Reason No. 46 (Part Two): A Clarification about “Our Pleasant Willy”

The Red Crosse Knight of Holinesse in Spenser’s “The Faire Queene” (1590)

Some readers of this blog have been understandably confused by Reason 46 involving Edmund Spenser’s depiction of “our Pleasant Willy” in The Teares of the Muses, published in 1591.  Was I saying that Spenser’s use of the name “Willy” in 1591 had anything to do with the printed name “William Shakespeare” to appear for the first time two years later in 1593?  The answer is:

“I don’t know.  What I do know is that Spenser first used ‘Willie’ for Oxford in 1579, which will be the topic of Reason 47, further confirming that his ‘Willy’ in 1591 was also a name Spenser gave to Oxford.  What counts in both cases is the description of Willie or Willy, not the name itself — unless these were nicknames that writers used for Oxford, but there’s no documented evidence of that.  The description, which certainly fits ‘Shakespeare,’ also fits Oxford and can only apply to him.   Additionally open to question is whether, two years later, Oxford adopted the pseudonym ‘William’ because he had been known as ‘Willie’ or ‘Willy.’  We’d only be guessing about that.  It is certainly possible.”    

If anyone has any further question or comment about this, please let us know.

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