Justices Stevens and O’Connor Agree: Reason to Doubt!

Great news today from John Shahan, chairman of the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition (SAC), that two Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court have signed the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt that William Shakspere of Stratford-upon-Avon was “William Shakespeare” the great poet-dramatist:

Claremont, California, November 16, 2009 The Shakespeare Authorship Coalition announced today that U.S. Supreme Court Justices John Paul Stevens and Sandra Day O’Connor (retired) have added their names to a growing list of prominent signatories to the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt About the Identity of William Shakespeare .   At least three other U.S. Supreme Court Justices – Harry A. Blackmun, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., and Antonin Scalia – have also expressed doubts about the identity of   the author “Shakespeare,” but Stevens and O’Connor are the first to sign the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt.


Sandra Day O'Connor, U.S. Supreme Court Justice (retired)

The Declaration was first issued on April 14, 2007, in same-day signing ceremonies at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles and at Concordia University in Portland, Oregon. Five months later, on September 8, 2007, actors Sir Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance, founding Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, took the lead in promulgating the Declaration in the U.K. in a signing ceremony at the Chichester Festival Theatre in Chichester, West Sussex.

Over 1,660 people have now signed the Declaration. Nearly 80% are college graduates, and 595 have advanced degrees – 347 master’s degrees and 248 doctoral degrees. A total of 295 are current or former college or university faculty members . Of these, the largest number were in English literature (62, 21%), followed by those in theatre arts (35), the arts (24), natural sciences (23), math, engineering and computers (20), other humanities (20), medicine and health care (19), education (16), social sciences (17), history (13), management (12), law (11), psychology (9), and library science (6). With the addition of Justices Stevens and O’Connor, nineteen names now appear on the separate list of notable signatories on the SAC website.


U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens

The Declaration is neutral about the true identity of the author. Rather than seeking to resolve the long-standing controversy outright, it aims to legitimize the issue by calling attention to the many reasons for doubt about the Stratford man’s authorship.

Not one play, not one poem, not one letter in his own hand has ever been found. This is remarkable for such a prolific writer. His six surviving signatures, each spelled differently, are all poorly executed, suggesting he had difficulty signing his own name. His detailed will contains no Shakespearean turn of phrase and mentions no books, manuscripts or literary effects of any kind. Nothing about it suggests a man with a cultivated mind — no writing materials or furniture, no art works or musical instruments. Nor did he leave any bequest for education — not to the Stratford grammar school, or even to educate his own grandchildren.

Many people in Stratford and London who knew the Stratford man seem not to have associated him with the poet-playwright; and when he died in 1616, no one seemed to notice. Not until seven years after he died did anyone suggest he was the author. Orthodox scholars tend to assume that all references to “Shakespeare” mean the Stratford man, but this is never made explicit during his lifetime. Contemporary comments are mostly about the works. Nobody seems to have known the author personally. Certainly there is no evidence that the Stratford man ever claimed to have written the works, contrary to what people assume.

“The subject of Shakespeare’s identity is fascinating to students,” said SAC Chairman John Shahan, “but the great majority of orthodox Shakespeare scholars deny that it has any legitimacy, and many actively seek to suppress the question in academia.”  “But with increasing numbers of prominent signatories like Justices Stevens and O’Connor, this may become difficult,” he said.

The SAC is a private, non-profit charity founded to advocate for recognition of the legitimacy of the Authorship Controversy.       The Declaration of Reasonable Doubt can be read and signed online at the website of the SAC at: http://www.doubtaboutwill.org

Contact person: SAC Chairman John Shahan at: (909) 896-2006.

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. It is encouraging that people have gained enough knowledge to question the fable that
    someone named Shakspere, tangentially associated with the theatre scene, knew and
    wrote all about the monarchy and aristocratic class from the inside. But I think that the
    establishment will outlive the tremors of doubt. What it can’t outlive is the youth of the
    present and future generations demanding a more truthful assessment of the question
    of identifying the actual author, and demanding to know why the fable is defended so
    stubbornly. In my view, this has happened because the legitimacy of the Tudor monarchy
    is threatened by a more complete knowledge of that period of time and its most brilliant
    comprehensive mind. If that myth goes down, so does the historical dignity of the national
    state, England’s, America’s, virtually every state in the modern period. There is a lot to
    lose, and I wouldn’t expect that because Shake-Speare was de Vere, the power centers
    will all of a sudden honor the truth to their disadvantage. My hope is that the artistic class
    take up this strange and shocking story and thus gain the imagination of the times. The truth
    will out.

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