What’s in a Name? What’s in the Name “Shakespeare?”

From A Life of Shakespeare by Joseph Quincy Adams, 1923:


“’What’s in a name?’ petulantly asks Juliet.  The answer is, as every student of the subject knows:  In some names, little or nothing, in others, possibly a great deal.  The latter alternative seems to be the case with the name of our most distinguished English poet.  In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as today, the word ‘Shakespeare’ unquestionably suggested to the mind of everyone what its two syllabic elements so clearly indicate – military prowess.  But the suggestion was then far more obvious than now, for the age was nearer to chivalry, and the phrase ‘the shaking of the spear’ was almost as commonplace as expressing the doughtiness [valiance] of warriors …

“The English rendering of Job, xli, takes the form “He laugheth at the shaking of the spear.’

“John Marston, in Histriomastix (1598), writes humorously:

When he shakes his furious spear,

The foe in shivering, fearful sort

May lay him down in death to snort

“And John Davies of Hereford, in Humour’s Heaven on Earth (1609), exclaims:

No human power can their force withstand;

They laugh to scorn the shaking of the spear.

“Illustrations might be multiplied, showing that the significance of the poet’s name could not have escaped his contemporaries.”

Well, yes.  But was it just a coincidence?   That the name of England’s great poet was so obviously warrior-like, suggesting an author shaking the spear of his pen?

Or was it deliberate?

How about a pen name?

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