Anti-Stratfordians Strike Back: Michael York and the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition Launch Big Counter-Offensive against the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Michael York

Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 21, 2011 – Amidst all the controversy surrounding Sony Pictures’ recently-released feature film Anonymous, actor and author Michael York, O.B.E., launched a powerful, multi-pronged counter-offensive against the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT) in Stratford-upon-Avon, and its “60 Minutes with Shakespeare” authorship campaign, initiated in response to the film.

Michael York in his breakthrough film role as Tybalt in "Romeo and Juliet" - 1968

York also announced a monumental breakthrough in the Shakespeare Authorship Controversy — detailed evidence that William Shakespeare traveled all over Italy. The problem for orthodox Shakespeare scholars is that the Stratford man never left England.

During a briefing at the LA Press Club’s Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood, Michael York, Hilary Roe Metternich, daughter of the man who discovered the new evidence, and John M. Shahan, Chairman & CEO of the California-based Shakespeare Authorship Coalition (SAC), lambasted the SBT for its Orwellian attacks against doubters and for the inferior scholarship in its “60 Minutes with Shakespeare” website, which features 60 prominent SBT supporters, each giving a 60-second audio-recorded response to one of 60 questions posed by the SBT.

John Shahan, chairman of the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition, with the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt

Michael York, in language echoing that which brought down Senator Joseph McCarthy, castigated Stanley Wells, Honorary President of the SBT, and Paul Edmondson, Head of Learning and Research at the SBT, for suggesting that the authorship controversy is merely another “conspiracy theory,” and for labeling all doubters as “anti-Shakespeareans.”

“Have you no sense of decency sirs, at long last?  Have you left no sense of decency?”* York asked.

“Or, as Shakespeare put it in Hamlet, ‘O shame! where is thy blush?’” he added.

“Doubters are not ‘anti-Shakespeare,’” York insisted, “but your behaviour is most un-Shakespearean.”

Stanley Wells, chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT), with the Cobbe Portrait of -- Shakespeare???

SAC Chairman John Shahan announced that a coalition of a dozen authorship organizations, based in the U.S., U.K. and Germany, has rebutted each point in the SBT “60 Minutes.” The rebuttal document, titled Exposing An Industry in Denial: Authorship Doubters Respond To “60 Minutes with Shakespeare.”

“The SBT made a mistake in coming down from their ivory tower to attack us,” Shahan said. “This rebuttal document makes it clear that the best of our scholars are far superior to theirs.”

Shahan issued a challenge to the SBT to write a single definitive declaration of the reasons why they claim there is “no room for doubt” about the identity of William Shakespeare and post it along with the names of those who have endorsed it.  He noted that the SAC wrote and posted a definitive statement of its position, the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt About the Identity of William Shakespeare, in 2007; and it has now been signed by over 2,200 people — over 800 with advanced degrees, and nearly 400 current or former college faculty members.

"The Shakespeare Guide to Italy" by Richard Paul Roe

Hilary Roe Metternich announced the discovery of strong new evidence in the controversy, contained in the just-released book, The Shakespeare Guide to Italy: Retracting the Bard’s Unknown Travels, by Richard Paul Roe (HarperPerennial). Ms. Metternich, daughter of the author, a prominent Pasadena attorney who died late last year, said that her father had spent over 20 years searching in Italy, his only guide being the texts of Shakespeare’s 10 “Italian plays” — those set roughly in his own time (not counting the three plays set in ancient Rome).

“The clues were right there in the plays,” Metternich said. “My father found the locations of nearly every scene in all 10 plays, locations missed by orthodox scholars for over 400 years.  His great chronicle of travel, analysis and discovery paints with amazing clarity a picture of what the author ‘Shakespeare,’ whoever he was, witnessed before writing his Italian Plays.”

In 1954 Sen. Joseph McCarthy made accusations against the U.S. Army, whose attorney Joseph Welch responded, "Have you no sense of decency?"

*Question put to Senator Joseph McCarthy on June 9, 1954, at theArmy-McCarthy hearings.


U.S. Army Attorney Joseph Welch versus Senator Joseph McCarthy – 1954

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:

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

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