Sunday, September 16, 2007

On Ghostwriting

It seems the debate on whether or not Shakespeare truly was the nimble wordsmith history believed has gained another layer. Today's edition of The Toronto Star reports that a coalition of well-regarded people who make their living in the movie/theatre/writing industry have added their names and clout to the 'We're sure he was a perfectly decent fellow but not the real brain behind all those famous plays' camp.

As an aspiring author, Apprentice Writer can certainly empathize with the injustice of toiling away and having someone else snatch the critical glory and cold hard dollars (or pence, as the case may be). But the controversy took place in the middle of the last millenium. Apprentice Writer has not quite grasped why the veracity of Shakespeare's authordom has become such a burning question (apart from the nice-to-have-history-written-accurately aspect). Nor has she any clue about this period of English history. Is it possible that someone in the Shakespeare family is still earning royalties, and these are now being contested by the 'real' author's descendents? Is there really convincing evidence that some other creative genius was cheated of his (her?) centuries in the sun? And if so: how would this affect casting for Shakespeare in Love, Part Deux?

Perhaps some Gentle Readers are more knowledgable and can provide insight. In the meantime, Monty Python's interpretation (also from today's issue of The Toronto Star, via

GAME SHOW HOST: Good evening and welcome to Stake Your Claim. First this evening we have Mr. Norman Voles of Gravesend, who claims he wrote all Shakespeare's works. Mr. Voles, I understand you claim that you wrote all those plays normally attributed to Shakespeare.

VOLES: That is correct. I wrote all his plays and my wife and I wrote his sonnets.

GSH: Mr. Voles, these plays are known to have been performed in the early 17th century. How old are you, Mr. Voles?

V: 43.

GSH: Well, how is it possible for you to have written plays performed over 300 years before you were born?

V: Ah, well. This is where my claim falls to the ground.

GSH: Ah!

V: There's no possible way of answering that argument, I'm afraid. I was only hoping you wouldn't make that particular point, but I can see you're more than a match for me!

GSH: Next we have Mr. Bill Wymiss, who claims to have built the Taj Mahal.

Wymiss: No.

GSH: I'm sorry?

W: No. No.

GSH: I thought you cl...

W: Well I did, but I can see I won't last a minute with you.

GSH: Next...


Carrie Lofty said...

OMG, Maya--that MP thing cracked me up. Thx :)

Christine d'Abo said...

ROFL!! That is hilarious! And in a way I hope he did write all the plays. I don't want any of my childhood bubbles burst. :)

M. said...

Hi, Carrie and Christine
yes, the Monty Python people were geniuses (geneii?) in their own way. 'Life of Brian' still cracks me up, and i love 'Fish called Wanda'