Re-Posting Reason 6 of “100 Reasons” why the Great Author was Edward de Vere: John Lyly is Said to Have Taught “Shakespeare” but Oxford taught John Lyly

This blog entry, originally posted in March 2011, is now revised and numbered 34 in 100 Reasons Shake-Speare was the Earl of Oxford:
Let us begin with a brief episode in the imagination of Stephen Greenblatt in Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare: “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…”

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.”

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.

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].

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.

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.

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.”

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 1590s for aristocratic audiences and Elizabeth at Court.

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.

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.

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 a hilarious skit that involved a character, playing the part of the earl, jousting with a woman and falling from his horse and rolling on the ground.

Shakespeare’s other comedies of the 1590’s, all viewed as indebted to writings attributed to Lyly, include 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.

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.”

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.”

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.

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:

“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.”

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.

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:

“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.'”

 

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.

The only works for which Lyly is credited were written during the years he worked for Oxford.

After Oxford withdrew from public life in 1590, no more writing attributed to Lyly came forth.

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?

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.

Reason Number 24 of 100 Why Edward de Vere was “Shakespeare” – His & the Bard’s Deep Knowledge of Italy

For anyone interested in Shakespeare, and particularly the study of Shakespearean authorship, this coming Tuesday, November 8, 2011, is a landmark on the calendar.  That’s the official publication date of a book that could – and should – break down the rigid walls of Stratfordian tradition as more and more people demand some better explanations.

"The Shakespeare Guide to Italy" by Richard Paul Roe

This potential bombshell is The Shakespeare Guide to Italy: Retracing the Bard’s Unknown Travels, by Richard Paul “Dick” Roe, who died December 1, 2010 in Pasadena at eighty-eight, having spent the last quarter-century of his life traveling the length and breadth of Italy on what the publisher, HarperCollins, aptly describes as “a literary quest of unparalleled significance.”

“If you take a map of Italy and grab ten push pins and put them in ten cities, that’s essentially Shakespeare’s Italy,” said Mark Anderson, author of Shakespeare by Another Name, in a BBC interview, adding, “That to me is quite a remarkable happenstance.”

And now, in honor of the imminent release of Dick Roe’s masterwork, it’s also the twenty-fourth reason on this list to believe that the Earl of Oxford wrote the Shakespeare works.

When Edward de Vere traveled through Italy at age twenty-five during 1575, he and his retinue skirted Spanish-controlled Milan before navigating by canal and a network of rivers on a 120-mile journey to Verona.  His travels took him to Padua, Venice, Mantua, Pisa, Florence, Siena, Naples, Florence, Messina, Palermo and elsewhere, making his home base in Venice.

Aside from three stage works set in ancient Rome (Corianlanus, Titus Andronicus and Julius Caesar), ten of Shakespeare’s fictional plays are set in Italy – Romeo and Juliet, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Taming of the Shrew, The Merchant of Venice, Othello (Act One), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (adduced), All’s Well That Ends Well (also France), Much Ado About Nothing, The Winter’s Tale and The Tempest (which opens aboard a ship in the Mediterranean between North Africa and Italy).

Verona, Italy

On the other hand, only one play of fiction (The Merry Wives of Windsor) is set in England … an astounding ten-to-one ratio!  Why?  The only logical answer, I submit, is that “Shakespeare” (whoever he was!) must have fallen in love with Italy.  And I’d think it would be pretty hard to fall in love with a country without ever visiting it!

Oxfordians have often said that Edward de Vere “brought the European Renaissance back to England” when he returned in 1576 after fifteen months of travel through France, Germany and, most extensively, Italy.  He became the quintessential “Italianate Englishman” wearing “new-fangled” clothes* of the latest styles.

Verona

He brought richly embroidered, perfumed gloves for Queen Elizabeth, who delighted in them, and such gloves became all the rage among the great ladies of the time.  And, for example, he brought back his perfumed leather jerkin (a close-fitting, sleeveless jacket) and “sweet bags” with costly washes and perfumes.

Soon enough John Lyly, who was Oxford’s personal secretary and stage manager, issued two novels about an Italian traveler – Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit (1578) and Euphues and his England (1580), the latter dedicated to Edward de Vere, who apparently supervised the writing of both books.  Together they are said to comprise “the first English novel” and, yes, in the following decade the great author “Shakespeare” would demonstrate Lyly’s influence upon some of his plays.

"Shakespeare" demonstrates knowledge of the Italian comedy form known as "Commedia Dell'Arte" -- Edward de Vere must have attended shows of the "Commedia" during his time in Venice

“There is a secret Italy hidden in the plays of Shakespeare,” Roe begins the Introduction of his ground-breaking book.   “It is an ingeniously-described Italy that has neither been recognized, nor even suspected – not in four hundred years – save by a curious few.  It is exact; it is detailed; and it is brilliant.”

The descriptions to be found in the Italian plays are in “challenging detail” and “nearly all their locations” can be found to this day.  Whoever wrote them “had a personal interest in that country equal to the interest in his own.”  The places and things in Italy to which Shakespeare alludes or which he describes “reveal themselves to be singularly unique to that one country.”  His familiarity with Italy’s sites and sights – “specific details, history, geography, unique cultural aspects, places and things, practices and propensities” and so on – “is, quite simply, astonishing.”

Roe never mentions Oxford or any other Shakespearean candidate; instead he takes us right away to Verona, the setting for Romeo and Juliet, and recounts making one trip to search for – sycamore!  That’s right, he went to find sycamore trees, and they would have to be located in one specific spot — “just outside the western wall” as “remnants of a grove that had flourished in that one place for centuries.”

A canal in Italy

The trees are described in the very opening scene –

Where, underneath the grove of sycamore

That westward rooteth from the city’s side…

There are no sycamore trees in any of the known source materials for the play; and “no one has ever thought that the English genius who wrote the play could have been telling the truth: that there were such trees, growing exactly where he said in Verona.”

So our intrepid detective-explorer arrives in the old city of Verona: “My driver took me across the city, then to its edge on the Viale Cristoforo Colombo.  Turning south onto the Viale Colonnello Galliano, he began to slow.  This was the boulevard where, long before and rushing to the airport at Milan, I had glimpsed trees, but had no idea what kind.”

His car creeps along the Viale and then comes to a halt.  Are there sycamores at the very same spot where “Shakespeare” said they were?  Did this playwright, who is said to be ignorant of Italy, know this “unnoted and unimportant but literal truth” about Verona?  Had he deliberately “dropped an odd little stone about a real grove of trees into the pool of his powerful drama”?

I’m sure you know the answer …

Dick Roe took this photograph outside the Porta Palio, one of Verona's three western gates; and yes, sycamore trees

* “New-fangled” clothing:

Some glory in their birth, some in their skill,

Some in their wealth, some in their body’s force,

Some in their garments though new-fangled ill … Sonnet 91

“Shakespeare’s Guide to Italy” has a dozen chapters, each with more amazing personal discoveries proving that the great author had to have been there:

1 – Romeo and Juliet – “Devoted Love in Verona”

2 – The Two Gentlemen of Verona – part one – “Sailing to Milan”

3 – The Two Gentlemen of Verona – part two – “Milan: Arrivals and Departures”

4 – The Taming of the Shrew – “Pisa to Padua”

5 – The Merchant of Venice – part one – “Venice: the City and the Empire”

6 – The Merchant of Venice – part two – “Venice: Trouble and Trial”

7 – Othello – “Strangers and Streets, Swords and Shoes”

8 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream – “Midsummer in Sabbioneta”

9 – All’s Well That Ends Well – “France and Florence”

10 – Much Ado About Nothing – “Misfortune in Messina”

11 – The Winter’s Tale – “A Cruel Notion Resolved”

12 – The Tempest – “Island of Wind and Fire”

Part Two of Reason 20 — The Dedications Reveal Oxford’s Personal Relationships with Authors Whose Works Would Lead to “Shakespeare”

This part of Reason No. 20 includes several of the many public dedications to Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford, to indicate the scope of his personal relationships with other writers.  The way I see it, anyone who would eventually create the works of “Shakespeare” could not have grown and developed as an artist in a vacuum; on the contrary, he must have been part of a group or even a “community” of fellow authors, poets and playwrights.

Oxford was not only part of such a community; their tributes make clear that he was their leader.  

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 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 [for 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.”

Also in 1573 the distinguished physician Thomas Twyne (Breviary of Britain) referred to Oxford 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.”

One of Oxford’s secretaries, Anthony Munday (Mirror of Mutability), told the earl in 1579 that he looked forward to “the day when as conquerors we may peacefully resume our delightful literary discussions.”

Munday 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.”

And the works created by members of this circle (such as John Lyly, another of his secretaries) would later become known as “contemporary sources” upon which “Shakespeare” drew.

Thomas Watson (Hekatompathia, or The Passionate Century of Love) in 1580 reminded Oxford 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 Oxford as a kind of literary trend-setter, one whose approval would move others to approve as well; and because of this influence he had, his acceptance of Watson’s 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 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.”

In other words, Oxford encouraged young writers who were working on their very first works to be be published, guiding them to the press.

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.”

So it’s not just the dedications, per se, that are impressive here; it’s also that the comments and praises appear to be absolutely genuine and heartfelt.   Oxford may have had many faults of character, such as a tendency to be jealous and vengeful, but among his fellow writers and other artists he must have been unusually spirited and generous.  Perhaps his relationship with them was akin to Prince Hamlet’s relationship with the players:

“You are welcome, masters!  Welcome, all!  I am glad to see thee well.  Welcome, good friends … Masters, you are all welcome.  We’ll e’en to it like French falconers, fly at anything we see.  We’ll have a speech straight.  Come, give us a taste of your quality.  Come, a passionate speech!”  

[All added emphases above are mine.]

Reason No. 12 (Part Two) Why Oxford was “Shakespeare” — With the Creation of the Queen’s Men in 1583, he had the opportunity, the means, and the motive!

Sir Francis Walsingham, the spymaster who assembled the Queen's Men in 1583

Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford was 33 in 1583, when Queen Elizabeth’s company of adult actors was formed by the direct order of Sir Francis Walsingham, head of the government’s intelligence operations, just as the war between England and Spain was becoming official.  During the next crucial years, leading up to the victory over King Philip’s armada in 1588, the new company would perform at Court in winter and then in summer divide into two traveling troupes.  With its actors wearing the Queen’s livery representing Her Majesty and the Crown, the wartime company staged anonymous plays of English royal history to promote patriotic loyalty and unity.

During the 1580’s the Queen’s Men performed  works that “Shakespeare” would later turn into mature plays such as King John, Richard III, 1 Henry IV, 2 Henry IV, Henry V and King Lear; and the record shows that Lord Oxford and John Lyly, his private secretary and stage manager, were closely connected to the Queen’s Men from the outset.   When put together, these two facts provide strong evidence that the author of the earlier works performed by the Queen’s Men was Oxford himself, and that it was he who revised his own previous plays for which”Shakespeare” would get the credit.

"The True Chronicle History of King Leir" -- acted by the Queen's Men in the 1580's, published in 1605, and the principal source of Shakespeare's "King Lear"

Oxford had returned from  Italy in 1576 and it appears that he proceeded to write plays that were brought to the royal court by the Children of St. Paul’s and by his friend Thomas Radcliffe, 3rd Earl of Sussex, who was a kind of father figure to him.  [Oxford had served with him in the military campaign of 1570 against the northern Catholic earls in rebellion against Elizabeth.]  Sussex was also Lord Chamberlain of the Queen’s Household and patron of the first Lord Chamberlain’s acting company.  Two examples: (1) On New Year’s Day 1577 at Hampton Court the Paul’s Boys performed “The historie of Error,” which sounds like an early version of The Comedy of Errors attributed to Shakespeare; and (2) in Febrary 1577 at Whitehall Palace the Lord Chamberlain’s Men performed “The Historie of the Solitarie Knight,” which may have been a version of Shakespeare’s drama Timon of Athens.

When Edward de Vere was 30 in 1580 his secretary Lyly brought out his second book Euphues and His England, dedicated to Oxford and depicting an “Italianate” Englishman just like the earl himself.  (The two books, which Oxford may have partially or wholly dictated, were virtually the first English novels.)  Also in his service was Anthony Munday, whose Zelauto, the Fountain of Fame of 1580 was the second book he dedicated to Oxford; and in the same year Oxford also took complete charge of the Earl of Warwick’s adult acting company, whose leading men were the brothers Lawrence and John Dutton.

In addition to his patronage of writers, Lord Oxford now had charge of two acting companies, one consisting of adults (Oxford’s Men) and the other (Oxford’s Boys) consisting of choir boys from both Her Majesty’s Children of the Royal Chapel and Paul’s Boys.  And he had the full sanction of the government; for example, his father-in-law William Cecil Lord Burghley, the Queen’s powerful chief minister, along with Lord Chamberlain Sussex, recommended to Cambridge University in mid-1580 that Oxford’s Men should be allowed to “show their cunning in several plays already practiced by them before the Queen’s Majesty.”

In 1583 Edward de Vere stepped forth to save the private Blackfriars Playhouse from extinction, by paying for the lease of  this historic performance space.  (It was frequented by aristocrats and students, with performances functioning as rehearsals for appearances in front of Queen Elizabeth at Court.)  Soon afterward he passed on the lease to John Lyly, his director-manager.  Oxford was now at the very center of the new awakening of English literature and drama in England that would lead to “Shakespeare” in the following decade.

Thomas Radcliffe, 3rd Earl of Sussex (1526-1583), Oxford's friend and surrogate father, whose Lord Chamberlain's Men brought plays to Court until his death

Oxford’s friend the Lord Chamberlain Sussex fell ill and was nearing death when the order came down on March 10,1583 to Edmund Tilney, Master of the Revels, that Her Majesty’s acting company be formed.  In effect the Queen’s Men would take over from the Chamberlain’s Men. (Sussex died that June.)  Assigned to assemble the personnel was secret service director Walsingham, who had no personal care for the theatre and had probably never set foot in a playhouse; but he was quite aware of the power of the drama.

As the Walsingham biography in Wikipedia observes, formation of the Queen’s Men “also signaled a new awareness on behalf of the Queen and the privy council of the potential for combining theatrical and espionage activities, since players frequently traveled, both nationally and internationally, and could serve the Crown in multiple ways, including the collection of information useful to Walsingham’s spy network.”

The spymaster assembled the Queen’s Men by first enlisting the twelve best performers from all the existing companies.  These of course included Oxford’s Men, whose leading players the Dutton brothers as well as other actors were transferred into Her Majesty’s troupe.  The popular clown Richard Tarlton was taken from Sussex’s troupe the Chamberlain’s Men and he quickly became the star of the Queen’s Men, which was now the largest company of actors in English Renaissance theatre.

“The new Queen’s Company made its first appearance at the beginning of the Court season on December 26, 1583,” B.M. Ward reported in The Seventeenth Earl of Oxford from Contemporary Documents (1928).  “On January 1, 1584 a performance was given  by Oxford’s Men; and as John Lyly appears in the Chamber Accounts as payee for the company on that date, there is every reason to believe, with Sir Edmund Chambers, that the play acted was Lyly’s Campaspe.  On March 8, 1584 both Oxford’s and the Queen’s Men performed; once again Lyly was payee for Oxford’s Men, and Sir Edmund confidently conjectures that the play acted was Sapho and Phao.

“Now, it seems unreasonable to suppose that two plays were presented on this day; the most likely solution, therefore, would be that the two companies [i.e., Oxford’s and the Queen’s] were amalgamated and rehearsed by Lord Oxford’s private secretary John Lyly, the author of the play.  No other adult companies besides these two appeared at Court during this season … The simplest solution is surely the one I have suggested, viz., that when the Queen’s Company absorbed some of Oxford’s leading actors Lyly was lent unofficially [starting in 1584] as stage manager and coach.”

So Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford was in position to respond to the Crown’s need for patriotic plays of English royal history; and, too, he was very much involved in the creation and operation of the Queen’s Men, whose actors would perform anonymous plays in the 1580’s that “Shakespeare” would later transform into masterpieces — another strong link in the chain of evidence that Oxford and “Shakespeare” were one and the same dramatist.

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.

One Hundred Reasons Why Oxford Was “Shakespeare” – Starting with No. 1

Dear Reader: From time to time I’ll be re-posting the original blogs (in their original order) that were transformed into the book 100 Reasons Shake-speare was the Earl of Oxford. Ultimately the blog posts were newly organized and then immensely improved — first with editorial help from Brian Bechtold and then from the primary editor, Alex McNeil, who guided the project to its end.  Today we begin with the first post, the way it originally appeared in early 2011:

There must be at least a hundred reasons for my conclusion that Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford wrote the Shakespeare works.  And I figure it would be fun to make a list of such reasons by posting one each day on this blog site, until we get up to the first one-hundred mark.  Where to start?

REASON NO. 1:  Oxford, like Hamlet, was involved with Plays and Play Companies at the Royal Court

The great turning point of the play Hamlet occurs when the Prince contributes some lines for the players in their performance at Court in order that he might “catch the conscience of the king.”  In 1583 the earl of Oxford, in his early thirties, acquired the sublease of the Blackfriars Playhouse in a former monastery.  His children’s group Oxford’s Boys joined up with the Paul’s Boys to form a composite company; then the earl transferred the lease of Blackfriars to his private secretary John Lyly, whose plays were performed by the children for Queen Elizabeth.   A bit earlier Oxford’s own company of boys had given a performance for the Queen of Agamemnon and Ulysses (possibly an early version of Troilus and Cressida).

Hamlet and the Players – “Tales from Shakespeare” by Charles and Mary Lamb, 1901

We can feel the authorial voice in Hamlet’s speeches; his soliloquies sound like echoes of the private and personal sonnets.  The Prince greets the players with that special mixture of affection and condescension that seems to come so naturally to one of such high rank — and so naturally to the author himself.  Such would have been Oxford’s own attitude toward the actors.

But how likely is it that William of Stratford, if he really was an actor, would give his most authorial voice to a prince rather than to one of the players like himself?  How much more likely was it that Lord Oxford, an extraordinarily involved patron of play companies and writers, as well as an acknowledged playwright, used those scenes in Hamlet to depict his own relationship to the players under his patronage at Court?

If William of Stratford had been part of the Court and had brought play companies to perform before the monarch, who would doubt that he created Shakespeare’s great character of Hamlet?  Who would doubt that he captured those wonderful interactions between the prince and the actors?  But it was Oxford who was the highest-ranking nobleman at the Elizabethan Court, and it was he who was in much the same relation to the players as Hamlet — and not the least of Oxford’s motives was to “catch the conscience” of the Queen herself.

So that’s my reason No. 1.

And just 99 to go…

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