Review of “100 Reasons” by Walter Hurst in the Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter

“How do you write a review about a book you enjoyed so much that you literally could not put it down—even when you knew you had other work that had to be done?”

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How do you adequately express your gratitude for a review that begins in such a way? Well, needless to say I’m extremely thankful for theater director Walter (Wally) Hurst’s evaluation of 100 Reasons Shake-speare was the Earl of Oxford in the current Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter (Vol. 53, No. 1: Winter 2017), the quarterly publication of the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship edited by Alex McNeil, J.D.  Here is his entire report:

“How do you write a review about a book you enjoyed so much that you literally could not put it down—even when you knew you had other work that had to be done?  Perhaps you simply tell the reader some of the many aspects of the book that you liked, and hit some of the “best bits.”

“The book in question is Hank Whittemore’s new work, 100 Reasons Shake-speare Was the Earl of Oxford, a thoroughly enlightening and enjoyable foray into the specifics of the case for the authorship of the Shakespearean canon by Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford.

“In sharp contrast to the recent Stratfordian claim that the man from Stratford was a “player” and therefore a writer, Whittemore presents actual, logical, and thoroughly convincing evidence that de Vere was “Shakespeare.” He does so in a highly organized and provocative way, too. You would think that he would lead off with his best reasons (which is, frankly, what I wanted him to do), and he gives some impressive ones at the start of his 100-reason list.

“Beginning with the first chapter, Whittemore demonstrates that Oxford, unlike the man from Stratford, was a true man of the theatre. Reading about de Vere’s many theatrical enterprises and experiences, including strong presentations of him as a patron as well as a “court jester” (or “allowed fool”), we find a man intimately involved in the production of plays from beginning to end. De Vere was a man who knew the theatre and understood its power.

“In his second chapter, Whittemore concentrates on the striking and unmistakable similarities between the life of Edward de Vere and the story of his most unforgettable character, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Ten riveting and convincing passages later, every reader will be struck by the overwhelming, and perhaps eerie, sense that Hamlet is the most autobiographical insight into the life of the author in the history of English literature. Strong arguments, thoroughly researched and well presented, make the connection intimate and undeniable to all but the most self-deluded Stratford believer.

“Whittemore continues the assault on those invested in the Stratfordian myth by identifying specific evidence connecting the Earl of Oxford to the works of Shakespeare. There are gems here, such as Richard Edwards and the “cry of the hounds” at a 1566 performance that Oxford attended, to be echoed later by Duke Theseus in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and a wonderful recounting of the incident at Gad’s Hill. Perhaps the strongest argument of all for the authorship of Shakespeare’s works is presented in Reason 19, “Oxford’s Geneva Bible.” Whittemore succinctly sums up the amazing narrative of its acquisition by the Folger Shakespeare Library and the intensive and groundbreaking research of Roger Stritmatter that exposed its underlined and annotated passages and their startling linkage to the works of Shakespeare. While Whittemore might have begun his book with this “Reason,” his organization of the various reasons is both logical and powerful, and the Geneva Bible remains a showpiece of any cogent argument for de Vere’s authorship of the works.

“Space does not permit an exhaustive review of all the chapters of the book, but there are many highlights that should be mentioned. Together they constitute the “pillars of the argument” for the Earl of Oxford. In addition to the chapters above, Whittemore dives into discussions of Oxford as an acknowledged writer, the University Wits, and his known connections with other writers and poets. Oxford’s intimate connection with the life and times of England, and Queen Elizabeth in particular, is covered in several places, including chapters on “Writers in Wartime” and “The French Match.”

“One of the most important chapters deals with the connection of Oxford, “Shakespeare,” and the Italian performance genre known as Commedia dell ‘arte. This form of theatre, essentially unknown in Elizabethan England, was the basis for dozens of Shakespeare’s most memorable characters and plotlines. It is unthinkable that the playwright could not have had profound and intimate knowledge of this emerging art form. A thorough examination of the connection is both skillful and compelling. Whittemore gives high praise to Richard Roe for his remarkable work on Shakespeare’s Italian connection, and notes that Oxford traveled extensively in Italy, absorbing Italian history, art, politics and culture in a way that Shakespeare would share with the world in his works. Whittemore also acknowledges the groundbreaking work of Dr. Noemi Magri and her revelation concerning Titian’s personal copy of his “Venus and Adonis” painting, and its Shakespearean connection.

“Whittemore demonstrates extraordinary restraint as well. Although he has previously authored The Monument, an exhaustive study of Shake-speare’s Sonnets, only two of his 100 reasons are grounded on those poems. This speaks to the overall strength of his argument for Oxford’s authorship. While Whittemore could have chosen to write a dozen or more reasons for this conclusion based upon the Sonnets, he instead summarizes Oxford’s links and his relationship to the Sonnets. He does so in a logical and condensed manner, making the linkage a powerful and irrefutable reason to conclude that de Vere was indeed the author of Shake-speare’s Sonnets.

“Chapter 12, “Oxford’s Special Knowledge,” was also a highlight. It is universally  accepted that Shakespeare had a vast range of knowledge and expertise—foreign languages, music, classical literature, law, medicine, warfare, sailing, and intimate political machinations at court, to name a few. The connections between de Vere’s known proficiency in these subjects and Shakespeare’s works represent another pillar of the many bases for his assertion of Oxford’s authorship.

“Specific references to de Vere in the plays themselves are also discussed in Chapters 14 and 15. Characters such as Bertram and Othello are pondered, and devices used in Shakespeare such as the “bed trick” are analyzed in the context of their Oxfordian associations. These chapters bear close reading and thought: Whittemore carefully investigates both the widely known references (such as he bed trick) and some lesser-known ones as well, such as the fascinating story of Edmund Campion and his connection to Malvolio in Twelfth Night. These connections, well organized for the reader’s consideration, are also strong evidence for an Oxfordian authorship conclusion.

“Whittemore sums up and saves some of his most powerful reasons for last. His “Final Stages” chapter, being read after the previous 88 reasons are proposed and deliberated, constitutes a mighty and authoritative conclusion to the work. My favorite reason in this chapter was Number 91, “Dramatic Literature.” Here Whittemore makes what for me is his best case for the Oxfordian side:

This evidence comprises one of the most important, yet among the least noticed, of the reasons why Oxford is Shakespeare. The plays are masterpieces of dramatic literature—they are works the author has written and rewritten, over long stretches of time, not primarily for playgoing audiences, but for carefully attentive readers. Most can be fully appreciated only when, in addition to be seen and heard, they are read and reread. But to comprehend how they were produced in final form requires a viewpoint wholly opposite from that of Stratfordian tradition.

“As a writer and a playwright himself, Whittemore makes the overwhelming and ultimately effective case for de Vere’s authorship with his 100 Reasons Shake-speare was the Earl of Oxford. His book is thoroughly researched, eminently readable, and, for those of us with time constraints on our reading, it can be absorbed in small doses as well. He is also very convincing. If you can, try to persuade a Stratfordian to read a few reasons. Have them pick a number between 1 and 100, and then read that particular reason. If that does not get them interested, they are probably too far gone to listen to reason, let alone a hundred reasons.”

An Agreement with “The Monument” on the Possible Dating of Sonnet 81 — in “Brief Chronicles” for the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship

In the current Brief Chronicles (No. VII, 2016, published 12 January 2017), edited by Roger Stritmatter, PhD with Michael Delahoyde, PhD for the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship, researchers Elke Brackmann and Robert Detobel suggest a possible dating of Sonnet 81 that coincides with the one expressed in The Monument (2005), which presents a time frame for the central 100-sonnet sequence:

Sonnet 27 upon the failed Essex Rebellion on 8 February 1601 ….. to Sonnet 125 upon Queen Elizabeth’s funeral on 28 April 1603  ……… (plus Sonnet 126, the “envoy” ending the sequence)

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Sonnet 81 begins with a sense of the younger man’s impending death:  “Or I shall live your Epitaph to make…”

That opening line, Backmann and Detobel write, “would suddenly take on a piercing dramatic quality” if the youth’s life had been threatened. (Well, yes!) And in fact, they note, the life of Henry Wriothesley, third Earl of Southampton, was definitely threatened when a tribunal on 19 February 1601 sentenced him to be executed for his role in the rebellion.

Robert Detobel

Robert Detobel

The case for Southampton as the younger man in the Sonnets “can now be considered firmly established,” they continue, adding, “We know of one point in time in his life (and within the generally accepted period of composition of the sonnets) when he was in great danger and/or about to die. This was in February 1601, when he was sentenced to death for high treason. It is also useful in this context to recall that the use of the word ‘epitaph’ is suggestive of death in a foreseeable future…”

Essex was beheaded on 25 February 1601, but Southampton’s penalty was commuted into lifelong imprisonment.  “The exact date of the commutation is not known,” Brackmann and Detobel write, “but it must have occurred before the end of March.”

Therefore, Sonnet 81 could have been written “between February and March when Southampton’s life was in the balance,” they suggest, adding, “It could also have been written later in the year, during the first six months or so of Southampton’s imprisonment in the Tower, when he was reported to have been very sick.”

MONUMENT cover

We might add that Oxford could not know, during the next two years, whether Southampton would be left to die in the Tower. Everything depended upon Robert Cecil being able to bring James of Scotland to the throne upon Elizabeth’s death — and it appears, from our reading of the Sonnets, that the Earl of Oxford was forced to help the Secretary engineer the succession of James.

The success of this “deal” between Edward de Vere and his former brother-in-law is expressed in Sonnet 107, the high point of the sequence — with Oxford declaring that Southampton had been “supposed as forfeit to a confined doom,” but that now, upon the queen’s death, Henry Wriothesley was free. The queen died on 24 March 1603 and Southampton was released from the Tower on 10 April 1603; and this view of the biographical/historical context of the central 100-sonnet sequence (1601-1603) is the basis for The Monument…

Your monument shall be my gentle verse,

Which eyes not yet created shall o’er-read… (Sonnet 81)

And thou in this shalt find thy monument,

When tyrants’ crests and tombs of brass are spent. (Sonnet 107)

 

 

The Remarkable Letter of Dr. Masters to Lord Burghley about Anne Cecil’s Pregnancy – Part 1

One of the most remarkable items of surviving correspondence related to Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford is a letter from court physician Dr. Richard Masters to William Cecil, Lord Treasurer Burghley on the night of March 7, 1575, about Oxford’s wife Anne Cecil. The earl himself had left England the month before and was now at the French royal court in Paris, being introduced to the recently crowned King Henry III.

William Cecil Lord Burghley 1520 - 1598

William Cecil
Lord Burghley
1520 – 1598

Dr. Masters reported to Lord Burghley about his audience that morning with Queen Elizabeth in the Presence Chamber at Richmond Palace.  Her Majesty was seated alone on cushions, listening to the doctor explain how he had met that morning with Cecil, who was still a bit under the weather physically and “desired me to say thus much to Your Highness – ”

Elizabeth understood that Burghley, too afraid to come in person, had sent Dr. Masters as the messenger who might have his head lopped off.  The physician told her:  “Seeing it had pleased Your Majesty often times to inquire tenderly after my Lady of Oxford’s health, it has now fallen out so (God be thanked) that she is with child, evidently; and albeit it were but an indifferent thing for Her Majesty to hear of, yet it was more than indifferent for your Lordship to signify the same unto her.”

This was big news. Anne, daughter of Burghley and wife of Oxford, was pregnant for the first time since her marriage to de Vere in December 1571.  Very possibly she was carrying his son, the all-important heir to his earldom. Elizabeth, the physician reported to the Lord Treasurer, reacted spontaneously in apparent shock: “Here-withal she arose, or rather sprang up from the cushions, and said these words: ‘Indeed it is a matter that concerneth my Lord’s [Burghley’s] joy chiefly, yet I protest to God that next to them that have interest in it, there is nobody can be more joyous of it than I am.’”

Well, okay, but Her Majesty might be protesting too much.  She appears to be not only acting, but overacting.

“Then I went forth and told her that your Lordship [Burghley] had a pretty likelihood of it upon your coming from Court after Shrovetide [Sunday, February 13, nearly a month earlier], but you concealed it, Ne si adversum evaderet Audires parturient montes; and that now, because your Lordship did fear the concealing of it any longer, doubting lest the matter might otherwise come to the Court, your Lordship thought it good and a piece of duty to have it imparted unto Her Majesty rather by yourself than by any other.”

Clearly this was the most immediate reason Burghley had sent Dr. Masters in his place – to admit to the Queen that he, Burghley, had “concealed” this news from Elizabeth, thereby letting the court physician take the initial blast of heat.  But why, in the first place, had the Lord Treasurer kept his daughter’s pregnancy a secret?  Why would he want to conceal it from the Queen? Burghley worried that Her Majesty would hear the news at court from someone else, which would ignite her fury at him; by now he had no choice but to tell her – or, that is, to have Dr. Masters serve as messenger.

Elizabeth I of England 1533 - 1603

Elizabeth I of England
1533 – 1603

His report continued: “And here again she bade me make her thanks with those words, reported as before, by comparing your Lordship’s joy and interest to hers. After this, I had leisure to show her of my Lady’s [Anne’s] double reckoning, viz., a retention et a consortio Comitis [recalling or calcultating both when her periods had stopped and when she had “consorted” with her husband], and that my Lady being here [Richmond] at Shrovetide had dealt with me to prepare some medicines ad menses promotions [to cause her periods to resume; that is, to produce a miscarriage or, in effect, an abortion], but I counseled her to stay a while – “

Whoa!  Is this why Burghley had concealed the news from Queen Elizabeth?  Without saying so, Dr. Masters had just slipped in some astonishing information.  Oxford’s wife had come to him asking help to abort her pregnancy!  She had sought his help in secretly terminating the life of the premier earl’s first child and, quite possibly, his son and heir!

Anne’s severely negative reaction to her pregnancy must indicate some earth-shaking circumstance. After all, she was pleading for help with an act that ultimately could have meant the end of the Oxford’s earldom. And surely she knew how it would affect her father, Burghley, who had arranged this marriage so the ancient Vere line could be linked to his own family and descendants.

On the one hand, Anne must have been experiencing tremendously frightening physical pain, which could account for everything — except that now she had also become mentally and emotionally distraught, for entirely different reasons:

“Her Majesty asked me how the young Lady did bear the matter,” Dr. Masters continued in his letter to Burghley. “I answered that she kept it secret four or five days from all persons and that her face was much fallen and thin with little color, and that when she was comforted and counseled to be gladsome and to rejoice, she would cry: ‘Alas, alas, how should I rejoice, seeing he that should rejoice with me is not here?  And to say truth, I stand in doubt whether he [Oxford] pass upon me and it [the child] or not.’ And bemoaning her case would lament that after so long sickness of body, she should enter a new grief and sorrow of mind.”

Anne was “in doubt whether he pass upon me and it or not” — indicating, it would seem, that she feared Oxford would not believe he was the father. In the next year he would come to seriously doubt his paternity and separate from the marriage for five years. As a matter of fact, reports that his wife had played a “bed trick” upon him will be reported by Francis Osborne in 1658 and Thomas Wright in 1836; and four “Shakespeare” plays (All’s Well That Ends Well, Measure for Measure, Cymbeline and The Two Noble Kinsmen) will include the same trickery by which, without the man’s knowledge, one woman is substituted for another.

The very fact this letter from Dr. Masters managed to survive at all is surprising; it offers a rare glimpse into some very private moments and encounters at the highest level, such as:

“At this Her Majesty showed great compassion, as your Lordship shall hear hereafter, and repeated my Lord of Oxford’s answer to me, which he made openly in the Presence Chamber to Her Majesty [that is, Elizabeth related to the doctor what Oxford had told her publicly], viz., that ‘if she were with child, it was not his.’ “

It may be that Oxford said this to the Queen because he knew she would not allow him to leave England while his wife was pregnant; or, perhaps, he was making such a statement for other reasons.  (Was he intending, while on the Continent, to seek an annulment of his still-childless marriage?)

Dr. Masters told Elizabeth that de Vere’s statement was “the common answer of lusty courtiers everywhere so to say.”  He also informed the Queen that other physicians had been primarily worried about Anne’s own health, preferring to stabilize her condition before tending to the fetus, but he was certain that by now both mother and child were safe.

When Elizabeth learned that Oxford’s enemy the Earl of Leicester was in the next chamber, she called him in and related the whole conversation up to this point. Then Dr. Masters spoke up again, explaining to her“that though your Lordship [Burghley] had concealed it yet a while from her, yet you left it to her [Anne’s] discretion either to reveal it or to keep it close. And here an end was made, taking advantage of my last words, that she would be with you for concealing it so long from her.”

This news must have alarmed Burghley.  Her Majesty would be “with you” — yes, she would speak to the Lord Treasurer face-to face and reprimand him for “concealing it so long from her.” It seems he was in for one of those famous tongue-lashings from Elizabeth Tudor.

But now for the final royal histrionics, swinging back and forth between joy and anger: “And severally she showed herself unfeignedly to rejoice, and in great offence with my Lord of Oxford, repeating the same to my Lord of Leicester after he came to her.”

The final word from a shaken Dr. Masters was his strong, even urgent advice to Burghley that he should be prepared to counter any suspicions by Oxford that the child might not be his: “Thus much rather to show my good will than otherwise, desiring your Lordship that there may a note be taken from the day of the first quickening [to determine the date of conception], for thereof somewhat may be known noteworthy.” So it was already feared that de Vere would erupt with questions.

The child, Elizabeth Vere, was reportedly born on July 2, 1575, not quite four months later — or nine months after Oxford and Anne had been lodged in adjacent rooms during a stay at Hampton Court Palace.

After storming home in April 1576, he commanded Burghley to prevent his daughter from being present at the royal court whenever he was there. The separation lasted until some time in late 1581 or early the following year. How much does the remarkable letter of Dr. Masters shed light on Edward de Vere’s subsequent behavior toward his wife and child? Or on any other aspect of the Oxford-Shakespeare story?

Comments and/or questions are welcome!

////

One transcript of the letter (with brief introductory matter) is to be found at The Oxford Authorship Site of independent researcher Nina Green.  Here is a full version, with my own breaks inserted for easier reading:

“After my duty it may please your Lordship to understand that having her Majesty this Monday morning in the Chamber at the Gallery end, next to the Green, sitting alone, I said that the confidence in my messages made me presume to come to her in that place, for being at London with my wife that had been sick, I heard say that my Lord Treasurer had left word at my house that I should not return unto the Court until I had spoken with him; whereupon fearing lest he had been sick upon his purgation taken that Friday, I went unto him and found him mickle [much] well, saving for his cough and often sneezing, and understanding of my speedy return to the Court, he desired me to say thus much to Your Highness, that –

“’Seeing it had pleased Your Majesty often times to inquire tenderly after my Lady of Oxford’s health, it has now fallen out so (God be thanked) that she is with child, evidently; and albeit it were but an indifferent thing for Her Majesty to hear of, yet it was more than indifferent for your Lordship to signify the same unto her.’

“Here-withal she arose, or rather sprang up from the cushions, and said these words:

“’Indeed it is a matter that concerneth my Lord’s [Burghley’s] joy chiefly, yet I protest to God that next to them that have interest in it, there is nobody can be more joyous of it than I am.’

“Then I went forth and told her that your Lordship had a pretty likelihood of it upon your coming from Court after Shrovetide, but you concealed it, Ne si adversum evaderet Audires parturient montes; and that now, because your Lordship did fear the concealing of it any longer, doubting lest the matter might otherwise come to the Court, your Lordship thought it good and a piece of duty to have it imparted unto Her Majesty rather by yourself than by any other –

“And here again she bade me make her thanks with those words, reported as before, by comparing your Lordship’s joy and interest to hers.

“After this, I had leisure to show her of my Lady’s [Anne’s] double reckoning, viz., a retention et a consortio Comitis, and that my Lady being here at Shrovetide had dealt with me to prepare some medicines ad menses promotions, but I counseled her to stay a while –

“Her Majesty asked me how the young Lady did bear the matter.

“I answered that she kept it secret four or five days from all persons and that her face was much fallen and thin with little color, and that when she was comforted and counseled to be gladsome and to rejoice, she would cry, ‘Alas, alas, how should I rejoice, seeing he that should rejoice with me is not here?  And to say truth, I stand in doubt whether he pass upon me and it or not.’ And bemoaning her case would lament that after so long sickness of body, she should enter a new grief and sorrow of mind.

“At this Her Majesty showed great compassion, as your Lordship shall hear hereafter, and repeated my Lord of Oxford’s answer to me, which he made openly in the Presence Chamber to Her Majesty, viz., that if she were with child, it was not his. I answered that it was the common answer of lusty courtiers everywhere so to say.

“I told her also that she ought to think the case to be hard, when that she was let blood and purged, the physicians having greater regard to the stock than to the branch, but I trusted now they were both in safety.

“Then she asking, and being answered of me, who was in the next chamber, she calleth my Lord of Leicester and telleth him all. And here I told her that though your Lordship had concealed it yet a while from her, yet you left it to her discretion either to reveal it or to keep it close. And here an end was made, taking advantage of my last words, that she would be with you for concealing it so long from her; and severally she showed herself unfeignedly to rejoice, and in great offence with my Lord of Oxford, repeating the same to my Lord of Leicester after he came to her.

“Thus much rather to show my good will than otherwise, desiring your Lordship that there may a note be taken from the day of the first quickening, for thereof somewhat may be known noteworthy.

“From Richmond the 7th of March, 1575

“By your Lordship’s most bounden

“Richard Masters”

 

“A Magnetic Sense of History, Art, Politics and Human Nature” – from “Kirkus Reviews”

It’s gratifying to receive such a wonderful reaction to 100 Reasons Shake-speare was the Earl of Oxford from Kirkus Reviews.

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Knowing full well that Kirkus maintains total independence, I had no expectation of what kind of response the book might receive. This review came as a welcome surprise, to say the least, and may well count as new evidence that the Oxfordian movement is gaining ground outside the confines of our own community. Thanks to the editorial expertise of Alex McNeil and, too, from Brian Bechtold, as well as from Bill Boyle of Forever Press; and most of all, my gratitude to the readers of this blog site who contributed helpful comments all along the way, over the course of some three and a half years, making it possible to even think about compiling and revising the “100 Reasons” into a cohesive book.

Here’s the full review:

A book offers an energetic defense of the Earl of Oxford theory regarding the authorship of the plays of William Shakespeare.

“In this work about Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, the competing theories—proposing Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe, William Stanley, the Earl of Derby, and, of course,  Shakespeare himself—are given their day in court as well. (Indeed, examining and discarding these notions constitutes part of the quite literal 100 reasons presented in the volume.) As the alternative possibilities are explored, Whittemore makes a progressively stronger case for the Earl of Oxford as the sole author of the works of Shakespeare. Beginning in the book’s introduction by questioning how such a seemingly unremarkable man as Shakespeare could demonstrate such near-miraculous genius, Whittemore takes the reader on an intricate journey in scholarship regarding the theater and the Renaissance period. He touches on the first Oxfordian supporter—John Thomas Looney—and builds profiles of the various players in Shakespeare’s world, from Queen Elizabeth I’s chief adviser, Lord Burghley, to her spymaster, Francis Walsingham. During this odyssey, an image of de Vere himself emerges: a brilliant, controversial man and an intimate of Elizabeth’s court with poetry and theater in his blood—an ideal alternative to Shakespeare for reasons ranging from creativity to insight into statecraft. While mainstream academia largely dismisses questions of authorship in studying the works of Shakespeare, Whittemore strongly champions the Oxfordian argument in this tour de force defense while remaining a highly entertaining writer. A breezy but very intelligent tone is maintained throughout the book; the reader is neither patronized nor boggled by minutiae and jargon. Instead, there is a magnetic sense of history, art, politics, and human nature injected into a smooth and eminently readable storytelling style. It is obvious that the author’s research has been painstaking, but the resulting document is more than painless—it’s downright pleasurable. The text itself is immaculate, as one would expect from such a seasoned nonfiction writer and scholar. One may or may not accept the Oxfordian argument, but Whittemore ensures that the reader will never again lightly dismiss it.

“An engrossing and thoughtful literary examination.”

  • “Kirkus Reviews”

A Shake-speare Speech on Past & Present to Predict the Future

Here’s a little speech from Shake-speare, lending us a thought for today. Apply it as you may:

There is a history in all men’s lives,

Figuring the natures of the time deceased,

The which observed, a man may prophesy,

With near aim, the main chance of things

As yet not come to life, who in their seeds

And weak beginning lie in-treasured.

Such things become the hatch and brood of time.

  • Henry IV, part two, 3.1, the Earl of Warwick

Thanks to Professor Don Rubin for Pioneering Work on the Shakespeare Authorship Question at York University

don-rubin-200x300Don Rubin, former Chair of the Department of Theatre at York University in Toronto, is a pioneer in bringing the Shakespeare Authorship Question to college students.  Anyone who paid a visit during those sessions knows for sure that the issue will be decided once and for all by the new generation.

I want to thank Professor Rubin publicly for his scholarly work among students, for whom he presented the evidence while encouraging them to debate it among themselves and come to their individual conclusions – a genuine spirit of free and open inquiry, creating an excitement about the life and work of “Shakespeare” that is seldom if ever found in most of today’s classrooms.

And I’d also like to express my gratitude for his advance comment on my new book, 100 Reasons Shake-speare was the Earl of Oxford:

“Written with wit, humor, erudition and the instincts of a real working actor, Hank Whittemore’s 100 Reasons bristles with humanity as it seeks to convince readers that the name Shakespeare was simply a pseudonym.

“Begun as a search by the author for the roots of Shakespeare’s titanic creativity, this extraordinary document becomes a personal narrative of the life of the wild and witty Edward de Vere, the most erudite aristocrat in the court of Queen Elizabeth I.

“And Whittemore does ultimately convince us that de Vere was the real Shakespeare. A truly original approach to academic research, this forensic examination of centuries-old evidence is well worth the attention of academics and non-academics alike.”

Advance Comment from Dr. Richard Waugaman on “100 Reasons Shake-speare was the Earl of Oxford”

shakespeare-as-santaI want to thank Richard M. Waugaman, M.D. for his advance comment on 100 Reasons Shake-speare was the Earl of Oxford, and to recommend his insightful, often ground-breaking work on the authorship question. Dr. Waugaman, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine, has made many papers available on his website The Oxfreudian.  Here is the comment he made after reading the manuscript of 100 Reasons:

“Read this book before you decide who wrote Shakespeare. Challenges to the traditional authorship theory are often ignored, or dismissed by impugning unworthy motives to authorship skeptics. The mountain of evidence against the legendary author is dealt with by selecting a single pebble, and rejecting it as only circumstantial evidence. Hank Whittemore, by contrast, closely examines 100 important features of this mountain, leaving the reader convinced there is more to the authorship debate than she had suspected.

“Traditionalists insist the real author knew the world of the theater from the inside. Whittemore begins presenting far more evidence of Edward de Vere’s close associations with the theater than the skimpy evidence of the traditional author’s theatrical involvement (which may have been primarily as a money lender).

“Whittemore remains closely attuned to his reader’s reactions along the way, serving as a sympathetic, knowledgeable guide on this exciting journey. Those who claim it makes no difference who wrote Shakespeare will think twice about that assumption, when they discover the new pleasure in watching a Shakespeare play, or reading a Shakespeare sonnet, now that we know so much more about the true author.

“Biographies of the traditional author from Stratford-on-Avon are exercises in misleading speculation. In contrast, Whittemore presents hundreds of well-documented facts to support his authorship candidate, Edward de Vere.

“We’ve all been sold a defective Avon product, folks. It’s time to return it for a full refund!”

“First they ignore you … then they ridicule you … then they fight you … and then you win.”

There’s some strident Stratfordian activity on the Amazon.com site for 100 Reasons Shake-speare was the Earl of Oxford a sign, I believe, that upholders of the traditional faith are worried. It brings to my mind the well-known saying, often attributed [without evidence] to Gandhi: “First, they ignore you; then they ridicule you; then they fight you; and then you win.”  My fellow Oxfordians, let us savor the final stage before victory!

Followers of this blog site may wish to check out the attacks that have come from individuals who, apparently, have not read the book but are committed to the traditional view of the authorship at all cost. My current Oxfordian book makes no claim of proving anything; it presents various kinds of biographical and historical evidence for Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (1550-1604) as the true author of the Shakespeare works. The evidence is circumstantial and it’s overwhelmingly strong.

Edward de Vere 17th Earl of Oxford

Edward de Vere
17th Earl of Oxford

There is no such biographical or historical evidence for the authorship of the Stratford man, whose death in 1616 failed to produce the slightest ripple of reaction. The traditional view needs no evidence, because it’s akin to religious faith.

Whether these folks are part of an organized attempt to hold back the inevitable collapse of the traditional paradigm, I cannot say; they do seem to be trolling for listings of Oxfordian books, seeking opportunities to attack. Their arguments are either disingenuous or deliberately inaccurate.

Alexander Waugh, the multi-talented author, scholar, critic and composer who is also Chairman of the De Vere Society of London, posted a response to one B. J. Robbins, who had not offered an honest review, but, instead, produced a list of sixteen points under the screaming headline, “REAL FACTS why Oxford WAS NOT SHAKESPEARE!!!!!”  Mr. Waugh replied with a point-by-point rebuttal:

You write: “1, There is no evidence that Oxford and Shakespeare ever even met or knew each other.”
Comment – a problem for Stratfordians. Oxford was known to many of the top poets, playwrights and scholars of his day, e.g. Greene, Lyly, Bale, Mundy, Nash, Chapman, Day, Twynne, Churchyard, etc., etc., none of whom knew Stratford-Shakspere, who was never acknowledged as a playwright or poet by anyone (including himself) during his lifetime.

You write: “2. Oxford died in 1604, while the plays in the First Folio came out until 1613 (Henry VIII). No logical, believable explanation has ever been offered by Oxfordians about how that happened.”
Comment – The plays `came out’ in 1623 (not 1613 as you claim) in the First Folio. At least 18 of these plays had never been published before. This was 7 years AFTER the death of Stratford-Shakspere, so by your own argument your own candidate fails.

You write: “3. Subjective interpretation of the Sonnets and plays is inconsequential and invalid and unscholary. It is not the way scholars work. Objective, empirical evidence, direct evidence.”
Comment – The Oxfordian case does not rely upon ‘subjective interpretations’ of the Sonnets or plays. If you had read Whittemore’s 100 reasons you would have known this.

You write: “4. Oxford left no literary writings behind besides a few ordinary poems. No plays. We don’t know if he had the genius to write Hamlet or King Lear. Having 3 daughters like Lear is not proof that he wrote it. Don’t make me laugh”
Comment – If you had read Bodenham (1600) you would know that Oxford’s works were published under the names of other people. Meres and Webbe tell us that he was writing plays in the 1580 and 90s. There is no evidence that Stratford-Shakspere was a writer of plays and poetry during his lifetime; or indeed anything, from the period 1593-1616, to suggest that `William Shakespeare’ on the quartos was not a pseudonym.

You write “5. The vast preponderance of the evidence points to William Shakespeare of Stratford writing the plays and Sonnets. No contradictions no contra indications. Chronology is perfect.”
Comment – This is incorrect. The `vast preponderance of the evidence’ from the lifetime of Stratford-Shakspere points to Shakespeare as a pseudonym used by the Earl of Oxford (see Willobie, Barnfield, Weever, Meres, Davis of Hereford etc etc). The `vast preponderance of the evidence’ for Stratford-Shakspere shows him only to be a wheeler-dealer unknown to those at the center of literary life. It is meaningless to add `chronology is perfect’ – what chronology are you talking about? Why is it `perfect’?

You write: “6. Anyone having anything to do with the theater, or writing plays, will tell you that the plays of Shakespeare were written by someone who spent his entire life in the world of the theater. Sir John Gielgud said that they must have been written by an actor after playing King Lear. Shakespeare joined the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, and stayed with them after they were renamed the King’s Men, until he retired about 1613. That is more than 20 years spent in the SAME TROUPE, unheard of in those times. Oxford was busy writing letters to the Queen for privilege to the tin mines.”
Comment – You change your mind from `entire life’ to `more than 20 years’ in one paragraph. The first record of Stratford-Shakspere’s having anything to do with the theatre relates to him as accountant-payee for the Chamberlain’s Men in 1595 and you say he retired `by 1613′. Hardly an `entire life’ let alone `more than 20 years’ is it? Oxford’s family connections with theatre are traceable to the late 15th century, and with his own players to as late as 1602. That really means an `entire life’ during which time Oxford was the patron of several theatrical troupes, friend of many of the leading playwrights, owner of a major public theatre, an actor and a writer who was highly commended by his contemporaries as a playwright, poet, and scholar. Playwrights can write letters about tin-mines and still be playwrights.

You write: “7. There is absolutely NO PROOF that William Shakespeare was a pen name for anybody. The hyphen is meaningless and simply a front for Dr. Waughman. [Dr. Richard Waugaman, a prominent Oxfordian.] It is his life’s work, poor man.”
Comment – Who is Dr Waughman? Do you mean me? The man from Stratford never used a hyphen in his name nor did any of his friends or family. A hyphenated name (`Shake-speare’) appears on 45% of the early quartos and in many of the contemporary allusions to the poet Shakespeare. This is a problem for Stratfordians as it implies a pen-name. Weever (1598) calls the author of Venus and Adonis `spurious’ – look it up.

You write: “8. Frances Mere’s note [Palladis Tamia, 1598] makes it plain that Oxford and Shakespeare were two different people. Oxford wrote comedies, and Shakespeare wrote comedies AND tragedies, histories and dramas. (Julius Caesar).”
Comment – Meres, a theologian and numerologist, reveals that William Shakespeare was a pseudonym used by Oxford in paragraph 34 of his `Comparative Discourse of our English Poets.’ Since you are not up to date with recent (or old) Oxfordian scholarship, you possibly have no idea what I am talking about – your loss. You might begin by asking yourself why (in paragraph 34) Meres compares 16 Classical playwrights to 17 English playwrights with Oxford at the top of the list, and try to work it all out from there.

You write: “9. After Oxford’s death, no one in his family came out and declared that “Daddy” was the writer of Shakespeare’s plays!!!! Why not? This should have happened!!!! Why this 400-year conspiracy to keep Oxford’s name off Shakespeare?”
Comment – as is well recorded Oxford died almost bankrupt and in social disgrace; also, he was lame – a bit like `Shake-speare’ who describes himself as `poor’, ‘lame’ and ‘despised’ in his sonnets. The First Folio was dedicated to Oxford’s son-in-law and, according to many, funded by the Herbert family. The prefatory pages are full of veiled allusions to Shakespeare’s identity as Oxford. After Stratford-Shakspere’s death no one in his family came out and declared “Daddy” was the writer. His family were functionally illiterate. Neither he nor his family, or any of his friends and acquaintances, ever said that he was a writer.

Your write: “10. How did Oxfraud pay Shakespeare? How much? More for comedies than tragedies, or vice versa? The guy didn’t work. How would he have money for the dowries of his 3 daughters?”
Comment – You are confused `Oxfraud’ is a group of Stratfordian internet lobbyists; they did not pay Shakespeare anything, though it is rumoured that they are funded by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, to support for the Stratford ideology. If you mean ‘Oxford’, he did not pay Shakespeare anything either, `Shakespeare’ was his literary pseudonym.

Your write: “11. Shakespeare is mentioned by several contemporaries as a writer of plays. Oxford is not, except by Meres. Shakespeare is mentioned as a writer of Sonnets.”
Comment. Shakespeare is a pseudonym and no one by that name is mentioned as a writer of plays until plays started appearing with that pseudonym upon their title pages, which was as late as 1598. The only sense in which Shakespeare is mentioned as a writer of plays is in the same sense that it is said `George Orwell wrote essays’. Stratford-Shakspere is not mentioned as a writer of Sonnets, all that Meres says is that the writer of plays `William Shakespeare’ also wrote sonnets. They appeared in print in 1609 as `SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS’ – hardly promising for Shax supporters.

Your write: “12. All of the plays are entered in the Station’s Register as the works of William Shakespeare. Now anyone can say that Shakespeare of Stratford did not really write the plays, that they were given to him by someone else. Only one thing is lacking. Any proof that this is true.”
Comment – Nonsense! not `all of the plays’ are entered into the Stationers’ Register as by Shakespeare or anything like all. The Stationers took no interest in authorship, they simply copied what was on the title pages of books they were registering – including, in the case of Shakespeare, `Yorkshire Tragedy,’ and they got that wrong! There isn’t a single example of play attributed to Shakespeare by the Stationers in which the same attribution is not given on corresponding title page.

You write: “13. Looking at Oxford’s poetry and Shakespeare’s Sonnets, it is easy to tell the difference. Shakespeare’s are far superior. They were not written by the same person.”
Comment – Need I remind you of your own argument? You wrote (point 3): “Subjective interpretation of the Sonnets and plays is inconsequential and invalid and unscholarly.” So I can’t see why you bothered to add this one.

You write: “14. Hemings and Condell said they were the ones who saw Shakespeare’s manuscripts. Shakespeare used the commoner’s Secretary hand; Oxford undoubtedly used the aristocrat’s Italian hand. It is easy to tell the difference. Hemings and Condell would have sniffed something fishy was going on.”
Comment – This point is too silly for words. Hemings and Condell never said that Shakespearte’s plays were written in secretary hand. You are starting to fabricate.

You write: “15. The plays in the Revels Account in 1604-1605, give credit to “Shaxberd” for writing Measure for Measure, Othello, Comedy of Errors, Merchant of Venice. There is no mention of “Shake-Speare”. It seems to be a terrible mispellilng of William Shakespeare’s last name.”
Comment – Arguments concerning the authenticity of this record are as old as its discovery. Let us assume it is genuine. The Revels Account lists Shakespeare plays performed at court in the season immediately following Oxford’s death and at the marriage of his daughter. Stratford-Shakspere does not appear to have been present for any of these performances but was quietly arranging his business in Warwickshire. Just because someone misspells a pseudonym does not mean that the name belongs to a real person whose name is commonly spelled in another way altogether.

You write: “16. In the First Folio, the name of William Shakespeare appears twice, on the same page. Once as the writer of the comedies, histories, and tragedies within, and once at the top of the list of players who performed the plays. No hyphen in either. So either there were two William Shakespeares in the same troupe, one an actor and one writer of plays, or they were the same person. I think most reasonable persons would believe the latter.”
Comment – you are clearly out of the loop about this page and all the Stratfordian commentary about the peculiarity of a second half-title. This page does not state that Stratford-Shakspere wrote the plays of the First Folio. The ‘actor’ and the playwright are clearly separated by a very pronounced and rigid black line. Turn back the pages and you will find a cornucopia of evidence telling you that `William Shakespeare’ the author is a pseudonym.

I believe Mr. Robbins replied to Mr. Waugh’s reply on the Amazon site.  If so, you can find that and further comments there.

Encore Returns of “Anonymous” and “Last Will. & Testament” to Arizona Film Festival

We are pleased to pass along the news that two films related tolast-will the Shakespeare Authorship Question, focusing on Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford as the true author of the plays, poems and sonnets, are making their “encore returns” to the Sedona International Film Festival:

anonymous_2011_film_poster

Anonymous, the feature directed by Roland Emmerich, and Last Will. & Testament, the award-winning documentary produced and directed by Lisa Wilson and Laura (Wilson) Matthias, will each be shown on Tuesday and Wednesday of November 29 and 30 at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre in West Sedona, Arizona.

 

 

A Comment on “100 Reasons Shake-speare was the Earl of Oxford”

I am grateful to all who submitted advance comments about 100 Reasons Shake-speare was the Earl of Oxford and, from time to time, will post one or two of them on this site. This one is from Linda Theil, editor of the Oberon Shakespeare Study Group weblog:

“I watched for several years as Hank Whittemore clearly, concisely, and completely enumumerated and elucidated the Oxfordian case for the Shakespeare authorship online at Hank Whittemore’s Shakespeare Blog. I eagerly awaited each essay as this clear and engaging writer explained the case for Edward de Vere as Shakespeare with indisputable data, and disarming charm. Whittemore’s masterwork is now available in print as 100 Reasons Shake-speare was the Earl of Oxford (Forever Press, 2016).

“The erudition and specificity of this amazing commentary makes Whittemore’s compilation of historical information about Oxford’s life and its relationship to the Shakespeare canon an indispensable trove of information on the authorship question. We now have an indisputable claimant for the answer to the question: What is the first book to read about the Shakespeare authorship question? Answer: Hank Whittemore’s 100 Reasons Shake-speare was the Earl of Oxford.”

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