Much Ado About Something
a fine mystery
a bard in the hand?
what's at stake?
join the discussion: Where do you stand on the Shakespeare authorship question? What did you think of Much Ado About Something? What's at stake in the debate?


Has there been no computer-based investigation to compare the works known to have been written by Marlowe with those purported to have been written by Shakespeare? Surely a full-fledged analysis of the frequency of certain words used, syntactical propensities, or other tendencies would settle the matter conclusively. It may, or may not, tell us who the author was, but it could definitively tell us who it wasn't.

sandy kovack
toronto, ontario


Thanks for saving any possible hard evidence until the end of the program (the Italian factor) and then not digging deeper. A most unkind cut.

robert stevens
new york, ny


In my opinion, I think it is a load of rubbish that anyone of any course of sanity, would actually believe that Marlowe wrote the plays we attribute to Shakespeare. Shakspeare had a rapier wit; used subtle comedy, and wrote strong female characters. Marlowe had no sense of comedy and had no strong female characters. I say NONSENSE.

Michael Weissman
houston, texas


Throughout this program there were many convincing arguments for both sides. I did seem to be more persuaded that Marlow may have had a large hand in Shakespeare's plays, but I don't find that relevent. I think if Marlow and Shakespeare are one in the same, and Marlow wanted this fact known after his "real" death, he would have left some form of hard evidence somewhere that it would be found and documented. Instead, he left it up to opinion and possibilities. Although the lives of authors are relevent to the context of many of their writings, whichever you believe to be the truth, you still must admit that the plays and sonnets of Shakespeare are extrodinary!!

oklahoma city, oklahoma


Superb work !!! As an actress, I was astonished at what I learned. I was in London in october touring a play directed by Robert Lepage, and on my day off, went to Cambridge... Needless to say, this documentary kept me on the edge on my couch. Wonderfly shot, with so little equipemnt, just like a real rehearsal in process. Simple yet sophisticated in the content. Bravo !!

Thank you for this commitment and let's hurry to Italy !!!

P.S. Where on earth was this picture of Shakespeare found ??? In Montreal ??? Who's was it ??? How come the theatre community did not celebrate this finding ??

Lise Roy
montreal, qubec


I certainly enjoyed the Frontline program and the issues it raises. From the evidence I have heard, I believe that it is plausible that Marlowe could have collaborated from Italy with Shakespeare as a "front man" in London. This explains a lot of the common quotes attributed to both and the learned influences which Shakespeare, a common man, had within the plays published under his name. Although I have studied Shakespeare within my studies for my BA and MA in English and admired his plays, I never have thought of him as a god, as some do. Certainly these plays have contributed formidably to English literature, and the plausibility of the Marlowe-Shakespeare connection detracts "not a whit." In fact, the evidence of this connection seems in keeping with Marlowe's personality as a risk-taker. In Italy, he may well have wanted to continue to influence the London stage as he had before.

Carol Hottle
seattle, washington


If whoever wrote these plays was a genius, why cannot the genius have come from the middle classes? And if he lacked a university education, why cannot he have learned what he did from listening to conversations with customers in his father's glove shop, or people at the market in Stratford-upon-Avon, or lawyers, government workers, and world travelers in the pubs of London? It's probable that he attended the Stratford Grammar School, where he would have studied the Latin classics, which is evidenced in several of his plays. It's also obvious that whoever wrote these plays had an uncanny sense of what worked well on the stage, and who better for that than an actor? If you allow that the author of these plays was a genius, then how can you restrict that genius to the limitations of mere mortals?

Kathleen Gilhooly
springfield, ma


Without the creative mind behind the work, the work becomes irrelevent. Not giving credit to the author is like not giving credit to any other artist. How can we understand a painting by Picasso without knowing the man behind the work? Whoever wrote those plays and sonnets attributed to William Shakespeare had to be an individual possessing a classical education, be well-traveled (especially Italy), and understand human nature, high and low. The author could be a man or a woman. One person or a collaboration. We may never know who this person is, but the man named William Shakespeare of Stratford-on-Avon, England is not a strong candidate for the author of these works.

lockport, new york


Great program - I didn't leave my seat! The question is, is this just another example of us humans not being able to leave well enough alone, or is this a valid and legitimate quest? I'm not sure, but I do know it's great fun to think about this sort of thing. I also know that people are always told to write about what they know, as this makes for the most successful sort of writing, and it doesn't seem like Shakespeare had any direct experience with Italy, etc......

Rebecca M
kingston, ontario


Just watched your wonderful program. I appreciate the immense work that must have gone into it! It is a fine mystery. I wonder if "Morse" could have solved it! In my opinion, after seeing the evidence presented that Marlowe did escape to Italy and sent the plays undercover to Wm. Shakespeare who then in turn took authorship. A grand cover up indeed!

annette miller
casco, maine


The argument that Marlowe's work CANNOT live up to Shakespeare's comedies is, for me, the most compelling one that refutes the concept of Marlowe's authorship of Shakespeare's works. While Shakespeare's tragedies are works of genius, no question, his comedies, however, are subtle masterpieces, full of depth, strong women, and comedic retribution upon the sins of the hubris and short-sightedness of men. Unless Marlowe was interested in exploring these more delicate (and perhaps incendiary) themes behind a pen name, it seems unlikely that these two are one in the same man--that Marlowe was Shakespeare.

Aside from that, look at the late romances (Winter's Tale, Pericles, Tempest), which are intense explorations (or exorcisms) of the sins of men and fathers against their wives and daughters. Seems a theme that Shakespeare would have wanted to investigate, yes?

The world is full of art--beautiful and profound art--that is created by less-than-perfect artists. And there is no reason to believe that Shakespeare himself had to be a saint. Do we know that he wasn't an emotionally frozen man--someone perhaps who could only atone for his sins against the women in his life in his art? The question is no more preposterous than any of those posed in this program.

M Fry
pittsburgh, pa


This is something to think about. Saw your documentary in 1989, THE SHAKESPEARE MYSTERY, but thought the people who believe the 17th Earl of Oxford was really Shakespeare were really motivated by snobbery, that a common man could not have written the plays because he knew nothing about court life. What a pile of rubbish!! Shakespeare wrote about the human condition, court life was just a backdrop for his plays.

Anyway, I think all the poets and playwrights of that era gave and took from one another - in ideas, characters, plot, themes and lines. Shakespeare is just the biggest plagerist of his time to have gotten caught!

And please go to the historical plays if you don't think Shakespeare repeated himself - he does it constantly in that area alone.

Trudy Abramson
kenner, louisiana


Actually, I think everyone has this the wrong way round. Shakespeare actually wrote, not only his own plays, but Marlowe's as well. He also wrote de Vere's stuff. However, recognizing these works were embarassingly inferior, he used some friends' names as pseudonyms to protect his reputation. His friends didn't mind at all since they were dead at the time and couldn't be asked about it.

Tom Loback
new york, new york


Sure, it would be fascinating to know for sure who wrote all the wonderful works we attribute to Shakespeare, but would knowing that it was Marlowe change anything about them? As a simple fan of theatre, I would still love every word just as much.

stacey nay
des moines, ia

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