Shakespeare Gets his Bacon
Nobody thought that Shakespeare wasn’t the author of his own plays until the end of the 18th century, and the idea only became popular more than two centuries after his death. This suggests that there was a different idea of Shakespeare prevalent — and also a different idea of authorship current — during those 200 years. Baconianism, the theory that Francis Bacon (1561-1626) wrote Shakespeare, is essentially promulgated in The Story of the Learned Pig (1786).
THIS IS A TALE OF REINCARNATION IN WHICH “PIMPING BILLY” — CURRENTLY IN THE SHAPE OF A PERFORMING PIG — CLAIMS AUTHORSHIP OF A TROTTERFUL OF SHAKESPEARE’S PLAYS (INCLUDING, OF COURSE, HAM-LET). THIS NONSENSE HAD BEEN RATHER MORE SERIOUSLY PROPOSED BY REVD JAMES WILMOT IN 1785 … SHAKESPEARE — AT BEST A COUNTRY CLOWN — LACKED THE NECESSARY EDUCATION TO COMPOSE THE PLAYS. HENCE THEY WERE THE WORK OF FRANCIS BACON.
But Wilmot burnt his papers in shame before he died, and his theory only came to light a century and a half later.