Hi. I'm very interested in pursuing the Shakespeare authorship question from the skeptical point of view. In other words I am skeptical of claims that he was not the author of his plays. First of all, I am no Shakespeare expert. I'm familiar with about about eight of his plays. Sometimes I have heard the De Vere authorship theory, with its premise that there are things in the plays that S could not have known certain details about. That S was isolated from society and knowledge in his early years seems dubious to me, considering that his father was a tradesman, land owner and minor office-holder, which indicates that S was far from insulated. So, to start me off, can you give an example of some detail in his plays that S "could not have known" about? Maybe some language usage, or something - that no book, school learning or social contact - could have imparted to him, that he could never have heard about, unless he was brought up in that special social circle. Much appreciated!
Start off with the Shakespeare Underground podcast. It is phenomenal. There are six episodes. Each focuses on a particular reason why the Will from Stratford upon Avon is unlikely to have written at all, let alone by himself. However, Bill Bryson's book and the multi-part documentary "Searching for Shakespeare" both make strong cases for Stratford Will.
Episode two of the podcast interviews an attorney/shakespeare scholar who makes an amazing case the the real Shakespeare must have been a practicing attorney.
Shakespeare's use of Law along with other specialized knowledge goes FAR beyond enlisting a local attorney or doing a little research to provide believable filler.
I am sorry I don't have time to list the specific examples now. Just listen to that podcast. I'd start with episode 1, but episode 2 will give you a wealth of examples.
-here is one minor example: Episode one covers Stratford Will's final testament. It is a sloppy, poorly written document and episode 2 says Will must have been an attorney. You wouldn't expect an attorney to handle his will this way.
I want to know as much about Shakespeare as possible, the writer or group of writers, not necessarily the man from Stratford upon Avon. Yet, at the same time, it is the work that matters. Moreover, I cannot imagine learning anything new about the writer or writers, whoever he, she or they may be, that is not already contained in the writings.