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Then there's the apparent disconnect between the life that William Shakespeare lived and the ones he wrote about. Anti-Stratfordians claim that Shakespeare's plays show a keen grasp of literature, language, court life and foreign travel — not the kinds of things that a small-town actor without a university education would be familiar with. As the Declaration says, "scholars know nothing about how he acquired the breadth and depth of knowledge displayed in the works." And so doubting scholars look to well-traveled writers and aristocrats — essayist Francis Bacon; poet and playwright Christopher Marlowe; theater patron Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford — as the more likely candidates.

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