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The Shakespeare authorship question is the argument, first raised in the 19th ce

ntury, that someone other than William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon wrote

the works attributed to him. All but a few Shakespeare scholars and literary his
torians consider it a fringe belief. Anti-Stratfordians believe that Shakespeare
was a front to shield the identity of the real author or authors, who for some
reason did not want or could not accept public credit. The controversy has spawn
ed a vast body of literature, and more than 80 authorship candidates have been p
roposed, the most popular being Francis Bacon, Edward de Vere, Christopher Marlo
we, and William Stanley. To the claim that Shakespeare lacked sufficient educati
on, aristocratic sensibility, or familiarity with the royal court for a writer o
f such eminence and genius, scholars reply that there is much documentary eviden
ce supporting his authorship title pages, testimony by contemporary poets and hist
orians, official records and none supporting any other candidate.