For the Stratford man, however, not a single check in a single category. Stratford comes up blank. The Wells team is silent here…. But better late than never. In his review on Blogging Shakespeare May 8, , Prof.
Literary Sleuth Absolves Bard of a Bad Poem
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. 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 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:. 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. There is no comparable evidence for Shakespeare.
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From the Webinar Wells introduces. Historians and critics alike make that distinction see, e. 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. Instead, of confronting the deficiency of literary evidence in the Shakespeare biography, Wells instead takes exception to particular statements and details in my book. And yes, she did, once. 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:.
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 SUB, and here. The prefatory material for Troilus and Othello necessitate no personal knowledge of the author and could have been written after having read or seen the play in question.
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. He dyed in Aprill There is no evidence that either Basse or Donne knew Shakespeare.
The poem itself contains no evidence that the author was personally acquainted with Shakespeare. Wells and Taylor themselves cannot be certain which manuscript title if any represents the original Textual , 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.
At the time of his death, Shakespeare left behind over 70 documents, including some that tell us what he did professionally. From a statistical standpoint, this is an untenable position, as I have argued elsewhere:. Even the most poorly documented writers, those with less than a dozen records in total, still left behind a couple of personal literary paper trails. In fact, over half of them, forty-five to be precise, are personal professional paper trails, but they are all evidence of non-literary professions: those of actor, theatrical shareholder, financier, real estate investor, grain-trader, money-lender, and entrepreneur.
While Wells and Edmondson acknowledge that Shakespeare is the only writer from the time period for whom one must rely on posthumous to make the case, Wells disputes my claim that Shakespeare left behind no evidence that he was a writer. On the distinction between contemporaneous and posthumous evidence or testimony, Wells states:.
But historians and biographers routinely cite documentary evidence burial registers, autopsy reports, death notices, etc. Fenstermaker, H. George, Robert D. Posthumous or not, this testimony therefore demands close scrutiny. And I find in the First Folio front matter numerous misleading statements, ambiguities, and outright contradictions.
I am not alone. Cumulatively, the misleading, ambiguous, and contradictory statements render the First Folio testimony, including the attribution to Shakespeare of Stratford, vulnerable to question. It is surely possible to prove that for example Queen Elizabeth 1 was not alive in or that Sir Philip Sidney did not write King Lear or that Professor Price does not believe that Shakespeare of Stratford wrote Shakespeare. There is affirmative evidence that Queen Elizabeth died in Even allowing for uncertainties in traditional chronology, King Lear was written years after Sidney died in Centerwall, Brandon S.
Hackett, David Hackett. Hadfield, Andrew. Edmund Spenser: A Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Price, Diana. Thompson, Edward Maunde. Reprint, London: Oxford University Press, Wells, Stanley. In The Footsteps of William Shakespeare , ed. Christa Jansohn. Lit Verlag, Munster William Shakespeare: A Textual Companion. Reprinted with corrections, New York: Norton, University of Miami Law Review Jan.
Patrick Buckridge, 25 March It remains to be seen whether the book gets the serious attention it deserves. Studies in English Literature by William B. Shakespeare Bulletin by Prof. Daniel L. Wright, winter In doing so, she clarifies our understanding of why some of the problems related to Shakespeare are so vexing, contententious, and fascinating. History Today August Alan Nelson. For additional material on his criticism concerning the Sir Thomas More manuscript, click on More and page forward to pages I discuss the matter in chapter 12 to explain why an aristocratic author would wish to conceal his or her identity, either in anonymity or behind a pen name.
It is my perception that Tudor aristocrats did not wish to be perceived as interested in earning money for professional work. That was the province of the commercial class, and earning money by writing was viewed as professional activity. The stigma of print therefore affected what the aristocrat wrote and whether it was published. The transmission of manuscript into print was influenced by a socially-imposed stigma of print which affected some genres much more than others.
It had less effect, for example, on the publication of pious or didactic works, learned translations, historical treatises, or the like. Such educational or devotional tracts had no taint of commercialism. More to the point here, any nobleman good enough to write professionally could not be seen to be doing so. I argue that in the social caste system of Tudor England, aristocrats chose not to publish certain genres considered commercial, such as satires, broadsides, or plays written for the public stage, or frivolous genres, such as poetry.
Some of these distinctions are covered in chapter 12, where I cite the evidence concerning the dramatic writing of the earls of Derby and Oxford. This essay is to augment the evidence in that chapter and respond to recent criticism. More recently, in a review on Amazon and on his own website, Tom Veal has attempted to provide some more meat on the bone, although his reliance on The Shakespeare Authorship Home Page is evident. See the above review and posts for a small fraction of the problems with it. I disagree with Prof. Among that evidence is The Arte of English Poesie :.
Elizabethan Critical Essays And in her Maiesties time that now is are sprong up an other crew of Courtly makers, Noble men and Gentlemen of her Maiesties owne servaunts, who have written excellently well as it would appeare if their doings could be found out and made publicke with the rest; of which number is first that noble Gentleman Edward Earle of Oxford. The stigma of print, as discussed here, especially applies to verse.
It is worth noting that the author of The Arte of English Poesie chose to remain anonymous himself. By extension, other genres, regardless of worth or respectability including plays, whether verse or prose , must have remained unaffected. But that scenario does not, in my view, sufficiently distinguish between either social class or genre, nor does it explain the absence of creative works published by the nobility.
George Pettie offers testimony to a general reluctance of the Tudor gentleman to betray his learning by writing and publishing anything, even serious matter, and his statements support the existence of a stigma of print. Pettie adopts some typical poses to explain his own appearance in print:. A Petite Palace is prefaced by three letters that fictitiously describe how it came to press against the will of its author.
But fervent admiration for the opposite sex drove R. In the second prefatory letter -- supposed to have accompanied the manuscript when Pettie confided it to his treacherous friend -- Pettie asks R. David A. The Gale Group, Those which mislyke studie or learning in Gentlemen, are some fresh water Souldiers, who thynke that in warre it is the body which only must beare the brunt of all, now knowyng that the body is ruled by the minde, and that in all doubtfull and daungerour matters: but having shewed els where how necessarie learning is for Souldiers, I ad only, that if we in England shall frame our selves only for warre, yf we be not very well Oyled, we shall hardly keepe our selves from rusting, with such long continuance of peace.
Why Gentlemen is it a shame to shewe to be that, which it is a shame not to be? In divers thynges, nothynge to good as Learning. Pettie defends the idea of publishing serious work, although he explains that he is publishing Civile Conversations to make up for the triviality of Pettie Palace. There is of course no reason for Pettie to recite such an exercise if there was no stigma attached to publishing in the first place.
May cites numerous publications to demonstrate the non-stigma of print, but most of these works could not be characterized either as frivolous or as commercial. Note also that when his translation was first published, Harington had no title. Creative poems were considered literary trifles or frivolous toys, which accounts for the reluctance to be seen writing poetry as a full-time occupation.
In contrast translations and closet dramas were educational and suitable for study. But plays written for the public stage were worse than frivolous. They were commercial, and public theater itself was often viewed as downright disreputable. Nevertheless, if there was no stigma of print, or if any authorial shyness was just an affectation, then we should expect to identify various members of the nobility who published their poems and plays, with or without apology.
On the other hand, if there was a stigma of print, we should expect to find some sort of correlation between social rank, genre, and publishing, i. One would therefore expect to see the effect of the stigma of print on something of a sliding scale, having even an exponential effect on publishing as we climb the social ladder. At the top end, we should expect find very few, if any, of the nobility choosing to publish anything. Of those few books that might be published with authorization, the genre should be serious, educational, political, or devotional.
Then, as we descend the social ladder, we should expect less serious genres to appear, with or without authorization, or with apology. And that is exactly what we find. Many members on the top rungs of the Tudor aristocracy had outstanding reputations as poets. But none of them published their creative work.
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The earl of Oxford published nothing during his lifetime. None of them published their work, either. Like those of their social betters, the relatively few poems that appeared in print turned up in miscellanies. So here we have just what we should expect if there were a stigma of print. All these poets established literary reputations either on works transmitted orally, circulated in manuscript, or in miscellanies published by someone with access to those circulating manuscripts.
The stigma of print is manifested first and foremost with the nobility, and is gradually diluted as we descend the social ladder. The members of the nobility in Tudor and early Stuart England are relatively few in number, and their ventures into publishing almost nil. Most of the plays written by aristocrats were closet dramas, not intended to be performed, and more properly categorized as learned translations or political treatises.
Even so, nearly all the closet dramas that were published were either unauthorized or were printed posthumously. The Countess of Pembroke was the highest ranking aristocrat who published a possibly authorized play, and it was closet drama. The earl of Derby wrote plays for common players, but none survive, at least not under his own name.
If other aristocrats wrote plays for the public stage, history does not record what those plays were, and none were published with attribution. William Alexander was a Scot and had no title when he published his four closet dramas. Greville recorded his reluctance to see any of his plays published, even posthumously. Many of the works May cites to deny a stigma of print are political, pious, or didactic works and translations, which, as we move down the social ladder, were published with less restraint and, even so, often with apology by the upper classes.
And those aristocrats e. No member of the Tudor nobility published poetry, plays, satires, or the like. He also lumps the top rungs of the aristocracy in with the middle and lower gentry and even those yet to receive their title. Thomas Sackville had no title when Gorboduc was published. About a year since, upon the great reproach given to the Professors of Rime and the use thereof, I wrote a private letter, as a defense of mine owne undertakings in that kinde, to a learned Gentleman, a great friend of mine, then in Court.
Which I did rather to confirm my selfe in mine owne courses, and to hold him from being wonne from us, then with any desire to publish the same to the world" A Defense of Rhyme , in Elizabethan Critical Essays Here we see Daniel posturing to emulate the code of the aristocracy. Like Daniel, numerous writers apologized for publishing their work, and since there is an absence of published work by the top-ranking aristocrats, I conclude that these apologies were not entirely affectations. It is vital to her position, because it furnishes her sole explanation of why the real Shakespeare hid his authorship.
Elizabethan gentlemen wrote for others in their social circle with no thought of seeing their compositions in print. Custom prohibited the upper class gentleman from having any profession at all, writing included.
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To publish for public consumption was the business of the paid professional, not the gentleman. As Steven May, the leading authority on Elizabethan courtier poets, has demonstrated, those Elizabethan gentlemen who wrote at all a small minority published quite a bit and were not disgraced thereby. More importantly, she makes no effort to examine the directly pertinent question: Would an Elizabethan or Jacobean courtier who wrote plays have had any strong motive to hide his authorship?
Sir Thomas Sackville, a cousin of the Queen and later a baron and earl, co-authored Gorboduc, the first noteworthy Elizabethan tragedy. It was printed under his name in about , evidently from a manuscript that he supplied. Noble authors whose works never, so far as we know, reached the stage include Fulk Greville, Lord Brooke, Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke translator of a blood-and-thunder French tragedy and William Alexander, earl of Stirling.
Their form and structure differ not at all from popular drama. The landmark study on this subject is J. Many Tudor gentlemen describe writing poetry as vain or foolish e. Pettie articulated this value in the preface cited above. Concerning characteristics common to both poetry and drama, Helgerson writes elsewhere:. If playwriting could so easily be made to occupy the place more commonly taken in an amateur career by verse-making, it was because both were supposed to be equally frivolous.
Neither private verse nor public drama made the claim to literary greatness that distinguishes the laureate and his work. Helgerson has described two principal factors behind the stigma of publishing plays written for the public theaters; they were perceived as commercial and frivolous. Among other 20 th century authorities who have incorporated the concept of the stigma of print into their studies are:.
These citations demonstrate that current scholarship accepts the stigma of print as a genuine phenomenon. However, the above cited authorities generally discuss the stigma in connection with poetry but occasionally prose or drama. Let us now consider the works of aristocratic dramatists. It is the question of whether the aristocrat wrote plays to be performed on the public stage and published them with attribution. The purpose, the intended audience, and the venue are all of concern.
So, let us consider the published works that, according to Veal, demonstrate that there was no stigma of print. To arrive at a judgment, at least two factors need to be examined, 1 genre, and 2 circumstances of publication, including irregularities, signs of piracy or unauthorized publication, disclaimers, and so on. Thomas Sackville : Gorboduc. Gorboduc was acted in at the Inner Temple, published in , and reprinted in and At the time of publication, Sackville had no title, so its publication is irrelevant to the discussion. Nevertheless, the edition was pirated see Chambers, Stage or Brooks, Printing , Percy was the third son of the 8 th earl of Northumberland.
The first play was not printed until Sir Fulke Greville : Mustapha. Greville was knighted in and created Baron Brooke in Mustapha is a closet drama May, Courtier , According to M. Always the gentleman amateur, Greville never permitted any of his writings to be published while he was alive, and it was probably a considerable annoyance to him when an unauthorized printing of Mustapha appeared in But he that will behold these Acts upon their true Stage, let him look on that Stage wherein himself is an Actor, even the state he lives in, and for every part he may perchance find a Player, and for every Line it may be an instance of life.
Staged plays might be merely entertainment and thus the fit recipients of the attacks that the Puritans were waging against the theater at that moment, but the drama as a literary text engages the mind seriously and leads to important discoveries about the nature of life. Of course, one should recall that he did not intend these plays for the stage" Larson, DLB. Mustapha was published without attribution. Mary Sidney Herbert : Antonie. Hannay et al. William Alexander : The Monarchicke Tragedies. William Alexander was tutor to Prince Henry and came down to London from Scotland when James acceded the throne.
He was raised to the rank of viscount in and to the earldom in The only entry for him in the Dictionary of Literary Biography appears, significantly, in the volume of 17th century British Nondramatic [emphasis added] Poets. Each deals with the dangers of ambition in a monarch, and each is both didactic and sententious.
The circumstances of publication are straightforward, but at time of publication, he had no title. So again, this is irrelevant to the stigma of print as it affected the aristocracy. Of crucial importance too was the attitude of the monarch. Although plays were considered scarcely better than pornography in Puritan circles, those were not the sentiments that prevailed at the fons honoris.
Elizabeth and James were theatrical enthusiasts. The Queen saw six to ten plays in an average season, the King twice as many. Virtually all of those works were drawn from the repertories that the leading professional companies presented in London. There is, in short, no credible reason to think that a late Tudor aristocrat would have suffered at all from being known as the mind behind some of the most popular dramas of the day. Veale must have missed the distinction between writing plays for academic, private, or royal venues, and being recognized as having written and published a commercial play.
In addition, it was one thing to patronize a play at court; it was another to be seen as the author who wrote for public consumption. Although writing closet drama was a respectable pastime, few aristocratic authors published their dramas. Alexander wrote his plays, not for the stage, but to convince King James that he was fit to serve as a counselor to a monarch, and at the time that he did publish, he was newly arrived from Scotland and had no title. Gorboduc and Mustapha were printed without authorization, and at the time of publication, Sackville had no title.
Having reconsidered the stigma of print in light of the criticism from Mssrs. Veal and Kathman, I have no reason to amend anything on this topic in my book. If the works of Shakespeare were written by an aristocrat, then that aristocrat had good reason to conceal his identity. Spenser addressed prefatory verses to a bevy of aristocrats, not they to him. Beckett, Robert D. Thomas Hester. Bergeron, David M.
Cerasano and Marion Wynne-Davies. London: Routledge, Brooks, Douglas A. From Playhouse to Printing House. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Chambers, E. The Elizabethan Stage. Reprint, Oxford: Clarendon Press, Dutton, Richard. Schoenbaum , ed. Parker and S. Zitner, Newark: University of Delaware Press.
Elizabethan Critical Essays. Gregory Smith. Reprint, Oxford: Oxford University Press, Hannay, Margarget P. Kinnamon, and Michael G. Brennan, ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, Helgerson, Richard. University of Toronto Press, Jones, Norman, and Paul Whitfield White. Kathman, David and Terry Ross. Lamb, Mary Ellen. Larson, Charles. A Bruccoli Clark Layman Book.
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Edited by Fredson Bowers, University of Virginia. Marotti, Arthur F. John Donne, Coterie Poet. The Univ. May, Steven W. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, McClure, Norman Egbert. The Epigrams of Sir John Harington. Oxford Companion to English Literature. Margaret Drabble. Saunders, J. Reprint; Amsterdam: Swets and Zeitlinger N. The Profession of English Letters. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, Spenser, Edmund. The Faerie Queene. Ernest Rhys. London: J. Riggs, David. Ben Jonson: A Life. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, Rollins, Hyder Edward.
Introduction to The Phoenix Nest Shakespeare Authorship Home Page. Veal, Tom. John Shakspere was buried on 8 September For a full response to Mr. Jonson rejected Amphitruo as a viable source for a play, because he did not think the roles of the twins could be convincingly cast. Amphitruo is a Roman, not a Greek play. The corresponding checkmark on p. Bond, New Haven: Yale University Press, ; ; a corresponding checkmark can be added to category 7 on p.
Knowing that one will never overturn orthodox scholarship by argument which is intellectually shoddy or suspect, she will not be led by the heart. Shakespeare Oxford Society newsletter by Richard F. A reader Craig T. Niedzielski from Hermosa, Bataan, Philippines on www. Do not let the premium price deter you. You get what you pay for, in this case a substantial work of scholarship.
For the still-hesitant prospective buyer, I strongly urge you to drop by Ms. In sum, a very well-researched, very readable book that gets Shakespearean scholarship off to a great start for the new millennium. My highest endorsement. A reader from Los Angeles, CA on www. Price offers the most comprehensive biographical analysis to date….
There is a fair amount of strictly new evidence. Second, much of the evidence compiled will be new to readers of orthodox biographies, where it is either missing or distorted. Fourth, the treatment of the subject by prior scholarship is itself revealing evidence.
A reader Edward Thomas Veal on www. For additional material on his criticism concerning the Sir Thomas More manuscript, click on More and scroll forward to pages Edward Thomas Veal has posted a lengthy review on his website. Many of his criticsms are already addressed in responses elsewhere on this website. A reader from Santa Fe, NM on www. It is meant for open-minded readers who are willing to let go of previous assumptions and received wisdom, and to look at old evidence in a new light.
I count myself among these…. A reader Ron Song Destro on www. I recommend it heartily. A reader Spotsmom on www. Diana Price knows how to put a sentence together, but she does not know how to put an argument together without engaging in special pleading: that is, taking evidence that has an apparent signification, and arguing with all her might that it does not fit the special case of William Shakespeare for this or that special - and wholly arbitrary - reason. Of course, one could make up a set of special rules for any other author of the period: why could there not have been two Edmund Spensers, one real but stupid since any evidence that he was a writer cannot be allowed to count , another the pseudonym for some aristocrat?
I need not invent any arbitrary rules to admit or disqualify literary evidence for Edmund Spenser. Spenser left behind professional evidence of his occupation of writing, and that evidence is explicit, unambiguous, and contemporaneous; some of it is cited in the appendix in my book. It is the absence of any comparably explicit contemporaneous evidence for Shakespeare that is unique to his biography. If there is a case to be made for special pleading, it is that routinely exercised by the orthodox biographer. Biographers have made exceptions to their own rules in order to admit, transmute, or create evidence for Shakespeare to support his career as a playwright.
In order to do that, they have page numbers are to my book. A close examination of the documentary evidence for Shakspere [spelling chosen to indicate the man from Stratford] shows that his literary biography relies on posthumous evidence, rather than on any solid contemporaneous evidence. In the genre of literary biographies for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd string Elizabethan and Jacobean writers, that is a unique phenomenon. In the course of his commentary on my book, Prof. Nelson has himself engaged in special pleading, by selectively departing from the standards otherwise evident in the genre of literary biographies, as I demonstrate below.
Some types of documentation are of a general character, such as christening, marriage, or tax records. Other types of evidence, however, are specific to a vocation or make incidental reference to an occupation. That expectation turns out to be reasonable. Each of the 24 other writers in the survey did leave behind such personal records that attest to their vocation of writing. Shakspere is the only one who did not.
Yes, one would expect otherwise, IF Shakspere was the writer we are told that he was. If I can find hard documentary evidence for everyone else, why should biographers need to make an exception for Shakspere, i. If it satisfies both tests, it qualifies as a personal literary paper trail. Evidence of Education: Yes. Since his father was an alderman and burgess of Stratford, Shakespeare would certainly have attended the school at Stratford which was given active support by the aldermen and burgesses of Stratford for the education of their sons.
On the other hand, we know for a dead certainty that Shakespeare did not attend the university nor did Jonson : this is made clear by the Cambridge Parnassus play of about Nelson has not cited any. Nelson apparently has not understood that my comparative analysis is concerned with documentary evidence. In contrast, I cite documentary evidence to support the educational training of Nashe, Spenser, Kyd, Marlowe, and Middleton, among others.
There is no comparable evidence for Shakspere. Record of correspondence, especially concerning literary matters: Yes, a letter was addressed to Shakespeare by Richard Quiney William Shakespeare of Stratford upon Avon was capable of reading a letter addressed to him and was thus literate. In contrast, a letter to Drummond by Drayton discussing his progress on Polyolbion is solid personal literary evidence. Incidentally, I do not argue that Shakspere was illiterate. On the contrary, on pp. However, inferring that Shakspere could read a letter does not prove that he was a literary giant.
The goal was to see if any of the claimants' poetry matched the Bard's, and none did; furthermore, the Earl of Oxford was one of the poorest matches for Shakespeare out of all the poets tested. Thomas Looney onward have noted that some of the verse forms used by Oxford were also used by Shakespeare, and they have seized upon this coincidence as support for their theories. In The Verse Forms of Shakespeare and Oxford, Terry Ross looks at this issue in detail and shows how badly Oxfordians have distorted the facts in an attempt to exaggerate Oxford's similarity to Shakespeare and his role in the history of English poetry.
Some of these myths have been repeated and handed down from Oxfordian to Oxfordian for decades, without any attempt being made to verify them. Here are three essays, each exposing an Oxfordian myth and demonstrating that the Oxfordian faith in them has been misplaced. Moreover, contemporary writers never used "invention" to mean "pseudonym"; the word referred to the writer's wit or imagination.
Far from suggesting the use of a pseudonym, Shakespeare's use of the phrase "first heir of my invention" tells us that he wrote Venus and Adonis by himself and as himself. From this, Oxfordians have decided that Benson must not have thought that Shakespeare was really Shakespeare. Terry Ross has looked at the evidence, however, and shows that in Benson's time question marks were often used as exclamation points.
Moreover, Benson nowhere expresses any doubt that the author of the poems was the William Shakespeare whose plays were collected in the First Folio and who died in April of He also outlines a fifty year history of Oxfordians parroting and even embellishing the myth without their ever checking to see whether it was true. Even if you've read the book, check out Thomas A. Pendleton's review, which originally appeared in The Shakespeare Newsletter.
Not only does Pendleton cogently summarize Matus's arguments, he also adds an excellent discussion of the vast scope of the conspiracy that would have been necessary to conceal Oxford's authorship of the Shakespeare plays. Giles Dawson's review of this book for Shakespeare Quarterly provides an excellent summary of the shoddy scholarship and questionable methods which typify so much Oxfordian work. However, Ogburn has a distressing tendency to brush aside facts which he finds inconvenient, and to invent or distort other "facts" to suit his purpose; he employs a blatant double standard in evaluating evidence which makes his thesis unfalsifiable.
David Kathman's article Why I'm Not an Oxfordian, which originally appeared in The Elizabethan Review, looks in detail at some of the many problems with Ogburn's book and explains why academic Shakespeareans do not take Ogburn and his Oxfordian brethren seriously. Written in an accessible style without the bitterness that characterizes some Oxfordian writings, Sobran's book presented a superficially plausible case for Oxford's authorship of Shakespeare.
Unfortunately, beneath the glossy surface lies a mass of distortions, half-truths, and contradictions which renders Sobran's book no better as a historical account than other Oxfordian works. David Kathman has written a number of responses to reader queries which discuss some of the major problems with Sobran's book. Michell thinks that just about everybody ever proposed as a candidate for authorship had his oar in the Avon. Bob Grumman's review describes Michell's approach, exposes his loose way with the evidence, and corrects several common antistratfordian misreadings.
Matus points out the weaknesses of the Oxfordian case, and also argues that the Oxfordian approach to the play seeks to diminish its power as a work of art, reducing a profound exploration of the deepest issues that concern us as people to a petty expression of pique. The Oxford faction is today the more numerous, but there are still Baconians around. We have also made available Penn Leary's reply to the piece, as well as Hiawatha's Cryptographing, Terry Ross's response to him. Time and space do not allow us to present the arguments over the poem's authorship here but we can provide the text of the Funeral Elegy itself.
Also, read David Kathman's post to the humanities. John Ford was first suggested in by Richard J. Kennedy on Shaksper, but it was not until that the case for Ford was generally considered to be stronger than the case for Shakespeare. Here is an abstract of Monsarrat's essay. Here is the publisher's description of the book. Gray's Mr. William Shakespeare and the Internet: in addition to the most comprehensive guide to Shakespearean resources on the internet, this indispensable site also includes many documents relating to Shakespeare that are available nowhere else on the web, such as an annotated version of Nicholas Rowe's biography.
Of related interest is our list of the annotations in Oxford's Bible. In addition, Nelson has also made available new evidence of the relationship between Shakespeare and Sir George Buc, the Master of Revels from to Thomas Looney. Caveat lector. Ilya Gililov does, according to the Christian Science Monitor. See Antonio Casa's news account of Martino Iuvara's notion would it surpise anyone to learn that Iuvara himself is Sicilian? Iuvara's idea was considered newsworthy by the Times of London. This page is managed by David Kathman and Terry Ross.
We thank all our visitors we've been counting you , and we invite your comments. Copy lines Copy permalink View git blame Reference in new issue. You signed in with another tab or window. Reload to refresh your session. You signed out in another tab or window. There exist. Yet professional Shakespeare scholars. Oxfordians claim that these scholars are blinded. Oxfordians are not taken seriously by the Shakespeare establishment.
Oxfordian books can be deceptively convincing to a reader who. Our aim is to provide. Shakespeare scholars have so little regard for Oxfordian claims. We know from experience that we are not likely to convince any. Oxfordians to change their views, but we hope that other readers. We will be updating and adding. Shakespeare's works. They often assert that nothing or at most. These are astounding misrepresentations that bear little resemblance.
Indeed, abundant evidence testifies to the fact. We have more company now as you can. Rubinstein, a book claiming that Sir Henry Neville really. Fingerprints claimed that 17th Earl of Oxford wrote not only. Shakespeare's works but also just about everything else written. David Kathman.
Harper's elected not to publish. The original impetus. I posted a quick initial response. Anderson replied with a further. I wrote and posted. They are informal in tone, but I tried to make them as accurate. The next two essays were written later,. The last essay was written in response to Mark. Alexander, one of the Oxfordian regulars on the newsgroup. In this post,. I address some of the broader issues involved in the Shakespeare.
I find the Oxfordian approach fundamentally flawed. Oxfordians try to account. Needless to say, such claims. To see just how badly Oxfordians. To those who are familiar with Elizabethan society in. He points out. William Shakespeare, depicting him as an "unlettered boob" and. Stratford as a densely ignorant backwater bereft of any culture.
As usual, the Oxfordians are guilty of twisting facts and ignoring. David Kathman's essay illustrates. As usual, though,. In Shakespeare's Knowledge of Italy, the.
New Evidence of an Authorship Problem
Classics, and the Law, David Kathman focuses on three areas. Italy, the classics, and law. In each case, he responds directly. But in fact, Shakespeare was particularly well-positioned. Richard Field, who grew up down the street from. Shakespeare and in very similar circumstances, became one of. More importantly,. Find out more about. David Kathman's Shakespeare and Richard Field. This period, known as the " Lost Years ," has sparked as much controversy about Shakespeare's life as any period.
Rowe notes that young Shakespeare was quite fond of poaching, and may have had to flee Stratford after an incident with Sir Thomas Lucy, whose deer and rabbits he allegedly poached. There is also rumor of Shakespeare working as an assistant schoolmaster in Lancashire for a time, though this is circumstantial at best. It is estimated that Shakespeare arrived in London around and began to establish himself as an actor and playwright.
Evidently, Shakespeare garnered envy early on for his talent, as related by the critical attack of Robert Greene, a London playwright, in " Greene's bombast notwithstanding, Shakespeare must have shown considerable promise. By , he was not only acting and writing for the Lord Chamberlain's Men called the King's Men after the ascension of James I in , but was a managing partner in the operation as well.
With Will Kempe, a master comedian, and Richard Burbage, a leading tragic actor of the day, the Lord Chamberlain's Men became a favorite London troupe, patronized by royalty and made popular by the theatre-going public. Shakespeare's success is apparent when studied against other playwrights of this age. His company was the most successful in London in his day. He had plays published and sold in octavo editions, or "penny-copies" to the more literate of his audiences. Never before had a playwright enjoyed sufficient acclaim to see his works published and sold as popular literature in the midst of his career.
In addition, Shakespeare's ownership share in both the theatrical company and the Globe itself made him as much an entrepeneur as artist.
While Shakespeare might not be accounted wealthy by London standards, his success allowed him to purchase New House and retire in comfort to Stratford in William Shakespeare wrote his will in , bequeathing his properties to his daughter Susanna married in to Dr. John Hall. This is probably more of a romantic myth than reality, but Shakespeare was interred at Holy Trinity in Stratford on April In , two working companions of Shakespeare from the Lord Chamberlain's Men, John Heminges and Henry Condell, printed the First Folio edition of his collected plays, of which half were previously unpublished.
William Shakespeare's legacy is a body of work that will never again be equaled in Western civilization. His words have endured for years, and still reach across the centuries as powerfully as ever. Even in death, he leaves a final piece of verse as his epitaph:. Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbeare To dig the dust enclosed here. Blessed be the man that spares these stones, And cursed be he that moves my bones. Pressley, J. Kathman, David, and Terry Ross.
Shakespeare Authorship. There exist sincere and intelligent people who believe there is strong evidence that Edward de Vere, Seventeenth Earl of Oxford, was the author of these plays and poems. Yet professional Shakespeare scholars -- those whose job it is to study, write, and teach about Shakespeare -- generally find Oxfordian claims to be groundless, often not even worth discussing. Why is this?
Oxfordians claim that these scholars are blinded to the evidence by a vested self-interest in preserving the authorship of "the Stratford Man," and some more extreme Oxfordians claim that there is an active conspiracy among orthodox scholars to suppress pro-Oxford evidence and keep it from the attention of the general public. The truth, however, is far more prosaic. Oxfordians are not taken seriously by the Shakespeare establishment because with few exceptions they do not follow basic standards of scholarship, and the "evidence" they present for their fantastic scenarios is either distorted, taken out of context, or flat-out false.
This web site is for the intelligent nonspecialist who doesn't know what to make of these challenges to Shakespeare's authorship. Oxfordian books can be deceptively convincing to a reader who is unaware of the relevant historical background and unused to the rhetorical tricks used by Oxfordians. Our aim is to provide context where needed, expose misinformation passed off by Oxfordians as fact, and in general show the nonspecialist reader why professional Shakespeare scholars have so little regard for Oxfordian claims.
We know from experience that we are not likely to convince any Oxfordians to change their views, but we hope that other readers will find something of value here. We will be updating and adding new material as time permits, and we welcome any comments or suggestions. Home How We Know that Shakespeare Wrote Shakespeare Antistratfordians try to seduce their readers into believing that there is some sort of "mystery" about the authorship of Shakespeare's works. They often assert that nothing or at most very little connects William Shakespeare of Stratford to the works of William Shakespeare the author, or that the evidence which exists is "circumstantial" and subject to some doubt.
These are astounding misrepresentations that bear little resemblance to reality. Indeed, abundant evidence testifies to the fact that William Shakespeare of Stratford wrote the works published under his name, and this evidence is as extensive and direct as the evidence for virtually any of Shakespeare's contemporaries. A number of candidates were proposed as the real author of the Funeral Elegy , including George Chapman, an unnamed member of "a stable of elegy writers", a country parson, Simon Wastell, Sir William Strode, William Sclater, and the 17th Earl of Oxford.
John Ford was first suggested in by Richard J. Kennedy on Shaksper, but it was not until that the case for Ford was generally considered to be stronger than the case for Shakespeare. The principal arguments in favor of John Ford's authorship may be found in. Ward E. Elliott and Robert J. Home Hunting for good Will Will the real Shakespeare please stand up?
LONDON—Among the crowds enjoying the summer productions of Hamlet and The Tempest at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, few are likely to question who wrote the 38 plays, two long poems, and sonnets that make up the West's greatest canon of literary genius. Conventional wisdom points to the Stratford merchant and supposed Globe actor, born to an illiterate glove maker in and baptized Gulielmus Shakspere. But there is growing circumstantial evidence that the Bard may be an Elizabethan courtier and author, the Earl of Oxford. The authorship question has been pondered since the s, when the Rev.
James Wilmot spent four fruitless years trying to link the Stratford man to the works attributed to him. Today, those who believe that Shakspere was the author have no definitive proof but instead point to Hamlet's declaration: "The play's the thing. Their man is a flimsy cardboard cutout.
The debate hums on both sides of the Atlantic, and over the years many have expressed doubt in Shakespeare's authorship. Even Keanu Reeves has gotten into the act. Several Elizabethan writers, including Francis Bacon, Ben Jonson, and Christopher Marlowe, are proffered as possible authors, but the weight of evidence anoints de Vere as the leading candidate. Despite more than two centuries of research beginning with Wilmot, there isn't a scrap of documentation that Shakspere, the Warwickshire merchant, ever wrote anything in his life. There are no manuscripts, poems, letters, diaries, or records in his own hand.
His will, dictated to a lawyer, makes no mention of a literary legacy and who should inherit it. Shakspere at best had only a grammar school education, and he is not known to have traveled beyond Stratford and London. He probably left the capital in his early to middle 40s, when his writing career presumably would have been at its zenith, and returned to the humdrum life of a provincial grain and property dealer. How, say skeptics, could he have accumulated the vast knowledge of royalty, court life, politics, and foreign lands—particularly of Italy, where several plays are set—woven through such a sophisticated body of work?
Whoever wrote the plays and sonnets had a rare breadth of knowledge in numerous disciplines, including physical sciences, medicine, the law, astronomy, and the Bible. Grain man. Shakspere died in obscurity and was buried anonymously. Six years after his death in , the first edition of Henry Peacham's The Compleat Gentleman was published, listing the Elizabethan era's greatest poets. Heading the list: Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford. In this and three succeeding editions, there is no mention of Shakespeare by any spelling. Eighteen years after Shakspere's death, an engraved monument in a Stratford church shows him holding what appears to be a sack of grain.
A century later, the sack became pen and paper. Stratfordians cherish their orthodoxy but have scant evidence to bolster their case. In , the so-called First Folio of the complete works of "William Shake-speare" was published, and the dedications include the phrases "thy Stratford moniment" and "sweet swan of Avon," apparent references to the author's home.
And presuming young Will attended grammar school, he most likely would have received a first-class education. Gail Kern Paster, editor of The Shakespeare Quarterly , calls the attack on the Bard a snobbish doctrine that rejects the idea of brilliance flowering in humble circumstances and that underestimates Elizabethan classical schooling. But did de Vere? The 17th Earl of Oxford died in , before a third of the plays were published, but his supporters argue that they could have been written and kept under wraps or that the publication dates are inaccurate.
He earned two master's degrees, studied law for three years, traveled extensively throughout Italy, and had an intimate view of court life and politics. A playwright and author of sonnets, he ceased publishing under his own name in —the same year that the name William Shake-speare appeared on a manuscript. It's probably a pseudonym, because hyphenation was rarely used then. And the name points to de Vere. His family crest contains a lion shaking a spear, and, at court, says Lord Burford, he was known as "spear shaker. What's in a name? The pen name was almost certainly for protection.
Many of the plays deal with court intrigue and political corruption and contain thinly veiled satires and parodies of politicians and courtiers. During the Elizabethan era, writers were imprisoned and mutilated for committing literary excesses or violating political correctness, and many wrote anonymously.
Playwrights were also held in low esteem because public theaters like the Globe were the rowdy province of commoners, the audiences laced with prostitutes, cutpurses, drunkards, and scoundrels of every stripe. There may be an even more urgent reason. The First Folio of collected works is dedicated to the young Earl of Southampton, de Vere's son-in-law, with whom he is reputed to have had a homosexual affair.
Scholars also see strong homoerotic threads in many of the sonnets—a dangerous business at a time when such affairs were a high crime. Mounting evidence appears to strengthen de Vere's candidacy. None is more persuasive than an eight-year study, completed in , of the heavily marked and annotated Geneva Bible, owned by de Vere. More than one fourth of the 1, highlighted passages appear in Shakespeare's writings—phrases like "weaver's beam" and "I am that I am" and unusual names like "Achitophel. Please note that some of these pages have been copied to assist students in finding information and to maintain the assignment's links, in the event that such links cease to exist.
Satchell, Michael. News Online. Shakespeare's Biography Biographical Links Home For all his fame and celebration, William Shakespeare remains a mysterious figure with regards to personal history. Even in death, he leaves a final piece of verse as his epitaph: Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbeare To dig the dust enclosed here. Home Biographical Links Mrs.
Or several, judging from the published speculation focused on her life and marriage. Shakespeare's "Lost Years" William Shakespeare may be the most famous writer in Western literature, but his whereabouts from to are a mystery. The ensuing speculation has spawned many interesting theories without producing much hard evidence.
In Search of Shakespeare In this groundbreaking, four-part series, PBS explores the life of the world's greatest and most famous writer. Introducing Mr. William Shakespeare Leigh T. Denault presents a great succinct biography sketch of Shakespeare. Literature Post A biography of the Bard and a collection of online works.
William Shakespeare and the Internet This has to be one of the best Shakespearean resources on the Web. I don't think there's much in the way of Internet resources that has been missed in this compilation. Shakespeare Biography From Absolute Shakespeare; describes all that is known about Shakespeare's life from available documentation including court and church records, marriage certificates and criticisms by Shakespeare's rivals.
Don Foster and the Funeral Elegy, 2002
Home Citations and Web Pages Used: Please note that some of these pages have been copied to assist students in finding information and to maintain the assignment's links, in the event that such links cease to exist. Home Who Was Shakespeare? Click this link to see the assignment Little is actually known for sure about the man we call William Shakespeare, although his is a name familiar to nearly every English speaking person. Home The Plays Home Featured External Site: Tom Veal's "Stromata Blog" When the Shakespeare Authorship page began 12 years ago, it was the only site on the Internet dedicated to countering claims that someone other than William Shakespeare wrote the lion's share of the works professional literary historians have always assigned to Shakespeare.
We have more company now as you can see from the sites listed in our Bardlinks area below , and we'd like to direct your attention to Tom Veal's blog, which contains some of the best recent commentary on the authorship of Shakespeare's works. Rubinstein, a book claiming that Sir Henry Neville really wrote Shakespeare's works. David Kathman promptly wrote a letter to Harper's , pointing out some of the many factual errors and distortions in the five Oxfordian articles and outlining the major reasons why Shakespeare scholars do not take Oxfordians seriously.