1564 - 1616
Known during his life by the last name of 'Shakespere', is it not strange that this man's very detailed will lists no books or manuscripts as part of his estate? Isn't it remarkable that none of England’s well-known, poet-dramatists, on the death of 'Shakespere', wrote a single line lamenting his passing or praising his literary talents?
Even so, the majority of Shakespeare scholars see no reason to doubt what many believe to be the facade of the Bard. Tom Reedy and David Kathman have created a compendium of reasons why Shakespeare wrote his own plays (by himself!) in their essay, How We Know That Shakespeare Wrote Shakespeare: The Historical Facts.
Alternate 'authorship' theories are up against a 400-plus year history, with the majority accepting William Shakespeare as the author of the canon. A man by that name was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, and he died there. The documentary evidence of the time indicates that William 'Shakespere' left Stratford after 1585 and appeared in London around 1592. After 1594, he is noted as part of the Lord Chamberlain's Men, an acting company that performed the plays attributed to the Bard. He was also a shareholder in the Globe Theater.
At the end of William's career in London, he retired to Stratford-upon-Avon, where he owned several houses: Ownership of the Globe had made him a wealthy man. He died there in 1616. Seven years later, the First Folio of works was published including the sonnets. The mystery of his singular writing prowess had already begun, and continues to the present day.
People who believe that this man is the sole author of the Shakespeare canon are known as Stratfordians.