I’m glad Richard Waugaman is interested in the works of Shakespeare, but he has not “unmasked the real Shakespeare.” As a historian who studies 16th and 17th century England, I can safely confirm that the real Shakespeare was William Shakespeare, who was born and died in Stratford-upon-Avon. There is no contemporary suggestion that anyone other than Shakespeare and his known collaborators wrote the plays, and there is plentiful evidence linking William Shakespeare to the plays. To be practical, Oxford died in 1604, and Shakespeare continued writing until at least 1613. In the small, collaborative, jealous, and gossipy world of Elizabethan and Jacobean theater, it would have been impossible to disguise the authorship of one play let alone more than 30. Instead, both his fellows and his competitors admired his work. The reason all the contemporary evidence points to Shakespeare as the author of his plays is that he was the author.

No questions were raised about Shakespeare’s authorship until more than 200 years after his death. It was only in the mid-19th century, when his (relatively) humble origins were seen as incompatible with literary greatness, that alternative theories were floated. But there is no reason to doubt that a young man educated at an excellent provincial grammar school could write the plays. Shakespeare was Shakespeare.

Editor’s note: The writer is a professor at the University of California, Merced.