Debate has swirled for years around that most significant of literary problems, the authorship of Shakespeare's works. Now Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, a recognized poet and playwright, has eclipsed Bacon, Marlowe, and all the other candidates for authorship honors.
The great literary mystery will simply not go away: Were the plays and poems attributed to Will Shakspear, the glover's son from Stratford-upon-Avon, really written by Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford? Those who have never seriously investigated the question may be astonished at how compelling a case can be made for Oxford as the true author. Particularly striking is how events in Oxford's life parallel events in the plays, notably Hamlet and All's Well That Ends Well. The weakest part of the Oxfordian case is the testimony in the First Folio that appears to point unmistakably to the Stratford man. The attempts by Whalen, who is the president of the Oxford Shakespeare Society, to explain this away seem labored and unconvincing. But, on the whole, the general reader is well served by Whalen's presentation of both sides of the argument. The annotated bibliography, which is the only one of its kind available, is extremely useful for readers who wish to pursue further research.-Bryan Aubrey, Fairfield, Ia.