Who Was Shakespeare?

Since as early as the late 1600s, scholars have argued the validity of Shakespeare's existence. Some of their arguments are rather flimsy, but others seem to have some basis in truth. Try the quiz below to find out more about who Shakespeare might have been.

Points available: 10


Some scholars believe that Shakespeare was actually this man, working under a pseudonym as a spy in Italy:

  • A) Sir Francis Bacon
  • B) Christopher Marlowe
  • C) George Chapman
  • D) John Fletcher

This noble's crest depicts a lion on its hind legs, shaking a spear:

  • A) Edward de Vere (Earl of Oxford)
  • B) William Stanley (Earl of Derby)
  • C) Roger Manners (Earl of Rutland)
  • D) Sir Francis Bacon

Act V, Scene I of this Shakespeare play includes many anagrams and puns pointing to Francis Bacon as the author:

  • A) Twelfth Night
  • B) As You Like It
  • C) The Comedy of Errors
  • D) Love's Labors Lost

A new theory states that the actor Shakespeare allowed his name to be used as a pen name for:

  • A) A group of aspiring playwrights
  • B) A fellow actor
  • C) A noble who wished to write anonymously
  • D) A friend who was unable to get his plays produced

In Chapter 46 of this book of the Bible, the 46th word from the beginning is "shake" and the 46th word from the end is "spear," leading to yet another theory about Shakespeare's name:

  • A) Genesis
  • B) The Gospel of Luke
  • C) Psalms
  • D) Isaiah

Roger Manners, the 5th Earl of Rutland and another "suspect," is said to have had two classmates in Padua named:

  • A) Romeo and Julius
  • B) Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
  • C) Hamlet and Horatio
  • D) Othello and Iago

This "suspect" worked as a producer of entertainment at the same time and place that Shakespeare's first comedy was produced:

  • A) Christopher Marlowe
  • B) Edward de Vere
  • C) Sir Francis Bacon
  • D) George Chapman

A physicist in the early 20th century "proved" scientifically that Christopher Marlowe was Shakespeare by:

  • A) Calculating the pattern of word usage in their plays
  • B) Matching the rhythm of their poetry
  • C) Analyzing the handwriting of their surviving manuscripts
  • D) Tracing DNA on surviving possessions

The most popular suspected Shakespeares have this in common:

  • A) They were all born in Stratford.
  • B) They all made trips to Italy.
  • C) Each had a family crest depicting something associated with Shakespeare.
  • D) The careers of each can be traced to at least one Shakespearean theatre.

One telling piece of evidence that Shakespeare might not have been a real person is that the manager of the Rose Theatre failed to:

  • A) Make record of any performances of Shakespeare's plays
  • B) Credit Shakespeare in conjunction with any performances
  • C) Spell Shakespeare's name correctly in his records
  • D) Make note of who would receive payment for his plays