“Happy Birthday to the Sonnets”

Today marks the 400th anniversary of the registration of SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS by publisher Thomas Thorpe; and the Shakespeare Oxford Society has issued a press release on the matter which we wholeheartedly endorse:

YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, NY – May 20, 2009 – The Shakespeare Oxford Society today marks the 400th anniversary of the May 20, 1609, entry in the Stationer’s Register in London of “a booke called Shakespeares sonnettes.” At some point after the registration – probably sometime that summer – a book bearing the title “SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS” was published.

Unlike Shakespeare’s previous books of poetry – Venus and Adonis in 1593 and The Rape of Lucrece in 1594 – the Sonnets were published without a dedication from the poet himself.  Instead, the 1609 Sonnets were published with a mysterious dedication over the initials  “T.T.” – presumed by scholars to be the publisher Thomas Thorpe.

The Shakespeare Oxford Society believes the totality of the evidence surrounding the publication of the Sonnets in 1609 suggests the poet – who employed the pen name “William Shakespeare” – was already dead at the time of publication.  Posthumous publication of the Sonnets would, of course, eliminate the orthodox authorship candidate from Stratford-upon-Avon and strengthen the claim that Edward de Vere, the 17th earl of Oxford (who died in 1604), was the true author of the Shakespeare works…

Traditional scholars have been unable to provide answers to basic questions, including how the Sonnets came to be published in the first place and whether “Shakespeare” authorized the publication.  Scholars have been baffled for centuries by the apparent absence of the poet in the publication and proof-reading process.

The 1609 volume does not include a dedication from the poet.  If the author of the Sonnets was alive in 1609, and if he authorized the publication, why didn’t he write a dedication to a volume of poetry that he believed would outlive monuments?

If these immortal poems had been pirated somehow and published unlawfully (as many scholars believe), why wouldn’t the famous playwright and poet – if indeed he was still alive at the time – publicly complain or otherwise assert his legal right to the poems?

The poet’s apparent absence from the publication lends support to the posthumous publication theory.

Following the publication of the Sonnets in 1609, William of Stratford makes no mention of the publication (or anything else vaguely literary for that matter) leading up to and even including his 1616 will.

The title of the book – SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS – is itself unusual for several reasons.

First, the name of the poet is hyphenated which could suggest it is a recognized pseudonym. Also, the title implies a kind of finality, suggesting that this collection is the be-all and the end-all of Shakespeare’s sonnet-writing career.  If “Shakespeare” was indeed still alive in 1609, why would the publisher suggest by this title that the poet would not be writing any more sonnets.  How would he know that, unless of course the poet was already deceased?

The reference to “our ever-living poet” in the publisher’s dedication affords strong evidence that the poet was already dead (i.e. immortal) when the Sonnets were published in 1609.  Several sonnets imply that the poet was anticipating his impending death and that he expected his name to be forgotten, or “buried” after his death.  This would make no sense if the poet’s real name was William Shakespeare, a name that was extremely famous in 1609.  For example, Sonnet 72 reads in part:

My name be buried where my body is,
And live no more to shame nor me nor you.
For I am shamed by that which I bring forth,
And so should you, to love things nothing worth.

THAT’S THE PRESS RELEASE (most of it) and we endorse it; but, as many readers of this blog are aware, we feel the importance of the Sonnets goes far beyond the argument that Will of Stratford was still alive and that “our ever-living poet” was Edward de Vere, 17th earl of Oxford.

The Tower of London: Where Southampton was Held Hostage to keep Oxford silent until the succession of James

The Tower of London: Where Southampton was Held Hostage to keep Oxford silent until the succession of James

We believe that Oxford actually wrote the Sonnets to preserve the truth that Henry Wriothesley, 3rd earl of Southampton was his son by Queen Elizabeth and deserved to succeed her on the throne.  We also believe that the Sonnets contain the answer to the authorship question itself, with the so-called Rival Poet being not any real individual, but, rather, Oxford’s public pen name “Shakespeare,” which he had used to support Southampton from behind the scenes.

Southampton in the Tower: 1601-1603

Southampton in the Tower: 1601-1603

We also believe the Sonnets tell the story of how Principal Secretary Robert Cecil held Southampton hostage in the Tower as a means of keeping Oxford silent until Cecil could put King James on the throne.

King James’  first official act, even before leaving Scotland, was on April 5, 1603, when he sent ahead the order for Southampton’s immediate freedom.  The earl walked out of prison on April 10, 1603, when Oxford exulted at the opening of Sonnet 107, in a single sweeping sentence of four lines, that his royal son had been liberated after having been “supposed as forfeit to a confined doom” in the Tower:

Not mine own fears nor the prophetic soul
Of the wide world dreaming on things to come
Can yet the lease of my true love control,
Supposed as forfeit to a confined doom.

Cheers from Hank

Published in: Uncategorized on May 20, 2009 at 3:55 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. http://marlowe-shakespeare.blogspot.com/2009/04/shakespeares-anonymous-death-by-anthony.html

    An excellent piece we printed on why no one seemed to care when Shakespeare died.

    Cheers,
    Carlo


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