The Man Who Would Be Shakespeare


The June issue of Smithsonian magazine contains a wonderful article by Doug Stewart Entitled “To Be…Or Not” about a hoax perpetuated on literary England in 1795-96 by one William-Henry Ireland.  In an attempt to win the approval of his Shakespeare-loving father, the hilariously incompetent William-Henry began his hoax by claiming to have found long-lost, original Shakespeare manuscripts in a trunk.  But as experts lapped up the news–and proclaimed the documents to be genuine–the young forger found himself more and more entangled in his own web of deceit.

What caught my eye, however, was that one of the documents William-Henry felt inspired to forge, was a love letter from Will to Anne, apparently when she was his fiancee.  Today, Anne is so often maligned that it is refreshing to think she was once viewed in a better light and considered worthy of a love letter from England’s future Bard.  So my thanks to William-Henry for his gallantry toward Anne.

You can read Mr. Stewart’s article at