Petition launched by Bard sceptics
Almost 300 people have signed a petition calling for an investigation into the works of William Shakespeare.
Among those who claim it is not possible the plays could have been penned by the 16th Century commoner are actors Sir Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance.
Conspiracy theorists claim Shakespeare could have been used as a pseudonym by a group of literary figures.
The fact that Shakespeare was raised in an illiterate household does not explain why the plays were largely set among the upper classes.
The ‘declaration of reasonable doubt’ was unveiled by the 287-strong Shakespeare Authorship Coalition at the Minerva Theatre in Chichester.
Dr William Leahy, head of English at London’s Brunel University, was presented with the petition.
He said: “It’s a legitimate question, it has a mystery at its centre and intellectual discussion will bring us closer to that centre.
“That’s not to say we will answer anything, that’s not the point. It is, of course, to question.”