Philip Sidney: Re-posting No. 47 of 100 Reasons Shake-speare was Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford

Edmund Spenser’s first mention of someone named “Willie” appeared in The Shepherd’s Calendar attributed to “Immerito,” a pen name, in 1579. At that time Oxford was twenty-nine and a recognized poet (but had stopped signing his poems three years earlier), whereas Shakspere of Stratford was just fifteen years old.

Spenser depicted a “rhyming match” between two poets “Willie” and “Perigot.” It was a thinly disguised spoof on the current rivalry between the leaders of England’s two literary factions: Oxford, head of the Euphuists, and Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586), a de facto leader of a faction that thought to “standardize” English versifying. The two men were also on opposite sides politically; in general, Oxford was more liberal while Sidney leaned to the Puritan camp.

That year they also became embroiled in an infamous “quarrel,” or shouting match, on the Greenwich Palace tennis court, where members of the visiting French delegation had front-row seats, watching from the windows of their private galleries. The delegation had come to England to negotiate the marriage of Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Alencon, which Sidney opposed and Oxford publicly championed, though Oxford apparently knew, along with Burghley, that the French match was a big charade on her Majesty’s part.

Oxford held Sidney in contempt for his plagiarism of other writers’ works; for that reason he hated the contemporary praise Sidney received but didn’t deserve. On the royal tennis court, the earl scornfully glared at Sidney and shouted: “Puppy!” to which Sidney retorted: “In respect, all the world knows that puppies are gotten by dogs, and children by men!” 

Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586) – from the Miniature by Isaac Oliver at Windsor Castle

Oxford stood silent, allowing Sidney’s words to resound within the courtyard. The unintended implication was that Sidney, a puppy, was begotten by a dog (a son of a bitch, we might say). Then after some further sharp words, Sir Philip “led the way abruptly out of the Tennis-Court,” as Fulke Greville recorded in his adoring homage Life of the Renowned Sir Philip Sidney (written in 1610-14 but not published until 1652).

Sidney and other Romanticists aimed to “reform” English poetry by instituting “certain laws and rules of quantities of English syllables for English verse,” as Spenser wrote to Cambridge scholar Gabriel Harvey. Their objective, B. M. Ward writes, was to “reclothe the old stories of knighthood and chivalry as to render them more vivid and applicable to their own times.”

Oxford and his Euphuists viewed laws and rules of literature as made to be broken (a view “Shakespeare” would share). Their aim was to refine and enrich the English language; as Ward writes, “It was the magic of words and the imagery of sentences that appealed to them.”

Ward also observes that, regardless of how much Sidney irked Oxford, “There is nothing essentially antagonistic in these two points of view; neither can live without the other.”  These men were literary “pioneers,” with Oxford and Sidney mutually providing each other with “the necessary stimulus without which no human achievement can be attained.”

Philip Sidney would die in the Battle of Zutphen in September 1586 at age thirty-one, adding to his popular image as a heroic courtier and soldier

Probably the most notable example of the Oxford-Sidney literary rivalry is their pair of epigrams, Oxford’s beginning with “Were I a king I might command content” and Sidney’s verse, in reply, beginning with “Wert thou a king, yet not command content.”

Spenser opens the contest in his Shepherd’s Calendar this way:

WILLIE (Oxford): Tell me, Perigot, what shall be the game,

Wherefore with mine thou dare thy music match?

Or been thy bagpipes run far out of frame?

Or hath the cramp thy joints benumbed with ache?

PERIGOT (Sidney):  Ah!  Willie, when the heart is ill assayed,

How can bagpipe or joints be well a-apaid?

The exchange continues through a succession of stanzas and grows into a wild volley of contrapuntal rhyming, such as:

PERIGOT (Sidney): It fell upon a holy eve,

WILLIE (Oxfod): Hey, ho, holiday!

PERIGOT (Sidney): When holy fathers were wont to shrieve.

WILLIE (Oxford): Now ‘ginneth the roundelay!

PERIGOT (Sidney): Sitting upon a hill so high,

WILLIE (Oxford): Hey, ho, the high hill!

PERIGOT (Sidney): The while my flock did feed thereby.

WILLIE (Oxford): The while the shepherd self did spill!

Here, I submit, we have Spenser describing a significant chapter in the development of the great author who would call himself “Shakespeare” some fourteen years later. The lines Spenser assigned to “Willie” can be described as “pre-Shakespearean,” that is, foreshadowing the scene in Twelfth Night when Feste the Clown (representing Oxford) sings with the same “hey, ho” and back-and-forth rhyming:

When that I was and a little tiny boy,

With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,

A foolish thing was but a toy,

For the rain it raineth every day.

But this reason also involves the crucial issue of dating, with the example of Love’s Labour’s Lost, a “pleasant conceited comedie” first published in 1598, its title page advertising it as newly corrected and augmented by W. Shakespere.” Orthodox scholars (given the Stratford man’s chronology) need to have it written circa 1592-1596, but the evidence suggests a much earlier date.

In January 1579, several months before Spenser introduced “Willie” and “Perigot,” the Elizabethan court was entertained by the double bill of A Maske of Amazones and A Maske of Knights, which Oxfordians view as the first version of Love’s Labour’s Lost, an extremely sophisticated court comedy in which Berowne is an unmistakable self-portrait of de Vere and Boyet is unmistakably Sidney.

Love’s Labours Lost is full of the same contrapuntal jousting in which Oxford and Sidney were engaged in the late 1570s.  It appears to be all in fun, but finally the author moves in for the attack upon Boyet/Sidney, accusing him of stealing from the works of others:

This fellow pecks up wit as pigeons peas,

And utters it again when God doth please … (5.2)

Three centuries later Sir Sidney Lee would point out that “the majority of Sidney’s efforts” had been inspired by Petrarch, Ronsard and Desportes, from whose works in French he grabbed “almost verbatim translations” as if they were his own.

One day, lovers of Shakespeare will be much richer for their ability to learn the true story of Oxford and Sidney within and beneath the lines.

Sidney died in the Battle of Zutphen in the Netherlands, fighting for the Protestant cause against Spanish forces. Shot in the thigh, he suffered from gangrene for twenty-six days until his death on 17 October 1586, after which he became a national hero.

(The above text now appears as No. 71 in 100 Reasons Shake-speare was the Earl of Oxford, edited by Alex McNeil.)

Re-posting Part Two of Reason 20 Why Shake-spreare was Oxford: The Depth of the Dedications to the Earl

The public dedications to Edward de Vere indicate the scope of his personal relationships with other writers.  The person who eventually created the “Shakespeare” works did not develop in a vacuum; on the contrary, he had to be part of a community of fellow authors, poets and playwrights. Oxford was not only part of such a community; the tributes make clear he was their leader.

"The Histories of Trogus Pompeius" by Golding, dedicated to 14-year-old Edward de Vere in 1564

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

Arthur Golding (Histories of Trogus Pompeius) wrote to him in 1564: “It is not unknown to others, and I have had experiences thereof myself, how earnest a desire your Honor hath naturally grafted in you to read, peruse, and communicate with others as well the histories of ancient times, and things done long ago, as also of the present estate of things in our days, and that not without a certain pregnancy of wit and ripeness of understanding.”

Thomas Underdowne (AEthiopian History) told him in 1569 that “matters of learning” were good for a nobleman, but then warned the earl that “to be too much addicted that way, I think it is not good.”

In that same year the 19-year-old Oxford ordered “a Geneva Bible gilt, a Chaucer, Plutarch’s works in French, with other books and papers” as well as “Tully’s and Plato’s works in folio, with other books.”  Sounds indeed like a young man “addicted” to learning!

When Thomas Bedingfield dedicated his translation of Cardanus’ Comforte to Oxford in 1573, he told him that “I do present the book your Lordship so long desired,” confirming that the Earl had been personally involved in this publication, to which he contributed both a Letter to the Reader and a poem.   He reminds Oxford of “the encouragement of your Lordship, who (as you well remember), unawares to me, found some part of this work and willed me in any wise to proceed therein.”

Elizabeth & Courtiers

The distinguished physician Thomas Twyne (Breviary of Britain) referred to him in 1573 as being “in your flower and tender age” before inviting him to bestow  upon his work “such regard as you are accustomed to do on books of Geography, Histories, and other good learning, wherein I am privy your honour taketh singular delight.”

When Anthony Munday (Mirror of Mutability), told Oxford in 1579 that he looked forward to “the day when as conquerors we may peacefully resume our delightful literary discussions,” he was apparently referring to the rivalry between the Euphuists under Oxford and the Romanticists, who included Philip Sidney and Gabriel Harvey.  His reference to “our delightful literary discussions” offers a glimpse of Oxford personally engaged with other writers who were developing a new English literature and drama leading to “Shakespeare.” The works created by members of this circle would become known as “contemporary sources” upon which the great author drew.

Thomas Watson (Hekatompathia, or The Passionate Century of Love) reminded Oxford in 1580 that he had “willingly vouchsafed the acceptance of this work, and at convenient leisures favorably perused it, being as yet but in written hand.”  He cited de Vere as a literary trendsetter whose approval would draw many readers; because of this influence, the earl’s acceptance of the work in manuscript meant that “many have oftentimes and earnestly called upon me to put it to the press.”

Angel Day (The English Secretary) wrote to him in 1586 to Oxford about “the learned view and insight of your Lordship, whose infancy from the beginning was ever sacred to the Muses.”

Robert Greene (Card of Fancy) wrote publicly to Oxford in 1584 that he was “a worthy  favorer and fosterer of learning [who] hath forced many through your excellent virtue to offer the first-fruits of their study at the shrine of your Lordship’s courtesy.”

Dedication of “Defense of the Military Profession” by Gates to Oxford, 1579 (Click on Image to Enlarge)

In 1591 the composer John Farmer, who apparently lived in Oxford’s household, dedicated his first songbook (Plain-Song) to the earl, saying he was “emboldened” because of “your Lordship’s great affection to this noble science” (music) – which, of course, must be said also of Shakespeare.  In his second dedication (First Set of English Madrigals, 1599), Farmer told Oxford that “using this science as a recreation, your Lordship have over-gone most of them that make it a profession.”

In other words, Oxford encouraged young writers with their very first works, guiding them to the press.

Unlike the majority of dedications to patrons, the comments to Oxford are genuine and heartfelt. The earl may have had many faults of character, such as a tendency to be jealous and vengeful (as a number of Shakespearean characters are), but among his fellow writers and other artists he was uniquely spirited and generous.

In his Oxford biography Monstrous Adversary (2003), the Stratfordian scholar Alan Nelson concedes that Edward de Vere “attracts the attention of theologians, poets, distillers, and a musician, who have translated works from the Continent, or composed original works in English.” Citing the Index of dedications prior to 1641 by Franklin B. Williams (1962), he notes that only Queen Elizabeth and a few more powerful nobles had more dedications: Leicester (114); Burghley (85); Walsingham (47); and Charles Howard, the Admiral and hero of England’s victory over the Spanish Armada (46).

“CARDANUS Comforte, translated And Published by commaundement of the right Honourable the Earle of Oxenforde.” (1576 edition; click on image to enlarge)

In her Master of Arts in English thesis of 1999 at the University of Texas, focusing on Oxford’s patronage, Jonni Koonce Dunn notes that nearly forty percent of it was “expended on fiction with an Italian flavor.” The result, she adds, is that the Earl “provided the late sixteenth century with a body of source works to which the literature of the English Renaissance is sorely indebted.” Even from a young age, he preferred “literary work over the devotional or practical,” and such works “lent themselves to being models for adaptation for the forerunners of the novel as well as being instrumental in the development of English drama.”

His introduction as a young man to works such as The Courtier and Cardanus’ Comforte, she adds, “suggests his desire to be instrumental in shaping what was read by the university student and the courtier, thus in a roundabout way to transform the Elizabethan court into the cultured society depicted at Urbino in Castiglione’s work … It would eventually come to pass that William Shakespeare would benefit from the works de Vere patronized, for his plays came to make use of practically every one of the literary number in some fashion.” Without such patronage, many of the sources used by Shakespeare “might not have been available to him for inspiration,” and therefore this critical contribution “should ensure Edward de Vere the gratitude of every student of literature.”

[This post is now No. 38 of 100 Reasons Shake-speare was the Earl of Oxford (2016)]

Re-Posting No. 18 of 100 Reasons Why Shake-speare was Edward, Earl of Oxford: “Minerva Britanna” by Henry Peacham: “By the Mind I shall be Seen”

“Minerva Britanna” by Henry Peacham, Master of Arts (1612) – “Or a Garden of Heroical Devices, furnished, and adorned with Emblems and Impresa’s of sundry natures, Newly devised, moralized, and published.”

If there’s a single Elizabethan or Jacobean picture that cries out “Secret author,” it appears on the title page of Minerva Britanna by Henry Peacham, a book of original emblems (accompanied by his own verses) published in London in 1612. Shown on the front is the proscenium arch of a theater, with the curtain drawn back so we can see the right hand and arm of a writer using a quill pen to complete a Latin inscription:

MENTE.VIDEBORI (“By the Mind I shall be Seen”): The suggestion is that the author, who is behind the curtain, must remain hidden.

In 1937, Eva Turner Clark argued that the phrase MENTE.VIDEBORI is a Latin anagram of TIBI NOM. DE VERE or “The Identity of this Author is  De Vere.”

A closer look reveals that the “dot” in the inscription has been placed directly between the “E” and the “V” to create E.V., the initials of Edward Vere.

Oxford’s death date is recorded as 24 June 1604, the same year the authorized, full-length version of Hamlet was first published, after which no new “authorized” Shakespeare plays were printed for nineteen years.

In 1622, just one year before the publication of the First Folio, Peacham published a treatise entitled The Compleat Gentleman, in which he looks back at the Elizabethan reign as a “golden age” that produced poets “whose like are hardly to be hoped for in any succeeding age.”  He lists those “who honored Poesie [poetry] with their pens and practice” in this order:

“Edward Earle of Oxford, the Lord Buckhurst, Henry Lord Paget, the noble Sir Philip Sidney, M. Edward Dyer, M. Edmund Spenser, Master Samuel Daniel, with sundry others…” Curiously, he does not list “Shakespeare.”

Peacham (1576?-1644?), a graduate of Cambridge, had been interested in the theatrical world early on; a surviving sketch of a scene of Titus Andronicus, thought to have been made in 1595, was signed “Henricus Peacham.” He would have been a teenager when he drew the sketch.  In the scene, Queen Tamora is pleading for the lives of her two sons while Aaron the Moor gestures with his sword.

A sketch of a scene of “Titus Andronicus” in 1595, apparently by Peacham when he was seventeen 

Oxford’s arms with the blue boar on top

At age twenty-five in 1603, Peacham became a schoolmaster at Kimbolton Grammar School; his Minerva (“Or a Garden of Heroical Devises, furnished and adorned with Emblems and Impresa of sundry natures”) contains 206 emblems, each accompanied by a pair of six-line stanzas. Roger Stritmatter reports that it “has long been considered the most sophisticated exemplar of the emblem book tradition ever published in England.”

One of the emblems in Minerva shows a boar, which plays a crucial role in Ovid’s story of Venus and Adonis as well as in the one by “Shakespeare” published in 1593. The boar was also Oxford’s heraldic symbol. Below the emblem, Peacham writes:

One of the Emblems of “Minerva Britanna” — about “Venus and Adonis” featuring the Boar

I much did muse why Venus could not brook

The savage Boar and Lion cruel fierce,

Since Kings and Princes have such pleasure took

In hunting: ‘cause a Boar did pierce

Her Adon fair, who better liked the sport,

Then spends his days in wanton pleasure’s court.

Which fiction though devised by Poet’s brain,

It signifies unto the Reader this:

Such exercise Love will not entertain,

Who liketh best, to live in Idleness:

The foe to virtue, Canker of the Wit,

That brings a thousand miseries with it.

The line “Who liketh best to live in Idleness” is a direct reflection of what Oxford had written in 1576:

That never am less idle lo, than when I am alone *

Clearly Peacham was well aware, even in 1612, of an authorship mystery involving the poet of Venus and Adonis. With his emblem containing the boar symbol of the Vere earldom and those lines underneath it, he brought together “Shakespeare” and Oxford on the same page, providing the solution for all to see.

  • In The Paradise of Dainty Devices, 1576

(This blog post, with the invaluable help of editor Alex McNeil, has become No. 95 of 100 Reasons Shake-speare was the Earl of Oxford.)

The Art of English Poetry: Re-Posting Reason 15 Why Shake-speare was the Earl of Oxford

Edward de Vere received a prominent place in an anonymous work The Arte of English Poesie (1589), regarded as the central text of Elizabethan courtly politics. His position in the world of letters had already been stated unequivocally in 1586, when William Webbe declared in A Discourse of English Poetry:

“The Arte of English Poesie” – 1589

“I may not omit the deserved commendations of many honourable and noble Lords and Gentlemen in Her Majesty’s Court, which, in the rare devices of poetry have been, and yet are, most skillful; among whom the Right Honourable Earl of Oxford may challenge to himself the title of the most excellent among the rest.”

Now, three years later in 1589, another overview (this one by an unnamed author) is published by Richard Field, formerly of Stratford-upon-Avon and a Protestant printer close to William Cecil Lord Burghley. Field will issue Venus and Adonis of 1593 and Lucrece of 1594, both dedicated by “William Shakespeare” to Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton. Modern scholars have attributed The Arte to George Puttenham, but others believe the author was Oxford’s friend Lord John Lumley; Richard M. Waugaman has set forth a case for Oxford’s own authorship.  [See Brief Chronicles, the online journal of the Shakespeare Fellowship, and Waugaman’s own online site The Oxfreudian.]

Partly the book may represent Oxford’s “eloquent pleading for the Queen’s commission for his writing the pro-Tudor ‘Shakespeare’ history plays,” Waugaman suggests, noting it “champions the persuasive power of poesy historical, while emphasizing that it [poetry or drama] is all the more instructive if it is not slavishly factual.”

The Arte is dedicated to Burghley, Oxford’s father-in-law and former guardian, but it’s actually addressed to Elizabeth herself. It emphasizes the importance of deception, disguise and anonymity.  The unnamed author says that many members of the nobility or gentry “have no courage to write & if they have, yet are they loath to be a known of their skill.  So as I know very many notable Gentlemen in the Court that have written commendably, and suppressed it again, or else suffered it to be published without their own names to it: as if it were a discredit for a Gentleman to seem learned and to show himself amorous of any good Art.”

A page from “The Arte” showing the Elizabethans’ interest in structure, form, shape, architectural form and so on

He proceeds to name names: “And in her Majesty’s time that now is are sprung up another crew of Courtly makers, Noble men and Gentlemen of her Majesty’s own servants, who have written excellently well as it would appear if their doings could be found out and made public with the rest, of which number is first that noble Gentleman Edward Earle of Oxford, Thomas Lord of Bukhurst, when he was young, Henry Lord Paget, Sir Philip Sidney, Sir Walter Raleigh, Master Edward Dyer, Master Fulke Greville, Gascoigne, Britton, Turberville and a great many other learned Gentlemen, whose names I do not omit for envy, but to avoid tediousness, and who have deserved no little commendation.”

The author of Arte knew he was putting a spotlight on Oxford and his literary work. Moreover, on the very next page the anonymous author of The Arte names just a few playwrights: “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.”

[Edwards had been in charge of the Children of the Chapel from 1561 until he died in 1566, a period when Oxford {age eleven to sixteen} was studying with private tutors and receiving honorary degrees from Cambridge and Oxford.  Edwards is credited with writing two plays:  Damon and Pithias, the first English “tragical comedy,” set in the court of Dionysius and performed for Elizabeth’s court in 1565; and Palamon and Arcyte, a “lost” play based on Chaucer’s A Knight’s Tale — and regarded as a possible source for The Two Noble Kinsman attributed to Shakespeare and Fletcher — performed for the Queen at Oxford in 1566.

[A decade later several poems by Oxford appeared in The Paradise of Dainty Devices, an anthology that claims Edwards had compiled it before his death in 1566 – in which case, if true, it’s possible that Oxford’s poems were written no later than his sixteenth year; although he could have added to them any time up to 1576, since he himself probably caused the anthology to be published].

An excerpt of one of Oxford’s poems from Paradise was reprinted in Arte of 1589, wherein the anonymous author wrote: “Edward, Earl of Oxford, a most noble and learned gentleman, made in this figure of response an emblem of Desire, otherwise called Cupid, which for excellency and wit I set down some of the verses” — using the following example of an Oxford poem, in the form of a dialogue:

When wert thou born desire?

In pomp and prime of May,

By whom sweet boy wert thou begot?

By good conceit men say,

Tell me who was thy nurse?

Fresh youth in sugared joy.

What was thy meat and daily food?

Sad sighs with great annoy.

What hadst thou then to drink?

Unfeigned lovers tears.

What cradle wert thou rocked in?

In hope devoid of fears.

Arte speaks of a poet as a “dissembler” motivated by “a secret intent not appearing by the words.” The author offers the example of four lines referring to Queen Elizabeth – not by name, but in words that “any simple judgment might easily perceive” to be referring to her:

Elizabeth I of England

When Princes serve, and Realms obey,

And greatest of Britain kings begot:

She came abroad even yesterday,

When such as saw her knew her not.

It was common practice to write on two levels at once:

“And the rest followeth, meaning her Majesty’s person, which we would seem to hide leaving her name unspoken, to the intent the reader should guess at it: nevertheless upon the matter did so manifestly disclose it, as any simple judgment might easily perceive by whom it was meant, that is by Lady Elizabeth, Queen of England and daughter to King Henry the Eighth, and therein resteth the dissimulation.”

In this same year of 1589 Richard Field would also publish the second edition of the English translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, credited in 1567 to Oxford’s uncle Arthur Golding. Here at the end of the tumultuous decade of the 1580s, Oxford was about to leave public life and become something of a recluse. Was he using Field’s press to make a final appearance as an identified poet?  Was he withdrawing from the world while preparing to use the same publisher-printer under the “Shakespeare” just four years later?

[This post has become No. 29 of 100 Reasons Shake-speare was the Earl of Oxford]

Encore Returns of “Anonymous” and “Last Will. & Testament” to Arizona Film Festival

We are pleased to pass along the news that two films related tolast-will the Shakespeare Authorship Question, focusing on Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford as the true author of the plays, poems and sonnets, are making their “encore returns” to the Sedona International Film Festival:

anonymous_2011_film_poster

Anonymous, the feature directed by Roland Emmerich, and Last Will. & Testament, the award-winning documentary produced and directed by Lisa Wilson and Laura (Wilson) Matthias, will each be shown on Tuesday and Wednesday of November 29 and 30 at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre in West Sedona, Arizona.

 

 

“The Two Most Noble Henries” – Henry de Vere & Henry Wriothesley – No. 89 of 100 Reasons why the 17th Earl of Oxford was “Shakespeare”

"The Portraicture of the right honorable Lords, the two most noble HENRIES revived the Earles of Oxford (left) and Southampton (right)" -  circa 1624

“The Portraicture of the right honorable Lords, the two most noble HENRIES revived the Earles of Oxford and Southampton” –
circa 1624

“There were some gallant spirits that aimed at the Public Liberty more than their own interest … among which the principal were Henry, Earl of Oxford, Henry, Earl of Southampton … and divers others, that supported the old English honor and would not let it fall to the ground.” – Arthur Wilson, History of Great Britain (1653), p. 161, referring to the earls’ opposition to the policies of King James in 1621

Venus and Adonis was recorded in the Stationer’s Register on April 18, 1593 and published soon after. No author’s name appeared on the title-page, but the dedication was signed “William Shakespeare” – the first appearance of that name in print.

"Venus and Adonis" Dedication - 1593

“Venus and Adonis” Dedication – 1593

The epistle was addressed to nineteen-year-old Henry Wriothesley, third Earl of Southampton, to whom the poet bequeathed Lucrece the following year. Never again would this author dedicate anything to anyone else, thereby uniquely linking Southampton to “Shakespeare” for all time. In fact the poet was so confident of his ability to grant the young earl enduring fame (while paradoxically being certain his own identity would never be known) that he would tell him in Sonnet 81:

Your name from hence immortal life shall have,
Though I (once gone) to all the world must die.

On February 24, 1593, less than two months before the registry of Venus and Adonis, a son was born to Edward de Vere, seventeenth Earl of Oxford, forty-three, and his second wife Elizabeth Trentham, about thirty, a former Maid of Honor to Queen Elizabeth. The two had married in 1591 and had moved to the village of Stoke-Newington, just north of Shoreditch and the Curtain and Theater playhouses.

The boy, destined to become the eighteenth Earl of Oxford, was brought to the Parish Church on March 31, 1593 and christened Henry de Vere – not Edward, after his father, nor any of the great first names in the Vere lineage (such as John or Robert) all the way back to 1141, when Aubrey de Vere was created the first Earl of Oxford.

"Lucrece" Dedication 1594

“Lucrece” Dedication
1594

“It is curious that the name ‘Henry’ is unique in the de Vere, Cecil and Trentham families,” B.M. Ward commented in 1928. “There must have been some reason for his being given this name, but if so I have been unable to discover it.”

During this time Henry Wriothesley was being sought by William Cecil Lord Burghley for the hand of Oxford’s eldest daughter, Lady Elizabeth Vere. Oxford had become a royal ward in Burgley’s household in 1562; Southampton had followed in 1581; and now on April 18, 1593, little more than two weeks after the christening of Oxford’s male heir as Henry de Vere, the yet-unknown “Shakespeare” was dedicating “the first heir of my invention” to Henry Wriothesley.

“The metaphor of ‘the first heir’ would seem to echo the recent birth of Oxford’s only son and heir to his earldom,” J. Thomas Looney noted in 1920, “and as ‘Shakespeare’ speaks of Southampton as the ‘godfather’ of ‘the first heir of my invention,’ it would certainly be interesting to know whether Henry Wriothesley was godfather to Oxford’s heir, Henry de Vere.”

In the dedication of Lucrece in 1594, the author made a unique public promise to Southampton, indicating a close and caring relationship with its own past, coupled with an extraordinary vision of future commitment:

“The love I dedicate to your Lordship is without end … What I have done is yours, what I have to do is yours, being part in all I have, devoted yours.”

Henry Wriothesley Earl of Southampton

Henry Wriothesley
Earl of Southampton

Given that Henry Wriothesley is the only individual to whom “Shakespeare” is known to have written any letters of any kind, he must be the central contemporary individual within the biography of Shakespeare the poet and dramatist. (This is especially so if Southampton is the younger man or “fair youth” of the Sonnets.) The problem, however, is that scholars have never discovered any trace of a relationship between Southampton and William Shaksper of Stratford-upon-Avon, not even any evidence that they knew each other.

But if the poet was Edward de Vere, dedicating his first published work under the newly invented pen name “Shakespeare” to Henry Wriothesley, then his promise that “what I have to do is yours” demands a look into the future for evidence of continuing linkage.

Among the possible evidence is the performance of Richard II as by “Shakespeare” on the eve of the Essex Rebellion on February 8, 1601 led by Robert Devereux, second Earl of Essex along with Southampton. If Oxford was the dramatist, had he given permission to use his play for such a dangerous and possibly treasonous motive? Had he given his approval personally to Southampton, to help him? These are among the many questions for which history has no answers.

Looney pointed to a “spontaneous affinity of Oxford with the younger Earls of Essex and Southampton, all three of whom, having been royal wards under the guardianship of Burghley, were most hostile to the Cecil influence at Court.” By the same token, many scholars have noted evidence in the “Shakespeare” plays that the author was sympathetic to the Essex faction – which makes sense if Oxford and “Shakespeare” were one and the same.

Notice of the trial of Essex and Southampton  1600 old style 1601 new Oxford as highest ranking peer on tribunal

Notice of the trial of Essex and Southampton
1600 old style 1601 new
Oxford as highest ranking peer on tribunal

[Oxford was summoned from retirement to act as the senior of twenty-five noblemen on the tribunal at the joint treason trial of Essex and Southampton on February 19, 1601. The peers had no choice but to render a unanimous guilty verdict and to sentence both earls to death. It was “the veriest travesty of a trial,” Ward comments. Essex was beheaded six days later, but Southampton was spared; and after more than two years in prison, he was quickly released by the newly proclaimed King James. CLICK ON IMAGE FOR LARGER VIEW.]

Oxford is recorded as having died at fifty-four on June 24, 1604. That night agents of the Crown arrived at Southampton’s house in London, confiscating his papers and bringing him (and others who had supported Essex) back to the Tower, where he was interrogated before being released the next day. Whether the two events (Oxford’s death and Southampton’s arrest) were related remains a matter of conjecture.

In January 1605, Southampton hosted a performance of Love’s Labours Lost for Queen Anne. The earl apparently had not forgotten how, in the early 1590s, he and his university friends had enjoyed private performances of the play.

In the latter years of James both Henry Wriothesley and Henry de Vere became increasingly opposed to the King’s favorite George Villiers, first Duke of Buckingham, and the projected Spanish match between the King’s son Prince Charles and Maria Ana of Spain – fearing that Spain would grow even stronger to the point of conquering England and turning it back into a repressive Catholic country.

Henry Wriothesley 3rd Earl of Southampton

Henry Wriothesley
3rd Earl of Southampton

On March 14, 1621, Henry Wriothesley, forty-eight, got into a sharp altercation with Buckingham in the House of Peers; that June he was confined (in the Dean of Westminster’s house and later in his own seat of Tichfield) on charges of “mischievous intrigues” with members of the Commons; and in July of the same year, Henry de Vere, twenty-eight, spent a few weeks in the Tower for expressing his anger toward the prospective Spanish match. Henry Wriothesley was set free on the first of September.

Then on April 20, 1622, after railing against Buckingham again, Henry de Vere was arrested for the second time and confined in the Tower for twenty months until December 1623 – just when the First Folio of Shakespeare plays became available for purchase.

[Whatever might have been the relationship between the imprisonment of Oxford and the publishing of the Folio is unclear; my own feeling is that the printing may well have been spurred by the prospect of Spanish control and the destruction of the Shakespeare plays, especially the eighteen yet to be printed. The Spanish marriage had collapsed in October 1623; but any opinions about whether the Folio printing was triggered by the prospect of the match, and/or the imprisonment of the eighteenth Earl of Oxford are welcome.]

Henry de Vere 18th Earl of Oxford

Henry de Vere
18th Earl of Oxford

When Henry de Vere volunteered for military service to the Protestant cause in the Low Countries in June 1624, as the colonel of a regiment of foot soldiers, he put forward a “claim of precedency” over his fellow colonel of another regiment, Henry Wriothesley. Eventually the Council of War struck a bargain between the two, with Oxford entitled to precedency in civil capacities and Southampton, “in respect of his former commands in the wars,” retaining precedence over military matters.

[The colonels of the other two regiments were Robert Devereux, third Earl of Essex, the son of Southampton’s great friend Essex, who was executed for the 1601 rebellion; and Robert Bertie, Lord Willoughby, son of Edward de Vere’s sister Mary Vere and his brother-in-law Peregrine Bertie, Lord Willoughby.]

“There seems to have been no ill will between Southampton and Oxford,” writes A.L. Rowse in his biography Shakespeare’s Southampton. “They were both imbued with conviction and fighting for a cause for which they had long fought politically. It was now a question of carrying their convictions into action, sacrificing their lives.”

Southampton and his elder son James (born in 1605) sailed for Holland in August 1624; in November, the earl’s regiment in its winter quarters at Roosendaal was afflicted by fever. Father and son both caught the contagion; the son died on November 5, 1624; and Southampton, having recovered, began the long sad journey with his son’s body back to England. Five days later, however, Southampton himself died at Bergen-op-Zoom at fifty-one. [A contemporary report was that agents of Buckingham had poisoned him to death.]

King James died on March 25, 1625 and Henry de Vere, eighteenth Earl of Oxford died at The Hague on July 25 that year, after receiving a shot wound on his left arm.

But why, after all, might the “Two Henries” be another reason to conclude that Edward de Vere was the real author of the Shakespeare works? Well, to begin with, in this story there is not a trace of the grain dealer and moneylender from Stratford; he is nowhere to be found. More important, however, is the obviously central role in the authorship story played by Henry Wriothesley, who went on to embody the spirit of the “Shakespeare” and the Elizabethan age – the great spirit of creative energy, of literature and drama, of romance and adventure, of invention and exploration, of curiosity and experimentation, of the Renaissance itself.

And, too, Southampton had become a kind of father figure to the sons of Oxford and Essex and Willoughby – the new generation of those “gallant spirits that aimed at the Public Liberty more than their own interest” and who “supported the old English honor and would not let it fall to the ground.”

How these men must have shared a love for “Shakespeare” and his stirring words! How they must have loved speeches such as the one spoken by the Bastard at the close of King John:

This England never did, nor never shall,
Lie at the proud foot of a conqueror
But when it first did help to wound itself.
Now these her princes are come home again,
Come the three corners of the world in arms,
And we shall shock them. Nought shall make us rue
If England to itself do rest but true!

two henries - 1

POSTSCRIPT

Oxfordian researcher and author Robert Brazil wrote the following on this topic in his book The True Story of the Shake-speare Publications: Edward de Vere and the Shakespeare Printers:

“In the 1600s Oxford’s son Henry became a very close friend to Henry Wriothesley. They shared a passion for politics, theater, and military adventure. The image of the Two Henries, which dates from 1624 or later, shows the earls of Oxford and Southampton riding horseback together in their co-command of the 6000 English troops in Holland that had joined with the Dutch forces in countering the continued attacks by Spain. The picture serves as a reminder that a close relationship between the Vere family and Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, lasted for decades, and that Southampton CAN be linked historically to the author Shake-speare, provided that said author was really Edward de Vere.”

“Much Ado About Italy” – Installment No. 1 of My Talk on Richard Paul Roe and “The Shakespeare Guide to Italy” for the S.A.T. Conference at the Globe

Italy Poster
“Below is installment No. 1 of my talk for Much Ado about Italy, the London conference of the Shakespearean Authorship Trust (S.A.T.) in collaboration with Brunel University on November 24, 2013. The conference, at the Nancy Knowles Lecture Theatre of Shakespeare’s Globe, explored two overall questions:

“Did the author of the Shakespeare works have intimate knowledge of Italian topography, politics, culture and customs – or was he no true traveler? What limitations on Shakespeare scholarship have been imposed by orthodox assumptions about a landlocked author?”

[My first answer would be that, yes, of course the author had such intimate knowledge of Italy. My second answer, in brief, would be that the limitations on scholarship have been so extensive and profound that it will take decades to recover from all the damage.]

Venice-Holiday

The conference would not have succeeded without the organizing efforts of Bronwyn Robertson and Julia Cleave. William Leahy of Brunel University chaired the event, whose speakers were Alexander Waugh, Kevin Gilvary, Jenny Tiramani, Julia Cleave (presenting Professor Roger Prior’s discoveries in Bassano del Grappa), Ros Barber and John Casson, with my talk focusing on the late Richard Paul Roe and his 2012 book The Shakespeare Guide to Italy:

“I want to thank the Shakespearean Authorship Trust for having me here. I’ve been involved with the authorship question for more than twenty-five years; and when I began, I couldn’t find anybody to talk with about this. Not the librarian, not the local theater director, not even my mother. Back in those early days (the late eighties and early nineties), at the family dinner table, I would no sooner open my mouth – you know, about ‘maybe Shakespeare wasn’t the guy we thought he was’ – and all of a sudden I’m the only one sitting there. So the very fact that I’m here, with a group inspired by Mark Rylance, speaking to you with all these other folks, is surely a sign that things have come a long way.

“I’ve had the privilege and pleasure of working with some of you in the past and meeting some of the most interesting people and some of the greatest minds that have labored in this field of inquiry. I’ve been challenged, often motivated, sometimes shocked, and on the rare occasion I’ve been truly inspired. And having the privilege of having known Richard Paul Roe for many years, I can tell you that he was indeed one of those rare sources of inspiration.

better early cover

“Before his death on December 1, 2010 at the age of eight-eight, Dick Roe’s great labor of love, The Shakespeare Guide to Italy, was printed privately with a limited number of copies under this cover with the subtitle Then and Now.

“Two years later it was issued for the public with the same title but a new cover, and now subtitled Retracing the Bard’s Unknown Travels.

“In the forward to this book his youngest daughter Hilary Roe Metternich makes a simple opening statement: “One of the great satisfactions of life is to embark on a long, leisurely journey – especially an absorbing intellectual adventure filled with mystery and promise.”

Cover of Roe Book

“During the last twenty-five years of his life, Dick Roe took that journey. He was a lawyer – a seasoned lawyer, who also had deep knowledge of medieval and Renaissance history and literature. And when his law practice in Los Angeles was coming to its end, he decided to investigate, for himself, whether Shakespeare’s references to localities in Italy are filled with repeated errors and mistakes, as so many academics had been accusing him for so long — or whether, in fact, those references might be accurate and true.

Color Roe Adult

“Because of his experience in the law, Roe knew that in most cases the best source for getting to the heart of things is tangible evidence: ‘Just the facts, please.’ And so he set forth, across the length and breadth of Italy, on a journey that required many trips from California, back and forth – holding his dog-eared copies of Shakespeare’s Italian plays, with all the place names underlined, along with detailed maps and notes, acting like an archaeologist excavating artifacts, inscriptions, monuments — observing geographical features and historical remnants after centuries of buried silence. Of course he was searching for the Italian renaissance that Shakespeare – whoever he was – had brought back to his own beloved “sceptered isle”.

“On more than a few occasions over those two decades, I found myself in the same place as Dick Roe. One time in California (in 1999, I believe) there was a lunch with several others including his lovely wife Jane (in connection with a meeting of the Shakespeare Authorship Roundtable under the guidance of Carole Sue Lipman, president) with and clearly he was still on the journey, filled with excitement and exuding quiet steady confidence.

“At various other times I met up with him at conferences and heard him give talks about his progress. And I had the definite feeling he just didn’t want it to end – ever. Was he writing a book? “Well, no, I don’t think so. I’m still looking, still learning and discovering.” He was just having too much fun!

“I particularly remember the first time I saw him give a talk. It was accompanied by a slide show with photographs he himself at taken in Venice, with his old weather-beaten copy of The Merchant in hand — and at one point the whole thing became very detailed, step by step, and it seemed we were following a trail like Sherlock Holmes with his magnifying glass –

again the rialto

“On the screen up came a series of images – including the Rialto, the financial district and for centuries the principal center of business in Venice for nobles and merchants, bankers and ship owners. There was the public square called Campo di San Giacomo di Rialto – adjacent to the Grand Canal – and Shakespeare in The Merchant of Venice refers to this square by name no less than five times.

“After some more images and photos of Venice here came the sight of the Jewish neighborhood, later called the Ghetto, literally an island within the city of Venice, surrounded by a complex of canals on all sides, and accessible only by one or the other of two bridges with gates.

campo-del-ghetto-nuovo

“Dick Roe explained that a decree of the Venetian Senate in 1516 had stated that the Jews must all live together in the ghetto, and not go out at night. The gates should be opened in the morning at the ringing of the main bell at St. Mark’s. Then they would be locked shut again at midnight by four Christian gatekeepers (appointed and paid for by the Jews themselves) – and part of this was to protect them from being attacked.

“On and on, step by step, Detective Roe retraced his footsteps for us, and he paused to recite lines from Act Two, Scene six, in the Ghetto, in front of the place where Shylock lives, when Gratiano tells Salerio that they have arrived at the “pent-house” under which Lorenzo wanted them to wait.

“Dick Roe found this reference to “the pent-house” a “curious detail” that cried out for an answer. The Middle English form of the word was “pentis,” referring to a small structure attached to, or dependent on, another building, and Roe found a usage in 1625 about “erecting certain posts and covering them with large pentises.”

(Photo by Sylvia Holmes)

(Photo by Sylvia Holmes)

“Up there on the screen appeared a color photograph from the vantage point of the street called the Campo del Ghetto Nuovo, and Dick Roe pointed to one of the buildings immediately next door to a four-arch arcade that was the site of Jewish loan banks frequented by Christians borrowing money.

“And here,” Roe said as he pointed to the screen, “is Shylock’s house!”

“I nearly fell over … What? I mean, really? Is this guy kidding? Come on! He’s saying this is the actual penthouse of the character Shylock, in a fictional play written in the sixteenth century?

“Well, it would become clear soon enough that this was the same startling precision for an obscure place and thing in Italy that the author knew about, and subtly described and wove into his story – an unusual and exact knowledge.

“And now Dick Roe was explaining various other aspects of the Venetian ghetto’s culture and way of life, and he spoke about Shakespeare’s knowledge of Italy and particularly of Venice, its Jewish traditions, synagogues, neighborhoods, its trading and banking laws –

“For example, he cited in The Merchant of Venice how old Gobbo questions his son Launcelot about which way to go, to get to Shylock’s house. What does he have to do to find it? According to Roe the son’s answer is a “classic, but comical, bit of Venetia,” something a stranger might hear from a local:

“Turn upon your right hand at the next turning, but at the next turning of all, on your left; marry, at the very next turning, turn of no hand; but turn down indirectly to the Jew’s house.”

“Roe explained that Shakespeare was well aware that both the father and his son would know that the old man would have to get there ‘indirectly,’ by using the ghetto’s tangled and zig-zagged streets. He cited scholars who thought the original question, about how to get to Shylock’s house, is ludicrous. But it’s NOT ludicrous, Roe said, because that’s just the way it was back then – for example, there were no address numbers on Venetian buildings – so old Gobbo would certainly find someone in that small district who would point him directly to Shylock’s house.

“And Shakespeare knew this.

“Roe himself was aware that so many of the original structures of the ghetto are still there, so much is still unchanged, the same as it was back in the sixteenth century, then as now, with only one penthouse in the ghetto, a single structure that Shakespeare was referring to, at only one location.

shylocks-penthouse3

“Yes, and here it was – its second floor projecting from a building supported by a few columns — the only structure in the Ghetto of its kind … and for good measure it’s immediately next door to a building that has a ground floor consisting of the arcade with four arches that was the site of the loan banks mandated by the Venetian Senate. Catholics were forbidden to lend for profit, so Venetian law restricted such banks to the Jewish quarter – the Red Bank, it was called, so named for the color of its pawn tickets.

“And in his book Dick Roe provides countless examples of this kind of discovery.”

[Next will be Installment No. 2)

“LAST WILL. & TESTAMENT” to be Available Oct. 15th on DVD Through PBS Distribution

Below is the entire text of a press release to be given tomorrow to the mainstream media. Congratulations to all involved, especially the producers Lisa Wilson and Laura Wilson Matthias

“LAST WILL. & TESTAMENT”
WHO WROTE THE WORKS OF SHAKESPEARE? THIS NEW FILM SEEKS TO UNCOVER THE TRUTH — Available on DVD from PBS Distribution October 15th

LAST WILL

Arlington, Va. – September XX, 2013 – PBS Distribution today announced it is releasing LAST WILL. & TESTAMENT on DVD. The film explores one of the greatest literary mysteries of all time: who wrote the works of William Shakespeare? Although the official story of a Stratford merchant writing for the London box office has held sway for centuries, questions over the authorship of the plays and poems have persisted. Mark Twain, Sigmund Freud, Charlie Chaplin and Orson Welles are among the many famous figures who doubt that a grain-dealer from Stratford-Upon-Avon was England’s “Star of Poets.” Experts have debated, books have been written, and scholars have devoted their lives to protecting or debunking theories surrounding the authorship.

Sir Derek Jacobi leads an impressive cast featuring Oscar®-winning actress Vanessa Redgrave and Tony® Award-winning actor Mark Rylance on a quest to uncover the truth behind the elusive author, and discovers a forgotten nobleman whose story could rewrite history. LAST WILL. & TESTAMENT, from Executive Producer Roland Emmerich and debut directors Lisa Wilson and Laura Wilson Matthias, will be available on DVD October 15, 2013. The run time of the program is 85 minutes and the DVD SRP is $24.99.

The first part of this film explores the orthodox story of William Shakespeare of Stratford and the longstanding views held by academia. Stanley Wells, Honorary President of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, and Prof. Jonathan Bate defend the orthodox position, while anti-Stratfordians Charles Beauclerk, Dr. Roger Stritmatter, Dr. William Leahy, Diana Price and actors Vanessa Redgrave, Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance expose the thin trail of evidence that has fueled doubt for centuries.

The second part is a testament to an alternative Shakespeare – one presented to the world in the literary works themselves and in the testimony of his most insightful doubters. Through a series of interviews with scholars currently working in the field, the film fashions a profile of the elusive poet. During the last century, a field of more than sixty candidates for authorship has narrowed, with Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, and group authorship becoming the most popular alternatives. A portion of LAST WILL. & TESTAMENT explores the life and literary career of this forgotten nobleman. Through on-camera commentary, a very human author emerges: a real-life Hamlet, whose tragic experiences provided the raw material for the canon and gave birth to the anti-Stratfordian and Oxfordian movements.

The final portion of the film weaves together the major historical events of the late Tudor era, including the crisis of succession and the Essex Revolt. The power politics of the Elizabethan Age and the towering figure of the Queen herself are addressed by the film’s commentators, who seek to connect Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets to the turbulent world of the court. By the end of the film, viewers will be challenged to explore the many unresolved historical, political and artistic issues that lie at the heart of the mystery of who wrote Shakespeare’s works.

About PBS Distribution
PBS Distribution is the leading media distributor for the public television community, both domestically and internationally, extending the reach of these programs beyond broadcast while generating revenue for the public television system and our production partners.

PBS Distribution offers a diverse range of programming to our customers, including Ken Burns’s films, documentaries from award-winning series such as NOVA, FRONTLINE, AMERICAN MASTERS, NATURE, and AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, dramas from MASTERPIECE, as well as films from independent producers and popular children’s programming. As a multi-channel distributor, PBS Distribution pursues wholesale/retail sales, consumer and educational sales through PBS-branded catalogs and online shops, and international broadcast and video sales. PBS Distribution is also a leader in offering programming through digital platforms including internet and mobile devices.

LAST WILL. & TESTAMENT
Street Date: October 15, 2013
Genre: Documentary
Run Time: 85 Minutes
SRP: $24.99
Format: DVD

So “Shakespeare” Wrote for the Page as well as the Stage? Well, then, Who was “Shakespeare”?

     First Folio - 1623

First Folio – 1623

Wandering through the web the other day, I paused to read something in “About.com Shakespeare” under a heading about theater in Shakespeare’s time.  “It’s a sad fact that today we normally study Shakespeare’s plays out of a book,” the writer explained, “but it’s important to remember that the Bard wasn’t writing for today’s literary audience; he was writing for the masses, many of whom couldn’t read or write.”

Then, later, I came upon the Amazon site for the book Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist by Lukas Erne, now in a new edition after ten years; and the blurb explained that this “groundbreaking study argues that Shakespeare, apart from being a playwright who wrote theatrical texts for the stage, was also a literary dramatist who produced reading texts for the page.”

Hmmm … So which was it?

It seems to me that we have an example, here, of how the world of Shakespearean study is inevitably changing and almost imperceptibly moving toward recognizing Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford as the true author of the great works.  In that view, the seeming contradiction presented above is explained logically by realizing that Oxford — during the 1590s, and up to his death in 1604 — was a virtual recluse busily rewriting and revising his stage works.  Many of those plays were being performed, but at the same time he was transforming them into masterpieces of dramatic literature, for readers of his own time and in the future.

Otherwise, let’s face it – work being done by scholars such as Lukas Erne can only threaten the traditional conception of the busy dramatist turning out play after play with the only objective being to have it ready for actors to perform on the stage.  In the first place, that fellow of the orthodox view had no time to produce “reading texts for the page.”

“Examining the evidence from early published playbooks, Erne argues that Shakespeare wrote many of his plays with a readership in mind and that these ‘literary’ texts would have been abridged for the stage because they were too long for performance.”

Oh, come on, please!  That statement has it entirely backwards!  Sure, that may have been part of the way it worked if Oxford was the playwright; but the Stratford man would never have written a literary text that would have to be “abridged for the stage”!   Remember how he was said to be “indifferent” to the appearances of his plays in print?

But Lukas Erne is surely on the right track.  And works like Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist, first published in 2003, will follow the track right to the Earl of Oxford.

I encourage readers of this blog to check out the various “reviews” on Amazon, many with clear recognition that our view of the author and his work must now change.  The scholars must now bend with the winds of that change.  Bend or break…

It would also be a good idea to get hold of the new edition, with an added 10,000-word preface that “reviews and intervenes in the controversy that the book has triggered.”

Yes indeed!

Why was “Shakespeare” Anonymous for so Long? Explanation, Anyone?

Titus Andronicus, 1594        (Anonymous)

Titus Andronicus, 1594
(Anonymous)

When the author “William Shakespeare” was just starting on his career as poet and playwright in the early 1590s, by tradition he was supposedly working as an actor learning lines and rehearsing and, of course, performing.  It’s a wonder he had time to eat, much less read the hundreds of books from which he would draw information and ideas for his writings!

In any case, in the early 1590’s he was apparently trying to make a name for himself; and sure enough, his two narrative poems (Venus and Adonis in 1593 and Lucrece in 1594) were instant bestsellers.  They both carried his name – not on the cover pages but inside, as printed signatures of the dedications to Henry Wriothesley, third Earl of Southampton – and so, by the end of 1593, his name was made.

Henry_VI_pt_2_quarto

Why did “William Shakespeare” fail to appear anywhere on the early publications of his plays?  His name was prominent, so surely he could have insisted upon it; moreover, the publishers themselves would have been eager to use his name to promote sales.  I don’t think the Stratfordians have any convincing explanations.

My view is that Edward de Vere, the seventeenth Earl of Oxford, had already written the earlier versions of these plays by 1589.  Now, in the 1590s, he was unloading them.  And having attached his pen name “Shakespeare” to Southampton, speaking to him in language that a nobleman would use only to address a royal prince, he must have promised William Cecil Lord Burghley, the most powerful man in England, to keep his pen name off the printed copies of his plays.

Henry_VI_pt_3_quartoWhen Lord Burghley died in August 1598, the agreement abruptly ended. Now Oxford — helping to promote Southampton, from behind the scenes — faced the cunning Robert Cecil; and that fall he saw to it that twelve of his “Shakespeare” plays were listed in Palladis Tamia by Francis Meres.  In terms of the struggle to control the inevitable succession to the Queen, the gloves were off.  Now quartos of the plays began appearing under the Shakespeare name (which was often hyphenated as “Shake-speare”).  Before that, however, seven play publications up to 1598 had been issued without any name attached to them:

  Titus Andronicus (1594); 2 Henry the Sixth – “The First Part of the Contention…” (1594); 3 Henry the Sixth – “The True Tragedy of Richard Duke of York…” (1595); Richard the Third (1597); Romeo and Juliet Q1 (1597); Richard the Second (1597); 1 Henry the Fourth (1598)…

Why would young Will Shakspere of Stratford turn out these plays and have them published without his name on them?  Why, given his popularity as a poet from 1593 onward, would publishers keep his name off these plays?  Here, as they say, is another dog that failed to bark…

Richardthird 1597

romeo-and-juliet-1597 good

Richard II quarto 1597 no Shakespeare name

Henry_IV_1_title_page

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