Frequently asked questions
What is the SAC?
The Shakespeare Authorship Coalition (SAC) is a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public charity incorporated in the State of California. The SAC is dedicated to public education to increase awareness of reasonable doubt about the identity of William Shakespeare. Our application for IRS 501(c)(3) tax exempt status is pending. Also see the About Us page.
Why a Declaration?
Normal academic traditions of free and open inquiry have proven to be inadequate in the case of the authorship issue. Many highly credible individuals have found reason to doubt the authorship during the last 150 years, but orthodox scholars continue to claim that there is no room for doubt. If there is "no room for doubt" about the author, taking the issue seriously is inherently irrational. Those who do take it seriously can risk ridicule or ostracism, although this seems to be changing. We believe orthodox scholars are sincere, but we think that they should take a fresh look at the evidence.
Who is in the Coalition?
The SAC is a non-membership organization with a small board focused on achieving its mission. Otherwise, any individual who signs the Declaration, or any organization that endorses it, will be regarded as a non-voting member of the Coalition.
Are other organizations involved?
Yes, virtually every major Shakespeare authorship organization in the world now supports the Declaration, and we regard them as member organizations of the Coalition
Who wrote the Declaration?
The Declaration was written through a collaborative process involving over three dozen scholars. About a dozen university-based and independent Shakespeare scholars made major contributions. Approximately two dozen more contributed by reviewing and commenting on the various drafts. The final version was adopted by the SAC Board of Directors in consultation with our Academic Advisory Board. To maximize its impact, we prefer to focus on high profile signatories.
Is there anything new in the Declaration?
Much of the information in the Declaration will be unfamiliar to the public, so it may seem new. However, everything in the Declaration was already in the public domain and known to scholars. What is new is that the information is now in a form that makes it much more readily accessible. Also new is the fact that those who agree with the Declaration can now go on record by signing it.
Is the information in the Declaration correct?
Everything in the Declaration is documented — over 95% from mainstream sources.
Why does it matter who the author really was?
As stated in the text of the Declaration, knowing the author's identity is important to understand "the works, the … literary culture in which they were produced (and) the nature of literary creativity and genius." We cannot fully appreciate the meaning of the works without knowing the author’s viewpoint.
Why would the real author conceal his identity?
Writers throughout history have sought to conceal their identities behind pen names and fronts, so it should come as no surprise that a playwright who dealt with potentially controversial topics at a time of great religious and political conflict in Elizabethan England may have done so. The more difficult question is why the secret would have been kept after he died. A few plausible theories have been proposed; but without definitive evidence we do not know.
If he was not the author, who was Mr. Shakspere?
As stated in the Declaration, the evidence supports the view that he was a Stratford businessman who was also a theater entrepreneur and sometime minor actor in London. Some have proposed that he may have actively fronted for the real author, but it is unclear whether he played this role. If he was a front, he kept such a low profile that he left no definitive evidence of a writing career.
Are authorship doubters motivated by snobbery?
It is absurd to think that all of the many outstanding authorship doubters have been motivated by snobbery. Was Walt Whitman, poet of democracy and the common man, a snob? Mark Twain? Charlie Chaplin? This ad hominem argument is a red herring put out by defenders of orthodoxy. Those who resort to it should be asked to provide evidence to back up their claims. They cannot. It is a convenient way for them to avoid having to deal with evidence that does not support them. In writing our Declaration, we have focused on evidence. Those who disagree should do likewise.
Are authorship doubters just conspiracy theorists?
It is absurd to think that all of the many outstanding authorship skeptics are conspiracy theorists. Too many highly credible people have expressed serious doubts, focusing just on this one author. This ad hominem argument is a red herring used by defenders of orthodoxy to change the subject. Those who resort to it should be asked for evidence that independent experts support this charge. It is a convenient way for them to avoid having to deal with evidence that does not support them. In writing our Declaration, we have focused on evidence. Those who disagree should do likewise.