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Dr Bill Leahy debates Shakespeare authorship ahead of major film release

Shakespeare 1623

Head of Brunel University's School of Arts, Dr William Leahy, will challenge the accepted authorship of Shakespeare's plays in a special debate alongside film director Roland Emmerich in central London next Monday [6 June]. 

The debate forms part of a wider scheme of events to publicise the forthcoming release of Roland Emmerich’s film Anonymous, a historical thriller about Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. The film suggests that de Vere was not only the incestuous lover of Queen Elizabeth I, but also the true author of the works of William Shakespeare.

Dr Leahy will be arguing against the motion: ‘This House believes that William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon wrote the plays and poems attributed to him', alongside Charles Beauclerk, president of the De Vere Society and former president of the Shakespeare Oxford Society, and Roland Emmerich himself.

Leading the arguments in favour of the motion will be Stanley Wells, renowned Shakespeare scholar and Chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

Dr Leahy is Convenor of the Shakespeare Authorship Studies MA at Brunel, the first programme of its kind in the world. The Master's course tackles the subject of Shakespeare and authorship, interrogating the mythologisation of Shakespeare and the issues surrounding the notion of collaboration. 

Dr Leahy explains: "I am a sceptic as far as Shakespeare being the author is concerned and I have real problems accepting that he wrote all the plays and poems attributed to him – thus my Master's programme. But I do not advocate an alternative author – neither Oxford, Bacon, Marlowe or whoever. Rather, I support the need to question the authorship and the right for 'Oxfordians' to hold their views."

The debate, organised by the English-Speaking Union, will take place at Dartmouth House, central London from 7pm. Free tickets to the event are available on request on a first come first served basis. Visit for more information.


For more information or to interview Dr William Leahy, please contact: 

Dr William Leahy, Tel: 01895 266553; email:

To request tickets to the Shakespeare Authorship Debate, please contact, stating the number of tickets required and the names of the guests.