Reason 47 to Realize that Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford was “Shakespeare”: Spenser’s Rhyming Match Between “Willie” (Oxford) and “Perigot” (Sidney) in 1579 and Its Connection to “Love’s Labour’s Lost”

This reason why Edward, Earl of Oxford must have been “Shakespeare” is related to the previous one, concerning Edmund Spenser’s description of “our pleasant Willy” in 1591.

A page of “The Shepherd’s Calendar” by Edmund Spenser, 1579, written in honor of Queen Elizabeth

Now we glance back in time to his first mention of “Willie” the poet, which occurred in The Shepherd’s Calendar of 1579, when Oxford was twenty-nine and a recognized poet (but had stopped signing his poems in 1576), whereas William Shakspere of Stratford was just fifteen.

Sir Philip Sidney and his younger brother Sir Robert Sidney, from a painting by Mark Garrard at the Sidney ancestrial home of Penshurst Palace, Kent

Spenser depicted a “rhyming match” between two poets “Willie” and “Perigot” – a thinly disguised spoof on the rivalry in 1579 between the leaders of England’s two literary factions — Lord Oxford, head of the Euphuists, and Sir Philip Sidney, head of the Areopagus.  The two men were also on opposite political sides; in general, Oxford was more liberal while Sidney leaned to the Puritan camp; and they became embroiled that year in an infamous “quarrel” (shouting match) on the Greenwich Palace tennis court, while members of the visiting French delegation had a front-row seat, watching from their private-gallery windows.

(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 Lord Burghley, that the French match was a big charade on her Majesty’s part.)

Oxford held Sidney in contempt for his plagiarism of other writer’s work; and for that reason he hated the contemporary praise that Sidney received but didn’t deserve.  On the royal tennis court, the earl scornfully glared at Sidney and shouted: “Puppy!”  

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

“In respect,” Sidney retorted, “all the world knows that puppies are gotten by dogs, and children by men!” 

Oxford stood silent, allowing the unintended implication to resound within the courtyard of the palace – the implication that Sidney, a puppy, was begotten by a dog!  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 during 1610-14 but not published until 1652.

Sidney’s Areopagus (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 wrote in his documentary biography of Oxford in 1928, 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 that “Shakespeare” would share, adding to the evidence they were one and the same); and their aim was to refine and enrich the English language — as Ward wrote, “It was the magic of words and the imagery of sentences that appealed to them.”

(Ward also observed 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 “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.”  (See full texts below within Looney’s remarks.)

Spenser in his Shepherd’s Calendar of 1579 opens the contest 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!

And, for example:

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 Edmund Spenser describing a significant chapter in the development of the great author who would call himself “Shakespeare” some fourteen years later in 1593.  And the lines he assigned to “Willie” can be described as “Shakespearean” (even though this was 1579, when Shakspere of Stratford was fifteen), as when Feste the Clown in Twelfth Night 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, with a 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, that is, by some fifteen years.

In January 1579, several months before Spenser introduced “Willie” and “Perigot,” the Court of Elizabeth 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 Edward de Vere and Boyet (“little boy,” echoing “puppy”) is an unmistakable portrait of Philip Sidney.

Love’s Labour is full of the same contrapuntal jousting in which Oxford and Sidney were engaged during the late 1570’s.  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.

Imagine this accusation coming from the stage in front of the entire royal court, with Sidney himself in that privileged audience!

[Three centuries later Sidney Lee would point out that “the majority of Sidney’s efforts” had been inspired by Petrarch, Ronsard and Desportes, while he passed off “almost verbatim translations from the French” as if they were his own.]

In my view this is all wonderful history of which students have been deprived for generation after generation during the past two or three centuries.  Wearing the blinders of traditional mythology, orthodox scholars do not (and dare not) even look at it.  One day, however, those blinders will come off, and the world will be much richer for its ability to learn the true story.

The above material owes much to the work of past Oxfordians such as Eva Turner Clark, Ruth Miller, Dorothy and Charlton Ogburn, and Charlton Ogburn Jr.  But let me share with you some of the same stuff as put forth originally by John Thomas Looney in his breakthrough book “Shakespeare” Identified in Edward de Vere, the Seventeenth Earl of Oxford, in 1920:

The quarrel with Sidney, in which he [Oxford] stung his adversary with the single word “puppy,” is one of the few details recorded of his life about the court in the early years of this period. The story of the quarrel is variously told, differing in so much as this, that one account speaks of Sidney playing tennis when Oxford intruded, whilst another records that Oxford was playing when Sidney strolled in. In whichever way the story is told it must needs be so as to reflect discredit upon Oxford and credit upon his antagonist. The chief contemporary authority for the details, however, appears to be Fulke Greville, and when it is remembered that Greville was the life-long friend of Sidney, and that when he died, as Lord Brooke, he left instructions that this friendship should be recorded upon his tombstone, we can hardly regard him as an impartial authority.

One particular of this antagonism is, however, relevant to our present enquiry and must be narrated. Oxford had written some lines (again the familiar six-lined stanza) which are spoken of by two writers as specially “melancholy.”  They may be so, but they are certainly not more melancholy than many passages in “Shakespeare’s,” sonnets, and are quite in harmony with that substratum of melancholy which has been traced in the Shakespeare plays.

Oxford’s stanza:

“Were I a king I might command content,
Were I obscure unknown would be my cares,
And were I dead no thoughts should me torment,
Nor words, nor wrongs, nor love, nor hate, nor fears.
A doubtful choice of three things one to crave,
A kingdom or a cottage or a grave.”

Melancholy or not, the Shakespeare student will have no difficulty in recognizing in this single stanza several marks of the master craftsman.  To this Sidney had replied… 

“Wert thou a king, yet not command content,
Since empire none thy mind could yet suffice,
Wert thou obscure, still cares would thee torment;
But wert thou dead all care and sorrow dies.
An easy choice of three things one to crave,
No kingdom nor a cottage but a grave.”

… It will be observed that the “sensible reply” contains no really inventive composition. It is a mere schoolboy parody, formed by twisting the words and phrases of the original stanza into an affront.  Had it been an inventive composition it would have contained more matter than Sidney ever compressed into an equal space. Between two intimate friends it might have been tolerated as a harmless piece of banter.  Between two antagonists it lacked even the justification of original wit.  And if, as one writer suggests, this matter led up to the tennis-court quarrel, considering the whole of the circumstances, including age and personal relationships, Oxford’s retort of “puppy” was possibly less outrageous, and certainly more original than Sidney’s verse had been.  Sidney’s uncle, Leicester, upon whose influence at court the young man (then twenty-four years old) largely depended, admits having to “bear a hand over him as a forward young man,” so that one less interested in him might be expected to express the same idea more emphatically. The personal attack, it must be observed, had, in this instance at any rate, come first from Sidney. As in other cases one gets the impression of Oxford not being a man given to initiating quarrels, but capable of being roused, and when attacked, striking back with unmistakable vigor.

The story of the tennis-court quarrel is one of the few particulars about Oxford that have become current. Indeed, one very interesting history of English literature mentions the incident, and ignores the fact that the earl was at all concerned with literature. Now, considering the prominence given to this story, it almost appears as if “Shakespeare,” in “Hamlet,” had intended to furnish a clue to his identity when he represents Polonius dragging in a reference to young men “falling out at tennis.”

If our identification of Oxford and Harvey with Berowne and Holofernes be accepted, an interesting point for future investigation will be the identification of other contemporaries with other characters in the play; and in view of Oxford’s relationship with Sidney we shall probably be justified in regarding Boyet as a satirized representation of Philip Sidney; not, of course, the Philip Sidney that tradition has preserved, but Sidney as Oxford saw him. For, compared with the genius of Shakespeare, no competent judge would hesitate to pronounce Sidney a mediocrity. If to this we add Dean Church’s admission that “Sidney was not without his full share of that affectation which was then thought refinement,” it is not difficult to connect him with Boyet, the ladies’ man, whom Berowne satirizes in Act V, Scene 2:

“Why this is he
That kiss’d away his hand in courtesy;
This is the ape of form, monsieur the nice,
That, when he plays at tables, chides the dice
In honourable terms; nay, he can sing
A mean most meanly; and, in ushering,
Mend him who can: the ladies call him sweet.
The stairs as he treads on them kiss his feet.
This is the flower that smiles on every one,
To show his teeth as white as whale’s bone;
And consciences that will not die in debt,
Pay him the, due of honey-tongued Boyet.”

The last two lines are somewhat puzzling apart from any special application. Applied to Sidney, however, they become very pointed from the fact that he died so deeply in debt as to delay his public funeral; his creditors being unwilling to accept the arrangements proposed to them. The difficulties were only overcome by his father-in-law Walsingham, who had a special political interest in the public funeral, advancing £6,000…

[Looney gives examples of Sidney copying from De Vere, such as:

De Vere (Dialogue on Desire): 
What fruits have lovers, for their pains?
Their ladies, if they true remain,
A good reward for true desire.
What was thy meat and daily food?
What hadst thou then to drink?
Unfeigned lover’s tears.

Sidney (Shepherd’s Dialogue):
What wages mayest thou have?
Her heavenly looks which more and more
Do give me cause to crave.
What food is that she gives?
Tear’s drink, sorrow’s meat.

…When, moreover, we find Sidney presenting at a pastoral show at Wilton a dialogue, which is obvious plagiarism from Spenser and De Vere, we can understand Berowne saying of Boyet, in the lines immediately preceding those quoted:

“This fellow pecks up wit as pigeons pease,
And utters it again when God doth please.”

…A certain degree of rivalry between artists, in any department of art, may be quite consistent with mutual respect. But when one happens to be “a forward young man” guilty of petty pilfering from his rival, one can understand the rival’s point of view when he protests:

“He is wit’s pedlar, and retails his wares
At wakes and wassails, meetings, markets, fairs,
And we that sell by gross, the Lord doth know
Have not the grace to grace it with such show.”
(L. L. L. Act V, Scene 2.)

The above lines, from the great author known as “Shakespeare,” had their roots in the real life and experience of Edward de Vere; it is that life, and that experience, which we find vibrating within his poems and plays.

Oxfordian Journal Chapter 5: My First Plunge Into the Strangely Elusive and Disappearing Life of Shakespeare

Reading through A Life of Shakespeare (1898) by Sidney Lee, I experienced an unfamiliar foreboding:  He’s not going to tell about Shakespeare’s creative process.  No, the premonition was even worse:  He’s not going to tell anything about the man himself.

A modern edition of the sturdy little used book I had bought in Portland, Maine, a copy signed by its original owner, W. E. Hart, in 1899

The more I learned about Shakespeare, the less I knew:  By the final page, I’m going to know even less than I did in the first place!  It wasn’t that the biographer was failing to tell things; he was filling nearly five hundred pages; but how was it that the more I read, the faster Shakespeare was disappearing?

I kept waiting for a quote from some guy who shared a mug with him at the Mermaid Tavern and recalled what he looked like … what he wore … what he said … anything!  When I learned that Shakespeare might have played the Ghost in his own play about Hamlet, I thought:  That makes sense.  He was already invisible!

Early on I read that in his plays Shakespeare exhibited quite a bit of knowledge about the life of a soldier; but, according to Lee, that knowledge “is no greater and no less than that which he displayed of almost all other spheres of human activity, and to assume that he wrote all or any from practical experience is to underrate his intuitive power of realizing life under almost every aspect by force of his imagination.” [My emphases]

Sir Sidney Lee (1859-1926), who wrote some 800 articles for the Dictionary of National Biography — including bios of both “Shakespeare” and Edward de Vere!

Okay, I thought, I get it.  Well, yes and no … actually … no. 

If Shakespeare attended the Stratford grammar school, his father’s financial difficulties “caused his removal from school at an unusually early age.”  This was not too promising for a kid on his way to becoming the greatest writer of the English language.  “Probably in 1577, when he was thirteen, he was enlisted by his father in an effort to restore his decaying fortunes.”

And so he became … a butcher’s apprentice. 

“At the end of 1582 Shakespeare, when little more than eighteen and a half years old, took a step which was little calculated to lighten his father’s anxieties.  He married.”  His wife (Anne Hathaway), eight years his senior, was pregnant with their first child (Susanna), born in 1583.  Then came twins (Hamnet and Judith) in 1585.  And just one year after that, Lee reported, he walked out on the whole family:

“To London Shakespeare naturally drifted, doubtless trudging thither on foot during 1586 … “

High Street, Southwark, in Elizabethan times

He naturally drifted.  I pictured him floating out the front door, leaving them all behind, and trudging down the dirt road through the hills and valleys toward the big city, ninety-two miles away, a journey of several days.  My heart began to beat faster, because … just over the horizon … very soon … there was going to be a very big turn in the plot … Shakespeare was going to write so much great poetry and drama it’s a wonder he’d be able to buy all that ink and parchment … and this is Sidney Lee’s chance to tell how the great author did it.

Shakespeare was “a homeless youth” in London at this point, Lee wrote, and his first job at a playhouse must have been a “mean” or lowly one.  But – “His intellectual capacity and the amiability with which he turned to account his versatile powers were probably soon recognized, and thenceforth his promotion was assured.”

Interior of the Swan Playhouse, sketched by Dutch traveler Johannes de Witt in 1596

He became an actor.   He’d remain a busy member of that profession during most of his life.  He would be acting in the afternoons and otherwise rehearsing new parts and memorizing new lines.  He’d be traveling all over England with the play company.  He’d barely have time for costume fittings, not to mention eating and sleeping.

Lee reported that in 1591, at twenty-seven, just nine years after becoming a butcher’s apprentice … and just five years after “naturally drifting” to London … Shakespeare wrote the early version of his sophisticated Court comedy Love’s Labours Lost.

And Lee skipped right over the subject of Shakespeare’s creative process!

Shakespeare had time to revise the play before it was performed for Her Highness in 1597 and published the next year…

Love’s Labour’s Lost was chock full of “keen observation of contemporary life in many ranks of society, both in town and country, while the speeches of the hero Biron clothed much sound philosophy in masterly rhetoric.”  In this play the busy young actor was “openly travestying known traits and incidents of current social and political life.”  He drew the names of the chief characters “from the leaders in the civil war in France…”

(The setting was Navarre, a former kingdom situated between present-day France and Spain!  He was inspired by the sixteenth-century literary vogue in France for restricted societies devoted to self-improvement through study!  He probably set this play in a French-speaking country after reading the 1586 translation of Pierre de la Primaudaye’s L’Academie Francaise, published in 1577…!)

Okay, okay!  Stop!  But how did he do it?  What was his working method?  When did he have time to go to the bathroom?    

The famous six signatures … No Comment!

Sidney Lee ignored my pleas and kept piling it on.  Shakespeare during 1590-1592 was also writing all three parts of Henry VI, which begins during 1422 to 1445 and the final battles of the Hundred Years’ War with France … then into the dangerous waters of domestic politics by charting the rise of the Yorkist challenge to the Lancastrian monarchy … then into the Wars of the Roses to address the instability that flows from challenges to the legitimacy of the crown … thereby ringing a warning bell to an England ruled by the aging Queen Elizabeth …!

(And I was worried about writing a strictly fictional one-act play set inside the White House???)

During 1590-1595 he also wrote Richard III, The Comedy of Errors, Titus Andronicus, The Taming of the Shrew, The Two Gentlemen of Verona and Romeo and Juliet, not to mention the highly sophisticated and cultured narrative poems, Venus and Adonis of 1593 and Lucrece of 1594, both instant bestsellers!

Al Pacino as Shylock in “The Merchant of Venice” (2004)

Sidney Lee in this 1898 biography told of “the nineteen plays which may be set to Shakespeare’s credit between 1591 and 1599, combined with such revising work as fell to his lot during those eight years,” adding, “But it was as an actor that at any early date he acquired a genuinely substantial and secure income.”

I knew by now that it was a sacrilege to question the plausibility of all this.  In fact, I didn’t question it at all.  I was too busy being overwhelmed.

(Love’s Labour’s Lost contains the following speech with a very big word:  “I marvel thy master hath not eaten thee for a word; for thou art not so long by the head as honorificabilitudinitatibus: thou art easier swallowed than a flap-dragon.”)

The other plays in those nine years included Richard II, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, King John, The Merchant of Venice, parts one and two of Henry IV, Much Ado About Nothing, Henry V, Julius Caesar, As You Like It and probably Twelfth Night, with Hamlet, Prince of Denmark already baking in the oven!  Among the settings in Italy were Belmont, Venice, Padua, Mantua, Verona, Milan and Messina (Sicily), and let’s not forget France and the French king’s palace!  And so on!

But I was even less clear about how he did this work than I’d been before opening the book.  So I put it down — intermission! — to catch my breath…

(To be continued)

Published in: Uncategorized on August 4, 2012 at 3:04 pm  Comments (2)  
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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:
“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 1590’s 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 that he joined a hilarious skit that involved 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, 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.
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 work for which Lyly is credited was produced 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.
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