There’s some strident Stratfordian activity on the Amazon.com site for 100 Reasons Shake-speare was the Earl of Oxford – a sign, I believe, that upholders of the traditional faith are worried. It brings to my mind the well-known saying, often attributed [without evidence] to Gandhi: “First, they ignore you; then they ridicule you; then they fight you; and then you win.” My fellow Oxfordians, let us savor the final stage before victory!
Followers of this blog site may wish to check out the attacks that have come from individuals who, apparently, have not read the book but are committed to the traditional view of the authorship at all cost. My current Oxfordian book makes no claim of proving anything; it presents various kinds of biographical and historical evidence for Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (1550-1604) as the true author of the Shakespeare works. The evidence is circumstantial and it’s overwhelmingly strong.
There is no such biographical or historical evidence for the authorship of the Stratford man, whose death in 1616 failed to produce the slightest ripple of reaction. The traditional view needs no evidence, because it’s akin to religious faith.
Whether these folks are part of an organized attempt to hold back the inevitable collapse of the traditional paradigm, I cannot say; they do seem to be trolling for listings of Oxfordian books, seeking opportunities to attack. Their arguments are either disingenuous or deliberately inaccurate.
Alexander Waugh, the multi-talented author, scholar, critic and composer who is also Chairman of the De Vere Society of London, posted a response to one B. J. Robbins, who had not offered an honest review, but, instead, produced a list of sixteen points under the screaming headline, “REAL FACTS why Oxford WAS NOT SHAKESPEARE!!!!!” Mr. Waugh replied with a point-by-point rebuttal:
You write: “1, There is no evidence that Oxford and Shakespeare ever even met or knew each other.”
Comment – a problem for Stratfordians. Oxford was known to many of the top poets, playwrights and scholars of his day, e.g. Greene, Lyly, Bale, Mundy, Nash, Chapman, Day, Twynne, Churchyard, etc., etc., none of whom knew Stratford-Shakspere, who was never acknowledged as a playwright or poet by anyone (including himself) during his lifetime.
You write: “2. Oxford died in 1604, while the plays in the First Folio came out until 1613 (Henry VIII). No logical, believable explanation has ever been offered by Oxfordians about how that happened.”
Comment – The plays `came out’ in 1623 (not 1613 as you claim) in the First Folio. At least 18 of these plays had never been published before. This was 7 years AFTER the death of Stratford-Shakspere, so by your own argument your own candidate fails.
You write: “3. Subjective interpretation of the Sonnets and plays is inconsequential and invalid and unscholary. It is not the way scholars work. Objective, empirical evidence, direct evidence.”
Comment – The Oxfordian case does not rely upon ‘subjective interpretations’ of the Sonnets or plays. If you had read Whittemore’s 100 reasons you would have known this.
You write: “4. Oxford left no literary writings behind besides a few ordinary poems. No plays. We don’t know if he had the genius to write Hamlet or King Lear. Having 3 daughters like Lear is not proof that he wrote it. Don’t make me laugh”
Comment – If you had read Bodenham (1600) you would know that Oxford’s works were published under the names of other people. Meres and Webbe tell us that he was writing plays in the 1580 and 90s. There is no evidence that Stratford-Shakspere was a writer of plays and poetry during his lifetime; or indeed anything, from the period 1593-1616, to suggest that `William Shakespeare’ on the quartos was not a pseudonym.
You write “5. The vast preponderance of the evidence points to William Shakespeare of Stratford writing the plays and Sonnets. No contradictions no contra indications. Chronology is perfect.”
Comment – This is incorrect. The `vast preponderance of the evidence’ from the lifetime of Stratford-Shakspere points to Shakespeare as a pseudonym used by the Earl of Oxford (see Willobie, Barnfield, Weever, Meres, Davis of Hereford etc etc). The `vast preponderance of the evidence’ for Stratford-Shakspere shows him only to be a wheeler-dealer unknown to those at the center of literary life. It is meaningless to add `chronology is perfect’ – what chronology are you talking about? Why is it `perfect’?
You write: “6. Anyone having anything to do with the theater, or writing plays, will tell you that the plays of Shakespeare were written by someone who spent his entire life in the world of the theater. Sir John Gielgud said that they must have been written by an actor after playing King Lear. Shakespeare joined the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, and stayed with them after they were renamed the King’s Men, until he retired about 1613. That is more than 20 years spent in the SAME TROUPE, unheard of in those times. Oxford was busy writing letters to the Queen for privilege to the tin mines.”
Comment – You change your mind from `entire life’ to `more than 20 years’ in one paragraph. The first record of Stratford-Shakspere’s having anything to do with the theatre relates to him as accountant-payee for the Chamberlain’s Men in 1595 and you say he retired `by 1613′. Hardly an `entire life’ let alone `more than 20 years’ is it? Oxford’s family connections with theatre are traceable to the late 15th century, and with his own players to as late as 1602. That really means an `entire life’ during which time Oxford was the patron of several theatrical troupes, friend of many of the leading playwrights, owner of a major public theatre, an actor and a writer who was highly commended by his contemporaries as a playwright, poet, and scholar. Playwrights can write letters about tin-mines and still be playwrights.
You write: “7. There is absolutely NO PROOF that William Shakespeare was a pen name for anybody. The hyphen is meaningless and simply a front for Dr. Waughman. [Dr. Richard Waugaman, a prominent Oxfordian.] It is his life’s work, poor man.”
Comment – Who is Dr Waughman? Do you mean me? The man from Stratford never used a hyphen in his name nor did any of his friends or family. A hyphenated name (`Shake-speare’) appears on 45% of the early quartos and in many of the contemporary allusions to the poet Shakespeare. This is a problem for Stratfordians as it implies a pen-name. Weever (1598) calls the author of Venus and Adonis `spurious’ – look it up.
You write: “8. Frances Mere’s note [Palladis Tamia, 1598] makes it plain that Oxford and Shakespeare were two different people. Oxford wrote comedies, and Shakespeare wrote comedies AND tragedies, histories and dramas. (Julius Caesar).”
Comment – Meres, a theologian and numerologist, reveals that William Shakespeare was a pseudonym used by Oxford in paragraph 34 of his `Comparative Discourse of our English Poets.’ Since you are not up to date with recent (or old) Oxfordian scholarship, you possibly have no idea what I am talking about – your loss. You might begin by asking yourself why (in paragraph 34) Meres compares 16 Classical playwrights to 17 English playwrights with Oxford at the top of the list, and try to work it all out from there.
You write: “9. After Oxford’s death, no one in his family came out and declared that “Daddy” was the writer of Shakespeare’s plays!!!! Why not? This should have happened!!!! Why this 400-year conspiracy to keep Oxford’s name off Shakespeare?”
Comment – as is well recorded Oxford died almost bankrupt and in social disgrace; also, he was lame – a bit like `Shake-speare’ who describes himself as `poor’, ‘lame’ and ‘despised’ in his sonnets. The First Folio was dedicated to Oxford’s son-in-law and, according to many, funded by the Herbert family. The prefatory pages are full of veiled allusions to Shakespeare’s identity as Oxford. After Stratford-Shakspere’s death no one in his family came out and declared “Daddy” was the writer. His family were functionally illiterate. Neither he nor his family, or any of his friends and acquaintances, ever said that he was a writer.
Your write: “10. How did Oxfraud pay Shakespeare? How much? More for comedies than tragedies, or vice versa? The guy didn’t work. How would he have money for the dowries of his 3 daughters?”
Comment – You are confused `Oxfraud’ is a group of Stratfordian internet lobbyists; they did not pay Shakespeare anything, though it is rumoured that they are funded by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, to support for the Stratford ideology. If you mean ‘Oxford’, he did not pay Shakespeare anything either, `Shakespeare’ was his literary pseudonym.
Your write: “11. Shakespeare is mentioned by several contemporaries as a writer of plays. Oxford is not, except by Meres. Shakespeare is mentioned as a writer of Sonnets.”
Comment. Shakespeare is a pseudonym and no one by that name is mentioned as a writer of plays until plays started appearing with that pseudonym upon their title pages, which was as late as 1598. The only sense in which Shakespeare is mentioned as a writer of plays is in the same sense that it is said `George Orwell wrote essays’. Stratford-Shakspere is not mentioned as a writer of Sonnets, all that Meres says is that the writer of plays `William Shakespeare’ also wrote sonnets. They appeared in print in 1609 as `SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS’ – hardly promising for Shax supporters.
Your write: “12. All of the plays are entered in the Station’s Register as the works of William Shakespeare. Now anyone can say that Shakespeare of Stratford did not really write the plays, that they were given to him by someone else. Only one thing is lacking. Any proof that this is true.”
Comment – Nonsense! not `all of the plays’ are entered into the Stationers’ Register as by Shakespeare or anything like all. The Stationers took no interest in authorship, they simply copied what was on the title pages of books they were registering – including, in the case of Shakespeare, `Yorkshire Tragedy,’ and they got that wrong! There isn’t a single example of play attributed to Shakespeare by the Stationers in which the same attribution is not given on corresponding title page.
You write: “13. Looking at Oxford’s poetry and Shakespeare’s Sonnets, it is easy to tell the difference. Shakespeare’s are far superior. They were not written by the same person.”
Comment – Need I remind you of your own argument? You wrote (point 3): “Subjective interpretation of the Sonnets and plays is inconsequential and invalid and unscholarly.” So I can’t see why you bothered to add this one.
You write: “14. Hemings and Condell said they were the ones who saw Shakespeare’s manuscripts. Shakespeare used the commoner’s Secretary hand; Oxford undoubtedly used the aristocrat’s Italian hand. It is easy to tell the difference. Hemings and Condell would have sniffed something fishy was going on.”
Comment – This point is too silly for words. Hemings and Condell never said that Shakespearte’s plays were written in secretary hand. You are starting to fabricate.
You write: “15. The plays in the Revels Account in 1604-1605, give credit to “Shaxberd” for writing Measure for Measure, Othello, Comedy of Errors, Merchant of Venice. There is no mention of “Shake-Speare”. It seems to be a terrible mispellilng of William Shakespeare’s last name.”
Comment – Arguments concerning the authenticity of this record are as old as its discovery. Let us assume it is genuine. The Revels Account lists Shakespeare plays performed at court in the season immediately following Oxford’s death and at the marriage of his daughter. Stratford-Shakspere does not appear to have been present for any of these performances but was quietly arranging his business in Warwickshire. Just because someone misspells a pseudonym does not mean that the name belongs to a real person whose name is commonly spelled in another way altogether.
You write: “16. In the First Folio, the name of William Shakespeare appears twice, on the same page. Once as the writer of the comedies, histories, and tragedies within, and once at the top of the list of players who performed the plays. No hyphen in either. So either there were two William Shakespeares in the same troupe, one an actor and one writer of plays, or they were the same person. I think most reasonable persons would believe the latter.”
Comment – you are clearly out of the loop about this page and all the Stratfordian commentary about the peculiarity of a second half-title. This page does not state that Stratford-Shakspere wrote the plays of the First Folio. The ‘actor’ and the playwright are clearly separated by a very pronounced and rigid black line. Turn back the pages and you will find a cornucopia of evidence telling you that `William Shakespeare’ the author is a pseudonym.
I believe Mr. Robbins replied to Mr. Waugh’s reply on the Amazon site. If so, you can find that and further comments there.