The April Fool Archive

Was Shakespeare French?    (April Fool's Day - 2010)

Image source: The Shakespeare Blog
The Today Programme on BBC Radio 4 ran a segment reporting that an excavation at Shakespeare's home in Stratford had unearthed evidence that Shakespeare's mother was French — and that, by extension, so was the Bard himself. Birmingham University archaeologists had found a locket owned by Shakespeare's mother, Mary Arden (or, perhaps, originally 'Ardennes') that contained a French inscription as well as a lock of the hair of Mary Queen of Scots, who was French.

The researchers noted possible "French connections in Shakespeare's writing." For instance, the play As You Like It is set in the Forest of Arden. But perhaps that was an allusion to the Forest of Ardennes in France.

The segment included an interview with a former French Culture Minister who said, "We are delighted to learn that Shakespeare was French... We are looking into how to honor the great playwrights. Of course we have Racine and Molière, but we will make some room for him in our national pantheon of literature."

France had also reportedly asked to borrow the locket to display it in France.

Or Was He Italian?
Although BBC Radio 4's report was an April Fool joke, there is an old theory that the works of Shakespeare were written by an Italian man living in London, John Florio. Although this theory is not taken seriously by mainstream Shakespeare scholars, it is quite possible that Florio, who translated Montaigne into English, was Shakespeare's friend and influenced his writing.

A variant of the Florio Authorship Theory is that Florio edited Shakespeare's works for the printing of the First Folio, seven years after Shakespeare's death.

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