Candidates for Shakespeare
Francis Bacon, Lord Chancellor (b. 1561 d. 1626) aged 65.
He could well have had some guiding role over the man Shakspere
and was quite capable of organising a flow of ‘anonymous’
aristocratic writings for the brilliant young playmaker to turn into
quality and performable plays. A lawyer of aristocratic birth, a
child prodigy, of a comprehensive education, he was superbly
well-connected, moving among most of the great families, and
“knowing everyone’s secrets”. He loved being in the centre of
intrigue and scheming and planning. Some describe Bacon was “a wise
and compassionate man”, others seem him as cold and calculating,
even a man with a dual, even split-mind, because he related all to
his unshakable objectives and great, universal ideas.
Friends knew him also as a “warm heart, combining merry jest with
silent gravity.” He was naturally a schemer, capable of following
two opposing courses of action and finding credit and the practical
in both. (After Lord Essex had been most generous to Bacon, for many
years, Bacon acted in prosecution of Essex for disloyalty to the
Queen; however, the other side of that coin is that he Bacon was
unaware of any planned armed rebellion – 200 soldiers carrying
weapons marching through London; Bacon refused to countenance that).
He was very capable of seeing ‘truth’ at its rawest: “Nature to
be commanded must be obeyed.” “Truth lies beyond scientist and
artist.” “Great men keep away from the weak passion of (human)
love.” “In the theatre of human affairs, it is only for gods and
angels to be spectators.”
He aimed to free the Elizabethan, Jacobean royal Courts,
Universities even Europe of the Aristotelian scholasticism theology
of all its medieval authority. He saw himself as inventor-to-be of
rational, ‘scientific’ methods and a system which would “eventually
disclose and bring into sight all that is most hidden and secret in
the universe.” He believed the way forward was that of inductive
science finding proof, proof, proof before theory. It is seen today
as naive science grounded on a crude, limited observation of Nature
– how could it be otherwise at that time? But he is credited with
the breakthrough; the original thinking and analysis, and
perceptions which are undeniable.
Away from these obsessional viewpoints, he was host and patron to
poets and writers at his house in Twickenham, mysteriously “a gift
from Queen Elizabeth”.
In matters literary, he saw himself as affected by “divine
inspiration and illumination”. It is said that Jonson, after
Shakespeare’s death, was a regular helper, even literary assistant
to Bacon for a while (he was also served by Thomas Hobbes in his
Bacon’s Twickenham “Scriptorum” encouraged writers, poets,
playmakers to stay and receive his counsel, AND provide an output of
labours, mainly Essays, for his use. Unproven, but such could well
have augmented his own flow of ideas to one Shakspere?
All see Bacon the philosopher, thinker, visualiser, as a star of
proven idealism and virtually universal viewpoints, of unyielding
concentration on the achievement of well-considered goals, and
brilliant with many talents, shining with the power of mind and
marvellous persuasiveness in expression.
He and Philip Sidney were both in their age particular though
very different examples of Renaissance-man.
Sidney’s aim was to help “stimulate a humanistic refined and
committed Protestant patriotic aristocracy”. Bacon “saw his
inductive method as not only a renovation of science and philosophy,
but also as the work of divine providence, part of a larger scheme,
a vast unfolding, a great instauration of learning and liberation”
(instauration is renewal, beginning afresh).
Bacon’s perception was “identical to that described by the
ancient Vedic seers, who saw the entire universe as illusion,
produced by maya.” Man’s work involved opposites, good and evil, in
‘seeing and becoming’ truth.
So Bacon’s goals were broader, deeper and agreed assessment is
that he was possibly the only genius who could have written
Shakespeare, or seriously influenced the writing of the canon.
Bacon was well travelled, and a very mature 31, when
‘Shakespeare’ first appeared on the London scene with his apparent
major breakthrough, the first performance of Henry 6 Part 1 (there
is argument over this, ‘Hari or Harey the vi’ : Part 1 or Part II?).
At that moment, 1592, the future Lord Chancellor of England,
Baron Verulam and Viscount St Albans, was an MP seeking his fortune.
Bacon, aristocrat, struggled for wealth and position until middle
age, several times in debt, several times jailed and quickly rescued
There is no evidence that Bacon and Shakspere ever met. For
several years, as Shakespeare grew in success from 1592, Bacon was
reportedly in several minds as to continuing within law and politics
- as nothing was seemingly opening up for him as he desired - or to
pursue his literary bent and philosophy/science.
He went on to achieve much in both areas, particularly in the
literary field. He was finally rewarded with several Court
government posts, before reaching the top of the country’s legal
profession as Lord Chancellor. And eventually failing again, forced
to retire – some say ‘fitted up’ politically but obedient to the
King’s wishes – because of the allegation of taking bribes (quietly
acceptable to many judges in those times). Later, perhaps convenient
to the Bacon reputation, a servant admitted taking bribes and swore
Bacon knew nothing of this. Even Bacon’s defence of that ‘failing’
was brilliant put and, of course, comprising two differing lines of
His earliest notes were in 1582, on “The State of Christendom”,
after his travels. He was 32 when his “Birth of Times” Essay was
published, in 1593. A volume of Essays (eventually there were 58),
the Table of Colours of Good and Evil, and the Sacred Meditations,
appeared published by 1597.
His government report on “The Virginia Colony” was made in 1609.
Other works afterwards, actual publication dates variable up to his
death 1626, include The Advancement and Proficience of Learning
1605; the Instauration Magna/ Novum Organum (possibly begun in
1589); Wisdom of the Ancients 1609; Description of the Intellectual
Globe, 1612; De Dignitate & Augmentis Scientiarum (Latin translation
of ‘Advancement’); The New Atlantis 1623; Apothegms in 1624. There
were many other works – many published after his death - all helping
to emphasise that this was a man “so rare in knowledge... expressed
in so choice and ravishing a way with words...”
This was a man who “constantly thought in metaphors”. He
perceived analogies that indeed evoked superb metaphors and similes,
expressed effortlessly. To Jonson, himself no mean wordsmith nor a
man of humble eloquence, Bacon was an oratorical god.
Bacon’s poetic writings are analysed as not similar to
Shakespeare’s. Though of great elegance, they do not seem of the
same mind, in detailed emotional intelligence, as the phenomenon
He among several thinkers of his time, saw the universe as “a
problem to be examined, meditated upon and solved, not as an
externally fixed stage upon which man walked.” (It reminds of
Shakespeare’s “In Nature’s infinite book of secrecy, a little I can
read.” – soothsayer, Antony and Cleopatra).
His Great Instauration proposed that “every subject the human
mind could apprehend was to be categorised and their truths
established by direct observation from Nature.” This is seen as,
among several great aims, a founding statement – at the time - for
However, to attempt to see him as the full-time, complete
Shakespeare might well deny his other, more realistic role: the man
who achieved his own goals INCLUDING the one that might have ensured
Shakspere of Stratford achieved his deserved destiny, too.
He had specific goals from his youth, one aspect of one of them,
in particular, is explored in this site’s Summing Up: that was the
Fourth Part of his Great Instauration (the regeneration of the
highest educational standards and learning – via a distinctly
Baconian path). It was outlined, picturing what experts consider an
environment of theatre and stage for completion. It was, apparently,
not undertaken under Bacon’s name.
There, in the Summing Up of this website, you may find a
challenging presumption of involvement!
Additional notable points
- Bacon represents “elitist-intellectual” approach of many anti-Stratfordians
in the mystery of the Shakespeare authorship
- He venerated Pallas Athena, one description of whom is
“Goddess of Knowledge” who (and this assertion not proven) “shakes
her spear and causes the darkness of ignorance to retreat”
- His religious view was : “There is no other true religion than
to meditate on the Universe and give thanks to the Creator.”
(Einstein put his religious understanding as “a rapturous
amazement at the harmony of natural law”)
- Some 200 pages have been found of parallel “thoughts, phrases
and expressions” which occur in the writings of Shakespeare and
Bacon. They include “studies, quotations, opinions, identical
expressions, metaphors, unusual words, errors, styles and
- His “Promus” or personal “storehouse-workbook” was
particularly interesting. Its 1,500 “formularies and elegancies”
were dated 1594/95 (on two of the pages) but conceivably jotted
down by him (and transferred to the Promus later?) probably from
1584 after becoming a barrister and an M.P - and in aid of his
- They include aphorisms, Bible texts, special phrases, forms of
greeting and proverbs – in Latin, English and many other languages
- However, love of words bonded all Elizabethan and Jacobean
writers and meant that they often developed, used similar
expressions; many are in the notebooks of the poets, writers,
playmakers of Shakespeare’s time
- But the questions arise, in the face of parallel quotations,
such as Bacon’s “Be so true to thyself as thou be not false to
others” is so poetically philosophic as Shakespeare’s “To thine
own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou
canst not then be false to any man” (Polonius, Hamlet).
- Yet Bacon was not a man of sporting pastimes. Shakespeare
surely was, or we have to explain his country knowledge - from
archery to angling, falconry to fox-hunting, a dozen different
activities. So, Bacon as sole author? – but one who knows not his
- There is a painting which depicts the death of Adonis, gored
by a wild boar: the subject of the Shakespeare narrative poem
Venus and Adonis. It is not in Stratford, but in St Albans, in an
ancient hotel, near the home of Bacon.
- Bacon was very close to his brother Anthony – who was “an
honoured guest” at the Court of Navarre (“Love’s Labour’s Lost”,
written approx 1589-91) and was close to the Court life, there for
five-six years. He returned to London by 1591. Francis and Anthony
were close and corresponded all their lives.
- In the First Folio, 1623, when Bacon was alive, Heminges and
Condell expressed the wish “that the Author himself had lived to
have set forth and overseen his own writings”. As ‘Shakespeare’
had died seven years previously, could Bacon have written
‘Shakespeare’ and allowed this?
- Or unless Shakspere was co- or often primary-playmaker and had
earned his recognition, and Bacon, though ‘in retirement’, of
course would not involve himself and claim anything at that time?
- His answer might well have been: let sleeping dogs lie – the
main objective (fulfilling the need of the Fourth Part of his
Great Instauration) was comfortably underway towards
achievement... just how many attendances at performances of
Shakespeare plays had there been 1590 –1612 or to 1616?
- True the population of London may have been 200,000 – 220,000.
True, Shakespeare’s plays were part of broad programmes of plays
by different playmakers undertaken by the different troupes at
different theatres. But with repeat attendances by enthusiasts,
audiences in London up to 3,000 per performance, AND tours in the
country ? It may not be too fanciful to claim in all several
- Yet this great universal mind had closure at times,
weaknesses. Bacon as early scientist was ”unaware of many of the
new developments of his Age” - the work of Kepler, Copernicus,
Galileo, Napier’s logarithms, Harvey’s blood circulation,
Gilbert’s De Magnete empirical research
- But he is credited with several ‘firsts’ - the primary “notion
of experimentation expressly formulated” and “situations seen and
reported with great clarity - the discovery and re-discovery of
- Bacon and his brother Anthony were believed by many as
homosexual - the Greek vice, as it was known, something other or
more than platonic love and something many see indicated in
Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Yet a love affair, between Francis Bacon
and Marguerite de Valois, is also spoken