The spelling of William Shakespeare's surname was not fixed until well into the 20th Century. There are supposedly 80 different ways to spell the bard's name including 'Shappere' and Shaxberd'. The standard spelling of his surname as "Shakespeare" was the most common published and printed signature on his earliest works. However, it was not the one used in his own handwritten signatures. It was, however, the spelling used as a printed signature to the dedications of the first editions of his poems Venus and Adonis in 1593 and The Rape of Lucrece in 1594. It is also the spelling used in the First Folio, the definitive collection of his plays published in 1623, after his death.
The spelling of the name was later modernised, "Shakespear" gaining popular usage in the 18th century, which was largely replaced by "Shakspeare" from the late 18th through the early 19th century. In the Romantic and Victorian eras the spelling "Shakspere", as used in the poet's own signature, became more widely adopted in the belief that this was the most authentic version. From the mid-19th to the early 20th century, a wide variety of spellings were used for various reasons; although, following the publication of the Cambridge and Globe editions of Shakespeare in the 1860s, "Shakespeare" began to gain ascendancy. It later became a habit of writers who believed that someone else wrote the plays to use different spellings when they were referring to the "real" playwright and to the man from Stratford upon Avon. With rare exceptions, the spelling is now standardised in English-speaking countries as "Shakespeare".
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