Is Shakespeare A Fraud?

by Nicole Blank

Some Know William Shakespeare as an artist, or a master of the stage, a great poet, and a great Renaissance man, but some skeptics say different. It was brought to my attention while reading an article on Shakespeare that some actually say that the real "William Shakspere" did not actually write his alleged plays and poems. In short, he was a fraud!

Edward De Vere

"The bulk of evidence indicates that the name William Shakespeare was a pseudonym used by Edward De Vere... and that the real William "Shakspere" was merely a prosperous merchant whose business took him to London, but who had nothing to do with the writing of the plays." (Hart, 155-156)

To understand this, we must first know the following: "During his lifetime, Shakspere was not considered to be the author, nor did he ever claim to be! The notion that Shakspere was the great playwright "William Shakespeare" did not arise until 1623 seven years after (the real) Shakspere died!" (Hart, 156)

The orthodox version of William Shakespeare's life is that Shakespeare’s father John had once been prosperous, but lost his money. Young William Shakespeare attended Stratford Grammar School and studied classical literature. He met a woman named Anne Hathaway when he was 18, got her pregnant and then married her. They had twins so that by the time he was 21 he had three kids and a wife to support.

By 1590 he had moved to London, without his wife and family, and become a successful actor and then a playwright. He retired when he was around 48, moved back in with his wife and died in April of 1616. By the year of 1670 all of his family was deceased.

The "new" Glode Theatre in London

The truth of the matter is that there is no real proof that a person named Shakespeare really existed in Stratfort-on-Avon, but William "Shakspere" did. He was born in 1564 and died in 1616. In the three dozen references on Shakspere, none of them consisted of any real knowledge as to whether Shakspere was a poet or a playwright.

Although Shakspere did live in London for some years, there has not yet been found a single record showing that anyone ever saw nor spoke to him during his time there. Also none of his friends, family, or neighbors ever thought of, or called him a poet, a playwright or any sort of a literary man. Also, strangely enough, none of his work is in his handwriting. No notes, memos, diaries not even a single letter.

Shakespeare's London

Michael H. Hart in his book The 100 , a ranking of the most influential persons in history, suggests that "Shakespeare" was merely a pen name used by a nobleman named Edward de Vere, but because writing plays was considered beneath the dignity of a nobleman he took no direct credit for his work. Edward de Vere was the 17th Earl of Oxford, and Queen Elizabeth gave a lifetime pension of 1,000 pounds a year tax free, and King James I continued to pay it after her death. No official reason for the grant was ever mentioned, but it was known that he wrote poetry and plays. Because it was discreditable for an aristocrat to write for publication, none of his plays were ever seen, or were they? Hart also points out that the name "Shakespeare" did not appear on any of his plays until after 1623, when the real Shakspere had died.

The first edition of his plays

Although not completely convinced that Shakespeare was merely a pseudonym used to hide the real author's identity, it does offer some interesting speculation. What do you think?


Hart, Michael H. The 100. New York: Citadel Press, 1992


"Shakespeare." Colliers Encyclopedia, 1956 edition.

Photo Credit:

Photo 1: "William Shakespeare" from:

Photo 2: "Edward de Vere" from: The 100 by Michael Hart.

Photo 3: "The Globe" from

Photo 4: "First Edition" from:

Photo 5: "Shakespeare's London" from