I am currently enjoying Jonathan Kay’s recent book, Among the Truthers about the politics of conspiracy theory. Kay is a managing editor of Canada’s National Post and spent two years researching what drives people to believe in conspiracies. Kay’s book is not primarily about the Shakespeare authorship conspiracy theory but he mentions it in passing as ‘the most durable and ambitious literary conspiracy theory of the twentieth century.’ To doubt Shakespeare’s authorship seems to act as a likely foundation for people then to start exploring other conspiracy theories.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised when my colleagues who work in the five Shakespeare Houses cared for by The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust tell me that questions about the authorship conspiracy theory often come up. Even so, Shakespearians often groan when a question about whether Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare is asked; some scholars’ response is simply to bury their heads in the sand in the hope it will go away. It won’t. And I think we have a duty as Shakespearians to expose the anti-Shakespearian cause so as to help prevent other people being sucked in by it.
Two weeks ago I mentioned an exciting new digital project which I am working on in response to the on-going authorship discussion. 60 Minutes with Shakespeare will go live on Thursday 1 September. You can find out more about it here. There are some great contributors involved with the project including, most recently, Stephen Fry.
But there are other projects afoot, too…
I am collaborating with Stanley Wells on an e-book about the anti-Shakespearian discussion and producing a digital resource for the general Shakespeare enthusiast called Getting to Know Shakespeare, which will include a section on the authorship conspiracy theory.
And, in light of all this Anonymous nonsense that has already started to take hold in the media, we thought it was time to air some of our views further.
On Thursday 1 September at 4.00pm (G.M.T) you might like to join me for the first webinar hosted by The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. It will be an experiment for us and one that we are seeking to learn from. Webinars are very much something that I should like to see become a regular feature of our work.
This one will be called Not at all anonymous: Shakespeare bites back and will be about the authorship conspiracy theory. It will be hosted by Stanley Wells and I and it would be great if you would like to be part of it.
Do please join us. You can register for this free webinar here