The Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare authorship holds that Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford , wrote the plays and poems traditionally attributed to William Shakespeare. Though most literary scholars reject all alternative authorship candidates, including Oxford, popular interest in the Oxfordian theory continues. Since the 1920s, the Oxfordian theory has been the most popular alternative Shakespeare authorship theory.

The convergence of documentary evidence of the type used by academics for authorial attribution—title pages, testimony by other contemporary poets and historians, and official records—sufficiently establishes Shakespeare's authorship for the overwhelming majority of Shakespeare scholars and literary historians, and no evidence links Oxford to Shakespeare's works. Oxfordians, however, reject the historical record and often propose the conspiracy theory that the record was falsified to protect the identity of the real author, invoking the dearth of evidence for any conspiracy as evidence of its success. Scholars also note that interpreting the plays and poems as autobiographical, and then using them to construct a hypothetical author, is a method most literary specialists consider unreliable as far as attributive value.

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