Is Shakespeare Dead?
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Is Shakespeare Dead?

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  86 ratings  ·  22 reviews
As a cub pilot, Mark Twain trained under the tutelage of one George Ealer, who recited Shakespeare from memory--and who was a virulent opponent of the theory that the Shakespeare plays and poems were in reality written by Sir Francis Bacon. At first young Sam Clemens agreed with his teacher and boss, but soon realized that it was no fun for the pilot to argue with someone...more
Audiobook, Downloadable
Published February 14th 2011 by Richard Henzel (first published 1908)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 182)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
"I only believed Bacon wrote Shakespeare, whereas I knew Shakespeare didn’t." This is Twain's essential premise. We may not be able to prove conclusively who wrote the works that bear Shakespeare's name (though Francis Bacon gets Twain's vote), but given the facts, any thinking, "reasoning" (a word too often misappropriated by the Stratfordians, according to Twain) person can rule out William Shakespeare completely. If you want to enter the fray on the authorship controversy, this may not be the...more
I loved recording this book, and was flattered to read Kevin McDonnell's review in The Mark Twain Forum; here's an excerpt: "(Henzel) maintains a mild but steady Twain presence, with a soft drawl, appropriate pauses and phrasings, and pleasant modulations. He moves the text along in a convincing first-person voice without resorting to the exaggerated cornpone twang that might distract his listeners from Twain's message."
Very entertaining discussion of the Shakespeare authorship question from an "Baconist" point of view.

He makes some good points.

1. The Plays and the Poetry are too good for someone of the Stratford-upon-Avon origins attributed to William Shakespeare. And too good for the fellow who scratched out "Good Friend for Iesus sake ... moves my bones" for his tomb.

2. There is too much missing biography and too little time in London to acquire the author's many accomplishments while also scraping out a li...more
Ana Maria Rînceanu
Mark Twain takes up the the age old debate: whether Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare. With his typical humor and frank nature, Twain presents the evidence forth. But in the treatement of the study, I find myself unable to focuse on the importat (Shakespeare) since he presents a lot of things about his upbringing. When he starts comparing himself to Shakespeare, any trace if scholarly expections I had were gone, but his arguments are so lovely to hear at times and these arguments are quite common se...more
Cathrine Bonham
This book is not at all what I expected from famed satirist Mark Twain.

I was expecting something fairly witty and light, and the book did start out like that but then it quickly descended into this long rant about how there wasn't any evidence William of Stratford was the Shakespeare who wrote the famed Plays and Poems. Mr. Twain seems to think that we just blindly accept the Stratford chap out of blind tradition and superstition. But I say to him that Will Shakespeare penned Shakespeare, I know...more
Shakespeare didn't write Shakespeare. I think he's right, and he doesn't fail to entertain. A more scholarly treatment on the subject is Shakespeare's Unorthodox Biography by Diana Price.
Really enjoyed this book. Twain is supremely sarcastic and well-informed on the subject of the true authorship of Shakespeare's works. Very fun read.
Martha Ann
I chose this book after seeing a great stage impersonation of Mark Twain expounding on his question of who really wrote the Shakespeare plays and poems. His comparison of this question to the question and validity of the Bible was hilarious, and much of it was word for word taken from this book. It was probably written before the Duke of Oxford became the prime possibility as the actual author, but Twain included him as one of several candidates for that honor. I would recommend "Is Shakespeare...more
I was intrigued by this book originally when reading some criticism and praise of it. As a satire, the book sounded like an interesting attack on just about all of the Shakespeare arguments as well as our tendency as a culture to try to overanalyze things. Sounds good, right? Unfortunately, the book didn't quite come off like that to me.

Is Shakespeare Dead didn't just come off as a misinformed argument in favor of Baconian authorship, but it also came off as just... a rushed and jumbled essay th...more
Margreet Nannenberg
Are facts facts?

An exploration of the authorship of Shakespeare's works: the Shakespeare- Bacon controversy. Twain knows how to make such an exploration interesting with his sarcastic humor. He comes with facts and surmises, and however it is clear to which side Twain is tending to, his own remarks held controversies within themselves as well:

"...when principle and personal interest found themselves in opposition to each other and a choice had to be made: I let principle go, and went to the oth...more
A friend recommended I read this book. I'm not a big fan of Mark Twain and I guess I would also say that I am not a fan of the various theories that Shakespeare wasn't written by Shakespeare because X Y Z reasons. Therefore, I was not really a fan of this book. The best criticism of Shakespeare =/= Shakespeare theories is that they seem to find it impossible that someone from a lower class background could ever write something so lasting and important to culture (isn't it crazy?!?!), which is ju...more
This is not really "Is Shakespeare Dead" because he certainly is but who wrote Shakespeare's works? Twain makes a very interesting and plausible argument that Francis Bacon could have been the author, because there is no evidence that Shakespeare had any legal training and whoever wrote the works would virtually had to have been working as a lawyer (at some point in his life) to have such an indepth knowledge of English law and use legal jargon so extensively throughout his works.

It certainly ma...more
Susan Doyle
At first the points Twain makes are feasible but on reading further, his arguments are disproved by other authors (Andrew Lang, Sidney Lee). His main argument seems to be that a young man who spent his time holding horses outside a theatre would have no time to write plays. This seems to me to be the main argument against Bacon being the author, surely he was one of the busiest men of the age, being a scientist, serious author, lawyer and politician! A very interesting read though.
Jeremy Egerer
A thoughtful and interesting essay (does this qualify as an essay?) which is just as much about questioning traditions as it is about whether or not Francis Bacon was really the author of Shakepeare's plays -- and quite frankly, I could care less about the latter, but Twain delivered well. Strangely enough, begins with a great section about Satan.
Bradley Arlt
May 07, 2014 Bradley Arlt marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
Nicely written. What I expect from Mark Twain. Hated the subject material. They said semi-autobiographical. But I was hoping for more than semi, I think.

I don't care much about who wrote the Shakespeare plays.
Onyango Makagutu
Hard to tell who wrote Shakespeare
Carole Ratzer
Certainly helped wake up my brain with it's syntax and arguments against the authorship question. While Twain says that Bacon MIGHT not be the author of the works credited to Shakespeare, he's definitely a more credible suspect than William Shakespeare of Stratford. Still, regardless of how strong his arguments, it's hard to throw centuries of claims that Shakespeare WAS the Bard.
While I was already somewhat familiar with the "Shakespeare Controversy" over who actually wrote the works attributed to the Bard, Twain's handling of the topic (and he's clearly in the anti-Stratford camp) is as entertainingly biting as one would expect from the man who quipped: ���If you hold a cat by the tail you learn things you cannot learn any other way.���
Abi Rhodes
A captivating little book that outlines Mark Twain's response to the Shakespeare-Bacon debate. Sarcasm is rife, but at no point is he disparaging of either side of the argument. He makes his views on the 'who wrote it' saga pretty clear early on and then presents his reasons for them. The book is finished off with an overview of Twain's life and works.
I enjoyed this narration by Richard Henzel. He has a great voice which seems appropriate to Mark Twain's writing. He is a one man Mark Twain audio powerhouse. He also posts on the Goodreads Audiobook group and offers free samples from time to time, which is how I got this book.
Con su guasa y saber hacer Twain expone sus dudas sobre la autoría de las obras de Shakespeare.
Will the real "Will Shake-Speare" please stand up.
Colleen marked it as to-read
Jul 05, 2014
Beth marked it as to-read
Jul 04, 2014
Steph Monette
Steph Monette marked it as to-read
Jun 29, 2014
Rhonda marked it as to-read
Jun 28, 2014
Shallyann marked it as to-read
Jun 27, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. He is noted for his novels Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), called "the Great American Novel", and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876).

Twain grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, which would later provide the setting for Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. He apprenticed with a printer. He also work...more
More about Mark Twain...
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn The Adventures of Tom Sawyer The Prince and the Pauper A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court The Adventures of Tom Sawyer & Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Share This Book