Possible candidates. Among others, George Chapman, Christopher Marlowe, Samuel Daniel, Michael Drayton, Barnabe Barnes, Gervase Markham, and Richard Barnfield
It is believed that Shakespeare had a rival, and you can find evidence of this within the works of Sonnets blah and blah
In the next sonnet (sonnet 79), the narrator goes from a plural description of the rival poet (‘every alien pen’) to a specific description:
‘Yet what of thee thy poet doth invent
He robs thee of and pays it thee again.’
Shakespeare’s use of the singular form of ‘poet’ here and his use of the pronoun ‘he’ implies that the narrator is discussing one specific poet. In this sonnet, the narrator belittles the skill of the rival poet by saying that his poems are great but it was really the fair youth who did all the work. The fair youth is so full of beauty that the mere act of describing him made great poems:
In sonnet 80, the narrator compares himself to the rival poet in very self-deprecating terms. He refers to the rival poet as ‘a better spirit’ and then claims: ‘I am a worthless boat, He of tall building and of goodly pride.’
Is it possible that the idea of a rival poet was contrived or invented? Solely because of the possibility of Shakespeare himself being multiple people or a “collective”.
-That Shakespeare potentially had a rival poet
-That the rivalry can be seen in Sonnets 78-86
-What started or made Shakespeare believe his ego was at stake?
-The poets that could be viewed as potential rivals-
-Why they are suspected to be his rival(s)
-Was the rivalry one sided or did it span across works?