“A Magnetic Sense of History, Art, Politics and Human Nature” – from “Kirkus Reviews”

It’s gratifying to receive such a wonderful reaction to 100 Reasons Shake-speare was the Earl of Oxford from Kirkus Reviews.


Knowing full well that Kirkus maintains total independence, I had no expectation of what kind of response the book might receive. This review came as a welcome surprise, to say the least, and may well count as new evidence that the Oxfordian movement is gaining ground outside the confines of our own community. Thanks to the editorial expertise of Alex McNeil and, too, from Brian Bechtold, as well as from Bill Boyle of Forever Press; and most of all, my gratitude to the readers of this blog site who contributed helpful comments all along the way, over the course of some three and a half years, making it possible to even think about compiling and revising the “100 Reasons” into a cohesive book.

Here’s the full review:

A book offers an energetic defense of the Earl of Oxford theory regarding the authorship of the plays of William Shakespeare.

“In this work about Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, the competing theories—proposing Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe, William Stanley, the Earl of Derby, and, of course,  Shakespeare himself—are given their day in court as well. (Indeed, examining and discarding these notions constitutes part of the quite literal 100 reasons presented in the volume.) As the alternative possibilities are explored, Whittemore makes a progressively stronger case for the Earl of Oxford as the sole author of the works of Shakespeare. Beginning in the book’s introduction by questioning how such a seemingly unremarkable man as Shakespeare could demonstrate such near-miraculous genius, Whittemore takes the reader on an intricate journey in scholarship regarding the theater and the Renaissance period. He touches on the first Oxfordian supporter—John Thomas Looney—and builds profiles of the various players in Shakespeare’s world, from Queen Elizabeth I’s chief adviser, Lord Burghley, to her spymaster, Francis Walsingham. During this odyssey, an image of de Vere himself emerges: a brilliant, controversial man and an intimate of Elizabeth’s court with poetry and theater in his blood—an ideal alternative to Shakespeare for reasons ranging from creativity to insight into statecraft. While mainstream academia largely dismisses questions of authorship in studying the works of Shakespeare, Whittemore strongly champions the Oxfordian argument in this tour de force defense while remaining a highly entertaining writer. A breezy but very intelligent tone is maintained throughout the book; the reader is neither patronized nor boggled by minutiae and jargon. Instead, there is a magnetic sense of history, art, politics, and human nature injected into a smooth and eminently readable storytelling style. It is obvious that the author’s research has been painstaking, but the resulting document is more than painless—it’s downright pleasurable. The text itself is immaculate, as one would expect from such a seasoned nonfiction writer and scholar. One may or may not accept the Oxfordian argument, but Whittemore ensures that the reader will never again lightly dismiss it.

“An engrossing and thoughtful literary examination.”

  • “Kirkus Reviews”

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14 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Congratulations, Hank! Your book marks a major shift of the Oxfordian theory from the margins into the mainstream.

    • Thanks Rick and you are a major partner!

  2. Congratulations, Hank, this is great!

    Bob Meyers President Emeritus National Press Foundation RobertMeyers5@me.com Sent from my iPad


    • Many thanks, Bob!

  3. Congratulations, Hank!

  4. Ooooo! CONGRATS❗️WOW❗️ From: Hank Whittemore’s Shakespeare Blog Reply-To: Hank Whittemore’s Shakespeare Blog Date: Wednesday, December 28, 2016 at 10:58 PM To: CYNTHIA CRANE Subject: [New post] “A Magnetic Sense of History, Art, Politics and Human Nature” – from “Kirkus Reviews”

    WordPress.com hankwhitt posted: “It’s gratifying to receive such a wonderful reaction to 100 Reasons Shake-speare was the Earl of Oxford from “Kirkus Reviews”. Knowing full well that Kirkus maintains total independence, I had no expectation of what kind of response the book might “

  5. Hank Congratulations on the great review! I¹m amused that Nina still carries on so about the possibility that you might have mentioned PTPTPTPT. Best, Ted

    • Brings out my old Catholic guilt….

  6. Hank, this is indeed a splendid review. However, when I posted a link on FB, a friend quickly pointed out that the program listed at the bottom of your review is “Kirkus Indie”. Click that link, and one finds something less than “total independence.” Can you clear this up? Best wishes, Marie

    • Hi there, Marie! Sure, thanks for asking. Independent authors can submit their book for review for a fee. Mine cost 475 bucks, which is 75 less than usual, I think. In any case, there is no guarantee what kind of review. It could be terrible, totally negative, or positive, and anything in between. The thing is, if you choose to use any part of it, Kirkus must first publish the FULL review on its website-magazine, which is seen by the industry folks — booksellers, agents, publishers, distributors, and so on. Then you can use part of it, but, again, only if it the excerpt is in context and not distorted. I know for a fact that a review from Kirkus can be poor, because I got one I didn’t much care for, after submitting another book (non-Oxfordian and non-Shakespearean) to them. I was disappointed for sure. And when I got word that the review of 100 Reasons was ready for me to see, I was absolutely sure it would be god-awful, doubly so because I figured the reviewer would be prejudiced against any kind of book that questioned the Stratfordian myth. So — reading it, you can imagine my relief and gratitude.
      Without that setup, the Kirkus review would have no weight at all, and the industry folk would be first to know it, and Kirkus would be out of business.
      I hope this answers it, Marie. If not, in any way, please follow up and I’ll do my best.

      • Yes, I suppose that does clear things up, and your candor is much appreciated, Hank, as always. I’m still leery of the idea of paying for a review, even from Kirkus, but I can understand how sweet this one must have been to receive. Do you have any idea of how Kirkus finds their reviewers? It seemed to me that whoever wrote yours wasn’t an “insider” to the SAQ. Their writing is certainly elegant yet oddly un-invested. He or she is precise regarding content, yet un-curious as to the historical or literary arguments and consequences. IOW, they don’t seem to give a fig one way or the other about Oxford or who wrote Shakespeare. The bottom line seems to be: this is a Good Read.

      • Not sure how they are picked but yeah, must be outside any circle caring about Shakespeare authorship. Most or eve all would be outside. A writer but not an academic. Thank god. But he or she does say it’s to be taken seriously. Otherwise I’ll take the “good read” part. Bottom line is I would never tout a review that I thought was anything less than genuine. And there would be no industry credibility if even suspected to be less than independent.

  7. I’m about half-way through and I think this is already my favorite Oxfordian book. I do think it some background on authorship issues is needed before reading the book. Or perhaps in a future edition short chapter introductions could set the stage for why the subject (University Wits, Hamlet and Oxford, and so on) is important. But those are minor points. In addition to having a great eye for telling details and a clear style, you are expanding the idea of Shakespeare, placing him firmly within his time. Marvelous work.

    • I had meant to thank you for this comment. And for the very good suggestion.

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