shakespeare, at the other end of the town." [Garnett and Gosse 1904, p. 201.]

Most modern critics spurn the anti-Stratfordian claim that Shakespeare had not the education, [He would have had to have had a keen understanding of foreign languages, modern sciences, warfare, aristocratic sports such as tennis, statesmanship, hunting, natural philosophy, history, falconry and the law to have written the plays ascribed to him. It is therefore significant, say Baconians, that Bacon, in his 1592 letter to Burghley, claims to have "taken all knowledge to be [his] province".] to write the plays: as the son of an Alderman, he grew up in a family of some importance in Stratford. It would be surprising had he not attended the local grammar school, as such institutions were founded to educate boys of Shakespeare's moderately well-to-do standing, especially since his father John Shakespeare, one of the wealthiest men in Stratford, was an Alderman and later High Bailiff of the corporation. Stratfordian scholars also frequently cite Occam's razor, the principle that the simplest and best-evidenced explanation (in this case that the plays were written by Shakespeare of Stratford) is likely the correct one. A critique of all alternative authorship theories may be found in Samuel Schoenbaum's "Shakespeare's Lives"."Schoenbaum, Shakespeare's Lives" (OUP, New York, 1970)] . Questioning Bacon's ability as a poet, Sidney Lee asserted: " [...] such authentic examples of Bacon's efforts to write verse as survive prove beyond all possibility of contradiction that, great as he was as a prose writer and a philosopher, he was incapable of penning any of the poetry assigned to Shakespeare." [Bate, Jonathan, "The Genius of Shakespeare", (Picador: 1997), p.88] Oxfordian scholars (those who believe that Edward deVere, 17th Earl of Oxford wrote the works of Shake-speare) have cited various examples they say imply that the writer of the plays and poems was dead prior to 1609, when "Shake-Speare’s Sonnets" first appeared with the enigmatic words “our ever-living Poet” on the title page. These researchers claim that the words “ever-living” rarely, if ever, refer to someone who is actually alive. [Miller/Looney, Volume 2, pgs 211-214] Additionally, they assert that 1604 is the year that Shakespeare “mysteriously” stopped writing. [ Anderson, "Shakespeare by Another Name", 2005, pgs 400-405] Oxfordians assert these claims give a boost to the Oxfordian candidacy, as Bacon, (and Shakespeare of Stratford) [Shakespeare's death recorded in Stratford Parish Registry] lived well past the 1609 publication of the Sonnets. See the article on Oxfordian theory for additional information on Oxfordian issues that may relate to the Bacon candidacy.

ee also


*Bacon, Delia: "The Philosophy of the Plays of Shakespeare Unfolded" (1857); " [ The Philosophy of the Plays of Shakespeare Unfolded] "
*Bacon, Francis: "Advancement of Learning" (1640)
*Bacon, Francis, "The Major Works" (Oxford University Press: 2002)
*Bland, Desmond: "Gesta Grayorum" (Liverpool University Press, 1968)
*Boswell, James: "The Life of Samuel Johnson 1740-1795"
*Caldecott, Harry Stratford: "Our English Homer; or, the Bacon-Shakespeare Controversy" (Johannesburg Times, 1895)
*Chambers, Edmund Kerchever: "The Elizabethan Stage", Vol. 1 (Clarendon Press: 1945)
*Dean, Leonard: "Sir Francis Bacon's theory of civil history writing", in Vickers, Brian, (ed.): "Essential Articles for the Study of Sir Francis Bacon" (Sidwick & Jackson: 1972)
*Dobson, Michael, and Wells, Stanley, "The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare" (Oxford University Press: 2005)
*Fletcher, Reginald (ed.): "The Gray's Inn Pension Book 1569-1669", Vol. 1 (1901)
*Friedman, William and Friedman, Elizabeth: "The Shakespearian ciphers examined" (Cambridge University Press, 1957)
*Garnett, Richard, and Edmund Gosse. "English Literature: An Illustrated Record". Vol. II. London: Heinemann, 1904.
*Heminge, John; Condell, Henry: "First Folio" (1623)
*Holinshed, Raphael, "The Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland" (1587)
*Jonson, Ben: "Timber: or, Discoveries; Made Upon Men and Matter" (Cassell: 1889)
*Hall, Joseph: "Virgidemarium" (1597-1598)
*Jardine, Lisa, and Stewart, Alan: "Hostage to Fortune, The Troubled Life of Sir Francis Bacon" (Hill and Wang: 1999)
*Kermode, F. (ed.), "The Tempest", Arden Shakespeare (London, Methuen: 1958)
*Lambeth Palace MS 650.28
*Lambeth Palace MS 976, folio 4
*Marston, John: "The Metamorphosis of Pygmalion's Image And Certaine Satyres" (1598)
*Michell, John: "Who Wrote Shakespeare" (Thames and Hudson: 2000)
*Morgan, Appleton: "The Shakespearean Myth: William Shakespeare and Circumstantial Evidence" (R. Clarke, 1888)
*"New York Herald". 19 September 1879.
*Pott, Constance: "Francis Bacon and His Secret Society" (London, Sampson, Low and Marston: 1891); [, Constance Pott]
*Pott, Henry; Pott, Constance Mary Fearon: "Did Francis Bacon Write "Shakespeare"?" (R. Banks & Son, 1893)
*Public Record Office, Exchequer, Pipe Office, Declared Accounts, E. 351/542, f.107v
*Purchas, Samuel, "Hakluytus posthumus; or, Purchas his pilgrimes" (William Stansby, London: 1625)
*Shelly, Percy Bysse: "Defense of Poetry" (1821)
*Smith, William Henry: "Bacon and Shakespeare: An Inquiry Touching Players, Playhouses, and Play-writers in the Days of Elizabeth" (John Russell Smith, 1857)
*Smith, William Henry, letter to Egerton, Francis: "Was Lord Bacon the author of Shakespeare's plays?" (William Skeffington, 1856)
*Spedding, James: "Of the Interpretation of Nature" in "Life and Letters of Francis Bacon", 1872
*Spedding, James: "The Works of Francis Bacon" (1872)
*Vaughan, V.M., and Vaughan A.T., "The Tempest", Arden Shakespeare (Thomson Learning: 1999)
*Various: "A Mirror for Magistrates" (1559)
*Wigston, W.F.C.: "Bacon, Shakespeare and the Rosicrucians" (1890)
*Wright, Louis B., "A Voyage to Virginia 1609" (University Press of Virginia: 1904)
*Wright, Louis B., "The Cultural Life of the American Colonies" (Courier Dover Publications: 2002)


External links

General Non-Stratfordian

* [ The Shakespeare Authorship Coalition] , home of the "Declaration of Reasonable Doubt About the Identify of William Shakespeare" -- a concise, definitive explanation of the reasons to doubt the case for the Stratford man. Doubters can read, and sign, the Declaration online.
* [ The Shakespeare Authorship Trust] , survey of all the authorship candidates, a site patronised by the acclaimed actor Mark Rylance and Dr William Leahy of Brunel University, UK


* N. Cockburn, The Bacon–Shakespeare Question, private publication 1998 [ (Contents)] [ Baconian theory made sane, first part.]
* [ Barry R. Clarke, "The Shakespeare Puzzle - A Non-esoteric Baconian Theory"]
* - the first official champions of the Baconian cause. Since 1886 the Francis Bacon Society has engaged with the authorship question and publishes the journal "Baconiana." []
* Peter Dawkins: "The Shakespeare Enigma", Polair Publ., London 2004, ISBN 0-9545389-4-3 (engl.)
* Amelie Deventer von Kunow, [ "Francis Bacon: Last of the Tudors", trans. Willard Parker] (1924)
* Penn Leary, [ "Cryptographic Shakespeare"] (n.d.)
* [ Why I'm Not an Oxfordian, by Jerome Harner]


* [ The Shakespeare Authorship Page]
* [ The Bard's Beard — A "Time" Article]

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