Recently PBS has been showing an edited version of the documentary Last Will & Testament. I had previously heard of the debate as to who William Shakespeare really was, but this program really clarifies it. There is little doubt that the person generally thought to be The Bard is not him.
Probably the strongest individual piece of evidence that William Shakspere was not Shakespeare is that no original writings by him have ever been found. He was a businessman–a trader, a middleman–of limited literacy. No record of his education exists (i.e., he did not attend higher education). Half of his plays were not published until after his death, yet they are not mentioned in his will or contained in his possessions. No contemporary has ever mentioned that he was a writer; his plays were performed and his name was known while he lived but he was never personally–live–associated with them. There was simply no record, no writings, indicating he was a writer. Such a great writer must have written other things.
A likely “real” Shakespeare is Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford.
This inquiry helped me understand Shakespeare and England four hundred years ago much better. At the time it was common for writers to use pseudonyms and it was virtually guaranteed if the author was any form of royalty or had a noble birthright. Such a person would also be far more likely to have higher education, be exposed to books and learned people, and to have traveled. My personal belief is that Shakspere was a broker and a representative of the real William Shakespeare.