The Rival Poet of the Sonnets is “William Shakespeare” or “Shake-speare” the Pen Name

Many of my Oxfordian colleagues do not (yet) agree with the following little essay, reprinted from my website for The Monument: “Shake-speare’s Sonnets” by Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford … but I persist:

MONUMENT coverA startling discovery made possible by the Monument solution to the Sonnets is that Edward de Vere’s own pseudonym “Shake-speare” was the so-called Rival Poet of Sonnets 77-86, written while the Earl of Southampton languished as a convicted traitor in the Tower of London.

This idea — that the pen name “Shake-speare” was the Rival Poet — has been the most difficult aspect of The Monument solution to the Sonnets for many to accept. Yet, if one can step back for a moment and consider the larger picture of the Shakespeare authorship debate itself, it becomes clear why this idea makes perfect sense:

The authorship debate, at its core, posits that some unknown poet of the Elizabethan era chose to publish under a pen name while concealing his own name. Thus this assumed identity of “Shake-speare” is, in fact, an alter-ego of some sort — a natural, logical extension of the true author’s own identity.

[The name was hyphenated on many play quartos; more importantly, it was hyphenated for the printings of “The Phoenix and Turtle” (1601) and the title page of “SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS” as well as for printed signature on the narrative poem “A Lover’s Complaint” in the same quarto (1609).]

More importantly the pen name is in fact his “rival” (a word the poet never uses, in any case), since the verse published under the rival name “Shake-speare” will live forever, along with the Fair Youth (“You still shall live, such virtue hath my pen” – 81), while the Poet’s own name will be buried (“My name be buried where my body is” – 72).

This is just one more example of how The Monument addresses — and answers — just about every single question about the Sonnets raised over several centuries of criticism and commentary.

"Venus and Adonis" Dedication - 1593

“Venus and Adonis” Dedication – 1593

 

Oxford had first linked Southampton to “Shakespeare” in his very first published work, Venus and Adonis. Employing “the dedicated words which writers use of their fair subject, blessing every book,” as he wrote in Sonnet 82, he wrote dedications in both Venus and Adonis (1593) and The Rape of Lucrece (1594), which forever linked Southampton to “Shakespeare,” and which continue to provide the primary evidence that Southampton is the Fair Youth of the Sonnets.

During his 1601-1603 imprisonment, Southampton was a “dead man” in the eyes of the law (referred to as “the late earl”) and, therefore, no poets were publicly praising him then.  Oxford’s only “rival” was his own pen name, the “better spirit” known as William Shakespeare, whose dedications to Southampton were continuing to appear in new editions of the two narrative poems:

VENUS AND ADONIS – 1593

TO THE RIGHT HONORABLE Henry Wriothesley, Earle of Southampton, And Baron of Titchfield

Right Honourable,

I know not how I shall offend in dedicating my unpolished lines to your Lordship, nor how the world will censure me for choosing so strong a prop to support so weak a burden.  Only, if your Honour seem but pleased, I account my self highly praised, and vow to take advantage of all idle hours, till I have honoured you with some graver labour.  But if the first heir of my invention prove deformed, I shall be sorry it had so noble a godfather: and never after ear so barren a land, for fear it yield me still so bad a harvest.  I leave it to your Honourable survey, and your Honour to your heart’s content, which I wish may always answer your own wish, and the world’s hopeful expectation.

Your Honors in all duty, William Shakespeare

"Lucrece" Dedication 1594

“Lucrece” Dedication
1594

LUCRECE [THE RAPE OF LUCRECE] – 1594

TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE Henry Wriothesley, Earle of Southampton, And Baron of Titchfield

The love I dedicate to your Lordship is without end, whereof this Pamphlet without beginning is but a superfluous Moity.  The warrant I have of your Honourable disposition, not the worth of my untutored Lines, makes it assured of acceptance.  What I have done is yours, what I have to do is yours, being part in all I have, devoted yours.  Were my worth   greater, my duty would show greater; meantime, as it is, it is bound to your Lordship: To whom I wish long life still lengthened with all happiness.

Your Lordship’s in all duty, William Shakespeare

Sonnets 77-86 comprise one of the ten “chapters” of exactly ten sonnets apiece within the 100-sonnet center of the monument.  Each of the ten sequences is similar to a “movement” or self-contained section of music within a larger composition – the way liturgical works from the 14th century onward have often consisted of many movements, each intended to be performed at a different place of worship.  [And Oxford may well have had this spiritual or religious aspect in mind when constructing the “movements” of sonnets within his “monument” of verse.]

In the traditional view of the sonnets as written by William Shakspere of Stratford-upon-Avon, there was no possible way to perceive the “rival” of Sonnets 77-86 other than as an unnamed real-life individual who was successfully competing for the Fair Youth’s [Southampton’s] affections.  Naturally enough many Oxfordians have adopted the same perception, sending them off on a similar fruitless hunt for the Rival Poet – the Earl of Essex, Sir Walter Raleigh, George Chapman, Christopher Marlowe and so on.

Once Oxford is accepted as the author, however, the whole “movement” or chapter begins to make perfect sense: Edward de Vere is using these sonnets as a way of confirming that in fact he buried his identity behind the mask of the poet “Shakespeare” linked to Southampton.

The previous “movement” of ten sonnets [67-76] expressed the death of Oxford’s “name” or identity:

Do not so much as my poor name rehearse [71)

My name be buried where my body is [72]

Oxford’s own spirit is transferred to Southampton:

My spirit is thine, the better part of me [74]

He disappears from sight, but nonetheless he “almost” reveals his “name” or identity in “every word” of these sonnets:

Why write I still all one, ever the same, And keep invention in a noted weed, That every word doth almost tell my name…(Sonnet 76)

Following this spiritual death or obliteration is Oxford’s resurrection as “Shakespeare.”  Here is an overview of the so-called Rival Poet sequence:

Sonnet 77 – Oxford dedicates “this book” to Southampton: “And of this book this learning mayst thou taste.”  He tells the younger earl that the sonnets themselves will become his own “children nursed, delivered from thy brain,” since they are “the living record of your memory” [55] and therefore, in that sense, they are alive.  In effect Southampton gave birth to these verses, so he is “the onlie begetter” of them as the Dedication of the Sonnets indicates.  “This book” now becomes “thy book” as Oxford concludes in the couplet:

These offices, so oft as thou wilt look,

Shall profit thee, and much enrich thy book.

Sonnet 78 – Oxford begins by addressing Southampton this way:

So oft have I invoked thee for my Muse,

And found such fair assistance in my verse,

As every Alien pen hath got my use,

And under thee their poesy disperse.

Southampton has been Oxford’s muse or inspiration; the younger earl has given “fair” assistance as the so-called Fair Youth [“From fairest creatures we desire increase” – Sonnet 1, where he also uses the plural to refer to a single individual]; “every Alien pen” is Oxford’s poetical way of identifying his “Shakespeare” pseudonym (“E. Ver’s pen name, which is alien or different than his real name”); and it has been used “under thee” or under Southampton name as the printed signature to the public dedications of “poesy” or published narrative poems.

A few lines later Oxford tells Southampton directly that he is the sole inspirer or “onlie begetter” of the Sonnets, i.e., the one who gave birth to them:

Yet be most proud of that which I compile,

Whose influence is thine, and borne of thee…

Sonnet 79 – Oxford writes that “an other” [another poet, “Shakespeare”] has taken his place, as he tells Southampton:

Whilst I alone did call upon thy aid,

My verse alone had all thy gentle grace,

But now my gracious numbers are decayed,

And my sick Muse doth give an other place.

Sonnet 80 – The pen name “Shakespeare” is the “better spirit” who can praise Southampton publicly while Oxford must be silent:

O how I faint when I of you do write,

Knowing a better spirit doth use your name,

And in the praise thereof spends all his might

To make me tongue-tied speaking of your fame.

Sonnet 81 – This is one of the towering verses in which Oxford expresses his commitment to making Southampton immortal (“Your monument shall be my gentle verse/ Which eyes not yet created shall o’er-read”); and the following statement actually sums up the entire authorship issue, which is tied directly to Southampton:

Your name from hence immortal life shall have

Though I (once gone) to all the world must die.

Southampton’s own “name” will be immortal because “Shakespeare” publicly dedicated his work to him; for that alone he will live forever; but Oxford himself, meanwhile, must “die” or disappear “to all the world.”  [Clearly he is not speaking of his literal death, but, rather, of the obliteration of his identity.]

Sonnet 82 – And now comes a direct reference to the “dedicated words” or dedications by “Shakespeare” to Southampton:

I grant thou wert not married to my Muse,

And therefore mayst without attaint o’erlook

The dedicated words which writers use

Of their fair subject, blessing every book.

Dedicated Words = dedications of Venus and Adonis & Lucrece Writers = the writer known as “Shakespeare” Fair Subject = the Fair Youth, Southampton Every Book = E. Ver’s or Edward de Vere’s books of those two poems

Sonnet 83 – Oxford refers to “Shakespeare” in public and to himself in these private verses; “both” are Southampton’s poets:

There lives more life in one of your fair eyes

Than both your Poets can in praise devise.

Sonnet 84 – “And such a counterpart shall fame his wit,” Oxford writes, with Oxford now referring to his pen name “Shakespeare” as “such a counterpart” or copy of himself.  [This is actually a legal term; that is, a counterpart is a duplicate or copy of an indenture; and the latter is a sealed agreement, often binding one person to the service of another, i.e., binding “Shakespeare” to Southampton’s service].

Sonnet 85 – Oxford refers to the silence imposed upon him by his secret agreement with Robert Cecil, who in 1601 has already entered into a “secret (and treasonous) correspondence” with King James in Scotland, working to prepare his way to the throne upon Elizabeth’s death.  Oxford has agreed give up his identity as “Shakespeare” and remain “tongue-tied” as a result, as he writes to Southampton:

My tongue-tied Muse in manners hold her still,

While comments of your praise, richly compiled,

Reserve their Character with golden quill,

And precious phrase by all the Muses filed.

I think good thoughts, whilst other write good words…

“Other” was apparently an accepted plural form, but here it refers again to Oxford’s pen name, the “other” (or rival) poet; and it seems obvious that he intended us to read it as singular, since by contrast he uses “others” in the ending couplet:

Then others for the breath of words respect,

Me for my dumb thoughts, speaking in effect.

Sonnet 86 – These magnificent lines bring the chapter to its end:

Was it the proud full sail of his great verse,

Bound for the prize of (all too precious) you,

That did my ripe thoughts in my brain inhearse,

Making their tomb the womb wherein they grew?

[The pen name “Shakespeare” has buried Oxford’s thoughts within his own brain; but from this “tomb” has come the “womb” of these sonnets, growing Southampton into “the living record” of him for posterity.]

Was it his spirit, by spirits taught to write

Above a mortal pitch, that struck me dead?

No, neither he, nor his compeers by night

Giving him aid, my verse astonished.

[Was it “Shakespeare’s” power, which is above any height that any mere mortals have reached, that obliterated my identity?  No!  Neither he – my public pen name – nor my spirit during these nights of disgrace, giving “Shakespeare” my assistance, have stunned my verse into privacy.]

He, nor that affable familiar ghost

Which nightly gulls him with intelligence,

As victors of my silence cannot boast;

I was not sick of any fear from thence.

[Neither “Shakespeare” nor that friendly servant, my spirit that secretly crams him with information, can boast that they have caused my silence; no, I was not afraid of those things.]

But when your countenance filled up his line,

Then lacked I matter, that enfeebled mine.

[To Southampton: But when your person filled up “Shakespeare’s” lines in public, then I lost power and substance – that weakened my voice and drove me to use these private sonnets.]

After viewing this great “movement” of ten sonnets through this lens, it would seem not only difficult but impossible to make sense of them as written about any real “rival” for Southampton rather than Oxford’s own pen name that he himself had linked to the younger earl.

In effect, to save him Oxford had allowed the mask of “Shakespeare” to be glued to his face, smothering him.

Reason 98 Why the Earl of Oxford was “Shakespeare” – He’s the Only Playwright on the Meres List in 1598 Whose Plays are all “Lost”

“We have at least some dramatic material from all twenty-nine authors, except the politician Ferrers and the courtier De Vere.” – MacDonald P. Jackson, Determining the Shakespeare Canon, 2014, p. 119

Palladis_Tamia_1598 (2)

In the above excerpt from his new book to be published on August 19 this year, Professor Jackson of New Zealand refers to the English dramatists listed by Francis Meres in Palladis Tamia (1598) as best for tragedy or comedy or both. And he points out that for only two of them, George Ferrers and Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, no plays or even records of their plays are extant — despite the statement in The Arte of English Poesie, published less than a decade earlier in 1589:

“For Tragedy Lord Buckhurst and Master Edward Ferrys do deserve the highest praise; the Earl of Oxford and Master Edwards of Her Majesty’s Chapel for Comedy and Enterlude.”

Although Meres also included Edward Ferris (whose identity has been uncertain), he actually meant Ferrers, citing him for the poetry collection Mirror for Magistrates; but Ferrers was not a playwright, which leaves Oxford as the one and only bonafide dramatist on the Meres list whose plays have vanished — as mentioned by the seventeenth-century antiquary Anthony Wood in Fasti Oxonienses (1692), Vol. 1, p. 727:

“This most noble Earl of Oxon was … an excellent poet and comedian, as several matters of his composition, which were made public, did show – which, I presume, are now lost and worn out.”

This is the more famous section of the Meres book, announcing that "Shakespeare" was author of a dozen known plays

This is the more famous section of the Meres book, announcing that “Shakespeare” was author of a dozen known plays

The contemporary record clearly states that Oxford was highly regarded for writing some of the most popular stage works of his time, which would have included the 1570s and 1580s, so his standing as the sole writer for the English stage on the Meres list without any surviving play (or even any record of having written one) is a glaring anomaly that cries out for explanation. The answer from here, of course, is that this is just what to expect if all his “comedies and interludes” were originally anonymous, or credited to others, and later revised for publication under the “Shakespeare” name. This would explain why all his stage works were “lost” or unrecorded and how the author of Sonnet 81 could predict that “I, once gone, to all the world must die.”

John Thomas Looney, who identified Oxford as the Bard in 1920, wrote in Shakespeare Pictorial of November 1935:

“In Edward de Vere we have a dramatist, recognized by all contemporary authorities as belonging to the first rank, yet the whole of his dramas are missing. ‘The lost plays of the Earl of Oxford’ had become an outstanding reality of dramatic history many a year before the Shakespeare problem had even been thought of.

“De Vere is the only dramatist in the long list compiled in 1598 by Francis Meres of whose work no trace has been found. On the other hand, we have in the ‘Shakespeare’ plays a set of dramas of the highest class attributed to a man [William Shaksper of Stratford-upon-Avon] whose personal records have been found by modern historical research to be in direct conflict with all the outstanding and indisputable implications of such authorship. We have therefore an ever-growing mass of evidence that he was but a cover for some unnamed dramatist.

John Thomas Looney 1870-1944

John Thomas Looney 1870-1944

“Briefly, then, we have in Edward de Vere the only first-class dramatist the whole of whose plays are missing, and in the Shakespeare plays the only complete set of first-class dramas the author of which, on the strength of probabilities amounting to a practical certainty, is also supposed to be missing. These facts alone, each in its own way so amazingly strange and wholly unique, being contemporary and complementary, would justify, without further proof, a very strong belief that the Shakespeare plays are ‘the lost plays of the Earl of Oxford.’”

On the premise that Oxford wrote the “Shakespeare” works, the plays cited by Meres represent mature versions of earlier texts dating as far back as the 1570s or even earlier, when they were recorded as performed at Court under different titles. In those decades Oxford’s plays would have been anonymous.

Meres listed these individuals as Best for Tragedy: “The Lorde Buckhurst, Doctor Leg of Cambridge, Doctor Edes of Oxford, Master Edward Ferris, the author of the Mirror for Magistrates, Marlow, Peele, Watson, Kid, Shakespeare, Drayton, Chapman, Decker, and Beniamin Iohnson.”

He listed these as Best for Comedy: “Edward, Earle of Oxforde, Doctor Gager of Oxforde, Master Rowley, once a rare scholler of learned Pembrooke Hall in Cambridge, Maister Edwardes, one of Her Maiesties Chappell, eloquent and wittie Iohn Lilly, Lodge, Gascoyne, Greene, Shakespeare, Thomas Nash, Thomas Heywood, Anthony Mundye, our best plotter, Chapman, Porter, Wilson, Hathway, and Henry Chettle.”

The title page of Minerva Britannia of 1612 by Henry Peacham -- a dramatic visualization of a writer for the stage who remains unknown behind the curtain...

The title page of Minerva Britannia of 1612 by Henry Peacham — a dramatic visualization of a writer for the stage who remains invisible behind the curtain…

Only Shakespeare and Chapman are included in both lists. Oxford had been personally connected to many of them; for example: John Lyly and Anthony Munday were his secretaries who dedicated works to him, as did Thomas Watson and Robert Greene; he and Richard Edwards were connected through the Children of the Chapel and as fellow poets; George Gascoigne was an acquaintance from earliest years; George Peele and Thomas Lodge, among others on the list, were in his circle of writers during the wartime years of the 1580s; Chapman wrote about meeting him in Europe – and so on.

Following is the entire list, with my inclusion of one stage work for each individual, except for the non-playwright Ferrers and Oxford, the only dramatist on the list with no known play:

TRAGEDY

THOMAS SACKVILLE, LORD BUCKHURST (1536-1608) – Gorboduc (1561) with Norton
THOMAS LEGGE (1535-1607) – Richard the 3, The Destruction of Jerusalem (both plays named by Meres)
RICHARD EDES (1554-1604) – a play of Julius Caesar, no longer extant; and manuscript fragments of a court entertainment in 1592
GEORGE FERRERS (1500-1579) – (Mistakenly called Master Edward Ferris by Meres) – he may or may not have written plays for court; known for his contributions to the famous collection of poems Mirror for Magistrates, which Meres cites by name
CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE (1564-1593) – Tamburlaine the Great, Part 1 (1587)
GEORGE PEELE (1556-1596) – The Arraignment of Paris (performed for the Queen in 1581; printed in 1584)
THOMAS WATSON (c. 1556-1592) – a Latin version of Antigone by Sophocles (pub. 1581); no original play extant
THOMAS KYD (1558-1594) – credited, on uncertain grounds, with The Spanish Tragedy (conjectured writing in 1584-1589)
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE – Six tragedies named by Meres
MICHAEL DRAYTON (1563-1631) – Sir John Oldcastle (1599), with Richard Hathway
GEORGE CHAPMAN (c. 1559 – 1634) – Bussy D’Ambois (1603-07)
THOMAS DEKKER (c. 1572 – 1632) – nearly twenty plays published during his lifetime; worked with many other writers, for Henslowe, from 1598 – Lust’s Dominion, or The Spanish Moor’s Tragedy, 1600, with Day, Marston, and Haughton
BEN JONSON (1572-1637) – (spelled Benjamin Johnson by Meres) – The Case is Altered, a comedy, possibly the earliest play written, in 1597; but no known tragedies until after the citation by Meres in 1598 (such as Sejanus, 1603)

COMEDY

EDWARD DE VERE, LORD OXFORD (1550-1604) – All his plays said to be “lost”
WILLIAM GAGER OF OXFORD – (known for Latin plays) – Rivales, a comedy (1583)
RALPH ROWLEY (d. 1604?) – “Once a rare scholar of learned Pembroke Hall in Cambridge” – but likely Meres may have been confused about the identity of this man, of whose writings nothing appears to be known; the only Rowley at Pembroke Hall during the period was Ralph Rowley, afterward Rector of Chelmsford
RICHARD EDWARDS (1525-1566) – “One of Her Majesty’s Chapel” – Damon and Pithias, performed in 1564 for the Queen; Palamon and Arcite, performed for Elizabeth at Oxford in 1566
JOHN LYLY (1554-1606) – “eloquent and witty John Lyly” – Endimion: The Man in the Moon (1580s; printed in 1591)
THOMAS LODGE (c. 1558-1625) – A Looking Glass for London and England (1590, pub. 1594), with Robert Greene
GEORGE GASCOIGNE c. 1535-1577) – Supposes, a prose comedy based on Ariosto’s Suppositi, performed in 1566 at Gray’s Inn.
ROBERT GREENE (1558-1592) – Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay (1588-92)
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE – Six comedies named by Meres
THOMAS NASHE (1567-c. 1601) – Summers Last Will and Testament (circa 1592)
THOMAS HEYWOOD (Early 1570s-1641) – Edward IV (printed 1600)
ANTHONY MUNDAY (1560? – 1633) – “our best plotter” – The Downfall of Robert Earl of Huntington, on the Robin Hood legend (1598)
GEORGE CHAPMAN (c. 1559-1634) – The Blind Beggar of Alexandria (1596; pub. 1598)
HENRY PORTER (d. 1599) – The Two Angry Women of Abington (pub. 1599)
ROBERT WILSON (flourished 1572-1600) – The Three Ladies of London (pub. 1584)
RICHARD HATHWAYE (fl. 1597-1603) – Sir John Oldcastle (with Michael Drayton)
HENRY CHETTLE (c. 1564-c. 1606) – The Tragedy of Hoffmann (played 1602; pub. 1631)

No. 84 of 100 Reasons why the Earl of Oxford was “Shakespeare”: He was Involved in the Revolutionary Expanding Universe of Astronomy

Among our well renowned men,
Dever merits a silver pen
Eternally to write his honour,
And I in a well-polished verse,
Can set up in our universe
A fame to endure for ever…
For who marketh better than he
The seven turning flames of the sky?

These lines published in 1584 came from a Frenchman writing under the pen name John Soothern, living in the household of “Dever” – Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford; and the “seven turning flames of the sky” are, of course, the planets. Oxford, according to this scholarly poet from France who knew him well, was an expert in the currently exciting but politically dangerous field of astronomy, which was threatening to overturn the old conception of the cosmos and even to upend the old relationship of man to himself, to the world and to God.

Not from the stars do I my judgment pluck,
And yet methinks I have Astronomy;

English astronomer Thomas Digges did groundbreaking work in the 1570s

English astronomer Thomas Digges did groundbreaking work in the 1570s

That was “Shakespeare” starting off his Sonnet 14, but right away he announces that he is not speaking here of astrological fortune-telling or superstitions or the making of predictions such as that used by Queen Elizabeth to choose the luckiest and most balmy date of her coronation:

But not to tell of good or evil luck…
Of plagues, of dearths, or seasons’ quality;
Or say with Princes if it shall go well
By oft predict that I in heaven find…

On the contrary, by “astronomy” he was referring to revolutionary science in sixteenth-century England that was still being studied in secret, notably by the group (later called the School of Night) whose members included Sir Walter Raleigh, Christopher Marlowe, George Chapman, the mathematician Thomas Harriot and, yes, Edward de Vere himself. He had studied astronomy from boyhood in the 1550s with his tutor Sir Thomas Smith, and in the 1560s with Dr. John Dee, who was not only the Queen’s astrologer but a serious mathematician and geographer; and because of the book De Revolutionibus by Polish mathematician-astronomer Nicholas Copernicus, published in 1543, these English scholars were well aware that great changes of paradigm were under way – in terms of not only the universe but of the social-religious-political order itself, which even Hamlet is reluctant to mention aloud:

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy

(The prince in Hamlet, 1.4)

Map of the Celestial Orbs  By Leonard & Thomas Digges (father-son), 1576

Map of the Celestial Orbs
By Leonard & Thomas Digges (father-son), 1576

Such free-thinking men were moving from the old Ptolemaic model of the earth at the center of the universe to the revolutionary Copernican model, by which everything is in motion, the earth rotating on its axis while revolving with the other planets around the central Sun.

Doubt thou the stars are fire,
Doubt that the sun doth move,
Doubt truth to be a liar,
But never doubt I love

(The prince in Hamlet, 2.2)

When Oxford was twenty-three in 1573, the English scientist Thomas Digges (1527-1608) published a treatise on the “supernova” or exploding star seen in the sky the year before; and in this work, dedicated to the young earl’s father-in-law William Cecil Lord Burghley, Digges included warm praise for the Copernican hypothesis. Burghley and spymaster Francis Walsingham, who made it their business to develop intelligence in defense of the realm, were keenly interested in a new-fangled device called a “perspective” glass or trunk that enabled astronomers to see farther into space; and in fact such new devices would help to quickly spot the warships of the Spanish armada upon their arrival in 1588, thereby playing a significant role in England’s victory over King Philip and the Pope.

Digges published another key work, A Perfect Description of the Celestial Orbs, in 1576, using allegory to simultaneously set forth and disguise his agreement with Copernicus as well as his heretical view that the Sun is just one star among an infinity of stars in an unending universe.

“O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space”
(The prince in Hamlet, 2.2)

Watson's Sonnet Sequence of 1582 dedicated to Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford

Watson’s Sonnet Sequence of 1582 dedicated to Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford

In 1582, when the poet Thomas Watson dedicated Hekatompathia, or the Passionate Century of Love to Oxford, thanking him for his help with the manuscript and getting it into print, his sequence of 100 consecutively numbered “passions” or sonnets contained the first known description of the Milky Way as a collection of discrete stars (as opposed to a single mass) – preceding Galileo’s published discovery in 1610 by nearly thirty years. The prose header for one of the sonnets – Oxford seems to have written all the headers – refers to “Galaxia” as “a White Way or Milky Circle in the heavens,” and the opening lines of the poem contain this radical description:

Who can recount the virtues of my dear,
Or say how far her fame hath taken flight,
That cannot tell how many stars appear
In part of heaven, which Galaxia height,
Or number all the moats in Phoebus’ rays,
Or golden sands, whereon Pactolus plays?

(Watson Sonnet 31, 1582)

Astronomer Tycho Brahe of Denmark 1546-1601

Astronomer Tycho Brahe of Denmark 1546-1601

In the same year Elizabeth sent Oxford’s brother-in-law Peregrine Bertie, Lord Willoughby, on a mission to the Danish court; and during that extended visit Willoughby met with the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, who, in 1572, had made precise observations of that inexplicably brilliant star that became known as “Tycho’s Supernova” – an exploded, extremely bright and burning star, which traditionally trained scientists could not explain; but the playwright “Shakespeare” would describe it in the night sky over Denmark:

Last night of all,
When yon same star that’s westward from the pole
Had made his course to illume that part of heaven
Where it now burns…

(Bernardo in Hamlet, 1.1)

Tycho Brahe's Observatory

Tycho Brahe’s Observatory

“Tycho’s Supernova” provided “confirmation of an emerging scientific understanding of a dynamic universe,” Mark Andereson writes, as opposed to the prevailing Ptolemaic system, which continued to posit that all heavenly bodies were unchanging and firmly fixed in place.

In June of 1583 the Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno appeared in England and delivered lectures at Oxford, contradicting the University’s continuing dogma that every object in the universe orbited the centrally positioned earth. The free-thinking Bruno preached in favor of the Copernican solar system and also proposed (correctly) that the Sun was just another star moving in space. Inevitably, of course, the University academics rebuked him.

“Oxford University and Giordano Bruno were celestial bodies in opposition,” Anderson notes. “The University preached the ancient geocentric theories of Aristotle and Ptolemy. Every object in the heavens, it was said, orbited the earth, and the earth occupied the center of the universe.” Bruno advanced the heresies that “the stars, contrary to fixed church doctrine, are free-floating objects in a fluid celestial firmament; that the universe is infinite, leaving no room for a physical heaven or hell; and that elements in the universe (called ‘monads’) contain a divine spark at the root of life itself. Even the dust from which we are made contains this spark.”

If circumstances lead me, I will find
Where truth is hid, though it were hid indeed
Within the center.
(Polonius in Hamlet, 2.2)

Oxfordians have made a compelling case that Edward de Vere began to set down the first of many versions of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark in 1583, creating a fictional world at the Danish court reflecting his own real world at the English court — with Hamlet essentially a self-portrait; Claudius representing Queen Elizabeth’s former lover Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, who was thought to be a serial “poisoner” as well as her Majesty’s ambitious friend; Gertrude representing Elizabeth herself; chief minister Polonius representing chief minister Lord Burghley; and Ophelia, daughter of Polonius and fiance of Hamlet, depicting Anne Cecil, daughter of Burghley and wife of Oxford.

Wittenberg - Market Square looking much as it did in 1502, when the university (attended by Hamlet in the play) was founded

Wittenberg – Market Square looking much as it did in 1502, when the university (attended by Hamlet in the play) was founded

He would be launching into this work just when discussions of the new ideas about the heavens were accelerating in England. Hamlet is a student at the University of Wittenberg in Germany, a major center for the Copernican theory; and in fact Bruno went on to teach at Wittenberg, where he could freely voice his bold ideas. Later he was imprisoned for seven years before the Roman Inquisition burned him at the stake in 1600 for heresy.

But now we also confront an amazing theory about this great Shakespearean tragedy in which Claudius usurps the throne of Denmark, depriving Prince Hamlet of his rightful place. According to Peter Usher, Professor Emeritus of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Penn State University, this masterpiece of dramatic literature is also “an allegorical description of the competition between two cosmological models.” On one side is the heliocentric universe of Copernicus being taught at Wittenberrg and personified by Hamlet; on the other is the old geocentric order, personified by the Claudius (named for the ancient astronomer Claudius Ptolemy), who has usurped the throne.

KING CLAUDIUS (to Hamlet): How is it that the clouds still hang on you?
PRINCE HAMLET: Not so, my lord. I am too much in the Sun.

Hamlet deserves to be King, the royal Sun at the center. According to the new astronomy of Copernicus and the Sun-centered universe of Thomas Digges, the prince belongs on the throne at the center of the realm. So the Prince of Denmark is dangerous to the stability of the old hierarchy and, therefore, he poses a direct threat to King Claudius and Queen Gertrude.

This bodes some strange eruption to our state
(Horatio in Hamlet, 1.1)

The time is out of joint. O cursed spite
That ever I was born to set it right!

(The prince in Hamlet, 1.5)

Within the cosmological allegory, the play is chock full of allusions to this struggle between the old and new structure of the heavens and of the earth. “The idea of a rotating and revolving earth was counter-intuitive to most people and contrary to established religious and scientific doctrine,” Usher notes. When Claudius and Gertrude express their desire that Hamlet not return to Wittenberg, they do so by saying that such a course is “most retrograde to our desire” – an astronomical term for contrary motion, that is, the prince’s motion away from them and toward the Copernican cosmology as taught at Wittenberg – where, in addition, Martin Luther (1483-1546) had initiated the Protestant Reformation that was also disrupting the traditional order in England!

Giordano Bruno 1548-1600

Giordano Bruno
1548-1600

Scientists, according to Anderson, have observed that Shakespeare’s record of astronomical knowledge acquired during the Elizabethan age, as well as major celestial events, simply ceases by mid-1604, the year of Oxford’s death. The traditionally perceived author, William of Stratford, would live until 1616 — long enough, if he were “Shakespeare,” to continue to record events such as the discovery of sunspots or of Jupiter’s moons, not to mention “other significant celestial phenomena and developments in astronomical science” that occurred before he died. But the great dramatist is silent when it comes to astronomical discoveries and celestial phenomena made or observed between 1604 and 1616.

“The quest for truth and exposure of falsity is a theme that runs through Shakespeare’s play,” Usher says. “The castle platform (at Elsinore) is the interface between the castle interior and the sky, a contrast that parallels the contrast of reality and appearance, as when Hamlet says, ‘Seems, madam? Nay, it is. I know not seems.’ The passage from geocentricism to Digge’s vision of an infinite universe is a passage from appearances to reality.”

Oxford’s extant letters show him as keenly alert to this theme. “But the world is so cunning,” he wrote to Lord Burghley in 1581, “as of a shadow they can make a substance, and of a likelihood a truth.” And he wrote to Burghley’s son Robert Cecil more than two decades later, in 1603, “But I hope truth is subject to no prescription, for truth is truth though never so old, and time cannot make that false which was once true.”

So this evidence is one more reason to conclude that Oxford and “Shakespeare” were one and the same.

A Paper on the “Rival Poet” of the Sonnets as Oxford’s Pen Name or Persona: “Shakespeare”

Following is the text of a 4,000-word paper on “The Rival Poet” of the Sonnets, which I delivered at the Shakespeare Authorship Studies Conference last week at Concordia University in Portland, Oregon — the point being that the Earl of Oxford’s own rival in relation to Southampton was “Shakespeare,” his own pen name or persona:

I realize the phrase “paradigm shift” is a cliché – but the fact is that we are involved in what Looney in 1920 called a difficult, but necessary, “mental revolution”.   Part of it is a rejection of the Stratford conception, but the real fun begins with a compelling replacement.  Oxford is such a good fit that we keep finding new evidence in support, and new explanations for things that have been problematic.

 Edward de Vere 17th Earl of Oxford

Edward de Vere
17th Earl of Oxford

The works themselves never change; what does change, through an Oxfordian lens, is our perception of them – and often the picture is turned upside down in quite unexpected ways.With Oxford as the model, it’s as if a light is turned on, and we’re exploring in ways that can’t even occur to someone still looking from the same old angle.  It’s as if we’re putting on new eyeglasses that allow us to “see” differently.

So we face the need for many other mental revolutions, spinning off from the main one.  And in the process, we still have to shake off some of that old baggage, in the form of deeply ingrained assumptions, based on the old model.  But it’s not easy.  It’s our nature to hold on to previous assumptions and viewpoints and beliefs as long as possible.   Which brings me to my topic – the so-called Rival Poet series of the Sonnets – generally viewed as numbers 78 to 86.

The Stratfordian model forced us to see this series in just one way – namely that other writers or poets, but mainly one particular poet who towers above all the others, is stealing the attentions and affections of the fair youth.  When Looney expressed his agreement that the younger man was the Earl of Southampton, he quoted from the rival series itself – from Sonnet 81, about “your name” achieving immortal life – and from what he called the companion sonnet, 82, in which Oxford refers to his own “dedicated words” or public dedications to Southampton.

Southampton in the   Tower 1601-1603

Southampton in the Tower 1601-1603

Stratfordians have postulated many rivals – Barnes, Chapman, Chaucer, Daniel, Davies, Davison, Drayton, Florio, Golding, Greene, Griffin, Harvey, Jonson, Kyd, Lyly, Markham, Marlowe, Martston, Nashe, Peele, Spenser, the Italian Tasso, Watson.  Oxfordians have come up with some overlaps, such as Chapman and Marlowe … but adding the likes of Raleigh and the Earl of Essex.  The senior Ogburns thought it was both Chapman and Marlowe.  Ogburn Jr. took no position.  He referred to the rival as “one other poet, whose identity I must leave to the contention of more confident minds.”  The late Peter Moore made a well-researched and detailed case for Essex.

Unfortunately, as the Stratfordians have taught us, all the best scholarship in the world is of utterly no help if our basic premises are incorrect.

Using the Stratfordian model, the rival must be some other individual who wrote poetry and who publicly used Southampton’s name:

“Knowing a better spirit doth use your name” – 80

My argument here is that the Oxfordian model opens the way to an entirely new way of looking at the same series – a view of the rival as NONE of those individuals and who is not actually a person but, instead, a persona.   In this paper I hope to show that the rival series contains Oxford’s own testimony about the authorship – a grand, poetic, profoundly emotional statement of his dying to the world, and also of his resurrection as a spirit breathing life into the poetical and dramatic luminary known as Shakespeare.

Dedication of "Venus and Adonis" - 1593 - CLICK ON IMAGE FOR LARGER VIEW

Dedication of “Venus and Adonis” to Southampton – 1593

The Stratfordian view gave no reason to look for any kind of authorship statement anywhere, much less in the so-called rival series.   The Stratfordian view precluded any authorship question or solution.  But Oxfordians contend precisely that Oxford has split himself into two separate entities – on the one hand, he’s Edward de Vere, writing privately in the sonnets; on the other hand, he’s “Shakespeare,” the name on the page and the mythic figure of a Super Poet shaking the spear of his pen.

At the outset we picture Oxford living a double life.  We picture the blotting-out or expunging of his true identity and its replacement by a rival identity.  We were led to take it for granted that the rival must be some real individual; but from Looney onward we have understood Oxford as having created his own rival – initially in the form of a pen name or pseudonym, which then takes the form of a supposedly real character or player on the world stage.

A good question is: If not for the Stratfordian baggage, would we have postulated a rival in the first place?  I think we would have known automatically that Oxford is referring to his alter ego … the other aspect of himself … whom he had named William Shakespeare.  It’s “Shakespeare” who signs the dedications to Southampton that continue to appear in new editions.  It’s “Shakespeare” who gets all the credit.

But there’s much more to it than that.  The clear testimony of the sonnets is that Oxford is fading away … becoming invisible.  And that he is making a Christ-like sacrifice to redeem Southampton’s sins or crimes, by taking them upon his own shoulders – offering his own identity as ransom, so the younger man may survive and live for as long as men can breathe or eyes can see.

So shall those blots that do with me remain

Without thy help be borne by me alone. (36)

To guard the lawful reasons on thy part (49)

I (my sovereign) watch the clock for you (57)

In Sonnets 78 to 86 he’s talking about other writers who have dedicated works to Southampton, and praised him, but he means writers in general, whereas he is also and primarily speaking of his own invention or creation, which he inhabits as a spirit.  By the end of this series, he will consider himself dead to the world and his ghost, his spirit, now lives within the assumed persona of Shakespeare.  He leads up to the sequence by making clear that his coming death to the world revolves around Henry Wriothesley – his need to help and protect him.  He’s not dying in a vacuum, but in relation to Southampton:

When I perhaps compounded am with clay,

Do not so much as my poor name rehearse. – 71

After my death, dear love, forget me quite. -72

My name be buried where my body is,

And live no more to shame nor me nor you. – 72

Each line of Oxford’s obliteration is linked to concern for Southampton.

The rival series begins with 78:

As EVERY Alien pen hath got my use,

And under thee their posey doth disperse – 78

“Every Alien Pen” refers to other poets, but it’s mainly E. Ver’s pen name, Shakespeare, which is alien — not his real identity.

But now my gracious numbers are decayed,

And my sick Muse doth give an other place – 79

“I yield to Shakespeare …  I step aside and let him take my place, as I decay and disappear.”

O how I faint when I of you do write,

Knowing a better spirit doth use your name,

And in the praise thereof spends all his might

To make me tongue-tied speaking of your fame – 80

This is not hyperbole.  His fainting is an act of losing consciousness or the ability to speak or write.   He also faints by feinting, or deceiving – like the feint of a skilled fencer – by assuming an appearance or making a feint to conceal his real identity.  He faints by becoming weaker, feebler … less visible.  But in the first line of Sonnet 80 Oxford is crying out to say, directly:  “I am the one who is writing to you and using your name.  “I am fainting in the process because, while I write of you, I am vanishing into the confines of my creation or invention.  I am undergoing a metamorphosis.   I am doing this to myself, feeding my spirit to Shakespeare, so the more I write through him, the more I lose my identity … and the faster I die to the world.  It is through my own spirit that Shakespeare uses your name, and it’s because of his power – ironically the power I give to him — that I am tongue-tied, silent, and no longer able to write publicly about you.”

To make me tongue-tied speaking of your fame – 80

And art made tongue-tied by authority – 66

And strength by limping sway disabled – 66

Back in Sonnet 66, his art was made tongue-tied “by authority.”  And that’s very specific – he or his art is censored, suppressed; and the force keeping him silent is authority or officialdom, the government.  (In King John he writes “Your sovereign greatness and authority,” speaking of the monarch.)  So “Shakespeare” the pen name is the agent of authority.

And here the door starts opening to a larger and more important story than merely Oxford disappearing for no reason.  The government – in the person of the limping, swaying Robert Cecil – is using Oxford’s own persona of Shakespeare as a weapon against him.  Oxford’s own better spirit is making him tongue-tied when it comes to “speaking of your fame” – which again refers to the dedications by Shakespeare, included in every new edition of the narrative poems.  “Shakespeare” is the agent of Oxford’s death “to all the world” and “Shakespeare” is also the agent of Southampton’s eternal life.

My saucy bark, inferior far to his,

On your broad main doth willfully appear – 80

Steven Booth writes that willfully “may have been chosen for its pun on the poet’s name: the saucy bark is full of Will.”  I would suggest it’s a pun on the poet’s pen name.

Now in 81 come two famous lines for Oxfordians – because they really sum up the authorship question and provide the answer:

Your name from hence immortal life shall have

Though I (once gone) to all the world must die – 81

Given the argument here, it’s no accident – no coincidence – that these lines of 81 appear in the so-called rival sequence.  Southampton’s name from this time forward, from here on, will achieve immortal life, but not necessarily because of these sonnets.  (His name never appears directly in the sonnets — although it appears indirectly, such as the constant plays  upon his motto ‘One for All, All for One”.)  From now on, because of “Shakespeare,” Southampton’s name will achieve immortal life; and also because of “Shakespeare,” my identity will disappear from the world.  And it’s in the very next sonnet where we find Oxford referring to his own public dedications to Southampton:

I grant thou wert not married to my Muse,

And therefore mayst without attaint o’erlook

The dedicated words which writers use

Of their fair subject, blessing every book – 82

(The dedications which I write through Shakespeare/ About the fair youth, Southampton, consecrating E.Ver’s books of Venus and Adonis and Lucrece)

"Lucrece" dedication to Southampton - 1594

“Lucrece” dedication to Southampton – 1594

Later in this very same sonnet, number 82, is a remarkable pair of lines from Oxford’s private self, as if still insisting upon his own identity before it disappears:

Thou truly fair wert truly sympathized

In true-plain words by thy true-telling friend. – 82

And he’s confirming that the “fair subject” of the dedications is Southampton, whom he now calls “truly fair.”  Oxford is “dumb” or silent, unable to speak in public, and as “mute,” which is quite the same, unable to speak.

Which shall be most my glory, being dumb,

For I impair not beauty, being mute – 83

There lives more life in one of your fair eyes

Than both your poets can in praise devise.- 83

(Both Oxford and “Shakespeare”)

 Let him but copy what in you is writ,

Not making worse what nature made so clear,

And such a counterpart shall fame his wit,

Making his style admired everywhere – 84

So here we have Oxford giving instructions to his alter-ego:  “Hold the mirror up to Southampton’s nature and you will be admired everywhere.”

My tongue-tied Muse…

Then others, for the breath of words respect,

Me for my dumb thoughts, speaking in effect – 85

Here again, he and his Muse are tongue-tied while others can speak out:  “Respect me for my silent thoughts and for my actions in your behalf.”

The final verse of the series is Sonnet 86, which by itself tells the story:

Was it the proud full sail of his great verse,

Bound for the prize of (all too precious) you,

That did my ripe thoughts in my brain inhearse,

Making their tomb the womb wherein they grew?- 86

There is only one super poet who can force Oxford’s thoughts into a tomb in his brain, which is also the tomb of these sonnets – as in 17, “Heaven knows it is but as a tomb which hides your life and shows not half your parts” – and the womb of these sonnets wherein Southampton can grow – as in 115, “To give full life to that which still doth grow.”

 Was it his spirit, by spirits taught to write

Above a mortal pitch, that struck me dead?

No, neither he, nor his compeers by night

Giving him aid, my verse astonished. – 86

 It is Oxford’s own spirit, or spirits, teaching his public persona to write with the power of Shakespeare.  No other writer, past or present, has struck Oxford dead – but there it is, this is the last sonnet of the sequence.  Oxford – in terms of his identity – has been killed.

 He, nor that affable familiar ghost

Which nightly gulls him with intelligence,

As victors of my silence cannot boast;

I was not sick of any fear from thence. – 86

The affable familiar ghost – as opposed to an alien ghost – is once again Oxford’s own spirit, which nightly or secretly crams Shakespeare with his substance … or literally with intelligence, that is, secret information that Oxford is inserting within the lines of his plays.  To “gull” is to cram full, but also to play a trick on … and of course “Shakespeare” the pen name or persona is totally dependent upon Oxford and therefore unaware of what mischief his spirit is up to.

But when your countenance filled up his line,

Then lacked I matter, that enfeebled mine.

And this final couplet is another direct statement of the authorship problem – As Shakespeare rises in connection with Southampton, so Oxford fades away – as Touchstone in As You Like It tells William the country fellow: “Drink, being poured out of a cup into a glass, by filling the one doth empty the other.”

The so-called rival series is the equivalent of a “movement” of a musical composition, a symphony.  It’s a separate piece within a larger structure.  Its message can be expressed in a line or two, but Oxford wants a string or sequence of lines.  The sequence is one long continuous wail of eloquent mourning.  But in fact the actual mourning begins much earlier, with many of the preceding sonnets, which are preoccupied with dying.

Death is necessary if there is going to be a Resurrection.  So there is a religious, spiritual aspect, mirroring the sacrifice of Christ.  In fact it goes all the way back to Sonnet 27 where Southampton is “a jewel hung in ghastly night” – the image of a man in prison awaiting execution or, if you will, of a man hanging from the cross.   In Christian terms there is a father and a son who are separate individuals and yet they are also inseparable.  He writes in number 27: “For thee, and for myself, no quiet find.”  And in 42: “My friend and I are one.”

There is a long, long preparation for the so-called rival series – These are genuinely religious … spiritual …. And devastating … This is heavy, profound, sorrowful and deeply emotional – what we might expect from a man sacrificing his identity.

Intend a zealous pilgrimage to thee (27)

Clouds do blot the heaven (28)

Look upon myself and curse my fate (29)

Precious friends hid in death’s dateless night (30)

How many a holy and obsequious tear

Hath dear religious love stolen from mine eye …

Thou art the grave where buried love doth live (31)

When that churl death my bones with dust shall cover (32)

Anon permit the basest clouds to ride

With ugly rack on his celestial face … (33)

Though thou repent, yet I have still the loss;

The offender’s sorrow lends but weak relief

To him that bears the strong offence’s cross  (34)

So shall those blots that do with me remain

Without thy help, by me be borne alone (36)

Lay on me this cross (42)

To guard the lawful reasons on thy part (49)

‘Gainst death and all oblivious enmity

Shall you pace forth …

So till the judgment that yourself arise (55)

I (my sovereign) watch the clock for you (57)

Nativity, once in the main of light,

Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crowned,

Crooked eclipses ‘gainst his glory fight (60)

To play the watchman ever for thy sake (61)

O fearful meditation!  (65)

For restful death I cry … (66)

In him those holy antique hours are seen (68)

All tongues, the voice of souls, give thee that due (69)

No longer mourn for me when I am dead (71)

In me thou seest the twilight of such day,

As after Sun-set fadeth in the West (73)

When that fell arrest

Without all bail shall carry me away (74)

Why is my verse so barren of new pride  (76)

And here, finally, his verse is like a barren womb, empty of child.

And now we have Sonnet 77, which has been seen as a dedicatory verse – with Oxford speaking at first of “this book” and then, to Southampton at the end, calling it “thy book.”

This is the real opening of the so-called rival series – ten consecutive sonnets from 77 to 86:

And of this book this learning mayst thou taste…

These offices, so oft as thou wilt look,

Shall profit thee, and much enrich thy book. (77)

 Yet be most proud of that which I compile,

Whose influence is thine, and born of thee  (78)

 And in 78, even while “every alien pen hath got my use,” he nonetheless tells Southampton to be “most proud” of these sonnets which he is compiling – or arranging, and he identifies them as having been influenced or inspired by Southampton, and “born” of him, thereby identifying Henry Wriothesley as the “only begetter” of the sonnets, Mr. W.H., the commoner in prison, referred to in the dedication.

 Meanwhile the nautical imagery began earlier, for example:

When I have seen the hungry ocean gain

Advantage on the kingdom of the shore

When I have seen such interchange of state

Or state itself confounded to decay…    (64)

“’Ocean’ or ‘sea’ as a figure for ‘king’ is often found in Shakespeare and his fellow-writers.”  (Leslie Hotson)

The hungry Ocean indicates the royal blood of King James advancing upon England, the kingdom of the shore, and the coming of the inevitable interchange of state or royal succession.

But since your worth (wide as the Ocean is)

The humble as the proudest sail doth bear… (80)

The nautical imagery is based now on Southampton’s worth as wide as the Ocean, referring to his royal worth.  Southampton’s ocean of blood, his kingly identity, holds up all boats.

I came to this view of the so-called rival by a long indirect route — hypothesizing that the fair youth sonnets ARE in chronological order, and that they lead up to, and away from, Sonnet 107, when Southampton is released from the Tower in April 1603 after being “supposed as forfeit to a confined doom.”  That’s a very serious sonnet.  It has to do not only with Southampton but with the death of Elizabeth, the succession of James and the end of the Tudor dynasty.  If the other sonnets have no relationship to that political subject matter, then Sonnet 107 is one huge anomaly.

A simple question became obvious: Given that Shakespeare is a master storyteller, and given that the high point of this story is Southampton getting OUT of the Tower, it stands to reason that he must have marked the time when Southampton went IN to the Tower back in February of 1601.  Otherwise there’s no story at all, no suspense, and his liberation from prison comes out of the blue, apropos of nothing.  I came to Sonnet 27 as marking that time with Southampton in the Tower expecting execution and pictured as a Jewel hung in ghastly night.  I tracked sonnets reflecting those crucial days after the failed Essex rebellion until the moment of Southampton’s reprieve from execution in March 1601.  And in that context it appears that Oxford had made a “deal” involving a complete severance of the relationship between himself and Southampton:

I may not evermore acknowledge thee (36)

This is a crucial part of the story of Oxford sacrificing himself for Southampton, his dying to the world and his undergoing a resurrection as Shakespeare

In Sonnet 84 of the rival series, Oxford refers to Southampton being in confinement and immured within the walls of the prison:

“That you alone are you, in whose confine immured is the store” (84)

 The idea of having or lacking PRIDE is important.  So at the very end of the previous 10-sonnet sequence, number 76, his private verse was “barren” of such pride:

“Why is my verse so barren of new pride?” (76)

By the end of the rival series, with Sonnet 86, “Shakespeare” has inherited that pride – with the “proud full sail of his great verse” riding on that great ocean of Southampton’s identity as a king.

 “Was it the proud full sail of his great verse?” (86)

 Oxford’s own private verse is like a barren womb, but now Shakespeare’s public verse is fully pregnant.  The end of one chapter was a death; the end of the rival chapter is new life.  And Shakespeare is full-bellied riding on the sea of Southampton’s tide of kingship:

“Why is my verse so barren of new pride?” – 76

“Was it the proud full sail of his great verse” – 86

“The sails conceive, and grow big-bellied with the wanton wind”  (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

The Prince (now King): “The tide of blood in me … shall mingle with the state of floods and flow henceforth in formal majesty” (2 Henry IV)

And after the rival series ends with Sonnet 86, the very first word of Sonnet 87 is “farewell”:

Farwell, thou art too dear for my possessing …

My bonds in thee are all determinate (87)

Our connection to each other is hereby severed.  The deal is done.

Adopting the pen name in 1593 had been Oxford’s means of supporting Southampton through his creation of Shakespeare; but now in 1601, to save Southampton’s life and gain his eventual freedom, he agreed to make it permanent.  From now on, even after his death, the rest is silence.

The enormity of Oxford’s sacrifice – completely severing his relationship with Southampton, losing his identity as the great writer – the dashing of his hopes involving succession to Elizabeth and the future of England – his death to the world and resurrection as Shakespeare to save Southampton and redeem his sins and ensure his life in posterity – the enormity of this sacrifice demands a use of words that, in most any other scenario, would seem to be sheer hyperbole, nothing more than “a poet’s rage and stretched meter of an antique song.”

 “My gracious numbers are decayed … my sick muse … O how I faint …. Being wracked, I am a worthless boat … the earth can yield me but a common grave … most my glory, being dumb … being mute … my tongue-tied muse … my dumb thoughts.”

This is, in fact, a poet’s rage – but my argument here is that, when it’s viewed within the right context, as part of the correctly perceived picture, the rage is no longer fatuous or “over the top”; instead, it’s honest and real and so, too, are the words expressing it.

For the rival poet series, it’s time for a mental revolution.

 

Reason No. 25 to Believe that Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford was Shakespeare: His Grant of a Thousand Pounds Per Year

English ships battle Spain's Armada - 1588

On June 26, 1586, when England was officially at war with Spain and bracing for King Philip’s invasion by armada, Queen Elizabeth signed a warrant granting Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford an extraordinary allowance of a thousand pounds per year.  The grant was to be paid to him by the Exchequer, according to the same formula used for payments to Secretary Francis Walsingham and his wartime secret service, that is, to be made in quarterly installments with no accounting required.

Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603)

At this time the English government desperately needed all available cash for military defense, to secure Elizabeth’s safety and the survival of her realm; and Walsingham required a constant flow of cash to pay foreign and domestic spies for his network of espionage.  Back in 1582 the Queen had given him 750 pounds; in 1586 she raised it to two thousand pounds; but that would be the limit for her spymaster — even during 1588, the year of England’s surprising victory over the Armada.

Sir Francis Walsingham (1532-1590)

So why would Elizabeth — known for being a most parsimonious (some would say miserly) monarch — choose to support a “spendthrift” nobleman who had “wasted” the vast bulk of his great inheritance?  And why would she authorize such a large annual pension to be paid to him right now, of all times, at this most perilous moment for the nation?

Oxford’s grant apparently went unnoticed by historians until two years after John Thomas Looney published “Shakespeare” Identified in Edward de Vere the Seventeenth Earl of Oxford in 1920.  Inspired to conduct further research, B. M. Ward discovered Elizabeth’s signature on the Privy Seal Warrant and then looked at surviving records for all other salaries and annuities paid from the Exchequer during her reign.  Aside from sums paid to James of Scotland for political reasons, he found, the grant to Oxford was larger than any other except for the annual 1,200 pounds to the Master of the Posts for the expenses of that office.

As Ward noted in his 1928 documentary biography The Seventeenth Earl of Oxford, there’s no hint as to the purpose of the grant, except that it was “to be continued unto him during Our pleasure, or until such time as he shall be by us otherwise provided for to be in some manner relieved, at what time our pleasure is that this payment of one thousand pounds yearly to our said cousin in manner above specified shall cease.”  The warrant also stated that the Exchequer was not to call upon Oxford to render any account of its expenditure, as in the case of secret service money.

Blackfriars Playhouse - In the 1580's Oxford gave the lease of it to John Lyly

Edward de Vere at age thirty-six was in fact broke and needed “to be in some manner relieved,” but the circumstantial evidence clearly suggests he had been working with Secretary Walsingham (and his father-in-law, William Cecil Lord Burghley) to serve the government’s interests.  The evidence points to him playing a multi-faceted role behind the scenes that included, but was not limited to, the issuance of his own “comedies” for the stage – as the anonymous writer of The Arte of English Poesie would write in 1589: “For tragedy Lord Buckhurst and Master Edward Ferrys do deserve the highest praise: the Earl of Oxford and Master Edwards of Her Majesty’s Chapel for Comedy and Enterlude.”

Oxford actively patronized two acting companies performing at the private Blackfriars Playhouse and at the royal court.  He patronized and/or employed many literary men for whom he provided working space, inspiration, guidance and freedom from the wartime suppression of written words and speech.  Some of the writers in his service, such as Anthony Munday and Thomas Watson, operated as Secret Service agents (as did Christopher Marlowe) while using their artistic activities as public cover; and others working under his wing included Robert Greene, John Lyly and Thomas Lodge, to name just a few more.

It was Walsingham himself who had initiated formation of Queen Elizabeth’s Men in 1583.  (He had received his first regular allowance for espionage after years of financing it from his own pocket, just as Oxford had been financing acting companies, writers and musicians with his personal funds.) The Secretary ordered the twelve best actors from existing companies to be transferred into the new Queen’s Men.  Then in January 1584 Oxford’s adult company performed at Court with his secretary Lyly as payee; and in March that year Oxford’s company performed with the Queen’s players at Court, again with Lyly handling the business side.

So the two acting companies had been amalgamated, with Oxford’s secretary apparently serving as business agent, stage manager and rehearsal coach.   In other words, soon after the head of the Secret Service had spawned Her Majesty’s own acting group, Edward de Vere rushed to contribute in various ways to its success.  Meanwhile, the plots of several royal history plays performed in the 1580’s by the Queen’s Men – including The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth, The Troublesome Reign of King John and The True Tragedy of Richard III – would appear in the 1590’s and later as virtually the same plots of plays attributed to Shakespeare.

The anonymous play The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth was performed by the Queen's Men in the 1580's

“The formation of the Queen’s Men in 1583 should be regarded particularly in connection with the intelligence system,” Scott McMillin and Sally-Beth MacLean write in The Queen’s Men and Their Plays.  “The point is not that the Queen’s Men were spies, but that traveling players wearing the Queen’s livery would have been useful to Walsingham – perhaps for occasionally bearing messages to the right persons, more obviously for showing that the central government was attending to the nation through its licensed travelers.”

With at least two companies always on tour, the Queen’s Men performed plays that would rouse patriotic fervor and encourage unity among Protestants and Catholics in the face of the coming Spanish invasion.  (To call this “propaganda” would be true, but not the whole of it.)  And I suggest, first of all, that Oxford had spent much of his fortune on helping to bring the European Renaissance to England – on his travels in 1575-1576 through France, Germany and Italy; and on his employment of various artists who would create the great surge of English literature and drama in the 1580’s, leading to “Shakespeare” in the following decade.

In a real sense Edward de Vere was a leader (or the leader) in creating a new English language, culture and national identity — weapons as important as ships and guns in building up England’s ability to withstand attack.  And we could not expect to find these matters written down in the Queen’s Privy Seal Warrant authorizing his grant.

Six decades later, the Rev. John Ward, vicar of Stratford Parish in Warwickshire, recorded local rumors in his diary (1661-1663) that “Shakespeare” had “supplied the stage with two plays every year and for that had an allowance so large that he spent at the rate of a thousand pounds a year.”

The Armada Battle

In fact Oxford received his annual thousand pounds during the rest of the Anglo-Spanish War, from 1586 through the death of Elizabeth in 1603 and the succession of King James, until his own death in 1604.  That amounts to a total of eighteen years; and, of course, eighteen years times two plays per year equals thirty-six plays, the number of them published in the First Folio of Shakespeare in 1623.  Coincidence?

Reason No. 6 why Oxford was “Shakespeare”: John Lyly

Let us begin with a brief episode in the imagination of Stephen Greenblatt in Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare:
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“At some moment in the late 1580’s, Shakespeare walked into a room — most likely, an inn in Shoreditch, Southwark, or the Bankside — and quite possibly found many of the leading writers drinking and eating together: Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Watson, Thomas Lodge, George Peele, Thomas Nashe, and Robert Greene.  Other playwrights might have been there as well — Thomas Kyd, for example, or John Lyly…”
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Shakespeare & His Writing Pals at the Mermaid Tavern (and if you believe that one...)

That is the entire presence in Will in the World of John Lyly, the principal Court dramatist in the 1580’s and a pivotal figure of the English renaissance.  Professor Greenblatt makes no  mention of Lyly’s twelve-year literary apprenticeship under the guidance of Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, paving the way for the Court comedies of “Shakespeare” in the 1590’s.  Not a word more about this individual who is crucial to the story of “how Shakespeare became Shakespeare.”
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John Lyly is offered here as reason no. 6 — another link in the chain of evidence — that Edward de Vere (1550-1604) was the greatest writer of the English language.
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The Anatomy of Wit, 1579, at the dawn of the English novel. Lyly may have held the pen, but Oxford was standing right over him...

Lyly’s extravagant novels and courtly comedies of the 1580’s are viewed as a major influence on Shakespeare’s early plays. He was employed as Oxford’s private secretary and theatrical manager until 1590, when the earl withdrew from public life, and then in 1593 the name “Shakespeare” appeared in print [on the dedication of Venus and Adonis to the Earl of Southampton].
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Lyly is credited with writing the first English novels, Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit in 1579 and Euphues & His England in 1580, both featuring an Italianized Englishman.  He had been recruited in 1577 by William Cecil Lord Burghley, who introduced him to his Italianized son-in-law, Edward de Vere, to whom Lyly dedicated Euphues & His England with strong hints that Oxford had taken an active part in its writing.
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Oxford was leader of England’s new literary movement and the young writers under his wing, later dubbed the University Wits, all dedicated their “euphuistic” works to him.
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The writers included Anthony Munday, who wrote to the earl about “the day when as conquerors we may peacefully resume our delightful literary discussions.” They included Robert Greene, who wrote to Oxford:  “And your Honor, being a worthy favorer and fosterer of learning, hath forced many through your excellent virtue to offer the first-fruits of their study at the shrine of your Lordship’s courtesy.” Among them was also Thomas Watson, who thanked Oxford for having “willingly vouchsafed the acceptance” of his work “and at convenient leisures favorably perused it, being as yet but in written hand.”
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Edward de Vere was deeply involved with these writers and their works, which contained a wealth of metaphor and creative jugglings of words and sentences — all handled with flawless ease by “Shakespeare” in Love’s Labour’s Lost and A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the 1590’s for aristocratic audiences and Elizabeth at Court.
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Traditional biography requires that young Will of Stratford had to somehow absorb, master and even surpass the “euphuistic” outpourings of the University Wits within just a few years.  The glover’s son, newly arrived in London, had to quickly become the foremost dramatist of courtly love and genteel romance, a peerless practitioner of elaborate puns, repetitions, alliterations, high-flown rhetorical digressions and fanciful references to classical mythology and natural history.
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Love’s Labour’s Lost is said by orthodox scholars to have been written circa 1592; it  was  first published in 1598.  For that ultra-sophisticated court comedy “Shakespeare” had to know about a visit in 1578 by Catherine de Medici and her daughter Marquerite de Valois, wife of King Henry of Navarre, to Nerac; he needed intimate knowledge of the philosophical debating societies or academes establishd in France and Italy; and he had to know the characters and plots of commedia dell’arte, the comedy form that had become popular in Italy.
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Love's Labour's Lost was first printed in 1598, but the title page indicates that an earlier version has been revised

When Oxford was in his mid-twenties in 1575 he spent several weeks in Paris, where he was entertained at the French court by Henry III, Catherine de Medici and Marguerite de Valois.  He then spent a year traveling in Italy, where he attended performances of commedia dell ‘arte, and in fact an eyewitness account reported that he joined a hilarious skit that involved jousting with a woman and falling from his horse and rolling on the ground.
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Shakespeare’s other comedies of the 1590’s, all viewed as indebted to writings attributed to Lyly, included The Comedy of Errors, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Taming of the Shrew, Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It and Twelfth Night.
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In his three-volume Complete Works of John Lyly in 1902, R. W. Bond wrote that Lyly was “the first regular English dramatist, the true inventor and introducer of dramatic style, conduct and dialogue. There is no play before Lyly. He wrote eight; and immediately thereafter England produced some hundreds — produced that marvel and pride of the greatest literature in the world, the Elizabethan Drama.”
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Bond wrote of “the immense superiority” of Lyly’s work “to anything that preceded it” and cited “his prime importance as Shakespeare’s chief master and exemplar. In comedy Lyly is Shakespeare’s only model.  The evidence of Shakespeare’s study and imitation of him is abundant, and Lyly’s influence is of a far more permanent nature than any exercised on the great poet by other writers.”
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The Life and Complete Works of Lyly by Bond - 1902

Bond speculated that Lyly “first received the dramatic impulse” from his master Lord Oxford; but the extent of Oxford’s role was virtually unknown until 1912, when a professor at the University of Nebraska published a remarkable discovery.  Charles William Wallace, PhD reported in The Evolution of the English Drama up to Shakespeare that he had found records showing that Edward de Vere had contributed far more to that “evolution” than scholars had realized.
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Wallace focused on the private Blackfriars theatre, where plays were rehearsed in front of aristocrats before being brought to the royal court.  Blackfriars Playhouse faced deep legal and financial troubles in 1583, but then a nobleman intervened behind the scenes:
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“The Earl of Oxford, himself celebrated in his day as a dramatist, came to the rescue.  Noted alike as swaggerer, roisterer,brawler, coxcomb, musician, poet, Maecenas, the earl was also the devoted patron of John Lyly, whose ‘Euphues’ had made a stir in all England during the past three years.  He believed in Lyly’s literary ability.  so he bought the Blackfriars lease [and] made a present of it to Lyly … Thereafter we hear of John Lyly as presenting two plays at Court in the winter of 1583-84 with the Earl of Oxford’s servants, and also [a year later] … the same Earl of Oxford’s Boys at Court.”
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During the Christmas season of 1584, Wallace noted, Oxford’s boy actors performed the anonymous Agamemnon and Ulysees before Elizabeth at Greenwich Palace; and he speculated that Oxford himself could have written the play.  Meanwhile Endymion, The Man in the Moon, another play attributed [much later] to Lyly and performed for her Majesty, was unmistakably about Oxford-in relation to the Queen, frequently called the Goddess of the Moon.
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A Play for the Queen with Oxford portrayed as Endymion, the Lead Charater

When J. Thomas Looney published his identification of Oxford as “Shakespeare” in 1920, he noted Bond’s statements about Lyly having probably “first received the dramatic impulse” from the earl, along with the passage in The Arte of English Poesie of 1589 wherein Oxford was cited as “deserving the highest praise for comedy and interlude” [although, mysteriously, none of his comedies were known to have survived]; and he concluded:
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“The work of Oxford in drama is therefore recognized as having furnished the generative impulse which produced Lyly’s work in this particular domain.  Therefore we feel quite entitled to say that it was the plays of Edward de Vere that furnished Lyly’s dramatic education, while contact with his master is a recognized force in his personal education.  The dramas of Edward de Vere form the source from which sprang Lyly’s dramatic conceptions and enterprises, and Lyly’s dramas appear as the chief model, in comedy the ‘only’ model, upon which ‘Shakespeare’ worked. We are therefore entitled to claim that the highest orthodox authorities, in the particular department of literature with which we are dealing, support the view that the dramatic activities of Edward de Vere stand in almost immediate productive or causal relationship of a most distinctive character with the dramatic work of ‘Shakespeare.'”
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Lyly was identified in 1632 as the author of those Court Comedies of the 1580's, but all his writing was produced when working with Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford

Oxford had been the sun from which  Lyly had drawn his light.
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The only work for which Lyly is credited was produced during the years he worked for Oxford.
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After Oxford withdrew from public life in 1590, no more writing attributed to Lyly came forth.
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Isn’t it far more logical that “Shakespeare” never had draw his light from Lyly, but, rather, that Edward de Vere continued as the same great source of light in 1n the 1590’s, as he develped even more dramatic power under the “Shakespeare” pen name?
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Campaspe, 1584 (One of my favorite plays - HW)

An honest account of what led to “Shakespeare” would find Edward de Vere standing in the wings.
It would not require an imagined scene in a tavern with all of Oxford’s proteges talking and drinking around a table … all part of orthodoxy’s necessary trivialization of the knowledge, experience and artistic growth of the true Shakespeare.

Hank’s 100 Reasons Why Oxford was “Shakespeare” — The List To Date

THE LIST TO DATE:

Reason No. 1: Oxford, like Hamlet, brought plays to Court

Reason No. 2: Golding, Translator of Ovid, was Oxford’s Uncle

Reason No. 3: Oxford Promoted The Courtier, Model for Hamlet

Reason No. 4: Oxford Hailed “New Glory of Language” in Courtier Preface

Reason No. 5: Hamlet’s Brush with Pirates Reflects Oxford’s Encounter

Reason No. 6: Lyly Taught Shakespeare, but Oxford Taught Lyly

Reason No. 7: Oxford Wrote the First “Shakespearean” Sonnet of the Elizabethan Reign

Reason No. 8: Gabriel Harvey’s address to Oxford in 1578: “Thy Countenance Shakes a Spear!”

Reason No. 9: Oxford to Burghley: “I AM THAT I AM”; Shakespeare Sonnet 121: “I AM THAT I AM”

Reason No. 10: Oxford Commanded the English Publication of “Hamlet’s Book”

Reason No. 11 – Part One: The Earl’s Preface to “Cardanus Comforte” is Shakespearean!

Reason No. 11 – Part Two: His Words, Thoughts & Phrases Anticipate Shakespeare’s

Reason No. 11 – Part Three: And Here’s Some of the Extraordinary Evidence

Reason No. 12 – Part One: “Shakespeare” & Queen Elizabeth’s Men

Reason No. 12 – Part Two: Lord Oxford & the Queen’s Men

Reason No. 13 – “Shakespeare” Describes a Titian Painting of “Venus and Adonis” that Oxford, not Shakspere, would have seen in Venice

Reason No. 14 – The Famous “Precepts” of Lord Polonius & Lord Burghley

Reason No. 15 – Oxford’s Prominence in “The Arte of English Poesie” of 1589

Reason No. 16: Bertram in “All’s Well” is a Portrait of Young Oxford

Reason No 17: Oxford at Age 14 Witnessed an Event like the Pivotal Scene in “Hamlet”

Reason No. 18: Henry Peacham and the Hand of an Unseen Author Identified as De Vere

Reason No. 19: The Families of Oxford and Hamlet as Mirror Reflections 

Reason No. 20: Part One: The Nearly 30 Dedications of Books to Oxford 

Reason No. 20: Part Two – The Dedications Show Oxford’s Personal Involvement with the Writers

Reason No. 21: Jealousies and Suspicions Regarding His Wife: Anne Cecil in Desdemona and Ophelia 

Reason No. 22: Edward de Vere’s Geneva Bible and its Annotations in His Own Hand

Reason No. 23: Those “Haggards” That Fly From Man to Man

Reason No. 24: Shakespeare’s Deep Knowledge of Italy & Oxford’s Italian Travels

Reason No. 25: Oxford’s Grant of a Thousand Pounds Per Year in Wartime 

Reason No. 26: “L’Envoy to ‘Narcissus'” in 1595 and “One whose power floweth far … Tilting under Frieries”

Reason No. 27: Anthony Munday and his Long Association with Oxford and “Shakespeare”

Reason No. 28: Henry Wriothesley Earl of Southampton and his links to both “Shakespeasre” and Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford

Reason No. 29: The Fabric of Oxford’s Life is Woven into the Autobiographical Sonnets

Reason No. 30: Part One – Oxford’s Letters are Filled Throughout with Thoughts and Phrases Used in the Shakespeare Works 

Reason No. 30 – Part Two – His Response in “Shakespearean” Style to the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in August 1572

Reason No. 31: “Timon of Athens” Mirrors Oxford’s Own Character, Life Experiences and Emotional Responses

Reason No. 32: “The Quality of Mercy” and Oxford’s view that “Nothing Adorns a King more than Justice.”

Reason No. 33:  The Earl of Oxford, like Shakespeare, had deep knowledge of France and of the French Language

Reason No. 34: The College of Writers at Fisher’s Folly, Oxford’s House, and the Book of Verses by Oxford and Shakespeare Transcribed by Anne Cornwallis, Daughter of the New Owner 

Reason No. 35 (Part One): The poet Thomas Watson and his Links between Edward de Vere and “Shakespeare”

Reason No. 35 (Part Two): The structure of Watson’s 1582 sonnet “century,” dedicated to Oxford, is duplicated in SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS of 1609 

Reason No. 36: The “Bed-Trick” in Edward de Vere’s Life Story, whether Fact or Legend, and its Appearance in Four of Shakespeare’s Plays 

Reason No. 37 (Part One): Oxford’s Life in Music Explains the Enormous Breadth and Depth of Shakespeare’s Love & Knowledge of It – “Mark the Music!” 

Reason No. 37 (Part Two): Oxford Worked With and Patronized the Composer William Byrd 

Reason No. 37 (Part Three): Oxford Patronized the Composer John Farmer, Who Dedicated His Works to the Earl

Reason No. 38: Henry Peacham in “The Compleat Gentleman” of 1622 Lists Oxford at the Top of Elizabethan Poets but Neglects “Shakespeare” 

Reason No. 39 (Part One): Shakespeare’s Vast Medical Knowledge and Oxford’s Interest in Medicine and Access to Medical Information  

Reason No. 39 (Part Two): More of the Medical Mind of “Shakespeare” and Why Oxford, not Shakspere of Stratford,  is the Author

Reason No. 40: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and Its Origins in the Early 1580’s as a Comic Skit about Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Alencon 

Reason No. 41: The Deep Familiarity of “Shakespeare” and Oxford with the Italian Commedia Dell’Arte

Reason No. 42: “Truth is Truth” — Oxford and “Shakespeare” Share the Same Commitment to Truth in the Same Words

Reason No. 43: Oxford and the Law: He had the Experience to Develop and Use the Legal Mind of “Shakespeare” 

Reason No. 44 (Part One):https://hankwhittemore.wordpress.com/?s=reason+44&submit=Search (Scroll down to the Post)

Reason No. 44 (Part Two): Oxford’s Poetry and “Shakespeare’s” Poetry Suggest a Common Source

Reason No. 45: Oxford’s Echo Poem and the Echo Verse in William Shake-speare’s “A Lover’s Complaint”

Reason No. 46: Edmund Spenser’s Lament in 1590 for “Our Pleasant Willy” Who Was “Dead of Late”

Reason No. 46 (Part Two): Additional Thoughts about “Our Pleasant Willy”

Reaspm No. 47: Spenser’s Rhyming Match in 1579 between “Willie” (Oxford) and “Perigot” (Philip Sidney)

Reason No. 48: The Many Characters Reflecting Queen Elizabeth in the Shakespeare Poems and Plays

Reason No. 49: The Many Characters Reflecting Edward de Vere in the Shakespeare Plays

Reason No. 50: Oxford was Court Impressario and Master Showman: The Mock Military Battle for the Queen in 1572

Reason No. 51: Oxford Had Gained All the Military Knowledge Exhibited by the “Shakespeare” Works  

Reason No. 52 (Part One): Oxford Stages a Dramatic Show for the Queen, Playing the Lead Role as “The Knight of the Tree of the Sunne”

Reason No. 52 (Part Two): Oxford’s Page Delivers a Shakespearean Oration to Elizabeth, Professing His Master’s Loyalty

Reason No. 53 (Part One): “The Phoenix and Turtle” of 1601 is Explained by Oxford’s Role as “Knight of the Tree of the Sunne” in 1581

Reason No. 53 (Part Two): The Royal Family Triangle at the Tiltyard (1581), in “The Phoenix and Turtle” (1601) and “Shake-speares Sonnets” (1609)

Reason No. 54: The Author as Gardener: Oxford Grew up in one of the World’s Most Famous Gardens

Reason No. 55: The Earl of Surrey, who introduced the Shakespearean sonnet form in England, was Oxford’s uncle

Reason No. 56: Richard Edwards, Master of the Children of the Royal Chapel, and links with the Young Edward de Vere in the 1560’s

Reason No. 57: Each of the Three Dedicatees of Shakespeare Works was Engaged to One of Oxford’s Three Daughters

Reason No. 58: Touchstone to William in “As You Like It” act one scene five: “You are not ‘ipse,’ for I am he!”

Reason No. 59: Prospero in “The Tempest” based on Dr. John Dee, the Conjurer, and also a self-portrait of Edward de Vere

Reason No. 60: If “Shakespeare” wrote the early play “Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth,” it must have been the young Edward de Vere

Reason No. 60 (Part Two): The Prince Tudor Aspect of “Famous Victories” and the Henry plays of Shakespeare

Reason No. 61: The Sea & Seamanship: Edward de Vere’s Life Explains Shakespeare’s Knowledge

Reason No. 62: Shakespeare’s Use of Heraldry and Heraldic Terms as an Inextricable Part of His Language

Reason No. 63: “A Never Writer to an Ever Reader”

Reason No. 63 (Part Two): Edward de Vere as “Ever or Never”

Reason No. 64: The Year of Oxford’s Recorded Death – 1604 – is a Pivotal Year in the “Shakespeare” Story

Reason No. 65: The Shakespeare Plays were Revised to Become Dramatic Literature

Reason No. 66 (Part One): Oxford was a Complete Man of the Theater – On the Record!

Reason No. 66 (Part Two): Oxford’s Life in the Theater

Reason No. 66 (Part Three): Connecting the Dots of Oxford’s Theatrical Life

Reason No. 67: John Bale’s Early Play of King John and the Earls of Oxford; also, the anonymous “Troublesome Reign” of King John

Reason No. 68 (Part One): “A Pleasant Conceit of Vere Earl of Oxford, Discontented at the Rising of a Mean Gentleman” etc. = Oxford and Christopher Hatton

Reason No. 68 (Part Two): Christopher Hatton and Malvolio of “Twelfth Night”

Reason No. 69: “Cymbeline” from an Oxfordian viewpoint, as an early work, finally makes sense

Reason No. 70: The Duke of Alencon in the Shakespeare plays

Reason No. 71: Alencon and Simier in The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Reason No. 72: Oxford and the Northwest Passage … the bond … the 3,000 pounds and the 3,000 ducats … Lock and Shylock

Reason No. 73 (Part One): “The Merchant of Venice” – Portia as Queen Elizabeth

Reason No. 73 (Part Two): Portia’s Belmont is a Real Place — the Villa Foscari

Reason No. 74: Oxford’s brother-in-law Lord Willoughby brought back report on “Hamlet’s Castle” in Denmark

Reason No. 75: The New Sophisticated Clown Robert Armin was a “servant” of Oxford when he was a “servant” of Shakespeare’s Company

Reason No. 76: Oxford, like Hamlet at the Court of Denmark, was the Most Amazing Jester at the Court of Elizabethan England

Reason No. 77: The Poet-Playwright George Chapman Knew that Oxford = Hamlet = Shakespeare

Reason No. 78: “A King of Infinite Space” – Oxford and Hamlet have the same point of view

Reason No. 79: Shakespearean “history” plays as mirrors (and instruments) of Elizabethan Tudor policy

Reason No. 80: A 1595 Reference to “Sweet Shakespeare” linked to “Our DeVere … A Secret” Discovered by Alexander Waugh

Reason No. 81: Allusions in “Twelfth Night” to the 1581 Interrogation and Torture of Jesuit priest Edmund Campion

Reason No. 82: Both “Shakespeare” and Oxford were Highly Educated in Greek – Demonstrated in the work of Dr. Earl Showerman

Reason No. 83: “Romeus and Juliet” of 1562, when Edward de Vere was Twelve, and Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juiliet”

Reason No. 84: Oxford was Involved in the Revolutionary Expanding Universe of Astronomy as Indicated by “Shakespeare”

Reason No. 85: The Gad’s Hill Robbery: an Episode of Oxford’s Life Shows Up in “Henry the Fourth Part One”

Reason No. 86: The Darnley Murder of 1567, the Assassination of Coligny in 1572, and more — The Likelihood of Contemporary Sources of “Macbeth” in Oxford’s Experience between 1567 and 1589

Reason No. 87: Horses and Horsemanship: An Integral Part of “Shakespeare’s” Work and of Oxford’s Life Experience

Reason No. 88: Oxford’s Links to the Bard’s Printers and Publishers

Reason No. 89: “The Two Most Noble Henries” – Henry Wriothesley and Henry De Vere

Reason No. 90: Oxford’s Tutor Had the Only Manuscript of “Beowulf,” an Influence Upon “Hamlet”

Reason No. 91 (Part One): “The Winter’s Tale”

Reason No. 91 (Part Two): The Trial of Mary, Queen of Scots and the Trial of Queen Hermione

Reason No. 91 (Part Three): “The Stubborn Bear of Authority”

Reason No. 92: Given his anonymity, Oxford had “The Record of a Wasted Genius”

Reason No. 93: Oxford had “Knowledge of Power” that is exhibited in the Shakespeare works

Reason No. 94: Shakespeare’s “immediate predecessors” worked under Oxford’s patronage and guidance

Reason No. 95 (Part One): The Shadowy Figure of Christopher Marlowe

Reason No. 95 (Part Two): Christopher Marlowe, continued

Reason No. 95 (Part Three): Christopher Marlowe, continued

Reason No. 95 (Part Four): Christopher Marlowe, continued to conclusion

Reason No. 96: “Oxford was with Elizabeth before her Speech to the Troops at Tilbury on August 8, 1588”

Reason No. 97: A 1584 Play at Court Performed by Oxford’s Boys was the Early Version of “Troilus and Cressida”

Reason No. 98: Oxford is the Only One on Francis Meres’ List with No Surviving Plays

Reason No. 99 (Part One): The “Taming” Plays in which Oxford Reveals his Identity

Reason No. 99 (Part Two): The Tale of Two Shrews and How it Reveals the Dramatist’s Method

Reason No. 100: How the Oxfordian movement began by looking for a special kind of genius and finding the conditions fulfilled

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