Book Review: The Case for Shakespeare

Title: The Case for Shakespeare: The End of the Authorship Question
Author: Scott McCrae
Publisher: Praeger
Publication Date: January 30, 2005

Scott McCrae's work is provocatively subtitled "The End of the Authorship Question." It's a pleasant thought, but you just know by the end of the book that it won't be.

While the alternate authorship section of the book is mostly focused on debunking de Vere, McCrea makes a substantially convincing case for Shakespeare's authorship. He consistently distinguishes between known facts, circumstantial evidence, and sheer speculation. The author is well versed in his source material and puts it to good use in an approachable style.

Ultimately, the choice seems to be between accepting evidence (albeit with acknowledged gaps) for Shakespeare's authorship and interpreting evidence for anyone else. McCrae goes down a somewhat slippery slope of extrapolating biographical details from the works; that's the very approach that has fueled the various alternative authorship hypotheses since the nineteenth century. For the most part, however, the author doesn't overreach and grounds any speculation in the works and contemporary sources.

In the end, if The Case for Shakespeare doesn't definitively prove the case for Shakespeare—although I believe it satisfies reasonable doubt—at the least it demonstrates how convoluted the arguments must be to support candidates other than William Shakespeare.