But why have there been so many questions about the identity of the author?
"I think the phenomenon goes down partly to snobbery; to a feeling of resentment, even anger, that someone from a relatively humble background should have been able to create such works of genius," says Prof Wells.
He also rejects as ill-informed the suggestion that Shakespeare's limited formal education rules him out as the author of the plays.
"A lot of it is due to ignorance, especially of the Elizabethan educational background, of the sort a boy in Stratford could have got at the local grammar school.
"It was rather limited, but a very intense classical education, in rhetoric and oratory, speaking Latin from the time they were eight years old, having to speak it in the classroom and the playground."
Co-editor Paul Edmondson, head of research at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, says the authorship attacks are part of a wider culture of conspiracy theories.
There is a constant curiosity to show that "reality is not what it seems".
William Leahy, of Brunel University, is convenor of an MA degree in Shakespeare authorship studies - and he defends the legitimacy of approaching the identity of the playwright as an open question.
Dr Leahy rejects the claims of Oxford, Bacon and Marlowe, but he does not accept the idea of a single author.
Instead he believes the plays were the work of six to eight different writers, including Shakespeare, who contributed to plays in a way that was "complex and messy".
Rather than the collected works of Shakespeare, he thinks there should be the collected authors.
In this version, Shakespeare was a broker of plays, organising, editing and writing scripts, but not necessarily the prime author of all the plays now attributed to him.
Dr Leahy says the absence of personal evidence from Shakespeare's life is curious, to say the least - and that documentation that once appeared to exist has gone missing.
The lack of certainty about Shakespeare makes him a blank canvas on which others can project their own emotions, and Dr Leahy says this can create very strong feelings if this identity is challenged. He has had hate mail from angry Shakespeare fans.
But he argues that there are too many loose threads to ignore: "It's not a simple story."
It might also be that this will never be resolved. Shakespeare lived in a dangerous and secretive era. In the church in Stratford-upon-Avon where he is buried, the altar stone had been buried and hidden for safekeeping during the upheavals of the Reformation.
Polly Toynbee "A growing state of mind that needs a firm rebuttal" http://books.guardian.co.uk/print/0,3858,5274296-99819,00.html *4
Robert McCrum “Who really wrote Shakespeare?” http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2010/mar/14/who-wrote-shakespeare-james-shapiro *5