Bard’s name barred in anti-film fight

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Shakespeare’s name is being temporarily removed from pub and street signs today to support a campaign against a new film which questions whether the Bard was “a fraud”.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has criticised the film Anonymous, starring Rafe Spall as the writer, as an attempt to “rewrite English culture and history”.

It says it wants to highlight the potential impact of the film’s “conspiracy theory”, that William Shakespeare was the “barely literate frontman for the Earl of Oxford”.

The trust is taping over nine road signs bearing his name in Warwickshire, as well covering the Gower Memorial statue in Stratford-upon-Avon, today to co-incide with the movie’s premiere at the London Film Festival.

Anonymous stars Rhys Ifans as the Earl of Oxford, and Vanessa Redgrave as Queen Elizabeth I, and asks “Was Shakespeare a fraud?”.

The film is released in the UK on Friday.