By Nolan Moore via Listverse
If you read between the lines of your favorite novel, you might discover a crazy conspiracy theory. From Elizabethan England to the 21st century, people have made some pretty weird claims about books and the folks who wrote them, ranging from secret identities to dastardly deeds.
J.K. Rowling was just an average working mom who became a world-renowned, uber-wealthy author. At least, that’s what the Bloomsbury publishing company wants you to believe. According to Norwegian filmmaker Nine Grunfeld, there is no J.K. Rowling. The author never existed.
Grunfeld believes the Harry Potter books are just too successful to be the work of one woman. She’s suspicious of how Rowling can churn out seven Potter novels in 10 years, and how those books, written by a nobody, can sell more than 250 million copies worldwide. Grunfeld claims this whole operation is too professional, too slick to be the result of a single author. Instead, Harry Potter is a corporate creation, written by a team of writers a la the Nancy Drew series. The woman we know and love as J.K. Rowling is actually an actress paid to fool readers. Anybody else think Grunfeld is just a tiny bit jealous?
The Brontes were a pretty special family. Charlotte Bronte wrote Jane Eyre, Emily wrote Wuthering Heights, and Anne wrote the lesser-known The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Only Charlotte’s and Anne’s novels were successful in their day, but all three have since become classics of English literature. Sadly, none of the Brontes made it past their thirties, thanks to tuberculosis. But . . . was it really TB?
Criminologist James Tully, author of The Crimes of Charlotte Bronte, has a much more sinister theory. According to Tully, Charlotte was jealous of her sisters’ fame, so she teamed up with her father’s curate, Arthur Bell Nicholls, and poisoned Anne and Emily along with their brother Branwell. Thanks to their scheme, Emily and Branwell died in 1848, and Anne passed away in 1849, allowing the deadly duo to cash all their royalty checks. After the murders, Arthur and Charlotte were married, but Tully claims Nicholls double-crossed his wife. He poisoned Charlotte, thus eliminating all the Brontes, and kept all those fat checks for himself.
Tully tried to have his theories published as a nonfiction book, but couldn’t find a willing publisher. So he rewrote the whole thing as a novel, proving that sometimes truth isn’t necessarily stranger than fiction.
8 • Were J.R.R. Tolkien And C.S. Lewis Occultists?
J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis are two of the most influential fantasy authors of all time, and their novels are beloved across the world. However, several conspiracy theorists claim these two men were heavily involved in the occult and were priming their readers for a New World Order—the one conspiracy to rule them all.
For example, in The Lord of the Rings, the eye of Sauron supposedly represents the all-seeing eye of the Illuminati. Some theorists claim Gandalf symbolizes famous magician Aleister Crowley, and that Frodo is an “aspirant,” someone hoping to be initiated into Gandalf’s illuminated brotherhood of black magic. The infamous John Todd preached that Tolkien actually copied his novels from The Book of Shadows, a Wiccan text, and that his runes are really the witches’ alphabet.
To top it off, some claim the Illuminati uses rings to enslave people! In fact, the “One Ring” poem is allegedly an incantation used to control brainwashed servants. As proof, conspiracy theorists note that Tolkien taught at Oxford, a college obviously run by the Illuminati. They claim Tolkien was softening his readers’ resistance to the occult, preparing them for the coming Illuminati kingdom.
And what about Lewis? His novels are really Christian allegories, right? Well, conspiracy theorist Mary van Nattan says Aslan actually represents pagan solar deities. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe focuses on a land plunged into eternal winter. However, the wintry curse is broken by the return of Aslan, so he’s like the mid-winter solstice breaking through the winter nights. Van Hattan also points out that Aslan has golden fur, a golden face, and golden eyes. Guess what else is golden? The sun!
And going back to John Todd, he claims that Lewis is required reading if you ever want to join a coven of witches. So anyone wanting to practice witchcraft better head down to their local Christian bookstore.
As the father of the detective genre, it’s appropriate that Edgar Allan Poe’s death is a mystery. On October 3, 1849, Poe showed up in Baltimore, delirious and wearing someone else’s clothes. He died four days later, though no one is sure how. Some think he overdosed, some say he had diabetes, and some even blame rabies. It should come as no surprise that some say Poe was murdered.
One of the more prominent theories suggests that Poe was “cooped.” In the 1800s, when election season came around, gangs would round up men wandering the streets, beat them up, and get them drunk. The men would then be taken to polling booths and forced to vote for a particular candidate multiple times, rigging the election. To make sure their captives weren’t recognized, the kidnappers would force them to wear different clothes every time they cast a ballot. Some think this is why Poe showed up unhinged and wearing clothes that weren’t his.
Others suspect the murder was personal. As the story goes, Poe was involved with a woman who had some pretty possessive brothers. When they learned Poe was an alcoholic, they had a nice, long talk with the author and encouraged him to see other people. Evidently, they convinced him a little too thoroughly.
The most bizarre theory has Poe being murdered by the Masons. By exposing their evil deeds through short stories such as “The Cask of Amontillado” and “Never Bet the Devil Your Head,” Poe incurred their wrath and was murdered on his trip to Baltimore. However, most historians put little stock in this theory as it’s stark raven mad (sorry).
6 • Who Wrote Shakespeare’s Plays?
Shakespeare’s authorship has been questioned by crazies and scholars alike. Those who believe the man from Stratford-Upon-Avon was the sole author of works like Hamlet are known as Stratfordians. All those opposed are anti-Stratfordians, and this camp has attracted a surprising number of notable figures, such as Charlie Chaplin, Vanessa Redgrave, Sigmund Freud, Charles Dickens, and Orson Welles.
Conspiracy theorists have a problem believing the Bard penned his own poetry because he was a commoner. The son of a glover and wool-smuggler, Shakespeare was just an actor who didn’t even go to college. How could this guy write some of the most beautiful prose in the English language? He didn’t hang out with royalty, and he’d never traveled outside of England, so how could he write about those topics with such depth and precision? Anti-Stratfordians think Shakespeare was just too ignorant to write a play like King Lear. Instead, the author had to be someone with education and class. So who was the man behind the man?
Anti-Stratfordians have several candidates, the most popular being Christopher Marlowe, Edward de Vere, and Sir Francis Bacon. Marlowe was a famous playwright who was murdered in a bar fight before many of Shakespeare’s plays were written, but according to conspiracy theorists, he actually survived. As he was a spy for the Crown, Marlowe was smuggled into France where he spent the rest of his life writing Shakespeare’s canon.
The second candidate, de Vere, was the 17th Earl of Oxford and has the support of the Roland Emmerich film Anonymous. However, de Vere also died before plays like Macbeth and The Tempest were even written.
The Francis Bacon theory is the most plausible, mostly because he wasn’t dead at the time. Some believe he was the sole author of Shakespeare’s plays while others think he was one member of a dramatist conspiracy. Mark Twain favored the Bacon hypothesis and believed you could find the words “Francisco Bacono” hidden in Shakespeare’s First Folio. But if you think these suspects are just a little too usual, then how about Queen Elizabeth I? Some actually believe the Virgin Queen penned Shakespeare’s words. It seems some will always wonder if Shakespeare achieved greatness or had it thrust upon him.
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