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The Shakespeare Authorship Coalition [SOS Blog]

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: John Shahan at (909) 626-2000

Claremont, California, April 23, 2007 – Today, on the 391st anniversary of the death of Stratford’s Mr. William “Shakspere,” generally regarded as the author of the works of William “Shakespeare,” a new organization – the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition (SAC) – posted on its website the names of 132 signers of its “Declaration of Reasonable Doubt About the Identity of William Shakespeare.” The signatures were gathered just in the last two weeks on its website at www.DoubtAboutWill.org The SAC says it plans to continue operating the website, gathering and posting names of signatories, through April 23, 2016, the 400th anniversary of the death of Mr. William “Shakspere” of Stratford.

The list includes, most notably, prominent Shakespearean actors Sir Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance, former artistic director at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, plus Dean Keith Simonton, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of California at Davis, a Shakespeare lover who is widely regarded by his peers as perhaps the world’s leading expert on creativity and genius. Simonton reveres Shakespeare, but can’t accept the traditional attribution to the man from Stratford. Also named on the list is Charles Champlin, former Arts Critic Emeritus at the Los Angeles Times.

The 132 declaration signers include 34 current or former college and university faculty members, 34 people with various types of doctoral degrees, and another 31 people with various master’s degrees. “This is a man bites dog story,” said SAC chairman John Shahan, principal author of the declaration. “Orthodox Shakespeare scholars would have the public believe that only deranged people in isolated fringe groups question the identity of William Shakespeare. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

The declaration itself names twenty prominent doubters of the past, including Mark Twain, Henry and William James, Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Sigmund Freud, Orson Welles, Tyrone Guthrie, Charlie Chaplin, John Galsworthy, Sir John Gielgud, U.S. Supreme Court Justices Harry A. Blackmun and Lewis F. Powell, Jr., Mortimer J. Adler, editor of the Great Books at the University of Chicago, and Paul Nitze, co-founder of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. “If orthodox scholars were correct, it would be impossible to come up with such a list,” Shahan said.

“One wonders, when orthodox scholars characterize all authorship doubters as ‘conspiracy theorists,’ or ‘snobs’ who cannot accept the idea of a commoner having the ability to produce great literature, exactly which of these outstanding individuals are they referring to? Was Walt Whitman, the poet of Democracy and the common man, just a snob? Charlie Chaplin? Twain? Reporters should ask them. When they say authorship doubters are all irrational, does that include the Supreme Court Justices? Now, they might also ask, if the “ignorant fools” could write such a declaration, why haven’t you?”

According to its website Home page, the SAC “has nothing against the man from Stratford-on-Avon, but we doubt that he was the author of the works. Our goal is to legitimize the issue in academia so students, teachers and professors can feel free to pursue it. This is necessary because the issue is widely viewed as settled in academia and is treated as a taboo subject. We believe that an open-minded examination of the evidence shows that the issue should be taken seriously. Your signature on the declaration will help us make the case that there is reasonable doubt about the author.”

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