Shakespeare Authorship Roundtable
P.O. Box 76
Beverly Hills, CA 90213



Off with their heads!

The Shakespeare Authorship Roundtable, sometimes regarded as controversial, emerged from unexpected beginnings.

It began with film sales agent Carole Sue Lipman. After encountering the many curious inconsistencies regarding Shakespeare and his remarkable body of work, in 1983 she contacted the UCLA Extension ­ Department of Humanities with the hope of organizing a rational debate of the facts. A panel of experts, to be moderated by Charles Champlin, then the Arts Critic for the Los Angeles Times, would present the current five major cases for the true authorship of the Shakespearean works, and the audience would vote on what they believed to be the most convincing arguments.

To their surprise, however, UCLA declined to sponsor the program. Unaware that the authorship subject was tacitly censored at most universities, Champlin and Lipman opted to present their own seminars once a month, a series called “Shakespeare in Cross-Examination.” This six-month series gathered prominent experts at the Globe Playhouse replica in West Hollywood, a theater built in 1964 by Thad Taylor. Spurred by the enthusiastic outcome, Barbara Gilfilan Crowley, whose father had been a leader in the early Shakespeare Oxford Society, and her husband, John Crowley, then mayor of Pasadena, registered the group as a non-profit educational organization.

Thus in 1985 the official Shakespeare Authorship Roundtable was born. Meeting at public libraries, the Roundtable was the first authorship group to open their forum to members and non-members alike, allowing discussion of all points of view on the authorship controversy.

George Elliott Sweet, a geologist and retired naval officer whose lineage traces back to Sir Francis Drake, wrote a book in favor of Queen Elizabeth collaborating with Marlowe and using the actor Shakespeare as a front man. Elizabeth Wrigley, former Director of the Francis Bacon Library at Claremont College, curated the largest collection of Baconiana in the country. Even the Stratford camp (favoring the man from Stratford, William Shakespeare himself) was represented by Ib Melchior, a World War II OSS man who decoded the epitaph on Shakespeare’s tomb, which led to Life Magazine underwriting his search for the Hamlet manuscript in the dungeons of Elsinore Castle.

Espousing the Marlovian theory were Calvin Hoffman, who had twice opened Thomas Walsingham’s tomb in hopes of finding buried manuscripts, and Louis Ule, whose publications included concordances on Marlowe and the Shakespeare apocrypha, both published in Germany.

Ruth Loyd Miller, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors of Louisiana State University, and her husband, Minos, a retired appeals court judge, were then the country’s leading advocates for Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, and had republished out-of-print source books pertaining to their candidate. Also in the de Vere camp were Jane Roe, a multi-linguist, and her husband, attorney Richard Paul Roe, a medieval expert who authored a unique book about Shakespeare in Italy where specific references in the Shakespearean plays have been discovered to be real places in Italy.

In addition to discussing the varied theories on the origins of Shakespeare’s works, the Roundtable has also instituted several initiatives to expand the field and promote awareness of the authorship question.

One of the early Roundtable endeavors was the sponsorship of the Claremont Shakespeare Computer Clinic. Guided by Professor Ward Elliott and funded by Sloan Foundation and Irvine Foundation grants, the Clinic designed a computer program to process newly-available etexts and discover which of the 37 testable Shakespeare claimants had written work that might stylometrically match works from the Shakespeare canon. Although no matches were found, the findings furthered the authorship discussion by sparking the “Shakespeare Wars” of the mid-1990s. The results were covered on national television and in major newspapers and magazines.

The Roundtable also sponsored an Authorship Tour of England that included visits to the oft-overlooked library at Westminster Abbey; the Public Record Office housing Shakespeare’s original will; Gorhambury House, where Bacon’s library is intact; Castle Hedingham, the de Vere home; the Bodleian Library at Oxford University to view a first edition of Venus and Adonis; and Dulwich College, where the original Henslowe Diary resides.

Alex Ayres holds degrees from Harvard (where he was Editor of the Harvard Lampoon), George Mason University, and U.C.L.A. He is a writer-producers, a member of the W.G.A. (Writer's Guild of America), and Editor of the Wit and Wisdom series of books published by Penguin and Harper-Collins. For more information on his writings, please visit Alex Ayres Books.

As you can tell, what began as a six-month study group has grown into a diverse, accomplished assortment of talented thinkers who are ever-curious, and the Roundtable is still going strong twenty-five years later. Since the first gathering around the oak tables on the stage of the Globe Playhouse in West Hollywood, we have sponsored hundreds of speakers, much original research. Alisa Beaton first developed our online presence, and Lucy Burton has now expanded our multimedia capabilities and created a new design for our award-winning web site.

For many, the Roundtable represents a life-long inquiry, not just into the authorship question, but into the entire tapestry of rich and often illusive Elizabethan culture. What most distinguishes the Roundtable from other groups devoted to the authorship question—and a secret to its remarkable longevity—is its openness to all points of view.


Carole Sue Lipman

Mark Mendizza
Vice President

Sylvia Crowley Holmes

Gardner Monks

A Message from Our President

Lend me your curiosity!

Could the Bard have ever imagined there would be more books devoted to his life and works than any other subject, save the Bible?

But what do we really know about William Shakespeare’s true identity?

What if the actor who spoke these words and the playwright who penned them were not the same person? The Shakespeare Authorship Roundtable, an eclectic group whose members have agreed to disagree as we explore the historical question of who might be the real Shakespeare, invites you to join us on our investigative journey. Remember ~

But not the only thing.

Carole Sue Lipman
The Shakespeare Authorship Roundtable


George Elliott Sweet
Vice President

Fmr. Mayor of Pasadena, John Crowley, and his wife Barbara W. G. Crowley
Advisor in Memorium & Officer Emeritus, Secretary Respecitvely

Charles Champlin
Arts Critic Emeritus, Los Angeles Times

David J Hanson
Vice President
Russel Pope
Vice President


George Elliott Sweet
Vice President
Liam Sullivan
David Morgan


Charles Champlin
Arts Critic Emeritus, Los Angeles Times
Louis Fantasia
Stage Director, Teacher, Author
Lawrence Gerald
Independent Scholar
Professor Felicia Londré
University of Missouri
William Lucking
Professor Alan Nelson
University of California, Berkeley
Charles Van Doren
Consultant, Encyclopedia Britannica


John Crowley
Mayor of Pasadena
Fr. Francis Edwards, S.J.
Independent Scholar
Calvin Hoffman
Drama Critic, Author
Louis Marder
Editor of The Shakespeare Newsletter
George Elliott Sweet
Thad Taylor
Actor, Theater Owner
Louis Ule
Engineer, Computer Scientist
Patricia Winkworth
Ojai Shaespeare Festival
Elizabeth Wrigley
Director, Bacon Library, Claremont Colleges
Richard Paul Roe