‘Anonymous’: ‘How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is’.’

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On Wednesday 28 September Professor Emeritus Alan H. Nelson of the University of California, Berkeley took part in a discussion with Roland Emmerich (the director of Anonymous), John Orloff (scriptwriter), and Charles Beauclerk the Earl of Burford and a self-proclaimed descendent of Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford. The evening was hosted by Sony Pictures.

Alan Nelson is the world’s leading expert on Edward de Vere, and I thought you’d like to read what he said (slightly revised after a second viewing of the film)….

‘I begin with five thumb-nail biographies:

Christopher Marlowe of Canterbury; son of a shoemaker; scholarship student at Cambridge; author of Edward II and of Hero and Leander, a play and a narrative poem with strong homoerotic overtones. Dies aged 29, stabbed through the eye.

William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon; son of a glover; no university education; professional actor; share-holder in several theaters; author of nearly forty plays, of two narrative poems dedicated to the earl of Southampton, and of 154 sonnets, some of which are addressed to a “lovely boy”. Gains social status as a “gentleman” with a coat of arms; earns substantial income through his theatrical enterprises; dies a moderately wealthy and much-lionized man.

Ben Jonson of Westminster; step-son of a bricklayer (not a glass-maker, as called in the film); no university education; self-taught student of Greek; professional actor; poet, playwright, and raconteur; poet Laureate; struggles with money; lives and dies a much-lionized man.

Derek Jacobi of Laytonstone (think Emeryville, California, a bleak suburb of San Francisco), son of the keeper of a sweet-shop; talent for acting recognized even before admission to Cambridge University on scholarship; professional actor famed for playing Edward II; gains social status as a knight with title of “Sir Derek”; earns substantial income through acting on stage and in film; lives as a wealthy and much-lionized man.

Roland Emmerich; born Stuttgart, Germany, raised in Sindelfingen; son of a manufacturer of garden equipment; film director and script-doctor; owner and shareholder with his sister of Centropolis Entertainment. According to Wikipedia (12 September 2011), “His films have grossed more than $3 billion worldwide, more than those of any other European director. His films have grossed just over $1 billion in the United States, making him the country’s 14th-highest grossing director of all time.” Lives as a wealthy and much-lionized man.

What do these theatrical phenoms have to say about one another?

Shakespeare compliments Marlowe with a touching tribute for his early death:

Dead shepherd, now I find thy saw of might:
“Whoever loved that loved not at first sight.” (As You Like It 3.5.)

Ben Jonson pays the highest compliment to William Shakespeare:

I loved the man, and do honor his memory, on this side idolatry, as much as any …

Jacobi and Emmerich, each having so much in common with William Shakespeare as to be his 21st century reincarnation, gang up to kick their benefactor in the teeth. Simultaneously, they swoon at the feet of the 17th earl of Oxford, a second-rate poet who was born to his title and never lifted a finger to deserve it.

In the film, Sir Derek of Laytonstone, swathed in a rich cashmere scarf, arrives breathless from travel by private jet and New York taxi to inform his benighted American cousins that Master William of Stratford ‘never wrote a single word’. (Actually his most determined enemies must admit that he wrote at least two words, both in Latin, in addition to his name, as he signed his will.)

Roland Emmerich openly mocks William Shakespeare for obtaining a coat of arms, apparently forgetting that his friend Derek Jacobi also obtained a coat of arms through the very same institution – the theater. Emmerich similarly mocks Shakespeare for turning his theatrical activities into financial success, apparently forgetting that his own films have earned $3 Billion.

Ben Jonson comes off a little better than Shakespeare, for he sacrifices a mere 50% of his moral integrity, serving as a go-between rather than a principal; his final role is to conceal playscripts from the Cecil family – most obviously Henry V, which was already in print and could be purchased at your local bookstall for six pence

Jacobi and Emmerich validate their systematic character assassination with a story straight out of looney-tunes, in which Elizabeth the Virgin Queen produces so many bastards and loses track of them so completely that she ends up having a child by her own son. Maybe in their next film they can portray Abraham Lincoln as a secret agent of the Confederacy: such a plot would be equally true to historical fact. (By the way, Lincoln, who was born in rural Kentucky and had less formal education than Shakespeare, could not possibly have written the Gettysburg Address: my research shows that Robert E. Lee, who graduated second in his class at West Point, wrote it for him.)

Meanwhile Emmerich fails to tell you that the Earl of Oxford had no connection whatever to Shakespeare’s company, but had a theatrical company of his own which was openly supported by William Cecil Lord Burghley, who in fact loved theatrical entertainment; that Oxford had no historical connection to the earl of Southampton, but had a son of his own, Henry de Vere, who succeeded as 18th earl (but is left out of the film); or that Oxford sat on the very jury which condemned Essex and Southampton to death.

Though Vanessa Redgrave saves the film with her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth in her dotage, I find it appalling that arguably the most effective monarch in the history of England is reduced to a baby-making machine without a political thought in her head. The woman who famously declared “I will not make windows into men’s hearts,” who inspired her troops to resist the Armada with one of the most rousing speeches in military history, who ensured a peaceful transition by promoting King James of Scotland as her successor, and who spared Southampton’s life by her reluctance to carry out death sentences on her English nobility, is here portrayed as an ignorant sexpot who is mere putty in the hands of her hyper-intelligent male advisors.

The film’s celebration of incest precludes a celebration of the homoerotic, unless Oxford should engage in sexual relations with his own son alias grandson Southampton. The homoerotic is authentically suggested by the personalities of Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, the earl of Oxford, the Earl of Southampton, King James, the use all-male acting troupes, and a great deal of the best literature of the age, including Shakespeare’s second dedicatory address to the Earl of Southampton (in The Rape of Lucrece) and possibly some of his sonnets. Where is the homoerotic in the film? Nowhere, except for a few smutty gestures, as when Nashe (?) puts his hand on Dekker’s (?) knee.

In sum, Anonymous embraces a lunatic conspiracy theory while revealing an incomprehensible lack of sympathy for real people, including William Shakespeare, who is degraded against all historical evidence into an illiterate and venal clown, and indeed the murderer of Christopher Marlowe, who inexplicably survives his well-documented death in 1593.’

Methinks Herr Emmerich doth protest too much.

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Author:Paul Edmondson

Head of Research and Knowledge and Director of the Stratford-upon-Avon Poetry Festival for The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. Follow Paul on Twitter @paul_edmondson
  • Harry Horton

    what happened to my message? It disappeared.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y63VOTPM6AUUZHAVT7WTDPC2WA hunters

    The anti-Shakespeare movement, pushed by academics, profited on by Hollywood and exploited by ‘news’ media is just one manifestation of a much larger dysfunction in today’s intellectual class.

  • http://www.brightonimplantclinic.co.uk/ Dental Implants

    Nice post. I learn something more challenging on different blogs everyday. It will always be stimulating to read content from other writers and practice a little something from their store. I’d prefer to use some with the content on my blog whether you don’t mind. Naturally I’ll give you a link on your web blog.

  • Wjray

    Agree with that sentiment.  A reasonable analysis of this subject would make anyone doubt the pablum we have been fed since childhood.  Rhetoric can’t make it stronger.

  • Beth

    What a pity this piece of writing descends to such a level – methinks you do overegg the pudding.

  • Kirsten Russell

    Wonderful deconstruction. I don’t want to see this picture because it just sounds too mean spirited, but I’m very interested in the debate about Shakespeare’s authorship because it brings out such strong, passionate, and informative arguments from Shakespearean scholars. Thanks! 

  • William Ray

    I don’t know if I can reply satisfactorily to all this.  However two points struck me as important.  One, you seem to confuse poor penmanship and illiteracy.  Shakspere’s “signatures”, so-called, are labored and without skill, like each time was the first effort to make meaningful symbols.  A rapid signature might well be hurried and malformed. This is not illiteracy.  Even Stratfordian commentators have noticed that the “signatures” are shockingly unlike what one sees and saw in a contemporaneous writer’s script.  It is a clue, not an entire argument.  Together with everything else, it fits the theory that this was not the author of immortal literature. Not that he couldn’t have been if so motivated and been given the chance.  But whatever talent and whatever chance, he would not write of the upper regions of the aristocracy.  He would have brought alive the still untold feudal saga, writing the short and simple annals of the expendable anonymous poor.Two, the charge of down-rating or -grading Shakspere, even though he was central after a certain point to the pseudonym hoax.  I think we can agree that impersonating a great writer is beyond a man of no known, certainly no considerable, education.  Although we literally do not know what happened on a practical level, this would have looked like and been a farce.  Jonson ridiculed Shakspere in EMIHH and EMOOHH for his boorish pretension to Gentleman status. Playing the Great Author would have been worse by far.  Katherine Chiljan discusses these possibilities very ably in ‘Shakespeare Suppressed’.  We also have to bear in mind that playwrights were not honored celebrities, any more than TV screenwriters are celebrities now.  So Shakspere probably was not called upon to be recognized as the Great Author.  His role, a mendacious one, was to represent himself as authorizing publishers to print the quartos, and their knowing this was an imposter, but a tolerated one by the true author, and seeing the opening for gaining a profit, were not over-conscientious checking.  What happened to the money, we do not know.  He was not the type to do something if there were nothing to be gained.

    I don’t agree that there are one or two co-incidences between Oxford and the Shakespeare canon.  There are so many that co-incidence is an inadequate explanation.  It moves to probability, plausibility, probity, and finally to beyond reasonable doubt.  I cannot list all, but reading a comprehensive study will convince the reasonably objective reader.  Beyond reasonable doubt is about as close as we can get to the historical truth.

  • Anonymous

    Despite my request not to, you sure did a good job and ‘putting pieces of an imaginary jigsaw’ together. There is still no factual evidence for why Shakespeare could not have written the plays.

    Anyway, DUDE ARE YOU SERIOUS? Shakespeare was ‘not a literate man’ because he had BAD HAND WRITING??? My hand writing is TERRIBLE and I can read! I never spell the same letter exactly the same twice and I can instantly see why I do that and indeed, a good reason for Shakespeare to: from a young age my ideas have exploded from my head so quickly that I was scribbling down an endless torrent of words for even the most simple of classroom assignments. It is a trait I have noticed in other people who write a lot; bad hand writing goes hand in hand with a furious, inexhaustable spray of inspiration! In fact, let me search for something else that can verify this as I am sure it is a well-known fact… A-HA! Just type in ‘bad hand writing good’ into google and you will find page after page confirming this. Here is just one of the first five that makes it quite clear: http://school.familyeducation.com/gifted-education/penmanship/41874.html So, having used the most horrendeous ‘sweeping doctrinaire statement’ in saying ‘This is not a literate man.’ because of his inconsistant hand writing is a very silly point to make. Can we agree that bad handwriting is in fact the very hall mark of genius and not at all an indication that the person is illiterate??

    The notion that he didn’t go to school, simply because we have no record of that sounds passable until you realise that John Shakespeare – who certainly was a real person, let’s agree – was pretty affluent in his day as a tanner (amongst other things). Do you care to deny the house which John Shakespeare lived in was real or that he did indeed concieve the man from Stratford that you are so accusing? Obviously you would not do that as it is perfectly true; John Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon did indeed give birth to the William Shakespeare in question and if the man was making money, living in a grand old house (not exactly a mansion but upper-middle class by any standard of the times) why wouldn’t he send his children to school? In fact, if it’s either / or and there is (as you have quite rightly have pointed out) no evidence to support either way, I should imagine it were perfectly normal to send your kid to the local grammer and not make a big deal out of it! If you wish to claim that he was a bad father who chose not to send his children to school (as he certainly could afford it) you are clutching at straws, the same straws which you deny the right to say he did. And on another thing: surely the swash buckling, double-dealing, cheeky-chappy, up-and-down, semi-criminal, semi-politician character of his father (which is all very well documented, as I’m sure you know) is EXACLTY the kind of inspiration you would expect to find in the father of the man who created Falstaff and Parolles??

    But now it is time to finish this once and for all. Here is a point that you cannot deny and which quite confounds your proposal:

    THE MORE YOU DISPROVE SHAKESPEARE’S INVOLVEMENT, THE MORE THE THEORY HE WAS A FRAUD IS DISSOLVED, simply because even if Oxford did write the plays and use Shakespeare
    to produce them, Shakespeare’s involvment MUST have been paramount in order to achieve a successful hoax. You can hardly say that Shakespeare didn’t have anything to do with it yet he was also the public figure credited for the work. If Oxford chose someone, would he have chosen someone who COULDN’T EVEN READ!!!!???? [as you have just stated yourself is the root and cause of this entire conspiracy]!!!!!!!??? And someone must have taken credit for the work, so why on earth would you
    deny it was William Shakespeare? Even if Oxford was secretly writing the plays, it was the ‘man from Stratford’ who’s name was on the cover, let’s agree on that much at least. So you see, the more your argument decreases the standard of Shakespeare’s ability, so too, the more credence lacks as to the notion he was Oxford’s confidant. He couldn’t have been the front man and NOT have been the writer accredited for the plays. So the ‘lack of evidence’ that he did write them is niether here nor there, even when considered from your own appalling angle. Are you really suggesting that William Shakespeare was BOTH the public figure credited for the plays AND illiterate, uneducated? So do you see now how flawed your conspiracy is??? Do not waste mine – or anybody else’s, including your own – time with little bits and bobs of this and that, which when ‘put together’ form the semblance of shady business.

    Enough now. I will let you have the last word if you want but you really should let go of these silly theories and wake up to the fact that you have been wasting your time and energy with them. To say that because  two words (out of nearly a MILLION of the them!!!) spoken by a clown character in a comedy er, when translated into Italian um sound phonetically the same as the name of the person we are electing as the true author… it’s not revelatory in any way. It’s thin. Very, very thin indeed. Couldn’t he have put something like that in the battle of Agincourt? Or maybe Prospero could have something like that, at a special, important concluding moment? But no, it was a fleeting moment in a light-hearted scene between two laughable characters. It is not iconic in that way, it is not even subtle. It is downright irrelevent. A co-incidence, one of two which were bound to occur across the full width of Shakespeare’s mastery. You could probably find characters who say ‘Two towers’ and ‘September’ in the same scene and then you could probably find words that sound like ‘Laden’ and ‘Oil’ – when translated into Arabic – at lines 9 and 11 of the Act in which war begins. But that hardly means it has anything to do with West invading the East, does it? Yet do you deny that you could easily reach the same ‘standard’ of evidence with any number of theories, when you are examining such an extraordinarily large range of material as Shakespeare’s complete works??? Quite frankly, don’t you think your own theorie DESERVES better evidence than that?? I do not think I have to say anything else, if you are going to see sense then you will see it now or never. Let go. Join the good fight. And spread the good news: Shakespeare was from a place like you or me, an ordinary guy with extraordinary talent, a small town boy with big time dreams. Please, we really could use someone like you on our team. Especially when you know so much about the dark side; just thinking about the good you might do is positively exciting! But you have to let go of these silly ideas. Let go and be free!

    Goodbye Wjray, it has been a pleasure examining the case for Shakespeare’s identity with you. I now feel even more affirmed in my position than I did before. Please feel free to make your own last stand and after that we shall have to agree to disagree. Peace & Love always and I would say ‘Keep it Shakespeare’ but apparently you don’t want to be a part of that club – H

  • Wjray

    There is no argument that I know of that talent is reserved for the upper class, or what you call genius.  As Freud said, talent is universal, only character is rare.  Your assumption that Shakspere went to grammar school as the basis on which his genius thrived cannot be verified because the records are lost.  But his signatures, and the entire legal history available to us, indicate he wasn’t the least concerned or least involved with writing.  The signatures do not form a single letter correctly or consistently.  All six are spelled differently, scrambled and scrawled, unlike other actors’ signatures, which have style and a certain flourish in most of them.  This was not a literate man.  His will indicates no accoutrements of a literate, cultivated, or musical personality.  The current penchant for saying all books were in an inventory, now lost, fails because very few extant inventories from that era listed books.  They were considered of major importance and received mention in or verbal pre-arrangement before the will process. His will gives nothing to the local school, and lesser successes in Stratford did, with true appreciation for the value of education.  But not Shakspere. The custom meant nothing to him apparently, and this makes sense in a way, if he had received no educational benefit. Your assumption depends on his having received his entire educational benefit there.  As to Shakspere’s educational level, The Merry Wives of Windsor gives some indication.  If you would read the dialogue with William, you will see a barely familiar Latin reader.  It is a joke sequence, both about the teacher and the student.  The universal grammar being used begins with the sentence, “My name is Edwardus,” and every educated person remembered that. It was an identifying joke on the authorship of the play.  Similarly, William in As You Like It has no literary capacity.  He simply wants to claim Audrey, the symbol of the muse, the ‘ray of art’ if the pun means anything–aud resembling art in their pronunciation.  Wiliam has to be threatened in order to back off.  Touchstone says, to have is to have, claiming his own writing (art/Aud-rey).  What is revelatory about this strange language is that ‘to have’ in Italian is ‘avere’.  Embedded in the conversation is the name of the true author.  This happens elsewhere in the Shakespearean canon.  Shakspere is satirized in Jonson’s plays as well.  It has never been documented that Shakspere was an actor.  Only one document associates him with the theater players, the 1595 record that he along with Burbage and someone else were servants for the Lord Chamberlain’s men, to receive payment from the Queen’s bursor for a performance.  There is ample contemporaneous documentation for other actors.  He was not listed in traveling troupes, as would be customary for actors in “his” company.    Much of your frustration would be allayed by a reading of any number of good books on the subject.  I recommend Chiljan’s ‘Shakespeare Suppressed’, Anderson’s ‘Shakespeare by Another Name’, and Mike A’Dair’s ‘Four Essays on the Shakespeare Authorship Question’.

  • Humphrey44

    ‘…something is wrong-‘

    It was over FOUR HUNDRED years ago!!!

    ‘-[with] the present brittle and illogical interpretation…’

    The only ‘present brittle and illogical’ – keyword here – ‘interpretation'[s] would be the conspiracy theories propsosed.

    ‘…in the same stroke we must…’

    Hardly. Let’s not get carried away here with ‘sweeping doctrinaire statements’ which really don’t come any grander than ‘because the queen almost certainly wasn’t a virgin, surley, a contemporary poet must have been the front man for a ghost writer’

    ‘…not a tawdry false intellectual anaesthesia…’

    I really couldn’t put it any better myself! STOP. LET GO. SHOW THE REAL SHAKESPEARE A BIT MORE RESPECT! And if you must continue, don’t talk about ‘this event’ which ‘this play’s action was supposedly based on’ or ‘how could he know about this’ and ‘this other fella certainly knew a lot about that’ just riddle me this: in which ways has it been proven [or even significantly implied] that William Shakespeare could not have possibly written those plays? And don’t you dare say ‘because he didn’t go to a nice school’ because that is just about the most dumbest thing I have ever heard. Genius is not reserved for the rich or powerful, talent is not exclusively for the well-raised and well-trained. Desperate people often prove to be the most successful. William Shakespeare was middle-class, hardly a chimney sweep or a starving orphan. He was taught latin at school, they introduced him to Ovid and every upstart in the kingdom knew all the myths and legends. Hec, he had the wit to speak the lines didn’t he? And even you conspiracy nuts wouldn’t deny that speak them he did for many a year! So what gives? Why can’t it be him???

  • Wjray

    Thanks for the (backhand) compliment, I guess.  I wouldn’t write in these blogs if I didn’t, first, love the truth and wish to bring it to light, and two, trust that general intelligence will recognize something is wrong with the present brittle and illogical interpretation.  Sure it is fun to break up the cliches and cliche arguments.  Absurdity is entertaining–until it does real damage to generations of thinking.  Then it is serious corruption to be corrected if possible at all.  The ultimate purpose is to uncover an encrusted history that has resulted cumulatively in a complicated (both idolatrous and condescending) fiction instead of an accurate and proper recognition for the true author and his historical context.  I understand what you mean by just read the plays and benefit, Shakespeare is great.  Agreed as far as that goes.  But art and artist are inextricable.  Understood together there is one larger appreciative edification of human spiritual potential and achievement.  So what if we should drop the cutsy myth of the Virgin Queen and see it was a political-religious tactic?  In the same stroke we must drop the myth of the faceless, politically harmless scribbler who knows all things noble, but still can be tucked away in Stratford and on the bookshelf.  These were human beings and there is a discernible story, not a tawdry false intellectual anaesthesia.

  • Iloveshakespeare

    Steve: if any pun crazy Jacobethan could figure out the publisher’s inscription of a Jacobean play, then it’s not much of a conspiracy is it?

    And indeed the circumstantial evidence you accept would seem to indicate Oxford as the author.

    Aren’t you curious as to why Heminges and Condell dedicated the Folio to their friend and asked that you read him and read him again in case you miss the point of the Folio?

    And why does an openly gay director steer away from the gay/bisexual issues in Oxford’s life in his film?

  • Iloveshakespeare

    Curious to know just how the knowledge that Oxford wrote the plays can assist an actor learning his lines for a Shakespeare play? How does it affect the production? Do Oxfordian actors somehow convey this juicy bit of knowledge in their character’s role? So where’s the benefit of knowing that Oxford wrote them?

    They were plays, not pieces of literature. Oxfordians talk about Sh’s works as if they were literature only. If you want to believe someone else wrote these plays go ahead. But don’t pretend anything changes because of this knowledge.

    Knowing the author’s life adds nothing to the actual directing of and acting in the plays. Perhaps a bit more passion. Nor is there any other interpretation added that benefits any given play. So the Tempest wasn’t based on any shipwreck? Does that substantially alter the play? Caliban and Ariel are no different though you might think on Prospero as being something else.

    But still that alters nothing to your average playgoer or reader. This whole issue is unimportant outside of who wrote the plays. It detracts from the reading and understanding of what is already difficult enough to read and understand.

  • Anonymous

    The absurd choice of words used in your rebuttal is an expression of everything wrong with the arguments being made; it is just intellectual masturbation, egghead vanity so wrapped up in its own pretentious snobbery that it has to dress-up it’s true substance with repetitive sarcasm (always done in poor taste) and sweeping ‘doctrinaire statements’ (I suspect your own abuse of them has led you to be so familiar with this preposterous and rarely used term) such as ‘accepts such chicanery unquestioningly’ (a silly point to make, as here we are hashing it out on the very same ‘corrupt’ authorities’ forums, provided exactly for such a purpose), ‘propounded as settled fact’, ‘prevailing monopoly’ and ‘literary pantheon’ all in the same three lines, ‘doctrinaire statements’ if I ever did hear them!

    Someone as good at writing as yourself must surely know the plain truth about the art of debate: a case can always be made. The little scrimps and scraps of trivia-related ‘evidence’ that are proposed are all united in their disregard of the initial and only reason for this controversy; you just can’t accept that Shakespeare was an average guy, with special talent. The danger of hyping up these issues so grotesquely as to make a big-budget Hollywood movies about them is that it distracts people from the true issue at hand: Shakespeare’s genius!!! Just look at all the time you have spent Wjray, citing endless references and writing chorus’ of pretentious doctrinaire statements; in attempting to showcase the astonishingly wide range of literature you have considered (really, very impresive, I’m sure we can all agree) you have in fact exposed yourself as the very kind of victim we are attempting to protect; you have wasted your time, when you could have just been enjoying the damn plays! In assimiliting all these different sources so magnificently, time and time again, you have undone yourself. Of course you are going to fight, now ‘your time has come’ because of this movie, it really should be expected if you have spent ssssoooo much time studying it. But alas, there lies the very fault of your vanity and it must hurt to be told by someone so simply; ‘there is no need to do this’. Have fun clinging on bitterly to your pride, your wasted time and your scaffolded theories, as for myself, I’m off to the local to see a fringe production of Othello and the matter of Shakespeare’s ‘fraudulent’ personality will never be more than some intriguing banter on a fun bloggin forum.

    Shakespeare was a cool guy. Leave him alone dude

  • Wjray

    Hmmm.  Those doctrinaire statements. They are so entertaining.  “There is not even the slightest possibility fraud of any nature whatsoever has occured [sic] and there is nothing which needs to be addressed…”  How about the fraud James Shapiro committed in 2010 claiming he found the Wilmot-Cowell forgery.  Dr. John Rollett found it.  But he was an Oxfordian scholar.  How about the fast-following (2011) fraud Stanley Wells committed in giving credit to Shapiro and using it to buttress his (factually wrong) contention that there was never ANY questioning of the Shakespeare canon authorship until 1850? Contemporary Elizabethan writers questioned it from before the issuance of the First Folio in 1623.  How about the sturdy Stratfordians, Ireland and Collier, inventing documents to fictitiously historicize Shakspere of Stratford as an author?  The near purchase of New Place in 1847 by P.T. Barnum.  But the native objected.  They wanted to run the scam, not the ‘fool born every minute’ American. The invention of the chronology of the plays to conform to the time-span Shakspere could be placed in London?  The assumption that a performance of Shakespeare was still wet from the author’s quill, even though allusions dated back to the 1570’s and ’80’s?   No frauds there.  Certainly not.  Unless the whole theory was fraudulent.

    Nothing to be addressed!  Hmmm. How about the Stratfordian narrative that accepts such chicanery unquestioningly, since it serves to support an extremely tenuous indeed absurd and historically dishonest theory, propounded as settled fact?  There is a great deal to be addressed.  That the prevailing monopoly over distribution and education regarding these matters finds such an inquiry a consummation it devoutly does not wish–honest scholars must step in the gap and risk pot-shots and worse from the morally deeply asleep but wide-awake self-interested purveyors of accreted tradition.  Hrumph just won’t get it any more.  Grown-ups can’t be shushed and shamed into silence when the core of our literary pantheon is wrapped in a lie.  

  • Blair Gubernath

    I watched the debate between Dr. Wells and Charles Beauclerc and I thought it was fantastic.  Kuddos to Dr. Wells for being a gentleman and kuddos to Mr. Beauclerc for offering substantive debate.  I am an Oxfordian btw but it was greatly appreciated to see civil debate.

  • Wjray

    Since there was some similarity between the actual Burmuda shipwreck, in particular the lead ship separating from the rest, and descriptions in The Tempest’s sea-tale, and since there are definite indications of similarity to Jonson characters in the Tempest characterizations, we may find out in time that there really was a topical reference in the great play by the final editor of Shakespeare’s play.  But no one can turn its described yellow sands, typical of Vulcano, near Sicily, into the white sands of Burmuda, and talk about being blown off course into another sea entirely, 4,000 miles off course.  Oxfordwas there and saw the barren wastes. The Tempest’s Burmoothes reference wasn’t because Burmuda was the locale of the play.  It was just a reference to a rough part of London where people went to buy liquor.

    I don’t know about Shakespeare and his acolytes writing plays by committee.  There is no evidence that that took place, though some conjecture from the uneven plays and make Fletcher’s revisions of Two Noble Kinsmen into a “collaboration” between the aging gent from Stratford and the young buck.  Pure invention.  Although Fletcher added a subplot in his revision that was not in the earlier play, Two Noble Kinsmen derived from an adolescent Oxford effort that played before the Queen.  She supported it.  I don’t think she would support somebody who had to post bond because of intimidations feared by one of his debtors.  That was your hero Shakspere.  It is right there in black and white, the Langley connection.  Fact.  Also the Belott-Mountjoy hearing, friends of his involved in a whorehouse across town.  He didn’t know for sure when he was born. Fact.  I think you may be riding the Derby on a three-legged horse but politeness is everything.  Figure it out for yourself some time.  It is good to clear up useless and false myths at the core of our literary tradition.

  • Steven Hershkowitz

    Stratfordians come off as wannabees who desperately wish that a man with no qualifications wrote the greatest literature because they hope one day to do the same.  Half of Shake-speare’s works were not published until 1623; does that not disqualify the man from Stratford?  Or were they written before his death?  If they were written before his death and published later doesn’t that mean it could be Oxford? Why do Stratfordians claim that The Tempest depicts a shipwreck?  Have you read or seen it?  Ariel guides the boat safely to a bay on the other side of the island.  No shipwreck, therefore no relation to events in 1609.  I guess that kills that theory, but it should be noted that de Vere invested in shipping ventures and one of his boats was wrecked in a storm, so maybe it was him.  Aren’t you curious as to why the face of William Shakespeare in the Folio of 1623 is a mask (do you see the line coming down off the ear).  The publisher’s inscription of the 1608 Othello says it all: “A never writer to an ever reader” which the pun-crazy readers of the time would have figured out instantly: “An E.Ver writer to an E.ver reader”.  Still, if the Stratfordians could produce one real piece of evidence I would admit there case instantly.  Until then we only have circumstantial evidence, and that points to Oxford.

  • Wjray

    Does anyone here but Katherine Chiljan have any knowledge or do you make do with cliches?  I frequently see the supposed put-down that ten of the plays were written after Oxford died in 1604. Lie.  Shapiro asserted that one in the New York Times yesterday. Will he or anyone verify his words factually? Certainly not.  It is a claim backed by–nothing, just the logical jump that some play PERFORMANCES occurred after Oxford died! The Tempest’s sourcing has been extensively traced by Stritmatter-Kositsky to literary and nautical memoir references in existence well before 1603.  The ‘True Reportory’ letter by Strachey, incidentally a notorious plagiarer, a tract not published until 1625–is a cabbage leaf’s worth of evidence. it is no evidence at all. Macbeth is supposed to have been based on the Gunpowder Plot, without any demonstrable connection, pure assumption; but no one mentions that Oxford wrote the prototype, A Tragedie of the Kinge of Scottes in 1567. And whereas Hamlet, Henry VI, part 1, Taming of the Shrew, and other plays mentioned contemporary celestial events, Halley’s comet, the retrograde Mars, the use of the telescope in observation of the moons of Jupiter or Venus are mysteriously absent from Shakespeare plays.  Why missing? Don’t know for absolute certain–but we may note that each of the listed spectacular events occurred after June 1604, when Edward de Vere died.  He was known as an avid follower of astronomy.  Shakspere lived until 1616 but gave no evidence in his whole life of interest in literature or science. This is a simple sketch showing that if you don’t know anything, the fake-it cliches won’t help your case. Hit the books and you may not look so silly.

  • http://www.shakespearesuppressed.com Katherine Chiljan

    The true debate is not Stratford Man vs Oxford, or Bacon, etc. And the true debate is not “could he have written the Shakespeare works?” The true debate is: was the Stratford Man the great author, yes or no? To arrive at an informed answer, instead of blindly accepting the establishment line, I suggest reviewing the professor’s case for the Stratford Man. The evidence is entirely posthumous. Yes, he held theater shares and was a member of the King’s Men, but no fact during his lifetime proves he was educated, or was a writer — even family members made no such claim. Meanwhile, contemporaries printed comments that “William Shakespeare” was an alias, and the author highly ranked. 

    This issue will never go away until Stratfordians provide clear proof that the Stratford Man was the great author during his lifetime. And the issue will never go away until the Anti-Stratfordians give a plausible reason why the First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays (1623) and the funerary monument in Stratford suggested the Stratford Man was the great author (I attempt to do this in Shakespeare Suppressed).

  • Iloveshakespeare

    1604, Brian. Even less time for him to have written and foreseen the Jacobean period. I found a slightly Oxfordian pdf online which puts the debate into perspective. I hope I can post links here: nope. so google historicizing shakespeare by david chandler. Paul this is a good one for you too!

    This essay shows little side-taking, just tries to justify the need for debate. Very important reading though to see the gulf that exists between them and us.


  • http://twitter.com/Jastrow75 Marie-Lan Taÿ Pamart

    I’m French. When I first heard about the ‘Oxfordian’ theory I was immediately reminded of the controversy about the paternity of Molière’s plays – Molière is one of of our most beloved playwrights; everyone in France has studied at least two or three of his plays at school. According to some, Molière didn’t actually write the plays ascribed to him, but he used Corneille (also one of France’s most prominent playwrights) as a ghostwriter. The theory is backed by serious academics, and based on upon lexical similarities between the two sets of works. Yet deep down the argument always seems to be: How could a mere actor-manager write such masterpieces? In both cases, Molière and Shakespeare, this doesn’t strike me as very convincing.

  • Humphrey

    I wonder if you are just an antagonist, who secretly knows there is no evidence to support these theories; HAVE YOU READ A SINGLE ARTICLE ON THIS WEBSITE??? All I have to say is that I hope the film will CLOSE people’s eyes to this preposterous theory. Amy, I can indeed confirm that there is not even the slightest possibility fraud of any nature whatsoever has occured and there is nothing which needs to be addressed, that which already has serving as gratuitous evidence of the fact.

  • Brian Willis

    Nonsense. One convenient fact that you Oxfordians seem to ignore: he died in 1610. 6 plays appeared after that time, including the very important fact that The Tempest contains contemporary historical events that occured after Oxford’s death.

    The other facts are fallacies. There is an awful lot of conjecture in there and not an ounce of fact. Do you propose that Oxford was actually on the grassy knoll on November 22, 1963 as well?

  • Amyloveliterature

    Also, the film specfically addresses the Earl of Oxford as being the real author – and with historical facts about the man it does seem more likely that he is indeed the author:

    1920 – J. T. Looney, a
    Gateshead schoolmaster proposes Oxford as the author behind Shakespeare in his
    book Shakespeare Identified. His
    followers have modified the theory to put Oxford at the head of a group of
    brilliant courtiers who produced the plays as a committee.




    Oxford’s biography also fitted the bill, according to
    Looney. As a courtier he had the necessary intimate knowledge of the monarchy
    and nobility. His extensive travels had caused him to be mocked as an
    ‘Italianate Englishman’. In 1598, Francis Meres named Oxford as ‘The best for
    Comedy among us’, which Looney asserted was evidence for Oxford having written
    plays – none of which exist under his name, perhaps because they were known
    under Shakespeare’s name?




    role in the syndicate was as the honest broker that negotiated with theatres
    and printers for production and publication of the plays. His name became the
    pseudonym that would protect the true authors form any politically dangerous
    material that they produced. Shakespeare’s acting knowledge may have aided the
    authors in rendering their literary productions into texts that were suitable
    for stage performance.

  • Amyloveliterature

    Hopefully the film will open people’s eyes to the question of whether or not he wrote the plays.  So much time is spent on his work in our education that if there is the slightest possibility that there is fraud, we need to address it.

  • http://runningbadger.blogspot.com/ Dom

    That is excellent.Beautiful demonstration of the double standards of the denialists.

    One tiny detail: Jacobi’s birthplace is spelt Leytonstone.

  • http://twitter.com/Bardoholic Annie Martirosyan

    You kick them with words spot on, sir! God for Harry, England and the Holy Spirit of the Trinity Church! Plague upon anti-Shakespeareans!

  • Iloveshakespeare

    Yea, Orthodoxians!

  • Jan Kellett

    Methinks Herr Emmerich saw an opportunity to make lots of money. I’m delighted to see such a robust rebuttal of these theories.

  • Brian Willis

    Claiming that Shakespeare could not have written the works that we attrribute to him because he was a “regionally challenged” man with no university education is like claiming that the Beatles couldn’t have written their songs because they were four Liverpudlians with no former musical training. Perhaps it was actually the London-based Rolling Stones who wrote the Beatles’ ouevre, using Apple Corps as a front for the more “respectable” pop-based rock that they wrote under the Beatles’ name.

    Why is it that the more elaborate the unsubstantiated rumour mongering perpetuated by these Oxfordians becomes, the more they seem to think that they have any sort of a legitimate case? Why can they not just see that their claims for “restoring” the “authentic Shakespeare” are just their own version of Shakespeare’s story: the need to climb the social ladder by rewriting history and hopefully gain the status of a gentleman along the way? The fact that they can attempt to restore a patriarchal reading of history by placing Elizabeth in the hands of her male advisors as a witless buffoon (apparently paralleling the “rural idiot” that they portray Shakespeare to be) just adds to the growing evidence that the conspiracists are a group of social snobs in disguise, apparently the same type of snobs, such as Robert Greene, that he faced in his own time – a snob who, ironically, provides direct evidence that the social climber from Stratford did indeed write the plays and irritated the university wits by doing so.

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