It was not until the middle years of the nineteenth century, so far as we can tell, that anyone seriously doubted that the man from Stratford-upon-Avon called William Shakespeare had written the plays that for the past two and a half centuries had passed without question under his name. In the early 1850s, however, a private scholar from Connecticut named Delia Bacon began to develop an alternative view. She believed that the plays had been composed not by Shakespeare but by a syndicate of writers headed probably by Francis Bacon, whom she later came to think of as her distant ancestor.
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