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Leading actors applaud first MA in Shakespeare authorship studies

The actors unveiled the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt about the identity of the Bard on stage at the end of the matinee of Mark Rylance's acclaimed comedy, “The BIG Secret Live: 'I am Shakespeare' Webcam Daytime Chatroom Show,“ at the Minerva Theatre in Chichester, at the weekend.

A copy of the Declaration, which has been signed by about 300 academics and intellectuals to date was given to Dr William Leahy who is the convenor of the first MA in Shakespeare Authorship Studies and the head of English at Brunel University, West London, which begins this month.

Sir Derek, who will be receiving the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from Brunel University, in October, said: “I'm thrilled to be given a doctorate from Brunel University and I applaud the new MA in Shakespeare Authorship Studies.“

Mark Rylance joked: “You get more of a rise if you say Shakespeare didn't write the work, than if you say there isn't a God.“

Dr Leahy said the new course at Brunel would simply open up the question of the authorship: “It has been a battle of mine for the last couple of years to get this into academia. It's a legitimate question, it has a mystery at its centre and intellectual discussion will bring us closer to that centre.“

The new MA in Shakespeare Authorship Studies begins on September 24. For details, contact:

World-wide coverage of this story can be found on the Brunel in the News webpage

Note to editors:

Caption: Sir Derek Jacobi (left) with Mark Rylance (behind) and Dr William Leahy

For further details, please call the Brunel University Press Office: 01895 265585; email:

For Mark Rylance: please contact Jo Gordon from Greg Ripley Duggan, producer of “I am Shakespeare“ ph: 07939 387341; e:;