Tag Archives: Simon & Schuster

Whalen reviews Contested Will


Book Review: Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? by James Shapiro (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010)

Richard F. Whalen

For the first time, a leading Shakespeare establishment professor, James Shapiro of Columbia University, has given serious consideration to the controversy over Shakespeare’s identity in a book-length analysis — a precedent that may help make the authorship issue a legitimate subject for more research and discussion in academia, even though Shapiro remains a Stratfordian.

Shapiro’s book is a history of the authorship controversy, from Delia Bacon in the 1850s to DoubtAboutWill.org in 2007. He recognizes that the seventeenth Earl of Oxford is by far the most impressive challenger and that his backers have achieved considerable success in recent decades. His final word is that a choice must be made, a stark and consequential choice.

The book’s cover will dismay committed Stratfordians. It shows the Stratford monument depicting a writer with pen, paper and a pillow; but his head is cut off by the author’s name and the book’s title, including Who Wrote Shakespeare? Indeed, that is the question.

Shapiro, however, states at the outset that he aims to answer a different question: Why have so many eminent people doubted that Will Shakspere of Stratford was the author and why have they argued for someone else, such as Oxford? In so doing, Shapiro declines to enter the debate over the evidence for Shakspere or for Oxford in any depth of detail. As a result, the general reader is left with the impression that the question of Shakespeare’s identity may well be legitimate, despite efforts by many Stratfordians to dismiss it. That a scholar of Shapiro’s standing in the Shakespeare establishment should take this approach bodes well for Oxfordians.

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Shapiro at National Arts Club May 17, 2010

Columbia professor James Shapiro has added an appearance sponsored by The Shakespeare Guild at The National Arts Club in New York City to the promotional tour for his book about the Shakespeare authorship controversy, Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?, debuting in April 2010. The National Arts Club website says events are for “members only and their guests”.

May 17, 2010 – Monday at 8:00pm
Speaking of Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Guild
Tickets: $30 ($25 for members)
National Arts Club
New York, NY

Shapiro will also speak at the 92nd Street Y in New York City and at the Folger Library in Washington, D.C. as reported earlier:

April 16, 2010 – Friday at 7:30pm
Folger Lectures
Tickets: TBA
Folger Library
Washington, DC

May 2, 2010 – Sunday at 11:00am
Books and Bagels Series
Tickets: $35 (some $10 tickets set aside for 35 and younger)
92nd Street Y
New York, NY

Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? by James Shapiro:
Simon & Schuster, April 6, 2010
Hardcover, 384 pages
ISBN-10: 1-4165-4162-4
ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-4162-2