SITES across Shakespeare’s home county are fighting back as a film which questions if the Bard really did write his plays is released.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has taped over nine road signs which inform drivers they are entering ‘Shakespeare’s County’ of Warwichshire, to coincide with the premiere of Anonymous at the London Film Festival.

The trust said that it wanted to highlight the potential impact of the film’s ‘conspiracy theory’ that William Shakespeare was the ‘barely literate frontman for the Earl of Oxford’.

The Shakespeare Inn at Welford, where the poet is said to have enjoyed his last drink, is one of 10 pubs to join the campaign.

Owner of the inn, Mark Hensher, said: “Shakespeare is central to the identity of the pub.

“He used to drink here and that is how it got its name. As legend goes his last drink was in this pub and sadly he never made it home.

“We get quite a few tourists popping into the pub because of its history.

We are keen to prove he did exist. Out of all the people that may have written the plays if it was not Shakespeare it couldn’t have been the Earl of Oxford.” The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has criticised the film as an attempt to “rewrite English history and culture”.

Dr Paul Edmondson of the trust said: “This film flies in the face of a mass of historical fact, but there is a risk that people who have never questioned the authorship of Shakespeare’s works could be hoodwinked.”

However, Mr Hensher said that despite the controversy, he hoped the film would encourage more people to visit the area. “We hope it may attract more people,” he added.