The Search for an Author: Shakespeare and the Framers

20 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2017

See all articles by James Boyle

James Boyle

Duke University School of Law

Date Written: December 8, 2017


For a brief period in the nineteen seventies it became fashionable to write thrillers in which there was no central narrator, merely a collection of official and unofficial documents out of which the story would appear, apparently rising to the surface of the text under its own power. The briefs and opinions which follow in this volume could be seen in the same light. Unfortunately, the narrative is a rather bare one. There is a controversy over the true identity of Shakespeare, a controversy notable for the intemperate statements to which it gives rise. Three Supreme Court Justices agree to hear a staged oral argument on the issue. Briefs are written, and replies. (These you have.) There is a televised oral argument. (This you do not have.) The court decides in favor of the traditional claimant to Shakespeare's laurels, each Justice rendering a separate opinion. (The opinions, too, are provided.) The attorneys retire in some confusion, unaccustomed to the importance they are presumed by their audience to possess. The parties disperse, already arguing over the significance of the ruling.

Keywords: authorship, Shakespeare, Edward de Vere, law and literature, literary interpretation, constitutional interpretaion, Constitution

Suggested Citation

Boyle, James, The Search for an Author: Shakespeare and the Framers (December 8, 2017). American University Law Review, Vol. 37, No. 3, 1988, Available at SSRN: or

James Boyle (Contact Author)

Duke University School of Law ( email )

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