Some people argue that Shakespeare did not write Shakespeare. Those people are wrong. The notion that somebody other than Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare is a conspiracy theory, and like other conspiracy theories (Bush and Cheney blew up the World Trade Center; Obama is not an American citizen), it is convoluted, built on false evidence, and never meant to be proven (because then it would cease to be a conspiracy theory and become just like all the other bits of knowledge that conspiracy theorists don’t know or understand). While it is not as simple and straightforward to prove that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare as it is to prove that Americans landed on the moon, there is plenty of evidence. I don’t know a single serious Shakespearean scholar who believes that Shakespeare did not write the plays attributed to him. Let’s take the current centerpiece of the anti-Stratfordian movement: The plays of William Shakespeare were actually written by Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (1550-1604). This claim is false on its face because de Vere (like most of the other people who supposedly wrote Shakespeare’s plays) died too soon. The Winter’s Tale and The Tempest were clearly written much later (1610-1611 strong evidence suggests) with Henry VIII later still (1613). It’s tough to write plays when you’re dead. One of the wilder theories put forward to account for this discrepancy has de Vere not dead but imprisoned on an island, where, on the orders of King James I and with the supervision of Ben Jonson, he continued to write plays and sign another man’s name to them. There is, however, conclusive evidence that de Vere did not write Shakespeare’s plays. He did write letters, and we still have many of them, over 50,000 words of them, more than two and a half times the length of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (19,151). Alan H. Nelson analyzes those words in Monstrous Adversary, the only recent scholarly biography of de Vere (Liverpool University Press, 2003). Here are his conclusions: “Oxford’s spelling suggests that he routinely misheard words and failed to correct his pronunciation by recourse to verbal roots. In this he is like the otherwise intelligent native speaker of modern English who says ‘ek-cetera’ for ‘etcetera’, or ‘newk-u-lar’ for ‘nuclear’…. Clearly Oxford’s language was not the language of Shakespeare … similarly, Oxford’s language was not the language of Burghley or other well-established Londoners…. On the evidence of his own letters written in his own hand, therefore, we must conclude that Oxford was neither a Latin scholar, nor even a fully competent practitioner of his native English” (65-67). Ironically, the aristocrat who, because he was better educated and more highly placed, could write the glorious plays which were simply beyond a merely middle class mind like Shakespeare’s, proves himself (as upper class individuals often do) lazy and incompetent.