The Shakespeare Conspiracy is based on whether or not the famous literary works under the name "Shakespeare" were actually written by the person documented in the history books under the name of William Shakespeare. 

Here, the evidence will be provided on the documented actor William Shakespeare and the top four candidates for authorship.

Decide for yourself - Who is the real Shakespeare?

Background: When Shakespeare's parents got married, they signed their names with only using a mark. There is no other evidence of them writing anything; therefore, many believe he was brought up in an illiterate household.

Education: There is no documentary proof that Shakespeare ever attended school. His lack of education makes many question how he had such a great vocabulary and was capable of producing many works.

Name as a pseudonym: Many original works that have been found do not have consistent spellings of his name. Some were found to be "Shakespeare", "Shake-speare", and "Shak-spear". Also, the handwriting used was not consistent. This presents the idea that some people used his name as a pseudonym when Shakespeare in fact did not produce some writings.

That's right, ladies and gentlemen. You guessed it. William Shakespeare is the main person we are talking about here. Who is, or in this case, isn't he?
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) spent his youth in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire. It is assumed that Shakespeare was educated in Stratford's grammar school.

It has not been confirmed exactly when Shakespeare began his acting career, due to his disappearance in records during the "lost years" (1585-1592), but he was an established actor in London by 1592. He was involved in the acting troupe, Lord Chamberlain's Company, later renamed King's Company in 1603 because of the new king's succession to the throne. It is probable that he was recruited by a few of the players, or actor, for it is documented they traveled between London and Stratford.

Shakespeare's works emerged for the first time in 1593 with poetry preceding the later plays. Many sonnets were written at this time as well. Records of plays began to emerge in 1594, and he produced about 2 plays a year until 1611.

In 1611, Shakespeared retired to Stratford, wealthy, until his death in 1616.
To say he never existed would be a lie. Shakespeare was a real person; however, his ownership to works that many claim to be his is still in question. There are theories that over 70 other people actually wrote these works. We're going to focus on the main four in question. These are their stories.
Edward de Vere, the 17th earl of Oxford, was the founder of the acting company, Oxford's Men, around the time Shakespeare's works were written. Oxford was also a poet with 23 known poems. His new work ceased around the time Shakespeare appeared. It has been theorized that he began writing under a pseudonym to protect his family from the scandal of being associated with the stage.

It has also been said that the earl was more than just a patron for the arts, and he actually wrote plays though none can be found.

However, this theory is contradicted by the earl's date of death in 1604. When placed in chronological order, 14, including many of the well-known works, were documented to be written after his death.
William Stanley, the 6th Earl of Derby, was an English writer. He was a patron of the theatre, and many theorists believe he was the real writer of Shakespeare's plays. He had an actor group known as "Derby's Men". He is believed to have written Shakespeare's plays due to the fact he was heavily involved in the theatre and because some works were only labeled as 'WS', which can indicate William Stanley.
Marlowe was born in the same year of Shakespeare, 1564. He was university-educated, specializing in poetry. He is known for writing dark pieces and changed the way poetry was written at the time, relying on Latin influences. Marlowe always spoke his mind and was never afraid to criticize others and their works. His star actor was always at the theatre Shakespeare went to, and it is believed Shakespeare learned from Marlowe's theatre skills. Marlowe was murdered at the young age of 29.
Francis Bacon is the first of over 70 people who have been identified to have possibly written the works that we all believe are Shakespeare's works.

Lord Chancellor Francis Bacon, Viscount St. Albans, finds a spot as a contender in the Shakespeare's authorship debate through the "Northumberland Manuscript".

The manuscript has both the names of William Shakespeare and Sir Francis Bacon. It is signed as "by Francis William Shakespeare", this supporting the theory that Shakespeare is a pseudonym to protect his royal background.

Bacon remains as a contender for authorship due to his legal knowledge and education, both of which is widely expressed in the works under the name of Shakespeare.

The theory supporting Bacon is flawed due to the questioning in his ability to write so many works as well as perform them while still playing an active role in the queen's court.