A Rockin’ Version of “The Earl of Oxford’s March”

Thanks to Melora Creager for the comment [on our blog about composer William Byrd] suggesting this rendition of The Earl of Oxford’s March by the Philip Jones Ensemble:

Yes, it rocks!

“Last Will. & Testament” to be Launched in the United Kingdom

First Folio Pictures has announced that the Shakespeare authorship documentary Last Will. & Testament is scheduled to air in the United Kingdom on Saturday 21 April 2012 at 8:00pm on Sky Arts 2 HD.  Congratulations, folks!  Special hoorays for producer-directors Lisa Wilson and Laura Wilson Matthias … and Aaron Boyd!

Here’s some of the promotional copy:

Was Will Shakspere, the grain dealer from Stratford, really the literary icon we celebrate today?

The traditional story of a Stratford merchant writing for the London stage has held sway for centuries, but questions over the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays and poems have persisted. 

Why is there no definitive evidence of authorship that dates from his lifetime? And why are there discrepancies between the alleged author’s life and the content of his work? 

Writers and critics, actors and scholars, including Mark Twain, Sigmund Freud, Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, Leslie Howard, and Derek Jacobi, have struggled to reconcile England’s ‘Star of Poets’ with the glove maker’s son from Stratford. 

In Last Will. & Testament Sir Derek Jacobi leads a host of actors, academics and historians on a hunt for the truth: who was William Shakespeare?

Time’s glory is to calm contending kings,

To unmask falsehood and bring truth to light.

– William Shakespeare

The Rape of Lucrece 

Act One explores the orthodox story of William “Shakspere” of Stratford and the long-standing views held by academia.

Act Two is a testament to an alternative Shakespeare – one presented to the world in the literary works themselves and in the testimony of his most insightful doubters.

Act Three weaves together the major historical events of the late Tudor era, including the crisis of succession and the Essex revolt.


Sir Derek Jacobi, Actor
Charles Beauclerk, Author of Shakespeare’s Lost Kingdom
Prof. Roger Stritmatter, PhD, Coppin State University
Vanessa Redgrave, Actor
Prof. Jonathan Bate, CBE, Oxford University
Prof. Stanley Wells, CBE, Honorary President of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
Diana Price, Author of Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Biography: New Evidence of an Authorship Problem
Assoc. Prof. Michael Delahoyde, Washington State University
Dr William Leahy, Brunel University
Prof. Daniel Wright, Director – Shakespeare Authorship Research Centre, Concordia University
Mark Rylance, Actor
Bill Boyle, librarian at New England Shakespeare Oxford Library
Jon Culverhouse, Curator of Collections & Conservation at Burghley House
G. J. Meyer, Author of The Tudors
Michael Cecil, 8th Marquess of Exeter (descendant of Elizabethan statesman William Cecil, Lord Burghley)
Hank Whittemore, Author of The Monument – a 900-page edition of Shakespeare’s sonnets

“Shake-Speare’s Treason” – Special Free Performance at Rockland Community College on April 24

We’re looking forward to a special performance of SHAKE-SPEARE’S TREASON, the 90-minute one-man show, presented by Ramapo-Rockland Community College’s Performing Arts Department and the Rockland Shakespeare Company.

The event at the Cultural Arts Theater on the RCC campus is free and open to the public.

I’ll be performing the show at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, April 24, with a Q&A session to follow.  

Here’s the text of an RCC announcement online:

Ramapo – Rockland Community College’s Performing Arts Department and the Rockland Shakespeare Company present a special free performance of SHAKE-SPEARE’s TREASON, at RCC on Tuesday, April 24:
Tuesday, Apr 24, 2012
11:00 am to 1:30 pm
Rockland Community College
Cultural Arts Theater
SHAKE-SPEARE’S TREASON is an exciting 400 year-old mystery story. The dramatic re-telling of Shakespeare’s sonnets is written and performed by master storyteller Hank Whittemore as a gripping saga of murder, mistaken identity, hanging, treason, bastard royalty, love and betrayal. Directed by Ted Story, the show masterfully combines history and literature, offering insights into Shakespeare and life during the Elizabethan Age.

Hank Whittemore performing "Shake-Speare's Treason"

A Q&A session follows the performance, and Whittemore will also be available to sign copies of his books. The event is free and open to the public and funded in part by a grant from the RCC Foundation.
Hank Whittemore
Whittemore began acting professionally after high school, appearing Off-Broadway in “THIS SIDE OF PARADISE” directed by Herbert Berghof and on Broadway in “TAKE HER, SHE’S MINE,” with Art Carney. He performed with Helen Hayes in “THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH”, and appeared in “TOYS IN THE ATTIC” with Terry Davis. Other career paths have included newspaper reporter and radio news director before he began writing. Among his eleven published books are, The Super Cops, later made into a movie starring Ron Leibman, directed by Gordon Parks.
His non-fiction publications include a biography of labor leader Mike Quill, a reporter’s journey into African-American politics, a true story about Watergate, and an account of a remarkable counterfeiting case in London. He has also written CNN: The Inside, about the birth of Ted Turner’s all-news network; So That Others May Live, about a woman’s work with search-and-rescue dogs; and Your Future Self, a look at the inner universe of molecular medicine. Whittemore has also written many scripts for television documentaries such as “THE BODY HUMAN” (CBS), and “THE AMERICAN SPORTSMAN” (ABC), winning two Emmy awards along the way. He has written more than a hundred articles for PARADE magazine, and the recipient of an award from the Little Theatre of Alexandria National One-Act Playwriting Contest.
For more information about this performance, please contact Chris Plummer at 845-574-4380. RCC offers several degrees and courses in the Performing Arts.

Henry Peacham’s Loud Silence in “The Compleat Gentleman” of 1622 — No. 38 of 100 Reasons Why Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford = “Shakespeare”

In 1612, Henry Peacham (1578-c. 1644) apparently suggested in Minerva Britanna (1612) that Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford (1550-1604) had been a playwright of hidden identity.  A decade later, in 1622, he published his most popular work The Compleat Gentlemanin which he stated:

Title Page of The Compleat Gentleman

“In the time of our late Queene Elizabeth, which was truly a golden age (for such a world of refined wits, and excellent spirits it produced, whose like are hardly to be hoped for, in any succeeding age) above others, who honoured Poesie with their pennes and practice (to omit her Majestie, who had a singular gift herein) were Edward Earle of Oxford, the Lord Buckhurst, Henry Lord Paget; our Phoenix, the noble Sir Philip Sidney, M. Edward Dyer, M. Edmund Spencer, M. Samuel Daniel, with sundry others: whom (together with those admirable wits, yet living, and so well knowne) not out of Envie, but to avoid tediousnesse I overpasse.  Thus much of Poetrie.”

Eva Turner Clark (1871-1947)

The first Oxfordian to report on this passage was Eva Turner Clark in The Man Who Was Shakespeare (1937).  In that work Clark acknowledges that Peacham was following others (in the 1580’s and 1590’s) who had cited Oxford for his poetry and for his (officially “lost”) writings (“comedies”) for the stage; and “significantly,” she adds, Peacham “does not mention Shakespeare, a name he knew to be the nom de plume of Oxford.”

Louis P. Benezet (1876-1961)

Picking up on Clark’s observation, Louis P. Benezet, Chairman of the Department of Education at Dartmouth College, wrote in The Shakespeare Fellowship Quarterly of October 1945 that Peacham’s statement in The Complete Gentleman is “one of the best keys to the solution of the Shakespeare Mystery.”  And he continued:

“We recall the statement of Sir Sidney Lee [1898], that the Earl of Oxford was the best of the court poets in the early years of Elizabeth’s reign, and Webbe’s comment [1586] that ‘in the rare devices of poetry he (Oxford) may challenge to himself the title of the most excellent among the rest.’

“Also we remember that The Arte of English Poesie [1589] after confessing that ‘as well Poets as Poesie are despised, and the name become of honourable infamous’ so that many noblemen and gentlemen ‘are loath to be known of their skill’ and that many who have written commendably have suppressed it, or suffered it to be published ‘without their names,’ goes on to state that in Elizabeth’s time have sprung up a new group of ‘courtly writers, who have written excellently well, 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.’

“Now comes Henry Peacham, confirming all that has been said by others,” Benezet writes, noting the date of 1622, when the likes of George Chapman and Ben Jonson were “yet living, and so well knowne,” while William Shakspere of Stratford had been dead for six years and, by all rights, should have been on the list – unless, of course, the real “Shakespeare” was in fact heading the list under his real name, Edward de Vere, who had died in 1604.

Peacham  “was in a position to know the truth,” Dr. Benezet continues.  “He had been for several years the tutor of the three sons of Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, Oxford’s cousin.  Living in the family circle, he knew the secret behind the pseudonym under which were published Venus and Adonis and Lucrece, those poems which, with The Fairie Queene [by the late Edmund Spenser, whom Peacham mentions], provide the high water mark of Elizabethan rhyming.”

Sir George Greenwood in The Shakespeare Problem Restated (1908) had noted that the theatrical manager Philip Henslowe had never entered Shakespeare’s name in his diary, Dr. Benezet recalls, adding that “still more compelling is the silence of Henry Peacham, for not only does he ignore the Stratford man, but, at the head of his list of the great poets of ‘the Golden Age,’ where the name of the Bard of Avon should be expected, we encounter instead that of one who is not even mentioned in any of the histories of English literature consulted as ‘authority’ by my colleagues of the Departments of English, the greatest of the world’s unknown great, Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford.”

Back in the mid-1590’s, as a seventeen-year-old Cambridge graduate, Peacham had created a sketch apparently depicting the rehearsal or performance of a scene from Titus Andronicus,which was first published anonymously in a 1594 quarto.  Given that four years later Francis Meres in Palladis Tamia of 1598 listed Titus as one of Shakespeare’s tragedies on the public stage, we can be sure, if Henry Peacham had thought “Shakespeare” and “Edward de Vere” were separate individuals, he would have included both names on his list of the greatest no-longer-living authors of Elizabeth’s time.  Instead he knew the two names designated one and the same man.

Striking New Evidence in the Southampton Tower Poem in Support of “The Monument”

The other night I was re-reading the recently discovered poem The Earle of Southampton prisoner, and condemned, to Queen Elizabeth, written by the earl in February or March 1601, while he was in the Tower as a condemned man awaiting execution; and unexpectedly several lines of the poem seemed to leap out, reminding me of a passage in Sonnet 31 of the Shakespeare sequence of 1609.  A comparison reveals that Southampton, in his “verse-letter” to her Majesty pleading for mercy, expresses virtually the same idea in the same language, as if he had Sonnet 31 with him in his prison room and was being influenced by it.

Southampton in the Tower

In my view this similarity provides additional support for the Monument theory, which holds that the Earl of Oxford used the Sonnets as a “chronicle” of Southampton’s ordeal in confinement.  This proposed diary of “verse letters” to Southampton in the Tower begins with Sonnet 27 upon the failed Essex Rebellion on February 8, 1601 and concludes with Sonnet 106 (which refers to “the Chronicle of wasted time”) on April 9, 1603, the night before the younger earl was liberated by King James from being “supposed as forfeit to a confined doom” (Sonnet 107).

In the Monument view Sonnet 31 corresponds with the fifth day of Southampton’s imprisonment, when it was already clear (to Oxford, at least) that both Essex and Southampton would be convicted of high treason and sentenced to death.   Two week later Oxford writes in Sonnet 45 of “those swift messengers returned from thee/ Who even now come back again assured/ Of thy fair health, recounting it to me” – referring not only to the leg ailment suffered by Southampton, who cites it in his poem to the Queen, but apparently to Oxford’s use of “messengers” riding to and from the Tower with (I suggest) copies of individual sonnets for him.

Here in modern English are the specific lines of Southampton’s poem that seemed to cry for attention, with certain key words emphasized:

Southampton to Queen Elizabeth:

While I yet breath and sense and motion have

(For this a prison differs from a grave),

Prisons are living men’s tombs, who there go

As one may sith say the dead walk so.

There am I buried quick: hence one may draw

I am religious [reverent; faithful] because dead in law.

The idea expressed above by Southampton is that prisons are different from graves because prisons contain men who are still alive whereas graves contain those who are dead.  On the other hand, he writes, prisons are the graves or tombs for the walking or living dead – for those who, like Southampton himself, are condemned to death by law (and  who, therefore, might as well be dead).

Here is Oxford’s verse-letter to Southampton, also with certain key words emphasized:

Sonnet 31

Thy bosom is endeared with all hearts,

Which I by lacking have supposed dead;

And there reigns love and all love’s loving parts,

And all those friends which I thought buried.

How many a holy and obsequious tear

Hath dear religious love stolen from mine eye,

As interest of the dead, which now appear

But things removed that hidden in thee lie.

Thou art the grave where buried love doth live,

Hung with the trophies [memorials on graves] of my lovers gone,

Who all their parts of me to thee did give;

That due of many now is thine alone.

Their images I loved I view in thee,

And thou, all they, hast all the all of me.

Oxford’s idea in Sonnet 31 above is similar to Southampton’s theme, except he pictures the imprisoned younger earl himself as the grave.  Southampton is the living grave that contains his own “love” or the most important aspect or quality of his person.

The ideas are similar but different; many of the words are the same: grave, dead, buried, religious, living/live, tombs/trophies and so on – more evidence that Sonnet 31 is concerned with the same individual (Southampton) in relation to the same “dark lady” (Elizabeth) in the same situation (in the Tower, facing death) in the same time period (February-March 1601).

I offer it as striking new testimony that the Monument theory of the Sonnets is correct.

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