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The Religious Affiliation of Playwright
William Shakespeare


Edward de Vere/"Shakespeare": Shakespeare was a Christian, but there remains uncertainty about whether he is best categorized a Catholic, Anglican or Protestant. Shakespeare appears to have lived as an Anglican, but there are scholars who believe that he secretly subscribed to the Catholicism of his family heritage. Shakespeare's mother Mary Arden was a member of the staunchly Catholic family - the Ardens of Park Hall. William's father John Shakespeare was also from an actively Catholic family, and he left a Catholic will. Most of Shakespeare's writing career took place under the stridently anti-Catholic monarchy of Elizabeth I, who inherited the throne from her Catholic sister. Parish records establish that William Shakespeare was baptized on 26 April, 1564. Shakespeare's plays strongly reflect Christian values and belief, but do not advocate any specific denomination. Sources: Shakespeare: An Introduction; How Catholic was Shakespeare?" by Paul J. Voss (Catholic Educator's Resource Center); The Catholicism of Shakespeare's Plays by Peter Milward SJ (The book concludes with a presentation of the historical evidence for Shakespeare's own Catholicism and recusancy, including an account of the 1999 "Lancastrian Shakespeare" Conference, at which new material was presented linking the poet with Catholic households in Lancashire, and possibly even with the Jesuit martyr St. Edmund Campion); Shakespeare and the Catholic question by Glen Cascino (The University Concourse, Volume V, Issue 8, May 4, 2000); Shakespeare Scholars Say the Bard was...Catholic? by Paul Burnell; Annotations in Edward de Vere's Bible [URL: http://www.clark.net/pub/tross/ws/ox5.html]; Shakespeare and Religion, by Aldous Huxley; The Religion of Shakespeare (Catholic Encyclopedia).

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Webpage created 12 July 2005. Last modified 12 July 2005.
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