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More stars declare their doubt of Shakespeare

The campaign gathered pace last month following the signing of the declaration by the renowned Shakespearean actors, “I Claudius“ star Sir Derek Jacobi, and Mark Rylance, who is also the former artistic director of Shakespeare's Globe, in Bankside, London.

Former “Phantom of the Opera“ star Michael York said: “I have been following the authorship debate for decades, and am delighted that the internet can now unite the world in an attempt to resolve the controversy and elucidate the mystery, so that 'at the end, truth will out.'“

More than 1,150 people, many of them academics, have signed the on-line declaration, most of them since last month when the declaration was launched in Britain by Sir Derek and Rylance, in at the Minerva Theatre, in Chichester, Sussex.

Welcoming the addition of the latest signatures, Mark Rylance, said: “Actors who perform in Shakespeare's plays can't help but develop a sense of the author, and this can affect their interpretation of the plays, which, in turn, affects the public's appreciation of the plays.

“Given the huge increase in Shakespearean biographies about the Stratford actor, a wider awareness of the doubts and questions has become beneficial and important for Shakespearean actors and directors to consider.“

The first master's degree program in Shakespeare Authorship Studies was also launched last month, at Brunel University in West London.

The Brunel course convenor, Dr William Leahy will be discussing the “authorship question“ with Mark Rylance (and Sir Derek Jacobi, subject to availability), in the first of a series of public lectures about the issue, at the Globe, on November 1.

Dr Leahy added: “Merely because certain beliefs have become entrenched in our culture - such as the idea that Shakespeare of Stratford unquestioningly wrote the plays attributed to him - does not mean they should not be analysed. Indeed, the fact that they have become entrenched makes it essential that we do question them.“

Reasons for questioning whether Shakespeare wrote the great dramas include the argument that nothing in his will echoes a great writer, and there are no eulogies or notices lamenting his death in 1616.

The chairman of the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition, John Shahan, of Claremont, California, said: “We welcome the growing support from the entertainment world in helping us to bring this ever-fascinating literary condundrum into the public arena.“

Mark Twain, Orson Welles, Charlie Chaplin are among a long list of notable aficionados who questioned whether Shakespeare could have been the author of The Bard's works. Various writers have identified the dramatist as Christopher Marlowe, Francis Bacon or the Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere.

The discussion, hitherto known only among small circles of academics, writers, and those in the theatre as the “Shakespeare authorship debate“ is being spearheaded into the wider community by the Shakespearean Authorship Trust, and the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition, in America.

“Reflections on the Authorship Controversy,“ with Mark Rylance (and Sir Derek Jacobi, subject to availability), on November 1, 7.15pm, Shakespeare's Globe, Bankside. Box office: 0 20 7401 9919.
The Declaration of Reasonable Doubt can be viewed online at