If you tap 'Shakespeare' into Google's internet search box, you get an estimated 28 million possible hits linked to this world famous English poet and playwright.
With so much information available to us to research this globally recognized icon, it would probably amaze you to know that there is very little actually known about the man from Stratford-upon-Avon beyond the play's and sonnets that he supposedly left behind.
The fact of the matter is that beyond the world recognized Martin Droeshout engraved picture of Shakespeare, there is nothing that conclusively connotes the man from Stratford-upon-Avon to the play's and sonnets ascribed to him … in fact, the portrait only complicates the authorship issue more!
What authorship issue you may say? Where oh where have you been hiding?
For the last few hundred years, a growing number of historians have begun to question the facts that identify the man from Stratford-upon-Avon as being the true author of the works attributed to him, and over the years, a raft of prominent Elizabethan candidates have been suggested at one time or another as the possible true author of one or more of the Shakespeare's plays, such as Ben Jonson, Christopher Marlowe, Edward De Vere, the Earl of Rutland, the Earl of Southampton, the Earl of Essex, Sir Walter Raleigh and of course, Sir Francis Bacon.
The real truth though, is that the authorship question was being raised during the Elizabethan era at the time when the plays were being written and performed!
For example, between 1597 and 1598, two poets, John Marston and Joseph Hall, in an exchange of satires, alluded to the real author of the Shakespeare plays. In his first book of Satires (published in 1597), Joseph Hall criticizes a poet he calls 'Labeo' (the name of a famous Roman lawyer), who had written erotic poetry anonymously. In his book Pygmalion's Image (published in 1598) John Marston reiterates to 'Labeo' as the writer of Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis .
In his second book of Satires (published in 1598) Joseph Hall infers that 'Labeo' has used another person's name to hide his authorship and thus be immune to satire. In Certain Satires John Marston identifies 'Labeo' with the motto Mediocra firma , and in context with the Shakespeare poems, Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece – this motto is part of the Bacon family coat of arms, used by Francis Bacon and his brother Anthony Bacon.
As the analogy with 'Labeo' fits Francis Bacon rather than Anthony, then the identification is absolutely clear – Francis Bacon, according to these two men, wrote 'Venus and Adonis' and' The Rape of Lucrece 'under the pseudonym of' William Shakespeare '.
In Part II, I will explain the evidence that links the Shakespeare plays to Sir Francis Bacon.