A Reply to Critics of Those Who Study the Shakespeare Authorship — and a Challenge

It’s tiresome to read the negative remarks about those of us who doubt the traditional view of Shakespeare authorship and who have concluded that Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford wrote the great works.   For example, the latest one [from Alex Beam of the Boston Globe] asserts:

“The search for the ‘real’ Shakespeare is a collective madness … The case for de Vere seems modest at best.  He wasn’t much of a poet, and his greatest champion is a now-forgotten author named Looney [cheap shot!].  Two of his main fans are the superannuated [low blow!] Supreme Court justices John Paul Stevens and Antonin Scalia … ”

Most of the critics who calls us “snobs” or “conspiracy nuts” [gimme a break] have no real interest in Shakespeare, much less do they care about the history of Elizabethan England, nor do they feel any need to learn about Oxford’s tumultuous life – despite the fact that he was at the center of the “renaissance” of English literature and drama in the 1570’s and 1580’s leading to (and making possible) the sudden appearance of “Shakespeare” in 1593.

Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford

Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford

Arthur Golding, whose translation of Ovid in the 1560’s became the English source used throughout the Shakespeare works, was Oxford’s uncle who lived under the same roof at Cecil House while producing that translation.

John Lyly and Anthony Munday, whose literary and dramatic works were used as contemporary sources for the Shakespeare works, were both employed by Oxford.

Edward de Vere and “William Shakespeare” had a lot in common.  If they were separate individuals, they certainly should have known each other!  Here’s just a small sampling of some of the statements that contemporaries of Edward de Vere made to and/or about him:

“Hereon when your honour shall be at leisure to look, bestowing such regard as you are accustomed to do on books of Geography, Histories, and other good learning…” – Thomas Twyne, 1573

“For a long time past Phoebus Apollo has cultivated thy mind in the arts.  English poetical measures have been sung by thee long enough.  Let that courtly epistle, more polished even than the writings of Castiglione himself, witness how greatly thou dost excel in letters; I have seen many Latin verses of thine, yea even more English verses are extant.” – Gabriel Harvey, scholar, 1578

J. Thomas Looney

J. Thomas Looney

“Mark him well; he is but a little fellow, but he hath one of the best wits in England.  Should he take thee in hand … I prophesy there would be more gentle readers die of a merry mortality engendered by the eternal jests he would maul thee with..” – Thomas Nashe, pamphlet writer, to Gabriel Harvey, 1580, referring to Harvey having “incensed the Earl of Oxford against you.”

“Where it hath pleased your Honour to commend unto me and the heads of [Cambridge University] my Lord of Oxford his players, that they might show their cunning in certain plays already practiced by them before the Queen’s Majesty…” – John Hatcher, Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge, 1580, to William Cecil Lord Burghley

“Since the world hath understood – I know not how – that your Honour had willingly vouchsafed the acceptance of this work, and at convenient leisures favourably perused it, being as yet but in written hand, many have oftentimes and earnestly called upon me to put it to the press, that for their money they might but see what your Lordship, with some liking, had already perused.” – Thomas Watson, poet, 1582

“Your Honour being a worthy favourer and fosterer of learning hath forced many through your excellent virtue to offer the first-fruits of their study at the shrine of your Lordship’s courtesy.” – Robert Greene, writer, poet, dramatist, 1584

“I may not omit the deserved commendations of many honourable and noble Lords and Gentlemen in Her Majesty’s Court, which, in the rare devices of poetry, have been and yet are most skillful; among whom the right honourable Earl of Oxford may challenge to himself the title of the most excellent among the rest.” – William Webbe, 1586

“Your Lordship, whose infancy from the beginning was ever sacred to the Muses” – Angel Day, author, 1586

“The Earl of Oxford and Master Edwards of Her Majesty’s Chapel [do deserve the highest praise] for Comedy and Enterlude … And in Her Majesty’s time that now is are sprung up another crew of Courtly makers [poets] … who have written excellently well as it would appear if their doings could be found out and made public with the rest, of which number is first that noble gentleman Edward Earl of Oxford.” – anonymous, The Arte of English Poesie, 1589

“And also for the love which thou dost bear/ To the Heliconian imps [the Muses of poetry and drama] and they to thee,/ They unto thee, and thou to them most dear” – Edmund Spenser, poet, 1590, in a dedicatory sonnet to Oxford

“The best for Comedy among us be Edward Earl of Oxford…” – Francis Meres, author, 1598

“For without flattery be it spoke, those that know your Lordship know this, that using this science [music] as a recreation, your Lordship have overgone most of them that make it a profession.” – John Farmer, composer, 1599

“Your wit, learning and authority hath great force and strength in repressing the curious crakes of the envious.” – Dr. George Baker, medical expert, 1599

“Most, most, of me beloved, whose silent name/ One letter bounds” — John Marston, dramatist, 1599, apparently referring to the name “Edward de VerE,” which is bounded by the single letter E.

“He was beside of spirit passing great,/ Valiant and learned and liberal as the sun,/ Spoke and writ sweetly, or of learned subjects, / … And ’twas the Earl of Oxford.” – George Chapman, poet and dramatist, after 1600

Not a bad set of references!

Imagine Hamlet greeting the players … writing a dozen or so lines to insert in one of their speeches … having them put on a play for the monarch and the Court … and you might as well be imagining Edward de Vere bringing his players to perform for Queen Elizabeth and her Court.

I challenge anyone who criticizes those of us who study the authorship question to investigate contemporary England during the lifetime [1564-1616] of the man traditionally perceived as the author and follow the contemporary evidence to discover Will of Stratford-upon-Avon as the writer.  I challenge current Stratfordian believers such as Stephen Greenblatt and James Shapiro to try finding him this way.

They can’t find him.

I challenge them to list five contemporary English sources for the Shakespeare works and see if they find Edward Earl of Oxford.

They can’t avoid him.

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