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Trosman, H. (1965). Freud and the Controversy Over Shakespearean Authorship. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 13:475-498.

(1965). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 13:475-498

Freud and the Controversy Over Shakespearean Authorship

Harry Trosman, M.D.


Freud maintained a long-standing fascination with the Shakespearean authorship controversy. After reading J. Thomas Looney's book, "Shakespeare" Identified, in 1923 he became "almost convinced" that Edward de Vere, the seventeenth Earl of Oxford, was the rightful author of the Shakespearean plays and poems.

The Looney book is examined as representative of the anti-Stratfordian

position. The arguments are compared with the position taken by the body of historical and literary scholars who support the "Stratfordian orthodoxy."

Lastly, an attempt is made to examine the controversy psychoanalytically. Some speculations concerning motivation of those who support the anti-Stratfordian position are put forth. Freud's interest in the controversy is seen as the outgrowth of a specific cognitive style and a variant of a family romance fantasy.

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