Shakespeare Was a Woman and Other Heresies: How Doubting the Bard Became the Biggest Taboo in Literature

S. & S. Audio. May 2023. 14:28 hrs. ISBN 9781797158723. $23.99. BIOG
In 2019, when journalist Winkler published the essay “Was Shakespeare a Woman?” in The Atlantic, a majority of Shakespeare scholars (and an army of anonymous internet trolls) were outraged. She approached the Shakespeare authorship debate in “a spirit of inquiry and open-minded skepticism,” wondering how William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon, the relatively uneducated and untraveled son of a glover, had written plays that demonstrated intimate knowledge of European aristocratic life, the practice of law, and several languages, all with a unique sensitivity to a woman’s place in Elizabethan society. Soon after the essay’s publication, Winkler was called a conspiracy theorist, her questioning of the Bard’s gender likened to Holocaust denialism and Obama birtherism. With an expert blend of wry humor, enthusiasm, and careful attention to detail, narrator Eunice Wong perfectly presents Winkler’s enlightening and delightfully entertaining first-person account of who, other than William Shakespeare, may have contributed to the vast body of work attributed to him and why it has become so taboo to question who the poet and playwright really was.
VERDICT Listeners, however knowledgeable of the Shakespeare authorship question or “his” works, should relish Wong’s engaging performance of Winkler’s spirited look at a hotly debated literary mystery.
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