What’s in a Name? Authorship Quote of the Day from the New York Times


From the New York Times of today, February 23, 2012:

"Kate Alcott" is a pen name used by novelist Patricia O'Brien

The author Patricia O’Brien could not get publishers to accept her new novel The Dressmaker because her previous book had not sold well.  So she and her agent Esther Newberg “cannily circumvented what many authors see as a modern publishing scourge” – the ability to track book sales – “with a centuries-old trick, the nom de plume.  It has been employed by writers from Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) to Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot) to Stephen King (Richard Bachman).”

A Note to the Times: You forgot one – the author of “Hamlet”!

P.S. – Ms. O’Brien, under the pen name Kate Alcott, sold her novel to Doubleday in three days.

Part Two of Reason No. 35: The Unique “Centuries” of Sonnets by Watson (with Oxford’s help) and “Shakespeare”

(Click on for Larger View)

On the title page of Hekatompathia or Passionate Century of Love by Thomas Watson (1582), dedicated to Edward Earl of Oxford, the reader is informed about the architecture of the “century” of one-hundred sonnets:  “Divided into two parts: whereof, the first expresseth the Authours sufferance in Love: the latter, his long farewell to Love and all his tyrannie.”

The two parts have eighty and twenty sonnets respectively.  Part One comprises Sonnets 1 – 80 and Part Two comprises Sonnets 81 – 100:

1————————-80 81———100

When we get to Sonnet 80 at the end of the first part, we are told that the next verse, Sonnet 81, beginning the second part, is shaped “in the form of a pillar” that quite obviously makes it unique and gives it considerable importance:

Sonnet 81 of Watson's sequence, in the form of a pillar, starting Part Two (81-100); and Shakespeare's Sonnet 107 is also the eighty-first verse of his "century," starting Part Two (107-126)

“All such as are but of indifferent capacity, and have some skill in Arithmetic, by viewing this Sonnet following compiled by rule and number, into the form of a pillar, may soon judge how much art and study the Author hath bestowed in the same.”

While working on The Monument it became apparent that the one hundred and fifty-four verses of SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS (1609) contain the same architecture.  The first step is to remove the epilogue of the Bath sonnets, 153-154; and then separate the main body of one hundred and fifty-two sonnets by means of the two envoys, Sonnets 26 and 126.

The result is a central sequence of a hundred sonnets between two series of twenty-six:

1—–26 27—————————-126 127—–152

It came as a surprise to me, after completing The Monument, to find that Edgar I. Fripp in Shakespeare, Man and Artist of 1938 had already discovered the same hundred-sonnet sequence and even related it to Watson’s earlier sequence:

“Centuries or ‘hundreds’ of literary pieces were in fashion,” Fripp wrote, citing “hundreds” of songs, sonnets, prayers, sermons, hymns, flowers, emblems, medical facts and so on.  “The Hekotompathia or Passionate Century of Love by Thomas Watson, otherwise a century of passions, may have served as a model for Shakespeare’s century of sonnets,” he continued, adding, “Shakespeare’s Sonnets 27-126 are a century.”

But Fripp had seen no significance in Watson’s dedication to Oxford, who had helped with the manuscript; nor had he realized that Shakespeare’s century is itself divided into two parts, exactly as Watson’s century is divided, that is, Part One with eighty sonnets and Part Two with twenty:

Thomas Watson: 1———————————-80 81————-100

Shake-speare’s: 27——————————–106 107————126

Sonnet 107 is the eighty-first verse and the “pillar” that begins Part Two. 

And of course Sonnet 107 is both unique and important as the so-called “dating sonnet,” viewed by most critics as celebrating the release on April 10, 1603 of Henry Wriothesley Earl of Southampton after being “supposed as forfeit to a confined doom” in the Tower.  Sonnet 107 also refers to the death of Queen Elizabeth, the “mortal Moon,” a few weeks earlier on March 24, 1603, when King James VI of Scotland was quickly proclaimed King James I of England – without the civil war around succession that had been both predicted and feared.

As shown in The Monument, the eighty sonnets of Part One begin with Sonnet 27 upon Southampton’s arrest on the night of February 8, 1601 and continue until Sonnet 106 upon his final night in the Tower on April 9, 1603; and the twenty sonnets of Part Two begin with his liberation on April 10, 1603 and continue with one sonnet per day until Sonnet 125 upon the Queen’s funeral on April 28, 1603 followed by Sonnet 126, the envoy of farewell.

So it appears that Watson’s century of 1582 had “served as a model” for Shakespeare’s century even more closely than Edgar Fripp had known.  And given that Oxford had been so intimately involved in the Watson sequence, we might logically conclude that he repeated its structure in the Shakespeare sequence.

In other words, if “Shakespeare” was borrowing from Watson, as now seems clear, then the view here is that he was borrowing from himself!

Thomas Watson, Poet: He’s a Link of Many Facets between Edward de Vere and “Shakespeare” – Part One of Reason No. 35 to believe Oxford became the Bard


“In our conclusion that these Sonnets were addressed to Southampton, we have the full support of the great majority of authorities on the subject.” –  J. Thomas Looney, 1920

The lyrical poet Thomas Watson (1556?-1592) has the honor of being “one of the direct forerunners of Shakespeare (in Venus and Adonis and in the Sonnets) and of being the leader in the long procession of Elizabethan sonnet-cycle writers.”  [NNDB] And Watson is linked to “Shakespeare” through Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (1550-1604) in some startling ways:

Watson's Sequence of 100 Sonnets Dedicated to Edward de Vere (1582) CLICK ON IMAGE FOR LARGER VIEW

In 1582, Watson published his most celebrated work The Hekotompathia or Passionate Century of Love, a sequence of 100 or a “century” of numbered eighteen-line sonnets [“passions”], with “prose headers” demonstrating his knowledge of works by some fifty classical or renaissance authors in their original languages; and he dedicated it to Edward de Vere, testifying that the earl “had willingly vouchsafed the acceptance of this work, and at convenient leisures favorably perused it, being as yet but in written hand.”

[We may not be wrong in suggesting that Oxford himself contributed the “prose headers” accompanying each Watson sonnet, commenting on their contents and sources.]

In 1589, the year after Oxford sold his London mansion Fisher’s Folly to William Cornwallis (whose daughter Anne apparently found some verses written by De Vere and others, including a poem to appear in 1599 as by Shakespeare), Watson became employed in the Cornwallis household.  [That September, when playwright Christopher Marlowe was attacked by an innkeeper’s son named William Bradley for failure to pay a debt, Watson came to his aid and killed Bradley, for which he spent six months in prison – See Marlowe Society.]

Francis Walsingham, the spymaster (1530?-1590)

(Marlowe acted as a spy for the English government and it seems that Watson did, too.  His association with Francis Walsingham, head of the growing secret service during wartime buildup in the 1580’s, brings him into probable contact with Oxford from this direction as well.   On June 21, 1586, William Cecil Lord Burghley urged Walsingham to confront the Queen about financial assistance to Oxford; and on June 26 Elizabeth awarded Oxford his annual grant of 1,000 pounds that would be continued even by King James in 1603 until Oxford’s death in 1604.)

In 1590, Watson published Italian Madrigals –most of them composed by Luca Marenzio, while Marenzio was staying in Mantua with the Gonzaga family from 1568 to 1574 – which Watson put into English and composer William Byrd set to music. Yet Watson had never traveled to Italy, while Oxford had apparently stayed with the Gonzaga family while visiting Mantua in 1575!  [See the work of Dr. Michael Delahoyde of Washington State University, discussing “Oxford and Music” – a topic to be reserved for another “reason” in this series.]

In 1593, the year after Watson died, his collection of sixty numbered fourteen-line sonnets [in the later-known “Shakespearean” form] was published as The Tears of Fancie, or Love Disdained (but with no name on the title page and only “Finis T.W.” after the final sonnet, No. 60, which was a slightly different version of Oxford’s early sonnet Love Thy Choice, which he had written back in the 1570’s [if not earlier] to express his devotion to Queen Elizabeth.)

In 1609, when the sequence of numbered verses SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS was printed, one sonnet in the Dark Lady series (no. 130) was quite clearly a takeoff, satiric or otherwise, on one of the sonnets printed under Watson’s name (no. 7) in the Hekatompathia or Passionate Century of Love of 1582.  [For example, whereas Watson’s sonnet had “Her lips more red than any Coral stone,” Shakespeare wrote, “Coral is far more red than her lips’ red,” and so on.]

Also in Shakespeare’s sonnets there is a string of 100 verses or a “century” of them (nos. 27 to 126) between two equal segments of twenty-six sonnets apiece (nos. 1-26 and 127-152); and this central Shakespeare sequence is divided into two parts, of eighty and twenty sonnets, exactly as the Watson’s century had been divided.  [I’ll treat this link between Watson and Edward de Vere separately, as part two of “Reason No. 35” to believe Oxford was “Shakespeare.”]

And those who like acrostics or hidden messages (on which I take no position), here are six lines (5 to 10) in the exact center of Sonnet 76, which itself is the key to unlocking the entire sequence:

Why write I still all one, ever the same,

And keep invention in a noted weed,

That every word doth almost tell my name,

Showing their birth, and where they did proceed?

O know sweet love I always write of you,

ANd you and love are still my argument

Well, I know … it would be better to find an “N” as the last letter of “WATSON,” but I just figured to pass on what came from the Marlovian researcher John Baker and later from Oxfordian researchers Dr. Eric Altschuler and Dr. William Jansen, who suspect that “Thomas Watson” may have been “the primary pseudonym [of Edward de Vere] immediately preceding the use of ‘Shakespeare’ [in 1593].”

[My take would be that Oxford would have used Watson’s name in order to publish certain works.  Watson’s death was recorded as September 26, 1592; his Tears of Fancy was published the following year, 1593, when the name “Shakespeare” made its first appearance in print [on Venus and Adonis].

Here is the Watson dedication to Oxford in Hekatompathia or Passionate Century of Love in 1582:

To the Right Honorable my
very good Lord Edward de Vere, Earle
of Oxenford, Viscount Bulbecke, Lord
of Escales, and Badlesmere, and Lord High
Chamberlain of England, all

Alexander the Great, passing on a time by the workshop of Apelles, curiously surveyed some of his doings, whose long stay in viewing them brought all the people into so great a good liking of the painter’s workmanship, that immediately after they bought up all his pictures, what price soever he set them at.  And the like good hap (Right Honorable) befell unto me lately concerning these my Love Passions, which then chanced to Apelles for his Portraits.  For since the world hath understood (I know not how) that your Honor had willingly vouchsafed the acceptance of this work, and at convenient leisures favorably 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.

And therewithal some of them said (either to yield your Honor his due praise, for soundness of judgment; or to please me, of whom long since they had conceived well) that Alexander would like of no lines, but such as were drawn by the cunning hand, and with the curious pencil, of Apelles.  Which I set not down here to that end, that I would confer my Poems with Apelle’s Portraits for worthiness; albeit I fitly compare your Honor’s person with Alexander’s for excellence.  But how bold soever I have been in turning out this my petty poor flock upon the open Common of the wide world, where every man may behold their nakedness, I humbly make request that if any storm fall unlooked-for (by the fault of malicious high foreheads or the poison of evil-edged tongues) these my little ones may shroud themselves under the broad-leafed Platane [plant] of your Honor’s patronage.

And thus at this present, I humbly take my leave; but first wishing the continual increase of your Lordship’s honor, with abundance of true Friends, reconciliation of all Foes, and what good soever tendeth unto perfect happiness.

Your Lordship’s humbly at command

Thomas VVatson

Here is Watson’s Sonnet No. 7:

Hark you that list to hear what saint I serve:
Her yellow locks exceed the beaten gold;
Her sparkling eyes in heav’n a place deserve;
Her forehead high and fair of comely mold;
Her words are music all of silver sound;
Her wit so sharp as like can scarce be found;
Each eyebrow hangs like Iris in the skies;
Her Eagle’s nose is straight of stately frame;
On either cheek a Rose and Lily lies;
Her breath is sweet perfume, or holy flame;
Her lips more red than any Coral stone;
Her neck more white than aged Swans that moan;
Her breast transparent is, like Crystal rock;
Her fingers long, fit for Apollo’s Lute;
Her slipper such as Momus dare not mock;
Her virtues all so great as make me mute:
What other parts she hath I need not say,
Whose face alone is cause of my decay.

And here is Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130, (satirizing?) the lines above:

My Mistress’ eyes are nothing like the Sunne;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen Roses damask’d, red and white,
But no such Roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my Mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My Mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

Here is Oxford’s sonnet Love Thy Choice (circa early 1570’s):

Who taught thee first to sigh, alas, my heart ?
Who taught thy tongue the woeful words of plaint ?
Who filled your eyes with tears of bitter smart ?
Who gave thee grief and made thy joys to faint ?
Who first did paint with colours pale thy face ?
Who first did break thy sleeps of quiet rest ?
Above the rest in Court who gave thee grace ?
Who made thee strive in honour to be best ?
In constant truth to bide so firm and sure,
To scorn the world regarding but thy friends ?
With patient mind each passion to endure,
In one desire to settle to the end ?
Love then thy choice wherein such choice thou bind,
As nought but death may ever change thy mind.

And here is No. 60 of Tears of Fancy attributed to Watson, 1593:

Who taught thee first to sigh Alasse sweet heart? love
Who taught thy tongue to marshall words of plaint? love
Who fild thine eies with teares of bitter smart? love
Who gave thee griefe and made thy joyes so faint? love
Who first did paint with coullers pale thy face? love
Who first did breake thy sleepes of quiet rest? love
Who forst thee unto wanton love give place? love
Who thrald thy thoughts in fancie so distrest? love
Who made thee bide both constant firme and sure? love
Who made thee scorne the world and love thy friend? love
Who made thy minde with patience paines indure? love
Who made thee settle stedfast to the end? love
Then love thy choice though love be never gained,
Still live in love, dispaire not though disdained.

Stay tuned for Part Two of Reason No. 35 — How Oxford borrowed the Watson “century” structure for the “century” within the Shakespeare sonnets.

One Reason Why Henry Lord Southampton is Prince Tudor, the Unacknowledged King Henry IX of England


“But it is in the sonnets that we must look for the true key to the Shakespeare mystery.” 

— Louis P. Benezet, Shakspere, Shakespeare and De Vere, 1937

The idea that an ordinary Elizabethan poet, much less William Shakspere of Stratford, could promise “immortal life” to Henry Wriothesley the third earl of Southampton, is absurd.  Nor could Shakspere demand of the young but already powerful peer, “Make thee another self for love of me.”  The idea that he could have written those words is ridiculous.  For starters, Southampton would have run his sword through the author’s guts.

Henry, Lord Southampton, the Prince Tudor (1573-1624)

Of course, many traditional (Stratfordian) commentators have seen and accepted the decisive evidence of Southampton as the so-called Fair Youth of the Sonnets; and that acceptance, in turn, should have led them to the obvious conclusion that the author could not have been the Stratford man and must have been someone else. 

Nothing of the sort happened, however, and the reason has to do with the power of unquestioned assumptions to force rational men and women into holding irrational conclusions.   Ah, but such is also the case for perhaps the majority of Oxfordians, many of whom have been overwhelmed by vicious taunts and jeers against the so-called Prince Tudor theory that Southampton was the natural son of Oxford and Queen Elizabeth.  When these same Oxfordians are so self-righteously censoring Stratfordians such as Stephen Greenblatt and James Shapiro for their emotionally unbalanced attacks on anti-Stratfordians, they fail to notice their own emotionally unbalanced attacks on Oxfordians who are Prince Tudor theorists.

Let us assume for the moment that we agree about Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford writing in the Fair Youth series of Sonnets 1-126 to Southampton, to whom he promises:  “Your praise shall still find room/ Even in the eyes of all posterity/ That wear this world out to the ending doom” (55) and also, “Your name from hence immortal life shall have” (81).

Southampton in the Tower (1601-1603)

What does he mean by this?

Many or even most Oxfordians will tell you he simply means that Southampton’s name, on the dedications to him of Venus and Adonis of 1593 and Lucrece of 1594, will live forever because of its unique association with “Shakespeare,” who never dedicated anything to anyone else.  But I disagree with this conclusion, for reasons that follow.

In the first place, we are looking at the matter from the vantage point of more than 400 years later, when we can testify to the observable fact that anything connected to “Shakespeare” is immortal; and therefore we think, “Oh, well, he made that promise to Southampton because he knew his written words would live forever.”

I say no — no, that is not what’s going on here.  The great author is not merely boasting about his own literary and dramatic works, immortal though they surely are.  He’s not just thumping his chest about the projected ability of his poems, plays and sonnets to keep Southampton’s name/life alive in the mouths of men.   Whenever the young earl would have read those private promises made to him in the Sonnets, he would not have given a fig for such reasons; that is not the kind of fame he or any nobleman of that time would have valued.

He also would not have valued being immortal because he was physically “fair” or beautiful.  Forget about it!  And he certainly would not have wanted eternal memory in the eyes of posterity because of any love affairs he had had with either women or men, Oxford included.  Forget about it!

What Oxford was promising Southampton in terms of immortality is made absolutely clear in the Sonnets themselves – when he addresses him over and over as a prince or king of royal blood.  The matter is secret; it must be buried; but if these private sonnets do manage to survive in the distant future, it will then be known to all that Southampton deserved by blood to be King Henry IX.

This, I submit, is the only possible reason for Oxford’s promise to him of eternal life.  I have filled The Monument and also Shakespeare’s Son and His Sonnets with how Oxford unequivocally and explicitly addresses Southampton as a prince, so here I’ll offer just example with Sonnet 10, Line 11: “Be as thy presence is, gracious and kind” –– which, I contend, can only be addressed to a prince or king.

Here is some of its treatment in The Monument:

Sonnet 10, Line 11:


“Act according to your stature as a Prince, full of royal grace as the natural son of the Queen.”

PRESENCE = Kingly presence; (“Come I appellant to this princely presence” – Richard II, 1.1. 34; “And sent to warn them to his royal presence” – Richard III, 1.3.39; “Worst in this royal presence may I speak” – Richard II, 4.1.115; “I will avouch’t in presence of the King” – Richard III, 1.3.115; “The tender love I bear your Grace, my lord, makes me most forward in this princely presence” – Richard III, 3.4.63-64; “Loud shouts and salutations from their mouths, even in the presence of the crowned King; thus did I keep my person fresh and new, my presence, like a robe pontifical, ne’er seen but wondered at” – the King in 1 Henry IV, 3.2.53-57; “What’s he approacheth boldly to our presence?” – King Lewis in 3 Henry VI, 3.3.44)

GRACIOUS = Filled with royal (divine) grace, as in “your Grace” above; “Accept this scroll, most gracious sovereign” – 1 Henry VI, 3.1.149; “Great King of England, and my gracious lord” – 2 Henry VI, 1.1.24; “I come with gracious offers from the King” – 1 Henry IV, 4.3.30; “My gracious sovereign” – Richard II, 1.1.21; “I hold my duty as I hold my soul, both to my God and to my gracious King” – Hamlet, 2.2.44-45; “You have a daughter called Elizabeth, virtuous and fair, royal and gracious” – Richard III, 4.4.204-205

“So gracious and virtuous a sovereign” –Oxford to Robert Cecil,May 7, 1603

My verse alone had all thy gentle grace,

But now my gracious numbers are decayed                 Sonnet 79, lines 2-3

KIND = Natural, related by nature, as a child of Elizabeth and the bearer of her blood; (“Belonging to one by birth: lawful, rightful – 1570 … of persons: rightful heir, etc., 1589 – OED); “There she lost a noble and renowned brother, in his love toward her ever most kind and natural” – Measure for Measure, 3.1.218-220; “A little more than kin, and less than kind” – Hamlet, 1.2.65; “Shall kin with kin, and kind with kind, confound” – Richard II, 4.1.141; “Disclaiming here the kindred of the king, and lay aside my high blood’s royalty” – Richard II, 1.1.70-71; “The King is kind” – 1 Henry IV, 4.3.52; “My lord and sovereign, and thy vowed friend, I come, in kindness and unfeigned love, first, to do greetings to thy royal person” – 3 Henry VI, 3.3.50-52

“In all kindness and kindred” –Oxford to Robert Cecil, May 1601

Kind is my love today, tomorrow kind…

Fair, kind, and true, is all my argument,

Fair, kind, and true, varying to other words                    Sonnet 105, lines 5, 9-10

(Fair= royal son; Kind = natural child of the Queen; True = rightful heir & related to Oxford, who is Nothing Truer than Truth)

The Earl of Oxford Disappears on the Continent: “He must be restrained as soon as possible!”

“Suffer not thy sons to pass the Alps, for they shall learn nothing there but pride, blasphemy, and atheism.” – Chief Minister William Cecil Lord Burghley to his son Robert Cecil

William Cecil Lord Burghley (1520-1598)

“But, sir, such wanton, wild and usual slips as are companions noted and most known to youth and liberty … drinking, fencing, swearing, quarreling, drabbing” — Chief Minister Polonius in Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (with “drabbing” = associating with prostitutes)

Here’s an Elizabethan letter that offers a glimpse into the character of Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford as a hot-blooded young man in search of adventure, learning and freedom from his conservative English society, particularly freedom from the puritanical gaze of Lord Burghley, his former guardian and current father-in-law.  The writer, William Lewin, acting as Oxford’s servant but reporting to Burghley, tells how the earl is quickly “taken by a surfeit” of sensual pleasures and “delights [in] his ability to hide.”  It also shows how someone writing to the Queen’s powerful chief minister feels constrained when discussing those sinful doings in Europe, especially on the other side of the Alps in Italy.

Edward de Vere at 25 in 1575

(The letter is translated from Latin into English by Dana F. Sutton of the University of California at Irvine for Nina Green, who has made it available [here] at The Oxford Authorship Site.)

Lewin wrote to the Lord Treasurer from Strasbourg, Germany on July 4, 1575 after Oxford had met with Johannes (Jean) Sturm, 68, the great humanist educator (who favored a “non-dogmatic” Christianity) and supporter of the Protestant Reformation.  Lewin had been directed by Burghley to keep him informed of Oxford’s doings on his Continental tour, which had begun in early February and had already included a successful visit to the French royal court.  Lewin had accompanied his 25-year-old “master” from Paris to Strasbourg, but then Oxford managed to slip away from him and disappear.

Johannes Sturm (1507-1589)

“Lord Burghley apparently engaged in this practice of obtaining information about Oxford through Oxford’s servants for many years,” Nina Green writes, and this letter “indicates that although Lewin was Oxford’s servant, his primary loyalty was to Lord Burghley.”  It seems likely, she adds, that “even if [Oxford] had no proof that Lewin was in correspondence with Lord Burghley, he strongly suspected it, and acted accordingly.”

Lewin reports his opinion that Burghley is more concerned about Oxford’s “security and safety” than the earl himself.  Clearly he’s frantically trying to learn Oxford’s whereabouts and, perhaps more importantly, worrying about the chief minister’s reaction to this bad news.  As we shall see, he even attempts to turn the crisis from a negative situation into a positive one.

“Although I daily wait to discover whether my master has in truth departed for Greece or is still remaining in Italy, no definite news is brought to us,” he tells Burghley.  “I have very diligently entreated Parrett and Cooke [paid informers?] that they would inform me where he is staying, which neither of them has done so far … I am certainly induced to believe that, while traveling to Augsburg [Germany], he has turned aside into Poland, since it was once his plan to visit the Polish court, and then to proceed overland to Constantinople [which had fallen to the Ottoman Turks in 1453; the city is the present-day Istanbul]…

Constantinople - sixteenth century

“I think he has either not tarried long in Italy, lest, should there be any mention of his trip to Constantinople, he be recalled by the Prince [Queen Elizabeth], or, if he is in Italy, he wants his Italian sojourn to be as concealed from all people as possible, either for the same reason, or he delights in this very thing, his ability to hide.  For as soon as he had come to Stasbourg, he adopted the scheme, with the result that at first I could not dare write this to your Lordship…”

Lewin has launched a frantic search.  He has written to one man who “might inform us where my master is, how long he will remain, and when and whither he will depart, if he can discover this from what others are saying as occasion offers.”  He promises Burghley, “When I discover that which I imagine your Lordship desires to know, I shall write as soon as possible, in order to relieve you of your anxiety as best I can …

“I am aware that your Lordship disapproves of a journey to Constantinople, and are even greatly concerned about an Italian sojourn, in both cases very prudently,” Lewin continues before launching into his philosophical solution – the idea that if Oxford indulges in guilty pleasures excessively enough, he will be cured of wanting to indulge in more!

“As much as I can make out from those who have completed a significant part of it,” he writes, “that journey to Greece makes those who had previously been eager to be pilgrims zealous for staying in their homeland.  It makes those who love foreign things love their own, and those who disdain their own to scorn the foreign. This I certainly gather on the basis of our French journey, and suspect it on that of our German one,” he assures Burghley — telling him what he wants to hear, true or not.

[Telling Burghely what he wants to hear may be why Oxford himself will write to him a few months later, from Venice: “For my liking of Italy, my Lord, I am glad I have seen it, and I care not ever to see it any more, unless it be to serve my prince or country” — plainly, in light of much other information, not at all what he really feels.]

The Theater of Dionysus in Athens, on the south side of the Acropolis, where plays of Sophocles, Euripedes and Aeschylus were performed: Did Oxford make his way to Greece ... and here?

“I pray great, merciful God,” Lewin continues, “that, if my master sets out for Constantinople, He might guide him and bring him back, not only safe, but very well endowed in all ways … I pray the same should he remain in Italy.  But I certainly pray he does not head for Greece, because when he was at Paris I observed that he was enticed by a certain petty glory attached to that journey…

“For your Lordship is not ignorant how quickly he is taken by a surfeit of these or similar things.  But, you will say, Italy abounds with a variety of all the pleasures.  Certainly it is rife with all manner of sensual pleasures, but these are not the most solid or the longest-lasting ones, but rather those from which those of the greatest good taste are most quickly estranged.

“This which I write might strike some as a paradox … It is a philosopher’s problem, arisen from usage and experience, that in all things, dislike is a near neighbor to all things that please the senses … that the things which give the greatest delight are the quickest to disgust us with their surfeit.”

The famous Venetian courtesan Veronica Franco (1546-1591); another courtesan, Virginia Padoana, was said by an English traveler to "honoreth all our nation for my lord of Oxford's sake."

All such pleasures “may be found in Italy,” Lewin writes, “not to a small degree, but in abundance.  One does not have to seek them out, they are offered to him.  As assuredly they purvey disgust and offense, particularly concerning those things which entail a certain natural surfeit.  So what is to be done?  This is primarily for you to decide,” he tells Burghley.  “I do not know what I should do beyond using my letters to place before his eyes the richer pleasures of refined learning as a contrast to those Italian ones.

“If these enter into his mind and lodge themselves there, perhaps we shall recall him to his former enthusiasms more quickly, and the efforts we suggest will give him more pleasure than the delights of his everyday perceptions.  It is likewise possible that Sturm’s delightfulness and elegance will grip him with the greatest desire, for from this he originally appeared to derive incredible pleasure.”

And now one of my favorite parts of the letter:

I think the ears of our Ulysses need to be plugged and blocked, lest they be moved by those Siren-songs, and that he must be restrained as soon a possible, so that there is no need to wait for him to be alienated by disgust…”

On the other hand:

“In some way I fail to understand, whether it is located in the thing itself or in our nature, but we are fired by being forbidden.  By being held back we grow hot for things which, were we unrestrained and free to enjoy, we ourselves would often reject, and, as Ovid writes, ‘We always strive for the forbidden, and desire that which is denied us.’”

If only Lewin knew he was trying to catch up with the young man who would go on to write Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice and other great plays with Italian settings … if only he knew his elusive “master,” upon whom he’d been told to spy, would become “William Shakespeare”.

Want to Find an Oxford-Authorship Article on Any Subject? Now You Can Find It on “An Index to Oxfordian Publications” edited by James A. Warren

For anyone interested in the Shakespeare authorship question, we now have an extraordinary view of the research carried out since 1920, when J. Thomas Looney published “Shakespeare” Identified in Edward de Vere, seventeenth Earl of Oxford (1550-1604) up to now:  AN INDEX TO OXFORDIAN PUBLICATIONS (First Edition: 2012), edited by James A. Warren, who has provided us with an invaluable gift in form of 273 pages of useful information.

The index includes more than 4,200 unique entries.  For starters, it provides full coverage of everything published in the newsletters and journals of the current Oxfordian organizations: the Shakespeare Oxford Society, the Shakespeare Fellowship and the De Vere Society (UK).  Also there’s full coverage of material printed by both the American and the English branches of the old Shakespeare Fellowship as well as in the Elizabethan Review (Gary Goldstein), the Edward de Vere Newsletter (Nina Green) and other publications – not to mention hundreds of citations for articles in books and magazines from the nineteenth century until the end of 2011.

Speaking for myself, I certainly could have used the INDEX when I started tackling this subject back in 1987 and realized that so many others, for decades, had been digging in the same field of Elizabethan-Jacobean biography and history.  A veritable gold rush of research had been occurring, in regard to what I felt must be one of the greatest mysteries of all time, and no one had ever mentioned it to me!  But this incredibly exciting (and blasphemous) material was scattered all over the landscape, without anyone having kept an accounting of which subjects had been covered by whom as well as when and where.

And now, complementing the INDEX, we have Shakespeare Online Authorship Resources (SOAR), created and run by Bill Boyle at The New England Shakespeare Oxford Library.  SOAR is on its way to providing instant access to all the articles covered by the INDEX, including those from publications not currently available on the Internet.

“Perhaps the biggest benefit of this Index comes not from the articles indexed in it,” writes Jim Warren (who deserves an award for this work) in his introduction, “but from the reminder it offers Oxfordians today that they are part of the long and arduous effort to garner rightful recognition of Edward de Vere the seventeenth Earl of Oxford as the author of the greatest literary creations in human history.”


“If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it.” – Tennessee Williams

Reason No. 34 to Believe the Earl of Oxford was “Shakespeare”: Fisher’s Folly and “The Cornwallis Book”

In 1580, when Edward de Vere the seventeenth Earl of Oxford was thirty years old, he bought a mansion in Bishopsgate even though he was virtually broke and already owned Vere House by London Stone, where he lived.  The extravagant second house, nicknamed Fisher’s Folly after its builder Jasper Fisher fell into debt because of its too-costly construction, is significant for at least these reasons:

As Charles Wisner Barrell suggested in 1945, it appears that Oxford acquired the mansion “as headquarters for the school of poets and dramatists who openly acknowledged his patronage and leadership.” 

It was Thomas Nashe who wrote in Strange News (1592): “I lurk in no corners but converse in a house of credit, as well governed as any college, where there be more rare qualified men and selected good Scholars than in any Nobleman’s house that I know in England.”

A Caricature of Thomas Nashe (1567-1601)

(It makes sense, I’d say, that “Shakespeare” would not have developed in a vacuum.  If we weren’t trapped in the much smaller world of traditional thinking, we’d very likely predict that the Bard would have had an ongoing “college” in a building with many rooms for writers — just as the great painter Raphael eventually had a workshop of fifty pupils and assistants, many of whom later became significant artists in their own right.)

Edward de Vere owned the Folly all through the wartime years of the 1580’s, as England prepared for the Spanish invasion – a time when many “history” plays (including several with the same plots and scenes as “Shakespeare’s” stage histories appearing in the next decade); and he sold it just months after the victory over King Philip’s armada in the summer of 1588.

This same period saw the great renaissance of English literature and drama by the so-called University Wits working under Oxford’s patronage and guidance – not only Nashe but also John Lyly, Thomas Watson, Robert Greene, Anthony Munday, Thomas Churchyard, Thomas Lodge, etc., leading to the sudden appearance of “Shakespeare” in 1593.

Caricature of Gabriel Harvey (1551-1630) with Nashe

De Vere sold Fisher’s Folly in December 1588 to William Cornwallis, a descendant of the eleventh Earl of Oxford; and in 1852 the scholar J.O. Halliwell-Philipps revealed his discovery of a small book of some thirty pages in the handwriting of Cornwallis’ daughter Anne Cornwallis, who had transcribed the work of various Elizabethan poets including Verses Made by the Earl of Oxford as well as an anonymous poem that would appear in 1599 in The Passionate Pilgrim, a volume of poetry attributed to Shakespeare.

When Anne Cornwallis and her family moved into Fisher’s Folly in early 1589, did she wander through the many rooms of the great mansion and find these verses in some overlooked corner of Oxford’s library?  Or were they tucked away in some desk in a room that one of the University Wits had used?

Halliwell-Phillipps originally estimated that Anne had transcribed the poems no later than 1590 – but since that date was probably too early for Shakspere of Stratford to have written them, he later extended his estimate to 1595.  Barrell countered with reasons why the earlier date is more likely.  He also showed that the poem Anne had transcribed is textually superior to the one printed later by Jaggard.   And it appears that her version is the only handwritten copy of a poem attributed to Shakespeare dating from the sixteenth century.

An Elizabethan oak chest of the kind where Oxford might have stashed a manuscript

Okay, so let’s see – we start with this theory that Oxford may have written the works attributed to Shakespeare … we see that he buys a mansion in London that he uses during 1580-1588 … and a woman who moves into the place in 1589 transcribes some verses made by Oxford and other poets, including lines to appear a decade later under the Shakespeare name!

As noted before in these reasons, this one is of course not “proof” that Oxford was the Bard, but it’s definitely one of the many pieces of circumstantial evidence that he was — and good enough to be Reason No. 34 to think so!

Final Stanza of Poem No. XVIII of Passionate Pilgrim 1599:

But soft, enough – too much, I fear –

Lest that my mistress hear my song;

She will not stick to round me I’ the ear,

To teach my tongue to be so long.

Yet will she blush, here be it said,

To hear her secrets so bewray’d.

Final Stanza of the Anonymous Poem Transcribed in Anne Cornwallis’ Little Book:

Now hoe, enough, too much I fear;

For if my lady hear this song,

She will not stick to ring my ear,

To teach my tongue to be so long;

Yet would she blush, here be it said,

To hear her secrets thus bewray’d.

The So-Called “Rival Poet” of the Sonnets is NOT A REAL PERSON….

A section of the Shakespeare sonnets (78 to 86) has been known traditionally as the Rival Poet Series.  Stratfordians and anti-Stratfordians alike, including most Oxfordians, still assume that this figure must be a real individual such as George Chapman or Walter Raleigh or Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex.  Well, I suggest this demonstrates yet again the power of a prior assumption or a long-held belief that is taken for granted and never questioned.

The Dedication of "Lucrece" - 1594 - CLICK ON IMAGE FOR LARGER VIEW

The idea of the Rival Poet is that another writer has competed with the author successfully for the affections of the younger man known as the Fair Youth –  identified as Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton (1573-1624), to whom “William Shakespeare” dedicated his first printed works, Venus and Adonis of 1593 and Lucrece of 1594, pledging: “The love I dedicate to your Lordship is without end … What I have done is yours, what I have to do is yours, being part in all I have, devoted yours.”

Never again would the great author dedicate anything to anyone else, ensuring that the names of Southampton and Shakespeare would be linked exclusively and forever.  In Sonnet 82 of the Rival Poet series, the author points directly to his public epistles to Southampton, referring to:

The dedicated words which writers use

Of their fair subject, blessing every book

Under the belief that William Shakspere of Stratford was the author,  it’s a given that the Rival Poet must be a real human being.  But once Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford is postulated as the author known as “Shakespeare,” it’s not only possible but inevitable that the Rival Poet is none other than his pen name or public persona, which is getting all the attention as the writer linked to Southampton.

As mentioned above, most of my own colleagues, while convinced that Edward de Vere was the great author, still assume that the Rival Poet is a real person.  [The latest candidate of choice is the Earl of Essex.]  Yet the case for Oxford is based on the premise that in fact he’s living with a split personality!  This is seen clearly in the personal sonnets, where he himself is PRIVATELY writing to Southampton while his alter ego “Shakespeare” is PUBLICLY addressing him (in the dedications still being printed in new editions of the narrative poems).

Dedication of "Venus and Adonis" - 1593

I wish my Oxfordian colleagues could entertain the thought that the “authorship question” is answered right there in the Sonnets — which Edward de Vere wrote and later compiled as a “monument” to preserve for posterity his own testimony about why and how he chose to obliterate his identity behind the “Shakespeare” mask.  What he describes in the Sonnets is NOT merely the adoption of the pen name in the early 1590’s, in which case he could have expected to be revealed posthumously, but, rather, his decision to sacrifice his identity after his death:

“My name be buried where my body is,” he writes in Sonnet 72, leading up to the “rival” series.

Oxford, addressing Southampton in Sonnet 80, offers a capsule answer to the authorship question:

O how I faint when I of you do write,

Knowing a better spirit doth use your name,

And in the praise thereof spends all his might

To make me tongue-tied speaking of your name.

The pen name “Shakespeare” is the rival who can praise Henry Wriothesley in public, while Edward de Vere must remain “tongue-tied” or silent.  (In Sonnet 66 he complains that his “art” or ability to communicate has been “tongue-tied by authority” or by official policy.)

"Knowing a better spirit doth use your name"

Would the Earl of Oxford, Lord Great Chamberlain of England and highest-ranking earl of the realm, ever, under any circumstances, call anyone else, including Chapman or Raleigh or Essex (whom he really disliked), a “better spirit”?  I think not!

“Shakespeare” is the better spirit… 

In Sonnet 81 he offers an even more direct answer, telling Southampton:

Your name from hence immortal life shall have

Though I (once gone) to all the world must die

Could that be any clearer?  He correctly predicts that Southampton will be remembered because of the Shakespeare connection; and then he says directly that, after his death, he will have to “die” all over again “to all the world”which can only mean that he anticipates his own obliteration as “Shakespeare,” who publicly devoted his labors to Southampton.

By what logic, and for what reason, would the traditional Shakespeare write such words?

This is just one piece of the puzzle among others needed to create the full picture.  I’ll be back with more such pieces, as set forth in The Monument … in Shakespeare’s Son and His Sonnets … and in Twelve Years in the Life of Shakespeare.

William Niederkorn Reviews “Nine Lives of William Shakespeare” by Graham Holderness in “The Brooklyn Rail”

Here’s a fascinating review in The Brooklyn Rail by former New York Times editor and writer William S. Niederkorn, who examines a new book about Shakespeare that may signal the beginning of the Great Paradigm Shift of views about the authorship to which anti-Stratfordians have been looking forward.

The book is Nine Lives of William Shakespeare (Continuum, Dec 2011) by Graham Holderness, a prolific writer about the Bard and an English professor at the University of Hertfordshire, north of London.  Niederkorn calls it a “dazzling satire” in which the author “has ditched the Humpty Dumpty project” of fitting together the contradictory pieces of a traditional Shakespeare biography in favor of examining some individual pieces by themselves.

Niederkorn tells us that the narrator of Holderness’ ninth story is “Edward,” but I  have no idea whether that choice of name owes anything (consciously or unconsciously) to Edward de Vere.  In any case, Edward grows “more and more restless in the poisonous, gnawing knowledge” that certain beliefs about the Bard are “based upon a misunderstanding,” leading him to become “more and more determined to expose the absurdity” of these beliefs.

Graham Holderness

Edward the Narrator explains to Dr. Pericles, leader of the so-called Bardolians, that “some people have even ventured to doubt whether Shakespeare himself was the author of the plays, and to propose that they may have been written by someone else.”  Later that night, however, Edward wakes up to see that he is about to be “seized and arrested as a heretic and blasphemer.”

Now I suggest you read the full review in The Brooklyn Rail and discover Niederkorn’s delicious conclusion on your own.

The Earl of Oxford Shared Shakespeare’s Knowledge of France and the French Language – Reason No. 33 to Believe They Were One and the Same Writer

Five Shakespeare plays are set at least partly in France — King John, Henry V, 1 Henry VI, All’s Well That Ends Well and Love’s Labour’s Lost.  Would most playwrights deliberately set a play in France if they had never been there?  Well, maybe they’d set one play in France, but five?  Was it possible for Shakespeare to create scenes set in France without ever having spent time in that country?  Well, maybe, but the author of the Shakespeare works also wrote French dialogue – I know, not necessarily good dialogue, but in fact it was French, right?

In the play King Henry V the entirety of Act III, Scene 4 is set within the French king’s palace and consists of French dialogue between Princess Katherine and Alice, the lady attending on her.  I have reprinted the scene below and here include a video of it from the brilliant 1989 Kenneth Branaugh film, with Emma Thompson as Katherine and Geraldine McEwan as Alice.  And yes, I realize, some of it is even “vulgar” French, but wouldn’t that have been deliberate?

Young Oxford would have learned all about the De Vere family and its French origin — the name apparently derived from Ver, near Bayeux — as well as about its founder, Aubrey de Vere, who had come into England with William the Conqueror in 1066, five centuries earlier.  Edward would have learned to read, write and speak French at a very early age, perhaps in the household of Sir Thomas Smith, where he apparently was sent after turning four years old.  In any case, following are just fragments of recorded information:

The letter in French written by 13-year-old Edward de Vere to Sir William Cecil, master of the royal wards, in August 1563. (CLICK ON IMAGE FOR LARGER VIEW)

When Edward de Vere was twelve and entered Cecil House in London in September 1562 as a royal ward in the custody of William Cecil Lord Burghley, the printed “Orders for the Earl of Oxford’s Exercises” involved a daily routine that included two hours of French studies per day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  In a letter dated August 23, 1563, the thirteen-year-old boy wrote to Burghley entirely in French.   Six years after that, Oxford at nineteen ordered books that included “Plutarch’s works in French” as well as works in Italian and English.

Henry III of France (1551-1589)

When Oxford almost twenty-five in February 1575, he and his retinue arrived in Paris, where he was entertained at the French court by the royal family: Henry III, Catherine de Medici (the Queen Mother) and Marguerite de Valois.  Valentine Dale, the English ambassador in Paris, wrote Burghley on March 7th of having ‘presented my Lord of Oxford unto the French King and Queen, who used him honorably.  Amongst other talk the King asked whether he was married.  I said he had a fair lady.  ‘Il y a donce ce,’ dit-il [he says], ‘un beau couple.’

A few days later, after Oxford had left Paris for Strasburg, the ambassador again wrote to Burghley, conveying that he had been favorably impressed by the young earl.  “I will assure your Lordship unfeignedly my Lord of Oxford used himself as orderly and moderately as might be desired, and with great commendation, neither is there any appearance of the likelihood of any other.”  So we have Oxford as a young man at the French royal court, undoubtedly speaking fluent French with the royal family – and Mark Anderson suggests in Shakespeare By Another Name:

Map of Paris - 1575

“At the time she sent de Vere overseas, [Queen] Elizabeth required the attentions of a high-ranking courtier fluent in French and Italian for important diplomatic missions in Paris and Venice.   Could it simply be coincidence that the Queen gave de Vere license to travel to these two key cities at the same time she needed these tasks completed?”

At the end of Sonnet 73, which proceeds from autumn to winter in the poet’s life, the final couplet reads:

This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,

To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

In that last line the phrase “leave ere” is the exact sound of l’hiver, French for winter, and simultaneously playing upon Oxford’s own name Ver or Vere.  Then there is the Shakespeare play The Winter’s Tale, which, translated into French, is l’histoire de l’hiver…

Of course Oxford’s entire life as a high-ranking nobleman was involved with matters involving France, such as the so-called French Match during the 1570’s and early 1580’s when Queen Elizabeth carried on the great public fiction that she would marry Alencon.

Pierre de Ronsard, 1524-1585

And all of the above items are merely tips of an iceberg when it comes to the deep knowledge of the great French poet Ronsard that “Shakespeare” reveals.  As Richard Malim observes in his new book The Earl of Oxford and the Making of Shakespeare, so full was Oxford-Shakespeare’s knowledge of Ronsard  that he “comes perilously close to plagiarism of Ronsard,” who wrote in 1564:  “Le monde est la Theatre, et les hommmes acteurs” or, if you will, “All the world’s a stage…”

KATHARINE Alice, tu as ete en Angleterre, et tu parles bien le langage.
ALICE Un peu, madame.
KATHARINE Je te prie, m’enseignez: il faut que j’apprenne a parler. Comment appelez-vous la main en Anglois?
ALICE La main? elle est appelee de hand.
KATHARINE De hand. Et les doigts?
ALICE Les doigts? ma foi, j’oublie les doigts; mais je me
souviendrai. Les doigts? je pense qu’ils sont
appeles de fingres; oui, de fingres.
KATHARINE La main, de hand; les doigts, de fingres. Je pense
que je suis le bon ecolier; j’ai gagne deux mots
d’Anglois vitement. Comment appelez-vous les ongles?
ALICE Les ongles? nous les appelons de nails.
KATHARINE De nails. Ecoutez; dites-moi, si je parle bien: de
hand, de fingres, et de nails.
ALICE C’est bien dit, madame; il est fort bon Anglois.
KATHARINE Dites-moi l’Anglois pour le bras.
ALICE De arm, madame.
KATHARINE Et le coude?
ALICE De elbow.
KATHARINE De elbow. Je m’en fais la repetition de tous les
mots que vous m’avez appris des a present.
ALICE Il est trop difficile, madame, comme je pense.
KATHARINE Excusez-moi, Alice; ecoutez: de hand, de fingres,
de nails, de arma, de bilbow.
ALICE De elbow, madame.
KATHARINE O Seigneur Dieu, je m’en oublie! de elbow. Comment
appelez-vous le col?
ALICE De neck, madame.
KATHARINE De nick. Et le menton?
ALICE De chin.
KATHARINE De sin. Le col, de nick; de menton, de sin.
ALICE Oui. Sauf votre honneur, en verite, vous prononcez
les mots aussi droit que les natifs d’Angleterre.
KATHARINE Je ne doute point d’apprendre, par la grace de Dieu,
et en peu de temps.
ALICE N’avez vous pas deja oublie ce que je vous ai enseigne?
KATHARINE Non, je reciterai a vous promptement: de hand, de
fingres, de mails–
ALICE De nails, madame.
KATHARINE De nails, de arm, de ilbow.
ALICE Sauf votre honneur, de elbow.
KATHARINE Ainsi dis-je; de elbow, de nick, et de sin. Comment
appelez-vous le pied et la robe?
ALICE De foot, madame; et de coun.
KATHARINE De foot et de coun! O Seigneur Dieu! ce sont mots
de son mauvais, corruptible, gros, et impudique, et
non pour les dames d’honneur d’user: je ne voudrais
prononcer ces mots devant les seigneurs de France
pour tout le monde. Foh! le foot et le coun!
Neanmoins, je reciterai une autre fois ma lecon
ensemble: de hand, de fingres, de nails, de arm, de
elbow, de nick, de sin, de foot, de coun.
ALICE Excellent, madame!
KATHARINE C’est assez pour une fois: allons-nous a diner.
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