Radio Interview on Shakespearean Authorship with Hank Whittemore and Chris Pannell

Chris Pannell, editor of The Oxfordian — the annual scholarly journal of the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship

Hank Whittemore, author of 100 Reasons Shake-speare was the Earl of Oxford, and Chris Pannell, editor of The Oxfordian, were interviewed together  on radio in Hamilton, Canada by the popular Bernadette Rule on “Art Waves” — an arts-interview radio program airing live every Sunday evening from 7 to 8 at 10l.5 FM.

Here’s a direct link:


During our radio interview, I expressed a view that is controversial among Oxfordians — those who have concluded that Shakespeare was Edward de Vere, earl of Oxford.

The controversial view I expressed is that William Shaksper of Stratford-upon-Avon was never an actor or part of the theatrical world and, during his lifetime (1564-1616), was never regarded as such — and then not until after publication of the First Folio of Shakespeare plays in 1623.

Upon the Stratford man’s death in 1616, no one paid any tribute to him that survives.

Some Oxfordians believe the Stratford businessman must have been an actor with the Lord Chamberlain’s Men (and/or the King’s Men); that he was a shareholder of the Globe playhouse; and that, at the very least, he had some connection to the London theatrical world.  My view is that this is a kind of “retro” thinking; that is, even Oxfordians are still (in varying degrees) under the spell of the powerful myth of Shakespeare — “Surely the man must have had some connection to the theatrical world!” Well, I think not.

I know he was in London from time to time — applying for a coat of arms for his father, living on Silver Street, buying some property — but that’s not evidence of any connection to the players or play companies or playhouses.

So I welcome any discussion on this topic, especially any evidence from William of Stratford’s lifetime of any connection he may have had with the players or playhouses.

I believe this is a valuable discussion for us to have.  So … bring it on!

Yours in Truth,



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17 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks for saying this, Hank. I agree. I’m always surprised when fellow Oxfordians go along with the assumption that Shakspere was an actor. There may be better documentation that his brother Edmund was an actor, and that could be one source of confusion.

    I think Ben Jonson was trying to tell us who the actor really was when he listed “William Shake-Speare” as an actor in one of his plays (Seajanus), in his 1616 Folio. That unique use of both a hyphen and a double capital S seems to be Jonson’s way of telling us it’s an assumed name.

    • Thanks for this, Rick — great point about Jonson. I wonder if Ben waited till Shakspere had died before publishing his folio, which came later the same year.

      It would be interesting to see how the Oxfordian community sees this — the various views.

      Part of my view, but only part of it, comes from the idea that it would be just too “messy” for Oxford and/or Robert Cecil, not to mention Burbage and the players, to have Shaksper running around in their midst and onstage. I feel that was one of the major faults of “Anonymous,” in terms of dramatizing truth.

      Anyway, great to hear from you, as usual.

    • Hi Richard,

      in Ben Jonson’s Eulogy, in a secret altered First Folio, I’ve found Snakespeare. At the very name of William Shakespeare, on the Principall Actors’ page, I found the mocking of Silliam (Silly am) Shakespeare. In another text I’ve found Phake-speare.

  2. Wasn’t Shakespeare’s name listed in couple of other places as an actor? I thought so. I found this online: “Shakespeare returned to the theatre in 1594, and became a leading member of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, formally known as Lord Strange’s Men. The manuscript accounts of the treasurer of the royal chamber in the public records office tells us the following:
    To William Kempe, William Shakespeare, and Richard Burbage, servants to the Lord Chamberlain, upon the council’s warrent dated at Whitehall xv die Marcij 1594 for two several comedies or interludes showed by them before her Majesty in Christmas time last past, viz; upon St. Stephan’s day and Innocent’s day, xiiij li. vj s. viij d. and by way of her Majesty’s reward…

    • Thanks for the very good questions and comments. Yes, Shakespeare’s name was listed in places as an actor — but, at the time, were these in any way linked to Shaksper of Stratford?

      It would be astonishing if the Shakespeare recorded with Burbage and Kempe, indicating the very first court payments to the newly formed Chamberlain’s Men, for performances in December 1594, was actually the Stratford man. The year before, in 1593, marked the very first appearance of the name William Shakespeare in print (on the dedication of “Venus and Adonis” to the earl of Southampton) — and if that was Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford using a pen name, which Oxfordians believe, then in my view the Shakespeare name with Burbage and Kemp also indicates the presence of Oxford. This was to be “Shakespeare’s Company,” after all — the company to perform the plays — and therefore it was, in a real sense, Oxford’s Company.

      In any case the Shakespeare name never appears again as receiving payments for any acting (much less for any writing). It appears in 1599 in the documents relating to Globe shareholding; but, again, there is no evidence that this is the Stratford man. In my view, it’s far more likely that Oxford was a shareholder — privately. Shareholding was okay for a nobleman; for example, Oxford was a shareholder in the Frobisher voyages.

      After the succession of James in 1603, there is a new effort to begin to refer to “Shakespeare” as an actor — as a member of the King’s Men; and then Ben Jonson in 1616 will list him at the head of two casts — a blatant, early attempt to identify the writer as an actor.

      Meanwhile the author’s identity as a Poet is being erased. That’s another story.

      If I haven’t been clear, or if you have other questions, please let me know. Thanks again.

  3. Understood. Could you expand on this in regard to the printing and dedication of the First Folio? If Shakspere was never pegged as an actor, a writer, or a shareholder in his lifetime, as you say, then what precisely is going on in the First Folio? Hemings and Condell were brought in to imply a connection to the Stratford man while other information links the works to the real author (Oxford)? The Stratford man was conveniently discovered late in the game as a diversion to be used for the First Folio? Or–could the connection of the Stratford man to the works of “Shakespeare” after the publication of the First Folio be mere coincidence? This last explanation would be the most revolutionary, if true.

    • The last suggestion is indeed revolutionary, but we do have in 1640 — in the bogus edition of the 1609 sonnets — on a separate poem praising Shakespeare the writer, “He died in Anno 1616,” which points deliberately and specifically to the Stratford man. The actual sonnet quarto remained underground for more than a century until 1709, with never a single comment by anyone about its existence.

      Ben Jonson edited the first folio for Pembroke and Montgomery, and wrote the front matter under his own name and that of Hemmnings and Condell. The folio was basically an attempt to obliterate Shakespeare’s connection to the court, the nobility, to royalty, to Southampton. This was done by eliminating all the royal poems, and all the sonnets, and all mention of the first dedicatee, Southampton, who was uniquely linked to Shakespeare (by Oxford).

      Robert Cecil plays a huge role in all this. It starts I think in 1596. In the middle of that year, Cecil becomes principal secretary and gains enormous power behind the throne, as all eyes look toward succession. Who will choose the next monarch and retain power? Cecil is furious at “Shakespeare” on the two narrative poems of 1593-94 and Oxford is waiting for Burghley to die before allowing “Shakespeare” on the plays. Cecil needs a backup. He knows about Shaksper, with the similar name, who lives 90 miles away and is illiterate. That all he allows Shaksper to receive a (phony) coat of arms from the Herald’s office for his family; he enlists him to be an informant in Warwickshire for any kind of suspicious Catholic activity, and to that end enables him to purchase New Place, which is a boarding house with tavern and a perfect listening post, with travelers, merchants, staying and talking about stuff. Shaksper gets some form of payment for this. He has no connection with theater. He is a moneylender, buyer of property, grain dealer, and hoarder. He wants above all to be a gentleman — for his father, as well as himself.

      Once Cecil engineers the succession, costing Essex his head, and with King James on the throne, Cecil begins the long, very careful, very slow linkage of “Shakespeare” to the world of the theater. Not to Stratford, mind you, but the movement of “Shakespeare” to be identified as a actor with the King’s Men. Nothing happens really until Stratford’s death in 1616, when there is no notice of his passing, and a few months later Jonson lists him at the head of two casts in his folio of works. Cecil died in 1612 but now it’s Pembroke who is leading the way, the delicate way, of how to preserve the Shakespeare works before at least half the plays disappear.

      Pembroke has to move very carefully. The Stuarts are on the throne, not the Tudors, and the Shakespeare works — mainly the printed poems, and the underground sonnets — imply the existence of a Tudor heir in the person of Southampton. So they must deliver Shakespeare as actor so as not to bring down the king’s wrath, and Buckingham’s wrath, etc. And so it goes, the very vague link to Stratford in the 1623 folio — if you and I read that, at the time, would we have jumped to think it was Will Stratford of Stratford? How? Only a few, really, and so it goes, for the rest of the century… through civil war (1640-1660) and so on.

      But the plays are preserved, and the sonnets will surface one day … and …

      • Thanks, Hank, for both replies. Very interesting. A few more things come to mind, although I hope I’m not steering this off track in any way.

        Why did nothing happen until Shakspere’s death in terms of linking “Shakespeare” as an actor with King’s Men?

        Why, how, and when were Hemings and Condell added to Shakspere’s will (the “interlineation”). This seems important to the story.

        What exactly are Robert Cecil’s motivation regarding publication of the works of “Shakespeare”? Obviously he wanted nothing that would have suggested a Tudor heir, but, especially after James was on the throne, in what way did he care one way or another about the works?

      • Hi John —

        Well, first, the linkage of “Shakespeare” to the King’s Men began right after the succession of James in 1603 — some lists of company members. Then came Jonson’s folio in 1616, a few months after Shakspere’s death that year. So … “Shakespeare” is an actor … but still no linkage to Shakspere of Stratford. They could not afford to do any such linkage until after his death, and then only indirectly, in the folio seven years later in 1623.

        I don’t know when or how the interlineation came into the man’s will, but to me it smells of the strong possibility of an outside effort to insert something into a document. Why? Because, after all, Hemings and Condell would be featured in the folio — even thought their introductory matter would be written by Jonson. I imagine there would have been ways to get hold of the will, of copies, and to make those interlineations. But I am out of my league in terms of knowing how.

        Robert Cecil was being linked in his own time with Richard III, because of Shakespeare’s play, and this continued after the succession until his death in 1612. It was important for him, on that count alone, to steer the authorship away from the court, from the author being a court insider, much less a high ranking nobleman, because the linkage would appear accurate — but not so if a commoner wrote the play. And that linkage would have continued throughout for his descendants. That would be one reason. Also, the Sonnets — which told the truth about it — “And captive-good attending Captain ill” (Sonnet 66, Captain Ill being a verbal echo of Cecil; captive good being Southampton in the Tower) — the sonnets were still underground and might surface at any time. So, the need to get “Shakespeare” away from the court, away from Southampton specifically, was always urgent. And just as urgent for James, and even for Pembroke and Montgomery, who, after all, were subject to the monarch’s power over them.

        Not sure if I’ve answered fully enough, so let me know. Thanks for the questions!

      • Hank, once the world will wonder why mourning this intensely someone who had died at least 5-6 years before?
        If he died in 1621 – all mourning words immediately would become genuine,

    • John, I don’t know if W.Shakespeare personally was or was not an actor. But I did find many clues showing that whoever jotted down the Shakespeare name in the First Folio, actually wrote about Robert Cecil. In this sense, the names didn’t matter: what mattered is real history. Part of this history is that according to the many clues I’ve found, the 17th Earl of Oxenford died at the beginning of 1621. He was sent to exile. This date is very familiar, isn’t it?
      And Ben Jonson in his central-role Eulogy, did hide this year number.
      John, I don’t know who you are, I do hope once I’ll have the chance to show you everything.

      • Hi Sandy. What do you mean about whoever jotted down Shakespeare actually wrote about Robert Cecil?

        If Oxford died in 1621, where was he from 1604 to 1621? Was this his exile?

        Not sure what you mean by “And Ben Jonson…did hide this year number.”

        Your username connects to a Hungarian language web site on Edward de Vere. This language difference may account for some of the misunderstanding on my part, but I’d like to hear more. Thanks.


  4. John, thank you for your prompt reply. I don’t want to act mysteriously, but this is certainly not the right place to explain everything – I’ve found so many things, so many pieces of a wonderful jigsaw-puzzle, that there’s no point damaging Hank’s wonderful blog.
    The simply most important thing, what not many appreciate: Hank is absolutely right, regarding the Prince Tudor theory. Everything is based on the love triangle. I’ve found many-many visible clues.Many secrets of the 154 Sonnets are clues, riddles to be solved. Among them the most famous is the 145. Hathaway-sonnet. I sent the REAL story of it to Mr. Andrew Gurr (I’m sure there’s no need to explain who he is), and he found my results to be “intriguing” and he expressed his wish to see my “entire production”.

    But again, we are just guests at Hank. He is as pioneering as a scholar only can be. He is totally right, regarding the historical background of the 154 Sonnets. In a sense what I’ve found is pioneering, as well. Bumptious this word might sound, without proof – that’s why I hope I’ll have the chance to show my results. We not necessarily agree with Hank on all and every questions – but we are good friends, and I thank him for opening my eyes.
    Yes, the Earl was in exile, even I found clues as to the “where”. But without solid touchable findings I keep it to a very limited group, for the time being. Ben Jonson, and those collecting the First Folio, wanted to preserve the truth, not just the Earl’s personality, but his exile, to posterity. That’s what was hidden for 400 years.The monograms of RC, the year of (16)21, a cross just beside a mourning line, number 17 many-many times,
    I’m from Hungary, and 3 years ago, based on my results, I was invited by my country’s real stratfordians, by the Hungarian Shakespeare Society, to deliver a lecture.
    Although I’ve found visible number 21’s, and visible number 70’s (born in 1550 the Earl was 70 years old at the very beginning of 1621, if he actually died then), yet please read the following passage from The Winter’s Tale. If the Earl actually died at the very beginning of 1621, how many FULL winters and sommers had passed away in between? Quite a literary problem isn’t it?

    “Camillo. My lord, your sorrow was too sore laid on,
    Which sixteen winters cannot blow away,
    So many summers dry; “

  5. Just one addition: Robert Cecil was the brain behind Henry’s imprisonment, and surely he was responsible fo the Earl’s exile. In this sense he was the most hated person by the Earl – and seemingly by those knowing the truth, like Ben Jonson and the others mourning the Earl. His Eulogy runs parallel: he talks to the Earl when mourning in the very last lines (where number 21 was hidden), but the Muse was actually Robert Cecil – the real Muse of the Sonnets. Just think about it: if the Prince Tudor theory was true then the person to whom we must thank the Sonnets at the end of the day was Robert Cecil. Again, many clues I’ve found, but now enough (maybe even toomuch) here at Hank’s blog.

  6. Now I see there was one more important question: what does it mean Ben Jonson hid this year number (that is 1621). As it turned out John is member of my facebook group, we’ll discuss it over there.

  7. What a glorious adventure ! One can feel the emptiness of the Stratos arguments build..almost as if they put on a play and fewer and fewer seats are filled as the performance drags on. The dullness of the Stratos side becomes e.ver more palpable.

    Solid evidence is surely the long term goal but I think the truth is out. How amazing that a Sycamore tree can wield so much effervescent drama.

    As a recent observer to all these authorship conversations (although awakened with the Frontline piece, aired long ago ) , I am thrilled at the opportunity to revisit history, politics and the arts during this Elizabethan era. Perhaps, in time, we can enjoy a PBS series, starring “——–” called : “DeVere, TRUTH” or ” The Truth Wills out ” or ” Follow the Quill ”
    Anyway Hank…fine, inspiring, scrumptious, and important work.

    • Thanks, Marshall!
      I, too, look forward to that documentary series!

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