ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Sweet Swan of Avon

As the 450th birth anniversary of William Shakespeare passes into history, doubts linger about the motives and authenticity of the world’s best-known playwright.

For the theatre world, the year 2014 was hugely important as the 450th birth anniversary of the Bard. As was to be expected, the Royal Shakespeare Company performed many of his plays, trying to give new interpretations to well-known works and engage the interest of younger audiences. Leading up to this significant year, Stratford had performed a complete cycle of all his plays, and also staged a few of doubtful authorship, like Edward II.

Except for a period around the Restoration under Charles II, when English audiences tired of Puritanism during Cromwell’s times turned to risqué comedies, Shakespeare held centre stage, not only in the land of his birth but elsewhere as well. Unlike other geniuses, he was immediately popular from his earliest plays, not only with the penny-a-ticket theatre crowds of London, but with discerning critics, including Elizabeth I and her court. So enduring has been his fame that doubts started creeping in among some 19th century academics whether a country bumpkin from Warwickshire could really have written such immortal plays. Francis Bacon, an essayist of Shakespeare’s times, and a friend of James I, was first picked as the likely real author, followed by a number of suspects from the nobility.

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