Jun 28

A Woman Wrote Shakespeare

In Brief—The evidence points to Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, as being the true author of the plays and sonnets of Shakespeare despite the claims of other proponents.


”Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” (Twelfth Night)

Edward De Vere, Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe, William Stanley and others. All are men who were contemporaries of William Shakespeare. And all have been identified as the one who actually wrote the plays and sonnets attributed to William Shakespeare.

Shakespearean scholar, Robin P. Williams—the writer/Shakespearean scholar not the actor/comedian—has written a book titled Sweet Swan of Avon in which she presents convincing evidence that, in fact, the plays and sonnets attributed to William Shakespeare were written by a woman, Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke.

Who is Robin P.Williams? Who is Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke?

First, who is Robin P. Williams?

Robin Williams is a Shakespearean scholar who first made her mark as a writer of computer books that, incidentally, saved my bacon on several occasions. One day while on a visit in Santa Fe, on impulse I telephoned her to tell her that I was a fan of her writing. As friendly and breezy as her books, Robin agreed to meet me. Likewise, her husband, John Tollett, a talented artist, illustrator and computer expert. I soon learned that Robin, a former (and current) teacher and writer, knew more about William Shakespeare and his canon than anyone I had ever met.

Now, who is Mary Sidney Herbert, the Countess of Pembroke?

Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke by John Tollett

Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke by John Tollett

Mary Sidney lived in the 16th and 17th Centuries having been born and educated in the royal tradition. Supremely knowledgeable in many areas and languages, she was one of the most educated women of her time, but she was forced by tradition to take the secondary role permitted to women by society. Despite this, she formed and presided over the Wilton Circle, a noted literary group second to none in that period.

Mary Sidney married Henry Herbert, the 2nd Earl of Pembroke, and had four children, being survived by a son who, according to Robin Williams, presented her plays and sonnets to the rather ordinary part-time actor and real estate speculator William Shakespeare in order to keep his mother’s name unsullied in those tradition-governed judgmental times. Thus, the lowly William Shakespeare became the Bard that we all recognize and study today.

Though Robin Williams modestly suggests that the matter of the Shakespearean authorship is disputed today, I as a lawyer who is considerably less modest find those claims to be at best doubtful. Those proponents of the men mentioned above [Note, please, that most of the proponents and their candidates are men.] force their candidate into a Procrustean bed in an effort to prove that their candidate is the real author of the Shakespearean canon. Mary Sidney (as she is commonly known), however, fits the mold like a fine glove.

Modern scientific theory shows that most humans will adhere to their false belief even in the face of undeniable evidence that their position is false. Having weighed the evidence, I’m guessing this is what may motivate the proponents of the men mentioned at the beginning of this piece as being the author of the plays and sonnets attributed to William Shakespeare. In my view, the evidence clearly shows that Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, wrote the plays and sonnets attributed to Shakespeare.

I urge you to read Sweet Swan of Avon, a thoroughly readable book by Robin Williams, and decide for yourself. And if you are interested, visit www.marysidneysociety.org/ and learn more about the woman who wrote the Shakespearean canon.


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  1. Okay, I claim no scholarship, but the idea that those works were written by a woman is marvellous, highly palatable, and brilliant. Think of a man of those times writing these lovely thoughts: it never fit for me. Now for a woman to have written them fits so well into who I believe woman to be. Bravo!, and these remarks from me will surprise no one who knows me.

      • Don Bay on June 28, 2015 at 18:24

      Robin P. Williams lays out the evidence that Mary Sidney wrote the Shakespearean canon. Everything fits like a well-made jigsaw puzzle that the other contenders struggle—and fail— to fit together. Everybody who believes that a man named William Shakespeare was even remotely capable of writing the sonnets and plays attributed to him is ignorant of the facts or so committed that s/he willingly overlooks the evidence.

      Read the book. It’s not a stuffy, scholastic treatise built on sand but is very readable and totally convincing. Mary Sidney wrote the sonnets and plays falsely attributed to Shakespeare.

      • Kristin Bundesen on June 30, 2015 at 19:09

      If the author is a woman, the sonnets make much more sense!

        • Don Bay on June 30, 2015 at 19:37

        I agree. Robin’s book convinced me, and as a skeptical lawyer, I’m tough to convince.

    • Lionel Burt on June 30, 2015 at 00:25

    I have unquestionably come to the bottom of this matter of authorship. The works of William Shakespeare were not in fact written by Shakespeare but by someone else with the same name.

    Problem solved!.

      • Don Bay on June 30, 2015 at 16:45

      Since I am known to get serious and even adamant on occasion (as I am on the subject of Mary Sidney), it’s good that you add a dose of levity from time to time. Keep it up!

    • Don Bay on March 6, 2016 at 18:07

    This pingback bears repeating.

  1. […] I said in “A Woman Wrote Shakespeare” that Mary Sidney was the probable author of the Shakespearean oeuvre, it bears repeating that the […]

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