"Have you ever heard of Edward De Vere?"

Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford
Public DomainEdward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford - Credit: Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger
Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (1550-1604) was an English peer and courtier of the Elizabethan era.  Edward’s father died when he was 12.  He became a ward of Queen Elizabeth, and was educated in the household of her Principal Secretary, Sir William Cecil. 

He grew up to be reckless, unpredictable, and violent, and drove his estate to ruin.  He was however a gifted playwright and lyric poet.  He was also a celebrated patron of the arts, and had several dozen works dedicated to him by famous writers and poets of the day.  In Shakespeare Identified (1920) English schoolteacher J. Thomas Looney proposes him as the real author of Shakespeare’s works, based on perceived analogies between Oxford's life and poetic techniques in Shakespeare's plays and sonnets.