June 20, 2013
Shakespeare, Cervantes & World Book DayOn this day in 1616 both William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes died, thus prompting UNESCO to declare today "World Book and Copyright Day." The declaration may also have been inspired by a third death on this day, that of William Wordsworth in 1850. As April 23 is also the generally accepted date of Shakespeare's birth (based on baptismal records), the day is even more momentous. On the other hand, some say that Cervantes really died on April 22; and in any case, the claim that both died on the same day is misleading, since it relies on a calculation correlating the new Gregorian calendar of Cervantes's Spain to the old Julian calendar still in use in Shakespeare's England.
None of these dates would matter to Sir John Gielgud, Sir Derek Jacobi, Mark Twain, Henry James, Helen Keller, Charlie Chaplin, Malcolm X and everyone else listed either voluntarily or posthumously to the Honour Roll of Skeptics maintained by the Shakespeare Oxford Society in an effort to promote Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford as the true author of Shakespeare's plays. Caring less, and more spectacularly, would be Francis Carr, of the Shakespeare Authorship Information Centre, who believes that Francis Bacon wrote not only Shakespeare's plays but Cervantes's Don Quixote. Among Carr's reasons is the following:
Carr does not say if he believes that Bacon also wrote Wordsworth's poems. But if you add up the letters in "William Wordsworth" you get 17; if you multiply by 2, because it's fairly easy, you get 34; if you subtract 1, the number of people who are convinced by this sort of logic, . . . well, it makes you wonder.
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