No. 90 of 100 Reasons Why “Shakespeare” was Edward de Vere: His Tutor Had the Only Manuscript of “Beowulf,” an Influence upon “Hamlet”

Beowulf Image  Superimposed Over Original Manuscript Text

Beowulf Image
Superimposed Over
Original Manuscript Text

Most often when scholars have begun to suspect that “Shakespeare” was influenced in his writing of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by the ancient narrative poem Beowulf, they have made a sharp turn away from that idea. Beowulf, as generations of students can attest, is the earliest surviving Old English poem, dated between the eighth and eleventh centuries, by an unknown author. Set in Scandinavia and told in 3182 alliterative lines, it’s one of the most important works of Anglo-Saxon literature, as well as one of the earliest European epics written not in Latin but in the vernacular or native language. And the traditional author of the Shakespeare works, the man from Stratford upon Avon, could not have read it.

Beowulf, a hero of the Geats, comes to the aid of Hroogar, King of the Danes, whose mead-hall (great royal feasting hall, where warriors could sleep at night) has been under attack by the monster Grendel. Beowulf slays Grendel; when Grendel’s mother attacks, he kills her, too; and then he returns home to Geatland in Sweden, where he becomes King of the Geats.

The Death of Beowulf (with friend Wiglaf)

The Death of Beowulf
(with friend Wiglaf)

Fifty years pass until the third and final battle, when Beowulf’s friend Wiglaf helps him slay the Dragon; but after being mortally wounded in the fight, Beowulf delivers his dying words to his friend — as rendered below in the 1963 translation by Burton Raffel, with echoes from Hamlet’s dying words to Horatio:

BEOWULF
Take what I leave, Wiglat, lead my people,
Help them; my time is gone…

HAMLET
O, I die, Horatio,
The potent poison quite o’er-crows my spirit…

BEOWULF
Have the brave Geats build me a tomb …
And build it here, at the water’s edge, high
On this spit of land, so sailors can see
This tower and remember my name.

HAMLET:
O God, Horatio, what a wounded name,
Things standing thus unknown, shall I leave behind me!
If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart,
Absent thee from felicity awhile,
And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain
To tell my story.

Laurence Nowell's self portrait (with empty purse) at lower left corner of a pocket map he made for Wm. Cecil

Laurence Nowell’s self portrait (with empty purse) at lower left corner of a pocket map he made for Wm. Cecil

One – and only one – Beowulf manuscript exists. It’s a fragile document, possibly the anonymous author’s working copy, the result of two scribes taking down the words as he spoke them. Although the poem is set in Scandinavia, it was written in England; and the earliest known owner of the manuscript was the scholar Laurence Nowell, who received it after entering the London house of his patron, William Cecil, chief minister to Queen Elizabeth, in 1562 or 1563. An expert collector of Anglo-Saxon documents, Nowell later compiled the first Anglo-Saxon Dictionary. After coming into possession of a volume of handwritten manuscripts containing the Beowulf text, he signed his name in pencil on the back of it along with the year, 1563. The manuscript volume is bound in what is still known as the “Nowell Codex” and is kept today at the British Library.

The immediate point here is that only a few highly placed individuals in the world ever got to read Beowulf until well after the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. We can be certain that William Shaksper of Stratford could not have seen the ancient poem. So the scholars who have noticed the influence of Beowulf in Hamlet have had to either find some explanation for the similarities or ignore them.

(It’s like the shock that would occur if, say, an elephant suddenly walked through the living room. The mind scrambles to explain; otherwise, it cries out: “This does not exist!”)

A page of the Beowulf  Manuscript

A page of the Beowulf
Manuscript

It turns out, however, that the influence of Beowulf in Shakespeare’s Hamlet does exist. Laurence Nowell – antiquarian, cartographer, Anglo-Saxon scholar – had been summoned by Cecil to act as a special tutor to young Edward de Vere, seventeenth Earl of Oxford, who arrived at Cecil House at age twelve in September of 1562, as a royal ward of the Queen in the chief minister’s custody. It was in 1563 that, through Cecil (as well as Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury), he acquired the manuscript; and young Oxford, to whom so much evidence points as the true author of the Shakespeare works, was literally in the same room with Nowell when the Anglo-Saxon scholar was brimming with excitement over having this precious text in his hands.

This is the kind of surprising information that Oxfordians have been discovering since J. Thomas Looney published “Shakespeare” Identified in 1920. This specific discovery has been known at least since the publication of “Beowulf, Hamlet and Edward de Vere” by the late Dr. Andrew Hanna in the Shakespeare Oxford Society Newsletter of Spring 1990 (Vol. 26, No. 2); they may have read a wonderfully succinct account of it in Mark Anderson’s biography Shakespeare by Another Name (2005); and they may have seen Dr. TK Kenyon’s blog review of that book, in which she writes:

“Consider, if you will, the obvious plot and character parallels between Hamlet and Beowulf. The author of Hamlet clearly had read Beowulf and understood deeply. (Any other explanation is like denying the literary relationship between The Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now.) De Vere was one of very few people in England or elsewhere with access to Beowulf, let alone that his tutor signed it at the time he tutored de Vere.”

[Also highly recommended is the comprehensive work of Stephanie Hughes in her blog Politicworm – see “Laurence Nowell and Beowulf”.]

The Death of Hamlet

The Death of Hamlet

B.M. Ward writes in his documentary biography of Edward de Vere: “In June 1563 Laurence Nowell wrote a Latin letter to Cecil, drawing his attention to the slip-shod manner in which the cartographers and geographers of England were doing their work … He goes on to ask Cecil that to him may be entrusted the task of compiling an accurate map, because ‘I clearly see that my work for the Earl of Oxford cannot be much longer required.'”

Some defenders of the Stratfordian faith have tried to turn Nowell’s statement into a negative remark about Oxford, but common sense points elsewhere, even if only because Nowell would never dare to speak ill to Cecil of the young nobleman in his charge, who stood to become the highest-ranking earl of the realm. As Ward comments, “That a scholar of Nowell’s attainments should speak thus of his pupil, then aged thirteen and a half, argues a precocity quite out of the ordinary.”

Here is a selection from the ground-breaking essay by Andy Hanna:

“But what was Beowulf to ‘Shake-speare’? Conventional scholarship on the play most likely to show such a link, Hamlet, is silent on any connection to Beowulf. The Stratford fellow couldn’t possibly have known of the Old English manuscript of a poem that didn’t ‘surface’ to literati until a librarian noticed it over a century later, the wisdom holds … But scholars also realize that the play Hamlet abandons the obvious Saxo/Belleforest ‘source’ after the revengeful killing of the uncle. That is, what happens after Amleth kills Feng in Saxo is not found in Hamlet, nor is any of the motif of Hamlet’s death found in Saxo or Belleforest. Enter Beowulf

The mead-hall or feasting hall of the King was usually the safest place in the kingdom

The mead-hall or feasting hall of the King was usually the safest place in the kingdom

“I would like to suggest that in the dying words of Hamlet we see a refiguring of the poignant exchange between the dying Beowulf and his faithful (and lone follower) Wiglaf – who also is a relative, a cousin, of his lord [the military hero Horatio Vere was Oxford’s cousin]. Not insignificantly, both Beowulf and Hamlet are concerned not just about their own names and stories – which Wiglaf and Horatio will report – but also over the fate of the kingdom, the succession to the throne. Both lands either are or soon will be overrun by foreign power. And oddly, the puzzling slipping of time, the aging of Beowulf, bears a curious resemblance to the passage of time in which Hamlet appears in Act Five to have aged from a Prince in early manhood to an ostensible thirty years of age …

“As for the youthful Oxford ever seeing the Beowulf story, I cannot imagine a tutor such as Nowell not at some juncture showing his pupil that poem – and telling the story – written in a hand from the days of the first earls of Oxford. De Vere, many years later to be sure, recollected, and ‘I am Beowulf the Great’ became ‘This is I, Hamlet the Dane!’

monster in beowulf

[I cannot bring myself to omit another observation from Dr. Hanna — that “as any observer of the ‘Shake-spearian’ critical industry could attest, if Laurence Nowell could be shown to have had any connection to the Stratford youth, or to the school he is postulated to have attended, we soon would be wading in our piscatory hip boots in Hamlet-Beowulf studies.”]

Here’s an excerpt from Mark Anderson:

Beowulf was as inaccessible as the crown jewels to anyone outside of Cecil House. With an author whose childhood education would have exposed him to Beowulf, the ancient poem’s influence on Shake-speare becomes not inexplicable but rather expected…

Beowulf and the original Hamlet myth (‘Amleth’) are cousins from the same family of Scandinavian folklore. Shake-speare uses both as sources for Hamlet. Once Hamlet kills his uncle Claudius, Shake-speare stops following ‘Amleth’ and starts following Beowulf. It is Beowulf who fights the mortal duel with poison and sword; it is Beowulf who turns to his loyal comrade (Wiglaf in Beowulf; Horatio in Hamlet) to recite a dying appeal to carry his name and cause forward…”

beowulf image

More from the same section of the Burton Raffel translation, near the end:

BEOWULF:
“For this, this gold, these jewels, I thank
Our Father in Heaven, Ruler of the Earth—
For all of this, that His grace has given me,
Allowed me to bring to my people while breath
Still came to my lips. I sold my life
For this treasure, and I sold it well. Take
What I leave, Wiglaf, lead my people,
Help them; my time is gone. Have
The brave Geats build me a tomb,
When the funeral flames have burned me, and build it
Here, at the water’s edge, high
On this spit of land, so sailors can see
This tower, and remember my name, and call it
Beowulf s tower, and boats in the darkness
And mist, crossing the sea, will know it.”

Then that brave King gave the golden
Necklace from around his throat to Wiglaf,
Gave him his gold-covered helmet, and his rings,
And his mail shirt, and ordered him to use them well:

“You’re the last of all our far-flung family.
Fate has swept our race away,
Taken warriors in their strength and led them
To the death that was waiting. And now I follow them.”

The old man’s mouth was silent, spoke
No more, had said as much as it could;
He would sleep in the fire, soon. His soul
Left his flesh, flew to glory…

And from the pen of the author of Hamlet:

HAMLET:
… the rest is silence.

HORATIO:
Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet Prince,
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!

Portia’s Estate of Belmont — Part Two of Reason 73 Why Oxford was Shakespeare: It was a Real Place that the Author Saw Firsthand

Background Image: Henry de Vere, eighteenth Earl of Oxford; and Henry Wriothesley, third Earl of Southampton – the “Two Henries” circa 1619

“In Belmont is a lady richly left; and she is fair, and, fairer than that word, of wondrous virtues: sometimes from her eyes I did receive fair speechless messages: her name is Portia” – Bassanio in The Merchant of Venice

BELMONTthe estate of Portia … apparently located on the mainland near Venice a fictitious place” –  Charles Boyce, Shakespeare A to Z, 1990

“Belmont is a real place, though called differently in Italian: its identification has been made possible by the precise geographical information and a specific historical reference given in the play.” – Dr. Noemi Magri, De Vere Society Newsletter, 2003; reprinted in Great Oxford, 2004

Villa Foscari on the River Brenta, built by 1560, is Portia's estate of Belmont

Villa Foscari on the River Brenta, built by 1560, is Portia’s estate of Belmont

Portia’s home in The Merchant of Venice is a grand palace where trumpets sound as each new member of the nobility is received in its richly decorated Great Hall, where musicians serenade and aristocrats dance and players perform.  Shakespeare took the name “Belmont” from his main Italian source, Il Pecorone, a novella composed around 1380 and printed in Italian in 1558, wherein the character Gianetto travels a long distance from Venice to see the Lady of Belmont.

The original Belmont in the story was a port on the Adriatic coast.   To simplify things for his play, Shakespeare indicates that Belmont is much closer to Venice; but no real place by that name actually existed or exists at the location he gives — or at any location anywhere near it.   Given that William Shakspere of Stratford never left England, much less spent time in Italy, it follows that he had no real grand estate in mind to begin with; and so, as Boyce indicates above, scholars have universally viewed Shakespeare’s Belmont as a wondrous “fictitious place” he created as a vivid contrast to the crass commercial world of Venice.

The trouble, however, is that the author takes great pains to precisely locate and identify Portia’s estate of Belmont.  He indicates, for example, that the mansion is on a riverbank — in the scene with Lorenzo and Jessica outside the great house in the evening, gazing at the water, when Lorenzo exclaims: “How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!”

So Portia’s great house is on a river.  And in the third act she plans to go to Venice with Nerissa, both disguised as men (to be at Antonio’s trial, where Portia will appear as a lawyer), and then to return straightaway to Belmont.  She tells Nerissa to “haste away, for we must measure twenty miles today.”   So the roundtrip is twenty miles, or ten miles to Venice and ten miles back to Belmont.

Now the author inserts another clue.  To conceal her true plan, Portia tells Lorenzo and Jessica a fake story about where they’re going:  “There is a monastery two miles off,” she says, and “there we will abide” until the trial in Venice is concluded.

malcon01So now we know Belmont is (1) on the bank of a river, (2) ten miles from Venice and (3) two miles from a monastery.   And it so happens that there was, and still is, a famous grand mansion on the bank of the River Brenta – the Villa Foscari-Malcontenta, the country residence of the illustrious Foscari family in Venice, exactly ten miles from Venice and precisely two miles from the monastery Ca’ delle Monache, the Nun’s House.

These clues from “Shakespeare” serve to identify Belmont as the architectural masterpiece Villa Foscari , designed by Andrea Palladio and constructed by 1560, when Elizabeth I of England was at the outset of her reign.  This grand villa on the River Brenta, with its richly decorated interior rooms and Great Hall, was known for receiving members of the nobility (and royalty, such as Henry III of France, in 1574) with trumpets sounding, and for entertaining the guests with music and dance and plays – an unforgettable place that the author saw firsthand, later changing its name to Belmont.

“Though now the central seat of the University of Venice, the Villa-Foscari-Malcontenta can be visited today,” writes Richard Paul Roe, author of The Shakespeare Guide to Italy (2011), who independently came to the same conclusion as Dr. Noemi Magri.  “It was an easy reach to Venice and a fitting ‘Belmont’ for an heiress, such as Portia, whose hand was sought by princes far and wide” – just as princes came from far and wide for the hand of Queen Elizabeth.

fusina on map

But the man who wrote The Merchant of Venice supplied even more specifics — such as when Portia sends her servant Balthasar to Padua for “notes and garments” that she needs, telling him to then continue in haste “unto the Tranect, to the common ferry which trades to Venice,” where she will be waiting with Nerissa in her coach.   The two women will go from the Tranect by ferry to Venice.

According to Roe, scholars have been wide of the mark trying to identify the Tranect, unaware that it was a narrow strip of land where travelers could transfer from their coach to a ferry, which was pulled across the dry land by machinery to the water and the final lap to Venice.   Their rendezvous at the Tranect “would have to have been in Fusina,” Roe concluded, because it’s five miles alongside the river from Belmont to Fusina, and from there across the water it’s “exactly five miles to the landing place called ‘il Molo,’ which sits in front of the Ducal Palace and Courts of Justice,” where Antonio’s trial was being held.

The ten-mile journey was in two parts of five miles each.  Portia and Nerissa would return from Venice by ferrying the five miles across the water to the Tranect at Fusina, then travel by coach beside the River Brenta for five miles back to the Villa Foscari — or, as it’s called in the play, Belmont.  In total the roundtrip had four legs of five miles apiece, adding up to the “twenty miles” that Portia states so emphatically.  In other words, the great dramatist of The Merchant described not only the various lengths of the journey, but, also, the practical means by which the two women went to the trial in Venice and back.

Now for that “specific historical reference” mentioned by Dr. Magri – an event that is mentioned in The Merchant as having occurred at Belmont and that actually did happen at Villa Foscari.  The reference is made by Nerissa, who asks Portia if she remembers Bassanio’s visit to Belmont:  “Do you not remember, lady, in your father’s time, a Venetian, a scholar and a soldier that came hither in company of the Marquis of Montferrat?”

“Yes, yes, it was Bassanio, as I think, so he was called,” Portia says, but totally ignoring Nerissa’s recollection of the Marguis of Montferrat, who is neither one of Portia’s suitors nor one of the play’s characters; in fact, this is the only time he’s mentioned.  Traditional scholars have never found any good reason for the playwright to make such an allusion, but Dr. Magri, viewing The Merchant as written by Edward de Vere, found the reason — in the historical record of the visit to Venice in July 1574 by Henry III of France, who traveled with his party up the River Brenta and stopped at Villa Foscari, where he had been invited for dinner.

It turns out that with the French king on that visit was Guglielmo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua and Marquis of Montferrat!

"il Molo," Portia's landing place in front of the Ducal Palace and Courts of Justice

“il Molo,” Portia’s landing place in front of the Ducal Palace and Courts of Justice

Just eight months later in March 1575, the twenty-five-year-old Earl of Oxford arrived at the royal court in Paris and met King Henry III, who was fond of expressing his admiration for Villa Foscari and its charming location.  Oxford continued his journey to Italy and stopped in Mantua — where, Mark Anderson writes in Shakespeare by Another Name, the earl’s “probable host” was Guglielmo Gonzaga, Marquis of Monteferrat, who surely would have told Oxford about his experiences during that historic visit of the French king.

Oxford’s trip from Padua to Venice by traghetto (horse-drawn ferry) along the River Brenta lasted seven hours.  His ferry ride passed “the classically inspired Villa Foscari,” Anderson writes, “as the traghetto slowed down to round a wide curve on the riverbank.”

Noemi Magri concluded that Oxford “intended to describe Villa Foscari and had in mind the Brenta with its villas” and that he “wished to remember the Marquis of Montferrat, Guglielmo Gonzaga Duke of Mantua, the ruler of one of the greatest centers of learning in Renaissance times.”

What does it matter who wrote the Shakespeare plays?  I’d say that Belmont = Villa Foscari is one good reason all by itself.

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”

Reason No. 22 Why Oxford = Shakespeare: His 1570 Geneva Bible with Its Annotations in the Earl’s Own Hand — And the Irony of Henry Clay Folger’s Purchase of it in 1925…

A great irony of the authorship movement is that Henry Clay Folger, founder of that bastion of Stratfordian tradition in Washington, D.C., the Folger Shakespeare Library, was an Oxfordian sympathizer.  Folger took such keen interest in J. T. Looney’s 1920 identification of Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford as “Shakespeare” that, five years later in 1925, he bought the Geneva Bible the earl had purchased in 1570 at age nineteen.

Henry Clay Folger (1857 - 1930)

Mr. Folger apparently had an open mind; in due time, as evidence in the postscript below will indicate, he very possibly would have gone on to become a full-fledged Oxfordian!

Edward de Vere’s copy of the Geneva Bible was quietly ensconced in the Library when it opened in 1932, two years after Folger’s death.  There it remained, unheralded, until 1992 – sixty years!  — when Oxfordian researchers Dr. Paul Nelson and Isabel Holden learned it was being guarded by folks with powerful reasons to keep its contents under wraps.  And those contents were explosive: more than a thousand marked and/or underlined verses, apparently in Oxford’s own hand, with plenty of links to the Shakespeare works.

Enter Roger Stritmatter, who would pore over the handwritten annotations in Oxford’s Bible (often in partnership with journalist-author Mark Anderson) for the next eight years, earning his PhD in Comparative Literature at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.  Dr. Stritmatter’s dissertation The Marginalia of Edward de Vere’s Geneva Bible, presented in April 2000, stands as both a remarkable achievement in scholarship and a landmark event in the history of Shakespearean authorship studies.  The dissertation is also a powerful demonstration of insights and connections that become possible when the correct biography of “Shakespeare” is brought into alignment with historical documents (such as Oxford’s Bible) in relation to the poems and plays.

Dr. Roger Stritmatter's Dissertation on Oxford's Geneva Bible: a Landmark in Oxford-Shakespeare Scholarship

When Edward de Vere obtained his copy he was still a royal ward of Queen Elizabeth in the custody of William Cecil Lord Burghley.  In his documentary life of Oxford published in 1928, B.M. Ward reported finding an account book with “Payments made by John Hart, Chester Herald, on behalf of the Earl of Oxford” during 1570, with entries such as:  “To William Seres, stationer, for a Geneva Bible gilt, a Chaucer, Plutarch’s works in French, with other books and papers – … Tully’s and Plato’s works in folio, with other books …”  (These are sources used by “Shakespeare” for inspiration.  If traditional scholars ever found such a list for the Stratford man, they’d hold a parade!)

“To William Seres, stationer, for a Geneva Bible gilt” – well, yes, the copy in the Folger had that same gilded outer edge on the front.  Bound in scarlet velvet, its silver engraved arms belonged to the Earl of Oxford.

“The first edition was published in 1560 in Geneva,” Stritmatter reports on his website.  “Due to its incendiary implied criticisms of Catholicism, it remained a popular unauthorized translation throughout the reign of Elizabeth I … Over a hundred years of scholarship has made it clear that the Geneva Bible was the translation most familiar to Shakespeare.”

Among the approximately 1,043 underlined or marked verses in Oxford’s Bible, one hundred and forty-seven are cited by previous authorities as having influenced Shakespeare.  Twenty marked verses contain language “at least as close” to other language already identified as Shakespearean influences – and so on, not to mention cases where Stritmatter found connections to the works of Shakespeare that previously had gone unnoticed.  The earl’s copy also contains some thirty-two short handwritten notes that have been verified (through independent forensic paleography) to be his.  And many themes reflected in the marked passages “can be traced directly to known biographical facts of Oxford’s life,” Stritmatter writes, confirming that “not only was Oxford the original owner of the book, but it was he who made the annotations.”

Dr. Roger Stritmatter

During Stritmatter’s journey he began to perceive a series of “patterned relations” narrating a “spiritual story” that we can see only when Edward de Vere is perceived as Shakespeare – a story about “secret works” by an annotator whose name is removed from the historical record but who, nonetheless, re-emerges as the man who gave the world the greatest works of the English language.

For example, Oxford marked and partially underlined Verse Nine of Chapter Seven in MICHA“I will bear the wrath of the Lord, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause and execute judgment for me; then will he bring me forth to the light…”

“Shakespeare” wrote in Lucrece:

Time’s glory is to calm contending Kings,

To unmask falsehood, and bring truth to light

Oxford wrote under his own name to Secretary Robert Cecil (in 1602):

“Now time, and truth, have unmasked all difficulties.”

POSTSCRIPT

From the Shakespeare Fellowship Quarterly of January 1946, more evidence that Henry Clay Folger was an Oxfordian sympathizer:

In 1929 Esther Singleton published Shakespearian Fantasias: Adventures in the Fourth Dimension, with stories based on characters in Shakespeare’s comedies.  Obviously having read Shakespeare Identified by Looney, she introduced the Earl of Oxford as Berowne of Love’s Labour’s Lost, Jacques of As You Like It and Benedick of Much Ado About Nothing.  Folger found these tales so delightful that he bought at least twenty copies of the book to give away to friends; and just before he died, he also negotiated with Miss Singleton to buy her original manuscript.  Although she herself died only two weeks later, her heirs eventually presented the manuscript to the Folger Library in her memory.  So, just as Sigmund Freud’s acceptance of the Oxfordian theory was suppressed, Henry Clay Folger’s sympathy toward Oxford’s authorship was kept a closely guarded secret for decades — until, that is, Edward de Vere’s copy of the Geneva Bible (laying virtually hidden in a great Library ostensibly dedicated to scholarship and truth!) became one more reason to believe that the earl himself was William Shakespeare.

No, Jim, You Can’t Take Away Those Pirates! – Reason No. 5 of 100 Why I Believe Oxford was “Shakespeare”

When James Shapiro came to the Epilogue of his book Contested Will, written to try to block the inevitable tide of doubt about the traditional identification of “Shakespeare,” he described his experience at a performance I gave of my one-man show Shake-speare’s Treason (based on my book The Monument) at the Globe playhouse  in London.  “It was a spellbinding performance,” he wrote, adding that he “found it all both impressive and demoralizing” — because, of course, he wants you to think that any account of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford as the author of Shake-speare’s Sonnets must be pure fiction.  And he went on:

“I left the Globe wondering what mainstream biographers might say in response to Oxfordians who insist that Edward de Vere had a stronger claim to have written Hamlet and King Lear, since — unlike the glover’s son from Stratford — he had been captured by pirates and had three daughters.”

Okay, wait a minute, hold on, Jim!  What exactly are you trying to say here?

A Warship of the 16th Century

A Warship of the 16th Century

No, no, you can’t take away those pirates, just as you can’t erase the fact that the earl, like King Lear, had three daughters!

Let me put it this way.  If the glover’s son from Stratford had been stopped by pirates in real life, by now we’d have whole shelves filled with books with titles such as:

Trauma on the High Seas: How The Bard’s Capture by Pirates Affected His Writing Life & His Play about Hamlet …

Shakespeare’s Fateful Encounter With the Pirates: A Profound Turning Point in His Psyche and Work …

Shakespeare’s Pirate Complex: The Cause of His Tragic Phase?

Shakespeare & The Pirates: A Love-Hate Relationship?

Edward de Vere as Lord Great Chamberlain, carrying the Sword of State before Queen Elizabeth I of England

Although this was just one event among many in Edward de Vere’s life that correspond in some way with what we find in the “Shakespeare” plays, Oxfordians have done little more than mention, in passing, its similarity to Hamlet’s experience.  It’s just one more example of something in Oxford’s life resembling what can be found in the plays.

Does Shapiro think Oxford’s capture and release by Dutch pirates in the English Channel should be a liability, in terms of evidence that he wrote Hamlet?  Does the professor want to twist it all around, turning a positive into a negative?

The episode in Hamlet comes from “Shakespeare” himself, as a writer, not from any of the play’s recognized sources, Mark Anderson reports in his terrific Oxford biography “Shakespeare” By Another Name.  The pirates intercepted and boarded Oxford’s ship in 1576, as he was returning to England from his sixteen-month tour of France, Germany and (primarily) Italy.  They stripped the ship clean.

“De Vere’s luggage was ransacked, and the pirates even took the clothes from the earl’s back,” Anderson writes.  The French ambassador reported that Oxford was “left naked, stripped to his shirt, treated miserably” and he might have lost his life “if he hadn’t been recognized by a Scotsman.”

Model of an Elizabethan Galleon

A member of Oxford’s entourage, Nathaniel Baxter, recalled the pirate episode in a poem published in 1606, writing:

Naked we landed out of Italy/ Enthralled by pirates, men of no regard/ Horror and death assailed nobility” — and Hamlet writes to King Claudius about the encounter: “High and Mighty, you shall know I am set naked on your kingdom.”  (My emphases)

I suppose that same use of naked is just “coincidental”…

There’s an interesting debate over whether Hamlet had previously arranged his own brush with the pirates, so he could escape being murdered by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as per the king’s orders.  In any case, the prince writes to Horatio:

“Ere we were two days old at sea, a pirate of very warlike appointment gave us chase.  Finding ourselves too slow of sail, we put on a compelled valor, and in the grapple I boarded them.  On the instant they got clear of our ship, so I alone became their prisoner.  They have dealt with me like thieves of mercy, but they knew what they did; I am to do a good turn for them.”

 

The prince, like Oxford, had been bound for England; now he turns back to Denmark while Rosencrantz and Guildenstern “hold their course for England,” where, because Hamlet has craftily switched the written orders, they will be killed instead of him.

Professor Shapiro argues against any attempt to turn the Shakespeare plays into works of autobiography, but that’s a straw man he’s setting up in order to knock it down.  Of course Hamlet is not strict autobiography; no one ever claimed such a thing.  The real point, which Shapiro wants his readers to miss, is that the best novelists and dramatists tend to draw upon their personal experiences and then to transmute them, through imagination and skill, into fictional art forms.  It’s not a matter of having to choose between reality and invention; all great art is a blend of both.

Shapiro concedes that “we know almost nothing about [Shakspere’s] personal experiences” and, therefore, “those moments in his work which build upon what he may have felt remain invisible to us.”  And given this vacuum within the documented Stratfordian biography, he boldly [and recklessly] declares that all attempts to link the life of “Shakespeare” with his works should hereby cease!  He means not only such attempts by Oxfordians but also by Stratfordians — especially the latter, since these efforts have always failed and will fail even more glaringly in the future, as the authorship question is brought increasingly into the open.

Oh – I almost forgot: Oxford was targeted by pirates in the Channel not once but twice, i.e., not only in 1576 but also in 1585, when he returned from Holland and his brief command [with Colonel John Norris] of 4,000 foot soldiers and 400 horse.  But after receiving a letter from Burghley that he’d been placed in command of the Horse, he was summoned back home [to be replaced by Philip Sidney, who would die on the battlefield a year later]; and according to one report a ship carrying Oxford’s “money, apparel, wine and venison” was “captured off Dunkirk by the Spaniards.”

Among Oxford’s belongings captured by the Spaniards, according to the report, was the letter from Burghley telling him of the Horse command; and as Anderson notes, “Hamlet contains not only an encounter with pirates but also an analogous plot twist involving suborned letters at sea.”

So, professor, the pirates are here to stay.  They certainly aren’t proof that Oxford wrote the play, but I put them here as my No. 5 of 100 reasons why I believe the earl was “Shakespeare” — and as just another piece of evidence that “authorship” really does matter.

Emmerich and “Shake-speare” and Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford

Earlier this month Kellvin Chavez at LATINO REVIEW asked filmmaker Roland Emmerich to discuss his movie project ANONYMOUS (formerly SOUL OF THE AGE) about Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford as “William Shakespeare” and he replied:

“Well, for me there was an incredible script that I bought eight years ago.  It was called ‘Soul of the Age,’ which pretty much is the heart of the movie still.  It’s three characters. It’s like Ben Jonson, who was a playwright then.  William Shakespeare who was an actor.  It’s like the 17th Earl of Oxford who is the true author of all these plays.  We see how, through these three people, it happens that all of these plays get credited to Shakespeare.  I kind of found it as too much like ‘Amadeus’ to me.  It was about jealousy, about genius against end (sic?), so I proposed to make this a movie about political things, which is about succession.  Succession, the monarchy, was absolute monarchy, and the most important political thing was who would be the next King.  Then we incorporated that idea into that story line.  It has all the elements of a Shakespeare play.  It’s about Kings, Queens, and Princes.  It’s about illegitimate children, it’s about incest, it’s about all of these elements which Shakespeare plays have.  And it’s overall a tragedy.  That was the way and I’m really excited to make this movie.”

Last I heard, the cameras are expected to roll next March in Germany.  Oh, Roland, you may have been controversial before, but just wait!  As they say, you ain’t seen nuttin’ yet!  What will the Folger do?  How will the Stratford tourism industry react?  The Birthplace Trust!  How will teachers and professors handle the upcoming generation and its students who will be eager to investigate one of the great stories of history yet to be told?

I predict that once those floodgates open, there will be more material about this subject matter over the coming years, in print and on video or film, than on virtually any other topic.  Why?  Because much of the history of the modern world over the past four centuries will have to be re-written!  Just think, for example, of all the biographies of other figures — such as Ben Jonson or Philip Sidney  — that will have to be drastically revised to make room for the Earl of Oxford as the single greatest force behind the evolution of English literature and drama, not to mention the English language itself.

In the end, it’s not just the Literature and Drama departments that will need to change; even moreso, the History Department will be where the action is.

Onward with those floodgates!

“Building the Case for Edward de Vere as Shakespeare” – The Complete Tables of Contents Vols 1 – 5

Here are all Tables of Contents for the first five volumes of

BUILDING THE CASE FOR EDWARD DE VERE AS SHAKESPEARE

Series Editors: Paul Altrocchi & Hank Whittemore

NOW AVAILABLE AT

iUniverse Publishing (800-288-4677 x 5024)

iuniverse.com … amazon.com (search by volume title)

VOLUME 1: THE GREAT SHAKESPEARE HOAX

After Unmasking the Fraudulent Pretender,

Search for the True Genius Begins

Part 1: Growing Disbelief in the Stratford Man as Shakespeare

1. Preface

2. Elsie Greenwood: Obituary of G. G. Greenwood [1859-1928]

3. George Greenwood, 1916: Is There A Shakespeare Problem?

4. George Greenwood, 1916: Professor Dryasdust and “Genius”

5. George Greenwood, 1916: The Portraits of Shakespeare

6. George Greenwood, 1916: Shakespeare as a Lawyer

7. George Greenwood, 1921: Ben Jonson and Shakespeare

8. George Greenwood, 1925: Stratford Bust and the Droeshout

Part 2: The Breadth of Shakespeare’s Knowledge

1. Preface

2. James Harting, 1864: Ornithology of Shakespeare

3. Archibald Geikie, 1916: The Birds of Shakespeare

4. William Theobald, 1909: The Classical Element in the Shakespeare Plays.

5. Cumberland Clark, 1922: Astronomy in the Poets

6. St. ClairThomson, 1916: Shakespeare and Medicine

7. Eva Turner Clark, 1931: Singleton’s The Shakespeare Garden

8. C. Clark, 1929: Shakespeare and Science, including Astronomy

9. Richard Noble, 1935: Shakespeare’s Biblical Knowledge

Part 3: The Case for Francis Bacon

1. Preface

2. H. Crouch Batchelor, 1912: Advice to English Schoolboys

3. Georges Connes, 1927: The Shakespeare Mystery

4. J. Churton Collins, 1904: Studies in Shakespeare

5. Roderick Eagle, 1930: Shakespeare. New Views for Old

6. Harold Bayley, 1902: The Tragedy of Sir Francis Bacon

7. George Bompas, 1902: The Problem of Shakespeare Plays

8. Elizabeth Wells Gallup, 1910: The Bi-lateral Cipher of Sir Francis Bacon.

9. John H. Stotsenburg, 1904: An Impartial Study of the Shakespeare Title.

10. Granville Cuningham, 1911: Bacon’s Secrets Disclosed in Contemporary Books

11. Gilbert Slater, 1931: Seven Shakespeares

Part 4: Edward de Vere Bursts out of Anonymity

1. Preface

2. V. A. Demant, 1962: Obituary of J. Thomas Looney [1870-1944]

3. J. Thomas Looney, 1920: “Shakespeare” Identified in Edward de Vere, Seventeenth Earl of Oxford

Part 5: A Sudden Eruption of Oxfordian Giants

1. Preface

2. Marjorie Bowen, 1933: Introduction to Percy Allen’s The Plays of Shakespeare and Chapman in Relation to French History

3. Obituary of Hubert Henry Holland [1873-1957]

4. Hubert H. Holland, 1923: Shakespeare through Oxford Glasses

5. Phyllis Carrington, 1962: Obituary of Bernard Rowland Ward

6. Colonel B. R. Ward, 1923: The Mystery of “Mr. W. H.”

7. Obituary of Bernard Mordaunt Ward [1893-1943]

8. B. M. Ward, 1928: The Seventeenth Earl of Oxford

9. Obituary of Mrs. Eva Turner Clark [1871-1947]

10. Eva Turner Clark, 1931: Hidden Allusions in Shakespeare’s Plays

11. Rev. Gerald Rendall, 1930: Shakespeare’s Sonnets

12. T. L. Adamson, 1959: Obituary of Percy AlIen [1875-1959]

13. Percy Allen, 1933: The Plays of Shakespeare and Chapman in Relation to French History

14. Percy Allen, 1930: The Case for Edward de Vere, Seventeenth Earl of Oxford as “Shakespeare”

15. Percy Allen, 1931: The Oxford-Shakespeare Case Corroborated

16. F. Lingard Ranson, 1940: Death of Ernest Allen [1875-1940]

17. Percy Allen and Ernest Allen, 1933: Lord Oxford and “Shakespeare”: A Reply to John Drinkwater

VOLUME 2: NOTHING TRUER THAN TRUTH

Fact versus Fiction in the

Shakespeare Authorship Debate

Part 1: Authorship Articles from England in the 1930s

1. Preface

2. Percy Allen, 1937: Lord Oxford as Shakespeare

3. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1938: The Man Who Was Shakespeare by Eva Turner Clark

4. J. Thomas Looney, 1935: Lord Oxford and the Shrew Plays, Part 1

5. J. Thomas Looney, 1935: Lord Oxford and the Shrew Plays, Part 2

6. Gilbert Slater, 1934: Letter to Editor

7. Canon Gerald Rendall, 1935: Lord Oxford was “Shakespeare” by Montague Douglas

8. Editors, 1935: Elizabeth Trentham and Edward deVere

9. Ernest Allen, 1937: Shakespeare’s Sonnets

10. Bernard M. Ward, 1937: Shakespearean Notes

11. Bernard M. Ward, 1937: When Shakespeare Died by Ernest Allen

12. F. Lingard Ranson, 1937: Shakespeare: An East Anglian

13. Percy Allen, 1938: The De Vere Star

14. Editor, 1940: Ben Jonson and the First Folio by G. H. Rendall

15. Montague Douglas, 1940: Welcome to the American Branch

Part 2: Shakespeare Fellowship News-Letters from the American Branch, 1939-1943

1. Preface

2. Eva Turner Clark, 1939: Introduction to the ShakespeareFellowship, American Branch

3. Louis Benezet, 1939: The President’s Message

4. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1939: To Pluck the Heart of the Mystery

5. Editors, 1939: Origins and Achievements of the Shakespeare Fellowship

6. Editors, 1939: Noted Oxfordian Ernest Allen Dies

7. Editors, 1940: Scientific Proof that certain Shakesper Portraits are De Vere

8. Editors, 1940: Dean of Literary Detectives on the War

9. Louis Benezet, 1940: Organization of the Shakespeare Fellowship, American Branch

10. Eva Turner Clark, 1940: Shakespeare Read Books Written in Greek

11. Eva Turner Clark, 1940: Shakespeare’s Birthday

12. Editors, 1940: Editorial in The Argonaut of San Francisco

13. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1940: Mountainous Error

14. Eva Turner Clark, 1940: The Date of Hamlet’s Composition

15. Louis Benezet, 1940: Shakespeare and Ben Jonson

16. Editors, 1940: A Master of Double-Talk

17. Eva Turner Clark, 1940: He Must Build Churches Then

18. Esther Singleton, 1940: Was Edward de Vere Shakespeare?

19. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1940: Dr. Phelps and his Muddled Miracle

20. EvaTurner Clark, 1940: The Painting in Lucrece

21. Charles Wisner BarreD, 1940: Arthur Golding and Edward de Vere

22. Eva Turner Clark, 1940: Topicalities in the Plays

23. Eva Turner Clark, 1940: Anomos, or A. W.

24. Eva Turner Clark, 1940: Gabriel Harvey and Axiophilus

25. J. Thomas Looney, 1941:”Shakespeare”: A Missing Author, Part 1

26. J. Thomas Looney, 1941: “Shakespeare”: A Missing Author, Part 2

27. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1941: Shakespeare’s Irish Sympathies

28. Louis Benezet, 1941: A 19th Century Revolt against the Stratford Theory, Part 1

29. Louis Benezet, 1941: The Great Debate of 1892-1893: Bacon vs. Shakespeare, Part 2

30. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1941: Shakespeare’s “Fluellen” Identified as a Retainer of the Earl of Oxford

31. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1941: “Shake-speare’s” Own Secret Drama, Pt 1

32. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1941: “Shake-speare’s” Own Secret Drama, Pt 2

33. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1942: “Shake-speare’s” Own Secret Drama, Pt 3

34. Editors, 1942: Import of These Discoveries

35. Flodden W. Heron, 1942: Bacon Was Not Shakespeare

36. Eva Turner Clark, 1942: Lord Oxford as Shakespeare

37. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1942:  “Shake-speare’s” Own Secret Drama, Pt 4

38. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1942: “Shake-speare’s” Own Secret Drama, Pt 5

39. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1942: “Shake-speare’s” Own Secret Drama, Pt 6

40. Louis Benezet, 1942: Shaksper, Shakespeare, and DeVere

41. Eva Turner Clark, 1942: The Red Rose

42. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1942: “Shake-speare’s” Unknown Home on the Avon

43. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1943: He Is Dead and Gone, Lady

44. Louis Benezet, 1943: Look at the Chronicles, Part 1

45. Louis Benezet, 1943: Look at the Chronicles, Part 2

46. Louis Benezet, 1943: Look in the Chronicles, Part 3

47. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1943: King of Shreds and Patches – Dyer as “Great Revisor” of the Shakespearean Works

48. Phyllis Carrington, 1943: Was Lord Oxford Buried in Westminster Abbey?

49. Editors, 1943: The Duke of Portland’s Welbeck Portrait

50. Eva Turner Clark, 1943: A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres

51. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1943: Who Was John Soothern?

52. Eva Turner Clark, 1943: Cryptic Passages by Davies of Hereford

53. George Frisbee, 1943: Shame on the Professors

VOLUME 3: SHINE FORTH

Evidence Grows Rapidly in Favor of

Edward de Vere as Shakespeare

Part 1: Articles from the Shakespeare Fellowship Quarterly (1943-1947)

1. Preface

2. Editors, 1943: The Quarterly, A Continuation of the News-Letter

3. Louis Benezet, 1944: The Frauds and Stealths of Injurious Impostors

4. Eva Turner Clark, 1944: Stolen and Surreptitious Copies

5. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1944: Documentary Notes on the Swan Theatre

6. Editors, 1944: Obituary of John Thomas Looney [1870-1944]

7. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1944: Newly Discovered Oxford- Shakespeare Pictorial Evidence

8. Eva Turner Clark, 1944: Some Character Names in Shakespeare’s Plays. Part 1

9. Eva Turner Clark, 1944: Some Character Names in Shakespeare’s Plays. Part 2

10. Eva Turner Clark, 1944: Some Character Names in Shakespeare’s Plays. Part 3

11. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1944: Lord Oxford as Supervising Patron of Shakespeare’s Theatrical Company

12. Louis Benezet, 1944: The Stratford Defendant Compromised His Own Advocates. Part 1

13. Louis Benezet, 1944: The Stratford Defendant Compromised His Own Advocates. Part 2

14. Louis Benezet, 1944: The Stratford Defendant Compromised His Own Advocates. Part 3

15. Louis Benezet, 1944: The Stratford Defendant Compromised His Own Advocates. Part 4

16. Louis Benezet, 1944: The Authorship of Othello

17. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1944: New Milestone in Shakespearean Research: “Gentle Master William”

18. Eva Turner Clark, 1945: Lord Oxford’s Shakespearean Travels

19. Charles W. Barrell, 1945: “The Sole Author of Renowned Victorie.” Gabriel Harvey Testifies in the Oxford-Shakespeare Case

20. Charles Wisner Barreil, 1945: Earliest Authenticated “Shakespeare” Transcript Found With Oxford’s Personal Poems

21. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1945: Rare Military Volume Sponsored by Lord Oxford Issued by “Shakespeare’s” First Publisher

22. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1945: The Wayward Water-Bearer Who Wrote “Shake-speare’s” Sonnet 109

23. Eva Turner Clark, 1945: Lord Oxford’s Letters Echoed in Shakespeare’s Plays. An Early Letter Examined. Part 1

24. Eva Turner Clark, 1945: Lord Oxford’s Letters Echoed in Shakespeare’s Plays. An Early Letter Examined. Part 2

25. Louis Benezet, 1945: The Remarkable Testimony of Henry Peacham.

26. Charles W. Barrell, 1945: “Creature of Their Own Creating.” An Answer to the Present School of Shakespeare Biography

27. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1945: Genesis of a Henry James Story

28. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1946: Exploding the Ancient Play Cobbler Fantasy

29. Lewis Hammond Webster, 1946: Those Authorities

30. Louis Benezet, 1946: Another Stratfordian Aids the Oxford Cause.

31. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1946: A Literary Pirate’s Attempt to Publish The Winter’s Tale in 1594

32. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1946: The Playwright Earl Publishes “Hamlet’s Book”

33. Louis Benezet, 1946: False Shakespeare Chronology Regarding the Date of King Henry VIII

34. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1946: Shakespeare’s Henry V Can Be Identified as Harry of Cornwall in Henslowe’s Diary

35, Eva Turner Clark, 1946: Shakespeare’s Strange Silence When James I Succeeded Elizabeth

36. Charles W. Barrell, 1946: Proof That Shakespeare’s Thought and Imagery Dominate Oxford’s Statement of Creative Principles

37. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1947: Queen Elizabeth’s Master Showman Shakes a Spear in Her Defense

38. James J. Dwyer, 1947: The Poet Earl of Oxford and Grays Inn

39. Louis Benezet, 1947: Dr. Smart’s Man of Stratford Outsmarts Credulity

40. Editors, 1947: Sir George Greenwood

41. Editors, 1947: Physician, Heal Thyself

Part 2: Bonus Selections

1. Preface

2. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1937: Elizabethan Mystery Man

3. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1940: Shakespearean Detective Story

4. Percy Allen & B.M. Ward, 1936: Relations between Lord Oxford as “Shakespeare,” Queen Elizabeth and the Fair Youth. Part 1

5. Percy Allen & B.M. Ward, 1936: Relations between Lord Oxford as “Shakespeare,” Queen Elizabeth and the Fair Youth. Part 2

VOLUME 4: MY NAME BE BURIED

A Coerced Pen Name Forces the

Real Shakespeare into Anonymity

Part 1: Articles from The Shakespeare Fellowship Quarterly, 1947-1948

1. Preface

2. Louis Benezet, 1947: The Shakespeare Hoax: An Improbable Narrative

3. Editors, 1947: Tufts College Then and Now

4. Abraham Feldman, 1947: Shakespeare’s Jester: Oxford’s Servant

5. Editors, 1947: Revising Some Details of an Important Discovery in Oxford-Shakespeare Research: Peacham’s Minerva Britanna

6. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1947: Pictorial Clues and Key Initials

7. Editors, 1947: Historical Background of The Merchant of Venice Clarified

8. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1947: New Proof that Henry Vlll was Written Before the spring of 1606

9. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1947: Dr. John Dover Wilson’s “New” Macbeth is a Masterpiece without a Master

10. Louis Benezet, 1948: Oxford and the Professors

11. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1948: Rarest Contemporary Description of “Shakespeare” Proves Poet to Have Been a Nobleman

12. EvaTurner Clark, 1948: Alias

13. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1948: Oxford vs. Other “Claimants” of the Edwards Shakespearean Honors, 1593

14. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1948: “In deed as in name: Vere nobilis for he was W… (?)…”

15. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1948: John Lyly as Both Oxford’s and Shakespeare’s “Honest Steward”

Part 2: English Shakespeare Fellowship News-Letters after World War II

1. Preface

2. J.J. Dwyer, 1947: Queen Elizabeth and Her Turk

3. J. J. Dwyer, 1947: The Portraits of Shakespeare

4. Montague Douglas, 1948: Book Review of Shakespeare’s Sonnets and Edward de Vere by Canon Gerald Rendall

5. Percy Allen, 1951: King Lear in Relation to French History

6. H. Cutner, 1951: Provincial Dialect in Shakespeare’s Day

7. Percy Allen, 1952: Book Review of This Star of England by Dorothy and Charlton Ogburn

8. Kathleen Le Riche, 1953: A Portrait of Shake-speare?

9. Gwynneth Bowen, 1954: The Wounded Name

10. T. Adamson, 1955: Shakespeare and Oxford in the Lecture Room

11. J. Shera Atkinson, 1955: The Famous Victories of Henry V

12. John R. Metz, 1955: Gascoigne and De Vere

13. John R. Metz, 1955: The Poet with a Spear

14. Katherine Eggar, 1955: Brooke House, Hackney

15. Editors, 1956: The Aristocratic Look of Shakespeare

16. Rex Clements, 1957: Shakespeare as Mariner

Part 3: Excerpts from Books, 1920s to 1950s

1. Preface

2. B. M. Ward, 1928: The Seventeenth Earl of Oxford

3. Eva Turner Clark, 1937: The Man Who Was Shakespeare

4. Louis P. Benezet, 1937: Shakspere, Shakespeare, and De Vere

5. Alden Brooks, 1937: Factotem and Agent

6. Montague Douglas, 1952: Lord Oxford and the Shakespeare Group

7. Hilda Amphlett, 1955: Who Was Shakespeare? A New Enquiry

8. J. J. Dwyer, 1946: Italian Art in Poems and Plays of Shakespeare

9. Ernesto Grub, 1949: Shakespeare and Italy

10. Louis P. Benezet, 1958: The Six Loves of “Shakespeare”

11. Dorothy and Charlton Ogburn, 1955: The Renaissance Man of England

Part 4: Bonus Selections

1. Preface

2. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1946. Verifying the Secret History of Shake-speares Sonnets

3. Dorothy and Chariton Ogburn, 1959. The True Shakespeare: England’s Great and Complete Man

4. Dorothy and Chariton Ogburn, 1952: This Star of England

VOLUME 5: SO RICHLY SPUN

Four Hundred Years of Deceit are Enough.

Edward de Vere is Shakespeare

Part 1: Shakespearean Authorship Review 1959-1973

1. Preface

2. Julia Cooley Altrocchi, 1959: Ships and Spears in Genoa

3. Ruth Wainewright, 1959: Elizabethan Noblemen and the Literary Profession

4. Gwynneth Bowen, 1959: Debate at the Old Vic – The Shakespeare Mystery

5. Katharine Eggar, 1959: Review of G. Bowen paper: Hamlet, A Mirror of the Time

6. D.F., 1959: Review of Katharine Eggar paper: Lord Oxford and His Servants

7. Julia Cooley Altrocchi, 1959: Edward de Vere and the Commedia dell’Arte

8. Gwynneth Bowen, 1959: Book Review of Louis Benezet’s The Six Loves of Shakespeare

9. Editors, 1959: The Deiphic Oracle

10. Sir John Russell, 1960: Book Review of Joel Hurstfield’s The Queen’s Wards

11. Ruth Wainewright, 1960: Replies to Mr. Mendi’s Criticisms of Who Was Shakespeare?

12. Gwynneth Bowen, 1960: Oxford Did Go to Milan?

13. D.W.T. Vessey, 1961: Freud and the Authorship Question

14. Georges Lambin, 1961: Did Oxford Go North-East of Milan?

15. Gwynneth Bowen, 1961: Editorial Reply Regarding Spinola Letter

16. Gwynneth Bowen, 1961: The Incomparable Pair and “The Works of William Shakespeare”

17. R. Ridgill Trout, 1961: The Clifford Bax Portrait of W. Shakespeare

18. Ruth Wainewright, 1961: Book Review of Martin Holmes’ Shakespeare’s Public

19. Ruth Wainewright, 1961: Review of Prof. Penrose’s Lecture, “The Shakespeare Portraits”

20. Gwynneth Bowen, 1961: Review of Ruth Wainewright’s Lecture, “Macbeth and the Authorship Question”

21. J.H.D., 1961: Obituary of Professor Louis P. Benezet

22. T. Adamson, 1962: Obituary of Chariton Ogburn

23. Editors, 1962: A Backward Look

24. Phyllis Carrington, 1962: Obituary of B. R. Ward [1863-1933]

25. E. Greenwood, 1962: Obituary: George Greenwood [1850-1928]

26. V.A. Demant, 1962: Obituary of J. Thomas Looney [1870-1944]

27. Georges Lambin, 1962: Obituary of Abel Lefranc [1863-1952]

28. Ruth Wainewright, 1962: “Forty Winters”

29. William Kent, 1963: Professor Saintsbury and Shakespeare

30. Ruth Wainewright, 1963: Book Review of Dorothy and Charlton Ogburn, Jr.’s Shakespeare: The Real Man Behind the Name

31. Sir John Russell, 1963: Book Review of Georges Lambin’s Voyages de Shakespeare en France et en Italie

32. Editors, 1963: Review of H. Gibson’s Lecture, “The Case against the Claimants”

33. Editors, 1963: Debate with Orthodoxy, “The Authorship Question”

34. G. Bowen, 1963: Book Review of S. Pitcher’s The Case for Shakespeare’s Authorship of ‘The Famous Victories.’

35. H. Cutner, 1963: Obituary of William Kent

36. Gwynneth Bowen, 1963: Stratfordian Quarter-centenary

37. D.W. Vessey, 1964: Some Early References to Shakespeare

38. Ruth Wainewright, 1964: Review of G. Bowen’s Lecture: “New Evidence for Dating the Plays: Orthodox and Oxfordian”

39. Hilda Amphlett, 1964: Review of Lecture by G. Cimino, “The Golden Age of Padua”

40. Gwynneth Bowen, 1964: Reverberations

41. D.W. Vessey, 1964: After the Pageant: A Meditation for 1965

42. James Walker, 1965: The Pregnant Silence

43. W.A. Ferguson, 1965: The Sonnets of Shakespeare: The “Oxfordian” Solution

44. G. Bowen, 1965: Hackney, Harsnett, and the Devils in King Lear

45. H.W. Patience, 1965: Topical Allusions in King John

46. l.L. McGeoch, 1965: Book Review of A. Falconer’s Shakespeare and the Sea

47. Ruth Wainewright, 1965: Book Review of E. Brewster’s Oxford: Courtier to the Queen

48. Ruth Wainewright, 1965: Review of G. Bowen’s Lecture “The Merchant and the Jew”

49. Gwynneth Bowen, 1965: Review of Ruth Wainwright’s Lecture, “Conflicting Dates for Various Candidates”

50. Gerald Rendall, 1966: A 1930 Toast to Edward de Vere

51. G. Bowen, 1965: Sir Edward Vere and His Mother, Anne Vavasor

52. Frances Carr: Review of Lecture by Marlowe Society Members: “The Death of Kit Marlowe: A Reconstruction”

53. Frances Carr, 1966: Review of Lecture by G. Bowen: “Who Was Kyd’s and Marlowe’s Lord”?

54. Ruth Wainewright, 1966: On the Poems of Edward de Vere

55. Editors, 1966: Brief Note on the “Flower Portrait”

56. W.T. Patience, 1966: Shakespeare and “Authority”

57. Gwynneth Bowen, 1967: Oxford’s Letter to Bedingfield and “Shake-speare’s Sonnets”

58. R. Ridgill Trout, 1967: Edward de Vere to Robert Cecil

59. Editors, 1967: Review of T. Bokenham’s Lecture: “Ben Jonson, Shakespeare and the 1623 Folio”

60. Editors, 1967: Review of D.W. Vessey’s Lecture: “Shakespeare’s Classical Learning”

61. Editors, 1967: Review of Gwynneth Bowen’s Lecture: “The Shakespeare Portraits and the Earl of Oxford”

62. Gwynneth Bowen, 1967: Touching the Affray at the Blackfriers

63. Dorothy Ogburn, 1967: The Authorship of The True Tragedie of Edward the Second

64. Ruth Wainewright, 1967: Book Review of M. Dewar’s Sir Thomas Smith: A Tudor Intellectual in Office

65. Craig Huston, 1968: Edward de Vere

66. Hilda Amphlett, 1968: Titchfield Abbey

67. Ruth Wainewright, 1968: Book Review of Tresham Lever’s The Herberts of Wilton

68. Editors, 1968: Book Review of Christmas Humphreys’ A Cross-Examination of Oxfordians

69. Gwynneth Bowen, 1968: More Brabbles and Frays

70. H.W. Patience, 1968: Earls Come and Castle Hedingham

71. Ruth Wainewright, 1968: Book Review of B. Grebanier’s The Great Shakespeare Forgery

72. Gwynneth Bowen, 1970: What Happened at Hedingham and Earls Come? Part 1

73. Gwynneth Bowen, 1971: What Happened at Hedingham and EarlsColne? Part 2

74. H.W. Patience, 1970: Note on the 16th Earl of Oxford

75. Alexis Dawson, 1970: Master Apis Lapis

76. D.W. Vessey, 1970: Book Review of G. Akrigg’s Shakespeare and the Earl of Southampton

77. D.W. Vessey, 1970: Review of Sir John Russell’s Lecture: “For and Against William of Stratford: A Barrister’s Evaluation”

78.Gwynneth Bowen, 1971. Review of Lecture by Ruth Wainewright “All’s Well That Ends Well and the Authorship Question”

79. Ruth Wainewright, 1971: Review of Alexis Dawson’s Lecture “They Tried to Tell Us”

80. Gwynneth Bowen, 1972: Purloined Plumes

81. Minos Miller, 1972: Address to the Shakespearean Authorship Society on its 50th Anniversary

82. Gwynneth Bowen, 1972: Book Review of C. Sisson’s The Boar’s Head Theatre: An Inn-Yard Theatre of the Elizabethan Age

83. Gwynneth Bowen, 1973: Oxford’s and Worcester’s Men and the “Boar’s Head”

84. Francis Edwards, 1973: Oxford and the Duke of Norfolk

Part 2: Bonus Selections

1. Preface

2. Gywnneth Bowen, 1951: Shakespeare’s Farewell

3. William Kent, 1947: Edward de Vere, the Real Shakespeare

4. Charles Wisner Barrell, 1940: Identifying Shakespeare by X-ray and Infrared Photography

5. Ruth Loyd Miller, 1975: The “Ashbourne” Goes To Court

6. Percy Allen, 1934: Anne Cecil, Elizabeth and Oxford

/////////

Quite a lineup, eh?  All of us who feel it’s important to investigate the Shakespearean authorship can be proud of this amazingly rich body of research and writing — by extraordinary men and women — that stands as the foundation of more great work done up to, and including, the present.

A Reply to Critics of Those Who Study the Shakespeare Authorship — and a Challenge

It’s tiresome to read the negative remarks about those of us who doubt the traditional view of Shakespeare authorship and who have concluded that Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford wrote the great works.   For example, the latest one [from Alex Beam of the Boston Globe] asserts:

“The search for the ‘real’ Shakespeare is a collective madness … The case for de Vere seems modest at best.  He wasn’t much of a poet, and his greatest champion is a now-forgotten author named Looney [cheap shot!].  Two of his main fans are the superannuated [low blow!] Supreme Court justices John Paul Stevens and Antonin Scalia … ”

Most of the critics who calls us “snobs” or “conspiracy nuts” [gimme a break] have no real interest in Shakespeare, much less do they care about the history of Elizabethan England, nor do they feel any need to learn about Oxford’s tumultuous life – despite the fact that he was at the center of the “renaissance” of English literature and drama in the 1570’s and 1580’s leading to (and making possible) the sudden appearance of “Shakespeare” in 1593.

Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford

Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford

Arthur Golding, whose translation of Ovid in the 1560’s became the English source used throughout the Shakespeare works, was Oxford’s uncle who lived under the same roof at Cecil House while producing that translation.

John Lyly and Anthony Munday, whose literary and dramatic works were used as contemporary sources for the Shakespeare works, were both employed by Oxford.

Edward de Vere and “William Shakespeare” had a lot in common.  If they were separate individuals, they certainly should have known each other!  Here’s just a small sampling of some of the statements that contemporaries of Edward de Vere made to and/or about him:

“Hereon when your honour shall be at leisure to look, bestowing such regard as you are accustomed to do on books of Geography, Histories, and other good learning…” – Thomas Twyne, 1573

“For a long time past Phoebus Apollo has cultivated thy mind in the arts.  English poetical measures have been sung by thee long enough.  Let that courtly epistle, more polished even than the writings of Castiglione himself, witness how greatly thou dost excel in letters; I have seen many Latin verses of thine, yea even more English verses are extant.” – Gabriel Harvey, scholar, 1578

J. Thomas Looney

J. Thomas Looney

“Mark him well; he is but a little fellow, but he hath one of the best wits in England.  Should he take thee in hand … I prophesy there would be more gentle readers die of a merry mortality engendered by the eternal jests he would maul thee with..” – Thomas Nashe, pamphlet writer, to Gabriel Harvey, 1580, referring to Harvey having “incensed the Earl of Oxford against you.”

“Where it hath pleased your Honour to commend unto me and the heads of [Cambridge University] my Lord of Oxford his players, that they might show their cunning in certain plays already practiced by them before the Queen’s Majesty…” – John Hatcher, Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge, 1580, to William Cecil Lord Burghley

“Since the world hath understood – I know not how – that your Honour had willingly vouchsafed the acceptance of this work, and at convenient leisures favourably perused it, being as yet but in written hand, many have oftentimes and earnestly called upon me to put it to the press, that for their money they might but see what your Lordship, with some liking, had already perused.” – Thomas Watson, poet, 1582

“Your Honour being a worthy favourer 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.” – Robert Greene, writer, poet, dramatist, 1584

“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.” – William Webbe, 1586

“Your Lordship, whose infancy from the beginning was ever sacred to the Muses” – Angel Day, author, 1586

“The Earl of Oxford and Master Edwards of Her Majesty’s Chapel [do deserve the highest praise] for Comedy and Enterlude … And in Her Majesty’s time that now is are sprung up another crew of Courtly makers [poets] … 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 Earl of Oxford.” – anonymous, The Arte of English Poesie, 1589

“And also for the love which thou dost bear/ To the Heliconian imps [the Muses of poetry and drama] and they to thee,/ They unto thee, and thou to them most dear” – Edmund Spenser, poet, 1590, in a dedicatory sonnet to Oxford

“The best for Comedy among us be Edward Earl of Oxford…” – Francis Meres, author, 1598

“For without flattery be it spoke, those that know your Lordship know this, that using this science [music] as a recreation, your Lordship have overgone most of them that make it a profession.” – John Farmer, composer, 1599

“Your wit, learning and authority hath great force and strength in repressing the curious crakes of the envious.” – Dr. George Baker, medical expert, 1599

“Most, most, of me beloved, whose silent name/ One letter bounds” — John Marston, dramatist, 1599, apparently referring to the name “Edward de VerE,” which is bounded by the single letter E.

“He was beside of spirit passing great,/ Valiant and learned and liberal as the sun,/ Spoke and writ sweetly, or of learned subjects, / … And ’twas the Earl of Oxford.” – George Chapman, poet and dramatist, after 1600

Not a bad set of references!

Imagine Hamlet greeting the players … writing a dozen or so lines to insert in one of their speeches … having them put on a play for the monarch and the Court … and you might as well be imagining Edward de Vere bringing his players to perform for Queen Elizabeth and her Court.

I challenge anyone who criticizes those of us who study the authorship question to investigate contemporary England during the lifetime [1564-1616] of the man traditionally perceived as the author and follow the contemporary evidence to discover Will of Stratford-upon-Avon as the writer.  I challenge current Stratfordian believers such as Stephen Greenblatt and James Shapiro to try finding him this way.

They can’t find him.

I challenge them to list five contemporary English sources for the Shakespeare works and see if they find Edward Earl of Oxford.

They can’t avoid him.

Critiquing the Critique – 9

Arguing that most of Sonnets 27-126 contain “no evident connection” to the events of the Essex Rebellion of February 8, 1601 and, too, that some of the sonnets “manifestly cannot be about either,” Kositsky and Stritmatter continue:

“For example, Sonnets 71-74 are all meditations on the poet’s imminent death.  In these and other sonnets, the poet repeatedly emphasizes the fair youth’s surviving him, a curious emphasis indeed if the youth is living in the Tower  under a death sentence.”

A little earlier, in Sonnet 66, Oxford recorded his reaction to the decision in March 1601 to spare Southampton’s life, the price being his loss of any hope for the crown.  Now, however, the younger earl faces the prospect of spending his life in the Tower; and Sonnets 71-74 are arranged AFTER this reprieve, when Oxford’s fear that he might outlive his own son is replaced by the reality that he, a generation older, will most likely die first.  He also uses these same sonnets to record the necessary sacrifice his own identity, both as Southampton’s father and as author of the magnificent “Shakespeare” works, which he had dedicated to Southampton:

When I (perhaps) compounded am with clay,
Do not so much as my poor name rehearse.
Sonnet 71, lines 10-11

My name be buried where my body is,
And live no more to shame nor me nor you.
Sonnet 72, lines 11-12

Right here we have incontrovertible evidence that the poet of the Sonnets is deliberately predicting, and recording, his own obliteration upon his death.

“Furthermore, many sonnets in the hundred-sonnet sequence [27-126] address the youth as an object of consolation to whom the poet turns when distressed by other circumstances:

But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restored and sorrows end.
Sonnet 30, lines 13-14

“Why would the poet be consoled by, or find joy in, the idea of his beloved if that beloved is incarcerated?”

Would a suffering father not turn to his own son for consolation?  Regardless of the tragic situation for Southampton, he finds joy in the truth of him as a prince.

“This couplet and many others make no sense of the context as defined by Whittemore and Boyle.”

I say it’s the other way around: the context of THE MONUMENT allows that couplet and all the others to make sense for the first time!

“Both writers create the illusion of such a connection only through the adroit selection of certain words and phrases with no regard for their immediate or larger context as parts of sonnets or sonnet sequences.”

THE MONUMENT demonstrates in every line that the sonnets are written simultaneously on two entirely different levels of meaning, one fictional and universal or timeless, the other nonfictional and specific:

And keep invention in a noted weed,
That every word doth almost tell my name
Sonnet 76, lines 7-8

The first level is that of the “noted weed” or familiar costume of love poems; the second level is the true story being recorded.  Therefore he is ALMOST — i.e., not quite directly — revealing his own “name” or identity as well as the story.

“We have already considered Sonnet 27.  Let us now examine the evidence Whittemore presents for linking subsequent sonnets to Southampton’s imprisonment.  He states:

“Identifying with the younger earl’s plight, [the poet] records in 29 that he himself is ‘in disgrace with fortune (the Queen) and men’s eyes’ in the same way Southampton is suffering in the Tower.”

“However, a close reading of the sonnet shows that the poet is not in any way identifying with ‘the plight’ of the addressee, but talking of his own disgrace, which is again compensated for by his pleasant thoughts of the youth”:

Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
(Like to the lark at break of day arising)
From sullen earth sings hymns at heaven’s gate,
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings,
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
Sonnet 29, lines 9-14

But when these sonnets are viewed as chronological entries of a diary, they can be read IN RELATION TO EACH OTHER; and then it becomes obvious that Oxford is expressing a range of different and even contradictory emotions WITHIN THAT CONTEXT OR FRAMEWORK.

Yes, in Sonnet 29 he finally thinks of Southampton and gains comfort. He continues this theme until, in Sonnet 34, he turns to the matter of Southampton’s own guilt and disgrace as the ‘offender’ whose crime has affected Oxford’s own life; and here he makes it plain that it’s the son’s offense that produces his own wretchedness:

Nor can thy shame give physic to my grief’
Though thou repent, yet I have still the loss;
Th’offender’s sorry lends but weak relief
To him that bears the strong offence’s loss.
Sonnet 34, lines 9-12

And in the couplet that follows, Oxford once again finds comfort in his thoughts of Southampton:

Ah, but those tears are pearl which thy love sheeds,
And they are rich, and ransom all ill deeds.
Sonnet 34, lines 13-14

The basic situation is a familiar one: the father is made angry and distraught (and finds himself disgraced) by the “ill deeds” of his son, but he simultaneously still values the son and their relationship above all else.

This emotional conflict is expressed fully in the next verse, in which Oxford quite plainly identifies with Southampton’s plight:

Sonnet 35

No more be grieved at that which thou hast done:
Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud;
Clouds and eclipses stain both Moone and Sunne,
And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud.

All men make faults, and even I, in this,
Authorizing thy trespass with compare,
Myself corrupting, salving thy amiss,
Excusing their [thy] sins more than their [thy] sins are:

For to thy sensual fault I bring in sense;
Thy adverse party is thy Advocate,
And ‘gainst my self a lawful plea commence;
Such civil war is in my love and hate

That I an accessory needs must be
To that sweet thief which sourly robs from me.

So the comment about Sonnet 29 (“the poet is not in any way identifying with ‘the plight’ of the addressee, but talking of his own disgrace”) must be seen in relationship to the other “entries” of this diary; and in this case, just five sonnets later we come to Sonnet 35 and Oxford’s virtually total identification with Southampton’s plight.

“Whittemore’s evidence connecting Sonnet 30 to the Privy Council trial of Essex and Southampton is even less credible:

‘Oxford records in 30 that the Privy Council will summon him to the Sessions or Treason Trial of Essex and Southampton to sit as the highest ranking earl on the tribunal of peers who will judge them.’

“Here Whittemore mistakes a metaphorical use of the words sessions and summon for a literal one. The ‘sessions’ to which the poem refers are the poet’s own imaginative sessions of ‘sweet silent thought’ and the ‘summoning’ is not of the session, but of a ‘remembrance of things past.’ Although legal metaphors do permeate this sonnet (and many others), there is no mention here of a trial, except perhaps in the most oblique Proustian sense (i.e. a psychological ‘trial’ at which the writer is defendant, advocate, and judge).   Moreover, even if one understood ‘sessions’ and ‘summon’ to be literal rather than metaphorical, the direct link to the Southampton trial would still be un-established.  Although Whittemore does not acknowledge the fact, these terms apply to many different kinds of trials, not just capital crimes such as treason.”

On the most immediate level the legal terms “sessions” and “summon” in this sonnet are metaphorical – of course!   But when the same sonnet is viewed within the context that Oxford knows he will be summoned to the treason trial or “sessions” of Southampton as a peer sitting in judgment, the same words leap from the page with additional meaning and specific reference.

(“This sessions,” begins King Leontes in act 3, scene 2 of THE WINTER’S TALE, and he’s referring specifically to a treason trial.)

THE MONUMENT places Shakespeare’s Sonnets within a new context that yields a new perception of their meaning.  In 400 years no other suggested context has been able to make sense of the form and content of the entirety of the 154 sonnets; but it’s only by such means that these verses can begin to be understood.

“Compounding these implausibilities, Whittemore attempts to identify Southampton as one of the ‘precious friends hid in death’s dateless night.’ (30.6) As the ‘friends’ are described in the third person and the youth in the second person, this is clearly not a viable reading.”

Oxford uses the third person for Southampton (and his friends, if you will) in the main body of Sonnet 30 and then, only in the ending couplet, turns to address Southampton in the second person:

But if the while I think on thee, dear friend…

If the word “friends” is in the third person, can the poet be identifying Southampton?  Take the opening line of the Sonnets:

From fairest creatures we desire increase
Sonnet 1, line 1

The poet can be viewed as referring to all the fairest creatures of the world, but more specifically ALSO to the singular Fair Youth of the Sonnets as one of them.   (He’s the “fairest creature” or “most royal child.”)  This is the third person but, as the critique writers themselves know, Oxford is addressing just one person, Southampton — a point generally accepted.

“Additionally, the youth cannot be one of the ‘precious friends,’ as they are already dead.”

The opening lines of Sonnet 30 are:

When to the Sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time’s waste.

Then can I drown an eye (un-used to flow)
For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night…

Viewing Southampton as an accused traitor who will probably be executed, it would be difficult to describe him with more lyrical tenderness and sadness than to place him among “precious friends hid in death’s dateless night.”

Essex and Southampton are facing a joint trial — the two friends who, on instructions of Secretary Robert Cecil, will be found guilty by unanimous verdict and sentence to death.

“He [Southampton] is, instead, exactly as in Sonnet 29, providing solace for the poet’s ‘losses…and sorrows’ — acting, in other words, as a replacement for those already gone. When the poet calls the addressee ‘the grave where buried love doth live’ in Sonnet 31, his meaning is transparent and has nothing to do with the imprisonment or imminent execution of the addressee; rather, the youth has become the repository for the poet’s lost loves.  This reading is without ambiguity, for the poet continues:

THEIR images I loved I view in THEE,
And thou, ALL they, hast ALL the ALL of me.

Sonnet 31, lines 13-14 (emphases in first line added by the critique; in the second line by me)

In the final line of Sonnet 31, quoted above, Oxford is simply saying that his love for Southampton covers all those he has loved in his life and whom he carries within him.  (As Hamlet says to his friends, “Your loves, as mine to you.” – 1.2.273)  ALL his loves (and those he has loved) are within himself’; and, because Southampton claims ALL of Oxford’s love, Oxford and his loves are ALL within his son, echoing Southampton’s own motto “One for All, All for One”.

This meaning is somewhat similar to that of Oxford’s dedication of LUCRECE to Southampton:  “What I have done is yours, what I have to do is yours, being part in ALL I have, devoted yours.”  (emphasis added)


Nonsense from the Washington Post

I strongly recommend that you leap over to Mark Anderson’s blog under the title of his book Shakespeare by Another Name (the modern biography of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford as author of the works attributed to “Shakespeare”) and take a look at Mark’s wonderful response to an article about alleged portraits of the Bard in today’s Washington Post Sunday Magazine.

Mark has enough patience to respond to several points with wisdom and humor.  I don’t have such patience right now.  I mean, he quotes the author of the piece, sports columnist Sally Jenkins, that the authorship debate “is not really a controversy so much as a campaign by conspiracy-minded amateurs to prove that someone more visually appealing wrote the plays.”

I can’t respond.  Not now.  Imagine the British schoolmaster J. Thomas Looney, author of “Shakespeare” Identified in Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (1920) reading such a statement!  I mean, just listen to how he opens the Introduction to his ground-breaking work:

“As a much graver responsibility attaches to the publication of the following pages than is usual in the case of treatises on literary subjects, it is impossible to deal with the matter as impersonally as one might wish.  The transference of the honour of writing the immortal Shakespeare dramas from one man to another, if definitely effected, becomes not merely a national [British] or contemporary event, but a world event of permanent importance, destined to leave a mark as enduring as human literature and the human race itself.  No one, therefore, who has a due sense of these things is likely to embark upon an enterprise of this kind in a spirit of levity or adventure; nor will he feel entitled to urge convictions tending to bring about so momentous a change as if he were merely proposing some interesting thesis.  However much the writer of a work like the present might wish to keep himself in the background he is bound to implicate himself so deeply as to stake publicly his reputation for sane and sober judgment, and thus to imperil the credit of his opinion on every other subject.  It would therefore have been more discreet or diplomatic to have put forward the present argument tentatively at first, as a possible or probable rather than an actual solution of the Shakespeare problem.  The temptation to do this was strong, but the weight of the evidence collected has proved much too great and conclusive to permit of this being done with even a fair measure of justice either to the case or to my own honest convictions.  Only one course was open to me.  The greater responsibility had to be incurred…”

Later in the same Introduction he writes:

“At the beginning it was mainly the fascination of an interesting enquiry that held me, and the matter was pursued in the spirit of simple research.  As the case has developed, however, it has tended increasingly to assume the form of a serious purpose, aiming at a long overdue act of justice and reparation to an unappreciated genius who, we believe, ought now to be put in possession of his rightful honours; and to whose memory should be accorded a gratitude proportionate to the benefits he has conferred upon mankind in general, and the lustre he has shed upon England in particular.”

I doubt if Ms. Quinn could have read these words before going ahead to write that the authorship debate is “a campaign by conspiracy-minded amateurs to prove that someone more visually appealing wrote the plays.”

The irony, folks — oh, the irony! — is that only someone devoted to the truth of Shakespeare and his writings will become seriously involved in the effort to know the real life portrait, the real human face, of this towering figure.

Look at Mark Anderson’s blog of today and maybe, as I did, you’ll read it and laugh and weep all at once.

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