Who is the real Shakespeare?

Last updated at 10:35 24 June 2004

A group of literature scholars were marking the 400th anniversary today of the death of a 16th Century nobleman they believe was the real author of Shakespeare's plays.

Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, used "William Shakespeare" as a pen-name while he wrote some of the most famous poems and plays in the English language, the De Vere Society argues.

The group believes that there is an "unbridgeable chasm between Shakespeare's life and the plays".

De Vere was far better educated, travelled and socially connected at Elizabeth I's court than the historical Shakespeare, who came from a much more modest background, according to the group.

This makes de Vere much more likely to have written the plays, the group believes.

De Vere, who lived from 1550 to 1604, had degrees from both Oxford and Cambridge universities, while Shakespeare attended neither.

A spokesman for the society said: "It is time to accept that the name 'Shakespeare' was almost certainly a pseudonym for the real writer of genius.

"We now need to look for the author elsewhere in the Elizabethan world."

The De Vere Society will hold the main celebrations on Saturday in London.

No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now