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The Shakespeare authorship question is the argument, first raised in the 19th century, that someone other than William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon wrote the works attributed to him. All but a few Shakespeare scholars and literary historians consider it a fringe belief. Anti-Stratfordians believe that Shakespeare was a front to shield the identity of the real author or authors, who for some reason did not want or could not accept public credit. The controversy has spawned a vast body of literature, and more than 80 authorship candidates have been proposed, the most popular being Francis Bacon (pictured), Edward de Vere, Christopher Marlowe, and William Stanley. To the claim that Shakespeare lacked sufficient education, aristocratic sensibility, or familiarity with the royal court for a writer of such eminence and genius, scholars reply that there is much documentary evidence supporting his authorship--title pages, testimony by contemporary poets and historians, official records--and none supporting any other candidate.
Henry Edwards (1827-1891) was an English-born stage actor, writer and expert in the science of insects who gained fame in Australia, San Francisco, and New York City for his theatre work. Edwards was drawn to the theatre early in life, and he appeared in amateur productions in London. After sailing to Australia, Edwards appeared professionally in Shakespearean plays and light comedies, primarily in Melbourne and Sydney. Throughout his childhood in England and his acting career in Australia, he was greatly interested in collecting insects, and the National Museum of Victoria used the results of his Australian fieldwork as part of the genesis of their collection. After writing a series of influential studies on butterflies and moths on the West Coast of the United States, he was elected a life member of the California Academy of Sciences. Relocating eastward, a brief time spent in Boston theatre led to a connection to Wallack's Theatre and further renown in New York City. There, Edwards edited three volumes of the leading insect journal Papilio and published a major work on the life of the butterfly. His large collection of insect specimens served as the foundation of the American Museum of Natural History's butterfly and moth studies.