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Did Shakespeare write Shakespeare?

The Globe

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Mar 26, 2009, 10:56am Top

I'm working on a research paper now about whether or not Shakespeare really wrote his plays. Does anyone know of a good biography or other book that talks about this or mentions it? Or even an article or website? Any reliable source that mentions it would be great!

Mar 26, 2009, 2:02pm Top

Personally, I'm a Stratfordian (I think Shakespeare the actor from Stratford probably wrote the plays). But I think it's fun to read some of the debates.

A fairly good book I've read on the subject is Players: the Mysterious Identity of William Shakespeare by Bertram Fields.

There's also a long list of works that talk about this under Further Reading on the Wikipedia article here.

Let us know how your research turns out!

Mar 26, 2009, 2:34pm Top

Thank you so much! I wrote down that book and others on the Wikipedia list. I'm going to see if I can find them at my library. Thanks again!

Edited: Mar 26, 2009, 5:44pm Top

One of the very best resources on the authorship 'question' (non-question, really) is this website: http://shakespeareauthorship.com/ which is the work of LT'er David Kathman.

Or if you want a book in your hands, see this at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Case-Shakespeare-End-Authorship-Question/dp/027598527X/ref...

Or LT'er Tom Veal has some good discussions on his Stromata website, here: http://stromata.tripod.com/id19.htm

Mar 27, 2009, 3:29pm Top

Thank you! Those sources will also be quite helpful!

Mar 29, 2009, 2:14pm Top

There is a book by Mark Anderson called "Shakespeare by another name" about the Earl of Oxford. Anderson makes a real compelling case for Oxford being the author. Although it may be too long to read for a research paper- you may want to look at it.

Mar 30, 2009, 9:53pm Top

Unfortunately Anderson's 'compelling case' depends on ignoring Early Modern theatre history, misreading contemporary literary and social context, and bestowing a new meaning upon the word 'evidence.'

Mar 31, 2009, 12:35pm Top

is that all?

Edited: Apr 2, 2009, 11:18pm Top

It's enough. And to be frank, I'm surprised that people like yourself and Lord Haw-Haw and the others oVER at Vere Gardens-- who, by your libraries and conversations, appear to be intelligent, well-read and strong-minded folk-- could eVER be taken in by such claptrap. The seductions of contrariness, I suppose...

Mar 31, 2009, 8:15pm Top

I don't think it's necessarily contrariness, as you say. I found the book ineresting and thought it made a rather strong case. Now I don't pretend to be an expert on Shakespeare, or literature for that matter, but find a variety of views interesting and worthy of discussion. Given the fact that Shakespeare is such an enigma, I think that adhering to the conventional view is almost religious. As you well know, for virtually any other writer anywhere in the world, many of them much earlier than Shakespeare, there is a wealth of material confirming his or her identify and life.

Edited: Mar 31, 2009, 8:49pm Top

A variety of views? are all "views" equal? If I think Queen Victoria wrote Alice in Wonderland is that 'view' as valid as the 'view' that Lewis Carroll did? And your last statement simply is not true. Compare what is known about Shakespeare with truly comparable cases-- like John Fletcher, Thomas Heywood, John Webster. He wasn't an 'engima' -- that's a post-romantic imposition. He was a working actor who wrote good plays-- like Heywood, or William Rowley or Nathan Field.
Since you value different views on this subject you should check this out: http://shakespeareauthorship.com/

Apr 1, 2009, 3:27am Top

C-W: since there can be no legal proof either way, all we can do is hitch our wagon, rickety tho it may be, to one side or the other. i am on the side of those who have WS as their man. i just don't see how the thing could have been covered up all this while. i read the anti-Stratfordians for the pleasure they bring me. especially George G. Greenwood. you wouldn't deny me this simple pleasure. would you?

Apr 1, 2009, 6:02am Top

Poor-ious - I can't figure you out. But that's ok I guess...

Apr 1, 2009, 6:07am Top

The play's the thing.

Apr 1, 2009, 6:40pm Top

i'd be bowled over if you could figure me out. i turned 60 this year and i know myself but slenderly. but know this, i relish the idea that the fellow from the sticks gets the he couldn't have written it types all bent out of shape. but once again, i'm afraid it will forever remain a delicious mystery. let's have a glass of sack and sing the praises of the lout from Warwickshire.

Apr 2, 2009, 9:22am Top

Ron Rosenbaum has a thoughtful piece in Slate today (http://www.slate.com/id/2214734/) about people's desire to know everything about Shakespeare despite a lack of evidence. The spark was the recent claim by Stanley Wells to have found a new Shakespeare portrait, a claim that appears to be in very serious doubt not two weeks after it was made.

As for the controversy over authorship, I understand Crypto-Willobie's position -- I am going to believe William Shakespeare wrote the plays until someone presents credible evidence that he did not -- but I share poor-ious' interest in the strange, convoluted and always deeply flawed arguments against his authorship. What I find dismaying is the wide-spread belief among the general populace that there is serious evidence Shakespeare did not write the plays. I chalk it up to a general willingness to believe in conspiracy or mystery when presented with a lack of information and a (snobbish?) unwillingness to believe a commoner could write the plays.

Apr 2, 2009, 12:02pm Top

Thank you everyone for your recommendations, links, and interesting discussion. I wrote down all of the websites you guys gave links to and also ordered Players: the Mysterious Identity of William Shakespeare from Amazon. I got a great deal on the book. Thanks for the suggestion Caramellunacy. I'm sure this will all be very helpful!

Apr 2, 2009, 3:50pm Top

Actually, Players: The Mysterious Identity of William Shakespeare is a pretty terrible book if you're interested in historical accuracy. Fields provides no references for any of what he says, most of which is a restatement of standard anti-Stratfordian claims, and much of which is just flat-out false or at least badly distorted. You can read the book in order to understand what anti-Stratfordians say, but please don't take anything in there at face value, at least not without confirming it through other (non-anti-Stratfordian) sources. My Shakespeare Authorship web site, which Crypto-Willobie referred to (http://shakespeareauthorship.com), has rebuttals to a lot of those claims, and if you are going to read the Fields book, I would encourage you to do so with my site close at hand.

Apr 2, 2009, 5:29pm Top

The entire reason I suggested the book was that it essentially restates a number of anti-Stratfordian positions - which I think is valuable if you're just beginning to research the question rather than suggesting a number of books each dedicated to their pet theory.

I certainly agree that there are problems with it, but I don't think it's such a terrible starting point. Especially since I personally don't find much value in reading a Stratfordian rebuttal without some idea of what 'the competition' is saying...

I hope you enjoy your research, audreyfan! And if you come across a particularly helpful book or article, please let us know!

Apr 2, 2009, 11:55pm Top

There really is a book that argues that Queen Victoria wrote Alice in Wonderland. There is another book that argues that the English language hasn’t changed for a couple millenia and that Old English and Middle English never existed—they’re just the inventions of professors—and that French, Italian and other languages are derived from English. There are people that believe we (or some of us) are descended from a race of super-intelligent lizards; while others believe we are plagued by space aliens who abduct people to administer anal probes. I suppose one could consider these to be ‘viewpoints’ or ‘interesting’ or ‘fun’. Or ‘competition’ – competition for the physical world we live in where things actually happen? The Oxfordian (or Marlovian, or Baconian, whatever) ‘position’ doesn’t really afford any competition to the facts of Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre history; nor is it necessary for Shakespeareans to provide a ‘rebuttal’. Because, frankly, all that anti-Stratfordian business is just weak-minded, whack-job conspiracy crap. It’s not an equal viewpoint, and it’s not worth the attention paid it. Unless you want to consider the guy with the tin-foil hat down at the corner yelling at the traffic to be expressing his interesting worthy-of-equal-time ‘viewpoint’…

Apr 3, 2009, 3:44am Top

does that mean that there are no more cakes and ale?

Apr 3, 2009, 4:01am Top

Look C-W, the OP wants to write a paper discussing the authorship question. You don't think there's a question or that the Stratfordians need to rebut other theories, and that's fine. But that wouldn't exactly make a good paper, would it?

All I'm saying is that if the OP is attempting to write a paper on the subject, it makes sense to start with a book that gives an overview of various anti-Stratfordian theories as the Stratfordian viewpoint is the most obvious theory and probably the one s/he knows most about.

Apr 3, 2009, 11:29am Top

Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted-- I get it. So everything is 'true' in a way. The imagination-- imaginary cakes and ale-- is important and beloved, even of me. I enjoy improbable detective fiction, I like Tolkien and other fantasy, I like novels where Shakespeare's plays are really written by his wife or his dog. After all, the lunatic, the lover, and the poet are of imagination all compact. And this I suppose is where Poor-ious is coming from -- he's not Cred-ulous, he's just enjoying himself. However most anti-Stratfordian writing is earnest and humorless, “full of passionate intensity,” and leavened with the smugness and condescension of the True Believer. You see, they’re intent on “exposing one of the greatest hoaxes of all time,” to quote one misguided individual. Obviously it makes me a little cranky sometimes—it’s so wearisome.
So, of course audreyfan21 can read Fields-- or Anderson or Ogburn or Sobran—to inform her research paper. But I wanted her to be under no illusion that she will be examining two equally reasonable ‘views’ of a valid question. Just like you and I really sat down and had breakfast this morning, someone in 1599 had his breakfast and then went back to writing Hamlet-- and he had a high forehead, not a royal pension.

Edited: Apr 3, 2009, 6:47pm Top

i'll always rate the riotous Sir Toby Belch's over the i'm-afraid-someone-somewhere-might-be-enjoying-themselves Malvolio types. how could i do otherwise? once again i am on the side of William of Stratford, but dismissing C. Ogburn as nothing more than marshgas is something i am not prepared to do. one of my favorite books on this hoary subject is R.C. Churchill's, SHAKESPEARE AND HIS BETTERS. he is well informed on the matter, and he writes beautifully.
wasn't Anthony Quayle marvelous as the Fat Knight in the 1979 BBC Henry 4 pt. 1 and 2? Ancient Pistol and the cut-purses are great fun, think you?

Apr 24, 2009, 1:19pm Top

I would like to thank everyone for their suggestions and view points. All of it was so helpful in writing my paper. I have it written but I still need to turn it in.

My paper is mainly focusing on anti-stratfordian views only because most readers believe that Shakespeare wrote his plays and I wanted to present the other side so readers could make their own decision. I also mentioned De Vere, Marlowe, Bacon, and Queen Elizabeth I, but also gave reasons why they most likely did not write Shakespeare's works.

Bertram Fields' book was very helpful for me. I understand that it's probably not reliable but it presented Anti-Stratfordian view points, which I needed to make my paper interesting.

Some may be wondering whether I'm Stratfordian or Anti-Stratfordian. I'm neither. I haven't read enough yet to make my decision but I don't know if I ever will because I don't see enough evidence or proof for either side and until someone presents some evidence I will remain undecided.

May 4, 2009, 9:30pm Top

Did you read about the opinion of US Justice Stevens a couple of weeks ago? He sided with Edward de Vere as the real author of the Shakespeare's works.

May 5, 2009, 5:46pm Top

I'm sure that a consensus of people who have no particular knowledge of the era and its theatre is the way to decide this. How can Malcolm X, Mark Twain, Sigmund Freud, and Justice Stevens all be wrong!?!?!?!?!?

On the other hand, what if Ben Jonson, Dr Johnson, Walter Johnson and Magic Johnson all thought that Shakespeare the actor from Stratford wrote his own plays? Wouldn't that trump those other guys?

Seriously, huh? huh?

May 5, 2009, 6:16pm Top

Stevens has been saying that for 20 years and getting sporadic attention in the press for it, but unfortunately he has no idea what he's talking about. He just keeps repeating Oxfordian talking points, most of which are either flat-out wrong or badly distorted, and shows zero evidence of knowing anything about Elizabethan literature or theater history other than what he has been fed by Oxfordians. I've thought about trying to send him some materials refuting those talking points, but even if I could be sure they would reach him, I don't know that it would make a difference; after 20 years, he's clearly got a big emotional investment in the Oxfordian fantasy. I have a lot of respect for Stevens as a Supreme Court justice, but on this subject he's a real embarrassment.

May 6, 2009, 9:01am Top

As a lawyer, I know firsthand that lawyers are particularly prone to fully investing in one theory of the case, regardless of the evidence. After all, it's what we're supposed to do. Judges are apparently susceptible, too.

Jun 15, 2009, 5:35pm Top

I read an interesting book manuscript at the Folger Library about a year ago that made a claim for Roger Manners, Earl of Rutland. Can't recall who the author was . . . . I'm thinking Richard Dutton, but if not him, it was someone equally well known and credible. I wasn't convinced, however. Most of the argument was based on Manners's presumed impotence and/or homosexuality, focused on his longstanding obsession with Wriothesely and a series of puns on "does" (as in "deer, a female deer"--apparently a term for the submissive partner).

As to some of the other claimants, I personally have a lot of trouble with the arguments that focus mainly on the fact that the Stratfordian didn't go to university and probably never went to Italy.

Jun 16, 2009, 10:28pm Top

Cariola, I'm trying to figure out what this book manuscript you saw at the Folger might be. The only recent Rutland proponent I'm aware of is Ilya Gililov, whose pro-Rutland book became a bestseller in Russia in the late 90s and was translated into English in 2003 as "The Shakespeare Game: The Mystery of the Great Phoenix". I know Gililov did research for that book at the Folger, and I'm sure they have a copy, as they have copies of all the major antistratfordian works, no matter how crazy. But I'm thinking that's probably not it -- I don't see how you would confuse Gililov with Richard Dutton, and your description doesn't sound much like what I've heard about Gililov's book. I know Dutton pretty well (I wrote two chapters for his Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Theatre, which just came out), and I'm fairly certain he didn't write whatever it was you read. In fact, I don't know anybody who's at all well known in the field who could have written something like that, except possibly as a spoof of antistratfordian methods.

Edited: Jun 17, 2009, 2:59pm Top

No, definitely not Gililov, but, as I said, it might not have been Dutton. (Sorry, I was writing off the top of my head.) I have notes on this document at home. I'll be able to check in a few hours and will post the info here. And I don't believe it was a spoof.

Jun 17, 2009, 2:57pm Top

Well, it seems my memory half served: the author was a BRIAN Dutton. The typescript ms is titled Lord Rutland Decoded: The True Shakespeare Revealed, written in 2005. My notes are a bit sketchy as I thought his theory way off the wall; and I was really doing research primarily on the countess. Here are some bits from my notes:

Rutland "a tragic prodigy who by age twenty-one had written some half of the canon" (7).

He mentions three others who support his theory: Celestin Demblon, Pierre Porohovshekov, and Claude Sykes.

The sonnets are autobiographical and depict "impotence and doedom" and relationship w/the king. (Note: "doedom" = taking a buck anally.)

The sonnets were published without his permission in 1609 and were quickly called in, perhaps due to their "burlesque of Queen Elizabeth as a predatory exploiter of alleged boy-toy the Earl of Essex" and of King James, mocked as an incompetent buck w/a small penis(!).

Claims #57 and #149 are about dildoes, and that #39 reveals his name and impotence. Some of his decoding is very stretched. For example, here's how he decodes 39: but = phonetic butt, which the OED defines as a division of plowed land containing contained between two furrows, also called a ridge . . . which could also be land between two ruts . . . hence "rut" + "land."

A few other "proofs" and theories: Rutland has "brother problems," especially with a bastard brother . . . well, you know where this is going. William Shakespeare is the "Poet-Ape" in Jonson's epigram. A 10-line ms poem in Rutland's hand bears similarities to a passage in Twelfth Night. Claims the first 17 sonnets were a birthday gift for Southampton, written when Manners was only 14, and that he wrote Venus and Adonis at 16. Further claims that sonnets 105 and 125 were written by Southampton, and that Rutland replies to them in #107.

A little past my notes on page 245, I scrawled in the margin, "I am tired of reading about Dildo Dick (Dutton's term) and sh*t and doedom!"

My sincere apologies to RICHARD Dutton!

Jun 17, 2009, 4:55pm Top

Ah, that makes sense. I've never heard of Brian Dutton, and the other three people he mentions are authors of pro-Rutland books in the past -- Demblon wrote his around 1917 and died in 1924, and I have Claud Sykes's "Rutland is Shakespeare" book, published in 1947, I believe. Sounds like this guy is pretty out there, though by antistratfordian standards he's almost mainstream.

Jul 11, 2009, 12:52am Top

I'm chiming in rather late on this one, but I've just read all the posts here with the same wry smile that's accompanied my readings of Fields, James/Rubenstein, Anderson, and others -- and a fun little piece by Andrew Field. The deforestation wreaked in the name of this 'controversy' is bewildering. I want to scream when I read the hackneyed bit about 'lack of evidence' when it comes to the life of WS; Crypto-W's point regarding the equally misty records for other working writers of the period is wholly valid. Jonson (a mostly self-educated bricklayer, for God's sake), who left us a dedicatory piece from the first folio, has huge gaps in his own bio.

And what about Marlowe? Why no controversy there? Oh, yes, he was an Oxbridge man, and so fully capable of rendering the works for which he's unerringly credited. Ever wonder how much time he spent in class?

Consideration must also be made for the process of writing for the stage at the time, a rather fluid one in which actors and other writers -- rivals and friends both -- had hands in the final product. WS was no Baudelaire, writing in isolation in a garret late into the night. He was out there, participating in the creation of stage-play.

Give me the time, and I'll put together a compelling argument for Will Kempe having written The Merry Wives of Windsor while he morris-danced from London to Norwich.

So why (myself included) do we invest the time in reading this codswallop? I can only liken it to rubbernecking at a car crash, or watching right-wing fundamentalist broadcasts on Sunday morning. Sometimes, I simply can't help myself.

And now, for those of you who still believe that wrestling is fake, or that JFK was the victim of a conspiracy…

Nyuk nyuk

Jul 24, 2009, 9:06am Top

I own a few books written at the time Shakes-peare was alive, it has always seemed very odd to me that he almost never gets a mention by any of this contemporaries in the same way other living poets did. Its a bit like somebody claiming to be very famous in popular culture now but coming up once in a Google search. You probably would not believe they were well known.
I'm not sure it matters what name we give the writer of the works. But one does not have to be a mad conspiracy theorist to read history books with a degree of scepticism. The contrast between say Ben Johnson’s death and Shakespeare’s is very, very odd. Not a peep out of anyone anywhere when William, this supposedly massively popular poet, snuffed it.
I recommend reading ‘Who Wrote Shakespeare’ by John Mitchell; it’s a very good fair minded review of the issues and of the literature at that period. As I say, believing everything you read is as mad as believing nothing, so perhaps it worth keeping an open mind eh? Particularly when the subject matter is quite interesting.

Jul 24, 2009, 12:37pm Top

WS "snuffed" it as you say in Stratford. They wouldn't have been overproud about a mere player and playbotcher as it was yet a muddy little place. It's not certain that WS would be famous in the same sense that , say, Peter Hall would be famous. Ben Johnson collected and published his 'works.' not something usually done by writers of that time. WS, as you remember "snuffed" it and left his papers for someone else to sort out. This makes me think that he hadn't much an idea of his ever-living-poet-ness. Though the Sonnets tell a different story, don't they?
It's a mystery that will never be solved unless they find some documents that prove the matter either way. And this 'proof' will not please either the Gary Taylors' or the deVeres', et al.

Jul 24, 2009, 12:42pm Top

> 36

> I own a few books written at the time Shakes-peare was alive, it has always seemed very odd to me that he almost never gets a mention by any of this contemporaries in the same way other living poets did.

This vague general assertion is simply not true. What ‘few books’ are you referring to that ‘mention… living poets’ and how often were which ones mentioned? Shakespeare was name-checked by Sir John Davies, Francis Beaumont, Francis Meres, Ben Jonson, among others.

> I'm not sure it matters what name we give the writer of the works.

In a way, no it doesn’t matter—once art is created it’s out there. So it also doesn’t matter who wrote Pride and Prejudice, Harry Potter, Ulysses, etcetcetc, right? Don’t be selective because you have an axe to grind.

> The contrast between say Ben Johnson’s death and Shakespeare’s is very, very odd. Not a peep out of anyone anywhere when William, this supposedly massively popular poet, snuffed it.

Also not true. That he was a ‘supposedly massively popular poet’ is your retrofit of his current reputation. He was a reasonably popular poet and well-regarded playwright, but not a God of Literature whose death could be expected to rattle the walls of Westminster Abbey. Instead of reading history with a knee-jerk ‘degree of skepticism,’ read it with appropriate context.
The old canards about Shakespeare the player not being known by his contemporaries as a poet and playwright, the ignoring of his death, and many others are well-addressed and refuted here: http://shakespeareauthorship.com/

> I recommend reading ‘Who Wrote Shakespeare’ by John Mitchell; it’s a very good fair minded review of the issues and of the literature at that period. As I say, believing everything you read is as mad as believing nothing, so perhaps it worth keeping an open mind eh? Particularly when the subject matter is quite interesting.

Mitchell’s book is addressed and reviewed several places on the Shakespeare Authorship website (link above). Are our choices really between ‘believing everything’ we read and ‘believing nothing’? How about believing in logic and the rules of historical evidence? In this case ‘keeping an open mind’ is code for believing whatever theory appeals to you whether there’s any actual evidence for it or not.

Edited: Jul 24, 2009, 1:08pm Top

36> One reason that other poets are mentioned more often than Shakespeare is the patron/client system. They were constantly trying to get in favor with important persons who could recommend them for positions in noble households and the court. Most of their published works include at least one dedication to a well-placed person--and often multiple dedications, as well as prefatory praise from other writers. For example, if JONSON (no "h" by his own design) wanted a commission for a Christmas masque, he wrote a poem of praise for the Countess of Rutland or dedicated a work to her so that she might recommend him to her friend, Queen Anne. Or a play by Middleton might include prefatory verse praise by Jonson, Chapman, etc.

You don't see this happening with Shakespeare, for a number of reasons. First, he did not publish his own works, as did Jonson. As I'm sure you know, the Stationer's Register's regulations were nothing like the copyright laws of today; it was more like "first come, first served," and an author's works were often submitted by a printer who got the manuscript from someone other than the author. Shakespeare seems to have had no interest in publishing the plays, and we really don't know if the dedication to the sonnets was by him or by the printer. (In any case, the dedicatee remains cryptic--which wouldn't have been the case for someone vying for the kind of patronage that Jonson sought.)

And I don't think that Shakespeare really wanted a position as secretary to the Master of Revels, official Chronicler of London, masque-writer, etc. He was making a good living in the theatre and enjoying the creative freedom he could express there.

There was still a prejudice against authors who wrote "plays" v. "works" (which is one reason Jonson included his plays in his Works), which means it's logical that those writing "serious" works would more likely be mentioned by others. Think of a modern comparison: it's not likely that you'd find a "serious" writer like Toni Morrison or E. L. Doctorow or Salman Rushdie writing about Stephanie Meyer or (to put it in terms of movies, more relevant to playwrights) Judd Apatow.

(Addendum: And C-W is definitely right that Shakespeare IS mentioned quite a few times by his cohorts.)

Edited: Jul 24, 2009, 3:24pm Top

Shake-speare was mentioned often, we are not sure who this Shake-speare was. Who was Jonson (I am reading Meyer's biog. of Samuel Johnson so my fingers typed out Jonson +h without consulting me) spoofing when he had Puntarvolo not accepting Sogliardo's cote of arms without a little mustard. Of course we don't know but it sounds like our man from Stratford who purchased a set for old John. Charlotte Stopes spent her career trying to establsh a conection between WS and Southampton and failed. It's dangerous to speak ex cathedra on the subject of William Shakespeare and co. We don't know much more than the fact that he had what A.L. Rowse called, a "sexy nose." Not much that we can really hang our hats on, ie.

Jul 24, 2009, 4:03pm Top

No, it’s not a slam-dunk, because very little is. However, if one applies the same standards of historical research to the question of how the King’s players acquired their repertory that one would normally apply to questions concerning the life or work of Geoffrey Chaucer, or Richard Field, or Aphra Behn, or Richard Topliffe, or John Fletcher, or Hesther Thrale, and leaves aside the aha! method of true-believer argument (to which there can never be any adequate rebuttal as the necessary ‘evidence’ can be conjured at will), then the provisional answer is pretty clear. The ‘evidence’ (using the normal meaning of the word) indicates that Shakspere the player from Stratford wrote or co-wrote the plays and poems associated with his name, and there is no ‘evidence’ at all that the Earl of Oxford, or the Earl of Derby, or Christopher Marlowe, or Francis Bacon, or the Earl of Rutland or Sir Henry Neville, Or Queen Elizabeth, or (your candidate here) wrote them. Auntie Strat plays minds games and they are tiresome ones. Probably I should just ignore them but then they rail even louder about how they don’t get no respect, and the professors are conspiring against them so as to protect their jobs, ad nauseum, ad infinitum.
Oh, I forgot to mention—the works of Chaucer were really written by John of Gaunt, but he couldn’t admit it because it would have been undignified for him to be known as the author. Just read between the lines in The Knight’s Tale and you’ll see. And Bos-Well’s Life of Johnson was actually written by Mrs Thrale but was published under a pseudonym because, oh, we’ll think of something. Prove me wrong? C’mon, where’s your open mind?

Jul 24, 2009, 4:07pm Top

This Shakespeare authorship thing seems to get some folk very hot under the collar! Its only history... which is of course is something quite malleable to changes in fashion. I still recommend reading Mitchell’s book. He talks about how strongly people feel on this subject, of course many academics and the Stratford tourist trade have a lot to lose if doubts were to be entertained...

Jul 24, 2009, 4:10pm Top


Jul 24, 2009, 4:15pm Top

I don't know that it would have much effect on most academics, only those few who have made a career of arguing the question. The plays are what they are, and they've been published as the works of "Shakespeare." If that should turn out to be a pseudonym, I don't think my "Shakespeare" classes would be taken out of the curriculum or renamed "Oxford" or whatever. The supposed mystique of the uneducated genius is a miniscule part of why the plays are still read, performed, and studied today.

Jul 24, 2009, 4:22pm Top

Think of the uproar if I actually chose someone other than WS as my dog in the fight? I'm perfectly satisfied with William Shakespeare as my Shakespeare it's just that I don't mind ruffling his feathers now and again. Prove you wrong? You carry the load quite well without my help. But let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater, it's great fun to bat these matters about. Though I could be mistaking the fun that I have for the fun in general. If that's the case I will have to curtail my amusement.

Edited: Jul 24, 2009, 4:41pm Top

>45 Porius:
Just to clarify-- I meant 'Prove me wrong?' as a challange to *prove* that John of Gaunt was not the author of Canterbury Tales nor Mrs Thrale of Bos-Well's Life of Johnson. (And now that it's 'out there' I expect to read about the Gaunterbury Tales on the web sometime in the near future.)

Yeah, I should just read the plays and forget about the Aunties. And I'm not really RILED-riled-- think of it as me having *my* fun. I have lots of fun (I think), am fond of give and take, am willing to be proved wrong about stuff (by reputable methods)-- but I don't find the Aunties especially amusing, just wild-eyed and smelly. I'd rather argue about how Christopher Tolkien *should* have reconstructed the Silmarillion, or how much Albert Speer knew and when, or whether Yeshu ha Notzri actually considered himself to be divine.

Jul 24, 2009, 4:42pm Top

I agree about the academic side of things, what’s in a name after all, but academics seem to be capable of irrational behaviour at times, some seem to take the authorship question very personally and seem to want to ban any debate. I find the Elizabethan period very interesting, so the doubts that have been raised by all sorts of people over many years about whether Shakespeare is in affect a pen name is to me also quite interesting. To me just asking the question acts as an enjoyable means of exploring the historical context.

Jul 24, 2009, 4:59pm Top

46: does this mean there shall be no more cakes and ale? 'M' had *his* fun but he surely did not get the last laugh. And first you would have to prove that 'Y' came from such a place as 'N', and that there was such a place as 'N'?

And finally: 'proof' can not be established that John of Gaunt either wrote, or didn't write The Canter-bury Tails. Or put ink to paper in a note to his local alchemist. To try to 'prove' anything, especially something that happened in the 16th Century or before is something of a fool's game, it seems to me.

Jul 24, 2009, 5:26pm Top

>48 Porius:
That was my point-- you can't *prove* that John of Guant did or didn't write the CTs-- nor any of a million other 16c or 14c scenarios you may want to invent. But does that mean that any scenario you can invent is equally as valid as any other? and worthy of discussion, and consideration as an alternative 'viewpoint' by the 'open-minded'? Because that's what the Auntie Strat-egies boil down to-- invented scenarios that can't, by their nature, be disproven. And as I've mentioned to you before, Poor-ious, I *love* cakes and ale.

>42 kend:
>Its only history... which is of course is something quite malleable to changes in fashion.

History-as-intepretation is malleable and subject to fashion. But there is also a level of history which consists of a series of verifiable physical occurences. Presumably we all agree that Elizabeth Tudor was Queen of England and died in 1603? And that you had cereal for breakfast today while I had a banana? Whether Shakespeare the player wrote plays for the King's men isn't really a question of political interpretation, or social history -- or rather it may be *now*, but it was a boring question with an obvious answer in 1604.

Jul 24, 2009, 5:50pm Top

Invent? When you start talking about inventing and all that you lose me. Who is inventing what? The Oxford people are as welcome to invent as often as the Shakespeare people. Are you deciding what is being invented and what isn't? It seems to me that you are. WS just may be an invention of the Stratford Corporation. Or of Davy Garrick's? Let's not talk about Chaucer, Gaunt, or E1: it doesn't help us here. William Shakespeare does not have the post position in this race. We can only pays our penny and takes our chance. My bet is on WM. son of the Shakespeare's (one of the many spellings, and not the favorite by any means). As for those poor long-shots who you would ban from the race - well I'm afraid you don't have that authority.

Jul 24, 2009, 6:08pm Top

tee-hee is it? Worthy of discussion? Validity? Who and who isn't open minded? I think you choose the best cakes for yourself and leave us benighted the crumbs. All you lack is the yellow garters. When a Greenwood writes a book that casts a doubt on the Authorship Question, does the rhino ask the tick-bird when he should charge?
It was fun till you sent me that self-satisfied giggle. The anti-Statfordians write what they are pleased to write, they do not look to such as you for their lead.

Jul 24, 2009, 9:48pm Top

sheesh. have some cakes and ale. the tee-hee was to demonstrate i was having 'fun'. no, i don't have or claim 'authority' -- doesn't mean i can't vigorously advocate my position, even to the extent of pooh-poohing the opposition. and if it wasn't clear in 49, when i said 'you' i meant 'one'. sheesh...

Jul 25, 2009, 3:01am Top

What ever happened to the Earl of Southampton, who used to be a highly-touted candidate as the "real" author of Shakespeare?

As Southampton seemed - 20 or 30 years ago(?)-- to have replaced Bacon in that role, has Oxford now replaced Southampton?

Anyone know?

Jul 25, 2009, 3:53pm Top

Oxford's Earl seems to be the flavor of the month. But he died in 1603 or so so that presents a little problem. By that time, maybe, Shaxper learned the ropes and could carry out the task himself, of putting together The Tempest, The Winter's Tale, Cymbelline, not to mention King Lear and Macbeth. Shakespeare was a quick study, so they say.

Edited: Jul 25, 2009, 7:30pm Top

"As Southampton seemed - 20 or 30 years ago(?)-- to have replaced Bacon in that role, has Oxford now replaced Southampton?"


I'm afraid you are a little out of date WRT this issue. There are probably now way over 50 horses in the "Who wrote Shakespeare?" race. This topic could arguably be considered to be its own literary genre. Some years there are as many as a dozen new titles released on the subject, which is one a month, so you could probably spend the rest of your life reading only Shakespearean pseudo-biographies. And in using that term I'm not taking a position in this religious debate - one day some hard evidence may be discovered that demonstrates that the Stratfordian biographies are as much pseudo-biographies as those of some of the wackier alternative candidates that have been put forward over the years.

The only candidates with any real traction - meaning they have the most number of individual works supporting their claim to the "true authorship" of the Shakespearean canon - are the lad from Stratford himself, Sir Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe, and Edward de Vere (17th Earl of Oxford). That doesn't mean the arguments in favor of those particular candidates are necessarily the strongest and most defensible arguments per se; that statement was merely a reflection of the quantity, rather than the quality, of the books supporting those candidates. The cases for each of those four authors of the Shakespearean canon simply have the most individual works supporting them.

That doesn't mean that a single book advocating, say, the Earl of Southampton as the real Bard of Avon might not be better researched and more convincingly argued than any of those other candidates. OTOH, if such a book really did argue its case so convincingly, it wouldn't be long before a whole slew of other books would hit the market supporting that advocate written by people that had been converted to his cause by the first one, so counting books (viz. determining the quantity of books advocating a particular "true author"), rather than individually reviewing the quality of the arguments of each and every book written on the subject, is not such a crude a determination as it might at first appear.

A Little Background

Outside of the Warwickshire lad himself, Sir Francis Bacon is the oldest candidate claimed to be the real author of the Shakespeare canon. He was first proposed as the "true author" just before the turn of the 18th century by a British rector, Reverend James Wilmot, and that suggestion was, in turn, gradually taken seriously by some other adherents over the next few decades. But the Baconian theory mostly languished until the year 1857, when first Dr. William Henry Smith and then Delia Salter Bacon independently published contrarian books that advocated for Francis Bacon being the "true author" of Shakespeare. DSB's book actually argued for some kind of joint authorship by a coterie of Elizabethan intellectuals that included, amongst others, Francis Bacon, Edmund Spenser and Sir Walter Raleigh, but because of Dr. Smith's book promoting just Bacon, readers mostly regarded her book as simply providing secondary support to Smith's prime candidacy of Bacon.

Nevertheless, back in 1857 it was still a two horse race, and it remained that way up until around 1895, which was the year that the Christopher Marlowe steed officially entered the race. Wilbur G. Ziegler proposed Marlowe's candidacy in the forward to a fictional novel that year, but it took until 1923 before this theory was advocated in a more serious essay by Archie Webster. The main Marlovian contention is that that playwright's death in 1593 (due to being stabbed above the eye in a room in Deptford) was in fact faked so that Marlowe could assume a new identity, and it was in this newly assumed false identity that Marlowe then proceeded to churn out the entire corpus of work normally attributed to the lad from Stratford.

Meanwhile, three years earlier, J. Thomas Looney had introduced one more new colt into this race when he first proposed Edward de Vere as another possible candidate for being the "true author" of Shakespeare. So by 1923 it had become a four horse race. Looney's initial Oxfordian claims in 1920 gathered a quick but very select following among some early twentieth century intellectuals that included such notables as Sigmund Freud, Orson Welles and Marjorie Bowen. But this was still not nearly enough intellectuals to create any sort of "critical mass" likely to offer a serious challenge to the Stratfordian status quo. And things remained pretty much that way for the next sixty-odd years or so when, in 1984, the Oxfordian theory was brought to a much greater prominence by the publication of Charlton Ogburn's The Mysterious William Shakespeare.

At this point the Oxfordian horse rapidly picked up pace and passed the other two anti-Stratfordian front-runners to now became the favored steed amongst the three main rivals that have historically come anywhere close to seriously challenging the primacy of the orthodox Stratfordian view of authorship. For the last 25 years or so the strongest challenge to the mainstream Stratfordian stallion has come mainly from this newly energized Oxfordian thoroughbred. Books advocating either Baconian and Marlovian authorship in some form or other are still being newly published, but those two horses both appear to have tired somewhat and dropped back from the remaining two front-runners.

OTOH, fresh horses keep on entering this race. In addition to your own mentioned Henry Wriothesley (3rd Earl of Southampton), William Stanley (6th Earl of Derby), Sir Edward Dyer and Roger Manners (5th Earl of Rutland) also have their backers. Two of the most recent entries are Sir Henry Neville, a distant courtier relative of the traditionally accepted author William Shakespeare whose nickname was Falstaff (proposed by Brenda James and Professor William Rubinstein in 2005) and Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke (proposed by A.W.L. Saunders in 2007). Due mostly to the recency of the appearance of these latest two colts, they still lag way behind those other four seasoned steeds by quite a few furlongs, along with all the other 50-odd also-rans (which include quite a few variants of the "group theory" of collaborative co-authorship that was originally proposed by Delia Bacon in the mid-nineteenth century).

The Oxfordian Case

Since Ogburn, the Oxfordian theory of "true authorship" has been considerably strengthened with a burgeoning addition of new popularly marketed books by such authors as William Plumer Fowler (1986), Richard Whalen (1994), Joseph Sobran (1997), Roger Stritmatter (2003) and Hank Whittemore (2005). Note that this is by no means an exhaustive list of such books but it's rather a summary of the more notable ones; nor does this list address any of the many academically published papers supporting Oxfordian theory during this period. Mark Anderson's book (published 8/2005) is one of the latest works of substance (supported by quality annotation to referenced sources) to be added to this list.

So I would suggest that your statement that "Southampton seemed ... to have replaced Bacon in that role", if it was ever true, was only true during the immediate media publicity hype surrounding the release of that particular book 20-30 years ago. I don't believe that Henry Wriothesley has ever been taken very seriously as a candidate for the "true authorship" of the Shakespeare canon. BTW, that's just my observation about other people's opinions. I personally have no strong views on whether the Earl of Southampton did or did not write the Shakespearean canon because I have spent no time examining the arguments supporting that viewpoint. However, based on what I have read elsewhere about the "true authorship" of the Bard it seems to be an unlikely avenue for myself to pursue (given all the other potential claimants that require to be similarly checked out) so I guess I do have some bias in my opinions.

Edited: Jul 27, 2009, 10:41pm Top

More on the Oxfordian case ...

The most notable support of the Oxfordian position comes from Roger Stritmatter who received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst for his analysis of de Vere's "Geneva Bible" (now in possession of the Folger Shakespeare Library) which contains 1,028 handwritten underlinings and marginal notes. In his Ph.D. thesis Stritmatter demonstrated that of those 1,028 annotations, approximately one in four of them appear in the Shakespeare canon. While the Shakespeare canon as a whole contains hundreds of biblical allusions, there are only 81 verses referenced four or more times; so these verses held particular meaning and significance for the Bard.

Stritmatter labels those 81 verses favored by the Bard the "Shakespeare Diagnostic" verses. De Vere's "Geneva Bible" was just one of multiple copies of the Good Book that he owned, so one cannot expect that his markings in it to incorporate the whole of his biblical consciousness. Nevertheless, the overlap between the markings in de Vere's "Geneva Bible" is substantial and statistically beyond what might be put down to mere coincidence. De Vere had marked and annotated 30 of those 81 (or 37%) favorite passages of the Bard - the "Shakespeare Diagnostic" verses - in his own Bible.

For comparison's sake, Stritmatter also assembled a control set of biblical diagnostic verses for the canons of three of the Bard's literary contemporaries - Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe and Edmund Spenser - and applied the same rules of analysis to those. Francis Bacon refers to 101 verses in the Bible four or more times, but only 2 of those (2%) are marked in de Vere's "Geneva Bible". Similarly, the overlap between the "Spenser Diagnostic" and "Marlowe Diagnostic" verses and de Vere's Bible are respectively 5.4% and 6.8%. However, the statistical analysis only made up a portion of Stritmatter's Ph.D. thesis. The markings in de Vere's Bible embody a number of major themes which were obviously of interest to de Vere, and these same themes prove to also be a fascination to the Bard throughout his whole canon. To explain the extent of those thematic overlaps would be way beyond the scope of this post.

Note that Stritmatter’s analysis does not prove anything conclusively. OTOH, none of the 50+ other camps can muster a single fact that conclusively proves that their advocate is the true author of the Shakespearean canon either, including the Stratfordian camp. Who one believes really wrote Shakespeare can only be based on circumstantial evidence. However, few of the other camps have analyses of the depth, detail and academic approval as Stritmatter's 2001 Ph.D. dissertation to back their claims.

To shift metaphors from horse racing to religion, there is no definitive proof of the existence or non-existence of a God, so people's views on this matter fall into three basic camps: atheists, agnostics, and believers (of all religions and creeds). At some point in the future we may indeed discover a definitive proof for who wrote Shakespeare, but in the mean time the search for that definitive proof is somewhat akin to a search for a definitive proof of the existence of God. Except the issue of Shakespeare's authorship is at least one degree simpler ... there are no atheists. That is, there are no factions that believe that no one wrote Shakespeare (e.g., his plays just magically appeared) or that there are really no works of Shakespeare to dispute over (e.g., his plays are just figments of someone's imagination). In the Shakespeare authorship debate there are only agnostics (e.g., don't knows or don't cares) and zealous believers (e.g., Marlovians, Baconians, Oxfordians and Stratfordians).

When it comes to the intense "religious debate" concerning the various beliefs WRT the "true authorship" of Shakespeare, many people are unaware of the issues; or if they are aware of them they don't really care; or if they do care they don't really know what to believe one way or another. So most people are probably simply agnostic on this issue. IMO Mark Twain's Is Shakespeare Dead? is probably still one of the best exposés of the Stratfordian dogma and most lucid expositions of why we should keep an open mind and adopt an agnostic viewpoint WRT this issue. My advice to anyone would be to be very wary of opinionated zealots that claim they personally know who wrote Shakespeare, particularly those that resort to belittling anyone that disagrees with their viewpoint.

Many, perhaps most, of those 50+ theories of who the Bard really was were written by crackpots, and so an obvious tactic of the most religiously zealous - and this applies particularly to the Stratfordians since they represent the currently dominant paradigm, so they feel they can afford to be closed-minded and arrogant - is to try and dismiss any serious alternative opinions over Shakespeare's true authorship that they personally disagree with, or are too intellectually lazy to investigate for themselves, by simply lumping that serious contrary viewpoint in with the views of the zaniest wackos and then poking fun at it. Thus an argument you'll frequently hear from these pompous zealots is: "Are all 'views' equal? If I think Will Kempe wrote The Tempest is that 'view' as valid as the 'view' that William Shakespeare did?"

IOW, since the claim that Will Kempe wrote some or all of the works of the Bard is ridiculous and not worth the effort of serious investigation, then ALL claims that someone other than the Swan of Avon wrote some or all of the works of the Bard are equally ridiculous and similarly not worth the effort of serious investigation. That argument is based on the same faulty logic as a statement such as this one: because some swans are white, all swans must be white. Although such faulty reasoning is clear to the rest of us, it remains unknowable to the zealots, who get so high on their own religious dogma they can no longer see the irrationality of their own arguments.

Jul 25, 2009, 9:07pm Top

56. I think your answer to roland is an excellent review of the issues. I have only read 'Who wrote Shakespeare' and remain an agnostic on the subject. But I do find it very interesting. I wish I could write so clearly and well, so quickly! Cheers, Kend

Jul 26, 2009, 8:13am Top

Hi Rule42:

Thanks for answering my " has Southampton been replaced by Oxford?" question of #53. Good and substantial answer, as #57 has noted. I was asking just a simple "what ever happened....?" question, not making a scholarly inquiry. You call Southampton "your own mentioned". Well, he was mentioned by me, but isnʻt in any sense "my own" -- not even as the topic of a "weird" (borrowing from another thread,here) book that I donʻt even own A question, really, about ephemeral "newspaper lore", as my wife would call it, and about "hype" as you suggest, not about personal support for any of the "horses" in the race.

Edited: May 2, 2010, 11:32pm Top

I’ll try to make this as explanatory and impersonal as I can, since I hope it will be my last entry in this thread. (Though you never can tell – people are unpredictable.)

The reason that ‘Stratfordians,’ (i.e., the overwhelming majority of trained scholars in the areas of English literature or history who pay any attention to the question) tend to ignore this authorship question (when they are not reacting with condescension, frustration, or outrage) is not because they are operating from a position of hegemony, or want to stifle discussion, or are intolerant of other viewpoints, but simply because they feel that there really is no ‘question.’ The anti-Stratfordians have been replied to over and over again with reason and evidence, but they don’t seem to hear. They are invested in their alternative narratives, are endlessly inventive in their manipulation of the meaning of texts and events, and can always fall back on their triumphant claim that it can’t be *proven* who wrote the plays and poems of Shakespeare—that is, there is no videotape, no notarized affidavits from a panel of his contemporaries stating in so many words that Shakspere the player from Stratford wrote Hamlet in November 1599. (Although if there were such evidence that would likely not guarantee the end of the question, as we have people arguing that videotapes of the moon-landing have been faked, and documents proving the Holocaust have been forged.)

It is noteworthy that it never occurred to anyone to question Shakspere’s authorship of his own works until late in the 18th century. Before that he was one of many well-regarded writers from the 16th and 17th centuries, and by comparison with many of his contemporaries he was considered to be relatively crude—he was a *playwright*, after all—no Spenser or Milton he! The evidence of his authorship (to the extent that anyone even thought about it) was taken at face value. It was only after he was elevated in schools and in people’s minds into a God of Literature that they began to feel uneasy. If he was The Greatest, why didn’t we know as much about him as we did about Mr Pope or Mr Wordsworth or Mr Browning? Why wasn’t he knighted? Why didn’t Queen Elizabeth mention him in her table-talk as Queen Victoria did Lord Tennyson?

It is understandable how this happened. But the bottom line is there is nothing defective about the contemporary evidence that Shakspere the player from Stratford wrote Venus & Adonis and Othello. True, the evidence does not compare with the evidence concerning the life and work of Wordsworth, but it does quite well when viewed in its context, that of the lives and works of professional poets and playwrights of the late 16th and early 17 centuries when, remember, Shakespeare was just one of many talented writers. Why are there not books dedicated to proving that the Earl of Derby wrote the works of Thomas Heywood? Because Heywood’s cultural currency registers now at a very low rate, whereas Shakespeare is in those terms a multi-billionaire—so the stakes are very high and he is a sitting target. Our knowledge of Shakespeare is sometimes contrasted to our knowledge of Ben Jonson, but that is not a good comparison, as Jonson was a tireless self-promoter who aggressively marketed his literary career among patrons, printers and younger writers—hence the unusual notice taken of his passing. The actual evidence for the life and works of Shakspere the player from Stratford can be easily found at http://shakespeareauthorship.com/ , a site maintained by Shakespeare scholar and LT member David Kathman (dkathman), or in books such as The Case for Shakespeare: The End of the Authorship Question by Scott McCrea, Shakespeare, In Fact by Irvin Leigh Matus, and William Shakespeare: A Compact Documentary Life by S. Schoenbaum. The facts of Shakespeare’s life and work may seem slim by modern standards but they are perfectly consonant with what we would expect from a writer at his level in his time.

By contrast, there is no evidence at all (according to the normal definition of that word) that the Earl of Oxford, or Christopher Marlowe, or Francis Bacon or anyone else wrote Venus & Adonis and Othello—there are only imaginary scenarios. Marlowe was murdered in 1593 so his advocates must imagine that his murder was faked or that the standard dating of the Shakespeare plays (which is based not on their connections to Shakespeare’s biography but to Court records, literary sources and allusions and the like) is incorrect and they were all written before Marlowe died. But there is no actual evidence for any of this, only wishful thinking. Oxford died in 1604, before about a third of the plays were written, so the same re-dating must be applied; and the fairly abundant records of his life (see Alan Nelson’s biography Monstrous Adversary) give no indication that he wrote 40 plays and two best-selling narrative poems. Oxford had his own company of actors who were distinct from the Lord Chamberlain’s Men/King’s Men who acted the plays of Shakespeare; and while Francis Meres in 1598 testified that Oxford had at some time written at least one play, there is no other contemporary indication of this, and Meres names Shakespeare as a distinct person in the very same list of playwrights. Oxfordians are reduced to straining to discredit the positive evidence for Shakspere the player from Stratford, and imagining autobiographical connections between occurrences in Oxford’s life and passages in the plays. But the latter is by its nature a mug’s game that can be manipulated to *prove* almost anything about almost anyone. It doesn’t help the anti-Stratfordian ‘case’ that, as Rule42 admits, ‘Many, perhaps most, of those 50+ theories of who the Bard really was were written by crackpots.’ There are some truly amazing theories out there, some of them being pushed right now, such as that promulgated in Shakespeare’s Fingerprints (2002) by Michael Brame and Galina Popova claiming that coded words in various texts prove that Oxford wrote not only the works of Shakespeare, but also the works of Spenser, Marlowe, Sidney, Lyly, Peele, Gascoigne, Greene, Holinshed and others (see http://stromata.tripod.com/id408.htm ).

It is a commoplace of the anti-Stratfordians that Shakspere the player from Stratford (if he even existed and wasn’t a fake planted in the records) didn’t have the education to write The Works of Shakespeare. But those works don’t display the sort of classical learning one would get from a university education—they are surpassingly eloquent and show great insight into the human mind, and much knowledge of dramatic construction, but this is nothing that a writer with a modest education cannot achieve if he or she is truly talented. Think of Keats, Dickens, Conrad (and many others) – or Jonson the bricklayer’s son who was a soldier and an actor until he turned himself into a classical scholar by study and application. They make much of the fact that there is no record of Shakspere’s education at the Stratford Free School where he would have been entitled to go since his father was a leading Stratford burgess, but that is because there is no record *anyone* went there during Shakspere’s boyhood, as those records don’t survive. Jonson’s classical attainments are sometimes explained by his supposed education by William Camden at the famous Westminster School—but although Jonson made this claim, there is no trace of him in the Westminster School records (which *do* survive) during the time he would have attended. Hmmmm… a conspiracy?

Anti-Stratfordians sometimes try to borrow respectability by rattling off a list of famous people – Mark Twain, Sigmund Freud, Orson Welles, Malcolm X, Derek Jacobi, US Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, etcetcetc, who have had doubts about the authorship of The Works, as if this meant anything, that because these people were prominent in their fields they must be qualified to judge the adequacy of life records and the circumstances of literary production in the 16th and 17th century. If it mattered I’m sure that an astronomically longer list of Famous People could be produced who had no doubts on the subject. Much is made of the intellectual respectability of certain anti-Stratfordians, such as Charlton Ogburn, a respected military historian who wrote The Mysterious William Shakespeare, the Oxfordian ‘bible’; or Roger Strittmatter whose Ph.D. thesis at the eminently respectable U. Mass, Amherst argues the Oxfordian case. For a criticism of Ogburn’s approach to this question see http://shakespeareauthorship.com/whynot.html. For a critique of Roger Strittmatter’s Ph.D. thesis see these discussions by LT member TomVeal on his Stromata blog: http://stromata.tripod.com/id288_march_16_2002.htm ,
http://stromata.tripod.com/id288.htm ,
http://stromata.tripod.com/id317_august_17_2002.htm ,
http://stromata.tripod.com/id459_february_3_2004.htm .

I don’t want to stifle ‘discussion’ – discuss away. But that’s a summary of why the anti-Stratfordians simply aren’t taken seriously by most scholars. They invent scenarios, switch scenarios when the old ones don’t pan out, argue according to their own biased rules of logic rather than using accepted scholarly norms, norms that were not invented to protect Shakspere of Stratford but are accepted across disciplines. This is why it is so tempting to mock anti-Stratfordian theories (John of Gaunt wrote the Canterbury Tales, Will Kemp wrote the Tempest), because in the end they really do boil down to ‘anything goes.’ I think part of their attraction is their ‘alternative’ nature. For better or for worse, Shakespeare and his works have long since been co-opted into ‘the establishment’ and it’s popular (and fun!) to not trust the establishment and to doubt and deconstruct—to ‘renounce it and all its works.’ But it’s really got nothing to do with Shakespeare.


edited to correct a date

Jul 26, 2009, 6:46pm Top

And the president is not an American citizen because we haven't seen his birth certificate (although it HAS been published, as well as other evidence, like the newspaper announcement). Just saying that, for whatever reason, people will believe what they want to believe. Especially if it makes for a good story.

It seems contradictory to me that so many of the folks who discredit scholars for having an "academic" or "elitist" view find it hard to believe that anyone other than a wealthy, university-educated man could have written the plays. Wouldn't you expect that to be the elitists' POV?

Edited: Jul 28, 2009, 7:52pm Top

>59 Crypto-Willobie:

I read your post with much interest. I agree with most of what you said. Or, to be more accurate, I agree with most of the details that you provide. What I would more strongly disagree with is the frame of reference in which you provide those comments.

You appear to me to apply a double standard to the interpretation of circumstantial evidence. Circumstantial evidence in support of the lad from Stratford being the Bard is significant and helps to conclusively establish the correctness of the Stratfordian viewpoint. OTOH, circumstantial evidence that is proffered in support of any of the alternative camps, such as the Oxfordian one, is "by its nature a mug’s game that can be manipulated to 'prove' almost anything about almost anyone." Although you acknowledge there is no hard physical evidence to support the view that the Warwickshire lout did indeed write the Shakespeare canon, nevertheless you conduct your arguments as if it was an established fact that has been proven beyond question.

Surely the reason we are all here discussing this issue, the very reason this thread exists, is the fact that the "true authorship" question CANNOT be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. If it could be so proven, there would never have been an opportunity for the first anti-Stratfordian theory to be formulated by old Reverend Wilmot over 200 years ago. The reason that anti-Stratfordian theories have only proliferated since then is because the handful of hard facts that we do know about the man who was born and also died in Stratford-upon-Avon do not include any evidence that categorically establishes his authorship of what we separately understand to be the Shakespeare canon.

You are quite right to point out that: "if there were such evidence that would likely not guarantee the end of the question, as we have people arguing that videotapes of the moon-landing have been faked, and documents proving the Holocaust have been forged." The problem I have with what you state in your post is that your choice of word usage throughout it gives the distinct impression to me (and I don't believe I'm the only reader of your whole body of posts on this thread that feels this way) that you clearly feel all of the other posters that have stated here that they are receptive at some level or other to anti-Stratfordian arguments fall into exactly the same category in your mind as the sort of people that actively spend their time advocating and promoting Holocaust Denial or claiming that some or all of the Apollo moon-landings were faked to some lesser or greater degree. Do you see yet why this viewpoint of yours might be coming across to others as being a little intellectually pompous, and that it might even be quite a serious problem for some people?

The two situations are NOT even close to being equivalent. The Holocaust deniers and faked moon-landing advocates deny mountains of hard evidence such as eye-witness testimony from multiple people (many of whom are still alive and could give it first hand to them if the "deniers" were only willing to listen), not to mention miles and miles of video and/or film footage, nor whole libraries worth of written documentary records and museums full of artifacts. Both these classes of people (who are quite small in number) DENY the reality or significance of what constitutes, for the rest of us rational and intellectual beings, pretty damn convincing and overriding evidence that the moon-landings and mass genocide did, in fact, occur.

In contrast, as you yourself readily assert, there is no such hard physical evidence to support the view that the lad from Stratford who was christened William Shaksper was the one and same person as the William Shake-speare that is reputed to have written probably the finest corpus of plays and sonnets in the modern English language. Therefore, there is NOTHING for anti-Stratfordians to DENY. Surely it is obvious to anyone that the two situations are completely different, and the fact that you believe they are merely two sides of the same coin (viz. your insistence that people who are simply receptive to the idea that the works of Shakespeare might have been penned by someone other than William Shaksper are really no different than Holocaust deniers and "the guy with the tin-foil hat down at the corner yelling at the traffic") only serves to demonstrate your faulty reasoning and intellectual arrogance in that context.

BTW, in pointing out that there is no hard evidence to support the Stratfordian position, that does not mean I advocate an "anything goes" nihilism in this matter. Clearly with 50+ claimants to the crown of the "true authorship" of the Shakespeare canon, 49+ of them must be wrong (or even 50+ of them if the person that really wrote the canon has not been suggested yet). As I've already stated, and you have quoted, many of those 50+ theories are somewhat wacky. Or perhaps to be more correct, many of the people writing books in support of ANY of those 50+ theories are a little wacky, because quite a few of the comments I've read on the internet by people arguing the case that the lout from Stratford is the "true author" have had totally bizarre ideas about what we actually know about him, so "wackyness" is not the sole preserve of the anti-Stratfordian camp as you repeatedly like to make it out to be. It is my experience that when it comes to the "true authorship" issue, nutjobs come in all kinds of flavors, including Stratfordian.

The trouble I have with the comments you've expressed on this thread is that you, and other people like you, always tend to want to throw the baby out with the bath water. There is a big, big difference between the book by Mark Anderson (Shakespeare by Another Name) and, for instance, the Shakespeare's Fingerprints book. I haven't read the latter work but its basic premise - that de Vere wrote not only the complete canon of Shakespeare but the works of just about every other Elizabethan author - is so ridiculous that it doesn't exactly entice me to want to read it. At least I would not want to read it as a reputable work of serious non-fictional literary research. OTOH, if it was a well-written "faction" (viz. the blending of fiction and non-fiction to create "fictional non-fiction") that was an entertaining read then I might still wish to read it purely for its entertainment value, just as I might similarly wish to read any mystery or sci-fi genre novel.

Of course, you yourself would claim that ANY book entertaining the idea that anyone other than the Stratford lad wrote the canon is equally ridiculous ... and that that has been your point all along. However, my basis for calling the premise of the Shakespeare's Fingerprints book ridiculous is based on the physical impossibility of the Earl of Oxford, or for that matter any other human being, single-handedly writing almost all of the known works of Elizabethan literature. Thus I could not accept such a book as a serious work of non-fiction, while I probably might be able to enjoy it as a work of faction. OTOH, the concept that the name "Shake-speare" might have been a pseudonym for someone in Elizabethan society that wished to preserve their anonymity (such as Edward de Vere, but not necessarily him) does not defy my sense of credibility at all. Far from from it, the use of such nom de plumes on published works in Elizabethan times appear to have been as equally ubiquitous as the use of pseudonymous handles and monikers on the internet in our own times.

Thus the likelihood that someone involved with the stage would use a "stage name" on his published plays does not make my eyes roll back up in my sockets in quite the same way that the concept that one man single-handedly produced almost the entire corpus of Elizabethan literature under multitudinous names does. The fact that both theories target Edward de Vere as the protagonist is somewhat unfortunate, nevertheless I am intelligent enough to still be able to recognize the vast difference in the "credibility factors" involved in both these two undertakings. Similarly, I am intelligent enough to determine a genuine biography of Elvis, Lady Di or JFK from the ones that link the lives of these characters to space aliens in some manner. I can also tell the difference between an op-ed piece in the National Enquirer and one in the New York Times (although in the case of that particular paper it's getting harder all the time; so perhaps I had better play safe and substitute the Christian Science Monitor there!).

Perhaps this debate all reduces down to an issue of where one should draw the line between faction and serious non-fiction. You, and others of your ilk, would claim that only something written from the perspective of the Stratfordian position can even start to be considered as serious non-fiction. For you, anything at all anti-Stratfordian - no matter how well researched, peer-reviewed, eruditely written and critically acclaimed - must by its very nature be something else. I have suggested the label "faction"; you might prefer a more opprobrious term such as "crap"! Or perhaps the term "heresy" might be nearer the mark. I personally think your viewpoint shows a closed-minded censorious bias; but then again, that's just my opinion, and therefore represents my own bias. I think your attitude is dangerous because it allows you to continually throw out babies with the bath water. It was a similar labeling by the Roman Catholic church of anything considered to be antithetical to its core belief system that kept us in the Dark Ages for so long.

I too would like to draw a line between what I consider to be faction and serious non-fiction. This demarcation would similarly separate out much of the dross that exists in this genre from the few good works that are worthwhile reading. But my demarcation would be based on the quality criteria listed above - well researched, peer-reviewed, eruditely written and critically acclaimed - and it would cross all camps (Stratfordian, Oxfordian, Baconian, Marlovian, etc.) rather than be centric to any one of them in the same way that yours is. That is, if I labeled a Marlovian work as being "entertaining faction, but not to be taken seriously" it would be because it defied credibility and not because it was heretical to my own pet belief system (which I don't have, because I'm agnostic).

The bottom line is, if you find the whole corpus of anti-Stratfordian "true authorship" works as truly irksome as you obviously do, I recommend that perhaps you approach them with the attitude that they are merely entertaining faction, or better still, simply avoid them. I believe that that's also what poor-ious has kind of been recommending that you do all along if only you had listened to what he was telling you instead of trying to pigeon-hole him (cf. post #13). There is more that I would like to say (because you make a lot of points in your post that deserve response or even outright rebuttal) but this post is now a little long, so I'll save it for another day.

Jul 28, 2009, 7:57pm Top

No Shakespeare, he?
From Robertson Davies letters, I think it helps us somewhat.
. . . Judith's book will be a storehouse to be pillaged by future writers if there are any and what that might bring about I dread to think. Her version of my relations with my mother is badly skewed; after I had grown up we were on the best of terms and I never failed in the duties of a son brought up as I was owed to a parent. But I refused to bow the knee - as Irving did, I find - and thus I escaped being eaten alive. She has no notion at all of my father, and I sometimes wonder if I did, either. These things cannot be captured by a third party, when they are not clear to the principals. To compare small things to great, what was Johnson REALLY like before Bozzy imposed him on the world in a superb portrait - chiefly of the biographer. I tried many times to tell Judith that a biography was as much a portrait of the writer as of the subject, but she smiled the superior, Johnson would have pronounced it shuperior, kindly smile of the academic dealing with an untrained mind. Haven't we all been the recipient of this kindly smile.
As I said before, I hold no brief for Ogburn, et al., I don't think he should be lumped in with the 'scholar' who was convinced that Wriothesley's cat wrote THE COMEDY OF ERRORS.

"Let us have the evidence first and let speculations - which of course may be very valuable and even necessary - be founded upon that."
J.A.K. Thompson, Shakespeare and the Classics.

I am one for William of Stratford. Though I can't help but notice all the could-very-well-have-beens in the standard biographys. Shoenbaum and others treated the book of the kindly school teacher from the Isle of Man very badly. It's my opinion that there is room for all serious lookers-in on the subject of who wrote Shakespeare. The discussion should never fall from the level of civility. Petulance and intolerance are not the best way to advance the discussion. Because it is a discussion, no matter what either sides thinks about it. And I'll wager a nice sum that the Upstart Crow from Warwickshire would get a Falstaffian belly laugh from the thing.

Edited: Jun 4, 2010, 8:55pm Top

>60 Cariola:

"It seems contradictory to me that so many of the folks who discredit scholars for having an 'academic' or 'elitist' view find it hard to believe that anyone other than a wealthy, university-educated man could have written the plays. Wouldn't you expect that to be the elitists' POV?"

The more I think about it, Cariola, the more I find the argument that people are anti-Stratfordians because they cannot accept "that anyone other than a wealthy, university-educated man could have written the plays" to be an over-simplistic and rather naive one in the form that you stated (and I just quoted) it. Whether you intended to or not, you make it sound like a simple issue of class snobbery. That's most certainly not the reason why I hold that view. My own personal rejection of the lad from Stratford being the "true author" of the Shakespeare canon has nothing whatever to do with his social class background relative to my own. Because if it did, I would favor him over any of his other more privileged rivals (Oxford, Bacon, Derby, Rutland, Southampton, Essex, et al) since I relate to his background much better than I do to theirs.

BTW, when he is represented as being working class (and I'm probably guilty of having called him that quite a few times myself) that is quite a misnomer. His father, John Shakespeare, was of the yeoman class and a successful entrepreneurial businessman and tradesman, while his mother, Mary Arden, was an heiress from an aristocratic family line dating all the way back to William the Conqueror. His father was a member of the board of aldermen in Stratford (which included being, in 1569, bailiff or mayor of the town) and in 1596 he was finally granted a coat-of-arms, his earlier application for which (on being made chief alderman in 1570) having been denied. So his mother was a descendent of landed gentry and his father achieved the official status of gentleman in his own right during his lifetime. The granting of the permission to display a coat-of-arms (and thus also to bear arms) applied not only to the father but also to his sons. Thus in 1596 William Shakspere became a bona fide member of the gentry along with his father and younger brothers,

Thus our lad from Stratford is upper middle class / gentry, which puts him more on the same social level as Ben Jonson, Edmund Spenser and Christopher Marlowe. His background is much less grand than most of the other nobility (and even royalty) that are supposed to have written the Shakespeare canon, but he is no peasant or ragged orphan made good. If he did indeed write the canon then he is an upper middle class lad that bettered himself by the fruits of his own talent and labors. However, once you realize that fact, it kind of deflates that underdog image of the free grammar school educated lad from a working class background beating out all of the rivals (to the "true authorship" title) that were born with silver spoons in their mouths and who had both the best possible educations and wealth to boot. William Shakspere of Stratford is NOT a working class hero in the way that some people have tried to portray him.

The orthodox Stratfordian biography of the Bard divides naturally into the three different stages of his life. There is the opening period at Stratford-upon-Avon which conjectures that he attended the local free grammar school despite the fact that both his parents, all his siblings, his wife and all his children were illiterate; not to mention that there are no records of his having ever done so. Then there is a middle period during which he is supposed to have resided mainly in London away from all family and childhood friends and produced the remarkable literature to which he now owes his worldwide fame and reputation. Finally, there is the closing period of his life spent, like the first one, in the unwholesome intellectual atmosphere of that rural Stratford backwater, once more reunited with the surviving members of his family.

The seven years 1585-1592 are normally called the "lost years" by the Shakespearean scholars, which I have always found rather amusing since all we actually know about his first 21 years are little more than the dates of his baptism, marriage and Susanna's birth. Thus the first 28 years of his life could just as easily be called the "lost years"! However, application of Ockham's razor leads one to conjecture that he spent his first 18 years living at home and helping in his father's glove business with his other siblings once he graduated from / left the local grammar school that we have no evidence he actually attended. Even after he got an older woman (Anne Hathaway) pregnant at age 18 and had to be hurriedly married to her, application of Ockham's razor once again leads one to conjecture they probably both still lived at home with his parents in the house on Henley Street that today is identified as being "Shakespeare's Birthplace"; and that that situation probably remained the same through the birth of Susanna (six months later) until the birth of their twins (nearly three years later).

After that there is absolutely no information on the lad from Stratford until he shows up in London as an actor seven years later still (at age 28) - hence these are his lost years. Over the centuries the Stratfordian scholars have kindly speculated for us (as they did for the first 21 years - see above) how those lost seven years might possibly have been spent, and now all those additional conjectures have similarly become part and parcel of his orthodox biography. If Will's orthodox bio had him walking out of Stratford an ignorant boor in 1587 and then returning ten years later having learnt nothing more during his absence in London than how to get hold of money and hang onto it, I would probably have ungrudgingly embraced it. However, according to every Stratfordian authority that I've read, Will Shakspere lived and worked for many years in London whilst directing a mass of important business in Stratford. Then he lived for many years in retirement in Stratford whilst plays from his quill pen were making their first appearance in London; some of which plays he is attributed to having cowritten with authors that were resident in London while he was, in his turn, residing in Stratford.

To quote J. Thomas Looney: "In all, he followed this divided plan of life for nearly twenty years (1597-1616); a plan which, if ever in this world a man's affairs called for letters, must have entailed a large amount of correspondence, had he been able to write; yet not the faintest suggestion of his ever having written a letter exists either in authentic record or in the most imaginative tradition. And the people who believe this still stand out for a monopoly of sane judgment."

There would have to be a vast number of major modifications to the accumulated body of "official conjecture" in all portions of what currently constitutes Will's orthodox life biography (which would still be consistent with the few hard facts that we actually know about him) that must be made before I could ever be enticed to passionately believe it was still the lad from Henley Street "what done it"! Consequently, I cannot wholeheartedly believe Will Shakspere of Stratford-upon-Avon to be the only feasible candidate for the claim to the true authorship of the Shakespeare canon until a burgeoning mass of all those "officially sanctioned conjectures" are significantly changed to appropriately redress:

(1) his not having life experiences outside of England - nor his being exposed to legal, musical, medical, astronomical, but mostly literary influences - that are currently precluded by the orthodox bio; and

(2) the nonsense of the Bard of Avon, reputedly the possessor of the most facile pen in England at that time, never having written so much as a single word or phrase in a letter or personal message to any other person (in either Stratford or London) during all those years he was supposedly conducting business (viz. acting, play-writing, play-publishing, money-lending, malt-selling, property-buying, etc.) in both places.

I haven't completely ruled out the possibility of it being him; I'm just not at all convinced it's him given the rather nonsensical way his orthodox biography currently reads. Which is why I'm agnostic and willing to entertain heterodox arguments in favor of alternative candidates for the "true authorship" title. Some of them are very compelling; some are quite bizarre (and worth investigating if you have a sense of humor and are amused by creative nonsense - which, for instance, is a market the National Enquirer caters to); but the majority neither compel nor amuse. I have no fixed opinion on who wrote the canon; I'm just not comfortable at all with it being the lad from Stratford as he's been presented to me via mountains of scholarly conjecture. Nevertheless, my rejection of the Stratfordian orthodoxy has nothing at all to do with class snobbery (either direct or inverted) about who I would prefer to have written the Shakespeare canon.

edited to fix a couple of typos

Jul 29, 2009, 5:27pm Top

Callow weighs in on the controversy, after a couple minutes or so.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UElrMaIiH4&feature=related

Jul 29, 2009, 6:04pm Top

Wm. is still my Shakespeare, tho Mr. Hudson is hardly a crack-pot, and if he is is a very informed one. If he goes flying out of the bath he makes a great splash indeed. Did his candidate do all the hard digging and dredging that Shake-speare had to do. Well, not likely though she had something to offer as she was warbling her wood-notes wilde.


Edited: Jun 8, 2010, 11:57pm Top

Oh come on, now! A woman writing the complete works of Willough Shakespeare? How ridiculously absurd !!

SPLOSH * sounds of running water refilling the bath *

I'm sorry, Porius, but my money's on Walt Whitman and Boswell (who I think looks pretty good for his age in these videos).


Pay attention. The clue to his real identity is in Hamlet's book. Mystery solved. It's a slam dunk!

Returning back to Amelia Bassano / Aemilia Lanyer, here's the first video to which the video linked by Porius is a follow-up.

Hmmm, I think there might be a lot to what Hudson claims. Not many people know that Bassano's maternal cousin Robert Johnson, the most popular composer for any of the Shakespeare plays, got his phenomenal lute playing gifts from a large black Jewish woman called Muddy Willows while standing at the crossroads (cue Eric Clapton). It's little details like that that convince me that he's not making this stuff up! :)

Do you think there is any connection between what Hudson calls the "dying swan" signatures and the fact that our lad from Stratford is now known as the Swan of Avon? Presciently knowing (after her visits to the astrologer-cum-doctor Simon Forman) that she would be referred to as the Swan in our own day, perhaps this is yet another example of Aemilia encoding her name into those three plays? Oooooh, scary shit, eh? As Hudson says, "There's just too many coincidences here!" I'm getting goose bumps down my back as I type this.

OTOH, I think I may have spotted a flaw in Hudson's thesis. If Ms. Lanyer really encoded her name into the plays like Hudson claims, then shouldn't it be called the "Willoughby Song"? Unfortunately, "Willoughby, Willoughby, Willoughby" doesn't sound so good, does it? Notice that when they put up her 4 names (using "Willough" instead of "Willoughby") he skips over the additional third syllable of her name really quickly. Mr. Hudson, I'm afraid you're busted. Pity really, his British accent made him sound really believable, although personally, I think a beret and heavier framed glasses might have added a lot more credibility to his arguments. :)

Sheesh, now I'm trying to remember all the Hebrew and Italian puns I've read in Shakespeare ...

Hamlet: That's a fair size dildo to lie between maids' legs.
Polonius: So the scuttlebutt is true?
Ophelia: Nay my good lord. They are nuttin' butt rotten rumours and tawdry tittle-tattle.
Polonius: Rumours p'raps, sweet lass, butt be somewhat scanter of your maiden presence.
If thou persist in suche lewd companie, what thou dost dildo will hurt thee innuendo.

Edited to add another video and make some other minor changes.

Edited: Jun 9, 2010, 12:23am Top

>65 Porius:

On a more serious note ... the role more frequently assigned to Aemilia Bassano Lanyer in some orthodox Shakespearean biographies (e.g., the one by Rowse) is the "Dark Lady" of the Sonnets - the only woman that Stratfordian scholars (and then only some of them) have permitted the Bard to have ever loved in his life, if one holds that it was only youthful lust allied to the seductive feminine wiles of an older woman who come-hithered our "elusive willy" by exciting him with her "maiden presence", thus causing our teenage hero to tumble Anne Hathaway in the corn meadows of Shottery, ultimately resulting in her pregnancy with Susanna and their winter "shotgun wedding" to keep the lass honest and the child legitimate.

So to play Devil's Advocate for a moment here ... If we accept at face value all of the occurrences of name-encoding and feminism in the plays that Hudson identifies in his videos, but if rather than accepting his conclusion that that can only mean Aemilia wrote the entire canon of works we instead assume that the highly intelligent literary and musically talented Jewish Moor Aemilia was indeed the mysterious "Dark Lady" of the Sonnets - and thus William Shakspere's romantic "bit of stuff" on the side and "poetic inspiration" during the period when W.S. wrote The Merchant of Venice - then it could just as easily have been W.S. himself that included all the feminist ideas and encoded names of the mistress he so adored into the plays; and Aemilia could likewise have been reciprocally influenced in her own literary writings by her lover's genius and extensive vocabulary. Consequently, one could just as easily spin and gloss all the "unusual coincidences" that Mr. Hudson points out to us in his videos as simply being yet more evidence for the lad from Stratford-upon-Avon being the author instead.

Or similarly for the Earl of Oxford if you wish to believe he wrote the entire canon ... since one would now simply have to surmise that Aemilia would have been his mistress instead of Shakspere's. Which isn't at all as far-fetched as it may initially sound because before this hook-up between the "Dark Lady" and the canon's author (as reported in the Sonnets), which is speculated by some orthodox scholars to have occurred in the summer and fall of 1597, Aemilia was the mistress of Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon, who was not only Henry VIII's ex-wife Anne Boleyn's nephew, but was also the Lord Chamberlain of the Household for Queen Elizabeth, the man in charge of the whole of the English theater, as well as being, as of 1594, the noble patron of William Shakspere's troupe of actors, the Lord Chamberlain's Men.

Because of her very good looks, intelligence, wit, and excellent poetry, dancing and musical abilities (her family originally came to London from Venice in order to be King Henry VIII's royal Court musicians and many of her close Jewish relatives were now royally appointed musicians in Queen Elizabeth's Court) Aemilia would have been considered to be very sexually desirable (if not a socially acceptable match in a highly anti-Semitic Elizabethan environment) by all the nobles at Court, both the married and eligibly single ones. It is now generally understood that Aemilia became the teenage mistress of the elderly Lord Hunsdon around the age of 13 and she bore by him a bastard son (one of a number of illegitimate offspring spawned by the good lord in addition to his 12 official progeny) who was named Henry. Before she gave birth to Henry, in late 1592 (when she would be aged around 23), Lord Hunsdon had her removed from Court and married off for the sake of appearances to her first cousin, Alphonso Lanyer (note: this would be considered to be a somewhat incestuous relationship by today's standards). Lord Hunsdon was some 43 years Aemilia's senior, so as his mistress for ten years or more the attractive, intelligent and socially well-rounded Aemilia was what we would probably, in today's parlance, call his "trophy girlfriend" - or at least one of them!

Once he died in 1596 Aemilia would have been free in the summer of 1597 (whilst her husband Alphonso was away at sea with the Earl of Essex as part of his ill-fated expedition to intercept the Spanish treasure fleet off the Azores) to become another nobleman's mistress. Oxford was only 19 years her senior if you so want to speculate on his nibs having written the Sonnets, while our lad from Stratford was only 5 years her senior if you wish to hold the more orthodox conjecture that he wrote the Sonnets. I'm sure arguments could also be created that similarly surmise either Francis Bacon or the now incognito Philip Marlowe were similarly Aemilia's hot passionate lovers of the summer of 1597 (or perhaps a little earlier). Of course, you don't have to jump through any of these hoops of speculation if you are inclined instead to reject, or not even consider (as did most of the earlier Stratfordian biographers, mostly because they did not know enough about Aemilia back then), the possibility of Aemilia being the "Dark Lady" of the Sonnets. In which case, unless you wish to believe, like Mr. Hudson, that Aemilia is the true author of the canon, all of the "unusual coincidences" identified in Hudson's videos are just that; unusual coincidences. And the "Dark Lady" of the Sonnets will continue to remain an enigma (if you are a Stratfordian, that is; but, of course, not so, if you are an Oxfordian).

Edited: Aug 1, 2009, 1:30pm Top

T.S.Eliot once noted: "the essential of any important heresy is not simply that it's wrong; it is that it is partly right.' AFTER STRANGE GODS: A Primer of Modern Heresy (London 1934), p. 26.
Our little discussion features C-W, who feels that it is wholly wrong to take up the argument for deVere et al., and Rule42 who sees clearly the argument for the heretics and feels that it is partly right. Our job is to look into both of these approaches and with a cool head, with the temperature of the duellist, decide for ourselves. It's not likely that we can come across something that is wrong in its entirety, well Dick Cheney pushes that envelope to the bursting point; it is more likely that we, in our daily travels, are introduced to more heresies which are partly right.

Aug 8, 2009, 12:54pm Top

63> First, do you not know the difference between "so many" and "all"?

Yes, those who have explored the issue extensively certainly have more cogent reasons for rejecting the Stratfordian; but his lack of a university education and the means for extensive foreign travel, and the fact that he isn't part of the upper hierarchy ARE the most commonly cited by the non-academic scoffers.

Second, you've misread a lot into my brief comment--but there's probably little point in attempting to respond to that.

Edited: Jun 7, 2010, 8:13pm Top

A strong case for agnosticism in the religious wars that the age-old "true authorship" question always seems to instigate ....


Dec 22, 2009, 11:43am Top

I have started a new thread about this, primarily because I was horrified about the Wikipedia article on this. A casual reader going there would actually think it's a current, credible, valid argument and that the jury was truly out.
This does a massive disservice to literature, IMHO. It's precisely this kind of thing that I think makes Wikipedia look really, really bad (undeservedly. I happen to think Wikipedia has flashes of brilliance and would be a great resource).

May 2, 2010, 12:21am Top

Just saw a new book by James S. Shapiro called Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?. The book is a history of the authorship controversy, though Shapiro has no doubt that Shakespeare was the author of the plays and sonnets. Incidentally, Shapiro recently dissed Roland Emmerich in the LA Times for making a movie called Anonymous that posits that the Earl of Oxford was the true author (http://articles.latimes.com/2010/apr/11/opinion/la-oe-shapiro11-2010apr11). The film's screenwriter John Orloff made a feeble attempt at rebuttal, in which he essentially quotes Justice Stevens (who, while an excellent jurist, is not a Shakespeare scholar) and claims the plays cannot be accurately dated (http://articles.latimes.com/2010/apr/19/opinion/la-oew-orloff19-2010apr19). Of course, Shapiro had originally pointed out that the Earl of Oxford died in 1604, which would make it difficult for him to have written the later plays - including Henry VIII, which was described as "new" in 1613 by contemporary sources.

I'm not sure whether the fact that a schlockmeister like Emmerich buys into this silliness will help or hurt the Oxfordian cause, though Shapiro sees cause for alarm. Anyway, I'm looking forward to reading his book.

May 13, 2010, 12:30am Top

>73 tom1066:

Vilia miretur vulgus: mihi flavus Apollo
Pocula Castalia plena ministret aqua

May 13, 2010, 7:39am Top

... though in your case it's a cardboard cutout of Apollo offering you bootleg firewater...

Edited: May 14, 2010, 2:55am Top

Oh no, it would appear that the ghost of Hamlet's father has returned and is roaming the battlements. Welcome back from the other side, Mr. Willobie, Willobie, Willobie. I believe the last we all heard from you (in post #59) your poor soul was dying under a sycamore tree ...

What did thy song bode, laddie?
Hark, canst thou hear me? I will play the swan.
And die in music.

(Singing...) "Crypto-Willo, Willo, Willobie"

So speaking as you thought, alas, you died.

I feel I should tell you, Mr. C-W, it's not considered very good thespian form to come back to life again after you've performed a swan song! From the perspective of compelling drama it's an absolute no-no. LMAO

Nevertheless, I'm very flattered that you've resurrected yourself simply so that you could post an ad hominem attack on me. Anyways, now that you are back please feel free to resume slinging barbs and arrows of outrage at everyone else on the this thread whose opinion you disagree with, just like you did in your previous incarnation. * Rule42 puts on his tin-foil hat and adjusts it to a natty angle so as to make himself an easier target for C-W. *

It's funny how people like yourself always say you want to discuss the true authorship question but as soon as the discussion turns against you, or perhaps simply takes a turn in a direction you don't like, you then resort to casting scorn and personal attacks on all those with whom you disagree. If you so closed-mindedly believe that no one else but the lad from Stratford could have possibly written the Shakespeare canon then why are you even here (and here for a post swan song second time, at that!)? What, from your perspective, is there to discuss? Although you stated at the beginning of your post #41, "it’s not a slam-dunk, because very little is", almost everything else you've posted here belies that you actually believe that statement. You are not here to discuss anything, but merely wish to take every opportunity you can to cast scorn on others that are more open-minded and less gullible than you WRT the ideas they are willing to entertain. Additionally, if you bothered to check out the profiles of those LTers you so like to pompously scorn, you'd see that many of them have sizeable and serious libraries and are well read (some, quite possibly, much better than yourself).

I have yet to see two people of different religious beliefs (let's say a Roman Catholic and an Atheist) sit down together and during the course of one conversation (or even after a series of such conversations) one of them convert the other over to their own religious viewpoint. At best they will agree to disagree; at worst, they will resort to fistycuffs. Because there is NO definitive proof of the existence or non-existence of God. It all comes down to what each individual chooses to believe or not to believe. Similarly, there is NO definitive proof that the man born in Stratford and christened on 26 April 1564 is the one and same William Shakespeare to whom the canon of plays and poems have been traditionally attributed.

Until someone discovers or uncovers a play or poem - in a manner similar, say, to the way they found a copy of his father's spiritual testament in the rafters of his house on Henley Street (although there was a lot of fraud involved with that particular document and it now has a very dubious status) - that is part of the Bard's established canon and that has been written in the same hand that signed the Stratford lad's last will and testament as well as being authentically carbon-dated (or some other sort of equally compelling evidence is similarly produced that directly links the authorship of the canon to the glover's son) then one does NOT have to be a total crackpot in order to give due consideration to the possibility that the canon might map instead to someone other than the Warwickshire lad ... one merely has to be intellectually curious and open-minded.

If you would genuinely like to discuss the true authorship issue here "with a cool head, with the temperature of the duelist" (as Porius suggested in post #68) then I would be happy to do so, and I'm sure he and other participants on this thread would be too. OTOH, if all you want to do is liken me and others with whom you disagree to a Holocaust or moon-landing denier or, as Cariola did in post #70, attack my basic numeracy skills, then I strongly suggest that you exit this thread pronto with another swan dive, only this time please spare us the long diatribe on the way out.

Edited: May 14, 2010, 10:15am Top

That was an ad hominem attack? for a controversialist you're pretty sensitive. Let me interpret for you - I suggested that you allow yourself to be deceived.

Yes, I think the "authorship question" is waste of time. If it weren't sad it would be funny. Instead it's tiresome, though your outrage at my disdain borders on the funny. No, I didn't liken you on a moral level to Holocaust deniers -- read it again -- I was speaking in general of the kinds of logical back-flips 'true believers' are capable of when in pursuit of their particular cardboard cutout 'truths.' If you don't like the company, get real.

Finally I never promised to exit this thread permanently. What I said was: "...I hope it will be my last entry in this thread. (Though you never can tell – people are unpredictable.)" So I may or may not revisit thus the glimpses of...

edited to correct typo

Edited: May 14, 2010, 5:33pm Top

I shouldn’t be bothering, but…

>76 Rule42: “Additionally, if you bothered to check out the profiles of those LTers you so like to pompously scorn, you'd see that many of them have sizeable and serious libraries and are well read (some, quite possibly, much better than yourself).”

See my comment on LT’s anti-Strats from post 9: “by {their} libraries and conversations, {they} appear to be intelligent, well-read and strong-minded folk.”

In fact I haven’t ‘cast scorn’ and made individual personal attacks on those I disagree with. I have, indeed, disagreed with them; and have made general comments regarding the lack of logical rigor, the anything-goes approach to history and evidence that characterizes their arguments; and mocked (but not viciously) the anti-Strat ‘type.’ And sometimes professed myself weary…

But if you are looking for scorn-casting in this thread, you need look no further than your post 77 (and previous posts) where you lay into me for not wanting to respect (well, humor) the helter-skelter arguments of the antis, fairly frothing about my supposed pomposity and lack of ‘open-mindedness,’ the breadth of my reading, and the size of my… library. But a little scorn-casting is part of arguing or ‘discussing,’ no? It seems to me you can dish it out but retreat behind a wall of high dudgeon when asked to take it.

>76 Rule42: “It all comes down to what each individual chooses to believe or not to believe.”
Really? Is that what it ALL comes down to? Any individual can believe anything he or she chooses to believe, and each individual’s belief must be accepted as just as valid as anyone else’s? In other words, anything goes. That’s part of the problem.

>76 Rule42: “Until someone discovers or uncovers a play or poem... that is part of the Bard's established canon and that has been written in the same hand that signed the Stratford lad's last will and testament as well as being authentically carbon-dated (or some other sort of equally compelling evidence is similarly produced that directly links the authorship of the canon to the glover's son)…”
But that handwriting evidence can be forged. A good prosecutor, or even just an insistent person determined not to agree, can call carbon dating into question. What “it all comes down to” is just what constitutes evidence of past events and how we should process it. But just because I said "it’s not a slam-dunk, because very little is,” doesn’t mean that “anything goes.” If we go by the standards to which you insist on holding the evidence that Shakspere the player from Stratford wrote Othello and Venus and Adonis, we can’t prove that Webster wrote the Duchess of Malfi, that Chaucer wrote the Canterbury Tales, or that Julius Caesar ever existed. But if I want to doubt any of those propositions, well, that’s just what I “choose to believe”? Not one of Christopher Marlowe’s works was attributed to him during his lifetime, there are no literary works extant in his writing, his name was spelled a number of different ways in a number of (presumably) genuine documents – sound familiar? And I can multiply examples of Shakespeare’s contemporaries in the same circumstances. Where does it stop? Wherever one “chooses,” I suppose. But that way madness lies.

Do as thou wilt, for I have done with thee.

edited to correct typo

Edited: May 14, 2010, 6:47pm Top

There is indeed very little that can be proved. In the absence of conclusive DNA evidence I suppose Elizabeth I could have been switched shortly affer birth with a foundling - one wouldn't exactly bet the mortgage on such an occurance but it is possible. Equally one of the better documented private events of the Early Modern era is the death of a certain dodgy character fond of exaggerated hyperbole in a Deptford pub - but that has never stopped some people banging on about Kit Marlowe writing Will's stuff.

I suppose if it keeps them off the streets and out of more serious trouble such behaviour may even do a modicum of good but I don't really think it should be generally encouraged.

(Edited for yet another typo)

Edited: May 15, 2010, 2:16am Top

>77 Crypto-Willobie: & 78

ROTFLMAO here. Thanks for giving me my weekly LTMB laff, C-W. Oh my, where to begin? ...

"I shouldn’t be bothering, but…"

Well, Mr. Willobie, there is something we can probably both heartily agree upon. IMHO (and that of a few other people too) you most definitely shouldn't be bothering ... especially if you don't even know why yourself! :)

"That was an ad hominem attack? for a controversialist you're pretty sensitive. Let me interpret for you - I suggested that you allow yourself to be deceived."

Let me interpret your statement a little further for you. You suggested that I am so weak brained that I'm easily deceived. Personal insult? Nah, couldn't possibly be! You appear to be every bit as much in denial about your own use of ad hominems as the Holocaust and moon-landing deniers you so obviously despise are about their own respective subject matter. BTW, in my post I was merely calling you out in passing on your desperate resort to an ad hominem attack. The fact that I recognized it and called it for what it was has nothing at all to do with how I feel about it (for which, read on).

"It seems to me you can dish it out but retreat behind a wall of high dudgeon when asked to take it."

As for being offended by it I wasn't upset at all. In fact, it made me LOL and I had to wipe coffee of my PC screen. Listen C-W, I can talk smack with you all day long on this topic, or any other one you care to bring up. And I can most certainly dish it out as well as take it. So bring it on if you really want to. However, you will probably lose everybody else participating in this thread along the way - in fact, you already have, and you pretty well knew that when you decided to make your first ranting swan song exit. The main point of my post #76, and I'll repeat it once again here since you are not very swift on the uptake, was that repeatedly accusing everybody that disagrees with you of wearing a tin-foil hat won't really forward the discussion very far. Surely even you can see that? It also becomes as equally wearisome for others as you claim you find the whole 'authorship question' to be for you.

"But a little scorn-casting is part of arguing or ‘discussing,’ no?"

Yes, it is, and I don't disagree with that statement. However, to date, you have not presented any arguments for the Stratfordian position on this thread; all you have done is simply claim that in your opinion it is the only viable stance to take on the matter, pimped a few pro-Stratfordian (actually, anti-anti-Stratfordian would be the more correct term) web sites here, and then indulged in deluging scorn on anyone who might possibly disagree with you (whether they have posted here yet or not). What I disagree with is your own, "a little arguing or 'discussion' is part of scorn-casting,’ no?" approach to the debate.

IMO, you need to redress the balance a lot better. If the Stratfordian position is so obvious and clear-cut in your opinion, why are you not able to provide on this thread some argument in a few cogent paragraphs that supports it without any reference to tin-foil hats, Holocaust denial, moon-landing fakery and all the rest of it? Are you too stupid to understand that attacking the worst adherents of an idea or theory in no way undermines the strength of the core idea or theory itself? If a complete lunatic accepts the Theory of Relativity does that in any way undermine the validity of Einstein's work?

The underlying faulty logic of your whole approach to this discussion can work both ways, you know ... viz. if you sincerely believe that all you need to do to defeat the Oxfordian (or any other anti-Stratfordian) position is point out that someone that wears a tin-foil hat and believes in Holocaust denial is likely to support that theory, then all I or anyone else has to do to defeat the Stratfordian position is point out someone equally wacko who supports the theory that the lad from Stratford wrote the entire canon. And right now, you are my favorite candidate to be that wacko person. So be very careful, C-W, because the whole future survival of the Stratfordian school rests squarely on your wacko shoulders! :)

"I have, indeed, disagreed with them; and have made general comments regarding the lack of logical rigor, the anything-goes approach to history and evidence that characterizes their arguments ..."

Would that be the same lack of logical rigor that your whole approach to this debate is founded upon which I exposed in my post #56? In case you've forgotten already, here is a quick reminder: Since the claim that Will Kempe wrote some or all of the works of the Bard is ridiculous and not worth the effort of serious investigation, then ALL claims that someone other than the Swan of Avon wrote some or all of the works of the Bard are equally ridiculous and similarly not worth the effort of serious investigation. Apparently you only see faults in the logic of others but are in complete denial when it comes to spotting your own faulty premises.

"See my comment on LT’s ant-Strats from post 9:"

Your comment in post #9 referred only to anti-Strats posting on this thread: http://www.librarything.com/topic/51904 . It did not apply to anyone posting here that may have disagreed with you whom you have continually scorned, and it is quite disingenuous of you to now claim that it did. But no matter, your disingenuity in this matter is the very least of your demonstrated hypocrisy here.

"No, I didn't liken you on a moral level to Holocaust deniers -- read it again -- I was speaking in general of the kinds of logical back-flips 'true believers' are capable of when in pursuit of their particular cardboard cutout 'truths.' If you don't like the company, get real."

Actually, it's YOU who needs to READ AGAIN my response to your Holocaust denial accusation. I'll make things very easy for you by copying my earlier response here for you once more: "The two situations are NOT even close to being equivalent. The Holocaust deniers and faked moon-landing advocates deny mountains of hard evidence ..." (you'll have to read post #61 to get the rest of it). As you can see, I did not object to your likening others to Holocaust deniers on moral grounds (although I did also object to it on those grounds I made a specific point of not tackling that aspect of it). As is clear for anyone to see (except, of course, for Rule42 post deniers such as yourself!), I objected to your analogy because there is a big difference in the quantity of available hard evidence in the three mentioned scenarios. So your two scenarios of Apollo moon-landing and Holocaust denying are not anything closely similar to the anti-Stratfordian situation, neither morally (as you yourself just pointed out) nor to the extent of the mountains of prima facie hard evidence that requires to be denied in order to hold that countrary viewpoint.

"Yes, I think the 'authorship question' is waste of time. If it weren't sad it would be funny. Instead it's tiresome ..."

So you keep telling us. And it makes you weary too. We all got that. So I'll ask you once again the question you so carefully avoided answering ... if the 'authorship question' is such a waste of time and you're so darn weary of it, then why do you keep posting on this thread? What is there, from your perspective, to even discuss? You are clearly not posting here in order to advance any cogent arguments that would seriously counter anything the anti-Stratfordians might proffer, so why exactly have you reincarnated yourself to post here again? To return to my point of entry in this post, do you even know yourself why you are bothering to post here?

Edited: May 15, 2010, 2:25pm Top

As self-appointed guardian of this thread you seem obsessed with my ‘tude and a handful of colorful things I said while expressing it. If it will help, I’ll withdraw anything I ever said about tin-foil hats, the Holocaust, the moon-landing, etc. That doesn’t change the poverty – non-existence, really – of the Oxfordian ‘case.’ There is no evidence worthy of the name, nor any good reason to believe, that Oxford or anyone else wrote Othello and Venus and Adonis. Marks in a bible, speculative connections between life events and fictional works, and such like don’t constitute real evidence because they can be interpreted to mean whatever the advocate wants them to mean. Title pages, performance payments, statements by contemporaries, references in wills and other legal documents – that’s evidence. Anti-strats must get around these by claiming that each one really means something else, but again you can ‘prove’ anything you want by this method. You challenge me to cite my evidence – but I don’t see the point of cut-n-pasting the same things that have been cited repeatedly by others—for instance, on the website I ‘pimped’ above, David Kathman’s shakespeareauthorship.com. If you’ve actually read everything on that site and still think that Ogburn and Strittmatter make a better case then I won’t be able to convince you. But I don’t need to convince you—you’re fine just like you are.

As the Beav once said, "Ave atque, Wally!"

Edited: Jun 1, 2010, 12:11am Top

>81 Crypto-Willobie:

Well, C-W, it appears like my previous post served as an adult-rated catalyst for your adulterated Catullus! :)

"... you seem obsessed with my ‘tude and a handful of colorful things I said while expressing it."

My exposure of your "'tude and a handful of colorful things" you have continuously expressed here was Non Sans Droit ... nor, I might add, without mustard too! When I see in the forest so deep-contemplative a motley fool with lack-lustre eye as you quothing such rot you'll have to pardon me if I don't exercise my right ...

To speak my mind, and I will through and through
Cleanse the foul body of the infected world,
If they will patiently receive my medicine.

"If it will help, I’ll withdraw anything I ever said about tin-foil hats, the Holocaust, the moon-landing, etc."

Once again your "gracious retraction" thoroughly demonstrates the basic disingenuity in your manner of discourse. You know full well that a bell cannot be unrung, and all that stuff you are now willing to retract is already out there (because you have personally made a point of repeatedly putting it there) and has thus already served your purpose of subconsciously associating any anti-Stratfordian viewpoint with inherent wackiness in the reader's mind. Nevertheless, I will move on. Let's see if you can do the same?

"That doesn’t change the poverty – non-existence, really – of the Oxfordian ‘case.’"

What "poverty of the Oxfordian 'case'"? Has it never occurred to you that there may well be some serious substance to the core Oxfordian position WRT the "Shakespeare Problem" that is, as you yourself admit, continually attracting intelligent, well-educated and well-read people to investigate it further? The sheer fact that there even exists a "Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare" web site, plus the fact that James Shapiro felt the need to write his latest book, are both proofs positive that the momentum is now clearly with the anti-Stratfordian schools of thought WRT the true authorship issue. If De Vere's Geneva Bible, and the marginalia therein, is completely irrelevant to the issue of who wrote the Shakespeare canon, why is it right now the prized possession of the Folger Shakespeare Library, as are a number of portrait paintings of Edward de Vere? These should all be worthless artifacts to a "Shakespeare Library" that was as a cocksure and adamant as you are about the lad from Stratford being the ONLY reasonable candidate for the authorship of the canon.

BTW, I used the term "core" in the foregoing because I cannot honestly include some of the more peripherally irrational ideas that frequently get passed off as being Oxfordian (such as Charles Beauclerk's doubly incestuous "Prince Tudor" theory or the idea promulgated by Brame and Popova that De Vere almost singlehandedly wrote the entire corpus of Elizabethan literature under other names in order to advance the status of the English language) as being a fair representation of the more serious body of mainstream scholastic Oxfordian study, anymore than I can honestly include the nonsense promulgated by John Jordan and William Henry Ireland as being a fair representation of the more serious body of mainstream Stratfordian scholarship.

That is, if I were to take your own closed-minded and narrowly blinkered approach to the "Shakespeare Problem" I could just as equally ridicule the "poverty and non-existence" of "the Stratfordian ‘case’" and completely dismiss it out of hand by similarly focusing my attention solely on the "evidence" supplied by a whole slew of fringe Stratfordian frauds and charlatans such as Jordan and Ireland.

"There is no evidence worthy of the name, nor any good reason to believe, that Oxford or anyone else wrote Othello and Venus and Adonis."

Actually, there is quite a bit of evidence, but like ALL Stratfordian evidence it is ONLY circumstantial NOT conclusive. As you yourself have said, there is "no slam dunk" for either school of thought WRT the true authorship issue. The only reason you so believe there is "no evidence" supporting the Oxfordian hypothesis is because you insist on sticking your fingers in your ears, squeezing your eyes tight shut, and rocking backwards and forwards while chanting your Rain Man mantra of "Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare" whenever that evidence is put in front of you. That is your choice and your loss, I'm afraid.

"Title pages, performance payments, statements by contemporaries, references in wills and other legal documents – that’s evidence."

That is all "evidence" that supports Will Shakspere from Stratford as being an actor in various Elizabethan and Jacobean troupes (viz. the Lord Chamberlain's Men, the Lord Hunsdon's Men and the King's Men) and a shareholder in various Elizabethan and Jacobean playhouses (viz. the Theatre and the Curtain in Shoreditch, both incarnations of the Globe in Southwark, and the Blackfriars Theatre in the Liberty of Blackfriars) as well as being an owner of multiple properties in both Stratford-upon-Avon and London. There is no denial of any of those "facts" in any of the core Oxfordian positions. So all of your listed "evidence" above, plus much more evidence that you did not list, either directly supports, or consistently coexists with, both the Stratfordian and Oxfordian theories of authorship.

The point you continually miss or are unable to understand is that none of your listed "evidence" conclusively supports Will Shakspere as having written all the plays, lyrical poems and sonnets. In fact, the extant signatures we have of Will Shakspere give much more evidential support to the claim that - like both his parents, all his siblings, his wife, all his children and his granddaughter - our glover's son was barely literate and could only just sign his name, rather than that his was the most facile hand in the whole of English literature. It takes as much of a leap of faith to completely ignore the whole lack of literacy that pertains to almost every facet of Will Shakspere's lifestyle as portrayed in the orthodox Stratfordian biography(ies) as it does to accept the heterodox possibility that this actor and shareholder from Stratford was possibly used as a front by someone that was, in Elizabethan terms, now royally and socially stigmatized, or to use our own modern day terminology, politically incorrect.

Neither core theory violates all the few pieces of hard evidence we have about either of the historical persons Will Shakspere and Edward de Vere. OTOH, as already mentioned, there are quite a few wacky fringe theories associated with both camps that stretch the credulity of a sane, rational person. But to attack Oxfordian theory on the basis of ideas promulgated in The De Vere Code or Shakespeare's Fingerprints (which is what you have done) is just as inappropriate and erroneous as attacking Stratfordian theory on the basis of ideas promulgated by John Jordan and William Henry Ireland, etc.

"Anti-strats must get around these by claiming that each one really means something else, but again you can ‘prove’ anything you want by this method."

Actually, stretching, twisting and even inverting the possibly true meanings of the evidence provided by extant artifacts - let's just call the whole process "sympathetic interpretation of all available evidence" - is EXACTLY what the Stratfordians have been doing for the last four centuries. So I am absolutely delighted that you have just admitted that you realize that "you can ‘prove’ anything you want by this method"! Such as, for instance, that the barely literate glover's son and grain merchant from Stratford created the most literate and poetic body of work in the English language! Furthermore, when the modern day school child that is taught this long-standing orthodox myth incredulously asks, "How can that be?" he is invariably fobbed off and prevented from asking any more such questions with an inevitable fundamentalist mantra such as, "That's hard to explain. All we know for certain is that he was an incomprehensible genius! Trust me." So the fact that you admit you recognize the tricks of the trade, even if you have not yet correctly identified which side of the debate is most often resorting to their use, may mean there is hope for you yet, C-W.

"I don’t see the point of cut-n-pasting the same things that have been cited repeatedly by others—for instance, on the website I ‘pimped’ above ..."

And that's because you are intellectually comatose. As I have already demonstrated in my previous posts, your approach to rational debate consists only of casting aspersions on anybody with whom you disagree and/or posting a few links to pimp locations offsite to where others will (possibly) argue your case better than you are capable of doing so yourself. Your suggestion of plagiarizing the work of those others here, by cutting and pasting their arguments inline rather than just linking to them externally, when you really should be presenting your own arguments in the same manner that I am doing, only goes to demonstrate what a flimflam caboodler you really are.

"If you’ve actually read everything on that site and still think that Ogburn and Strittmatter make a better case then I won’t be able to convince you."

I did actually read every one of the links you included in your initial swan song at the time you posted your rant and am quite capable of providing cogent counter arguments to everything I read there in the same manner I have done for all your other specious casuistry and sophistry posted on this thread. But I refuse to respond here to arguments presented solely via links to external web sites. Because that would entail that I first summarize what is being said offsite before I could even start to rebut it, and I refuse to make all your arguments for you. Exactly what kind of intellectual moocher would lay claim to having "convinced someone" to his way of thinking when all he did was include a link in his post to a web page where all the cerebral heavy lifting was done for him by others? Also, surely you cannot seriously expect someone to rebut a whole website (or even just a web page) in a single LTMB post? Once again your whole approach demonstrates your insidious disingenuity.

"But I don’t need to convince you—you’re fine just like you are."

Yes, indeed I am. However, if you don't feel that you need to convince me then, I now ask for a third time, what exactly are you hoping to achieve by continually posting on this thread? What is your real agenda?

Jun 1, 2010, 12:26am Top

> 82 "The sheer fact that there even exists a "Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare" web site, plus the fact that James Shapiro felt the need to write his latest book, are both proofs positive that the momentum is now clearly with the anti-Stratfordian schools of thought"

I'm afraid the above is the point at which I lost interest. If that is the kind of argument which passes for logic on this thread then I despair of this whole increasingly unpleasant wrangle.

Edited: Jun 1, 2010, 12:47am Top

>82 Rule42:
You sure do get wound up. I've seen and read the 'core' Oxfordian arguments and there is no 'serious substance' to them. That's my open-minded opinion of them. Your coup de grace is that his signatures were irregular and illegible? So are mine and many other people's, and it doesn't follow we're illiterate. Your equation of the solid evidence that Shakespere the player wrote his company's plays with the speculative scenarios about DeVere only makes me question your judgment. That many other people are deluded as well means nothing.
Why do I keep posting here? what's my agenda? hmmm... to draw you out? because the more you rant the sillier you look?

Jun 1, 2010, 12:53pm Top

I am a non-believer in the case of Will Shakespeare v. Everybody. But it's hard to watch without finding a few things silly myself. Your paltry effort in message 84 and your smug conclusion about just who is silly? It seems to me that if you are going to put any weight behind who is silly and who is not, you are going to have to put a little more shoulder into it. You can't stand on the shore and throw a few pebbles at a large boat and hope to do some damage to it.
I am not convinced by the arguments of the Oxfordians or any of the anti-Stratfordians. But I know this: dismissing Greenwood, Looney, Ogburn, or any of the challengers as silly is a mistake. Not to mention that I prefer keeping the silly and childish language out of the fray. I don't see how a civil discussion could hurt the matter - I think it might even help.

Edited: Jun 1, 2010, 1:28pm Top

from Stuart Gilbert's JAMES JOYCE:
It must, however, be noted that Stephen never takes himself quite seriously in his role as dialectician. Thus at the moment he asks himself:
"What the hell are you driving at?
" I know. Shut up. Blast you! I have reasons.
"Amplius. Adhuc. Iterum. Postea.
"Are you condemned to do this?"

When the symposium is over John Eglinton takes Stephen to task. "You are a delusion. You have brought us all this way to show us a French triangle.
Do you believe your own theory?"
" 'No,' Stephen said promptly."
For Stephen, in fact, it is the intellectual interest, the aesthetic value of the dialogue that counts, rather than the truth of its conclusion. Indeed, to his mind one conclusion is as good as another - provided, only, it be fitting. There is an aesthetic validity, acceptable to the spirit, and that is the only absolute.

Jun 1, 2010, 5:50pm Top

Well, Porius, my friend, as far back as post 59 on this thread I tried to ratchet my discourse down to a calm level. But Mr 42 (as the NYTimes would call him) isn't interested. He wants me to be 'open-minded' but he seems to define being open-minded as having to agree with him, or accept his premises, or at least be willing to say 'Hmmm you might have something there'. But I dont agree and I don't think he has anything there; nonetheless I have for the most part resisted the impulse to sneer for the last couple dozen posts. My reward you can see in his over-heated post #82. He complains that I have indulged in ad hominum attacks but his high-falutin lambasting of me there puts to shame my few idle mockeries -- a case of the pot calling the hashish dope? (I've been looking for place to use that one...) It's a double standard -- I must show respect for him or I'm a bounder, but Auntie Strat can say whatever she wants.

And to clarify, I did not refer to all Oxfordians as silly (though I might do so in the privacy of my gilded jakes) -- I referred to Mr 42's display of foaming argumentation in post #82 as making him look silly...

Edited: Jun 1, 2010, 6:11pm Top

I think it would be wise, for all concerned, to suppress cleverness when ever possible. Oh once in a while we can toss out a Jakes Pierre or something silly as that. Though we should for the most part respect one anothers' ideas that we find little more than Wormwood in the comfort of our restroom.

There's no doubt that R42 is in high dudgeon concerning all things 'Controversy'; I believe he is in earnest, though, and if on occasion prolix, you can't deny that he would never be described as 'punching above his weight.'

Jun 1, 2010, 6:19pm Top

Well, I would...

Edited: Jun 2, 2010, 11:55am Top

>84 Crypto-Willobie: & 87

"what's my agenda? hmmm... to draw you out?"

To draw me out? Why ever would you need to do that? I stated what my own position on the true authorship issue was with my very first post (#55) on this thread and I've repeated it many times since then. I'm an agnostic WRT this issue. I just did a quick count, and if my calculation is correct, you had posted 14 times on this thread before I ever saw it and made my first post. So to now claim that your agenda for posting here is "to draw me out" is yet another prime example of your disingenuous approach to any kind of intelligent discourse as well as serving as one more exposé of your overall denial and avoidance of any sort of truth. With such an avoidance of both courtesy and the truth do you seriously expect to win others reading this thread over to your viewpoint? Which is why I have been repeatedly asking you why you are even bothering?

"Your coup de grace is that his signatures were irregular and illegible?"

FYI, I never stated that Will's signatures were "irregular and illegible". If you reread my post you will see that those are your words, not mine. His signatures being "irregular and illegible" is hardly proof of anything; almost everybody's signatures are either one or both of those things. It was the lack of deftness and fluidity to which I was alluding in my post; the sort of deftness and fluidity you would expect from someone that had spent the last 30 years or so of his life quill-penning and correcting (multiple times) over 30 plays plus much poetry. The fact that you call me silly based on words I never wrote, but which you put into my mouth purely for that purpose, demonstrates exactly how puerile, disingenuous and disrespectful your whole approach is towards anyone that might hold a contrary - or even just an oblique - position to your own.

BTW, I don't think I could possibly look any sillier than this chappie looks right now. He takes silliness to a level well beyond the "tin-foil hat wearing" mark on my stupidy gauge. This light-weight charlatan and his notorious "hyphen gaffe" makes him the biggest national laughing stock since Christopher Darden argued to the jury in the 1995 O.J. Simpson criminal trial that slain victims Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman had rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" as stated in the Constitution!

A Shakespearean scholar who demonstrates such basic ignorance about his core material has no business holding such a prestigious professorial post at a top notch Ivy League university with responsibility for educating and forming the minds of young adults. He is every bit as laughable as a lawyer that confuses this country's two most fundamental legal documents (a distinction that even a relatively illiterate illegal Mexican fruit picker must understand in order to be granted amnesty citizenship!). I was going to précis the following blog and only post the link as backup, but I think I'll just take a leaf out of C-W's lazy book instead (note: the blog is two web pages long): http://shake-speares-bible.com/2010/04/18/james-shapiro-and-the-notorious-hyphen...

Jun 2, 2010, 2:52pm Top

Sheesh, even I felt the sting of 42's left jab. Did you even see the punch, old boy.

Jun 2, 2010, 3:06pm Top

>88 Porius:

Hey Porius, please quit with the insults will ya? I quite resent your comments hinting that you think I'm boxing way below my class, because it appears to me that it implies I'm some sort of major underachiever! :(

Also, please note, I'm not in earnest. That's only a nasty rumor. Ernest and I are just good friends! :)

Hmmm, was that high or low dudgeon? I'm afraid my dudgeometer is in the shop being repaired right now.

Yours, an Upstart Crow

Jun 2, 2010, 11:20pm Top

Well I'll be wangdoodled. You can't even insult a fellow nicely these days. I didn't mean anything by the insults.

Jun 3, 2010, 1:04am Top

That's OK, Porius. To your credit I have noticed that you have resisted the impulse to sneer in your last couple of posts. All I ask is that you please try to ratchet your discourse down a bit from now on. A few idle mockeries are OK now and then; just stay away from all that high-falutin lambasting of yours. :)

Jun 4, 2010, 12:08am Top

If the shoo fits . . .
When a man's verses (or anything else for that matter) cannot be understood, nor a man's good wit seconded with the forward child understanding, it strikes a man more dead than a great reckoning in a little room. Truly, I would the gods had made thee poetical.

Jun 4, 2010, 1:53pm Top

'If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts, but he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.'
(Advancement of Learning (1605) Book 1, Part 8)

Jun 4, 2010, 8:12pm Top

>90 Rule42:

If there is one good thing that might be said about Shapiro's latest book (and there aren't very many) it is that in it he criticizes many of the recent Stratfordian biographies, especially Stephen Greenblatt's Will in the World, with all their ham-fisted efforts to connect Will Shakspere's life to the Shakespeare canon. Shapiro justifies his attack on fellow English professor Greenblatt by admitting his own waywardness in this matter in his younger days: "I flinch when I think of my own trespasses in classrooms and in print, despite my best efforts to steer clear of biographical speculation."

Stephen Greenblatt is, of course, the Harvard scholar (but hardly a gentleman) that first likened anti-Stratfordians to Holocaust deniers: http://doubtaboutwill.org/greenblatt_slip. James Shapiro - like a giggling little school boy who thinks, "Coo, this is so neat!" - immediately embraced this inappropriate comparison to his bosom and has since aped it in public a number of times himself. The result is that there is now a herd of mindless "ditto-heads" (who hang on the every word of this pair of "distinguished" Ivy League English Literature professors) that have all similarly incorporated this spuriously snide simile into their own basic lexicon of anti-anti-Stratfordian rhetoric and, like Shapiro before them, just cannot wait for an opportunity to try it out themselves in a public debate - as we have just witnessed being demonstrated here on this thread.

>81 Crypto-Willobie: "I don’t see the point of cut-n-pasting the same things that have been cited repeatedly by others..."

I find it very illuminating that C-W is too lazy to get off his duff and muster enough energy to cut-n-paste here a cogent argument in support of the Stratfordian position, but when it comes to pirating a number of their more childish and specious mantras he's able to spring off his Damask and brocade La-Z-Boy and be typing at his keyboard in a heartbeat. Yet he has the hypocrisy to accuse me of double-standards! Ha! :)

Jun 4, 2010, 11:34pm Top

I was unaware of Greenblatt's Holocaust-denier comparison -- I have his book but have not cracked it. Since it's simply another example of True Believers being invested in improbable theories, it might occur to anyone writing on the subject.

And in response to your litany of insults, Yah! so's yer old man!

Jun 5, 2010, 4:56am Top

well, this has been a very entertaining read... just for the sake of curiosity, has anyone put forward the idea that W.S. never wrote the plays but just dictated them?

just curious


Jun 5, 2010, 5:00am Top

I merely wish to seize this once in a lifetime opportunity to actually agree with Rule42 in dismissing Will in the World as largely speculative and distinctly unhelpful. Now if only he would remove the beam in his own eye peace and harmony might finally break out.

Edited: Jun 5, 2010, 7:01pm Top

>98 Crypto-Willobie:

But of course you haven't cracked it open. Why does that not come as any surprise? How very convenient for you that you've never cracked open a bogus Stratfordian biography while the only anti-Stratfordian biographies you've ever condescended to glance at are just the wacky fringe ones such as Shakespeare's Fingerprints. No wonder you can remain so zealously despotic and peremptorily dismissive of anything anti-Stratfordian on the true authorship issue and post all the dogmatic drivel that you do with such a perfectly clear conscience. :)

Your selective cracking open of books probably also explains why you are able to confuse the epistemological certainty we normally only apply to a priori knowledge and doltishly misapply it to academic interpretations of empirical information and data that is clearly only, at its best, surmise, speculation and conjecture (even if it might be very good and highly convincing surmise, speculation and conjecture when you first encounter it). Your never having cracked open a book on linguistic analysis, critical thinking, logical reasoning, the hermeneutics of Elizabethan texts, epistemological problems of ‘genuine evidence', the media caricaturing of what constitutes evidence (cf. Marshall McLuhan), etc. might also account for your apparently divinely-inspired certainty on this particular topic.

If the true authorship question were a legal matter, and Will Shakspere stood in the dock accused of being the true author, then no reasonable jury would be able to convict him because, based on all the evidence and arguments introduced into the trial to date, his guilt CANNOT be established beyond a reasonable doubt. Yet you would have him sent to the chair (assuming, that is, that writing the world's greatest canon in English literature is a capital offense). I now find myself praying to a God, whose existence I actually doubt, that you are never, ever selected for jury duty.

The ONLY reason that Shapiro entered the fray of the true authorship debate and undertook to write his Contested Will book is because so many people came up to him on his book-promoting tour for his previous outing (viz. 1599 : A year in the life of William Shakespeare) and told him they had serious concerns and doubts about "Shakspere having written Shakespeare". Like a true Protestant Inquisitor in Will's own time, Shapiro sensed serious sedition in the air and became determined to suppress this heretical Roman Catholic recusancy and covert church papistry once and for all. Contested Will is that effort ... to continue my metaphor, it is his response to the Somerville Plot. The book is the modern day equivalent of Lord Burghley's and Francis Walsingham's efforts to try to win over the hearts and minds of the burgeoning number of secretly heretical Catholics (read newly concerned and doubting anti-Stratfordians) and bring them back into the fold of the mandated orthodoxy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth's Anglican Church (read Schoenbaum-toting and A.L.Rowse-quoting true-believers).

Whether Shapiro will be successful in his quest only time will tell. Personally, I think his effort appears more akin to King Canute on the seashore. But I'm sure you'll disagree. You always do. :)

"And in response to your litany of insults ..."

What insults? Calling someone a "stupid bastard" who is not, is indeed an insult. Applying that term to someone that was born out of wedlock and is now in a lunatic asylum would be correct terminology, thus it is NOT an insult. Your calling me "silly" is an insult because anyone reading my posts can clearly see that I'm not. If you look at every term I've used to describe you, you will see that I've always justified its application, and thus it is a correctly used adjective, NOT an insult. If you don't want me to call you disingenuous then don't keep posting in such an obviously sleazy and puerile manner. If you don't want me to refer to you as being intellectually moribund then you will need to put much more effort and thought into your posts, as others participating here have also suggested, instead of just posting dismissive scorn and ... wait for it ... insults!

Based on your above quoted comment, you now appear to be the new dudgeon master of this thread. I'll refrain from pointing out the obvious hypocrisy of the fact that it was you that initially accused me of high dudgeon (oops, sowwy about that, looks like I just did!). If it is any comfort, just think of yourself as being Henry Wriothesley's spiritual twin; because I believe he was also kept behind a wall of a high dungeon in the Tower of London after the Essex Rebellion.

BTW, if in attributing your Holocaust denial insult to Greenblatt when, in truth, you thought it up all by yourself, all on your lonesome, then I profusely apologize for my mistake. I sure as hell would not want to deprive you of any recognition due for the only creative idea, other than tin-foil hats and moon-landing fakery, that you've contributed to this discussion so far. So you have my hearty congratulations for being able to think up all of your own insults - IMO credit should always go where credit's due! :)

Edited: Jun 5, 2010, 6:11pm Top

>99 rreis:

"... has anyone put forward the idea that W.S. never wrote the plays but just dictated them?"

For W.S. to have dictated the plays, that pretty well implies that there must have been someone else present who would have written down what he dictated. Two or more people alone in a room creating the entire Shakespeare canon sounds rather a lot like a conspiracy theory to me ... I really don't think we should go there! :)

Jun 5, 2010, 7:45am Top

(wiping Rule42's venomous spittle from his face) Whew!

Jun 5, 2010, 1:04pm Top

I suggest to you C/W that you might either put up your dukes or retire gracefully, you are rather graceful, after all. Courtly even. But we are eager to hear your side of the story. Your responses to R42. So far you have been battered to a pulp like old 'Irish' Jerry Quarry was when he stepped into the ring. To save face, your face, ie., put on the gloves or just fade away.
I have no doubt that you would be a credit to your tribe if you would bluepaint your face and run naked and bellowing into the fray.
Honestly you look a little silly wiping R42's venomous? spittle from your face. Whew, indeed.

Edited: Jun 5, 2010, 3:09pm Top

Maybe someday. I do have other things to do, however, than spend a lot of time defending a 'case' that doesn't really need defending from someone who isn't going to be convinced anyways.

His hopes and your perception to the contrary, I don't feel battered at all by Mr 42's swipes and jabs. Bewildered perhaps; for though he is certainly full of sound and fury it signifies nada about the strength of his argument. It's true I have poked him sometimes, but I have also tried to speak frankly, civilly and sensibly at other times only to see him twist my words, translate my statements into straw men to be knocked down, and generally jump up and down waving his arms. (This is what I find 'silly' -- the over-vehemence of his reactions.) I know he accuses me of the same thing -- word-twisting, straw men, etc; but to borrow one of his favorite words, it seems disingenuous of him to accuse me of what he does. He doesn't see it this way because he's a man with a mission. Me old da used to have a little picture of two fellas arguing, one with folded arms saying "My mind is made up, don't confuse me with the facts." This is how he seems to me, and there's just no talking to him.

I reject the notion that I must either shut the fuck up or reply in endless detail, internet boxing rules, to every sentence and half-sentence he produces. Sometimes I'm just gonna disagree with something, and walk away. If he wants to wave his fists and shout at my receding back I can't stop him. And I'll be back when and if I want to come back.

Jun 5, 2010, 4:08pm Top

You must do what you must do. I am envious of your Machen Diaries, green with envy.

Edited: Jun 5, 2010, 9:44pm Top

>106 Porius:

As with the Christian religion, the worst advertisement for Socialism is its adherents. - George Orwell

Based on our recent exposure to Greenblatt, Shapiro and C-W, perhaps it is now time to update that famous quote from old George ...

As with the Christian religion and political Socialism, the worst advertisement for Stratfordian theory is its adherents.

He's made over two dozen posts on this thread but only one of them (post #59) contained any beef. Where's that little old lady from the Wendy's TV adverts when you really need her? Since his reincarnation ... nada. If it wasn't so pathetic it would probably be funny. He accuses me of "twisting his words" and "translating his statements into straw men to be knocked down" but that's pure casuistry because he cannot cite any examples. BTW, did I miss the post where he "tried to speak frankly, civilly and sensibly"? It doesn't show up on my screen. Maybe I need to get an LT software upgrade?

Hmmm ... an agnostic (that sees both sides of the issue) "on a mission" to try to convert a zealot (that can only see the one side) ... now there's a bizarre concept if I ever heard one! Lewis Carroll could have written a third "Alice" book based on that scenario alone. I would love to see what happens when the Mad Hatter finally meets his modern nemesis - the guy wearing the tin-foil hat. ROTFLMAO.

C-W claims there is no talking to me but that is exactly what both you and I have been trying to get him to do ever since he reincarnated himself almost fifty posts ago. The man appears to live in his own hermetically sealed mental bubble and he just doesn't want to cope with the reality of potentially conflicting ideas to the ones he was socialized into as a child and undergraduate. His quoted anecdote from "his da" is a perfect example of someone who, thinking he's an apostle, looks into his mirror and sees a monkey staring right back at him. In order to preserve his own self-image the deluded apostle must now attribute the monkey to being the image of someone else - such as Rule42! Once again LMAO.

I would have liked to post more here but I don't want it to be misconstrued as my jumping up and down furiously waving my arms. Besides, right now, Captain Ruley has a bit of trouble up on deck that he needs to go take care of - some old geezer over on the shore wearing a tin-foil hat has started throwing pebbles at his boat again. :(

Edited: Jun 5, 2010, 7:29pm Top

There’s an example, right there. Here’s how we got here…

- I made a comment about how people invested in alternative narratives are difficult to convince:.
“The anti-Stratfordians have been replied to over and over again with reason and evidence, but they don’t seem to hear. They are invested in their alternative narratives, are endlessly inventive in their manipulation of the meaning of texts and events, and can always fall back on their triumphant claim that it can’t be *proven* who wrote the plays and poems of Shakespeare—that is, there is no videotape, no notarized affidavits from a panel of his contemporaries stating in so many words that Shakspere the player from Stratford wrote Hamlet in November 1599. (Although if there were such evidence that would likely not guarantee the end of the question, as we have people arguing that videotapes of the moon-landing have been faked, and documents proving the Holocaust have been forged.)”
My point here is that True Believers by their nature can find their way past any evidence – even documentary and videotape evidence – if it gets in the way of their beliefs, so (it seems to me that) convinced antistrats will remain convinced no matter what evidence you offer them.

- This is converted by Mr 42 into an accusation that I have equated antistrats with Holocaust deniers. The imagined imputation of moral equivalence with such scum of the earth must have stung, for he returns to this again and again.

- Sometime later he accuses me of taking my Holocaust ‘accusation’ from Stephen Greenblatt’s Shakespeare biogrqphy.

- I clarify, stating that although I have Greenblatt’s book “I have not cracked it”. Actually, this is not strictly true—I have looked into it but have not sat down and read it through and was unaware of any reference he made to Holocaust deniers.

- This calls forth from Mr 42:
“But of course you haven't cracked it open. Why does that not come as any surprise? How very convenient for you that you've never cracked open a bogus Stratfordian biography while the only anti-Stratfordian biographies you've ever condescended to glance at are just the wacky fringe ones such as Shakespeare's Fingerprints. No wonder you can remain so zealously despotic and peremptorily dismissive of anything anti-Stratfordian on the true authorship issue and post all the dogmatic drivel that you do with such a perfectly clear conscience.”
Spirits from the vasty deep must have told him what I have and haven’t read. But they got it wrong. Although I haven’t plowed through Greenblatt’s or Ackroyd’s bios, I have read Honan’s, Duncan-Jones’s, Shapiro’s, as well as biographical writings by Honigmann, Eccles, Schoenbaum and many others. And I have read a number of the “core” mainstream antistrat books – Ogburn, Anderson, Sobran, Whalen, Michell and some amount of on-line stuff on Oxford sites and in discussion groups. I admit it’s been a while since I read these—I don’t lose sleep over the authorship question.
Now, please note the aggressive language offered me—I am despotic, condescending, and I post dogmatic drivel? I have made some general statements about the illogical ways of antistrats (and yes I said that ‘tinfoil hat’ thing which he also won’t drop – I thought I was being humorous but I guess not), but I have not drenched Mr 42 personally with insulting epithets.
Eventually he finds his way to my LT profile, notes my latest acquisitions, and my cat pix and comes up with:
“Furthermore, I'll bet my shirt that none of those diaries have been cracked either. Why waste one's time reading when it can be more profitably spent cataloguing and scorn-casting. I also wouldn't be surprised to learn that his cat has read more of his books than he has ... nor that it has a deeper understanding and appreciation of them too!”
I won’t condescend to answer his imputations concerning my reading—needless to say he knows nothing about it or me. But I will give him credit for his mastery of Le Sneer Puerile…

Jun 6, 2010, 3:31pm Top

109> :)

Jun 6, 2010, 3:49pm Top

When do we start passing out the crayons?

Edited: Jun 6, 2010, 8:11pm Top

>108 Crypto-Willobie:

I apologize for the delay in responding to your "20 tonnes of dudgeon" post, brother C-W, but today is Sunday and, although you obviously already know via this thread that I'm a somewhat devout practicing agnostic, what you may not know is that I'm also an active missionary for the local diocese of the Church of the Holy Undecided. So I'm afraid Sunday is my busiest day of the week in terms of time away from the PC (and thus the LTMB).

For today is the day that I put on my leather trews and other articles of my agnostic raiments and go out into the streets of my local community, with my leather-bound agnostic missal in hand, and try and persuade people without the inner light to come on over to the agnostic point of view. This involves approaching disorderly walkers as they lurch along the sidewalk and, having first ascertained their current religious affiliation, offering them the choice of a dozen other religious faiths in which I feel they should also be actively participating. This is because we brethren of the Church of the Holy Undecided believe in the Reverent Round Robin approach to pious worship, since those of us with the inner light of the agnostic 'True Believer' within our hearts all fervently hold that no one single faith should be favored by any church celebrant more than once a quarter.

So I have to admit that it's a fair cop, my brother - you are perfectly correct in calling me out as being "a man with a mission". Nevertheless, it is a fine, good and wholly holy mission. As world history has repeatedly demonstrated, those of us born with an agnostic disposition often feel a natural tendency - a sort of rabid zeal, if you would - to spread the divine joy and bliss we find in following multiple faiths and holding diverse viewpoints to those other brothers and sisters in the flock that are much less fortunate than ourselves; because they have not yet seen the light and are consequently trapped in a life of darkness that is plagued with the paucity of only being able to hold just the one religious belief or a single point of view.

You are also amazingly prescient, my brother, to have rightly guessed that spirits from the vasty deep do indeed appear to me on a regular basis and furtively whisper to me such arcane and cryptic secrets as what each LT member is currently reading or has recently read - although, to be honest, I'm not quite sure why the spirits take all that trouble to whisper to me since anyone can also divine what they tell me by simply looking at LT member profiles. Unfortunately, it is these very same spirits from the vasty deep that also sometimes cause me to speak in tongues and use nasty, vile and evil words such as 'despotic', 'glibbery', 'condescending', 'prorumped', 'dogmatic', 'oblatrant', 'drivel' and 'obstupefact' and many other foul-mouthed expressions that cannot be repeated here. So please show mercy towards this agnostic sinner, brother C-W, and forgive him for drenching you with a deluge of such utterly obscene and wicked utterances.

I would now like to close this post with a short prayer - the Agnostic Credo. So please join together with me, brother C-W, and recite along as best you can ...

We are gathered here together, sister side by side with brother
To proclaim we are agnostic; don't know one way or the other
In this we won't be shaken though hard the winds may blow
In doubt we are united, and we cry "we do not know"

We hold no fear of persecution, it pains us not to be derided
As we stand here in the Church of the Holy Undecided
Oh my brothers and my sisters I know I speak for you
When we say that we know for certain that we haven't got a clue

I believe that some believe that just their beliefs are true
Do I believe what they believe? I don't believe I do
Oh my friends be ye contented, for ignorance is bliss
We stand foursquare behind our message but we don't know what it is

We know that we don't know so that our vision still be pure
We are agnostic fundamentalists; we are fundamentally unsure
Peace my sisters and my brothers, the agnostic does not smite
We are tolerant of others; there's a chance they might be right

Feb 19, 2016, 10:58am Top

>82 Rule42:

..."Neither core theory violates all Neither core theory violates all the few pieces of hard evidence we have about either of the historical persons Will Shakspere and Edward de Vere."...

Of course the Stratfordian "core" theory violates "all the few pieces of hard evidence we have about either of the historical persons Will Shakspere and Edward de Vere."

In the construction--the interpretation--of the evidence the Stratfordian views are a pure violation of the evidence, "hard," "soft" and everything in between.

Feb 19, 2016, 11:37am Top

General query to any readers of both Joseph Sobran 's Alias Shakespeare and Charlton Ogburn Jr 's The Mysterious William Shakespeare :

I am interested in hearing views of how these two books' contents compare. In particular I am interested to know of any facts revealed by Sobran that are not also in Ogburn's book. Thank you.

Edited: Feb 21, 2016, 9:48pm Top

I've noted at least twice in the posts above a claim that the first questioning of Shakespeare's authorship was by James Wilmot, with Wilmot favoring Oxford for the real author. That appears to incorrect.

Wilmot didn't make the claim directly in 1785 as is conventionally believed. Instead it was supposed to have been made on his behalf by James Cowell in 1805. On close examination, the Cowell manuscript with the claim turns out to be a cleaver 20th century forgery. (Ref. James Shapiro's Contested Will, Prologue.)

Top honors for originating the authorship controversary still belongs to Delia Bacon nearly a quarter millennium after Shakespeare's death, with quibbles about whether R. A. Smith and/or William Smith preceded her.

Feb 21, 2016, 10:38pm Top

>114 proximity1:

I'm curious, too, about whether Sobran's book echoes Ogburn's, especially the part about Augustine Phillips' will from which Ogburn quotes this extract: "unto and amongst the hired men of the Company which I am of ... the sum of five pounds ... to be equally distributed amongst them". Ogburn continues by saying that the first of those to be named was "my fellow William Shakespeare".

Here is a fuller extract from Phillip's will without Ogburn's elisions: "Item, I give and bequeath unto and amongst the hired men of the company which I am of which shall be at the time of my decease the sum of five pounds of lawful money of England to be equally distributed amongst them. Item, I give and bequeath to my fellow William Shakespeare a 30 shilling piece in gold. To my fellow Henry Condell one other 30 shilling piece in gold."

There seems to be quite a difference in meaning between Ogburn's version of Phillips' will and Phillips' own version.

Mar 8, 2016, 8:56am Top

"There seems to be quite a difference in meaning between Ogburn's version of Phillips' will and Phillips' own version."

This "quite a difference" consisting in which words, precisely, please? I looked and I confess I don't see anything I'd call "quite a difference."

Apr 4, 11:28am Top

In the current run of FutureLearn's Shakespeare and His World conducted by Prof. Jonathan Bate (a MOOC), a new video has been added that addresses the authorship question.

Edited: Apr 4, 1:56pm Top

>118 Podras.:


Bate, who couldn't rightly parse Jonson's "small Latine and lesse Greeke" ; Bate, who holds that

"The genius of King Lear is that it was written by a man who was totally unlike his creation. The poetry of a teenager in love is sincere: that is what makes it bad. The key to dramatic art is Insincerity, i.e. that the author should only pretend keenly to feel what he expresses.” — (p. 150,
The Genius of Shakespeare (original edition, 1997, Picador/ Macmillan Publishers, Ltd. London); )

that Professor Bate.

For those who like to get their Shakespeare Authorship material from Youtube videos,

SEE Also :

"Shakespeare Authorship Question: Why Was I Never Told This? "

"Actor Keir Cutler, Ph.D., tells what changed his mind about Shakespeare's authorship, and why he signed the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt About the Identity of William Shakespeare (DoubtAboutWill.org/declaration)."

at this link : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyVjR9FNo9w

Actually, there really is no reasonable doubt left about the identity of the rightful author of the works of "Shake-speare". The credit is due to Edward Oxford.

In Elizabethan England, a full grammar-school cursus by itself could not make a school boy "literate" (litteratus) as that was then undersood--not even close. And certainly no one just "picked up" such a status by informal hanging about with literate people having such a literacy. Literacy in Elizabethan England implied a mastery of polished spoken and written Greek and Latin from the classics, as the rightful author of "Shakespeare's" works clearly possessed. For this, people went to university; and not all of them actually succeeded in their studies, of course. But, if one graduated from his studies and was pronounced fit, it meant in effect that he'd achieved the required mastery. Shaksper didn't have the opportunity for this education and, lacking it, even if he'd been a genius, which he gave no indication of being, he could not have produced the poems, plays or exhibited the verbal creativity of the rightful author.

Apr 4, 2:13pm Top

Regarding post #118 above, the video is accompanied by a list of recommended books for those interested in researching the question further.

--Jonathan Bate, The Genius of Shakespeare (Picador Classics, 2016), Chapter 3, The Authorship Controversy [This is the best compact summary of the authorship question that I've seen.]

-- James Shapiro, Contested Will: Who wrote Shakespeare? (Faber and Faber, 2011) [This is excellent for the history of the use and abuse of Shakespeare's reputation, including forgeries and attempts to rewrite history, down to modern times.]

-- Irvin Matus, Shakespeare, In Fact (Dover, 2012) [Matus delves deeply into and corrects denier claims and distortions. It is also valuable for its illuminating chapter on Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, who was never the man who wrote Shakespeare.]

For another in-depth refutation of anti-Shakespearean claims, I also recommend Scott McCrea's The Case for Shakespeare: The End of the Authorship Question (Praeger, 2005). It overlaps Matus's book somewhat, but it has a lot of additional material, and it is better organized.

Another recommendation accompanying the video for further reading is the web site, The Shakespeare Authorship Page. It has a ton of fact-laden information about the subject. A good place to start is How We Know That Shakespeare Wrote Shakespeare: The Historical Facts.

Perhaps I've missed it, but I can't recall ever seeing a response from the authorship question conspiracy theorists that doesn't depend at least some on ad hominem attacks on the authors of these works and/or scholars in general. That is only one of the many ways in which they discredit themselves.

Edited: Apr 5, 7:10am Top

Jonathan Bate, The Genius of Shakespeare (Picador Classics, 2016) : laughable junk.

James Shapiro, Contested Will: Who wrote Shakespeare? (Faber and Faber, 2011) : inane nonsense and crap-ola.

"The Shakespeare Authorship Page" ... and... How We Know That Shakespeare Wrote Shakespeare: The Historical Facts. : noxious bullshit from ignorant poseurs and lame con-artists.

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