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Views & Reviews Between the Lines

Baconians versus Stratfordians

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 21 December 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b5477
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

    Can anyone resist an interminable controversy that is not capable of being settled, has no practical consequences, and is argued with all the resources of erudition? Such a controversy has been caused by the theory that Francis Bacon was the real author of Shakespeare’s plays, a theory first put forward over a century and a half ago by a learned American lady of the name, oddly enough, of Bacon (who soon afterwards ended her days in an asylum). It has kept many ingenious people busy ever since.

    Among them was an eminent surgeon at the Royal United Hospital, Bath, called W S Melsome (1865-1944). His book, The Bacon-Shakespeare Anatomy, was published in 1945, the year …

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