I’ve been reading The Truth Will Out: Unmasking the Real Shakespeare, by Brenda James and William Rubinstein. The book’s major claim is that Sir Henry Neville wrote the works of William Shakespeare. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been one for conspiracy theories. I even believe that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin. And I’ve never bought into the attribution of Shakespeare’s works to de Vere; the guy died too soon for the chronology to make sense.
But I found this book — no, "convincing" is too strong a word — but difficult to dismiss. It has the first good arguments I’ve read that Shakespeare, were he the real guy, would have a very different paper trail than what we find. Some of the plays appear to show detailed knowledge of the Continent that Shakespeare did not seem to have. The topics of the plays match Neville’s life and experience closely, right down to the timing. Some scenes from the plays match incidents from Neville’s life, down to some very particular numbers.
To be sure, there is no smoking gun. It is all circumstancial evidence. And we should remain skeptical toward speculative theses which captivate the giddy minds of scholars. But — if this book were a blog post I would link to it.