It is a habit of mine to note, with each book I buy, the date of purchase on its first blank page. And so I know that it was in May of 2003 that I bought a copy of the „Neues Shake-speare Journal“ from one of those stacks of used books outside a bookshop. It was just curiosity, I had no idea what it was about, only that it was about Shake-speare, and ever since the days of my English studies I loved Shake-speare. I had no idea that there was something like an authorship question; the topic had not been mentioned in the lectures I had attended at University (but the professor presented the „William the Conqueror“ anecdote...) In retrospect, it is interesting to reflect on this happy, self-snug ignorance, on this „Is there a problem?“ attitude.

But of course I was soon to learn what was going on. In that little impressive volume published by the Uwe Laugwitz Verlag (vol. 3, „Zur Publikationsgeschichte“, publication history) I read my first basic essays about the topic. I especially remember Robert Detobel's „Über Shakespeares Authentizität und Tod“ („About Sh.'s authenticity and death“), because it was easily accessible as an introduction. I caught fire. Then, I was set ablaze by Mark Twain's „Is Shakespeare dead?“, which I read on the Internet. There I also read excerpts of J.T. Looney's work. His suggestion that Shake-speare must have been a pen name of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, seemed plausible to me, and I embraced it intuitively.

Following that, I also came across the Shakespeare books of Joseph Sobran, Walter Klier and Kurt Kreiler. Kreiler's book especially painted a very moving portrait of Edward de Vere. I read a lot on the Internet also – just a few days ago I devoured Sir George Greenwood's „The Shakespeare Problem Restated.“ I could actually hear his voice and was delighted by his combination of friendly sarcasm and immense authority and scholarship. His strict focus on refuting the Stratfordian theory only („It was not the Stratford rustic!“) I also find very strong and useful, although I still favour Oxford. Strategically speaking, it is maybe easier to smash up the Stratfordian fortress first and then move on to the positive answers.

Just a few weeks ago, I wrote an essay „Nieder mit dem FAKEspeare!“ („Down with the FAKEspeare!“), which was published on the website of the „Neue Shakespeare-Gesellschaft“ (

In the end, I think it's interesting to reflect once more on this chance event of myself coming across some used book and so learning that there is an authorship debate after all! Because I really think that the vast majority of people out there, even those with an interest in literature, have no idea that there is such a thing as an authorship question. They take the name magic, the name voodoo for granted: „Shakespeare is Shakespeare, what else?“

Michael Schaefer is a musician and writer who lives in South Germany (