'The Tragedy of Richard III' by Christopher Marlowe (written 1592)
Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593) was a poet and playwright in his own right as well as probably being a spy; he was probably also bisexual. He was killed in a fight in an inn in 1593. There has long been speculation that he wrote at least some of Shakespeare's plays and there is at least one reference to Marlowe's work in Shakespeare's. Some believe he faked his own death and continued writing under Shakespeare's name. Compared to Shakespeare, Marlowe appears a more glamorous figure. Here I have featured 'Richard III' which was written a year before Marlowe's assumed death.
'Love's Labour's Lost' by Francis Bacon (written 1594)
Francis Bacon (1561-1626), 1st Viscount of St. Alban, led a less glamorous life than Marlowe, but was a leading essayist, philosopher, statesman and scientist. Since the late 19th century there are people who believe he actually wrote Shakespeare's plays. Here I show him having turned his hand to that quite early, producing 'Love's Labour's Lost' in 1594, preceding his first collection of essays in 1597.
'A Midsummer Night's Dream' by William Stanley (written 1595)
William Stanley (1561-1642), 6th Earl of Derby is a possible candidate for writing 'Love's Labour's Lost' as it featured an incident similar to what he had experienced in 1578 in Navarre. However, he has a connection with 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' which is supposed to have been first performed at his wedding banquet. His older brother ran a troop of actors who later became the King's Men. There are letters reporting Stanley as acting as a playwright though there are no scripts currently known. Here I suggest that he wrote the play initially as a kind of gift for his bride, especially as it is a romantic, dreamy play in the Shakespeare collection.
'Hamlet' by Edward De Vere (written 1600)
Edward De Vere (1550-1604), 17th Earl of Oxford, was another Renaissance man seen as in line to have written at least some of Shakespeare's work. He was a playwright and poet and patron of two theatre companies. Despite being noted as a writer only a few of his poems survive and none of his plays. Fascinatingly many incidents in numerous Shakespeare plays reflect things that he had witnessed or had happened to the De Vere family. Those who support De Vere as the candidate point to the fact that the regular publication of Shakespeare plays ended in 1604, the year De Vere died and only resumed with the so-called first folio in 1623 which was after even William Shakespeare's death. Here I show him writing 'Hamlet' which even if he did not, had many parallels to his own life. Amongst a whole list of parallels there are things such as his mother's early remarriage; he accidentally murdered someone with a sword as Hamlet does Polonius; De Vere had a friend called Horace like the Horatio who is friend of Hamlet; Polus was De Vere's guardian's nickname and he was given a list of principles by his father as Polonius does for Laertes and they are very similar. So, his 'Hamlet' written four years before his death might have been his most autobiographical play.
Apologies to the authors and publishers shown here with work they may have produced in one of a number alternate realities.