What then is the usual common-sense method of searching for an unknown man who has performed some particu­lar piece of work? It is simply to examine closely the work itself, to draw from the examination as definite a concep­tion as possible of the man who did it, to form some idea of where he would be likely to be found, and then to go and look for a man who answers to the supposed descrip­tion. When some such man has been found we next pro­ceed to gather together all the particulars that might in any way connect him with the work in question. We rely, in such cases, very largely upon what is called circumstantial evidence; mistakenly supposed by some to be evidence of an inferior order, but in practice the most reliable form of proof we have. Such evidence may at first be of the most shadowy description; but as we proceed in the work of gathering together facts and reducing them to order, as we hazard our guesses and weigh probabilities, as we subject our theories to all available tests, we find that the case at last either breaks down or becomes confirmed by such an accumulation of support that doubt is no longer possible. The predominating element in what we call cir­cumstantial evidence is that of coincidences. A few coinci­dences we may treat as simply interesting; a number of coincidences we regard as remarkable; a vast accumulation of extraordinary coincidences we accept as conclusive proof. And when the case has reached this stage we look upon the matter as finally settled, until, as may happen, some­thing of a most unusual character appears to upset all our reasoning. If nothing of this kind ever appears, whilst every newly discovered fact adds but confirmation to the conclusion, that conclusion is accepted as a permanently established truth.

The above is an epitome of the method of research and the line of argument we have followed. In reviewing the work done the critic may disagree with one or other of the points on which we have insisted; he may regard this or that argument as trifling or insufficient in itself, and it is possible we should agree with many of the several objections he might raise. It may even transpire that, not­withstanding all our efforts to ensure accuracy, we have fallen into serious mistakes not only in minor details but even upon important points: a danger to which the wan­derer into unwonted fields is specially liable. It is not, however, upon any point separately, but upon the manner in which all fit in with one another, and form a coherent whole, that the case rests; and it is this that we desire should be kept in mind. We proceed, therefore, to present a short statement of the details of the method of enquiry, outlining its several stages as determined prior to entering on the search.

  1. As a first step it would be necessary to examine the works of Shakespeare, almost as though they had appeared for the first time, unassociated with the name or personality of any writer; and from such an examination draw what inferences we could as to his character and circumstances. The various features of these would have to be duly tabu­lated, the statement so arrived at forming the groundwork of all subsequent investigation.
  2. The second step would be to select from amongst the various characteristics some one outstanding feature which might serve best as a guide in proceeding to search for the author, by furnishing some paramount criterion, and at the same time indicating in some measure where the author was to be looked for.
  3. With this instrument in our hands the third step would be to proceed to the great task of searching for the man.
  4. In the event of discovering any man who should adequately fulfil the prime condition, the fourth step would be to test the selection by reference to the various features in the original characterization; and, in the event of his failing in a marked degree to meet essential conditions, it would be necessary to reject this first selection and resume the search.
  5. Supposing the discovery of some man who should in a general way have passed successfully through this crucial test, the next step would be to reverse the whole process. Having worked from Shakespeare's writings to the man, we should then begin with the man; taking new and outstanding facts about his performances and per­sonality, we should have to enquire to what extent these were reflected in Shakespeare's works.
  6. Then, in the event of the enquiry yielding satisfac­tory results up to this point we should next have to accumu­late corroborative evidence and apply tests arising out of the course of the investigation.
  7. The final step would be to develop as far as possible any traces of a personal connection between the newly accredited and the formerly reputed authors of the works.


  1. A matured man of recognized genius.
  2. Apparently eccentric and mysterious.
  3. Of intense sensibility-a man apart.
  4. Unconventional.
  5. Not adequately appreciated.
  6. Of pronounced and known literary tastes.
  7.  An enthusiast in the world of drama.
  8.  A lyric poet of recognized talent.
  9. Of superior education-classical-the habitual asso­ciate of educated people.


  1. A man with Feudal connections.
  2. A member of the higher aristocracy.
  3. Connected with Lancastrian supporters.
  4. An enthusiast for Italy.
  5. A follower of sport (including falconry).
  6. A lover of music.
  7. Loose and improvident in money matters.
  8. Doubtful and somewhat conflicting in his attitude to woman.
  9. Of probable Catholic leanings, but touched with scepticism.