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Baconian theory


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Francis Bacon (1561—1626) lord chancellor, politician, and philosopher

William Shakespeare (1564—1616) playwright and poet

Delia Salter Bacon (1811—1859)

Love's Labour's Lost

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The theory that F. Bacon wrote the plays attributed to Shakespeare. It was started in print in the mid‐19th cent., and is based partly on (supposed) internal evidence in Shakespeare's plays (the knowledge displayed and the vocabulary), and partly on external circumstances (the obscurity of Shakespeare's own biography, and the assumption that the son of a Warwickshire husbandman was unlikely to be capable of such skilful creations). Some holders of the theory have found in the plays cryptograms in support of it, e.g. in the nonceword ‘honorificabilitudinitatibus’ in Love's Labour's Lost (v.i), which has been rendered in Latin as ‘These plays, F. Bacon's offspring, are preserved for the World’; the word, however, is found elsewhere as early as 1460. The best recent treatment of the topic is to be found in S. Schoenbaum, Shakespeare's Lives (1970).

Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism.


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