As a Shakespeare scholar and dramaturg, I am always dismayed by the elitist and uninformed arguments of the “Anti-Stratfordians,” all of which are basically just conspiracy theories. Yet the temptation to tackle the authorship question has proved irresistible for many non-academics, including several Supreme Court Justices.
In November 1987, a mock trial to consider the Shakespeare authorship question took place at American University in Washington, D.C. Presiding at the trial were Justices John Paul Stevens, Harry Blackmun, and William J. Brennan, Jr., and I was privileged to serve as Justice Brennan’s “clerk” for that trial. I had met the Justice during the 1986-87 term when my husband, Mark Haddad, was one of his law clerks. Justice Brennan knew that I was working across the street at the Folger Shakespeare Library while I finished my Ph.D. dissertation in Renaissance Studies for Yale University, so when he agreed to serve on the trial, he asked me for assistance with preparation.
I provided Justice Brennan with copies of the most influential writings on both sides of the debate, and about a week later, I sat down with him to discuss the materials. I had anticipated that our conversation might take a while, but in fact, after greeting me warmly, Justice Brennan got straight to the point. “Miranda,” he said, “I never like to judge a case before hearing oral argument, but I have to say, I don’t think these Oxfordians have a leg to stand on.”
The verdict was unanimous. All three justices ruled in favor of William Shakespeare, the man from Stratford, as the author of the plays.