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Sweet Swan of Avon: Did a Woman Write Shakespeare?

de Robin Williams

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It is long overdue that someone took a closer look at the brilliant Mary Sidney. I have a suspicion that Mary Sidney's life, and especially her dedication to the English language after her brother's death, may throw important light on the mysterious authorship of the Shakespeare plays and poems. --Mark Rylance Actor; Artistic Director of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, 1996--2006; Chairman of the Shakespearean Authorship Trust For more than two hundred years, a growing number of researchers have questioned whether the man named William Shakespeare actually wrote the works attributed to him. There is no paper trail for William Shakespeare--no record that he was ever paid for writing, nothing in his handwriting but a few signatures on legal documents, no evidence of his presence in the royal court except as an actor in his later years, no confirmation of his involvement in the literary circles of the time. With so little information about this man--and even less evidence connecting him to the plays and sonnets--what can and what can't we assume about the author of the greatest works of the English language? For the first time, Robin P. Herbert, the Countess of Pembroke, wrote the works attributed to the man named William Shakespeare. As well educated as Queen Elizabeth I, this woman was at the forefront of the literary movement in England, yet not allowed to write for the public stage. But that's just the beginning ...The first question I am asked by curious freshmen in my Shakespeare course is always, Who wrote these plays anyway? Now, because of Robin Williams' rigorous scholarship and artful sleuthing, Mary Sidney Herbert will forever have to be mentioned as a possible author of the Shakespeare canon. Sweet Swan of Avon doesn't pretend to put the matter to rest, but simply shows how completely reasonable the authorship controversy is, and how the idea of a female playwright surprisingly answers more Shakespearean conundrums than it creates...--Cynthia Lee Katona Professor of Shakespeare and Women's Studies, Ohlone College; Author of Book Savvy… (més)
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The author's theory is that Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke and sister of Sir Philip Sidney, secretly wrote the plays of Shakespeare. She apparently doesn't realize that Lady Pembroke left behind evidence of her theatrical taste, and it was distinctly non-Shakespearean. My review is at http://stromata.typepad.com/stromata_blog/2008/03/random-readin-1.html. ( )
  TomVeal | Mar 15, 2008 |
The best who-dun-it on Shakespearean authorship yet. I started reading it highly sceptically but it gripped me like a detective story and by the end there was no direct evidence linking the Countess of Pembroke with Shakespeare but an unprecedented amount of contextual and circumstantial evidence makes one's hairs stand on end. ( )
  shakespearesmonkey | Dec 14, 2007 |
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It is long overdue that someone took a closer look at the brilliant Mary Sidney. I have a suspicion that Mary Sidney's life, and especially her dedication to the English language after her brother's death, may throw important light on the mysterious authorship of the Shakespeare plays and poems. --Mark Rylance Actor; Artistic Director of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, 1996--2006; Chairman of the Shakespearean Authorship Trust For more than two hundred years, a growing number of researchers have questioned whether the man named William Shakespeare actually wrote the works attributed to him. There is no paper trail for William Shakespeare--no record that he was ever paid for writing, nothing in his handwriting but a few signatures on legal documents, no evidence of his presence in the royal court except as an actor in his later years, no confirmation of his involvement in the literary circles of the time. With so little information about this man--and even less evidence connecting him to the plays and sonnets--what can and what can't we assume about the author of the greatest works of the English language? For the first time, Robin P. Herbert, the Countess of Pembroke, wrote the works attributed to the man named William Shakespeare. As well educated as Queen Elizabeth I, this woman was at the forefront of the literary movement in England, yet not allowed to write for the public stage. But that's just the beginning ...The first question I am asked by curious freshmen in my Shakespeare course is always, Who wrote these plays anyway? Now, because of Robin Williams' rigorous scholarship and artful sleuthing, Mary Sidney Herbert will forever have to be mentioned as a possible author of the Shakespeare canon. Sweet Swan of Avon doesn't pretend to put the matter to rest, but simply shows how completely reasonable the authorship controversy is, and how the idea of a female playwright surprisingly answers more Shakespearean conundrums than it creates...--Cynthia Lee Katona Professor of Shakespeare and Women's Studies, Ohlone College; Author of Book Savvy

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