The four possible essay topics involve considering if the authorship debate is based on valid evidence and if it matters; analyzing the movie Anonymous; and (its one not-strictly-authorship-related question) discussing the role and significance of the Shakespearean heroines.
The Shakespeare Fellowship has posted a gallery of winners and honorable mentions from 2002. Contest rules and details for this year are here (PDF).
The prize values are $1000 for first, $800 for second, $600 for third and three $200 honorable mentions. If you're a high school English or history teacher or know one please consider/pass along this blog post. Previous years have seen upwards of 600 entrants, and with the attention Anonymous will bring to the topic, that number may well go up this year.
This is a great way to engage the next generation of Shakespeare fans and students about that "fine mystery" (as Charles Dickens put it) about the Bard's identity. "I tremble every day," Dickens continued, "Lest something should come out."
Creative Commons image by Keith Williamson