William Shakespeare would have done well to take note of his own words: 'This above all: to thine own self be true', according to the authors of a new book.
Academics are arguing that probably the most important figure in Midlands history may have been a fraud - because he did not have the classical education to write such magnificent plays.
And although people involved in Stratfordupon-Avon's tourist industry aren't quite ready yet to board up their shops and park their ice cream vans, the book has caused widespread discussion among lovers of the Bard.
Truth Will Out: Unmasking the Real Shakespeare, claims that the plays were written by Elizabethan diplomat Sir Henry Neville.
Neville, who was nicknamed 'Falstaff' by friends, was an educated man of culture and a well-travelled linguist, unlike Shakespeare who was believed to have never travelled to the continent and was educated at a respectable town school.
The artistic director of the Globe and chairman of The Shakespeare Authorship Trust Mark Rylance claims the book is "pioneering" and leaves the reader's image of the Bard "shaken".
However, The Lord Mayor of Stratford Town Council, Coun Bill Lowe (Lib Dem Avenue and Newtown), shrugged off the allegations.
Coun Lowe said: "These stories about Shakespeare have been going around for centuries.
"As far as I am concerned he wrote those plays. He knew a large group of people in London who had travelled well and was a respectable self-made man himself."