Shakespeare’s Library: Unlocking the Greatest Mystery in Literature
Text Publishing, $34.99 pb, 352 pp, 9781925603774
The search for Shakespeare’s library (the books ostensibly owned by Shakespeare but dispersed without a trace after his death) is driven largely by the hope that marginalia, notes, and drafts might provide unfettered access to authorial intention. Inevitably, the missing library turns out to be central to a number of the anti-Stratfordian cases, including Diana Price’s convoluted and ill-informed set of precepts for determining literary credentials, which yields the ludicrous conclusion that ‘Shakespeare’ was a ‘collective conspiracy’. She deems this more likely than the possibility that Shakespeare’s papers once existed but have simply been lost. Stuart Kells, in Shakespeare’s Library: Unlocking the greatest mystery in literature, calls her argument ‘intellectually courageous’. Indeed, to the detriment of his own handling of evidence, Kells devotes an inordinate amount of time to the affectionately dubbed ‘Indiana Jones school of Shakespeare studies, whose adherents continue in their efforts to dig up clues, unravel ciphers and commune with the dead’.