You can watch this video when you sign up to our new subscription service, How To +.

How To + subscribers can access more than 250 videos for free, and attend our livestream events with the world’s most exciting thinkers.

Who Wrote Shakespeare?

Jonathan Bate debates Alexander Waugh

84 mins watch time

Posted July 2016

Most Watched, Culture, Debate

Shakespeare’s plays and poems tell us who we are. But who is he? The question has haunted great minds – from Mark Twain to Sigmund Freud – and today it haunts Shakespeareans from actor Mark Rylance to director Deborah Warner. The ‘Stratfordian’ case for Enigmatic Will rests on evidence, however threadbare, and on the works themselves: written unmistakably by a living breathing native of Warwickshire, whose arch-rival Ben Jonson called him ‘the Swan of Avon’. What more do we need? For anti-Stratfordians the evidence is a vacuum, and ‘the man from Stratford’ did not write a single play or poem. They argue for a more plausible Shakespeare, and have at different times proposed a host of likely contenders, including Sir Francis Bacon and Christopher Marlowe. Are they any closer to a solution? In this debate, celebrated Stratfordian Jonathan Bate and anti-Stratfordian Alexander Waugh fought over the most beguiling and unputdownable literary mystery of them all.