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Who was Shakespeare?

The Shakespeare Authorship Question is a subject which interests and divides opinion. For some, the question of investigating whether Shakespeare wrote the plays and poems attributed to him is a legitimate, historical concern. To others, it is tantamount to sacrilege. Others still, find it a subject of amusement and mischief.

Sir Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance, two of the great Shakespearean actors of our time have doubts that Shakespeare wrote the works attributed to him.
Sir Derek, who recently won the Laurence Olivier Award for his performance of Malvolio in Twelfth Night and award-winning actor Mark Rylance, the former artistic director of Shakespeare's Globe, and the chairman of the Shakespearean Authorship Trust, will talk about their doubts with Dr William Leahy, Head of the School of Arts.

Dr Leahy, who is convenor of the MA in Shakespeare Authorship Studies at Brunel University, the only course specialising in this subject in the world, said that one is faced with significant problems when attempting to make a case for Shakespeare of Stratford as the author of all the plays and poems attributed to him.

“For all significant writers of the time“ says Leahy, “records exist that clearly show that this person or that person was an author - all significant writers with the exception of Shakespeare“.

Sir Derek and Mark Rylance will talk about their personal reasons for their doubts, the reactions that their doubts have produced and whether have they doubts about their doubts.

An honorary degree of Doctor of Letters will be conferred upon Mark Rylance in recognition of his service to the acting profession, prior to the debate.

Notes to Editors

Who was Shakespeare? Wednesday April 22, 2009, at 6pm-8.30pm. Howell Theatre, Brunel University, Uxbridge, Middlesex UB8 3PH. There will be a buffet supper after the debate.

Further details from Brunel University Press Office: email: press-office@brunel.ac.uk. Phone: 01895 265585.