Justice Stevens Slips One Under the Radar — Regarding “Shakespeare”

John Paul Stevens, the former Supreme Court justice, is an Oxfordian — one who believes that Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (1550-1604) used “William Shakespeare” as a pen name from 1593 onward; and in the Book Review of the New York Times last Sunday, April 6, where he was interviewed for the By the Book page, he must have had a twinkle in his eye during a couple of his replies:

John Paul Stevens

John Paul Stevens

Whom do you consider your literary heroes?

“The author of the plays attributed to William Shakespeare …”

You’re hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers are invited?

“Samuel Clemens, Charles Dickens and the author of the Shakespeare canon…”

Well, now, the interviewer might have interrupted him to ask, “And who was that author?”

They went to the trouble of making the two lines, to make a space for the author's name, but then they left the space blank...

They went to the trouble of making the two lines, to make the usual space for the author’s name, but then they left the space blank…

In any case, Justice Stevens has given the rest of us (Oxfordians) a fine way of referring to Edward de Vere without getting caught on the radar screen.

... like the name in this space, in 1613, with initials S. P. for Samuel Page...

… like the name in this space, in 1613, with initials S. P. for Samuel Page…

And maybe it’ll catch on:

Who’s your favorite poet?

“Oh, well, I like the author of Shake-speares Sonnets, you know, the real writer, whose name should have gone between those parallel lines…”

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15 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hank, think big: if Oxford, then he didn’t die in 1604.
    That is: 1550-?.

    • I have always thought the “ever-living poet” appears to be an announcement in 1609 of his death…

      • A long time seeing your posts, Whittemore, but without commenting. I have seen your progress lately. But on this question, I have making researching about it (while researchings on Ancient Egypt. I don’t like to stay and write in just one area for many time, I’m like the wind :P). Whittemore it’s right in saying the “ever-living poet” phrase shows Oxford was already dead by 1609. I would recommend you, Sandy, to read the oxfordian Christopher Paul in this subject. He didn’t said himself conviced by the theory, which it’s strange, he found many evidences. I would bet Oxford died in the end of 1607. We could date his life from 1550-1607, I think…

        And I have to agree with Stevens: my favourite work by (the true author of) Shakespeare are the Sonnets, followed by Hamlet. What yours, Whittemore (and Sandy too)?

      • Absolutely, Francisco, regarding the date of his death and favorite works.
        I began all this as an actor who played Laertes in college and understudied the prince, carefully learning and digesting all his lines, until I felt I knew him and he had become a good friend. I never forgot most of the soliloquies and often recited them to the wind. Then years later I was writing a play and, for learning, read through five biographies of Shakespeare, learning nothing about his creative process (or much of anything else:-) An actor in my play, in workshop, told me about Oxford bringing plays to court, etc., and I was astonished that there had been a real-life Hamlet figure at the Elizabethan court. And so it went from there.

        But the sonnets — when I tried to read them at first, I didn’t get past the seventeen marriage-procreation verses at the beginning, and tossed the book aside. It felt so full of hyperbole that I was kind of disgusted. Only later did the father – royal son relationship take hold, and then with Elizabeth as dark lady, and of course the sonnets came alive in an entirely new way. Sonnet 106 is a disguised “chronicle” of kings from the beginning in England, “all you prefiguring,” that is, all leading to Southampton, who will be set free from prison but his true identity buried. It’s a “chronicle of wasted time” — the long line of kingship, the lines of this chronicle of his life — all now ending, with Fortinbras-like figure of James coming down from outside England’s borders…

        The sonnets have immense riches. A new book, based on The Monument, by Peter Rush, is in the works.

        I also love The Phoenix and Turtle, once its meaning is clear. Othello, Macbeth are favorites. Merchant of Venice. Twelfth Night, if Mark Rylance is in it:-) And so on…

  2. I adhere to my opinion, alas no book will change that. Time will tell, sooner than later. Our ever – living poet.

  3. As to the favourite work of Oxenford: by far the Sonnets and The Tempest.

  4. And I forgot to mention: The Monument 🙂 It’s been my Bible for about 4 years. It’s been a huge help on my way.

    • It’s a pity by here Shakespeare’s works don’t receive much praise. There are few good translantions of Shakespeare’s works into portuguese. I have read some in English, but in Portuguese I don’t get so confuse sometimes. I would place “Antony and Cleopatra” and “Romeo and Juliet” in the same 3º place in my favorite Shakespeare’s works.

      The Monument… I have to get that book somehow. My experience with the Amazon it’s not positive at all, but probably I will give a try soonly. Until then, I have to wish a good easter to those here who celebrate it.

      • Francisco, the Monument website, to which I have seldom made changes, is at


        And you can go to the Contact page and send your address to me — it will come to me through my email. Do that and I’ll have a copy sent to you. No charge.

    • Thanks, Sandy.

  5. Franco Zefferelli’s Romeo and Juliet hooked me as a young teen though my favorite is the Sonnets 🙂

    I’m on the knife edge on this one. If you read Paul, it was Coke’s reference that I can’t dismiss. He really did go out of his way to stress that the said earl was living in the said great garden gatehouse in 1606 and it did seem that he was referring to Edward de Vere.

    Coke was a knave, disgraced the law at Raleigh’s trial. Then during the gunpowder trials he persisted in bringing up the fact that Tresham’s secretary Wm Vavasour should have been tried with the rest, he said it openly in court so it was on the record, even though the guy was a relative of the Vavasours who were linked to Thomas Knyvett, the gunpowder plot discoverer whose niece married Thomas Howard, another gp discoverer ( This Thomas Knyvett was also Anne Vavasour’s uncle who feuded with de Vere.) It was the first sign that Coke had had it with the lies and manipulations of the King’s knaves.

    In 1606 Coke became a judge and turned to battling the power of the crown. They kicked him off the bench in 1616 so he changed to a second career as a populist MP, wrote and got passed the Petition of Right for the people, pushed for separation of church and state, defended the common law, helped establish parliamentary free speech. So he redeemed himself, becoming the greatest legal inspiration for the American founding fathers.

    1615, when he seemed to say Oxford was alive in great garden gatehouse in 1606, was the year before they kicked him off the bench. He was no friend of Henry de Vere though, found against him on great garden, had a battle with his own wife to prevent their daughter from marrying him.

    • Thanks — an interesting life for sure, and Coke is not usually mentioned by us. I have The Lion and the Throne by Catherine Bowen, but have only read parts of it. Now you’ve enticed me to get back to it.

      • Remember also Henry de Vere wrote two letters by 1605 (Paul argued one of them must have been dictated by Trentham, his mother) in which he mentions his father always in the present tense. Both the new Earl of Oxford and Coke seems to be must conscient Oxford was alive by 1605, and their not alone. The first mention of our Oxford as a dead man is in early 1608, when his daughters are mentioned as daughters of “the late Earl of Oxford”.

        What happened to Oxford? He seems to be poetically active until 1593. Then, he seems stop writing but poets continue to praise him; he could stop and close himself in his house, alongside his wife and first born son, he would never be forgotten. What was there that made his death as “normal” and discrete as Shakespeare’s? The idea of Oxford faking his own death sould not be taken as ridiculous: he had the motives and the means to run away from James’ England, just like Marlowe had to flee from the Government’s traps and desire of killing him (for knowing too much, maybe). Scholars in Oxford’s life have to admit: Oxford was influent, even though he “stopped” writing in the early 1590’s. How could no one mention his death as early as 1608? This is strange and need answers…

        The answers, I believe, may be find in the Sonnets. The two blank lines in the 1609 Quarto are, indeed, suspicious. It seems Shake-Speare it’s a character, not an author. The dedication it’s also peculiar: ever-living poet? Didn’t the Earl of Surrey had his sonnets published after his death? And Sidney? They had motives: Surrey was a courtier; Sidney was involved with courtiers and his poems reflects his passion for a married rich woman (no pun intended). Oxford had both this motives: he was a courtier and was involved with courtiers in his sonnets.

        I don’t know if Thorpe organized the Sonnets. It’s seems to me someone else picked the Sonnets in the order they were written and gave them alongside “A Lover’s Complaint” (by John Davies? The poem it’s everything except Shakespearean… at least to me, and I have to find it very amused and one of my favourite english poems, indeed). Whoever did it knew the Sonnet’s meanings, and “A Lover’s Complaint” was also written by someone with the same knowledge.

        Now: “The Tempest”. I follow Stephanie Hughes logic it was written to Elizabeth de Vere’s marriage; and I also believe it was rewritten with other plays by Oxford in his exile.

        Get over it: there is something wrong with Oxford’s life when he reach his 40’s. I hope one day scholars will realize it alongside with Shakespeare’s connections to him.

  6. Francisco, the order of the Sonnets -a great part of them surely- is determined. Based on this, I tend to suspect that each and every sonnet has its perfect place, determined by the author. Stay tuned.

  7. The pioneer work was of course that of Hank, in The Monument. I have some more results, which -in my humble opinion- are very important, either.

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