Delia Bacon, a sister of Leonard Bacon, (February 2, 1811 - September 2, 1859), is best known for her work on Shakespearean authorship.
She was born in Tallmadge, Ohio and became a teacher in schools in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York, and then, until about 1852, conducted, in various Eastern United States cities, classes for women in history and literature by methods she devised. She wrote Tales of the Puritans (1831), The Bride of Fort Edward (1839), based on the story of Jane M'Crea, partly in blank verse, and The Philosophy of the Plays of Shakespeare Unfolded (1857), for which she spent several years in study in England, where she was befriended by Thomas Carlyle and Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Bacon intended to prove that the plays attributed to William Shakespeare were written by a coterie of men, including Francis Bacon, Sir Walter Raleigh and Edmund Spenser, for the purpose of inculcating a philosophic system, for which they felt that they themselves could not afford to assume the responsibility. This system she professed to discover beneath the superficial text of the plays. Her devotion to this one idea, as Hawthorne says, "had thrown her off her balance," and while she was in England she lost her mind entirely.
There is a biography by her nephew, Theodore Bacon, Delia Bacon: A Sketch (Boston, 1888), and an appreciative chapter, "Recollections of a Gifted Woman," in Nathaniel Hawthorne's Our Old Home (Boston, 1863). She died in Hartford, Connecticut.
She is interred in Grove Street Cemetery in New Haven, Connecticut.
- Works by Delia Bacon at Project Gutenberg