Another Bombshell — The New Book on ‘The Tempest’ by Stritmatter and Kositsky Demolishes the Old Stratfordian Arguments

A copy of the long-awaited new work by Roger A. Stritmatter and Lynne Kositsky — On the Date, Sources and Design of Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ – recently arrived and, as we anticipated, it’s another blockbuster bombshell of evidence and cogent argument by which the foundations of traditional Shakespearean biography are destined to be torn asunder. Put it up on your shelf alongside The Shakespeare Guide to Italy by the late Richard Paul Roe and you will have ten times the information needed to know for certain that William Shakspere of Stratford-upon-Avon was not the great poet-dramatist.
Tempest Book

The wildly incorrect dating of The Tempest to 1611 is among the foremost arguments that Stratfordians use against Edward de Vere the seventeenth Earl of Oxford as the author, given his recorded death of 24 June 1604. This line of attack involves much sneering, ridiculing and joking about how Oxford must have written this play from the grave. Well, let’s get this work from Stritmatter and Kositsky into every high school, every college and university, and see if the teachers and professors (of English, Drama and History) can deal with it fairly and even … hopefully … expand their perspectives to allow for a shift of view … to be able to change their minds.

In their introduction the authors write with the calm, inner confidence of explorers who have traveled throughout this territory and know every inch of its landscape:

“This book challenges a longstanding and deeply ingrained belief in Shakespearean studies that The Tempest – long supposed to be Shakespeare’s last play – was not written until 1611. In the course of investigating this proposition, which has not received the critical inquiry it deserves, a number of subsidiary and closely related interpretative puzzles come sharply into focus. These include the play’s sources of New World imagery; its festival symbolism and structure; its relationship to William Strachey’s True Repertory account of the 1609 Bermuda wreck of the Sea Venture (not published until 1625); and ultimately the tangled history of how and why scholars have for so long misunderstood these matters … Our book hopes to explore new vistas in Tempest scholarship… ”

William S. Niederkorn, formerly an editor at The New York Times and now writing criticism for The Brooklyn Rail, has contributed a fine introduction — although I must add that “Prospero’s exit” is, in my view, a late addition to the play by Oxford, written between 1601 and 1603, when he had agreed to an obliteration of his identity as Shakespeare. (See editor Bill Boyle’s take on it in A Poet’s Rage, his new collection of Oxfordian essays, where he compares Prospero’s epilogue with Sonnet 120.) Meanwhile we can certainly agree with Niederkorn that the reverberations from this Stritmatter-Kositsky book “should be seismic for Shakespeare scholars.”

(And on a more personal level, I would like to congratulate Roger and Lynne for their determination and hard work over the past several years, enabling them to produce a landmark publication. Bravo!)

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  1. Oxford lived after his alleged death.

    • Paul Streitz made a good case for Oxford’s life during for 60 years (1548-1608)

  2. Hi Francisco!

    Thanks for the information, I’m eager to see it 🙂 What the heck, even the birth year is changed?

    • Yes, it was. Even if Oxford’s birth be back to 1550, his death to 1608 is more probable. Streitz points out to the absence of mourning praise by poets to the Earl. After all, even when he disappear from print, in the same time that Shakespeare rose with his Venus and Adonis, he was still praised by many poets and many dedicated their works to him. So, what happened? Why did writers kept silence about the death of Leonard da Vinci of the Renaissance English Poetry? Isn’t this strange?

      If you have read about the 1604 problem by Oxfordian hands, you may have already read of some poets who seem to indicate Shakespeare’s death to 1604-1605 and even slowness which Shakespeare started to have towards his plays’ publication. Streitz, like many oxfordians, noted this poets were talking about Shakespeare and what seemed to be his death, but what about Oxford? It was clear: some knew who Shakespeare was and thought him as Oxford to be death. Yet, why not to praise Oxford directly? Curious…

      Streitz points out to Oxford being exiled in the Isle of Marsea. And yet, the Isle of Man is a good candidate to Oxford’s exile and I think and don’t have to say why. Hughes made too a good case for Oxford to be exiled in Essex. Anyway, his exile in an English isle makes more sense if we believe he was rewritten The Tempest based in his fate. Or, who knows, this exile and fake death were part of the pact the made with Cecil (may be Southampton’s arrest in the night Oxford “died” wasn’t a coincidence at all).

      It’s probable that Oxford rewrote, as I said, The Tempest while exiled and his exile inspired him. Maybe his knowlodge of this fact inspired in back to 1603-1604. Or maybe other shipwrecks before that of the Bermudas inspired him. Wasn’t he very fond of the Bible? Paul’s shipwreck in the Acts of Apostles may have been an influence to The Tempest, mixing reality with bibical fiction.

      • I agree, Francisco, especially that Southampton’s arrest came the same night because Oxford’s disappearance had been planned and was expected.

      • P\lease,
        I would like us to stay on more solid ground. Otherwise its like the Marlowe advocates.

      • Francisco:

        I’m not quite sure what you mean by “probable” that Oxford rewrote the Tempest while “in exile” after 1604.

        If you mean any probative evidence beyond pure speculation, then I would suggest that there is none. Certainly I have never seen any (reading our book might help you to understand why this notion is highly problematic; starting with the fact that the play itself was first performed in or before 1603). Such speculations then, would seem to be importing a “heretical” idea (that Oxford did not die in 1604) in order to help explain some version of events that gives every indication of being false (that the play had to have been changed at some time after 1604). This does not sound like a good strategy for popularizing your idea.

        I should make clear that I am by no means averse to the possibility that Oxford did live past 1604; I just have not seen any reasoning or evidence that requires me to take the idea seriously. Christopher Paul, who did more original research on this topic than anyone else, went from being an advocate of the survival theory to a critic of it, after he had deliberated at some length on the evidence. I find that impressive.

        I would therefore not encourage you to insist on linking speculation about Oxford’s possible surviving past 1604 to ideas discredited in the *Tempest* book that Hank has so generously reviewed.

        When, however, you say that “shipwrecks before that of the Bermudas [may have] inspired him,” I think you are definitely on the right track.

  3. Well, Kaplan, you’re right. Maybe we should just stay for The Tempest’s dating back to 1603-1604…

  4. My issue always has been that our scholarship should be rock solid. I know both personally for a long time and was involved in discussions with Reedy et al over the material years ago. Therefore this IS a bombshell because it incontrovertibly dates the Tempest way earlier than 1610, discredits the Strachey letter, demonstrates irrefutably the much earlier sources of the play, and calls an entire wing of conventional scholarship into question.

    The idea that Devere faked his death and wrote from exile is Marlowe type bogus speculation to me with nothing solid to back it up. Do you have ANY supportable evidence beside wishful speculation?

    • Wait and see 🙂 Peace with us.

  5. I would love to think of him as living on in Waltham Forest or on the Isle of Mann but I have yet to see a good reason for why he couldn’t have written all the plays by 1604. For instance, Burghley wrote about equivocation in 1583 and the Jesuit concept of equivocation was a topic of conversation in the 90s. So for me, equivocation, the reference to multiple eclipses and the decription of the storm are not valid grounds for pushing the date of out. The mysteries surrounding his death do remain though. The only thing that could have terrified James so badly would have been an assassination plot, whether real or trumped up by his three knaves. He clearly thought some kind of attack was imminent that night. The knaves, Salisbury, Henry Howard and Thomas Howard were getting increasingly daring and aggressive and exposing a “plot” was the surest way to make a royal indebted to you. And they all had reasons to hate Oxford. The fact that Southampton and his friends and papers were seized on the same night de Vere supposedly died with an unnatural silence surrounding both events is just a little too coincidental for me. The fact that the silence was later found to be covering up the frantic activity surrounding Southampton, we have to ask what is hiding beneath the sanitized record of Oxford’s death. Is the silence because everyone mentioned the arrest and the death in the same breath and so his death was obscured because Southampton’s arrest was being suppressed? Was there also frantic activity at de Vere’s house and papers sought there as well? And really, was this before or after he “died”? When I think about the implications I really want to imagine him disappearing amidst the mummers and crowds in Waltham Forest that night.

    • Yes, I think Mystikel and Kaplain: maybe we should just keep the evidences of The Tempest written between 1603-1604, and left open the idea of Oxford’s surviving to his “death”…

  6. Here’s another interesting approach. It’s an interactive scientific analysis of the authorship question. It’s set up so you can follow along as the fictional participants in a study are guided through scientifically assessing the evidence for authorship but you participate yourself by entering your own assessments into Prospero, the data collection tool at the website. I did this and really enjoyed the whole process.

  7. Forgot to say you do have to buy the book to participate. He recieved encouragement from Diana Price and some of the scientifically framed questions he uses, designed to reduce bias, are from her study of the authorship evidence.

  8. I just saw that Marlowe is among the applicants, but don’t know anything about the arguments of the supporters. Would anybody be so kind as to sum it up? Thank you in advance.

    • There are many to think Marlowe was Shakespeare (is this your question, right?). From styles and some phrases from their poetry and plays that are similars, to the disappearence of Marlowe in the time Shakespeare rose (an argument that fits to Oxford too). With Marlowe’s death, marlovians had to find a way to justify the copycat Shakespeare seemed to be of Marlowe and so, looking to plays like The Tempest and Twelfth Night (leading with themes like exile and confusion of identidy) and the Fair Youth of the Sonnets (which seems to show Shakespeare’s homossexual affection, a myth Whittemore proved to be wrong), marlovians get the “conclusion” Marlowe exiled himself and faked his death because the Government was to execute him for atheism and homossexuality in form of heresy and sodomy.

      Yet, I have found that Marlowe is himself an obscure one, so obscure like Shakespeare. His plays were published after his death (a great part of them) and many of the first editions of each play didn’t match with each other with the author name. Marlowe never appears with the hifen, but appearas as Marloe and Marlo or Marley, etc. And plays by Marlowe like “Dido” seems to match the same theme of Shakespeare’s “Anthony and Cleopatra” i.e the queen who falls in love with a man who in society is lower that her and consumes with him a tragic passion. Both plays have paralels with Oxford’s affair with the Queen and Southampton’s birth, though A&C, being written later, had the great question of not only Oxford/Anthony and Cleopatra/Elizabeth’s passions and affair but too who will inherit Cleopatra/Elizabeth (in the end, Ceaser turn out to be James of Scotland). Hero and Leander is very similar to Venus and Adonis, too, and I think it might refer to Oxford’s affair with Vavasour or, if we look to H&L as at least written by Oxford and with the same politic matter of V&A, it may be a strong finger pointing out to the theory of Southampton and Trentham having an affair,

      Yet, there is a good case to think Marlowe was too a pen name to Oxford but I have to revise it (Hughes made a good case to Marlowe as a copycat and traitor to Oxford as Shakespeare, and Oxford as author of Hero and Leander. Look for Marlowe and Oxford in Politicworm).

  9. Francisco, thank you, I understand 🙂 Definitely worse applicant than Oxford. The next one may come in! 🙂

    • But in the end, Marlowe and Shakespeare are differents in many ways. Kaplain refered to Shakespeare’s use of the Bible, a kind of use that is a little absent from Marlowe. And unlike Shakespeare, who was a writer who liked to write about strong women and sex (look to Romeo and Juliet, for example), Marlowe’s female characters are not that strong (the only one that can be so strong and influent like Shakespearean women is Dido from “Dido”). And Marlowe’s deal with sex is bigger and clear in “Hero and Leander”, so Oxford’s hand’s ghost is cleary around it’s composition.

      Oxford as Marlowe is a case I have to revise. I remeber Mystikel refered to Derby as a possible author of Marlowe. My idea from Derby is that he as been a very forgotten poet. At least, he was penning plays by 1590’s, so he must have been a writer and used a pen name. Yet, comedies we don’t have with Marlowe’s name. I am thinking too of Francis Bacon. I have lately made a case for Bacon as the man behind the polemic Richard Barnfield in my portuguese blog. Yet, Barnfield appeared in the 1590’s too. And it seemed to me, by many other poets’ words, Bacon was another hidden genius. Why he would wait unitl his 40’s to start to publish works by his name? To late so long, as the genius he was, why to wait too unitl his 30’s?

      Maybe in Marlowe I can find to love for the oppose sex that is absent from Barnfield… let me see what I can get!

      • Why can’t Marlowe just be Marlowe? Why do all these guys have to be pseudonyms for Aristocrats? Most of the playwrights came from the middle class anyway. I can see Marlowe influenced by Oxford who was older but why try to extinguish his career?

      • These discussions are far more interesting than most stuff being written by orthodox scholars who get published. I don’t have answers, but I can predict that when Oxford is finally accepted — whatever that means — as Shakespeare, discussions of this kind will go on and on for a long time. Let the games begin! Except that you folks are already in the game, trying to figure out where all the pieces fit into the picture until it gains harmony, logic, clarity and even, hopefully, truth. Once the flat-earth folks catch on that we round-earth folk are correct, they will re-invent it and claim it as their own. Well, we’re on record, for one thing; but more importantly we’re lucky enough to be among the first to see these issues and to try to make sense of them.

        Marlowe was real, for sure, and undoubtedly he worked for the government. My own speculation is that this is similar to both Shakspere and Jonson. In the latter cases, Robert Cecil would have used Shakspere as a listening post for Catholic activities in Warwickshire. The government probably helped him get his father a (phony) coat of arms in fall 1596; and to buy New Place, which may have been partially a boarding house for travelers. Because of his name he was a future backup to use in case “Shakespeare” needed to be identified; but obviously he was never used as any front man (until way after his death). And Jonson, he took the fall for Isle of Dogs, confronted spies in prison, faced Cecil, wrote or re-wrote Every Man In and Every Man Out of His Humour, turned Catholic, and eventually under James was used by Cecil (dining with Gun Powder plotters, etc) while gaining stature to eclipse Shakespeare, half of whose plays had yet to be published and were withheld. Jonson then acted accordingly, to suggest that the author Shakespeare was an actor, etc.

        Nina Green believes Oxford wrote all of the work attributed to Marlowe. She thinks Green never existed as a playwright. I wonder about Nashe. Well, all pieces of the puzzle that no one outside this small group of pioneers is bothering to look at. Another analogy is the gold rush. First on the scene, all these nuggets scattered around, good for the taking.

      • I have never supported either Nina’s or Stephanie’s (as good as Stephanie is) assertions in these areas. I think it goes too far. I can see Oxford as a primary literary influence on other writers. I can see him writing for the Queen’s Men. I can see him influencing heavily Lily or writing much of Lily.

        I don’t see him writing everything in sight and using many other known others as fronts. Greene-maybe. Maybe.

        There were other very talented people around. It WAS a renaissance.

  10. Whittemore, there is somehow a consense about the author of Nashe, many of those who look at him as a pen name link him with Spenser. Whit this, I follow Mena’s logic that Spenser and Nashe were both written by Donne.

    Kaplan. some of Nina’s and Stephanie’s assertions go too far, I agreed with you on that. Yet, if they are errors, let’s learn with them. Let’s pick up what we know, what they know, what we think, what they think and try to find the creation of the error and correct it in our way and try to get close to what can be the truth.

    I follow (and with evidences) Baconians’ logic that Bacon was a genius in writing. I don’t think he wrote many works like Baconians think, but polemic and very good piece of poetry he may have written. Following they errors and their assertions, I made a theory to Bacon as Richard Barnfield. And now, taking how much serious and previous (and close to Shakespeare’s works) Marlowe was comparing to Barnfield, Bacon may have been the name behind him (yes, I believe Marlowe must have been a pen name). Bacon and Derby are too candidates to Marlowe’s authorship now to me. Until then, Marlowe as a real author, not a pen name, and Oxford will be candidates to me…

  11. Hi Francisco,

    don’t be disheartened. Oxenford DID live after his alleged death. Stay tuned, and do everything in accordance with this.

  12. It seems very likely that Edward de Vere did not die in 1604 but merely died “a philosophical death” (which meant at the time that he faked his death). I have read the theory that he lived after this on the Isle of Mersea in Essex, which I found convincing. I would suppose that he did this after getting into disgrace with King James I for parodying him when acting (“had he not played a kingly part in sport”, etc). I understand James slobbered a lot and had a keen attachment to his male “favourites”.

    Another piece of evidence that Edward de Vere lived on after 1604 is the poem of dedication to the first folio in 1623 by Ben Jonson (the pen name of William Herbert). He wrote:

    TO draw no envy (Shakespeare) on thy name,
    Am I thus ample to thy Booke and Fame :

    “Thy Booke” obviously refers to the first folio of Shakespeare plays. But what does “thy Fame” refer to? Undoubtedly it is a reference to the Fama Fraternitatis, published in 1614, which was the manifesto of the Rosicrucian movement. This points to Edward de Vere being the author in 1614 of the Fama Fraternitatis and at the head of the Rosicrucian movement. Rosicrucianism later developed into modern day Freemasonry, which is why the Freemasons are keen to divert attention away from Edward de Vere as the true author of Shakespeare’s plays.

    From my further researches it seems that Edward de Vere did not die until 1745 when he was buried at St Marys Loch in Scotland near the banks of the Yarrow.

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