Press release from Saturday April 30, 2011
SAC News Releases
- May 4, 2016
- Doubts about Shakespeare go international for the 400th anniversary
- April 25, 2016
- Sir Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance revive the debate over Shakespeare's identity in an interview with NPR's Renée Montagne.
- April 24, 2016
- Doubters claim victory on Shakespeare 400th Anniversary, and renew their challenge to Stratfordians to participate in a mock trial.
- March 23, 2016
- The SAC at Age 10; Six New Notables; 400th Anniversary International Events
- December 27, 2015
- Declaration of Reasonable Doubt still un-rebutted after more than eight years
- November 22, 2015
- Droeshout engraving in First Folio has Shakspere wearing impossible doublet!
- May 31, 2015
- RSC removes Stanley Wells' article on “Authorship Debate” from its website!
- September 28, 2014
- SAC Update through September, 2014
- December 6, 2013
- SAC challenges the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to a mock trial, to prove that Shakspere wrote Shakespeare, offering a £40K donation to the winning side.'
- November 21, 2011
- Actor Michael York and Shakespeare Authorship Coalition challenge the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon with new reasons to doubt the identity of the author William Shakespeare in the wake of Sony Pictures’ heretical film, Anonymous.
- April 30, 2011
- Over 2,000 sign Declaration of Reasonable Doubt
- September 18, 2010
- Theater professionals sign Shakespeare Authorship Declaration
- April 20, 2010
- Happy Birthday and Retirement, Justice John Paul Stevens!
- April 19, 2010
- Shakespeare Authorship Coalition updates Declaration signatory lists
- November 15, 2009
- U.S. Supreme Court Justices John Paul Stevens and Sandra Day O'Connor (retired) sign the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt.
- April 13, 2009
- Award-winning Shakespearean actors Sir Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance joined by growing list of declared Shakespeare authorship doubters. Michael York joins fellow actors as SAC Patron. Shakespeare Authorship Coalition marks 2nd aniversary of Declaration of Reasonable Doubt. Seven signatories added to SAC “notables” list.
- November 17, 2008
- Huntington Library staff sign Declaration.
- June 3, 2008
- Sir Derek Jacobi joins the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition as a SAC patron.
- December 1, 2007
- First annual report of the Shakespeare authorship coalition: the Coalition’s strategy is working! Over 1,200 people have signed the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt, and we’ve attracted enormous attention to the authorship issue. With each new signatory, it becomes more difficult for orthodox scholars to continue claiming that there is “no room for doubt” about the identity of William Shakespeare.
- September 23, 2007
- Nearly 800 additional signatories have signed the “Declaration of Reasonable Doubt About the Identity of William Shakespeare” in the two weeks since prominent Shakespearean actors Sir Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance, former artistic director at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London, gave the Declaration its launch in the U.K.
- July 2, 2007
- SAC adds 100 signers to the list of signatories of the “Declaration of Reasonable Doubt”.
- April 23, 2007
- SAC releases its first list of signatories of the “Declaration of Reasonable Doubt”, on the 391st anniversary of William Shakspere's death.
- April 14, 2007
- SAC and the Shakespeare Authorship Roundtable hold a signing ceremony to issue the “Declaration of Reasonable Doubt”
- April 11, 2007
- SAC and Shakespeare Authorship Roundtable to issue historic “Declaration of Reasonable Doubt”
SAC contact person: John Shahan at (909) 896-2006, or online.
Claremont, California, April 30, 2011 — The Shakespeare Authorship Coalition (SAC) now has 2,010 signatories to its Declaration of Reasonable Doubt About the Identity of William Shakespeare, launched in April of 2007. The pace has clearly picked up since the addition of the Keir Cutler video, plus an audio recording of Michael York reading the Declaration. So thanks again to Keir and Michael for all the work they did creating these excellent video and audio recordings. They provide interesting, useful tools for introducing people to the authorship issue. Thanks also to Hanno Wember and the Neue Shake-speare Gesellschaft for recruiting a dozen new signatories during the period.
Is there anything particularly significant about reaching this milestone? No, not really. Millions of people believe all sorts of strange things, and there is nothing very surprising about the fact that 2,000 people would have doubts about Shakespeare's authorship in 2011. Much more important than the number is who these doubters are. Overall, our signatories are a very well-educated group — much more so than the general population. Nearly 79% are college graduates, and 725 (36%) have advanced degrees — 312 doctorates and 413 master's degrees. A total of 354 (18%) indicated that they are current or former college/university faculty members. In a category by themselves, there are the 24 prominent signatories on our notables list.
Among college graduates and current/former faculty, the largest number indicated that their field was English literature (403, 25%), followed by theater arts (203, 13%). One would not find that a large proportion of those expressing doubt about evolution are biology majors, or that a large proportion of those who express doubt about the Holocaust are history majors; but one does find that the largest proportions expressing doubt about Shakespeare's authorship are from the two fields that deal with him most directly.
A declaration is not a petition
Professor James Shapiro praised the Declaration in his book, Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? But he called it a “petition,” and claimed that the stated purpose is to get as many people as possible to sign it. Neither statement is true. A declaration is not a petition, and we never said that its goal was to maximize the number of signatories. Shapiro's aim in saying otherwise was to define the number of Declaration signatories as the measure of “success” in the authorship controversy, and set the bar as high as possible.
There is an important difference between a declaration and a petition. A petition is usually addressed to some authority, implicitly recognizing their right to decide a question, and asking them to decide it a particular way. A declaration, on the other hand, is an assertion, issued on the authority of those who sign it. The English colonies, for example, did not “petition” King George III, asking him to grant them their independence from Great Britain; they declared their independence, whether he liked it or not. Just 58 people signed the Declaration of Independence. It's who they were that mattered. The Declaration of Reasonable Doubt is exactly what its title says it is — a declaration. It is addressed to “Shakespeare lovers everywhere,” and it asks nothing of any authority.
If the goal had been to maximize the number of signatories, we would not have written a 3,000-word declaration that can take over 25 minutes to read, and another 3-5 minutes to sign. We would have written a short request, and used some existing online petition service. The main reason why we took a different route is that, as stated on the SAC website home page, the Declaration was written “not just to advocate, but also to educate the public…” There is no point asking people to sign a petition about something they do not understand. Before signing our declaration, one must know enough, and feel strongly enough, to take a stand. It's hardly surprising that those who aren't very familiar with the authorship issue are not yet ready to sign; but hopefully we've opened a few minds to a question they hadn't considered previously. We also want to be able to verify the identities of our signatories and say who they are.
We did say that we hoped thousands would sign the Declaration and millions would read it, and we are well along toward achieving both of these intermediate objectives. But we've always said that our main goal is to “legitimize the authorship issue in academia,” by the 400th anniversary of the death of William of Stratford on April 23, 2016. There's no magic number of signatories that will accomplish this. Nor is the declaration the only means, nor even quite possibly a very important one, by which it will be achieved. Rather than a slow, steady accumulation of doubters, we may reach a tipping point where some newly-discovered evidence makes it virtually impossible to remain in denial, and even orthodox scholars suddenly notice that the emperor isn't wearing any clothes.
The Stratfordian narrative
It is difficult to say when such a tipping point might be reached, but a major contribution of the Declaration is likely to be that it contradicts the Stratfordian narrative about doubters. The clear implication of Shapiro's book, for example, is that authorship doubters are all defective in some way. Beneath its thin veneer of civility, it is an extended ad hominem attack on all doubters. Another example of this Stratfordian narrative is the claim on the website of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford that “The phenomenon of disbelief in Shakespeare's authorship is a psychological aberration of considerable interest.” They then offer some examples of this alleged psychological aberration, including “even certifiable madness (as in the sad case of Delia Bacon…”
Oh really? Is there any credible evidence to back up this claim? Do recognized experts agree with this diagnoses of “psychological aberration?” Is the rate of mental disorders higher among authorship doubters than in the general population, or among English professors? One wonders, have the sympathetic professors at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust alerted the British National Health Service to this strange and terrible epidemic of doubt about Shakespeare's authorship? Well someone had better get on it, because it seems to be spreading fast! If these English professors are unable to back up their claims about authorship doubters, why assume they are any more scholarly when it comes to their claims that there is “no room for doubt” about Shakespeare's authorship?
Most people can see that such claims are not credible, once it's pointed out; but they have the desired effect. The issue is stigmatized. But there may come a time when people take another look, and see that it makes no sense to think that all of the many outstanding people who have expressed doubt are “defective.” If that day comes, those who have made such claims will have much to answer for.
Meanwhile, continue to call attention to the Declaration and Keir Cutler's video. There's safety in numbers, and prominent people, especially, like to be in good company. If there is any significance to going over 2,000, it most likely has something to do with that.
Please support the SAC
Finally, please make a tax-deductible donation to the SAC to help us contnue to promote the Declaration. Your donation will help us achieve our goal of legitimizing the Shakespeare Authorship Question by April 2016. The SAC is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt charity. You can either make an online donation using PayPal, or send a check made out to “Shakespeare Authorship Coalition” to:
Shakespeare Authorship Coalition,
310 North Indian Hill Blvd. #200,
Claremont, CA 91711 U.S.A
Thanks very much for your support.
SAC contact person: John Shahan at (909) 896-2006, or online.