Is Shakespeare Dead?

Read by PhyllisV

(4.8 stars; 12 reviews)

A short, semi-autobiographical work by American humorist Mark Twain. It explores the controversy over the authorship of the Shakespearean literary canon via satire, anecdote, and extensive quotation of contemporary authors on the subject.
In the book, Twain expounds the view that Shakespeare of Stratford was not the author of the canon, and lends tentative support to the Baconian theory. The book opens with a scene from his early adulthood, where he was trained to be a steamboat pilot by an elder who often argued with him over the controversy.

Twain's arguments include the following points:

That little was known about Shakespeare's life, and the bulk of his biographies were based on conjecture.
That a number of eminent British barristers and judges found Shakespeare's plays permeated with precise legal thought, and that the author could only have been a veteran legal professional.
That in contrast, Shakespeare of Stratford had never held a legal position or office, and had only been in court over petty lawsuits late in life.
That small towns lionize and celebrate their famous authors for generations, but this had not happened in Shakespeare's case. He described his own fame in Hannibal as a case in point.
Twain draws parallels and analogies from the pretensions of modern religious figures and commentators on the nature of Satan. He compares the believers in Shakespeare to adherents of Arthur Orton and Mary Baker Eddy. - Summary from Wikipedia (2 hr 57 min)


Chapter 1 22:30 Read by PhyllisV
Chapters 2 and 3 19:09 Read by PhyllisV
Chapters 4 and 5 20:35 Read by PhyllisV
Chapters 6 and 7 26:12 Read by PhyllisV
Chapter 8 33:33 Read by PhyllisV
Chapters 9 and 10 27:59 Read by PhyllisV
Chapters 11 and 12 14:14 Read by PhyllisV
Chapter 13 13:13 Read by PhyllisV


(5 stars)

Mark Twain's sardonic and hilarious observations about the controversy of the true authorship of Shakespeare's body of work. While declaring for the Francis Bacon school of thought, he also has time to veer off into wry observations about, among others, Mary Baker Eddy, Presbyterians, and mankind's general tendencies to support long-held beliefs only because they are long-held. The narrator is superb.

A Voice Perfectly Matched to a Story

(5 stars)