An Unorthodox and Non-definitive Biography

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Shakespeare's Monument in Holy Trinity ChurchPublication of Shakespeare Beyond Doubt, the volume of essays attempting to lay to rest doubts about the authorship of Shakespeare’s works which I co-edited with Paul Edmondson, has involved me in a number of open discussions, some of them along with people who take the opposite point of view.

At the Stratford Literary Festival, and subsequently in a Shakespeare Birthplace Trust webinar, ‘Proving Shakespeare‘, I locked horns with Ros Barber who has published a novel called The Marlowe Papers. Made up of a series of poems written, in a conservatively modern idiom, in verse based on the iambic pentameter, it ingeniously proposes that the amply documented death in 1593 of Christopher Marlowe was (to quote the book description on Amazon) ‘an elaborate ruse to avoid being convicted of heresy; that he was spirited across the Channel to live on in lonely exile; that he continued to write plays and poetry, hiding behind the name of a colourless man from Stratford – one William Shakespeare.’ As a work of fiction the novel belongs to a genre of which numerous examples are discussed in a chapter of our book, ‘Fictional Treatments of Shakespeare’s Authorship’, by Paul Franssen, and as a novel in verse I admired and enjoyed it. But it was disconcerting to find that its author believes her own thesis, summarily denying the evidence of the report of the coroner’s inquest on Marlowe along with the record of his burial discovered and published in 1925 by Leslie Hotson. Marlowe, she writes in a note, ‘is supposed to have been buried in an unmarked grave in the grounds of St Nicholas Church Deptford.’ It would have been fairer to say that the church records provide documentary evidence of his burial rather than representing it as mere supposition.

During our discussion she referred me to Diana Price’s book Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Biography: New Evidence of an Authorship Problem (2001; reprinted and revised 2012) as an authoritative statement of the anti-Shakespearian case. It aims (to quote Amazon again) to prove ‘that William Shakespeare of Stratford was a successful entrepreneur, financier, play broker, businessman, theater shareholder, real estate investor, commodity trader, moneylender, and shareholding actor, but not a dramatist. It further proposes that the works of “William Shakespeare” were written by an unnamed gentleman of rank.’

Price’s book is a work of impressive, if misguided, scholarship. She ranges far and wide over historical, biographical, literary, bibliographical, theatrical, and dramatic evidence in what is surely the most determined attempt ever made to destroy the Shakespearian case. She creates an impression of great authority which may well delude unsuspecting readers into accepting her thesis. But it has fatal weaknesses. Here are some of them.

Price is as willing as her opponents to cite legends rather than facts. Several times she cites what she admits (p. xiv) is a ‘legend’, a ‘tradition’ (p. 242) that Shakespeare of Stratford left school early, when he was no more than thirteen years old. In fact, as she frequently tells us, we have no documentary evidence that he even attended school, let alone when he stopped doing so. She writes that he grew up in a home ‘filled with illiterate people’ (p. 242) and that he ‘retired to an illiterate household at the height of his literary powers’ (a judgement which itself could be questioned). At other points she attempts to denigrate Shakespeare of Stratford’s literary reputation by proposing that his wife and daughters were illiterate. Yet she has to admit that Susanna, married to a distinguished and learned physician, could at least sign her name, and she ignores the evidence of Susanna’s epitaph that she was ‘witty [intelligent] above her sex.’ (In any case literary fathers can have illiterate daughters.) Rather similarly she writes of Stratford as an educational backwater while quoting John Hall’s description of one of the Quineys – a family into which Judith Shakespeare married – as ‘a man of good wit, expert in tongues, and very learned.’ (p. 237).

Price misleadingly says that ‘there are ‘no commendatory verses to Shakespeare’, ignoring those printed in the First Folio as well as the anonymous prose commendation in the1609 edition of Troilus and Cressida and that by Thomas Walkley in the 1622 quarto of Othello. Her statement that ‘nothing marked Shakespeare’s demise until seven years after his death’ ignores the fact that the monument in Holy Trinity, with its inscriptions eulogizing Shakespeare of Stratford as a writer, would have taken time to design and prepare and that it may have been erected any time before we first hear of it, in 1623; and if Price’s remark refers to publication in 1623 of the First Folio, it ignores the fact that big books take a long time to compile and to produce. Still more importantly, Price downplays William Basse’s elegy on Shakespeare which ranks him with Chaucer, Spenser, and Beaumont and which could have been written any time after Shakespeare died, and which circulated widely in manuscript – at least 34 copies are known – before and after it was published in 1633, and she fails to note that one of the copies is headed ‘bury’d at Stratford vpon Avon, his Town of Nativity’.

Price more than once advances eccentric interpretations of contemporary documents to bolster her case. She interprets John Aubrey’s statement that Shakespeare ‘wouldn’t be debauched & if invited to writ: he was in pain’ to mean, not, as is surely right, ‘wrote that he was in pain’ but ‘if Shakespeare was asked to write, he begged off with a sore hand.’ (p. 128) Rather similarly, in the Parnassus plays Gullio quotes from Romeo and Juliet, provoking from Ingenioso the response ‘Mark, Romeo and Juliet: o monstrous theft! I think he will run through a whole book of Samuel Daniel’s.’ Price interprets this as an implication that Daniel wrote Romeo and Juliet, while admitting that the first quarto, Meres, and Weever (let along the First Folio) all attribute the play to Shakespeare. The more natural interpretation is surely ‘if he can do that, he can probably quote a whole book by Daniel.’ And discussing Shakespeare’s relationship with the Earl of Southampton she states that the dedication to Lucrece is ‘equally formal’ as that to Venus and Adonis as if the words ‘The love I dedicate to your lordship is without end’ were a mere formality.

Like many other anti-Shakespearians Price irrationally casts doubt on posthumously derived evidence, even to the extent of doubting the First Folio’s statement that Shakespeare acted in his own plays on these grounds (p. 41).

Attempting to show that there is no evidence that the Stratford man was a writer Price offers a detailed discussion of William Dugdale’s sketch, made around 1634, of the Stratford monument, which she accepts as an effigy of the Stratford Shakespeare, but fails to take note of Dugdale’s statement that it portrays ‘william Shakespeare the famous poet’ even though she reproduces it (Figure 19).

Although Price accepts the Sonnets as autobiographical when it suits her case to do so, she ignores No. 136, which by that token shows that the author’s name was Will. This would at least narrow down the number of aristocrats eligible by her account for consideration as the author of the works.

And, of course, she can produce not a single scrap of positive evidence to prove her claims; all she can do is systematically to deny the evidence that is there.

I disagree with many other judgements in Price’s book, but I have tried to select for discussion those that are most demonstrably wrong or unfair. Its aims are entirely destructive and it is not the definitive work that it claims to be.

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Author:Stanley Wells

Stanley Wells is Honorary President and a Life Trustee of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Emeritus Professor of Shakespeare Studies of the University of Birmingham, Honorary Emeritus Governor of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Follow Stanley on twitter @stanley_wells or visit his website
  • Craig Smith

    Professor Wells,
    I am curious about the source and dating of the photograph accompanying this post, showing damaged thumb and forefinger of the right hand. Halliwell-Phillips reports that the tips of the thumb and forefinger were repaired in 1749 and again in 1790. This photos suggests a third repair. Duncan-Jones in An Ungentle Life credits “Dean Conger/Corbis UK Ltd” for a photo showing similar damage.
    Thank you

  • headlight

    The real desperation shown is not between having to rely on posthumous evidence that Shakespeare wrote, but that there is no explicit evidence of any kind that any other person wrote the plays, sonnets and other material. None of the plays have survived in Shakespeare’s hand? They haven’t survived in the hand of any writer. No proof that Shakespeare received payment for the plays he wrote? True enough (though he received payment, along with Burbage, for an impresa made for the sixth Earl of Rutland). The only extant records of payments to playwrights during the period is Heslowe’s diary. As Henslowe was involved primarily with the Admiral’s Men and Shakespeare was in the rival Lord Chamberlain’s Men, Shakespeare was unlikely to receive payment from Henslowe. And of course, Henslowe did not pay anyone *else* to write any of Shakespeare’s plays.

    One serious problem I have with Price’s “literary paper trails” is that she characterizes it as “evidence,” when at best it is an analytical scheme, and really just a set of evidentiary standards that Price considers sufficient evidence that a person was a professional writer. The categories she selects were tailored to exclude Shakespeare.

    But more importantly, she seems to believe that if Shakespeare were a professional playwright, that evidence that fits her set of categories would necessarily be extant. This belief is illogical. First, because there are wide variations for the types of written records generated about different professional writers; and second because there are wide variations on whether those records would survive over time. We have loads of information about aristocrats, university-educated writers, theater people who interacted with Henslowe, and in Marlowe’s case, for murder victims. William Shakespeare was pretty clearly in none of these categories.

    No matter how Shakespeare stacks up on Price’s “literary paper trails,” he’s the only person who was attributed as the writer by anyone with direct knowledge of the play authorship. The analysis surrounding other potential writers skips the crucial step of showing that Condell and Hemminge were lying when they attributed the plays to William Shakespeare. While there are many theories, there are no facts.

  • Pat Dooley

    Price does not ignore posthumous evidence. Her point is that Shakespeare is the only significant playwright of the day for whom you have to rely on posthumous evidence to prove he was a writer by profession. It is the absence of contemporaneous evidence that is unique to Shakespeare. Of the 70 odd personal records that Shakespeare left, not one demonstrates that he was a playwright or poet. These records show he was a business man, a money-lender, a sharer in the theater business, a family man, a boarder and a hoarder; not one of them puts a literary pen in his hand. That unique deficiency in his record accounts for the desperate attempts to ascribe Hand D to Shakespeare.

  • headlight

    What I find most interesting about Diana Price’s analysis is her strange decision to entirely dismiss the value of “posthumous” evidence. Her website’s “criteria” page contrasts “contemporaneous vs. posthumous evidence.” She cites three particular authorities: Paul Murray Kendall, H.B. George, and Robert C. Williams in support of this criterion.

    Yet none of the three quoted authorities refer to “posthumous” evidence as unreliable. The emphasis is instead on “contemporaneous” evidence.

    Reverend George’s book expands on the importance of evidence from a contemporaneous witness — but makes clear that the term contemporaneous need not refer to a witness writing at the exact moment of an historical event. He uses both the term “contemporary” and “contemporaneous” to refer to witnesses to a particular event — though their recollection may be long after the fact.

    For instance, (p. 55-56) Rev. George discusses the use of memoirs as contemporaneous accounts. It would obviously be ludicrous to treat a memoir as a reliable contemporaneous record of an event affecting another person if the memoir was created during that person’s lifetime, but lower in weight (and in Price’s book, the weight of a feather) immediately after that person’s death. It’s a distinction that George never makes.

    Instead, Reverend George provides examples of the concerns of relying on recorded recollections many years after the fact, as may be the case with a memoir (or perhaps a prefatory poem or epistle):

    “. . . mere recollections, written perhaps in old age and retirement, cannot be regarded as of equal value with truly contemporary testimony. Memory is a variable quantity, and sometimes plays strange tricks.” (56).

    Which brings us to the prefatory material in the First Folio. The epistle by Heminge and Condell, and the poem by Ben Jonson both clearly attribute the plays in the Folio to Shakespeare. Heminge and Condell were undeniably familiar with William Shakespeare of Stratford — he had been their partner for most of his professional life, and had provided for them in his will to purchase rings. Jonson, too, knew Shakespeare the actor — he had performed in plays Jonson had written.

    The question, then, is whether the concerns identified by Reverend George would undermine the value of the clear testimony of these three men that William Shakespeare of Stratford was the author of the plays reproduced in the First Folio. Shakespeare had been dead about seven years at the time of the publication of the First Folio. This is not a yawning eternity. And while after seven years it might be the case that they might have forgotten exactly who contributed what line to a play or who played which role, it is hard to conceive that two personal friends and business associates of Shakespeare would have forgotten that someone other than Shakespeare wrote the book of plays they had compiled in Shakespeare’s honor.

    But no other explanation is consistent with Price’s discounting of the prefatory material in the first folio lauding William Shakespeare of Stratford, the swan of Avon, based on the reasoning of Reverend H.B. George who Price cites for the proposition that “posthumous” evidence is of lesser weight.

  • headlight

    Not a very skillful use of statistics here. An 85% illiteracy rate in a country does not translate to an 85% illiteracy rate in each particular town in that country.

    I would suggest that towns with free public schools likely had higher literacy rates than cities, towns or villages without such schools. Just a hypothesis but one that I think seems logical. Or does the existence of free public schools have no impact on the literacy rate?

  • headlight

    Shakespeare wrote plays for an acting company. He was a shareholder in the acting company. Publishing his work — particularly one that had not yet been performed — would be akin to publishing the script of a new film before the film was released.

  • headlight

    Actually, no such fact was proven. You have six authenticated signatures that you are willing to accept as William Shakespeare of Stratford’s. There are pages of actual play script that you do not accept, and cannot accept without your entire argument crumbling.

  • headlight

    Well . . . other than three pages of Thomas More, Hand D, that has been authenticated as Shakespeare’s work stylistically and in Shakespeare’s handwriting according to most experts who have examined the authenticated signatures and the revisions of the play.

    The problem for Oxfordians is that their denial has to expand to more and more areas, all without providing a shred of evidence that Oxford had anything to do with Shakespeare’s works. As stylistic analysis is discovering additional works that appear to have been collaborative efforts between Shakespeare and contemporary writers, it becomes progressively harder to maintain that an earl was spending his time punching up scripts or completing others’ work.

  • De Gustibus?

    Nope. A simple matter of evidence. No one who writes six lines of verse and includes 50 monosyllabic words in them can call themselves a poet. Oxford’s poetry is terrible. In a sad but total reversal of your claim, work he wrote in his 20’s sounds infantile when read aloud.

    And no Shakespearean claims that Will was an infant prodigy. The truth once again lies in the exact reversal of your claim. Will progressed as a dramatist throughout his career from the Henrician trilogy, once thought to be written by Marlowe, to the late, dark dramatic work he wrote in the years after Oxford died.

    The existence of this progression is proof positive that Oxford didn’t write the work. Why would any Shakespearean deny it?

  • Dismal poetry? De gustibus. We can infer that de Vere was indeed a dazzling prodigy, which is what Stratfordians have been calling their man all these many years… until they all turned on a dime, adopting the creed that anyone with a typical grammar school education could have written the stuff. You talk like the wind blows…

  • William Ray

    Kind of missing the point aren’t you? Once again, I write the specific and you write the vituperative. The May 7, 1603 expression of de Vere regarding the constancy of truth preceded an apparently more concise revision of that expression for the play Measure for Measure, which came out the next year. Any idea how that happenedin your narrative? Your pompous cliche on truth (“You cannot make truth by assertion.”) is empty in comparison. So you tell me who deals in fantasy. You generalized, demonized, personalized, and it amounts to petty opinion. There is much to learn in this subject area, but thus far you demonstrate you have all the “knowledge” you want, little. This is typical of the Shakespeare establishment in general, precisely why it lacks general respect, because it lacks the integrity to question very fragile, even ludicrous, assumptions.

  • I do not believe the PT theory. I find it almost as outrageous of a supposition as the joke about Shaksper not needing to visit Italy in order to stage the Italian plays so accurately. (please, no Bohemia Coast regurgitations, as we both know Bohemia had a war spoil acquired stretch of Adriatic Coastline in 1575) We all see and believe what we want. If you think the Sonnets actually fit the known biography of William Shakespeare, you’re a truly unique individual. You’d make an excellent attorney for someone guilty beyond reasonable doubt. I’m sure the fact that Southampton at one time was engaged to DeVere’s daughter is meaningless when attempting to deduce why the poet is asking the Fair Youth (the same golden haired youth in Venus and Adonis, dedicated to Southampton) to marry and have children. People of Shaksper’s station were always writing poems telling members of the peerage what to do in their personal lives, weren’t they? Like the man who wrote a poem advising the Queen not to marry Alarcon. You know, the guy with a hook for a right hand.

  • Nat Whilk

    Believe what you will. You cannot make truth by assertion.

    Be happy in your fantasy.

  • William Ray

    Right chief, thanks for the facts one after the other and the objective view that produced them. “For truth is truth though never so old and time cannot make that false which was once true.” -Edward de Vere, May 1603. “For truth is truth to the end of reckoning.” –Isabella, Measure for Measure, V.i.45, 1604.

  • Nat Whilk

    Sadly, your beliefs–however passionately held–are sheerest fantasy.

    Beyond a shadow of a shred of doubt, your preening Oxford did not write a word of Shakespeare’s. That is truth, beyond your protestations and your smoke and mirrors. He is a vanishingly minor historical figure, marginal except for those concerned: the few he patronised and all the people he abused, betrayed, abandoned, beggared, double-dealt, assaulted, raped (allegedly), or killed.

  • William Ray

    To repeat, I am not an “anti-Shakespearean/Shakespearian”. The opposite is accurate. I wish to see the true “Shakespeare”, i.e., the mind behind the contrived name, recognized. So did the author himself, as expressed ad hoc in Hamlet, that a wounded name would live behind him; therefore he implored his cousin Horatio (Horace Vere?) to report him and his cause aright to the unsatisfied; and to draw breath in pain to tell his story. It is not good to be falsely satisfied about the origin of great art. We thus falsify the author, the time, and truth’s essential value in a civilization.

  • William Ray

    Gulielmus Shakspere. There was no evidence ever that his name was identical to Shakespeare/ Shake-speare in his family records. Twenty-six of twenty-seven listings read Shakspere or its short-a variants. There were hyphenated Shake-speare’s on record in England (see Camden, Remains) but the Shakspere family was not one of them.The fact that his name was allonymous with the contrived name Shake-speare is the crux of the confusion introduced in the First Folio and since made customary truth, including down to present time. The estimable Stanley Wells, and not he alone, in the throes of custom and belief, ignores the record and its implications for understanding the authorship of the Shakespeare canon.

  • Catherine Wilson

    Who is person referred to here?
    “when it comes to actual facts about an actual person, born in Stratford in 1616. ”

  • I guess he stopped and thought about it.

  • Nat Whilk

    Anti-Shakespeareans fondly imagine they are skeptics. They are not: they are at once contrarians and true believers. Tell them 2 + 2 = 4, and they’ll shout 5 or -17.1 or i. Tell them that Marlowe rose from the dead or that Oxford wrote A Midsummer Night’s Dream in his swaddling bands or that Thomas Seymour got him on Elizabeth Tudor months after that worthy was beheaded–why, they’ll crowd about you, cheering. They will follow you on Facebook, even to the world’s end. They will buy your self-published book.

    Their manifesto is mistitled. It should be the Declaration of Irrational Belief.

  • William Ray

    Nowell: “I clearly see that my work for the earl of Oxford cannot be much longer required.” Interpreting this sentence by an outstanding scholar as meaning Oxford was unteachable is insupportable except as an indication of bias. Oxford was tutored for some years by the greatest classicist of the time, Sir Thomas Smith, who had been a high official to the crown and authored a respected study of herbal medicine. It does not appear to support the contention that their student was unteachable. It is much more likely that he was being prepared for high position and purpose.

  • Nope, cos’ I’ve read Monstrous Adversary too.

    Let me, therefore, express an opinion.

    The idea that the genius Oxford, helped the plodder Golding translate Ovid at the age of 13-14 just because they were in close proximity for a few months is one of the most idiotic in the whole Oxfordian canon of nonsense.

    Oxford is not a better writer, on his very best day, than his Uncle, who in turn, is several divisions short of Shakespeare. the lolloping fourteeners they both like are cruelly pardied by Wil in MSND.

    Furthermore, the poetry Oxford WAS writing at the time you are attributing him with prodigious ability, was execrable. Not promising, not above average, not showing signs of promise, execrable.

    When Gabriel Harvey, a couple of lines before the infamous ‘shaking spears’ quote, told Oxford to ‘put away his feeble pen’ he wasn’t joking.

  • William Ray

    You have responded to my quotations, indicative of a close relationship between SOME uncle and SOME NEPHEW (i.e., very probably Golding and Oxford), by returning to an idiotic assertion about a minimized occupancy for the uncle at Theobalds. I wonder if you will minimize that Golding defended Oxford from the charge of bastardry, his entire domain depending on the judicial decision? If you truly are concerned with Golding’s and Oxford’s ‘slight’ acquaintance, then provide some bit of documentation supporting your assertion to that effect. To this point, you have expressed opinion and no fact. I do not conclude from the ridiculous premises you place as mine that the one wrote the other’s work. One can only write one’s own. Under the circumstances, Golding fronted his name for Oxford to get the work published according to the prevailing social strictures. Unverifiable but a reasonable supposition.

  • Nat Whilk

    By the way, AZ, if you’re going to argue that De Vere was an Infant Phenomenon, you cannot then excuse his dismal poetry as exhumed juvenilia. (His earliest attested work is from his twenties. By that age, Keats was dead.)

    So which is it? Dazzling prodigy? Late bloomer? Tick only one box.

  • Mark Johnson

    You didn’t fix it at all, as most of the evidence doesn’t even qualify as circumstantial evidence. Rather, it is what Looney referred to as “coincidence”, which is not at all the same thing as circumstantial evidence.

  • Ingenioso

    If you did not intend to make the claim that Oxford’s poetry was suppressed [an argument that is incorrect], then there was no reason for you to include the following paragraph:

    “I know very many notable Gentlemen in the Court that have written commendably, and suppressed it agayne, or els suffered it to be publisht without their owne names to it: as if it were a discredit for a Gentleman, to seeme learned, and to shew him selfe amorous of any good Art.”

    What was your point in including it, or did you have no point?

  • Nat Whilk

    Have you *read* the Earl of Oxford? He does not write well. The praise was for his rank.

  • My quoted comment above was presented as evidence that he wrote well, and at a very young age. Puttenham’s words (on suppression) were not stressed, nor were they meant to be in this instance.

  • Ingenioso

    If you are going to make an argument involving Puttenham you really should include the entire quotation, as the context shows that your proposition that he calls Oxford a “secret” poet is mistaken.

    “And in her Majesties time that now is are sprung up an other crew of Courtly makers Noble men 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. Thomas Lord of Buckhurst, when he was young, Henry Lord Paget, Sir Philip Sydney, Sir Walter Raleigh, Master Edward Dyer Master Fulke Greville, Gascoigne, Breton, Turberville and a great many other learned Gentlemen, whose names I do not omit for envy, but to avoid tediousness, and who have deserved no little commendation.”

    Now, with the actual full quotation, let’s see if you are able to figure out why your reading of this passage is inaccurate.

  • You’re not being entirely truthful are you? A building plan puts Oxford and Golding in reasonable but not necessarily close proximity for a few months and you conclude that one wrote the other’s work.

  • No, I don’t think the Sonnets particularly fit Oxford. Anti-Strats continually claim the Sonnets present the view of life of a nobleman, but I do not particularly see it. Mostly, the Anti-Strats say the sonnets depict someone who says he bore the canopy, although the proper reading is someone talking about if he had borne the canopy. If you think the poet is saying he bore the canopy, then you must also think he is saying he laid great bases for eternity. I don’t know what great bases Oxford would have claimed to have laid. Do you have some other evidence that the sonnets tell the story of a nobleman?

    Also, although there is a good case for claiming Oxford was bisexual, I am not aware of anything in his biography that would lead me to believe he would write such fawning praise to a young man, – a young man who would later betray the poet by having an affair with the poet’s dark mistress. I don’t know anything in Oxford’s biography that would lead me to believe he would be jealous of a rival poet outshining him (althought it wouldn’t have been difficult to outshine Oxford at writing poetry).. I am not saying that it is impossible that these things could not have happened to Oxford,but they also could have happened to Shakespeare. As to the disgrace, yes Oxford was disgraced (with good reason), but I doubt there is any human being alive who has not felt disgraced at one time or another. Acting on the public stage was not considered a particularly honorable profession. That might have been made Shakespeare feel disgraced. Or maybe not. It could have been something else, Or the story of the sonnets could have been entirely fictional.

    I hope you are not a believer in the theory that the Sonnets tell the story of Edward de Vere fathering Southampton on Queen Elizabeth.

    The puns on the name “Will” certainly fit Shakespeare better than Oxford, in spite of the unsupported claims that Edward de Vere was also called “Will.” And the sonnet with only 8 syllables per line that arguably has the “Hathaway” pun would fit an early work of Will Shakespeare better than it would fit de Vere.

    As to the argument that Oxford having relatives who were talented poets is somehow evidence of his being a talented poet – that’s an idiotic reason for believing Oxford wrote the works. I have a second cousin who is a well known and prize-winning novelist and short story writer, but that doesn’t make me a novelist or short story writer.

    As to your final two sentences, they don’t make any sense at all. Was there a rational thought you were trying to express in them?

  • He absolutely was NOT so credited by Puttenham. see below.

  • Well, we know that’s not going to happen, Ingenioso, because that’s going to bring the naughtiest bit of evidence tampering in the whole debate into play.

    He was NOT so credited by Puttenham, as everyone very well knows. There are no records of the Earl of Oxford doing anything for the professional theatre. No records of plays, no mentions of play titles, no actors or producers connected to him, no payments, receipts, nada. Nothing.

    And you don’t have to look beyond his verse to understand why.

    Who in their right mind would or could sit through two hours of the De Vere’s plodding threnody about how awful life is for aristocrats who have lost favour at court?

    No one. That’s who.

  • No, let’s.

    Let’s look at the fact that you frequently cite in evidence facts which are not facts. That you frequently support your arguments with assumptions that are incorrect.

    Let’s think about the fact that a lot of the time, because you don’t check your assumptions, you are just plain wrong.

  • Do you agree that Oxford’s evident disgrace, and his obscured grave site (perhaps suicide?) fits nicely, if only metaphorically, with the Sonnets? The Sonnets are such a non-fit with the Stratford man that it is insanity to try to link the two together. That’s why they’re avoided or described as literary exercises, don’t you think? And if De Vere was alive when the sonnets were published, and Shaksper dead, and there was no dedication by the poet, who was described as “ever-liviing”, do you think I’d be wacked out enough to believe it was de Vere who wrote the sonnets? If Shaksper’s uncle was one of the 2 men who introduced the “shakesperean sonnet” into english, do you think I’d still be a doubter of the Stratford Myth? If Shaksper had a secretary, or paid for literary assistance, instead of spending his money on real estate, do you think I’d still smell a rat? Humans believe all kinds of ridiculous myths, and the Stratford myth is one of the best, I have to say. Have fun in Stratford, I hear the food at the Hamburger Hamlet is EXCELLENT~~~~

  • Tom Reedy
  • Ingenioso

    In reality, the evidence shows that the plays were in the possession of the actors in the King’s Men, not in the possession of William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke and Lord Chamberlain or his family.

    From a record in the Stationer’s Company Court of Assistants Record dated 3 May 1619:

    “Upon a letter from the right honorable the Lord Chamberlain: It is thought fit and so entered that no plays that his Majesty’s players do play shall be printed WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF SOME OF THEM.” (Matus, 113)[emphasis supplied]

    The order came from the Lord Chamberlain but the players were the ones that had to give their consent.

    That particular letter has been lost, but we have a later letter dated from 1637 from the Lord Chamberlain’s brother, Philip which tells us what William Herbert had written. “Whereas complaint was heretofore presented to my dear brother & predecessor by his Majesty’s servants the Players, that some of the Company of Printers and Stationers had procured, published & printed diverse of their books of comedies, tragedies, chronicle histories, and the like, which they had (for the special service of his Majesty & for their own use) bought and provided at very dear & high rates. By means whereof not only they themselves had much prejudice, but the books much corruption to the injury and disgrace of the authors. And thereupon the Masters & Wardens of the Company of Printers & Stationers were advised by my brother to take notice thereof & to take order for the stay of any further impression of the plays or interludes of his Majesty’s Servants without their consents.” (Matus, pg 114)

    The “comedies, tragedies, chronicle histories, and the like”
    were the property of the actors and were in their possession, and, following the order from the Chamberlain, it would require the consent of the actors for the plays to be published.

  • Nat Whilk

    You can have a nice chat with Oxford there, and I wish you joy of it. A great part of his torment is the cloud of lunatics, like black flies buzzing in his ears, insisting that he is someone called Shakespeare.

  • Ingenioso

    Please provide the exact language from Puttenham that you contend supports the claim that Oxford “WAS credited…with writing plays but suppressing his name on them.”

  • Nat Whilk

    Spying? Sheer fantasy. The killing took place in the open, in Cecil’s back yard, where Oxford was fencing with a tailor called Edward Baynam. No evidence was given of a provocation or assault on Brincknell’s part. The court ruled that the victim, in despair, had run himself upon the point of Oxford’s sword, piercing his thigh. A likely scenario. Of course this was a jury of Oxfordians.

    Oxford’s abuses of power have nothing to do with his supposed genius, but they do make his cult distasteful. If he’d been hanged, drawn, and quartered for this crime, English literature would not have been a farthing the worse. And all of you would be worshipping some other aristocrat, another fantasy Shakespeare.

  • No one except for Anti-Strats thinks Shakespeare of Stratford was illiterate, and the Anti-Strats have no evidence to believe he was illiterate. They claim his handwriiting is evidence he was illiterate, but surely arguing illiteracy from handwriting is a lunatic argument. They argue that the lack of surviving correspondence is evidence of illiteracy, but that would only be a logical inference if it were logical to assume most correspondence of commoners from Elizabethan times has survived. They argue that his parents seem to have been illiterate so he must have been illiterate, but if all children of illiterate parents were also illiterate, no one would be literate today. No, there is no evidence Shakespeare of Stratford was illiterate. But Anti-Strats desperately need him to be illiterate so they assume he was.

  • I will gladly burn a few more hours in Purgatory for my transgression.

  • Are you kidding me? No, sir, I will not do your homework for you. LOL

  • If you think “The Winter’s Tale” was based on works by Boccaccio and/or Chaucer and/or Plutarch, please name these works – and show us that you are not just making things up.

  • I’ve ordered Diana Price’s book to see exactly what she says on the issue of William Shakespeare’s literacy. The vast majority of Anti-Strats insist he must have been illiterate. When pressed, most of those who acknowledge he might have been literate end up arguing that he could have been barely literate It is essential to the Anti-Strat case that he be utterly incapable of writing the plays, because if he were not utterly incapable of writing the plays, why not believe all those who said he DID write the plays. One of the hard parts for them is that they need to simultaneously argue that William Shakespeare was utterly incapable of writing the plays, and yet he was capable of convincing people he did write the plays.

    If Price is willing to acknowledge that Shakespeare of Stratford was literate (or may well have been literate), why does she obsess so much on the absence of surviving letters written by Shakespeare? Surely the only importance of surviving letters is to address the question of literacy. If Price acknowledges that he may have been literate, and is not trying to prove he was illiterate, what is she trying to show by raising the question of letters, if not illiteracy?

  • So, if I understand correctly, you are saying that we should all believe that Oxford wrote the plays because you have a gut feeling that he wrote the plays, and your “voice from within” is never wrong.

  • Tom Reedy

    I finally figured out hos Disqus works. Sign in with whatever email account you want to use, and then the new messages show up in your in box. If you access the forum through the link in the email notification, it gives you an “edit” button, so it’s more like a reddit thread than a newspaper comment forum.

  • William Ray

    I see you have freighted the tragedy as completely the doing of an adolescent Oxford, in a situation that remains obscure in its effective cause. But it appears you have left out the habit of Burghley’s to employ house servants as spies. And it is abundantly clear, as you say, that when it came to law, the aristocracy fixed its own crimes, and the lower order was sacrificed for the higher.

  • Tom Reedy

    I believe you’re the one making that claim. The poet said he had “gone here and there,/And made my self a motley to the view”. You might want to look up that word, “motley”.

  • Why do you claim that Jonson’s cast lists have no basis in fact? Do you have any evidence whatsoever to back that up?

  • Tom Reedy

    ??? Jonson did attend school; I believe him when he said he attended grammar school and didn’t attend university. His career is proof that formal education wasn’t necessary to become educated.

  • William Ray

    “You are referring to Brincknell and Golding, right?” And if I had, what then, Mr. Obtuse?

  • Tom Reedy

    I think he’s invoking prophecy–the Sonnets as religious documents.

  • William Ray

    Come to think of it, I never considered how a building floor plan might retard the creation of literature. “This boy…hath been tutored in the rudiments of many disparate studies by his uncle”–AYLI “An old religious uncle of mine taught me to speak.”–AYLI “And thy uncle will/ As dear be to thee as thy father was.”–KJ “When my uncle told me [my father had died] he wept/ And hugged me to his arm and bade me rely on him as on my father/ And said he would love me as his own child.” –RIII But never mind. Just words.

  • Ingenioso

    If Meres knew that Oxford was really Shakespeare then why didn’t Meres cite him as best for comedy AND tragedy? In addition, Meres specifically identified Shakespeare as a writer of plays “for the stage,” and never identified Oxford as such.

  • Tom Reedy

    Now now, remember your anti-ad hominem crusade! We all know that politeness is the one thing Oxfordians all insist on during a debate, don’t we? It’s only those nasty Stratfordians with their insistence on facts and logic who are impolite!

    Your post is yet one more illustration of the dishonest and intellectually-bankrupt mental gyrations and double standards upon which the Oxfordian delusion is built.

    But I’m sure the new paradigm is right around the corner! After all, since its inception almost six years ago, the “Declaration of Reasonable Doubt” has garnered an amazing 2,599 signatures! That’s TWO THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED NINETY NINE!!! GOOD GOD!!! THAT’S 38 SIGNATURES A MONTH!!!

    I’m sure the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is even now making discreet inquiries to see if they can sell the Trust properties before they become completely worthless.

  • Ed Bowell doubled down on his claim that 99.9% of Catholic priests do not believe in evolution.

    Ed might want to check out this link:

  • William Ray

    “They were flattering his rank not his ability. I suppose you think that W. is the Rembrandt of our age?”

    Discounting the flat humor, supposition is well below competence as a means of inquiry. The supposition that an illiterate was the great Shakespeare for example.

  • Tom Reedy

    Oxford’s residence in Hackney was in his wife’s name, both to protect it from the claims of creditors and the protect it from Oxford selling it. Oxford died possessed with the wardenship of Waltham Forest and Havering House, which he granted to his son-in-law and his cousin shortly before he died. He had long since alienated his family estate at Hedingham, and it was held in trust for his lifetime for the benefit of his daughters.

  • Where do *you* cash *your* checks from the SBT? And do you sign them “Lackey” or “Flunky”? Just curious.

  • -I don’t understand your argument with respect to location of Oxford’s grave. There are records showing he was buried at Hackney. Are you saying that based on the Sonnet, and based on the fact that we do not now know where the grave was in the Hackney church yard, that we must assume that Oxford left specific instructions (which have now also mysteriously vanished) that his grave must be unmarked? That the sonnet about being buried in an unmarked grave was a specific request, rather than a prediction?

  • If Jonson didn’t attend school, then he learned an awful lot “on the fly.” Is there any evidence he frequented The Mermaid? Or he could have been a genius, intellect sprung fully formed, like Shakspeare’s. It’s quite possible.

  • Tom Reedy

    These discussions need to move to another venue. The information/noise ratio is about 30 percent, which is much higher than most Internet discussions of this type. The posts are difficult to retrieve and follow, and the Disqus interface is so screwed up it doesn’t work most of the time. Anybody got any ideas? Otherwise I’m bailing (which I should do anyway; I’m sure we all have better things to do with our time that we never seem to get around to doing because of our shared–let’s face reality and call it what it is–obsession).

  • Tom Reedy

    Far from ignoring them, the “Shakespeare Establishment” has long studied the apocryphal works. That you appear to be ignorant of those studies does not count as positive evidence for yet another nutty authorship theory. (And yes, I read enough of your book to be able to call it that.)

  • Tom Reedy

    Almost everything you listed is demonstrably false, and it is obvious that you don’t know very much at all about Oxford or Shakespeare. Apparently you uncritically swallow every Oxfordian argument and haven’t researched anything (unless you, like so many Oxfordians, call reading Ogburn and Looney “research”).

    Shakespeare was not referred to as a play broker; we have two dedications signed by him, his signatures are better than the handwriting in the extant Thomas Heywood holograph MS *The Captives*; his signatures math the handwriting in the *Thomas More* Hand D revision; there is no evidence whatsoever that Oxford acted in a play,nor is there any evidence that he produced plays for the court, etc., etc. But by far the most ridiculous statement is “His signature looks like a professional writer’s”.

    To the rational, bigoted person, you appear to be irrational and bigoted in your authorship beliefs.

  • Tom Reedy

    So Ed, you accept the premise that finding exceptions demonstrate that a general statement is false? This is encouraging.

  • Tom Reedy

    Only by his own testimony, do we know it. And we all know what a liar Jonson was, right? Wasn’t he one of the main cover-up men for the Shakespeare Conspiracy?

  • Lee Cramond

    “But he didn’t write anything for the professional theatre.” Give it a break Mike. You have no evidence that he didn’t write for the professional theatre. He WAS credited, in 1589 by Puttenham, with writing plays but suppressing his name on them. They could well have been for that purpose.

    Shakespeare supposedly wrote plays for financial gain but left half of them unpublished and many unperformed in his lifetime. Doesn’t add up for the Stratford guy, does it?

  • Say what you will. Your statement that only commoners wrote for the stage is false. The fact that we don’t have plays with their names on the title page does not help you or your pig very much, IMO.

  • Any idea why the printer of the First Folio would dedicate a major book to Susan De Vere a few years before acquiring the right to print in 1623? Could it be because he wanted to print the plays, and when he did, he then appreciatively dedicated the FF to De Vere’s son inlaw and brother, (who was at one time engaged to Bridgit De Vere)? Did you notice the closeness of wording between the dedication to De Vere’s daughter and the dedication to De Vere’s inlaws? I’m sure it means nothing to you, as it does not fit your preconceptions. Like it or not, these are facts, not suppositions or ciphers, and they don’t make sense unless De Vere, (employer of both Lyly and Munday), was the true author… Too many puzzles are solved at one time, ITALY, LAW SCHOOL, Royal Sports,< ties to Southampton, disgrace, lameness, someone who carried the canopy for the Queen, and most importantly, the dedications by the printer to De Vere's daughter before he received permission to priint, and the dedications in the First Folio to De Vere's inlaws…. I invite you to leave your course~~~ even rats know when to jump ship. Why do you think the Tourist Trap paid for this BEYOND DOUBT FOR ALL TIME< AND MAYBE BEYOND THAT manifesto? If, as you propose, that there is no authorship question, why would they bother?

  • I’m not a cathollic, but I know that the Catholic Church still believes things that don’t square with evolution. So being taught evolution, and being taught to believe it are two different things…. Let’s not get too pedantic about metaphors, ok?

  • Do you know how big Burghley’s house was? And how many times a day one of Burghley’s wards was likely to bump into one of Burghley’s guests in the few months they were both under his roof?

  • I have to say that Pigasus, the flying pig who occasionally hangs around outside my first floor windows, is getting really excited now.

    So The Earl of Derby, unsuspected by his nearest and dearest, wrote plays in secret, only noticed by a sharp-eyed Spanish spy at court, (unless it’s another of those open secrets) yet despite the terrifying prospects of discovery, risked production under a pseudonym, no doubt having been advised by his relative, De Vere.

    Do we now have two hidden aristocrats at work in the Elizabethan theatre,or just one? If there was only one, surely Derby’s case is much, much stronger than De Vere’s???

    At least he lived long enough to complete the work.

  • Not guilty either. I don’t place interludes and short comedy dramas in the same category as plays written for a fee-paying audience in the professional theatre. Oxford may have written such things for court performance and Meres may have known about them. But he didn’t write anything for the professional theatre.

  • Nice wriggling.

    Now answer my question.

  • I was first taught about evolution in the early 70’s in a Catholic Grammar School by a Christian Brother – a sort of priest. Another of your facts? Or another of your assumptions?

  • We know how the texts in The First Folio were prepared and what their likely sources were. They were prepared from a wide selection of different types of document. They we’re not prepared from finished scripts, prepared by the author but actor’s copies, prompt copies, foul papers, bad quartos, play chest copies and so on.

    This is, if you stop and think about it, a key indicator against Oxford’s authorship.

  • I don’t want to, nor should I view the Sonnets too literally, but the poet said we would not know where he was buried. OK< he's on earth, in England, great… The poet did not say "You'll know where I was buried, but not exactly"? You said "We do not know (exactly) where his grave was." Do you know within 20 yards where it is? Just Hackney? Isn't the entire location gone? So exactly how exact can you get as to where Oxford's bones are? One thing I would bet on is if you did find his grave, its tombstone wouldn't have a Shake-speare quote on it, and it wouldn't be putrified with the doggerel that (dis)graces the Stratford man's well known gravestone. These are not major points to dwell on, i We just know wanting his works to outlive his name matches the themes presented by the poet, of a disgraced aristocrat who wants to have his works live on their own without his name being attached to them. If you can't figure that out from the sonnets, I don't know what to add that can help you. Do you think if the poet said check out the memorial bust I"ve put money aside for, it "will" be found close to where I was conceived, that I'd do a Stratfordian "so what"? (And what an insult to the world's greatest poet, to have such tripe put on his grave, when compared to the funeral orations in the plays) That alone would give me unending pause. It's akin to seeing a funeral dirge for Beethoven that sounds like a lousy nursery rhyme and being convinced he actually composed it out for the occasion.

  • Lee Cramond

    It’s far more logical and rational to say “the sheer ridiculousness of Stratfordianism”. The Strat guy has NOTHING going for him of a literary nature and especially as a POET (how could he come out of the backwoods and pen the two mighty poems of V&A and RoL without any apparent literary background? Wasn’t he supposedly referred to as just a playbroker (thief) a year earlier?). He had no dedications made to him or from him. His signatures indicate someone not proficient or fluent as a writer and none of them are even spelled the same!

    Whereas Oxford has Shakespeare-sounding juvenile poetry, dozens of dedications to and from him in literary works, praise and acknowledgments of him as an excellent playwright and prolific poet in both English and Latin, and that he acted in his own and others’ plays. He also put on plays before the court. Almost ALL the plays are a reflection of his life story. His signature looks like a professional writer’s. His poetry ceased to appear shortly before ‘Shakespeare’ first appeared in V&A in 1593, which work did not have a name on the title-page but was described as ‘the first heir of my invention’, ie as the pseudonym Shakespeare.

    One of the main killer blows against Stratfordianism though, is that there were several published notices from 1593 on hinting that Shakespeare the writer was a pseudonym, some even hinting at an aristocrat. Thomas Vicars, in his rhetoric textbook of 1628, specifically wrote ‘that famous poet who takes his name from shaking and spear’, which is a pretty powerful indicator of a pseudonym.

    Another fatal blow is the “Our ever-living poet” reference of The Sonnets of 1609, knocking the Stratford guy off the perch (died 1616) and alluding to de Vere (‘ever’, who died in 1604). It is just a corroboration of all the above evidence.

    To a rational, unbigotted person, do Stratfordians even have a clue as to how woeful and ludicrous their whole premise must seem, even though it has lasted for hundreds of years? That doesn’t make it infallible. One either believes in miracles or in logical conclusions.

  • The finished, edited plays. The rights to print. It really does not matter if they had hand written manuscripts in Oxford’s hand. We know that Oxford had people who acted as secretaries, and had a person who copied documents for him. I wonder if Shaksper ever hired anyone to do transcribing for him, or if there’s any proof he employed people as important to the stage as Munday and Lyly were? No, he just held horses, You know, the ones they never rode to the theatres, and kissed Southampton’s ass in order to have a patron, when there is ZERO evidence that they ever had direct or indirect contact with each other. We do know that the printer of the First Folio dedicated a book to Susan Vere a few years before he received permission from the grand possessors to be able to print the Folio.. I”m sure that means zero to you. I’d hate to have you solve a crime if my life depended on it, Mr. Nathan. Evidence means only the facts that suit you. You’re intractable, and you present your feeble case with such unfounded confidence and bluster that you worsen more than help it. No offense on that, that’s just what I’ve observed, and I’ve read at least 50 of your posts. I wonder how many truly creative people you’ve actually interacted with. I consider Jacobi and Rylance to be artists. I consider Wells to be a critic (at best) without a dram of creative juices in his entire being. I don’t think great actors or artists would want to hang out with him, because he’s not one of that group of humans we call artists, be it with pen, brush, or instrument. If given a choice between believing Wells, and following the feelings and intuitions of people like Jacobi, Michael York, Mark Twain and Walt Whitman, who do you think would be more suited to know about what it took to create the plays, and who most decidedly does not?

  • We know where Oxford was buried, although we do not know now exactly where his grave was. He was buried at St. John at Hackney churchyard.

  • Since you ask, it is indeed delusional thinking on your part to think De Vere’s family had the manuscripts. Although half the plays were publishied for the first time in the First Folio, there are records of almost all of them being performed on the public stage. Since they were performed, the acting company would have had the scripts.

  • Nat Whilk


    The other four were bright.

  • Tom, a problem you ignore is that when the question is “Who Wrote the Shakespeare Apocrypha and Shakespearean Bad Quartos?,” as opposed to “Who Wrote Shakespeare?,” the direct evidence still points to William Shakespeare. If one sets aside the assumption that the Stratford actor was a gifted poet who wrote in the Bard’s style, much indirect evidence also points to William Shakespeare as the author of these inferior works and Shakespearean adaptations. In my opinion, this poses a serious challenge to the traditional authorship belief. How could a dozen-odd apocryphal works and some half-dozen Bad Quartos have been printed under the Stratford actor’s name, or otherwise credited to him by his contemporaries and near-contemporaries, if he didn’t write them? I find this to be a genuine authorship mystery, and am not satisfied by the wild speculations thrown out by traditional Shakespeare scholars and Stratfordian defenders such as yourself that postulate a host of fraudulent actors, stationers, and publishers (some of whom had otherwise excellent reputations) who deliberately misled the English reading public by falsely attributing works to William Shakespeare that he didn’t actually write over a period of decades.

    Do you really believe that a compliant reading public was fooled by all these pseudo-Shakespearean works? Or that William Shakespeare
    never sought to give proper credit to the authors of The London Prodigal (1605), The Yorkshire Tragedy (1608), and The Troublesome Reign of King John (1611), works published under his full name while he was alive? In my opinion, Stratfordians have more in common with authorship
    skeptics than is usually recognized, since on both sides of the debate one must discount external title page testimony, and believe in extraordinary events for which there is no direct evidence.

    Sabrina Feldman (

  • Nat Whilk


    Oxford killed a defenseless man. A packed jury ruled that Brincknell had run himself through on Oxford’s sword, committing suicide. Do you know what that meant? Damnation. He was buried in unhallowed ground. His property was forfeit. His wife, his small son, and her unborn child were left destitute.

    Hilarious. To an Oxfordian.

  • I look forward to reading “Shakespeare Beyond Doubt,” which I pre-ordered several months ago. However, based on preliminary information about the book and its Table of Contents, I remain concerned that Professor Wells, Dr. Edmondson, and other contributors to the book are so convinced of the rightness of their arguments that they haven’t bothered to read widely and deeply enough in the authorship literature to separate the wheat from the chaff. Traditional Shakespeare scholars generally prefer shooting down their opponents’ weakest arguments to engaging with – or even learning about – their opponents’ best & newest arguments. For example, I have yet to see a renowned Shakespearean scholar seriously address the problem posed by the detailed lampoon of the 1561 legal case Hales vs. Petit found in the gravediggers’ scene in Hamlet – a case heard in London some three years before William Shakespeare was born in Stratford, and documented only in Norman French, a specialized language known only to lawyers and advanced law students.

    I have two specific objections to Professor Wells’ blog post above. First, he makes the following statement about Diana Price which is clearly meant to tar all authorship skeptics with the same brush: “Of course, she can produce not a single scrap of positive evidence to prove her claims; all she can do is systematically to deny the evidence that is there.” As the author of a 2011 book introducing a new Shakespeare authorship theory, “The Apocryphal William Shakespeare,” I can state with confidence that many “scraps of positive evidence” (in the form of title page authorship claims) can be produced to “prove” my theory that William Shakespeare was the main author of more than a dozen plays now assigned to the Shakespeare Apocrypha, or now designated as Shakespearean Bad Quartos. Is this title page evidence sufficient to prove my theory, or a similar theory proposed by the amateur Shakespeare scholar Dennis McCarthy in his 2011 book “North of Shakespeare”? Of course not; many different puzzle pieces must somehow be fit into a coherent whole. But this title page evidence does exist, and deserves to be addressed in a more thoughtful and effective way than the Shakespeare Establishment has mustered in the past.

    I would go so far as to state that Professor Wells, Dr. Edmondson, and other prominent Shakespeare scholars “systematically deny the evidence that is there” that William Shakespeare was the main author / play-adapter of some dozen apocryphal plays and a half-dozen bad quartos. The Shakespeare Establishment has long ignored the problem posed by these curious plays that were attributed to William Shakespeare in his own time, but obviously don’t match the Bard’s writing style. I hope to see this topic seriously addressed in “Shakespeare Beyond Doubt,” but am not holding my breath.

    My second objection to Professor Wells’ blog post concerns the near-complete lack of interest traditional Shakespeare scholars have in reading new books on the authorship question – even while writing their own book(s) explaining why authorship skeptics have it all wrong! Using myself as an example, I self-published a book introducing a new Shakespeare authorship theory in the fall of 2011, “The Apocryphal William Shakespeare.” With the exception of an unusually open-minded UC Professor who exemplifies the best of the scholarly tradition, I haven’t been able to find a single traditional Shakespeare professor willing to read and review my book for more than 20 months, despite receiving generally excellent reviews on Amazon from complete strangers, and writing to more than 100 respected Shakespeare scholars. This group includes Professor Wells, Dr. Edmondson, Prof. James Shapiro, and the Stratfordian commenter Tom Reedy. The taboo surrounding the Shakespeare authorship question is so strong that it prevents reasonable debate.

    Sabrina Feldman (

  • Tom the marionette~~~

  • At the time, a high percentage of the world’s tin came from Cornwall. Literacy in England at the time was 15%. Let’s assume that 85% of Stratford boys were illiterate. So they know that tin is stannum? You could verbalize to them (out of necessity) the two works and they could tell you which one means tin? Stratford was a town of Anglo-Aryan super-humans, to be sure.

  • William Ray

    I think every reader knows what I wrote and that you are incapable of comprehending its meaning, bent as it appears by your mania for reflexive distortion and condemnation.

  • It was a report in the Spanish Archives, Mike. It wasn’t printed. It points out that we wouldn’t know anything about the plays he wrote, just the way we don’t know about the staging of the comedies of De Vere. The fact that we know from an ultra-secret letter from a spy that an Earl, (and relative of de Vere) was writing plays, and we don’t know anything else seems to point toward pseudonyms being used, not the opposite.

  • There you go again rocking out with absolutes, Tom. “COMPLETELY MADE UP” is another rude and false statement. Can’t you protect yourself better than this? Very few absolutes in this debate, imo. Sorry we killed Santa Claus, OK?

  • If the Earl of Derby was writing plays for the stage, as Spanish intelligence reports that still exist attest, then your statement that “playwrights for the professional theatre were commoners” is most decidedly false…….

  • Tom Reedy

    Congratulations. Nothing Professor Wells or I could say would illustrate the sheer ridiculousness of Oxfordism better than what you just posted. You’ve fulfilled the purpose of this blog’s discussion board, and I have no doubt you’ll probably receive a check from the Birthplace Trust in the post presently.

  • Tom Reedy

    He didn’t say he had nothing more to teach him. Oxford was approaching the age that grammar school ends and university begins, though he didn’t go to university and it was a few years later that he enrolled at Grey’s Inn. Perhaps Oxford had mastered all the dance steps Nowell knew and another instructor was called in.

    In any case, Nowell had other fish to fry. Cecil put him to work making maps.

  • The Oxfordian case does not hinge itself on the need to make Shaksper illiterate. The fact that he came from an illiterate household is relevant, no? Lawmakers pass laws without actually reading them, and people broker plays without reading them too, I would assume. Wouldn’t it be nice if we were all flies on the wall, because no matter what your position is on this mystery, I”m sure we’d all surprised about how this all came down. I have no vested interests in this debate, other than my intuitive track record of the last 40 years.. Just like when you get a dark feeling from someone, and your instincts never fail you, I get, and have always had a feeling that the author as portrayed by legend is a fictional concoction. I’ve dealt with the creative process for about 30 years now, as an art publisher and musical booker/manager, and my life experiences with the business of creativity tell me that the chances of the Stratfordian myth being anything more than 10% true are well past remote. This same intuition held true for Walt Whitman, who was somewhat of a visionary person. He speculated that the true author was one of the “wolfish earls” so plentious in the history plays themselves. Some people have greater powers of premonition than others. Some people outside of English Dept’s bring valuable insight into this mystery as well, but nearly all Stratfordians choose to dismiss anyone other than entrenched academics, many of whom are in league with the Stratford Tourist Industry. I’m not trying to defeat or degrade anyone, as believing what one is told in relation to scholastics can be good at times, but it can be fatal if one does not view things freshly from time to time. After all, 97% of Germans thought Poland started WWII. The beliefs I have had over my lifetime have gone thru sea changes, but that “voice from within”, if you will, has never proved itself wrong. So I’ve tried to punch holes in the Oxfordian theory, and, as stated, I”m sure there is a small percentage, maybe even 1/4 of the Oxfordian positon that might not be accurate if we were all-knowing, but the basic premise has proven too strong, and is being buttressed over time, not diminished. I engage in debate in order to find out if there are any flaws in the Oxfordian view that removes Oxford as the main voice, but I have not. I would welcome the “smoking gun”, wherever it led. Sadly, the road to truth in this debate does not lead to Stratford, anymore than the debate over global warming and the link between tobacco and poor health is to be solved by listening to paid off scientists who take from oil and tobacco companies. In this case, the “experts” are paid cohorts of the tourist industry, to no small extent. It reeks, in my view.

  • Tom Reedy

    > Just a fact that they lived in the same household the entire time the translated books were written and issued,

    Yes, that’s correct. You are referring to Brincknell and Golding, right?

  • Tom Reedy

    It is just as much a *fact* as your assertion that Golding was Oxford’s tutor.

  • Nowell. Beowulf. Hamlet. Oxford. Shakspeare.

    What name doesn’t belong?

  • Tom Reedy

    Right on cue! I knew you wouldn’t disappoint.

  • Ah, yes, and he was cleared of the charge. Se defendendo. Or was it se offendendo? I can never remember.

  • Did the sonnets say the poet had disgraced himself by writing for the common stage? I seem to have missed that.

  • When I need help, I don’t hesitate to ask for it. I think that the following will satisfy many a curious readers of this blog, but I have no hope for you, Reedy.

    Oxford established himself as a phenom by the age of twelve with
    Romeus and Juliet. His uncle then praised his intellectual maturity at
    fourteen in a dedication to the Psalms of David translation. The next we hear of him he is putting on plays attended by the Queen of the
    country, to which she supplied real royal wardrobes. Then he produced plays and acted at court, followed by an explosion and transformation of theater when he returned from Italy. William Webbe acknowledged his reclusive but excellent poetry in 1586 and Puttenham in 1589: “I know very many notable Gentlemen in the Court that have written commendably, and suppressed it agayne, or els suffered it to be publisht without their owne names to it: as if it were a discredit for a Gentleman, to seeme learned, and to shew him selfe amorous of any good Art.” (p.16)

    “And in her Majesties time that now is are sprong up an other crew
    of Courtly makers, Noblemen and Gentlemen of her Majesties owne
    servants, who have written excellently well as it would appeare if their
    doing could be found out and made publicke with the rest, of which
    number is first that noble Gentleman Edward Earle of Oxford.”(p.49)

    –The Arte of English Poesie (1589)

    At the same period of time the great Ronsard of France reported that “Poetry’s progenitor”, i.e., Author/Auctorus, would surpass Greece. Oxford was the subject of this praise. His play-titles at court repeated throughout the 1590’s and early 1600’s as Shakespearean plays. He was granted an annuity in connection with play production, supervised and paid by Francis Walsingham, the Secret Service Secretary. Archbishop of Canterbury John Whitgift ushered Venus and Adonis through publication, a salacious work, except that it was privileged by nobility and written under an ad hoc name, Shakespeare. When Oxford died in 1604, a Shakespeare festival occurred at court, at which the wife and family of Oxford were honored guests. When his wife died, another festival honoring Shakespeare occurred. These are circumstantial corroborations
    of literary greatness expressed about Oxford throughout his life, ending in the term “Soule of the Age”, and Starr of Poets, the star a
    prominent symbol quartered on his heraldry.

  • You have a vivid imagination, truly an asset for a Stratfordian.

  • Nat Whilk

    They were flattering his rank not his ability. I suppose you think that W is the Rembrandt of our age?

  • William Ray

    As you know very well, the 1595 notation was for picking up payment for a performance by the LCM. The other notations of “player” indicate nothing about Shakspere’s performance as actor either. No record of that ever. The assumption of dubious evidence as conclusive and the forced reasoning toward it is part and parcel of the weakness of the Stratfordian hypothesis.

  • William Ray

    Can the morally blind look forward to anything?

  • According to people like you, Tom, there is nothing for them to assess. In fact, it could cost them their job, just like any geologist who thought the shapes of South America and Africa were just coincidences before the 1960’s.Couldn’t even get a job, in fact. 99.9% of Catholic priests don’t believe in evolution either. I’m sure, like “expert” Stratfordians, that the higher ups tell them to not study darwinism, in order to remain pure. In short, entrenched academics have a long track record of not seeing the elephant in their particular front room.

  • Nat Whilk

    Lawrence Nowell’s assessment of his wayward pupil–‘I clearly see that my work for the Earl of Oxford cannot be much longer required’–has a long descent in pedagogy. ‘Nothing more to teach him’ is a well-known diplomatic fiction for ‘unteachable’.

    Four years later, Nowell’s ungovernable charge killed an unarmed servant.

  • he was living in an apartment? NOTHING, are you sure of that?

  • William Ray

    What a foul soul would construct that insult.

  • William Ray

    Just a fact that they lived in the same household the entire time the translated books were written and issued, books that clearly are youthful poetry, extensively longer than the original in the 14’ers of Romeus and Juliet. If Nowell wrote he could not be much longer useful to Oxford as his tutor, then Golding might not have been either at a later age. You win the spitting contest and lose the fight.

  • Tom Reedy

    That wasn’t me. I said that he wrote at least one play, which was probably an interlude.

  • William Ray

    And it being generally accepted Shakspere never reached that form, you try again.

  • William Ray

    Then so was Golding. He praised Oxford’s precocity. His brilliance would later be praised by Harvey, Ronsard, Webbe, Puttenham, Marston, Barnfield, Freeman, Peacham, Spenser, Meres, King James I, and a good dozen others. But never mind. The sand is warm. Incidentally I am a “Shakespearian”, just would like to see the right picture over the caption. “Shakespearian” is a contrivance indicative of the puerile avoidance symptoms of the Stratfordian mentality, to robotically set up the other side as being “against Shakespeare”. Good repetitive propaganda technique, low thought.

  • Tom Reedy

    > It does not take long to realize that snide dismissive posts are empty of integrity.

    I look forward to you mending your ways.

  • So he wrote plays. Didn’t you say it was impossible that he was a playwright? I’m confused now.

  • Tom Reedy

    > Shakspere was never listed in any document, as were most of the others, as acting or being paid for acting in any play.

    Oh really? What are these?

    On 15 March 1595,the Treasurer of the Queen’s Chamber paid “William Kempe William Shakespeare & Richarde Burbage servants to the Lord Chamberleyne” for performances at court in Greenwich on 26 and 27 Dec of the previous year.

    In 1602, Peter Brooke, the York Herald, accused Sir William Dethick, the Garter King-of-Arms, of elevating base persons to the gentry. In the complaint Brooke included a sketch of the Shakespeare arms captioned “Shakespear ye Player by Garter.”

    On 19 May 1603 the Lord Chamberlain’s Men were licensed as the King’s Men with the members named as “Lawrence Fletcher, William Shakespeare, Richard Burbage, Augustyne Phillippes, Iohn Heninges, Henrie Condell, William Sly, Robert Armyn, Richard Cowly”.

    Among the “Players” who were given four yards of red cloth apiece for the investiture of King James in London on 15 March 1604 are “William Shakespeare, Augustine Phillipps, Lawrence Fletcher, John Hemminges, Richard Burbidge, William Slye, Robert Armyn, Henry Cundell, and Richard Cowley.”

    The will of Augustine Phillips, executed 5 May 1605 (11 months after Oxford’s death), proved 16 May 1605, bequeaths, “to my Fellowe William Shakespeare a thirty shillings peece in gould”.

  • William Ray

    Irrelevant. Didn’t have to. He was Oxford’s proxy. Ever read Ovid’s Metamorphoses by Arthur Golding? Written by a talented youth, not a Calvinist.

  • William Ray

    “Advice to English Schoolboys, a Baconian Ditty


    To gain command of English words and every grammar rule,

    ‘Tis best to be a butcher’s son and never go to school.

    To form good plays in perfect style, and full of classic knowledge,

    ‘Tis best to be a poacher bold, and never go to college.

    To write of ladies, lords and dukes, of kings and kingly sport,

    ‘Tis best to be a common man and never go to court.

    To write about philosophy and law and medi-sign,

    ‘Tis best to stand at horses’ heads, and never read a line.

    To treat of foreign lands in strains that all men must applaud,

    ‘Tis best to stay in England and never go abroad.

    To scale the heights of human bliss and sound the depths of woe,

    ‘Tis best to make a steady ‘pile’ and never let it go.

    If come to ripe maturity when genius has full play,

    ‘Tis best to lead an easy life and lay the pen away.

    To show that ‘knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to Heaven,’

    ‘Tis best that to your own dear child no lessons should be given.

    To surely earn immortal fame as England’s greatest bard,

    ‘Tis best to leave no manuscripts and die of ‘drinking hard.’

  • Tom Reedy

    > Yes Tom – you continue to display your inability to assess evidence.

    You mean I fail to share your delusions about what constitutes evidence. Oddly enough, the consensus of educated opinion agrees with me and disagrees with you. I suppose 99.9 per cent of Shakespeare academics are just displaying their inability to assess evidence.

    (This is where you come in with accusations of scholastic dishonesty.)

  • Tom Reedy

    First you say “disgraceful” might not be the right word, and then you go on about how the sonnets say the poet disgraced his name. which is it?

    > We don’t have De Vere’s will. You’d think we would have, yet it is not around

    Wills are for the distribution of real property. When Oxford died, he didn’t have any.

  • Tom Reedy

    Your comment was in reply to mine, in which I wrote, “Actually, several documents indicate he was a writer, including
    testimony from other writers and official government records, such as
    the Stationers Registry and the Revels Accounts. While several documents also exist indicating that Oxford wrote poems
    and possibl[y] a play (most likely an interlude), although unfortunately none in his hand, none of them suggest he wrote the Shakespeare corpus.”

    You followed with your “nothing in Shakespeare’s hand” comment. The exchange is above for all to see. Oxfordians are so accustomed to shifting goal posts that apparently they do it unconsciously and get confused.

    And Occam’s razor, eh? You mean the one that states that “entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity”? THAT Occam’s razor?

    As I said earlier, irony is thick on the ground today. Oxfordism is an exercise in multiplying entities *ad infinitum*.

  • Nat Whilk

    Oxfordians? Some are transcendently illogical.

  • calendar

    Yes Tom – you continue to display your inability to assess evidence. It’s so much fun to see you leave out the details that don’t help your cause.

    So – of those 40 other dedications – which one MOST RESEMBLES the FIrst Folio?

    Here’s the rest of the story Tom won’t tell you.

  • I can understand your need to resort to verbal legerdemain. You certainly are an expert at it. You are well aware that my comment was aimed at Shakspeare’s surmised illiteracy, yet you insist on exacting from me citations for de Vere’s literary output written *in his own hand.* I’m not falling for it. There are references made by Meres to Oxford’s poetry, his flair for comedy; we have his early poems (Echo, Desire, etc.) and his preface to Cardanus Comforte (alluded to in Hamlet); we have Oxford’s own Geneva bible with marginalia/underlinings mirroring the plays… We even have his signature in an elegant hand. But you are well aware of this, all of it. It’s a pity you’re unable to apply Occam’s Razor to de Vere, but are willing to suspend disbelief when it comes to Willie.

  • Tom Reedy

    Phillip Herbert had about 40 publications dedicated to him; his brother William around 90. A dozen works were jointly dedicated to them. Were they all written by relatives of theirs?

    Have you not read the FF dedication? It spells out the exact reason why the work is dedicated to them: “for the
    many favors we have received from your L.L. …. your L.L. have beene pleas’d to thinke these trifles [plays] some-thing,
    heeretofore; and have prosequuted both them, and their Authour living, with so much
    favour …. so much were your L.L. likings of the
    severall parts, when they were acted, as before they were published, the Volume ask’d to
    be yours.”

    Why would it be unusual for the FF to be dedicated to them, given their positions and patronage? It seems plain enough to me, but then again I don’t believe that the entire historical record is a fraud designed to cover up the authorship of a bunch of plays and poems, either.

  • Nat Whilk

    “In fact, the same evidence suggesting Oxford translated Ovid for Golding
    also suggests that Brincknell was the real translator, and that Oxford
    stabbed him to keep Golding’s secret.”

    Brilliant. I shall write it, sir, as a morality in eight and six.

  • Tom Reedy

    > Why would Meres mention Oxford as the “best” at comedies?

    Uh, along with 16 others who were also the “best” at comedies.

  • Tom Reedy

    > Golding was not Edward’s tutor, but they did live in Cecil House at the same time, during which Golding supposedly translated Ovid,

    So did Thomas Brincknell, the undercook. In fact, the same evidence suggesting Oxford translated Ovid for Golding also suggests that Brincknell was the real translator, and that Oxford stabbed him to keep Golding’s secret. If the truth had gotten out among the rabble, Elizabeth would have had a revolution on her hands. Undoubtedly Oxford had already been inducted into Walsingham’s secret service, and was carrying out orders. Who had more immunity from prosecution than the Queen’s ward?

    Exactly! (touches nose and nods)

  • calendar

    “…it is not unknown to others, and I have had ****experience*** thereof myself, how earnest a desire your honour hath naturally graffed in you to read, peruse, and communicate with others as well the histories of ancient times, and things done long ago, as also of the present estate of things in our days, and that not without a certain pregnancy of wit and ripeness of understanding….”

    Yes Tom, definitive proof that Golding tutored Oxford is lacking. But we know they both lived in Cecil’s house – and Golding’s dedication to Oxford excerpted above claims direct ‘experience’ (emphasis mine) in Oxford’s learning. In fact – he details the traits – a love of history – pregnancy of wit, and ripeness of understanding that would all become known as Shakespeare’s hallmarks decades later.

    And of course, that specific book dedicated to Oxford would be a source of both allusions and character names in many Shakespeare plays.

    But yes, Tom, this is only circumstantial evidence. You wear the motley well.

  • But he did hit bottom out after the Armada episode and he did actually try and make a living by persuading one official after another to grant him a monopoly. This sounds like charity to modern ears but it was how most aristocrats lived back then and if he’d been a bit smarter, he’d have managed. As it was, another marriage for cash was all that kept the wolf from the door. His cack-handed conspiracies and mistimed appeals to the Sovreign just look like the work of a man who wasn’t dealing from a full deck.

  • Oh stop! It was a joke. No one’s taken offence except you.

    I apologise if it went over your head. That wasn’t where I was aiming.

  • Try and imagine what you’d have to do to negotiate the rights for ‘opera bufo’ with avant garde theatre companies. How ignorant could you be then? No Italian? No literacy? How happy would the authors be with a rep who could understand absolutely nothing about what he was selling.

    How long do you think you would last?

  • Nat, I will leave you to your delusions. Adijo.

  • Golding was not Edward’s tutor, but they did live in Cecil House at the same time, during which Golding supposedly translated Ovid, a dubious credential which I’ve addressed in another comment. Although I do believe Willie attended school, there is no evidence that he did.

    I have read three orthodox books. Sadly, I wore down my lead pencil underlining words like “perhaps,” “surely,” “it’s obvious that,” etc. etc. A pity that what you consider *facts* are in reality myths and wild extrapolations.

  • And Mark Twain is Mark Twain~~~

  • There’s no such thing as an “Oxfordian spokesman”. Tourist traps don’t employ us. Stubborn Oxfordian authors with their life’s work at stake don’t finance us either. Get a grip. Got to go, there’s an Oxfordian seance I’m late for.

  • Why would Meres mention Oxford as the “best” at comedies? Surely there is a conspiracy at hand here!!!!!!!

  • Tom Reedy

    > Please don’t insult my intelligence.

    I repeat: Nothing in Oxford’s hand testifies to his literary career. Nothing. You can’t get around that.

    Remember, we’re going by your standard about which documents count as evidence for being a writer: “Nothing in Shakspeare’s own hand, Tom Reedy. Nothing. You can’t get around that.”

    If reality insults your intelligence, I suppose retreating into fantasy is the answer–umm, uhh, wait a minute!

  • Tom Reedy

    > No, not a halfwit. Just not especially bright: a C+ Augustus.

    Wait a minute. Are you talking about *Oxford*, or *Oxfordians*?

  • Jonson was also at one time employed by Sir Francis Bacon, a relative of Oxford. They both had a boar in their family crest, which mislead people into thinking it was Bacon. The First folio changed the name of the Boar’s Inn, where many plays were staged, perhaps because it related too closely to Oxford. It was changed back later, after the principals were all deceased, as I know you are well aware of.

  • calendar

    Yes – thanks – I’m not a medical man.

    The point as to the value of your posts remains.

  • Pavarotti can’t read music……. Lots of brokers do not understand the content of their product. If I imported and sold Italian fashion magazines, does that mean I can speak and read Italian? Does it mean I know anything about Italian fashion?

  • Tom Reedy

    What good would a tetanus shot do against rabies?

  • Please don’t insult my intelligence. My comment pointed out the fact that your man was a virtual illiterate. Six scrawls. Illiterate daughters. No books left behind. No letters. No laundry lists. No bucket list. No eulogies at the death of the Soul of the Age. I know, I know… You’ve heard all this before. (At least I’ve seen de Vere’s signature. Can you say the same for Willie’s?)

  • “Disgraceful” might not be the right word…. Let’s say it was socially unacceptable. Without taking the Stratford MO of describing supposition as “without doubt”, let’s assume, first off, that the Sonnets are both enigmatic and non-fictional. The poet says he’s disgraced his name (a more appropriate use of the word) but his works will eventually become immortal. Is it such as stretch for you to assume that (unlike Shaksper) De Vere entrusted his refined and edited works to his family, with instructions to publish the works well after his death? We don’t have De Vere’s will. You’d think we would have, yet it is not around, just like his letters to Anne Cecil are not around, even though hers to him are. And as the sonnets clearly state, we don’t know where his grave is either. Sometimes works of genius become monuments unto themselves. If I had as checkered of a reputation as Oxford ended up with, and had some classic tunes I’d written, or plays, I’d want them published, and would be happy they could have a life unto themselves, sans the fouled association with my disgraced name. Wouldn’t you? I’m disappointed that entrenched positions don’t allow for common sense to be put into play with the specifics, that elements within each camp would deny the obvious. WS clearly states in the sonnets that his works are for all time, and he’s disgraced his own name. That alone makes the use of a mask both a vehicle for protecting the social codes of the peerage, as well as allowing his works to be able to printed without the stigma of his disgraced name.

  • Tom Reedy

    Only that is not a fact. There is no evidence whatsoever that Golding tutored Oxford.

    Jesus, why can’t you people actually crack open a non-anti-Strat book every once in a while?

  • Tom Reedy

    C+ pretty well defines the entire aristocratic class in every historical age. Look up useless in the dictionary and there’s a picture of an aristocratic leech.

  • Tom Reedy

    The gutters are packed full with unfulfilled geniuses. Oxford’s self-centeredness was his downfall, not his intellect. That isn’t a rare story; history is full of them. And to be fair, being born into an aristocratic family is not the best of environments in which to breed a work ethic. How many other aristocrats succeeded where Oxford failed? Not very many; court politics was a zero-sum game. Oxford was just in the limelight more because of his position and character. Had he been born in a middling family and his wardship sold instead of retained by the queen, he would be even less of a historical footnote than he is now. Or who knows? Maybe adversity would have brought out some character in him.

  • Nat Whilk

    There are 879 lines in the Metamorphoses, about three fifths of Hamlet’s part. Nice training for an actor.

    Off chance? Dead cert. Shakespeare is soaked in Ovid, as an apple in honey.

    Oxford did indeed have several learned tutors, but you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

  • If the word “aught” altered the meaning of that statement, and it translated into 21st century terminology to say “even if he knew little latin, and even less Greek, he’d still be a great writer”………would that mean you are to take it literally that “he” knows little Latin or Greek?

  • Tom Reedy

    Stop using logic. It doesn’t work with anti-Stratfordians.

  • I have NEVER had a Stratfordian answer this simple question directly. Answering a question with another question does not constitute a legitimate response. Again, any idea why De Vere’s inlaws received the Dedication to the First Folio? Does it seem plausible that they were in control of the original, but refined manuscripts? Or is that delusional thinking on my part, to even consider that Oxford’s relatives received the Dedication for allowing and/or financing the printing?

  • Nat, I’m sorry. You are not a credit to the orthodox viewpoint. Now go stand in the corner.

  • This debate is often bogged down with pedantic “gotcha” action, this being a good example of it. Some of these posts do not have an “edit” or “revise” option, which has embarrassed me more than once.

  • I don’t think you can accuse bad poets of being thick, just bad poets. But again and again, Oxford doesn’t seem to be able to pursue his advantage when all that was required of him was a bit of clear thinking and some simple effort.

    I admire his literary patronage and interest in the arts but it isn’t out of the ordinary for an Earl in the 16c. A lifetime of wasted advantage and missed opportunity is more unusual.

  • A pity that you believe your man was such a genius, he opted to crib from a contemporary’s work.

    (sheds a tear for the deluded)

  • Something to ponder. Could the author of this…

    The piteous tale of Pyramus and Thisbee doth conteine
    The headie force of frentick love whose end is woe and
    The snares of mars and Venus shew that tyme will bring to
    The secret sinnes that folk commit in corners or by nyght,
    Hermaphrodite and Salmacis declare that idlenesse
    Is cheefest nurce and cherisher of all volupteousnesse,
    And that voluptuous lyfe breedes sin: which linking all
    Make men too bee effeminate, unwieldy, weak and lither.

    …have also penned the bone-dry “A Discourse upon the Earthquake that happened through this realme of Englande and other places of Christendom, the sixt of Aprill, 1580” and translations of various books of the Old Testament?


  • What? So he wrote them, produced them or tried to get them produced, put his name on them and didn’t print them in case anyone noticed? Is that what you are arguing?

    Many plays were hacked together from scraps from play-chests joined up with scenes written by anyone who could hold a pen. That’s not what we’re talking about here. This is the best work for the stage, ever written by anyone.

    This whole Booke, thou shalt find he doth not borrow,
    One phrase from Greekes, nor Latines imitate,
    Nor once from vulgar Languages Translate,
    Not Plagiari-like from others gleane,
    Not begges he from each witty friend a Scene
    To peece his Acts withal;

  • Of course, given that we have nothing, script wise, from Shakespeare, Marlowe, Webster, Beaumont and Fletcher, all very successful playwrights, a bookmaker wouldn’t call those odds even.

    Oxford can’t have been a successful playwright. Since the odds of finding script remnants vary inversely in proportion to success, there should be loads of evidence of his work lying around.

    From a statistical POV, the script remnants issue is a strong contra-indicator in the Oxfordian case.

  • William Ray

    “No, Ann, he was taking Mike’s comment (not mine; can’t you Oxfordians
    get *any* attributions correct?) out of context to make an ad hominem
    remark.” Wrong again. Leadbetter sneered he “never thought” something and I turned his stiletto back in his direction. I see the thread has reached your comfort zone, vitriol. Once again you and the other stubbornly uninformed have missed the opportunity to re-evaluate your cliched thoughts. The truth will out, as it was once said.

  • But Ben lists Will as an actor in Every Man in His Humour. Wouldn’t she have to prove there were no performances in 1616 to make it a truly posthumous reference? After all, he was working on the book for years.

  • calendar

    Your implication that I have rabies is a good example of “Add hominem and stir.”

    Your post is another of your many here that adds nothing to the discussion beyond exposing which books you haven’t read as well as your belief that all circumstantial evidence is without value.

  • Tom Reedy

    > Nothing in Oxford’s hand testifies to his literary career. Nothing. You can’t get around that.

    Or anybody else’s hand, I might add.

  • Tom Reedy

    Nothing in Oxford’s hand testifies to his literary career. Nothing. You can’t get around that.

  • Tom Reedy

    > Mike- please stop making things up. It’s embarrasing to read your posts.

    Coming from an adherent of a completely made-up conspiracy theory, the irony is thick on the ground today. Good thing I’ve had my tetanus shot.

  • Tom Reedy

    “Not a poet” =/= “not bright”. He certainly was interested in literary pursuits, and I’d rate his poetic efforts over those of, say, William Strachey. (Not his narrative or editorial abilities, though.)

  • Nat Whilk

    “We have evidence that de Vere *owned* these three sources…”

    And no evidence whatever that he’d read them.

    Oxford collected a lot of things. Some, like his serving boys, were for use rather than for ostentation.

  • William Ray

    Gladly, regarding one particular player. Shakspere was never listed in any document, as were most of the others, as acting or being paid for acting in any play. But that doesn’t foil a set-up he did and was. It was only after he had safely died that Jonson put out his ‘Workes’, even though he was still writing plays, establishing that collected plays were an art-form. In that compendium, he asserted that “William Shakespeare” was an actor in EMIHH, as shown on the cast list, opposite the title page of another play EMOOHH, and to gild the lily later in the First Folio, he was listed first, as though he were the pre-eminent actor. Since there is no backing for such claims, due to there being no corroborating cast-lists or other documentation up to that point–of Shakspere’s demise–I stated that there is no basis in fact for the cast lists– including a William Shakespeare and implying Shakspere of Stratford. At the time (1616) Jonson was associated with William Herbert, recently appointed in charge of the revels. He continued to be so associated for the next seven years, until the First Folio (and its prominent cast list) saw print. Believe Jonson if you are inclined to. However, lacking a basis in previous record, Jonson’s saying Shakspere (Shakespeare) was both an actor (fellow, etc. in the Heminge-Condell matter) and an author was his word only, surrounded with the trappings of respectable authority. Most of that authority, aside from the impressive volume itself and its frightening portrait of a non sequitur human being, came from the highly placed dedicatees. They were Oxford’s relatives by marriage and his followers and former colleagues in the theater area. As for your other snidism, explain how an illiterate can be a play broker, I already dealt with that. And Ms Price responded on her own–that she never claimed Shakspere was illiterate. I say someone who can’t sign his name is illiterate. She leaves it open he possibly could read. Despite Mr. Reedy’s predictable slur of “nuttiness”, the literature tells what could not be said aloud, Shakspere was a mendacious knave, whom ironically now you worship as gold instead of a tin counterfeit.

  • Tom Reedy

    Really and truly, and with all due respect to Professor Nelson, spelling arguments from the Elizabethan era are non-starters.

  • Tom Reedy

    > Because great writers go to the original sources

    Hahahahahahahahahahaha! (wipes tears from eyes)

  • Tom Reedy

    The *Workes* was published in November 1616, so in anti-Stratfordia it doesn’t count as evidence for anything having to do with Shakespeare.

  • Nat Whilk

    You do know that Ovid’s Metamorphoses was a set text in Elizabethan grammar schools? Not just to read but to memorize, beginning in the fourth form.

    Try again.

  • William Ray

    Fortunately, many who read, and do not necessarily comment, here are motivated by curiosity for truth, as opposed to bias and bile. It does not take long to realize thatsnide dismissive posts are empty of integrity. Surely you have another explanation (than the author’s pointed satire) for every William in the canon being portrayed a fool and a knave.

  • Nat Whilk

    No, not a halfwit. Just not especially bright: a C+ Augustus. If he’d had the discipline, he might have scraped through a modern university.

  • Ben Jonson, we know for a fact, attended school. An excellent school. Do you think William Camden owned any books? Hmmmmm….

  • Nothing in Shakspeare’s own hand, Tom Reedy. Nothing. You can’t get around that.

  • May I direct you to Gary Goldstein’s essay, Shakespeare’s Native Tongue?

  • He said nice things about His review is the most outstanding contribution to the debate of modern times.

    In the comments section on that article, all the opprobrium for the ‘Auschwitz’ comment ended up on my head, for reasons I never understood. A certain Dr even reported me for abuse.

  • I’m with Nat on this, though I know Professor Nelson might not agree. I think his letters reveal him to be a bit of a plodder and his verse, well, even in Oxford’s lifetime, I wouldn’t have published any of it. He’s not a poet. Just look at the six lines William R quoted higher up. Woeful.

    But chiefly, I think that as a top flight aristocrat, made penniless by his own incompetence, once he’d bottomed out in 1590, he ought to have been able to recover his position if he’d had any real commercial acumen, brains or talent. It wasn’t that hard to get yourself a few sinecures and with friends like his, it ought to have been straightforward.

  • calendar

    Many plays were produced anonymously. None of Derby’s plays survive in print, which SUPPORTS not refutes the stigma of print argument.

    Just keep digging, Mike. It’s quite entertaining.

  • Why? Because great writers go to the original sources, which in this case is Plutarch. Even someone with a limited knowledge of the Renaissance knows that books were out-of-this-world expensive! We have evidence that de Vere *owned* these three sources, one of them ancient, which is more than the wishful thinking exhibited by Stratfordians.

  • How many of the Earl of Derby’s plays were produced in London on the professional stage?

    And of course, you must now agree that the ‘stigma of print argument’ is for the shredder. So the whole issue of the need for a pseudonym has blown up in your face.

  • Does the 1616 First Folio of Jonson’s works, which also mentions Shakespeare the actor, count as posthumous, then. I don’t think that’s very fair.

  • Sincethe threading has gone haywire, hereabouts, you’re forgiven.

  • Titus: Lucius, what book is that she tosseth so?
    Boy: Grandsire, tis Ovid’s Metamorphoses,
    My mother gave it me.

    “Mother” in this instance is not Mary Arden Shakspeare.

  • I stand (sit) corrected.

  • Tom Reedy

    Golding didn’t publish anonymously.

  • Tom Reedy

    No, Ann, he was taking Mike’s comment (not mine; can’t you Oxfordians get *any* attributions correct?) out of context to make an ad hominem remark. Don’t pretend you don’t know basic elementary school grammar.

  • Tom Reedy

    Actually, several documents indicate he was a writer, including testimony from other writers and official government records, such as the Stationers Registry and the Revels Accounts.

    While several documents also exist indicating that Oxford wrote poems and possible a play (most likely an interlude), although unfortunately none in his hand, none of them suggest he wrote the Shakespeare corpus.

    > The name on the works is “Shakespeare,” and neither the Stratford man nor his family spelled the name that way.

    Several legal documents refer to both “the Stratford man” and his father as “Shakespeare”.

    > None of the references to Shakespeare the writer before 1623 is clearly a reference to Shakspere, the actor from Stratford. Stanley Wells admits this in Shakespeare Beyond Doubt.

    If Professor Wells admitted such, he is wrong. Several documents from his lifetime clearly refer to Mr. William Shakespeare as a writer. I assume you’re familiar with the rigid system of social address of the time; if not, you can read all about it in Harrison:

    Most everything else you wrote is wrong too. I haven’t read the book yet, but your batting average doesn’t inspire confidence in that judgement, either.

  • calendar

    TITLE PAGES!!! – – oh snap!

    For your reading list, should you wish to become educated on the topic….

  • calendar

    So – Oxford failed the breathalyzer that day. What else you got?

  • Tom Reedy

    Curious: why do you think he was not bright? He was innumerate, as most nobles of the time appeared to be, but he certainly wasn’t a moron.

  • Tom Reedy

    > Hamlet contains allusions to Beowulf.

    No, no it doesn’t. Hannas’ assertion is just that: another Oxfordian assertion.

    Sorry. Good try, though. Such assertions only work on the ignorant.

  • Mr Ray was merely reiterating your comment. Would you like to rephrase it?

  • No, Tom. An “ad hominem” is an attack on the person instead of on their stance. Your allusion to the Life Alert “panic” button conjures up all sorts of negative connotations. Please don’t pretend you don’t know basic grammar school Latin.

  • calendar

    Mike- please stop making things up. It’s embarrasing to read your posts.

    In 1599, George Fenner, a spy, wrote – “The Earl of Derby is busied only with penning comedies for the common players.”

    This direct evidence from the period shows that your posts here are essentially useless.

  • Tom Reedy

    An even better question would be how could a grammar school lad from London who came from the laboring class have gotten his hands in all those old Latin and Greek writers on which his works are based?

    Which brings up the never-answered question of why could Ben Jonson, who came from a much harsher background than Shakespeare, do it, but Shakespeare could not?

  • Tom Reedy

    Grammar schools did not teach “basic literacy”; the pupil was required to have achieved basic literacy before beginning grammar school at the age of 7. If he did drop out at the age of 13, then he missed the last year of grammar school, since it ended at the age of 14.

    > Diana Price responds: “One must rely on posthumous legend to claim that Shakespeare performed any roles in Shakespeare plays.”

    So the prefatory material in the First Folio is now “posthumous legend”? And here again we see the Pricean Historical Methodology of dismissing posthumous testimony, a technique not used by any historians except those of the anti-Stratfodian industry.

  • Tom Reedy

    Where’s your “ad hominem” tag now?

  • Tom Reedy

    > Ad hominem.

    That’s another term Oxfordians throw around that they don’t understand.

    Ad hominem is saying “What he said is wrong, because he’s an idiot.” Saying “He’s an idiot because what he said is wrong” is not ad hominem.

    From claiming Oxford was the first to use iambic pentameter, to asserting that Oxford used freight canals to travel in Italy, to his nutcase numerology, Mr. Ray consistently has shown that he cannot comprehend common sense, logic, and the historical method. Having him pose as an Oxfordian spokesman does not advance the Cause, and we are all grateful that he’s not on this side of the Shakespeare fence.

  • calendar

    Hamlet contains allusions to Beowulf. You might want to research how many copies of Beowulf were extant at the time. And who owned them (or it – ha ha!)

  • Spot of work needed on your repartee, William . . . .

  • “Anti-strats don’t speak with one voice, but I would have to say they feel a nobleman MOST LIKELY wrote the plays, ”

    This is one of those statements in which the superficial likelihood seems quite high but the actual likelihood is minuscule.

    Playwrights for the professional theatre were commoners working u Nader contract, doesn’t and dirty with actors, scene painters, costume makers and musicians.

    The actual likelihood of an aristocrat spending half his life on Bankside is pretty much nil.

  • . . . . though you’re guranteed and appreciative audience, it seems.

  • Need some work on your repartee, there, William. . . . .

  • Nope.

    Italy’s 16c canals were used to move all sorts of heavy goods, initially stone for masonry projects. Milan even had a Grand Canal of it is own, a circular affair which was already falling into disuse when Oxford visited (cf Da Vinci – Canal du Midi)

    The idea that they provided an early version of the London Underground for travelling English Earls is what I take issue with. Especially when it’s being used to justify impossible stage directions in plays where Italy is clearly being used as a broadly painted backdrop.

    You don’t sail on canals, you might get occasional assitance from the wind but there’s no searoom. You tow. Or you row. Canals never, ever have tides to miss.

  • Doesn’t work. Can’t work. Look again. Rivers can go downhill. Canals can’t.

  • Who gave thee grief and made thy joys to faint/
    Who first did paint with colours pale thy face?/
    Who first did break thy sleeps of quiet rest?/
    Above the rest in court who gave thee grace?/
    Who made thee strive in honour to be best?/
    In constant truth to bide so firm and sure,/

    te-Tum, te Tum, te Tum, te Tum

    6 lines, 60 feet, 50 monosyllables!!!!!!!!!!!!! QED.

    And you might want to ease off on the rhetorical questions, young Edward. Have a look at some Uncle Howard’s work. or a realist, like Wyatt.

  • Bruce Leyland

    Parents do tend to souvenir their children’s best work – e.g. school projects.

  • Pat Dooley

    Nathan asks:

    “I have not read Price’s book, but you say she takes the position that William Shakespeare of Stratford was a play broker. How can someone be an illiterate play broker? How does a play broker keep track of his inventory if he cannot read? How does an illiterate play broker know what he is selling if he cannot know the content? How does he know he is delivering the right script to the right company? The concept of an illiterate play broker is as ridiculous as the concept of an illiterate Elizabethan actor.”

    Diana Price responds:

    “You might try reading the book before criticizing it. But thanks for your excellent questions. I do not argue that Shakespeare of Stratford was illiterate. On page 242-43:

    Tradition tells us that Shakspere attended the grammar school but dropped out at around age thirteen, due to his father’s waning fortunes. Tradition is probably right, because later evidence attests to Shakspere’s basic literacy. As an actor, Shakspere had to be able to read his roles. The “gentleman player,” the satirical incarnation of Shakspere in Groatsworth, had been “a Country author, passing at a Moral” before hiring other playwrights to write for him. Patching together old morality plays would have required basic literacy. So would (possibly) play brokering and (certainly) “correcting” texts. Shakspere negotiated many legal documents, and it is more likely that he could read those documents, rather than always having to rely on a scrivener. We know of three letters written to him, one about borrowing money, and two others, no longer extant, concerning the Welcombe pasture enclosures. We know he could sign, or at least scrawl his name. However, while Shakspere’s biographical trails suggest that he attended grammar school, they do not suggest that he became an intellectual, much less a literary giant.”

    Nathan asks:

    “You say that Price acknowledges Shakespeare was an actor, though she denies he was in the plays credited to Shakespeare.”

    Diana Price responds:

    “One must rely on posthumous legend to claim that Shakespeare performed any roles in Shakespeare plays.”

    Nathan asks:

    “Does she acknowledge that Shakespeare was in two of Ben Jonson’s plays?”

    Diana Price responds:

    “On pp, 65-66, I considered the Jonson cast lists and consider them inclonclusive. Still doesn’t make him a writer.”

    Nathan asks:

    “How does she think he learned his lines, if he could not read?”

    Diana Price responds:

    “See above/ extract.”

    Nathan asks:

    “Shakespeare has the rude mechanicals learning their lines by reading in “Midsummer Night’s Dream”; he seems to understand actors needed to be literate to learn their lines. I’ve run across Anti-Stratfordians who claim it was common for Elizabethan actors to be illiterate, and that they learned their lines by having a literate man read the lines to them. If the actors had such prodigious memories that they were able to memorize their lines after hearing them a few times, surely it would have been a more productive use of the literate man’s time to teach the players to read, rather than having to read their lines to them over and over for play after play. Again, the Anti-Strat argument makes no damned sense.”

    Diana Price responds:

    “I make no such claims.”

  • Nat Whilk

    I’ve read both. I’ve studied the English Renaissance, as have most of the Shakespearians here. If you think that Edward De Vere was bright, you are sadly deluded.

  • Macduff

    Over 70 documents exist about the Stratford man that were
    created during his life, but not one of them identifies him as a writer
    of any kind. A businessman, yes, an occasional money lender, part owner
    of a theatre company who may have acted some small parts, yes, but not a
    writer. No manuscript of a poem or play in his hand survives, not even a
    letter! There is no evidence that William Shakspere, the man from
    Stratford, ever owned a book, was ever paid for writing, or was referred
    to as a writer by anyone during his life or immediately after his
    death. All the other important Elizabethan writers left some kind of
    paper trail of contemporaneous documents identifying them as writers.
    The First Folio, which was published seven years after his death, was
    the first document to attempt to connect “William Shakespeare” with Mr.
    Shakspere, and it is filled with ambiguities.

    The he name on the works is “Shakespeare,” and neither the Stratford man nor his family
    spelled the name that way. None of the references to Shakespeare the
    writer before 1623 is clearly a reference to Shakspere, the actor from
    Stratford. Stanley Wells admits this in Shakespeare Beyond Doubt.
    Furthermore, no “colleague” of the Stratford man is known to
    have connected him with the writer “Shakespeare” during his life. Even
    Dr. John Hall, the Stratford man’s son-in-law who kept an extensive
    diary, never mentioned in his diary that his father-in-law was a famous
    playwright. But Hall did mention that he met the playwright Michael
    Drayton. Isn’t there something wrong with this picture?

    The monument to Shakespeare in the Trinity Church in Stratford now shows a
    writer with a quill pen in his hand; but it does not look the same as
    the one erected in the early 1600s. A sketch by a reputable artist in
    1634 shows a man with a drooping moustache holding a wool or grain sack,
    but no pen, no paper, no writing surface. In short, the “authorship” of
    the man from Stratford has all the earmarks of a hoax designed to hide
    the real author’s identity.

    Pen names and anonymity were common in those days. One could be imprisoned or tortured, or worse, if his writings displeased the authorities. Shakespeare Beyond Doubt fails to produce any new evidence in favor of the Stratford man or to answer the many
    weaknesses in the Stratfordian theory.

    The book also employs the unfortunate technique of taking an assertive, condescending, ridiculing tone toward doubters, rather than actually addressing the evidence.
    Let’s keep the discussion civil and let’s talk about the evidence.

  • Okay, you know about “Pandosto” by Robert Greene. Why would Shakespeare have needed Chaucer and Boccaccio and Plutarch, when he had Greene’s “Pandosto”?

    And what is your evidence that the works of Boccaccio and Chauncer and {luWhat works of Boccaccio and Chaucer were rare and expensive?

  • Walt Hardin

    See: “Shakespeare and the Waterways of North Italy”, Edward Sullivan, 1908

  • From your comments, I can only glean that you have never read Oxford. Or Golding. Please don’t cite Wiki here. It indicates a lack of curiosity, of scholarship.

  • Nat Whilk

    No, Oxford could not have translated it. Have you read his poetry? His prose? The man was lavishly untalented. The notion is absurd.

    What makes me think Golding did? His name is on the title page:

  • Ad hominem.

  • Both The Winter’s Tale and Pandosto were based on Boccaccio and Chaucer, and ultimately, Plutarch. So let’s not play chicken-or-the-egg here, okay? Your comment/question as to the availability of these basic works is laughable. Yes, they were rare. Yes, they were terribly expensive. It can be proven that de Vere either had access to, or purchased, copies of Boccaccio, Chaucer and Plutarch. As to the two-bit actor’s (relative!) wealth, it’s a shame that Shakspere’s illusory list of chattels has yet to be found. Perhaps these same titles were included… along with his very best bed.

  • Oxford could well have translated it. What makes you think Golding did? (Little Neddie Bolbec. I like that.)

  • Nat Whilk

    Do you believe that Little Neddie Bolbec translated Ovid? Really? Then I have a Leonardo da Vinci by W that I’d love to sell you.

  • Tom Reedy

    Keep posting, the more the better. No Stratfordian could make an argument illustrating the nuttiness of anti-Stratfordism as effective as your posts. Live long and prosper!

  • Touché.

  • Tom Reedy

    > In law …

    You must be disoriented. We’re not in a courtroom, we’re on the Internet. Just press that button on the chain around your neck and someone will be there presently to help you home. Don’t panic.

  • Ann Zakelj asks how a grammer school lad from Stratford could have gotten his hands on Plutarch, Boccaccio or Chaucer. She also demonstrates her ignorance by claiming “The Winter’s Tale” was based on Chaucer. (t wasn’t. “The Winter’s Tale” was based on a work by Robert Green. “Trioilus and Cressidea” and “Two Noble Kinsmen” were based on Chaucer.)

    In any event, what makes you think it would have been difficult for Shakespeare to get his hands on Plutarch, Boccacco and Chaucer? Do you think those works were rare or terribly expensive?

    And what makes you think Shakespeare was a two big actor? Are you unaware that he was a shareholder and became a relatively wealthy man?

  • Tom Reedy

    Unfortunately, Bate did make the comparison.

    “Deny the reality of Shakespeare one moment and the next you just might find someone denying the reality of Srebrenica – or even Auschwitz.”

    That’s about as explicit as it gets.

    Bate also made several historical mistakes, which suggests he didn’t take a lot of time with his review. And in fact, his “review” was anything but–it was just an anti-Stratfordian rant.

  • Yes! And perhaps Little Richard (not to be confused with the rocker) also translated Ovid’s Metamorphoses! I never thought of that until you mentioned his name…

  • William Ray

    In the May 5, 2008 edition of the New Yorker, Stephen Greenblatt was quoted by the journalist Cynthia Zarin as saying, “The demand [for an authorship debate] seems harmless enough until one reflects on its implications. Should claims that the Holocaust did not occur also be made part of the standard curriculum?” So far Leadbetter (“He’s referring to Jonathan Bate who never said it either.”) you have struck out on the facts. But keep showing your bias. It is endemic to the industry and its following of uninformed hangers-on and therefore instructive to sincerely curious readers about the validity of your common view.

  • I will read Price’s book if you’ll give me a reasonable explanation as to why I should believe that an illiterate person could be a playbroker.

    And while you are at it, you might explain how you know for certain that the cast lists in the folio’s of Jonson’s plays have no basis in face.

  • Nat Whilk

    Let’s see now.

    At eleven years old, the younger Richard Quiney–the Stratford son of no one in particular–could write a neatly phrased Latin letter to his father, adapting a quote from Cicero’s ‘Epistolae ad Familiares.’ At 45, Golding’s nephew produced such atrocities as ‘summum totale’ for ‘summa totalis.’ By grammar-school standards, the man was illiterate.

  • William Ray

    In law, a malicious publication against an individual’s reputation is termed a libel, not a slander. Don’t know whether they call it that in the Houston police station. Not to worry, the virtuous Professor Shapiro criticized ‘Anonymous’ as having all-blond (Master-race?) heroes and all-swarthy villains, (booed by the NYC audience), and he smarmily implied that John Thomas Looney (Loh’ney) was a proto-Nazi and Freud a dupe for admiring his detective story ‘Shakespeare Identified’. (p. 187, Advance Reader Edition) As high-minded as were those pronouncements, he later complimented Tom Reedy, demonstrating comradely taste and intelligence on the way to triumphant defense of the Stratford fable. Keep whistling.

  • A better question would be: How could a grammar school lad from Stratford (or, if you will, a two-bit actor in London) have gotten his hands on Plutarch, Boccaccio and Chaucer on which The Winter’s Tale is based? Ye Olde London Librarie?

  • William Ray

    You were right with the statement, “I never thought.”

  • William Ray

    Notice there were no cast-lists when Shakspere was alive, and that Jonson’s posthumous lists (both 1616 & 1623) have no basis in fact. Touching that you believe him, since he worked for the Herberts, Oxford’s in-laws and followers..

  • William Ray

    Good hypothetical reasoning. Maybe it is because Shakspere pretended to the Stationers’ Company that HE was “Shakespeare” that he was portrayed as the mendacious laughingstock in three Jonson and three Shakespearean plays. Sogliardo/Sordido in EMOOHH; Stephan/Nathan in EMIHH; Crispinus (sheep-curly-headed) in Poetaster; William in AYLI; William the Cook/ William the Visor in H4, pt2; Clown/Shepherd in WT. Then there is the amiable dunce William in MWW. ‘Play broker’ in that society was euphemistic for thief. Know any reputable ones? Incidentally your admission that you haven’t read Price’s book is quite a modest statement. Why don’t you read it and have more to offer than jive?

  • William Ray

    You choose odd things to love.

  • William Ray

    Bravo Ed Boswell. I would add regarding is it “accurate to portray a king taking a nap in an orchard without having a single guard present to keep an eye on him,” –that a king-consort by the name of Darnley was well-known to have been “killed in an orchard”, after his bedroom was blown up with gunpowder and he and his assistant were driven outside in their nightshirts. Darnley got as far as the orchard where he was choked to death, with a knife at the ready by a helpful gentleman in the very near vicinity. Bothwell no doubt brought flowers to the funeral. Not precisely accurate as the model for Hamlet’s father being assassinated in cold blood, but allusive of historical matter meaningful to the audience. In short, you were clumsily setting up the straw man that Oxfordians require that all plays present all scenes to all confirmed and specifically known incidents, or Shakspere, the money-lender, wrote Shakespeare. Good thinking. Factually inadequate and analytically deficient however.

  • calendar

    Are you maintaining that Northern Italy’s system of canals was only used for irrigation not to ship goods/people?

    You might want to think and research before answering this question to avoid further embarrassment.

  • <>
    ~ K.C. Ligon in Shakespeare Matters, Vol 3:no.2; Winter 2004

    If you really believe that “any Stratford boy” would be more proficient in Latin than the nephew of Arthur Golding…..

  • William Ray

    As Melville said, “How marvelous familiar is a fool.”

  • Anti-strats don’t speak with one voice, but I would have to say they feel a nobleman MOST LIKELY wrote the plays, requiring a mask of some kind. The one they chose seems to have worked quite well. Do you think the author of Hamlet allowed the king to take a private nap in order to drive the story, or because he was ignorant of royal security protocols? Nobles receive superior educations, they don’t have to work, they have the money to hire people like Oxford did, they have the money to sponsor acting companies, the way Oxford did, they had the access to rare books, the way Oxford did. It has little to do with “snobbery”, the tired, and ironically snobbish explanation of Stratfordians for our mental illness of doubting the Stratford Myth.

  • William Ray

    “Who taught thee first to sigh, alas, my heart?/ Who taught thy tongue the woeful words of plaint?/ Who followed your eyes with tears of bitter smart?/ Who gave thee grief and made thy joys to faint/ Who first did paint with colours pale thy face?/ Who first did break thy sleeps of quiet rest?/ Above the rest in court who gave thee grace?/ Who made thee strive in honour to be best?/ In constant truth to bide so firm and sure,/ To scorn the world regarding but thy friends? With patient mind each passion to endure,/ In one desire to settle to the end?/ Love then thy choice wherein such choice thou bind,/ As nought but death may ever change thy mind.” Not a bad Shakespearean sonnet for an adolescent, circa 1568. Now what was one of Shakspere’s early sonnets again? A correspondence, early? late? Draft? Manuscript? A sentence? A word? A single formed letter?

  • calendar

    Correct – It was Stephen Greenblatt – author of Will in the World – distinction without a difference.

  • Nat Whilk

    Even in tin-mining–a field of the intensest monetary interest to him, by which he hoped to raise his fortunes–Oxford couldn’t be arsed to learn the terms of art. He writes “stannary”as “stammary.” A doubly damning mistake, as it reveals his ignorance of Latin roots. Any Stratford boy would know that tin is stannum.

  • Nat Whilk

    And I’d love these Laputans to tell me what aristocrat would know that “every ‘leven wether tods.”

  • Tom Reedy

    > Has anyone ever pointed out that Oxford was the first user of the (iambic pentameter) “Shakespearean Sonnet” form,


  • Nat Whilk

    “Gerrymandering” refers to Price’s methodology not her beliefs: like others with political ends, she manipulates the evidence–the ballots, the boundaries–in order to win. If this puts her in unpleasant company, her means are at fault.

    But this is tragedy replayed as farce. There is no election: Will of Stratford is Shakespeare. These games hurt nothing in this world but truth.

  • Personally I always preferred the one with the hyphen. I never though the other one was giving 100%.

  • Typesetters and printers were a law unto themselves. As they are to this day.

  • He’s referring to Jonathan Bate who never said it either. He merely pointed out that sharing a public podium with one, as one Oxfordian did with David Irving, is not the smartest way of distancing your theories from the lunatic fringe.

    Cue extravagant abuse where there should be grovelling apology.

  • Dropping the cipher evidence, I see.

    A political ally? Digges, when in London, lived with his mother and his less famous male parent, stepfather Thomas Marshall, a neighbour of Shakespeare who is remembered with a legacy in Shakespeare’s will and is one of the executors.

    ‘Fresh to all ages’ means new, as in not a lot of high fallutin’ classical frippery drummed up to while away the hours at court – the sort of thing Oxford might have written, if there were any evidence he had written any plays (which there isn’t).

    ‘Fresh’ means ‘Shake a spear’ in certain dialects of Quechua which Digges could have picked up from any passing conquistador.

  • Go and look at Leonardo da Vinci’s surveys for the Canal du Midi. Roe is not an engineer and does not understand how canals work. They are long thin lakes where the water is, to within a millimetre, exactly the same height above sea level until the level is changed by a lock. Water at 120m above sea level has to be plentiful and get there from higher up to fill the canal. Now go and look at a map of Italy.

    Good luck sailing uphill, btw. Post the video . . .

  • They’d be wrong pretty much all the way if they did. Oxford wrote one Shakespearean sonnet, contributed nothing to the form and even that one is usually printed with an echo, disqualifying it. His pentameter, what there is anyway, is hamstrung by his rather limited vocabulary and his fondness for monosyllables. He has absolutely no concept of flexible rhythm and almost all of his poetry lacks flexible elision, an absolute necessity for flowing blank verse like Shakespeare’s. He simply doesn’t understand how it works.

    Apart from the fact that everyone is being nasty to him, he usually doesn’t have that much to say, either.

    Oxford is five steps downhill from his Uncle Howard in the poetry stakes and at least fifty more when it comes to Thomas Wyatt, his superior in every technical aspect and in every form of expressiveness.

  • William Ray wrote, “There are more things in heaven and earth than is dreamed of in your philosophy, Horatio.”

    If you are trying to impress us with your knowledge of the work, you might make more of an effort to get the quote right.

  • Tom Reedy

    > Does she acknowledge that Shakespeare was in two of Ben Jonson’s plays?

    Actually, Will Shakespeare was in one play and Will. Shake-Speare in the other, so by anti-Strat logic those were two different people, the second one being the pseudonym of the writer.

  • Tom Reedy

    > … if the plays and poetry had all been published anonymously,

    They weren’t.

    > then there is barely a scrap of evidence that would lead any investigator/scholar to even remotely consider William Shakspere of Stratford as the supposed author.

    That is not an argument for anything. The same could be said of Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Dekker, Ben Jonson, etc. etc.

  • Tom Reedy

    > It’s essentially the same as when Shapiro tries to cast Oxfordians as “holocaust deniers”.

    That is a slander. Shapiro never said such.

  • Tom Reedy

    CORRECTION: Seven out of 96 does not signify a trend.

  • Tom Reedy

    In addition, of the 96 English writers born up to 1600 who used pseudonyms, only 7 used hyphens in the pseudonyms themselves: Thomas Dekker (“Jocundary Merrie-Braines” and “Some-Body”); Robert Greene (“Cuthbert Conny-Catcher”); James Mabbe (“Don diego Peude-Ser”); Anthony Munday (“Anglo-Phile Euthes”); John Penry (“Martin Mar-Prelate”); Joseph Swetnam (“Thomas Tel-Troth”); and John Taylor (“My-Heele Mendsoale”). Three others used them in a descriptive phrase, such as “Nick, Groom of the Hobie-Stable” (Sir Edward Hoby), “A Free-man, though a Prisoner” (George Wither), and “An Earnest Well-Wisher to the Truth” (Daniel Cawdrey.

    Seven out of more than 100 does not signify a trend.

    But here again we’re participating in an exercise in futility: using logic and historical evidence to argue with anti-Stratfordians.

  • Anti-Strats always argue that only a nobleman could have written the plays, because they always depict so accurately the way nobles really lived. I’d love for them to explain how it is accurate to portray a king taking a nap in an orchard without having a single guard present to keep an eye on him.

  • Tom Reedy

    IOW, no research, only assertions. Sounds legit.

  • It is a wild premise because you have huge numbers of people knowing Oxford was the real author, but desperately mounting evidence that an illiterate man was the real author. So many people would have to be in on the secret that you have to ask who they were hiding the secret from. I heard one Oxymoron actually arguing that all the nobility knew Oxford was the real author, but they were terrified that if the common people found at a nobleman was writing the plays, there would be a revolution.

  • Only small in comparison to Jonson.

  • One of the brothers Herbert was the Lord Chamberlain. At the time, the Lord Chamberlain was the boss of the Master of Revels, who decided what plays could be performed. Surely it was important for a theater company to be on the good side of the Lord Chamberlain. As to your notion that the dedication had something to do with Oxford, what is your theory there? Is publishing the plays supposed to be a tribute to Oxford? If not, why not name him as the playwright? If it’s not an honor, if writing the plays was something to be ashamed of, why didn’t the Herberts not want the plays published at all. Oxymorons want the concept of a member of the nobility writing “Hamlet” to be disgraceful, yet they want the publication of the First Folio to be an honor to Oxford, but it cannot be both.

  • I have not read Price’s book, but you say she takes the position that William Shakespeare of Stratford was a play broker. How can someone be an illiterate play broker? How does a play broker keep track of his inventory if he cannot read? How does an illiterate play broker know what he is selling if he cannot know the content? How does he know he is delivering the right script to the right company? The concept of an illiterate play broker is as ridiculous as the concept of an illiterate Elizabethan actor.

    You say that Price acknowledges Shakespeare was an actor, though she denies he was in the plays credited to Shakespeare. Does she acknowledge that Shakespeare was in two of Ben Jonson’s plays? How does she think he learned his lines, if he could not read? Shakespeare has the rude mechanicals learning their lines by reading in “Midsummer Night’s Dream”; he seems to understand actors needed to be literate to learn their lines. I’ve run across Anti-Stratfordians who claim it was common for Elizabethan actors to be illiterate, and that they learned their lines by having a literate man read the lines to them. If the actors had such prodigious memories that they were able to memorize their lines after hearing them a few times, surely it would have been a more productive use of the literate man’s time to teach the players to read, rather than having to read their lines to them over and over for play after play. Again, the Anti-Strat argument makes no damned sense.

  • William Ray

    Those were writers with their names on title-pages? Doubtful. Maybe you believe Gary Taylor, and James Shapiro for being his piggy-backer, but printers did not countermand the preferred orthography of a writer on his title-pages. Shakespeare/Shake-speare was remarkably consistent. It is a minor point of proof for either side anyway, beyond the fact that Shake-speare was a known usage in England, and the Shakspere family never used it once.

  • William Ray

    I see you aren’t interested in any work. Whoever told you there was a close connection between Leonard Digges and Shakspere left out that Leonard Digges was a political ally of William Herbert, who financed and was co-dedicatee with his brother of the First Folio. His brother Philip was married to Oxford/youngest daughter Susan, and William almost married another Oxford daughter, Bridget. So when you wrote “close family connnection” you were right, except it was the wrong family and the wrong connection. As far as the puns in Digges’s tribute, if he actually wrote it, they stand as explained, whether or not you credit them. Notice the phrase “fresh to all ages”. Why say “fresh” in the context of an elegy? Don’t know, you will have to tell me. Except fresh in Dutch is “vers” Nothing to do with alluding to Vere I’m sure. Oxford used the word extensively in his poetry. You find it quite often in the Sonnets too. Don’t know why that is.

  • William Ray

    A. How do you sail uphill? Gradual change of elevation, rowing, and adjustment of sail will do it, like it has for millennia.

    B. Why would anyone use the waterways when the land-roads were faster? Safety, which only the wealthier class could afford, and given their entourage and supplies, would consider necessary. More questions, violate your religion and buy the book. It is a joy to read and view.

  • William Ray

    The answer to your polite and humble query is illustrated on page 50 of Richard Roe’s ‘The Shakespeare Guide to Italy, Retracing the Bard’s Unknown Travels’ By sailing on the Adige to the Tartaro and shifting via canals to the Po, Milan presto became a seaport town. Which explains “Pagnano’s statement in 1520 that Milan, far as it was from the sea, might easily be taken to be a seaport town.” (p. 53) There are more things in heaven and earth than is dreamed of in your philosophy, Horatio.

  • William Ray

    You must be right with your asserted inside knowledge and I must be wrong with my specific parallels and references. “[H]e’s a stranger to metaphor, incapable of the compressed elegance Will
    uses everywhere and has absolutely no feel for pentameter.” Has anyone ever pointed out that Oxford was the first user of the (iambic pentameter) “Shakespearean Sonnet” form, when Shakspere was a child? Or that Oxford’s admired uncle Henry Howard along with Thomas Wyatt adapted the English sonnet form from the Petrarchan, and Oxford perfected it? –You must be right.

  • Since hyphenation of real people’s names is known, Sir Oldcatle (Old-Castle), Charles Fitzgeoffrey (Fitz-Geffry, Charles Fitz-Geffrey, or Charles Fitz-Geffrie), Lord mayor of London Sir Thomas Campbell (Camp-bell), printer Edward Allde hyphenated his own name (Edward All-de), printer Robert Waldegrave (Walde-grave), one the other hand the fictional name Martin Marprelate was more often unhyphenated than hyphenated.
    Hyphenation was a printer’s preference, it has been looked into… and it shows that real names were often hyphenated.

  • Check who their work is dedicated to.

  • I love an Oxfordian cipher and have used the technique to prove that Will wrote the plays on a Sony Vaio laptop, supported Everton and, most controversially, fancied the current Duchess of Cambridge.

    There is a close family connection between Digges and the man from Straford and his two contributions to the First and Second Folios are unequivocal. To use the literary term of the moment. They certainly can’t be explained by joke reasoning and warped cryptography.

  • The Apocrypha consists of work sold as Sakespearean when it is obviously not. Hemmings and Condell included no Apocrypha. They knew the man’s work,

    And there is nothing, absolutely nothing outside the canon, written by, or attributed to Oxford, which sounds like Shakespeare. The Earl isn’t interested in the same things. he’s a stranger to metaphor, incapable of the compressed elegance Will uses everywhere and has absolutely no feel for pentameter. His undisputed verse is either monosyllabic threnody or simple childlike tattoo of the sort Will parodies in MSND.

  • Unless he

    A. Solved the problem of how you sail uphill and
    B. Why anyone would want to ‘sail’ when the journey could be done in less than a quarter of the time overland,

    he hasn’t solved anything. Canals are used for heavy freight not public transport. They need pound locks. Only the Pavia canal had pound locks and it wasn’t used for public transport.

    And of course he doesn’t mention Oxford. Oxford’s Italian experiences don’t map onto the plays any more neatly than Shakespeare’s. The man spent a year in Venice. How could he write two plays about it without appearing to notice that it has no thoroughfares OTHER than canals. And surely that would be time enough for him to come up with better pejorative metaphors for Shylock to use. Roe didn’t discover any ‘fawning publicans’. They were all in London.

  • William Ray

    How about explaining them yourself? Digges’s first eulogy repeats certain important cues. What are they and why do they refer to someone with the name de Vere and the initials EO? In particular, read line 9, the numerical configuration paralleling the pictorial naming device presented in the Droeshout etching collar design. Get that and Digges’s second eulogy, delayed for years because it was too obvious, will be easy. (Poets are borne not made, etc) Put the letters into a rectangular grid and see whose name emerges in the SEVENTEENTH file. Or just turn to page 286 of Roper’s ‘To Be Or Not To Be?’ As for Jonson’s introductory poem, sorry again. Make your letter grid on 286 squares, 22 across by 13 down. Read the seventh file down and up. E VERE both directions. LIke we say at the poker table, read ’em and weep. This isn’t rocket science; not for them and not for us. To quote someone you know, “plain as a pikestaff to anyone who will look, with open eyes.”

  • I think it would be best for you to resist insults, especially those relating to race. It’s essentially the same as when Shapiro tries to cast Oxfordians as “holocaust deniers”. What Diana Price has done is set a higher bar for admissible evidence. If I say “Shakespeare held the horses for the theatre goers, (intimating the wealthiest of the crowd), that’s “evidence” in your book? Who told me that? I heard it as common knowledge…….OK, that could explain how he met the 3rd Earl of Southampton, now it all starts to make sense…… SADLY, Malone researched this in the early part of the 1800’s, and could not find a single piece of evidence that horses were used to go to the theatre. People walked….. When so little is known of our bard, (the one who never wrote a letter) it would help if the few urban legends about him were true, or plausible. Sadly, that’s not the case. In spite of you, Diana Price is doing a service, by sifting out the BS, and going more by actual facts, sparse and damning as they are. Now if you want to look for character assassination masquerading as biography, read Dr. Nelson’s book. He should have been a parole officer, as he’s the most unsympathetic biographer I’ve ever encountered, and I’ve read more than a few Nazi bios.

  • Tom, I’d love to get a grant to do just that, but guess what? Only Stratfordians get grants. How do you think this damage control piece of propaganda came to life, anyway?
    Like the Rockefeller foundation, research projects are not dispassionately bankrolled, but are funded in relation to how they help out the sponsor’s agenda. I think in “The Mysterious Mr. Shakespeare” by Ogburn Jr…….. You can find examples of the hyphenated names of pamphleteers, and of fictional characters in the plays of both Jonson and WS. I’m sure you’re aware that intensive research on the QE period in the last 20 years has uncovered many new examples of anonymous and pen-named Elizabethan letters, poems, dramas, essays, etc. So we’re continuing to learn about the period, and sadly for the Stratford Tourist Trapping Industry, it all points away from the Stratford Fairy Tale of “incomprehensible genius” and works downgraded by necessity to be easy enough for anyone to write with a few Holingshead booklets and a wild imagination in regards to 2nd hand snippits of Italian customs and habits relayed to Will during the Mermaid Tavern Happy Hour.

  • William Ray

    Or you look at The Passionate Pilgrim and apocrypha poems at all? Notice that IV, VI, IX, XI remarkably resemble Venus and Adonis themes, allusions, dramatis personae, and vocabulary. XVIII (Whenas thine eyes hath chose the dame) appears in The Passionate Pilgrim and in Willobie His Avisa in altered form. It is considered part of the Shakespeare apocrypha, meaning it sounds like Shakespeare but Shakspere was an adolescent in Stratford when they were written. Interesting that all were by Oxford. “Whenas thine eyes” was first found in a girl’s commonplace collection of poems from the 1580’s, with the title: MSS. POEMS BY VERE EARL OF OXFORD &C. I’m sure a good prevarication will explain it all.

  • Assuming you have an actual interest in factual explanations, I suggest that you pick up a copy of “Shakespeare’s Guide to Italy” by Richard Roe, where he explains in detail the way the “impossible for all time” trip from Verona to Milan was accomplished. It’s most fascinating, and is supported by Italian experts of 16thC Italian modes of transportation. The precision and accuracy of detail in the book is exemplary. I think you might truly enjoy the book. Kindly note: Although an Oxfordian, Roe did not mention DeVere/Oxford a single time in the book, and does not deal with the authorship question for a single sentence. It simply traces “Shake-speare’s” steps in the cities the Italian plays were set, (all visited by Oxford), using original maps and the original WS plays. I was surprised how many mistakes have been made by Shakesperean scholars who never took the time to go to Italy to do accurate research, instead using their own logic to explain away anything that initially made no sense to them. Roe seems to be the first who actually took the time (20 years of trips to Italy) to solve the riddles and illogical (yet factual) quirks (such as taking a boat between 2 land-locked cities).

  • Beaumont and Fletcher? Not that I know of. I know next to nothing about any claims, true or false, that attribute the work of both authors to Oxford. Why is it so hard to see why members of the peerage could not write for the common stage without stigma? Why not have Jonson, who knew both the true author and the Stratford Playbroker/userer be in charge of providing plausible deniability for the project that Oxford’s in-laws received the Dedication to? After all, Jonson knew Oxford’s daughters, and was employed at one time by Oxford’s relative, Sir Francis Bacon? At this late date, with officials of governments lying thru their teeth, and cloaking things to the death, why is it such a wild premise to think that the folio needed a mask in order to shield the Howards, and the rest of Oxford’s relatives?

  • Bruce Leyland

    “and though he had small Latine, and lesse Greeke”.

  • Reader

    I disagree. Other Shakespeare biographers omit, gloss over, spin, and invent evidence without telling the reader. You may disagree with Diana Price’s interpretations. But she doesn’t hide the evidence. I have to award her high marks for that. I think most Shakespeare “scholars” will learn things from her book, even if they disagree.

  • Did Oxford also write the works of Beaumont and Fletcher?

    How’s about you explain Digges two eulogies? Or what is plain as a pikestaff to anyone who will look, with open eyes? That Jonson’s preface unequivocally precedes the work of Hemmings and Condell which represents the theatrical work of a man that all four knew as Shakespeare?

  • Oxfordians claim that you could sail from Verona to Milan on canals, yet this would only be possible if water could be made to run uphill in the 16c. My guess is that it wouldn’t then just as it doesn’tnow.

    Yet As impossible as that sounds, it’s a breeze compared to some of the concoctions anti-Shakespeareans have come up with.

  • “But what do you believe? – That an uneducated commoner from a culturally unimportant background (he received a coat of arms just before he died – he was not knighted) would somehow be allowed in his youth to entertain courtiers and foreign envoys at Elizabeth’s court with complex plays covering all aspects of nobility, including their great flaws, and for more than a decade? How could you possibly believe that? It would not be credible.”

    It is amazing that anti-Shakespeareans continue to be amazed by this. ALL of the Elizabethan professional playwrights were commoners. Many of them were grammar school boys like Marlowe, Jonson and some, like Dekker exhibit quite extraordinary erudition in their work, yet here we have the argument decked out in Mayflowers and served up yet again. he professional Elizabethan theatre was no place for amateurs or aristocrats and certainly no place for dismal under-achievers and abject poets like Oxford.

    It is amazing that this truth must stare them in the face every time they open one of Will’s works and slap them in the face like a rotting kipper every time they look at Oxford’s poetry

  • William Ray

    It is regrettable that Mr. Tom Reedy displays his penchant for petty attacks when threatened with fact. However, fact does not change due to an individual’s personal nature.

  • Tom Reedy

    Hopefully everyone reading these comments will read this one to the end to get a good idea of Oxfordian “argument”. Oxfordism apparently is following the path blazed by Baconism, whose adherents also declared the imminent collapse of William Shakespeare’s authorship whilst simultaneously descending into crank numerology and cryptology. (It also would behoove the commenter to consult a dictionary, if he has one, and look up the word “shibboleth”.)

  • William Ray

    Like Diana Price’s study of the non-existent author Gulielmus Shakspere, my analysis, “The Factual Desert of Stanley Wells”, ( was brushed off by Stanley Wells with the remark that it was misguided, whatever that could mean.

    Never was a critical analysis so easy to write. Professor Wells while a fine popularizer of the Shakespeare works is completely unprepared when it comes to actual facts about an actual person, born in Stratford in 1616. His comments are a compendium of the shibboleths of the ages, trying to make of this Stratford money-lender a thinker and artist. I cannot in any way call a 9,500 word essay the equal of a work that must have taken years, but then it does not take deep scholarship to see that, for instance, the collar of the revered Droeshout etching at the front of the First Folio has six spears. From the viewer’s perspective, there are two diminutive spears on the left side of the subject’s face (who could not be human). There are four on the other side. To anyone who can count in French and German, this communicates a message: deux (2) vier (4). Deux vier is the phonetic equivalent of “de Vere”. The etchiing and the front matter of the work, upon which the Shakespeare establishment places such sacred trust, is rich with such tricks and hoaxes, all pointing to the identity of the true author. That is, for anyone with eyes to see and mind to comprehend. But the Shakespeare establishment, to its shame, has lacked that capability, along with its hangers-on. When it becomes clear that Shakspere was merely used, his name that is and posthumously, as the foil for publishing a controversial body of work by an insider, de Vere, all this exchange will be re-read for its amusement as an example of human gullibility and ambitious–misguided–folly.

  • Tom Reedy

    I am so glad you’re an anti-Stratfordian, although I know quite a few anti-Stratfordians who don’t feel that way.

  • Tom really ought to be ashamed of himself.He can’t even spell George Buc ‘s name correctly though he been posting the same rubbish about Buc in almost the same identical words for at least ten years.
    Like the Bourbons he never forgets anything and he never learns anything.
    By the way Tom was also quite recently exposed over at Amazon when he tried yet again(and again and again) to falsely deny that Marston and Hall in an extended series of exchanges written 1597 did not refer to Shakespeare and,in all probability, one of the Bacon brothers ,as collaborating under the name Labeo.Gosse and Garnett’s standard history of English literature printed the identification as a fact(though not necessarily endorsing the accuracy of the allegation)without challenge for nearly seventy-five.years.The claim that they did not is under twenty years old.and comes from people like David Kathman whom I was happy to roast on this issue at Los Angeles in the late nineties.
    The dying Robert Green wrote there was” a certain upstart crow beautified in our feathers” .Later that year or early 1594,, according to Reedy’s own admission,what was apparently Green’s last play,”George-a-Green” appeared.The management at the Rose (Edward Juby who met with Buc acted as manager Philip Henslowe’s dogsbody as Reedy regularly acts as dogsbody for Kathman,James Shapiro,and Nelson). positively identified the author as Robert Green.Someone other than Green,legally or illegally,supplied a manuscript
    The first modern editor of the play(1825), who also discovered the annotated Buc copy,had no hesitation in ascribing it to Green. Two of three subsequent editors,all Stratfordians,from widely separated parts of the globe,identified from comprehensive internal evidence as being the work of Robert Green.Oxfordian computer expert Wayne Shore ran comparative vocabulary tests on the play shortly after the year two thousand at my request he got exactly the same results as the Strats and yours truly got with our ear tests.The play also shows a rise in double ending exactly rising on the scale of the last uncontested Green works.
    Surprise, Juby and Henslowe knew what they were talking about.
    So did Buc who described “W.S”.(whom Nelson admits to be Shakspere) on the title page of his copy “Locrine” as “a felon”(The transcript “felon” is that of W.W.Greg ,one of the most distinguished Elizabethan paleographers of the last hundred years Unlike Tom, Stratfordian Greg had the courage to admit that Buc,like Green, regarded Shakspere as a felon, not an author..
    Anyway,think what you may of Will,he was not a snob,dead aristocrat or dying Bohemian, were equally objects of his plunder.
    Now ,Tom,you run back to Dave,James, or Allen and get yourself some new references.These are getting stale.
    Clues::Try “Farewelle to Follie” by Robert Green,Chettle,Tom Nashe’s “Strange News”,Thomas Edwards, “Willobie His Avisa”,”Penelope”s Complaint”(we’ve never done that one) T.H. 1595 ,”Greene’s Funerals” by R.B.(certainly Richard Barnfield) and that exhausts the entire list of probable to certain personal references prior to the appearance of the Meres list.
    You’ve been k.o.’d ,several times now, on “Groatsworth”,”Locrine” and Buc(not Buck).How about a return match on “Farewell to Follie”?It will relieve the endless monotony of your days.
    Roger Nyle Parisious

  • Nat Whilk

    Professor Wells is courteous. What Diana Price has done is not scholarship but gerrymandering. She has jiggered the evidence with all the zeal of a thousand Deep South Republicans suppressing ballots. Her work is—at best—disingenuous.

  • Tom Reedy

    I’m sure everyone is as eager as I am to read the results of your study of pseudonyms and their use of hyphenation in the Elizabethan/Jacobean era. When will those results be available?

  • There are innumerable examples of Elizabethan fictional characters having hyphenated names. Jonson did that alot. Pamphleteers used hyphenated names to no small extent. The hypenated name Shake-speare is a red flag, in my view. Elizabethan spelling is another issue, but if the name of the Stratford man said “Shakespeare” on nearly all the documents, and “Shake-speare”, on some of the documents, and Shaxper or Shagsper were only on 2 or 3, I’m sure we’d be hearing all about it from the Stratfordian side, don’t you think?

  • Dear Tom, do you have a plausible explanation as to why, and how the in-laws of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, received the Dedication to the First Folio? I’m curious as to how you view that important fact. thanks

  • Not so sure you are correct in saying there were no mentions during WS time frame of a hidden author. And relating to the control of documents, and your doubt about the ability to control the historical records outside of a “conspiracy”, never forget that Oxford’s perplexed in-laws, the Cecils, both William and Robert, were the official “keepers of the records” for over a half century. It hardly denotes a “conspiracy” when considering whether or not the Cecils wanted Oxford obscured or illuminated. As Oxford’s Sonnets tell us, he died in disgrace, and his “lewd” life of hanging out with the esthetic fringes of society were facts that the Cecils would not want put into their air-brushed historical records, which orthodox scholars have long lamented for their high level of editing out any and all records not suiting the purposes of the Cecils.

  • Tom Reedy

    Diana Price fails to address the biggest evidentiary voids in Shakespeare’s lifetime: the complete absence of any evidence that someone else wrote Shakespeare’s works, and the complete absence of any hint during his lifetime that Shakespeare was not the author.

    Sir George Buck, Ben Jonson, John Heminges, Henry Condell, Thomas Heywood, and Francis Beaumont most certainly knew him personally, and most likely so did William Camden, John Webster, and Leonard Digges, and all of them attested to his authorship—Buck, Camden, Heywood, and Beaumont during his lifetime. That evidence, and much more, exists, and no amount of juggling categories will make it go away. (Nor do I foresee biographers—Shakespearean or otherwise—adopting Price’s historical methodology anytime in the future.)

    It was more than 200 years after Shakespeare’s death, in very different cultural and literary milieux, before anyone questioned his authorship. The only answer anti-Stratfordians have for this two-century gap is a conspiracy theory so pervasive and successful that it left no trace in the historical record, nor did any of those “in the know” let it slip in any personal communication.

    It is regrettable that the types of records we would wish to have did not survive, but all the direct and indirect evidence supports Shakespeare’s authorship, and none of it contradicts it. Until Price and the rest of the anti-Stratfordians can come up with some other type of argument than constructing arbitrary filters to disallow the documentary evidence for Shakespeare’s authorship, they will never escape their self-imposed estrangement from the academic mainstream. The popularity of anti-Stratfordism will wax and wane (and the current status of anti-Stratfordism still has not reached the level of popularity it enjoyed in the late 19th century/early 20th century), but the place of William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon, gentleman, will remain secure.

  • Pat Dooley

    For technical reasons, I’m posting this response for my wife, Diana Price:

    Diana Price responds to Stanley Wells’s review of
    Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Biography

    I am grateful to Professor Stanley Wells for following up on Ros Barber’s challenge to him and Paul Edmondson (eds., Shakespeare Beyond Doubt:Evidence, Argument, Controversy, Cambridge University Press, 2013, launched at the ‘Proving Shakespeare’ Webinar, Friday 26 April 2013). Barber criticized their collection of essays for failing to engage in the arguments presented in Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Biography: New Evidence of an Authorship Problem ([SUB] Greenwood Press 2001; paperback 2013). As the first academic book published on the subject, it surely should have been addressed in essays relevant to Shakespeare’s biography. But better late than never.

    In his review on Blogging Shakespeare (May 8, 2013), Prof. Wells takes issue with any number of details in my book, but he does not directly confront the single strongest argument I offer: the comparative analysis of documentary evidence supporting the biographies of Shakespeare and two dozen of his contemporaries. That analysis demonstrates that the literary activities of the two dozen other writers are documented in varying degrees. However, none of the evidence that survives for Shakespeare can support the statement that he was a writer by vocation.

    Wells is aware of this argument; in the Webinar, he alludes to Andrew Hadfield’s counter-argument, as first expressed in Hadfield’s 60-second video on the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust website:

    “Question 16: Should we be concerned that there are gaps in [Shakespeare’s] historical record?

    . . . My favourite non-fact is that, although Thomas Nashe is, I think, the only English writer ever to have forced the authorities to close down the theatres and printing presses, making him something of a celebrity, we do not know when or how he died. Traces of Shakespeare, though scanty, do not require special explanation. Or, alternatively, we could imagine that a whole host of writers who emerged in the late sixteenth century, were imposters.”

    Hadfield repeats this explanation in his 2012 biography, Edmund Spenser: A Life (4).

    And it is true: we do not know how or when Nashe died. But we do know that Nashe left behind “a handwritten verse in Latin, composed during his university days. His letter to William Cotton . . . refers to his frustrations ‘writing for the stage and for the press.’ A 1593 letter by Carey reports that ‘Nashe hath dedicated a book unto you [Carey’s wife] . . . Will Cotton will disburse . . . your reward to him.’ Carey also refers to Nashe’s imprisonment for ‘writing against the Londoners’ (SUB, 118).

    Hadfield claims that, as with Nashe’s life, there are similar “frustrating gaps” in the lives of, for example, Thomas Lodge and John Webster. But Lodge refers to his books in personal correspondence and in a dedication, expresses gratitude to the earl of Derby’s father, who “incorporated me into your house.” There are payments to Webster for writing plays, and he exchanged personal commendatory verses with his friends Thomas Heywood and William Rowley. There is no comparable literary evidence for Shakespeare.

    Further contradicting his claim about the absence of literary evidence for Shakespeare and his contemporaries, Hadfield can cite solid literary evidence for Spenser. Such personal literary paper trails include his transcription of neo-Latin poetry in a book that he once owned, records of his education at Merchant Taylor’s and Pembroke Hall, and his handwritten inscription in a book he gave to Gabriel Harvey. There is no comparable evidence for Shakespeare.

    Yet Wells takes comfort that Hadfield’s explanations are true. In the Webinar, Wells introduces “Theorising Shakespeare’s authorship by Andrew Hadfield. . . . That chapter really is incredibly helpful, I think, because it’s, its about helping us all to relax about that fact that we shouldn’t be worried about there being gaps in the records of people’s lives, or, that the kinds of records that we would most wish to see in someone’s life don’t in fact survive and aren’t there.”

    But the absence of personal literary paper trails for Elizabethan or Jacobean writers of any consequence is not a common phenomenon; rather, the absence of any literary paper trails for Shakespeare’s biography is a unique deficiency.

    Wells expresses “no objection whatever to the validity of posthumous evidence.” Posthumous evidence can be useful, but it does not carry the same weight as contemporaneous evidence. Historians and critics alike make that distinction.

    Wells relies, as he must, on the posthumous testimony in the First Folio to prove that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare. But even if he accepts the testimony in the First Folio at face value, no questions asked, no ambiguities acknowledged, he is still left with the embarrassing fact that Shakespeare is the only alleged writer of consequence from the time period for whom he must rely on posthumous evidence to make his case.

    Wells has himself commented on the paucity of evidence. In his essay “Current Issues in Shakespeare’s Biography,” he admits that trying to write Shakespeare’s biography is like putting together “a jigsaw puzzle for which most of the pieces are missing” (5); he then cites Duncan-Jones who “in a possibly unguarded moment, said that Shakespeare biographies are 5% fact and 95% padding” (7). One difference, then, is that my work has no need for “guarded” moments, particularly as I re-evaluate that 5%.

    Instead, of confronting the deficiency of literary evidence in the Shakespeare biography, Wells instead takes exception to particular statements and details in my book. For example, he criticizes my references to Shakespeare’s illiterate household in Stratford, while at the same time I acknowledge that daughter Susanna could sign her name. And yes, she did, once. She made one “painfully formed signature, which was probably the most that she was capable of doing with the pen” (Maunde Thompson, 1:294), but she was unable to recognize her own husband’s handwriting. Her sister Judith signed with a mark. That evidence does not support literacy in the household; it points instead to functional illiteracy.

    In another criticism, Wells states that “Price misleadingly says that ‘there are ‘no commendatory verses to Shakespeare’, ignoring those printed in theFirst Folio as well as the anonymous prose commendation in the 1609 edition of Troilus and Cressida and that by Thomas Walkley in the 1622 quarto of Othello.” In this criticism and elsewhere, Wells disregards the criteria used to distinguish between personal and impersonal evidence, explicit or ambiguous evidence, and so on. Such criteria are routinely used by historians, biographers, and critics. The prefatory material for Troilus and Cressida and Othello necessitate no personal knowledge of the author. (As pointed out above, the prefatory material in the First Folio is problematic, but the complexities require over a chapter in my book to analyze.)

    “Price downplays William Basse’s elegy on Shakespeare … which circulated widely in manuscript – at least 34 copies are known – before and after it was published in 1633, and she fails to note that one of the copies is headed ‘bury’d at Stratford vpon Avon, his Town of Nativity’. Yes, and another version reads “On Mr. Wm. Shakespeare. He dyed in Aprill 1616.” There are various additional derivative titles.

    I “downplay” this elegy for several reasons. Its authorship remains in question; it may have been written by John Donne, to whom it is attributed in Donne’s Poems of 1633. There is no evidence that either Basse or Donne knew Shakespeare. And yes, the elegy does exist in numerous manuscript copies; the one allegedly in Basse’s handwriting is tentatively dated 1626 and shows one blot and correction in an otherwise clean copy– suggesting that it might be a transcript.

    The poem itself contains no evidence that the author was personally acquainted with Shakespeare. Whether by Donne or Basse, it is a posthumous and impersonal tribute, requiring familiarity with Shakespeare’s works, and, possibly, details on the funerary monument in Stratford. Wells and Taylor themselves cannot be certain which manuscript title (if any) represents the original (Textual, 163).

    Wells concludes that “of course, she can produce not a single scrap of positive evidence to prove her claims; all she can do is systematically to deny the evidence that is there.” Questioning the evidentiary value of existing documentation is not the same thing as denying that documentation. It is true: I cannot prove that the man from Stratford was not the writer the title pages proclaim him to be, because one cannot prove a negative. However, I do demonstrate why there is an overwhelming probability that he did not write the works that have come down to us under his name. If he wrote the plays and poems, he would have left behind a few scraps of evidence to show that he did it, as did the two dozen other writers I investigated.

    It is regrettable that Prof. Wells characterizes my book as an attempt to “destroy the Shakespearian case.” My book is an attempt to revisit the evidence and to reconstruct Shakespeare’s biography based on the evidence. Finally, I do not claim that my biography is “definitive.” But I think it is a step in the right direction.

    Additional responses will appear in due course on my website. In the meantime, bibliographical details and hyperlinks for this response are posted on my website at:

  • Bruce Leyland

    There is a clear division between the spelling of the published name and the signatures of the Stratford man. Moreover, on published editions (over more than 20 years of his life), the spelling Shakespeare was very consistent – Shakespeare or Shake-speare (and always “speare”). The personal signatures are inconsistent (over a span of less than 4 years).

    These are historical facts. How significant they are, each must make up their own mind.

    My point on Twain is that he was a famous writer who had a life-time’s experience of and reflection on writing under a different name. I suggest this experience (alongside his erudition) qualifies him as an expert witness on the authorship question.

  • Tom Reedy

    My point in posting those examples was to illustrate that any argument based upon spelling of the surname (including the hyphen) is invalid, since spelling was variable until well into the 18th century. That Oxfordians can’t get this and insist on continuing to make the argument is one of the many puzzling aspects that cause academics to dismiss authorship theories out of hand.

    Clemen’s pen names were widely known and referenced in print from the very beginning of his career. The very fact that you consider his example to be relevant indicates that you’re filtering the Elizabethan/Jacobean through your modern sensibilities, a sure-fire prescription for error.

    That Shakespeare was a pseudonym (actually an allonym) is a basic foundation of all anti-Stratfordian theories. No contemporary evidence exists to support this, except for strained, and distorted interpretations of ostensibly cryptic (at least to modern readers) literary allusions taken out of context.

  • Well, my opinion differs and I derive it from the context of the horrific Elizabethan era and the inherent complexity found in the plays. “Horrific” in terms of censorship. I also suspect when you degrade the past fifty years of scholarship which served students of the plays as a catalyst for renewed thought about who the poet must be, you’ve declared war on any study that does not favor the Stratford man. To repeat over and over “there is no evidence” sounds like a Gregorian chant encouraging belief in something sacred. But what do you believe in? – That an uneducated commoner from a culturally unimportant background (he received a coat of arms just before he died – he was not knighted) would somehow be allowed in his youth to entertain courtiers and foreign envoys at Elizabeth’s court with complex plays covering all aspects of nobility, including their great flaws, and for more than a decade? How could you possibly believe that? It would not be credible.

    The biography of the Stratford man lacks everything. Do you understand that fact? Even the great Stratfordian leader, James Shapiro, admits there was only proof the Stratford man acted in minor roles. Also, that Elizabeth I never attended a performance at the Globe or at any “public” theatre (as was depicted in the fictional film, “Shakespeare in Love”). The evidence discovered over the past fifty years on the Stratford man does affirm how mediocre he was: more small-time gangster than anything else exciting.

  • Bruce Leyland

    Dear Professor Wells

    That sonnet 135 and 136 play on the name Will, could be interpreted to mean that the writer’s name is Will. And in sonnet 136, the writer says in the final key line – then thou lovest me for my name is Will. However, we can’t be certain that Will is his name – only that the name Will is of profound interest to him (at the time of writing). This could be true if his name were Will, or, if the name were of interest for some other reason – e.g. if it were the name of the person to whom his life’s works were attributed.

    Given the “studied imprecision” of the Sonnets, and that this statement occurs in the last line – so often a reversal or clarification of what precedes it – I think the face-value reading is less likely.

    You’ve stated previously that doubters are universally without a sense of humour – so you may disregard the following view based on that evaluation. If it is a face value statement – it’s just not funny! That’s not Shakespeare.

    Best wishes

    Bruce Leyland

  • Lee Cramond

    Professor Wells conveniently disregards the evidence he does not like in Price’s book, which is a reasoned and logical approach to the authorship question. Instead of presenting and evaluating the evidence fully, he adopts the time-honoured tactic, as most Stratfordians do (I’d hardly call it “scholarly”) of pretending it isn’t there. If people with a truly inquiring and open mind would only read up for themselves about the scant evidence on which the whole Shakespeare myth is constructed they will surely come to the obvious conclusion that the Stratford man was not a writer! You don’t have to be a scholar to work this out, the only requirements are commonsense sense and logic.

    Prof. Wells is the leading spokesman of the multimillion pound industry known as the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust based at Stratford-upon-Avon. Of course he is going to fight the authorship issue, ie the Oxfordian theory, tooth and nail! He has everything to lose. His and Mr Edmondson’s position are equivalent to that of a police inquiry into police corruption.

    One of the most damning pieces of evidence against the Stratford man being the author is this; if the plays and poetry had all been published anonymously, then there is barely a scrap of evidence that would lead any investigator/scholar to even remotely consider William Shakspere of Stratford as the supposed author.

    That realization alone reveals the significance of the total lack of a concise and unambiguous literary paper trail for Shakspere, as per Diana Price. An author’s name on printed plays are not firm evidence of authorship, especially in Elizabethan times, when pseudonyms were commonly used and anonymity was rife. The overwhelming documentary evidence found after 300 years of feverish searching shows the Stratford man as being anything BUT a writer. He situation is unique in the annals of great literature in this regard, hence the ongoing and valid authorship debate. He is an ‘author’ whose recorded life is a total mismatch with the life as revealed by the ‘works’.

    One investigator, who had doubts about the usual attribution, has already combed the plays and poetry as if they were anonymously published. In 1920, John Thomas Looney framed 18 requirements (9 general features and 9 special characteristics) to which the real author must have conformed, beside which he traced a number of cases of internal evidence. (This evidence is based on a deep autobiographical element existing in the works, which modern scholarship bogusly rejects. That authors such as Chaucer, Mallory, Dante and Ben Jonson, among others, clearly inserted autobiographical passages and characters in their works, is firm precedence for Shakespeare doing the same).

    He found the likely author, Edward de Vere, through the only poem, ‘Women’, he could find of his in an Elizabethan poetry anthology that most closely matched the style, structure and quality of the first poetry of William Shakespeare, namely ‘Venus & Adonis’. Having located this virtually unknown poet, he did more research and found that de Vere fulfilled all 18 requirements that Looney felt best qualified him as Shakespeare, including internal evidence. No other candidate came close to qualifying.

    After 90 years of intense research by mainly amateur scholars, Edward de Vere stands head and shoulders over any other candidate, including Shaksper, as the author, with upwards of 1000 pieces of evidence now linking him to the works. Admittedly, these are circumstantial, with some stronger than others, but are not court trials concluded on a fraction of such evidence? If there was a ‘smoking gun’ bit of evidence for either candidate, the authorship question would be over. Bear in mind that any and all objections posed by Stratfordians that supposedly eliminate de Vere as the author have been fully researched and thoroughly and convincingly nullified. You never hear Stratfordians acknowledging this; ie, R.P. Roe’s book proves that Shakespeare (de Vere) visited virtually all the Continental places mentioned in the plays and described them accurately. They continue on with the same old ad-hominen arguments, like a broken record.

    They are NOT the experts on authorship studies, which academia has ignored for 150 years. Those Oxfordian researchers who have spent most of their working lives are.

    Looney’s book, “Shakespeare Identified in Edward de Vere, the Seventeenth Earl of Oxford” can be read in full online at

    It is the best literary detective book you could ever hope to read, and the most profound as well. You will not be disappointed.

  • Bruce Leyland

    Dear Tom

    Thanks for your contributions to this episodic discussion. It can get a little heated and not always constructively. I hope I can avoid all that.

    You’ve cited one exceptional spelling on a quarto. However, the overwhelming majority of spellings of Shakespeare on the quartos (I think 37 to 3 where he’s named) were spelled either Shakespeare or Shake-speare (not to mention the poems and sonnets). With respect, it seems to me that your one example misrepresents the consistent published norm. Moreover, all of these quartos spell the second syllable speare – not spere, or spe, or sper. Outside of publishing, others, not unexpectedly, get the spelling wrong (revels accounts, personal notes, stationers records). What is unexpected, is that Shakespeare himself has something different in all six of his own signatures. Three variations are on his will (obviously, at the end of his life) when the Shake/speare spelling was well-established on his published works.

    Certainly, there are a number of references to the name Shakespeare as a writer during his lifetime. But equally certainly, this is entirely to be expected, as this name was on 37 quartos (consistently spelled). To the Elizabethan/Jacobean public who might have cared – William Shakespeare wrote them. But that doesn’t doesn’t prove WS of Stratford wrote the works. It only proves those people thought he did – or rather it proves only that they associated that name with the works. In a similar way, almost everyone today refers to Mark Twain. We know it’s not his real name – but that’s the name we’re familiar with – and whether it’s right or wrong it unambiguously identifies that individual who wrote all of his works. I do wonder whether Samuel Langhorne Clemens’s own lifetime experience of pseudonymous writing made it more credible him to that a body of work could indeed be attributed to different name.

    As a prodigious pseudonymous writer himself, and literary genius with profound insight into human behaviour across all levels of society, he was certainly a uniquely qualified Shakespeare doubter. And he was very doubtful.

    All the best


  • At present, Professor Wells is of the opinion that Mark Rylance, Sir Derek Jacobi, Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, and Sigmund Freud are/were mentally ill for entertaining the idea that the Stratford Myth is simply fiction, and the Stratford man some sort of mask for the true author. Rational thinking would lead one to assume there are some valid doubts about the Stratford myth, and that these imminent men used their intellects and intution to smell something fishy. To assume that they suffer from mental illness for not agreeing with you is not rational thinking, in my view. And I wonder why Wells can’t use logic to figure out why Oxford’s in-laws received the dedication to the First Folio.

  • As if that matters. In his present capacity, he’s representing the Stratford tourist industy, and doing less than a spectacular job, in my view. There are some interesting links between Oxford and the WS canon, and anyone with true intellectual curiosity would be open to them. You’d think that Wells would actually be curious as to why Oxford’s in-laws received the dedication to the First Folio.

  • V Judd

    Yet another well-argued, erudite, and scholarly piece of writing by Professor Wells, based on facts, logic, and rational thinking. It is such a pleasure to read the writing of a learned Shakespeare scholar, such as Professor Wells. I applaud his commitment to the truth.

  • calendar

    “Sure it’s circumstantial, AND look how much of it there is”

    fixed it for you.

  • “Scholar” Reedy should read his citations more carefully.His friend Allan Nelson(for whom he plays dogsbody at the Oxford page at dear old Wickie.
    Nelson writes:”These two inscriptions were first noticed in print in 1825, and
    much has been written about them since, initially in respect to
    Robert Greene, and later in respect to Sir George Buc. The
    inscriptions have scarcely been noticed at all by Shakespeare

    The inscriptions clearly reveal that George Buc, who would serve
    as Master of the Revels from 1610 to 1622, knew Shakespeare
    personally and considered him a reliable informant on the
    authorship of George a Greene,”
    Hmm…”much as been written about them…and they have been scarcely noticed at all by Shakespearean biographers”Then who has been writing about them and why are nearly all Shakespearean biographers pretending they don’t know the many writings exist?
    “Considered him a reliable informant”? What hogwash.!.Buc states that WS made his statement “with force of an oath” and Nelson concludes from this that Buc (who had recently caught good old Will in another flagrant authorship fraud involving “Locrine” ) must have regarded Shakspere (not Henslowe and Juby who were producing the show,handled the manuscript, and had personally known Green for a decade) as the most reliable informant?Are either Reedy or Nelson claiming Juby and Henslowe and Buc were the liars .Otherwise we have a minimum three contemporary witnesses who implicate Will in two major authorship scams prior to his documented involvement with plays later(up to twenty-seven years later) published under the name of William Shakespeare.

  • Tom Reedy

    Sorry, but a bunch of zeros all add up to zero, I don’t care how many you accumulate nor how many degrees the person has who collexts them. Every piece of anti-Stratfordian “evidence” is based onargumentum ex silentio, misreading, distortion, and flat denial of the historical record.

    “Sure it’s all bogus, but look how much of it there is” seems to be the principle of anti-Stratfordian argument.

  • calendar

    Yes Tom. We get it. The single piece of evidence I described
    proves nothing, as your ownership of your relative’s knife proves nothing of his exploits. Yawn.

    When confronted with a massive amount of circumstantial
    evidence against a guilty client – a defense attorney will do two things.
    First, he will try to eliminate from the jury those intelligent enough to put
    two and two together regarding the interconnectedness of the evidence. Then he will go through each piece of evidence and explain how *of and by itself,* it proves nothing. This approach has been your Modus Operandi on the internet for years. Hey – it worked for Johnny Cochran to get OJ Simpson acquitted of murder charges, so why not?

    The tactic depends on the innumeracy of the jury. Your shtick
    will work with those who can’t do the math. Your post above is just another example of this tired tactic. But fortunately for you, innumeracy now is as common as illiteracy was 400 year ago.

    Professor Sturrock, the eminent astrophysicist at Stanford
    has a new book out – AKA Shakespeare. The professor shows how the accumulation of circumstantial evidence effects probability calculations. He actually weighs the evidence statistically – using separate weights for different sides of the debate. You, professor Wells, and others should
    look at his calculations. They don’t bode well for the Stratford candidacy I’m afraid.

    Perhaps you can answer one nagging question I have. Do you keep at this simplistic line of reasoning because you, yourself are innumerate?
    Or are you the attorney who knows, or suspects strongly, that your
    client is guilty?

  • Tom Reedy

    And here we see a good example of anti-Stratfordian “scholarship”. To understand what Mr. Parris is going off about, see With scholars such as Mr. Parris on the case, the Stratfordian
    attribution should be secure for another 400 years at the very least.

  • Chris Harvey

    It’s Professor Wells actually! Sloppy or just another Oxfordian refusing to recognise a fact!

  • Yes,Buc mentions Shakspere twice in personally annotated copies of 1590’s Quartos.The first “Locrine ” published in 1595 and vouched for as” William Shakespeare’s” by the editors of the Third Folio.He says “W.S.” stole the stuff from his dead friend,Charles Tylney, and has taken it out and published it.Internal analysis also shows other sections of the play are direct lifts from Edmund Spenser

    and Robert Green(“Selimus”) added after the original circa 1585-1586 production.

    Buc was sufficiently intrigued to personally visit William Shakespeare or Shakspere before he officially became William Shakespeare,authoor of twelve hitherto anonymous(or pseaudonymous )plays a couple of years later.

    It seems that brother Will was telling people that a posthumously produced Robert Green play,”George-a-Greene” was really the work of a preacher who played the lead himself,i.e. like “Locrine” a privately staged amateur work.Buc went over to see Will about this and Will repeated the story to Buc “with the force of an oath”.Too bad, after all that swearing, that Will couldn’t remember the”real” author’s name.Fortunately Buc went over to Henslowe who was producing the show and had known Robert Green for ten years .No question the play,as the internal evidence fully corroborates,was written by Robert Greene and,according to metrical tests, would have been his last certainly known production.
    In both cases,Will was lying in his teeth about an authorship question and the dying Robert Greene (“Greene’s Groatsworth”) had good reason to know exactly
    what kind of a “writer”,”William Shakespeare” nee Shakspere actually was.

  • Reader

    Dr. Wells, I commend you for reading and commenting on Diana Price’s book, Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Biography. I think the book is a must read for anybody interested in Shakespeare. I urge everybody to read it and decide for themselves.

    I hope you also read Richard Roe’s book, The Shakespeare Guide to Italy. It was an entertaining and enlightening read for me. Please share your thoughts here again after you’ve read it.

  • Tom Reedy

    M. William Shak-speare: HIS True Chronicle Historie of the life and death of King LEAR and his three Daughters. Q1, 1608

    Measure for Measure, by Shaxberd; Comedy of Errors, by Shaxberd; Merchant of Venice, by Shaxberd. Revels Accounts of plays performed at Court in winter of 1604-05

    Shaksper sonetts. Note by Edward Alleyn, 1609

    Schaksp. List of books by William Drummond, 1611

  • Tom Reedy

    > he shows not only precisely which square in Florence the scene occurs
    (and it’s not a place of any tourist import) but also exactly WHERE on
    the square Widow was standing as she speaks her lines. In other words –
    he details the location with a margin of error measured IN FEET!
    Absolutely extraordinary!

    My great-great-great grandfather killed three bears and five mountain lions one day single-handedly using only a knife while he was hunting in the mountains. And for proof that he did that, I still have the knife.

  • Tom Reedy

    Price constructed an arbitrary method to exclude all the documentary evidence for Shakespeare’s authorship by only allowing explicitly personal literary allusions from within his lifetime and then ignored those that made it past the filter (Sir George Buck certainly knew Shakespeare personally and he personally licensed *Lear* as Mr William Shakespeare’s, and Price herself accepts *Groatsworth’s* “Shake-scene” as Shakespeare yet ignores that it identifies him as a writer) . Once she excluded all the documentary evidence from his lifetime that
    supports Shakespeare as a writer (i.e. Revels accounts, stationers’
    registrations, title pages, testimony from contemporaries, both printed
    and handwritten), then (SURPRISE SURPRISE) no documentary evidence supports the claim that
    Shakespeare was a writer. This is a sophisticated version of a common anti-Stratfordian tactic.

  • It should be noted to Dr. Wells that Oxford was referred to as “Will” in poems by Spenser, where he and Philip Sidney are both portrayed under poetic nick-names, Oxford being “Gentle Will”. This is an orthodox view of those passages in Spenser, not simply Oxfordian. I consider it sloppy debating to bring up a point that actually buttresses the case of the opposing view. Stratfordians do this all the time, and Dr. Wells should avoid doing so.

  • “Like many other anti-Shakespearians” Actually that’s anti-Shaxperians, or Shagspurians, or Shacksperians, or Shaksperians.

  • calendar

    I’m curious if Professor Wells is willing to discuss the other piece of scholarship that raised strong doubts. Richard Roe’s “Shakespeare Guide to Italy” is impressive in its mountain of proof that whomever the author was, he had to go to Italy. Orthodox scholars have for years claimed that geographical ‘errors’ in the canon are proof that the author was not in Italy. Roe has turned the tables and shown those scholars’ works to be woefully deficient.

    The details are absolute solid proof that the man was there. Roe’s discussion of All’s Well – Act III sc 5 – where he shows not only precisely which square in Florence the scene occurs (and it’s not a place of any tourist import) but also exactly WHERE on the square Widow was standing as she speaks her lines. In other words – he details the location with a margin of error measured IN FEET! Absolutely extraordinary!

    And there is so much more there as well – I love the part where he figures out what a ‘trannect’ is – That’s a word that’s only been used by Shakespeare.

    There’s a reason the new book, “Beyond Doubt” doesn’t answer or even acknowledge Roe exists. It’s devastating to their case. Unfortunately, their silence on Roe supports those of us who view this book as simply an attempt to preserve the flow of tourist cash into Stratford-upon-Avon, and not an even-handed attempt to consider ALL the evidence of the authorship question, wherever it may lead.

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