I know. It is a sacrilege! How could anyone dare to question Shakespeare’s genius? I mean, isn’t it way easier just to give indisputably all the honours to this one man whom we know pretty little about? Who wants to dig the truth so deep just to disturb the peace?
It is just like Jesus in a way. There are indeed a lot of badly explained theories that the Church created around his myth, so perhaps exposing that Jesus was a married man and that he too wasn’t perfect would only cause a commotion. Sometimes it is better to leave things the way they are, because most people have enough personal problems to deal with. They don’t need such revelations like Maria may not have conceived a baby from a visit of an angel, just like Shakespeare may not have been this unparalleled genius (not even questioning here whether he wrote a single line in his life, with all the theories about true authorship heating up debates all over the world).
So, where am I going from here? I am not a Shakespeare expert but I do know one thing: he doesn’t deserve the credit alone, at least for the plays. The little I learned about Elizabethan times, or theatre conventions back then, it was that hardly a writer worked alone. Poets collaborated with other poets, “borrowed” ideas from published or unpublished material. Jonson did it, Marlowe, Fletcher and Kyd must have done it too. So, why ignore the fact that Shakespeare must have had collaborators too (especially being an actor) and at least mention the supposed co-work with the King’s Men (or whoever), like Ariane Mnouchkine and Robert Lepage do today in their devised works?
I understand that it must be incredible difficult for a theatre and literature historian to find records that prove who collaborated with whom, but since the information cannot be investigated properly giving all the credit to a single man doesn’t not sound fair to me. It would be the same thing saying that a man is guilty of premeditated murder before it can be proven. It is easier to say that he killed someone when he only could have had, yet it is not morally and socially correct to do so.
My point is that Shakespeare might not have been all that genius for he probably had collaborators. He must have been at least very good though; otherwise nobody would even know his name and legacy today. Nevertheless, although I am not questioning his authorship in general, I am questioning his sole authorship, because if proven that he must hardly have developed all the ideas and lines alone, perhaps Shakespeare wouldn’t be seen almost as a god today, but just like a simple man with some noteworthy talent – like Jesus.