At the end of his opinion Justice Stevens noted that "the Oxfordian case suffers from not having a single, coherent theory of the case. There did exist a man named William Shakspere, of Stratford, but the plays and poems attributed to William Shakespeare were in fact written by Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, the Lord Great Chamberlain and senior earl of England, early a favorite of Queen Elizabeth and usually on good terms with her.
Henceforward I will use "Shakspere" to denote the man from Stratford and "Shakespeare" to denote the author of the plays, whoever he was. There is abundant evidence, discomforting to Stratfordians, that many of the existing plays are rewritten versions of earlier plays or, more simply date from a time that would require prodigious effort on the part of the Stratford man. Perhaps as many as a dozen plays were written before the Stratford man reached his thirty-first birthday. Oxfordians believe that Oxford wrote the earlier plays for court performance in the s—when Oxford was in his thirties—and that they were later revised for the public theater.
Not until was the name Shakespeare appended to plays. Before then, all published quartos of plays subsequently attributed to Shakespeare had no name on the title page. In associating himself with and writing for the public theater, Oxford was both slumming and enjoying himself—and taking the opportunity to write figuratively about events and people surrounding the court.
As it was not acceptable for noblemen to be associated with public as opposed to court theater, Oxford agreed to keep his family's name out of it. He wrote "not for attribution," as we now say. Perhaps, as Justice Stevens suggested, the Queen herself so ordered him. Possibly he was content to write pseudonymously without urging. The Earl of Oxford may have met the Stratford man in London at some point and enlisted him as his "blind," or front man: Oxfordians disagree among themselves about this key point. A variant of this theory holds that Oxford was already using the name Shakespeare when the Stratford man showed up in London.
This is less plausible, but it accommodates a contemporary document in which it is reported that Gabriel Harvey, a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, praised the Earl of Oxford in in Latin with the words "Thine eyes flash fire, thy countenance shakes a spear. Oxford thereupon set Shakspere up as a shareholder in the Chamberlain's Men, the theater company where Shakspere presumably worked as a factotum and manager. Writing in the mids Emerson admitted that he could not "marry" Shakspere's life to Shakespeare's work: "Other admirable men have led lives in some sort of keeping with their thought, but this man in wide contrast.
There is a great gulf between the life and the work. Ivor Brown inadvertently drew attention to it in his biography of Shakespeare. But "it may have been Mrs. Anne Shakespeare who forced this into court," Brown continued. No amount of research has been able to narrow this gulf.
In some respects research has widened it. At the time of the Restoration, forty-four years after the Stratford man's death, knowledge of Shakespeare was so poor that the plays bound together for the library of Charles II and labeled "Shakespeare. Textual scholarship only later clarified the canon, and tremendous archival digging in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries turned up quite a bit of information about Shakspere's life. But if we exclude posthumous testimony none of it establishes Shakspere as a playwright. With the rise of critical scholarship, poetic images of the Stratford man, told as fables at second and third hand in the eighteenth century, have mostly been overthrown as unreliable.
Schoenbaum, who more than most biographers has eschewed the "perhaps" that links Shakspere to so much of Elizabethan life, was reduced by his own scrupulosity in his Documentary Life to presenting scraps of paper that show little more than routine transactions—Stratford tithes, Southwark tax records, and documents involving "petty disputes over money matters.
The Stratfordians have a point when they tell us we know quite a lot about Shakspere—more than we do about Christopher Marlowe, for example. It's WHAT we know that causes difficulties, not how little.
His father, the constable and glover, could not write; he signed documents with a cross or made his mark. Judith, Shakspere's younger daughter, "evidently took after her mother [Anne Hathaway]—she couldn't write," A. Rowse reported. As for the older daughter, Susanna, Joseph Quincy Adams, a former director of the Folger Library, reproduced her wobbly signature in his Life of William Shakespeare, but it does not encourage confidence that she was literate.
Married to Dr. John Hall, she lived on into the time of the English Civil War. After Hall's death a surgeon visited her at Stratford because he wanted to see her husband's manuscripts not her father's. At that time she was unable to recognize her own husband's handwriting. Which brings us to Shakspere's six uncontested signatures. They are painfully executed in an uncertain hand, a historical embarrassment. Joseph M. English, Jr. The surviving record does not contradict the possibility that Shakspere's level of literacy was no greater than his daughter's.
His signatures are appended to legal documents only. There are no known manuscripts or letters by Shakspere. We have one letter that was sent to him but he is thought not to have received it. It asks for a loan of [[sterling]] Shakspere is not known to have attended Stratford grammar school the school records have not survived , and no one who did attend it ever claimed to have been his classmate.
If he was a pupil, he probably was not one for long, as orthodoxy concedes, because his father ran into financial difficulties. Shakspere married at the age of eighteen and had three children including twins before his twenty-first birthday, in Joseph Quincy Adams guessed that Shakspere spent some time as a schoolmaster. The alternative he described as follows:. Several orthodox scholars, including Alfred Harbage, date the composition of Love's Labour's Lost to the late s.
The play contains allusions to the visit of Marguerite de Valois and Catherine de Medici to the Court of Henry of Navarre at Nerac, the names of French courtiers remaining unchanged in the play. Somehow the Stratford man found out about all this, embodying it in a parody of court manners and literary fashions. The play was "a battle in a private war between court factions," according to the Arden edition of Love's Labours Lost, with many indications that it had been written first "for private performance in court circles," and then was rewritten and published in quarto in It's hard to believe that Shakspere started out as a court insider.
In his prefatory poem in the first folio , Ben Jonson misleadingly told readers that Shakespeare had "small Latin and less Greek. John Milton picked up the refrain, writing in that the poet "warble[d] his native wood-notes wild. Shakespeare's learning, worn so unostentatiously, didn't become apparent until much later. The eighteenth-century editor George Steevens said of a portion of Titus Andronicus: "This passage alone would sufficiently convince me that the play before us was the work of one who was conversant with the Greek tragedies in their original language.
We have here a plain allusion to the Ajax of Sophocles, of which no translation was extant in the time of Shakespeare. The Comedy of Errors was taken from a play by Plautus before it had been published in English translation. The Rape of Lucrece is derived from the Fasti of Ovid, of which there appears to have been no English version, according to John Churton Collins, the author of Studies in Shakespeare Collins also found in the plays "portions of Caesar, Sallust, Cicero and Livy. Prouty, a professor at the University of Missouri, concluded that Shakespeare "read both Italian and French and was familiar with both Bandello and Bellefont.
As noted above, Belleforest's Histoires Tragiques, which contains the Hamlet story, had not been translated from the French by the time Hamlet was written. Othello is based on a story in G. Giraldi Cinthio's Hecatommithi, not translated from the Italian by the time of the play's first performance. Andrew S. Cairncross, who in the s espoused an early-authorship theory of the plays, concluded that Shakespeare's "knowledge and use" of Italian is "established.
In William Wayte "craves sureties of the peace against Shakspere" and others "for fear of death. In Stratford he was among the "wicked people" named as stockpiling grain at a time of famine in A year earlier he bought New Place, the second-largest house in Stratford, for [[sterling]]60, but he "did not live there permanently until his retirement, c.
Halliday in A Shakespeare Companion, a standard reference work. In London there was no recorded reaction to his death, in —an extraordinary oversight, considering that the city went into mourning when the actor Richard Burbage died, three years later. The playwright "spent some years before his death at his native Stratford," according to his first biographer, Nicholas Rowe, "in ease, retirement, and the conversation of his friends.
Francis Beaumont, who died a month before Shakspere, was said by Marchette Chute to have "retired" from playwriting in his late twenties, but a recent study argued that he had suffered a stroke. It seems unlikely that Shakspere really did retire, however, for in we find him again back in London—buying property in Blackfriars and mortgaging it the next day. Shakspere's will, first prepared in January of , itemizing such minutiae as a silver-gilt bowl, his own clothes, his plate, and his second-best bed this last to his wife , mentions no books or manuscripts. This was the will of someone concerned about and attentive to details—but these did not include the disposition of his literary remains.
At this point just over half the plays had not been published anywhere.
Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare authorship - Wikipedia
As far as I know, at no point in Shakspere's lifetime was the claim made that he had written anything, nor do we have any evidence that he was ever paid for writing. Shakspere himself makes no authorial claim in the anecdotes that have come down to us. In his fugitive appearances he is businesslike rather than literary. In the words of Joseph Sobran, the columnist and National Review critic at large, he remains throughout "a singularly taciturn fountain of eloquence.
As a young man, de Vere "dazzled the queen and absorbed the attention of her leisure moments," according to one historian. An uncle of his, Henry Howard, introduced the sonnet form in English; another uncle, Arthur Golding, who was probably also De Vere's tutor, translated Ovid's Metamorphoses, an important Shakespeare source. When Oxford was nineteen, a copy of the Amyot French translation of Plutarch's Lives was bought for him; a letter written by him in French at the age of thirteen survives.
He "won for himself an honorable place among the early masters of English poetry," Thomas Macaulay wrote. Of all the courtier poets, Chambers wrote, "the most hopeful" was De Vere, but he "became mute in late life.
Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare authorship
In deference to the taboo against noblemen's using their own names, only one published poem disclosed Oxford's authorship. Others used the initials "E.
Steven W. May, of Georgetown College, Kentucky, an expert on Oxford's poetry has reduced to sixteen the canon of his certain poems. This happens to be the year of Shakespeare's first poem Venus and Adonis. What has survived of Oxford's poetry does not rival Shakespeare's, but most of his known poems were written when Oxford was young, probably in his early twenties. According to Ward Elliott, of Claremont McKenna College, in California, who has researched the authorship question with statistical techniques, some of Oxford's known poems may have been composed when the earl was sixteen or younger.
Burghley and Oxford tried to persuade the rich youth to marry the girl Oxford had sold off an uncomfortably large portion of his inheritance by this time , but Southampton declined and was apparently fined by Burghley for doing so. Shakespeare's sonnets, or most of them, are believed to have been written in the early to mids, and Southampton's three biographers believe that he was the sonnets' "onlie begetter. Soon after undertaking his quest for the true author of Shakespeare's works, Looney turned to the Dictionary of National Biography, where he read:.
In Oxford was admitted to Gray's Inn, where he studied law and probably became acquainted with the dramatists and literary figures who frequented the Inns of Court at the time. He took over the Earl of Warwick's acting company in , and in leased Blackfriars Theatre for his own boys' company of players; he transferred the lease to John Lyly, an early Elizabethan dramatist who was also Oxford's private secretary.
In Gabriel Harvey ambiguously referred to Lyly as "the fiddlestick of Oxford. According to The Cambridge History of English Literature, "the earl of Oxford's company of players acted in London between and Lords and ladies didn't exactly go to opening nights at the Globe. It's suggestive that in Burghley complained in a letter to Sir Francis Walsingham that Oxford's "lewd friends Did Oxford write plays? It can be argued, however, that Meres either knew Oxford's secret and kept it or innocently believed that Oxford and Shakespeare had separate identities.
If he knew the secret, he was presumably discouraged from revealing it by the same social system that prevailed upon Oxford to hide his identity. In Oxford's case peer pressure to hide his name would have been strong. He went on to describe "Noblemen and Gentlemen of Her Majesty's own servants, who have written excellently well as it would appear if their doings could be found out and made public with the rest, of which number is first that noble gentleman Edward Earl of Oxford.
Churchill was so confident that Oxford's death in ruled him out as the Bard that he boldly asserted:. Two characteristics of the Shakespeare canon suggest powerfully that its author was not a small-town burgher but rather a well-traveled nobleman. One is the very attitude. The author displays little sympathy for the class of upwardly mobile strivers of which Shakspere was a preeminent member.
Shakespeare celebrates the faithful servant, but regards commoners as either humorous when seen individually or alarming in mobs. Either way he is remote from them. The concerns of the burgher are not his—hardly what one would expect from the pen of a thrifty countryman new in the big city and rising fast. Shakespeare's frequent disgust with court life sounds like the revulsion of a man who knew it too well. His contempt for a climber like Malvolio in Twelfth Night suggests a writer who is by birth above social climbing and finds it laughable in his inferiors.
Oxfordians, incidentally, make a strong case that the character of Malvolio is based on Sir Christopher Hatron. Roger Stritmatter and Wally Hurst discuss Hurst's presentation on examining evidence in early modern authorship. Anthony Pointon and Heward Wilkinson in from England will present this weekend. Richard Joyrich, SOS trustee relaxes after a successful conference launch,. Posted by Richard Joyrich. As many of you already know, the two leading Oxfordian groups in the United States, the Shakespeare Oxford Society and the Shakespeare Fellowship, are making plans to unify into a single organization.
This unification is long overdue, in my opinion. Both organizations have the same basic goals and mission and there has been a lot of inefficiency and extra expense in maintaining separate organizations. Both groups have already shown that working together has many benefits.
Witness the past seven Joint Authorship Conferences and the upcoming eighth one to be held next month in Toronto as well as the recently concluded High School Essay Contest. The Boards of Trustees of both organizations have been working tirelessly to come up with a plan to unify the two groups in a way that preserves the "best of both". A Plan of Unification and a completely new set of bylaws for the new organization have been drawn up.
As I write this, both of these documents are being sent to the members of the Shakespeare Oxford Society and the Shakespeare Fellowship to be approved. Final approval will hopefully occur at or before the Annual Meetings of the two groups, which are scheduled to occur during the upcoming Toronto Conference see an earlier post for some details on this Conference. The unified group, to be known as the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship SOF , will publish both of the two currently produced journals, The Oxfordian and Brief Chronicles , and will be able, because of the enhanced efficiency of the unification, to send print copies of both journals to all Regular Members.
The journals will continue to have the same editors as previously, thereby maintaining the high degree of scholarship they provide. The SOF will also send out four newsletters a year to all members. At subsequent Annual Meetings of the SOF elections will be held for Trustee positions, as specified in the new bylaws. The current Shakespeare Fellowship website will be updated for use as the website for the new SOF and all appropriate content including copies of past newsletters and journals from the websites of both existing organizations will be combined. Other social media outlets currently managed by the two organizations will be similarly combined.
As I mentioned above, complete details of the Plan of Unification and the new Bylaws will be sent to the membership for approval. The bylaws are also available online at www. I believe that this unification will result in allow for much better education of the general public on the important Authorship Issue and will allow a more united front for the continual attacks by the "academic community" who are no longer able to just ignore us and hope we will just go away.
Thursday, August 29, A further update on the Toronto Conference. I have more information now about the upcoming Toronto Conference to be held October , I urge everyone to register as soon as possible. Please go to either the Shakespeare Oxford Society website www. Toronto Conference Schedule.
- Clatter (Floating Wolf Quarterly Chapbooks).
- Edward de Vere and the Shakespeare Printers.
- Active Learning and Student Engagement: International Perspectives and Practices in Geography in Higher Education.
- Survival Investing: How to Prosper Amid Thieving Banks and Corrupt Governments.
- Shakespeare’s Face?;
- The Case for Oxford - The Atlantic?
- Edward de Vere and the Shakespeare Printers by Robert Sean Brazil!
The following program is subject to change. Thursday, 17 October. Opening of Conference. Oxfordian perspective. North Carolina. How to evaluate the strength of historical evidence.
A new video on the authorship question from Germany. Friday, 18 October. New Mexico. Stratford and the man who wrote the plays. Taking a Closer. Look at Clarkson and Warren.
Edward de Vere
Was Shakespeare acquainted with Athenian drama? The former. President of the SF explores the territory. Lunch on own. Meeting with Antoni Cimolino Director. Saturday, 19 October. Elizabethan Theatre. Sexuality may have been a prime reason for the pseudonym. New York.