Report on a Panel to Discuss “Anonymous” the Movie

Here’s my report on the panel discussion following a preview of ANONYMOUS last Saturday at the Chelsea 9 Theater in New York, sponsored by the Media Educators Association.

John T. Yurko, director of the group and chairman of the Communication Arts Department at Caldwell College, NJ, did a great job leading a question-answer session; and I was grateful to be on the panel with English professor Dr. Mary Lindroth and History & Political Science professor Dr. Ben Lammers, both from Caldwell, who made important contributions.   This account covers only some of the topics and it’s by no means intended to be complete.

First of all the audience seemed to really like the movie.  You could hear the proverbial pin drop as all attention was focused on the screen; and that alone is a great achievement on the part of screenwriter John Orloff and director Roland Emmerich, along with the cast and crew.

HISTORY OR FICTION:  How much true history is in the film?  I answered that the major characters and their relationships, along with major plot points, are most certainly real.  As an example I pointed out that in the movie there’s a performance of Richard III just before the abortive Essex Rebellion of 8 February 1601, when in fact the conspirators had gotten the Lord Chamberlain’s Men to play Richard II at the Globe.

Sir Robert Cecil, Principal Secretary

But the purpose in real history was the same – to signal an attempt to remove Secretary Robert Cecil from his control over the aging Queen Elizabeth I and persuade her to name an heir to the throne or, at the least, call a Parliament on the matter of succession.  The movie’s choice of Richard III instead of Richard II was to use the more dastardly king, depicted by Shakespeare as a hunchback, to remind the Globe audience of the hunchbacked Cecil; otherwise, the basic point is that a play by “Shakespeare” was definitely used for a political purpose — something that traditional teachings of Shakespearean history have tended to underplay or even to forget.

OTHER CANDIDATES: There was a question about authorship candidates other than Edward de Vere 17th Earl of Oxford, as depicted in the film.  I answered that in my view, if you look at Oxford’s biography it becomes very difficult to walk away.  Why do our teachers and students know so little about this pivotal figure within the English renaissance of literature and drama during the 1580’s?  Why do they usually neglect the crucial history leading to the sudden appearance of “Shakespeare” in 1593?  How come they seldom try to explain the great author’s full-blown maturity as exhibited by that highly cultured, sophisticated narrative poem, Venus and Adonis?  Was it a miracle?

SHAKESPEARE (OR SHAKSPERE) THE ACTOR:  Does the movie go too far in terms of making the Stratford man pretty much a buffoon?  Maybe so, I said, pointing out that in the “Oxfordian” community we’re still grappling with the question of what role that William Shakspere actually played, if in fact Edward de Vere was the true author.  My own feeling is that the Stratford man was never running around London claiming to be “Shakespeare” the poet-playwright.  In other words, I do not believe he was ever an active “front man” for the Earl of Oxford.

SHAKESPEARE’S PHYSICAL APPEARANCE:  In response to another question, I replied that the engraving in the First Folio, by Martin Droeshout, is the most “accurate” portrait the Stratfordians have – but, of course, the engraving is pretty much a cartoon.  You can see it’s a mask.

The Droeshout Engraving - 1623

THE TEMPEST:  One person asked how Oxford could have written The Tempest, since he died in 1604 and the play was written in 1611.  I asked:  “How do you know it was written then?”  He replied:  “Well, everybody says so.”  I think it was written much earlier than 1604; I also think, as some others do, that it was performed in 1604 for King James under the title The Spanish Maze.  (See some of the great work on the dating of The Tempest that’s being done by Dr. Roger Stritmatter and Lynne Kositsky.)

COLLABORATORS:  Someone wanted to know how all those “collaborations” could have taken place after 1604 if Oxford was dead by then.  I replied that other writers may have worked on some of the plays precisely because the author was no longer alive.  Of the thirty-six plays to appear in the First Folio of 1623, seven years after Will of Stratford’s death, exactly eighteen or half of them had never been printed before.  Why not?  And why would the living Shakespeare have needed any collaborators in the first place?

There were more questions and answers, of course; overall I felt a genuinely positive atmosphere and interest in learning more.  I tried to emphasize that one thing at stake is our understanding of the “creative process” itself and how we teach young people about it.

Are we teaching them that, because Shakespeare was such a great “genius” (which I’m sure he was), he had no need to draw upon any life experience and apprenticeship?  I suggested that, as the author Charles Beauclerk has said, imagination is being confused with fantasy; that is, the imagination used by Shakespeare must have required much more than fantasizing; on the contrary, it must have required a transmutation of many elements of learning and living and hard work.  And that’s what we need to tell those who represent our potential poets, novelists, playwrights and writers of the future.

I sense a new energy on its way, a new enthusiasm for Shakespeare, for literature, for theater, for film, for art  itself – all to replace the dull stuff that has “turned off” so many in previous generations.  A great dam is about to burst open; a great flood of new exploration and discovery is about to begin.

On “Anonymous” Panel with Roland Emmerich

Hank on the Panel with Roland Emmerich (to our left) after the “Anonymous” advance premier in Portland, Oregon:


Those “Precepts” of Polonius and Burghley: Reason No. 14 Why the Earl of Oxford was the Man Who Wrote “Hamlet”

William Cecil Lord Burghley (1520-1598)

The way I see it, this one is a piece-a-cake.  Holler the word “precepts” to an Oxfordian and the odds, ten to one, are that you’ll get a quick reply about Polonius delivering “these few precepts” in Hamlet and how Edward de Vere the seventeenth Earl of Oxford would have known Lord Burghley’s real-life Certain Precepts, which were not printed until 1616, the year that William of Stratford died, and long after the play had been written.  Well, no, of course this is not proof that Oxford was “Shakespeare,” but, hey, it’s pretty cool…don’t’cha think?

Back in 1869, the scholar George French wrote Shakspeareana Genealogica in which he observed that in Hamlet the three characters of Lord Chamberlain Polonius, his son Laertes and his daughter Ophelia “are supposed to stand for Queen Elizabeth’s celebrated Lord High Treasurer Sir William Cecil, Lord Burghley, his second son Robert Cecil and his daughter Anne Cecil.”  In other words, in the days before the “authorship debate” got rolling, there wasn’t any question in people’s minds that Polonius = Burghley; those three characters were “supposed” or generally thought to be modeled on Burghley, Robert Cecil and Anne Cecil.

Edward de Vere the seventeenth Earl of Oxford became a royal ward of Elizabeth at age twelve in 1562, in the custody of her chief minister William Cecil, Lord Burghley; and in 1571, at twenty-one, he entered an arranged marriage with his guardian’s fifteen-year-old daughter Anne Cecil.

When Burghley knew that his son Robert Cecil was about to set out on his travels in 1584, the year when most Oxfordians believe Oxford wrote the first draft of Hamlet, he wrote out “certain precepts” for him as guides to behavior – “and in some of these,” French noted in the nineteenth century, “the identity of language with that of Polonius is so close that SHAKSPEARE [yes, spelled this way, and in caps] could not have hit upon it unless he had been acquainted with Burghley’s parental advice to Robert Cecil.”  

My reason number 14 for contending that Oxford was “Shakespeare” focuses on those “precepts” by Polonius and Burghley.   It would seem evident that the author of Hamlet needed to be familiar with Burghley’s maxims, the better to mirror them and satirize them at the same time!  He had to have heard them “firsthand” – at Cecil House, for example, where Edward de Vere had lived from age twelve to twenty-one.

The first quarto of "Hamlet" appeared in 1603; this is the second one, the "authentic" version, twice as long, published in 1604, the year of Oxford's death.

[Such was the argument made in 2007 during the annual Shakespeare Authorship Conference at Concordia University in Portland, Oregon by Michael Cecil, the eighteenth Baron Burghley, who is directly descended from William Cecil, the first Baron Burghley.]

In the decades after J. Thomas Looney put forth Oxford as “Shakespeare” in 1920, orthodox scholars began to back away from Polonius = Burghley.  They’ve even tried to suggest that the two sets of precepts are not necessarily very similar.   Humbug!!!

The best online analysis of the Polonius-Burghley link is from Mark Alexander in his Sourcetext site at:

Following are some comparisons, with the line breaks removed from Polonius’ speech [which is printed below in full, as it appears in the play].   Not only are these specific pieces of advice very similar; also, there is an overall resemblance of tone.


Give thy thoughts no tongue, nor any unproportion’d thought his act … be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.


Be not scurrilous in conversation, or satirical in thy jests


Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel; but do not dull thy palm with entertainment of each new hatch’d unfledged comrade.


Let thy kindred and allies be welcome to thy house and table.  Grace them with thy countenance … But shake off those glow-worms, I mean parasites and sycophants, who will feed and fawn upon thee in the summer of prosperity…


Neither a borrower nor a lender be; for loan oft loses both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.


Neither borrow of a neighbor or of a friend, but of a stranger, whose paying for it thou shalt hear no more of it … Trust not any man with thy life credit, or estate.

Lord Burghley and his son Robert Cecil (1563-1612)

Here is the speech of Polonius followed by the full text of Burghley’s ten precepts:

Hamlet, Act I, Scene 3


And these few precepts in thy memory

See thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,

Nor any unproportioned thought his act.

Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.

Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,

Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;

But do not dull thy palm with entertainment

Of each new-hatch’d, unfledged comrade. Beware

Of entrance to a quarrel, but being in,

Bear’t that the opposed may beware of thee.

Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice;

Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment.

Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,

But not express’d in fancy; rich, not gaudy;

For the apparel oft proclaims the man,

And they in France of the best rank and station

Are of a most select and generous chief in that.

Neither a borrower nor a lender be;

For loan oft loses both itself and friend,

And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.

This above all: to thine ownself be true,

And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man.

Polonius and Laertes


Son Robert:

The virtuous inclinations of thy matchless mother, by whose tender and godly care thy infancy was governed, together with thy education under so zealous and excellent a tutor, puts me rather in assurance of the hope that thou are not ignorant of that summary bond which is only able to make thee happy as well in thy death as life–I mean the true knowledge and worship of thy Creator and Redeemer, without which all other things are vain and miserable. So that, thy youth being guided by so all sufficient a teacher, I make no doubt but he will furnish thy life both with divine and moral documents; yet that I may not cast off the care beseeming a parent towards his child, or that thou shouldst have cause to drive thy whole felicity and welfare rather from others than from whence thou receivedst thy birth and being, I think it fit and agreeable to the affection I bear to help thee with such advertisements and rules for the squaring of thy life as are gained rather by much experience than long reading, to the end that thou, entering into this exorbitant age, mayest be the better prepared to shun those cautelous courses whereinto this world and thy lack of experience may easily draw thee. And because I will not confound thy memory, I have reduced them into ten precepts and, next unto Moses’ tables, if thou do imprint them in thy mind, then shalt thou reap the benefit and I the contentment. And these are they.

1. When it shall please God to bring thee to man’s estate, use great providence and circumspection in the choice of thy wife, for from thence may spring all thy future good or ill; and it is an action like a strategem in war where man can err but once. If thy estate be good, match near home and at leisure; if weak, then far off and quickly. Inquire diligently of her disposition and how her parents have been inclined in their youth. Let her not be poor how generous soever, for a man can buy nothing in the market with gentility. Neither choose a base and uncomely creature altogether for wealth, for it will cause contempt in others and loathing in thee. Make not choice of a dwarf or a fool, for from the one thou mayest beget a race of pygmies, the other may be thy daily disgrace; for it will irk thee to have her talk, for then thou shalt find to thy great grief that there is nothing more fulsome than a she-fool. Touching the government of thy house, let thy hospitality be moderate and according to the measure of thine own estate, rather plentiful than sparing–but not too costly–for I never knew any grow poor by keeping an orderly table. But some consume themselves through secret vices and their hospitality must bear the blame. Banish swinish drunkards out of thy house, which is a vice that impairs health, consumes much, and makes no show, for I never knew any praise ascribed to a drunkard but the well-bearing of drink, which is a better commendation for a brewer’s horse or a drayman than for either gentleman or serving man. Beware that thou spend not above three of the four parts of thy revenue, nor about one-third part of that in thine house, for the other two parts will do no more than defray thy extraordinaries, which will always surmount thy ordinaries by much. For otherwise shalt thou live like a rich beggar in a continual want, and the needy man can never live happily nor contented, for then every least disaster makes him ready either to mortgage or to sell, and that gentleman which then sells an acre of land loses an ounce of credit, for gentility is nothing but ancient riches. So that if the foundations sink, the building must needs consequently fail.

2. Bring thy children up in learning and obedience yet without austerity; praise them openly; reprehend them secretly; give them good countenance and convenient maintenance according to thy ability; for otherwise thy life will seem their bondage, and then what portion thou shalt leave them at thy death they may thank death for it and not thee. And I am verily persuaded that the foolish cockering of some parents and the overstern carriage of others causeth more men and women to take evil courses than naturally their own vicious inclinations. Marry thy daughters in time, lest they marry themselves. Suffer not thy sons to pass the Alps, for they shall learn nothing but pride, blasphemy, and atheism. And if by travel they attain to some few broken languages, they will profit them no more than to have one meat served in divers dishes. Neither by my advice shalt thou train them up to wars, for he that eats up his rest only to live by that profession can hardly be an honest man or good Christian, for war is of itself unjust unless the good cause may make it just. Besides it is a science no longer in request than use, for “soldiers in peace are like chimneys in summer.”

3. Live not in the country without corn and cattle about thee, for he that must present his hand to the purse for every expense of household may be likened to him that keeps water in a sieve. And for that provision thou shalt need lay for to buy it at the best hand, for there may be a penny in four saved betwixt buying at thy need or when the market and seasons serve fittest for it. And be not willingly attended or served by kinsmen, friends, or men entreated to stay, for they will expect much and do little, neither by such as are amorous, for their heads are commonly intoxicated; keep rather too few than one too many; feed them well and pay them with the most, and then mayest thou boldly require service at their hands.

4. Let thy kindred and allies be welcome to thy table, grace them with thy countenance, and ever further them in all honest actions, for by that means thou shalt so double the bond of nature as thou shalt find them so many advocates to plead an apology for thee behind my back. But shake off these glowworms–I mean parasites and sycophants–who will feed and fawn upon thee in the summer of prosperity, but in any adverse storm they will shelter thee no more than an arbor in winter.

5. Beware of suretyship for thy best friend, for he which payeth another man’s debts seeks his own decay; but if thou canst not otherwise choose, then rather lend that money from thyself upon good bond though thou borrow it, so mayest thou pleasure thy friend and happily also secure thyself. Neither borrow money of a neighbor or friend but rather from a mere stranger, where paying for it thou mayest hear no more of it, for otherwise thou shalt eclipse thy credit, lose thy freedom, and yet pay to him as dear as to the other. In borrowing of money be ever precious of thy word, for he that cares to keep day of payment is lord commander many times in another man’s goods.

6. Undertake no suit against a poor man without receiving much wrong for therein making him thy competitor. Besides it is a base conquest to triumph where there is small resistance. Neither attempt law against any man before thou be fully resolved that thou hast the right on thy side, and then spare not for money nor pains, for a cause or two so being well followed and obtained may after free thee from suits a great part of thy life.

7. Be sure ever to keep some great man thy friend, but trouble him not for trifles, compliment him often, present him with many yet small gifts and of little charge, and if thou have cause to bestow any great gratuity let it then be some such thing as may be daily in sight, for otherwise in this ambitious age thou mayest remain like a hop without a pole, live in obscurity, and be made a football for every insulting companion to spurn at.

8. Towards thy superiors be humble yet generous; with thy equals familiar yet respective; towards inferiors show much humility and some familiarity, as to bow thy body, stretch forth thy hand, and to uncover thy head, and suchlike popular compliments. The first prepares a way to advancement; the second makes thee known for a man well-bred; the third gains a good report which once gotten may be safely kept, for high humilities take such root in the minds of the multitude as they are more easilier won by unprofitable courtesies than churlish benefits. Yet do I advise thee not to affect nor neglect popularity too much. Seek not to be E. and shun to be R. [Essex and Raleigh? -SFR]

9. Trust not any man too far with thy credit or estate, for it is a mere folly for a man to enthrall himself to his friend further than if just cause be offered he should not dare to become otherwise his enemy.

10. Be not scurrilous in conversation nor stoical in thy jests; the one may make thee unwelcome to all companies, the other pull on quarrels and yet the hatred of thy best friends. Jests when they savor too much of truth leave a bitterness in the mind of those that are touched. And although I have already pointed all this inclusive, yet I think it necessary to leave it thee as a caution, because I have seen many so prone to quip and gird as they would rather lose their friend than their jests, and if by chance their boiling brain yield a quaint scoff they will travail to be delivered of it as a woman with child. Those nimble apprehensions are but the froth of wit.

I have reprinted the above precepts from:

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.

The End of the Authorship Question – Not!

Anticipating James Shapiro’s defense of Stratfordian virtue (and anti-Stratfordian lunacy) in his book Contesting Will, due this spring, I figured it would be wise to finally read through The Case for Shakespeare: The End of the Authorship Question by Scott McCrea.

The Case for Shakespeare: The End of the Authorship Question (Not!) - by Scott McCrea

The Case for Shakespeare: The End of the Authorship Question (Not!) - by Scott McCrea

As the title indicates, this was supposed to be a knockout punch, the final blow to those of us who are very much involved in the Question; but lo, four years after its 2005 publication, here we are!  Stubborn, ain’t we!

Well, I did read McCrea’s book very carefully and for some reason it was quite enjoyable, perhaps because of the feeling that I actually understand his point of view; or, I should say, I find it normal even though naive.  He spends time knocking down certain arguments used by some Oxfordians and other anti-Stratfordians – arguments with which I myself disagree; and also sets up fabricated or conveniently weak arguments or “straw men” to be easily slain.

For now I’ll touch on just one example: that McCrea apparently assumes that most if not all Oxfordians believe that Shakspere of Stratford acted as a “front man” during the 1590’s onward, somehow convincing everyone that he, yes, he, was the great poet-dramatist.  Well, I’ve never believed such a silly thing.  What I do believe is that “William Shakespeare” was a pen name used by Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, and that most contemporaries were unaware of this.

Will, if this is you, tell the truth: you never acted as a "front man" for the real author, did you?!

Will, if this is you, tell the truth: you never acted as a "front man" for the real author, did you?!

Even Shakspere of Stratford was unaware of it! In my view  all the contemporary tributes and references to Shakespeare the writer were by those who assumed that the name was real but knew nothing else about him, much less that he was actually the Earl of

This is a common experience, after all.  We read the names of authors and playwrights and screenwriters and poets every day and have no idea who they are, what they look like, where they live and so on.  Out of the last dozen movies you’ve seen, how many of the screen writers can you name?  If you heard a name and it was new to you, how curious were you to find out more about him or her?

How many folks knew - or cared to know - the identity of the man who was "Trevanian," a pen name?

How many folks knew - or cared to know - the identity of the man who was "Trevanian," a pen name?

You know of the author “Trevanian,” no doubt.  He was finally identified —  but how many readers are aware of it?  How many cared a hoot about it?  [“Trevanian” was the pen name of American author Dr. Rodney William Whitaker: June 12, 1931- Dec 14, 2005; see Wikipedia on this.  Was it a “conspiracy”?  Of course not.]

Some of you have heard about the playwright Jane Martin of Louisville, yes?  Here’s a link to a short essay entitled, A Two Decade Old Mystery: Who is Jane Martin?

The piece starts this way: “It is a mystery that has confounded the theatre community for over two decades. Who is Jane Martin? She has produced over ten full length plays, six one-acts, and numerous shorts.  She has been nominated for the Pulitzer prize, and won the American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award twice. Yet, she has not made one public appearance. There are no interviews. No pictures. No sightings. Nothing. She has been called ‘America’s best known unknown playwright…”

A play by "Jane Martin" - a pen name

A play by "Jane Martin" - a pen name

Here’s from Wikipedia’s entry:

“Jane Martin is the pen-name of a playwright speculated to be retired Actors Theatre of Louisville artistic director Jon Jory.  Jon Jory, Martin’s spokesperson, denies being Jane Martin but has directed the premieres of Martin’s shows.  Martin has traditionally been billed as a Kentucky playwright. While speculation about her identity centers around Jory, other theories have cited former Actors Theatre of Louisville Executive Director Alexander Speer, former Actors Theatre Literary Manager Michael Bigelow Dixon, and former intern Kyle John Schmidt…”

Sounds like the authorship debate!  Oxford, Marlowe, Bacon… Well, you get the picture.  EVEN NOW in the 21st century, with all our technical miracles, we have folks referring to a playwright by his or her PEN NAME without knowing, or caring, about anything else.  Any of us could write a tribute — “O Jane Martin, you are a great dramatist!” — without having a clue about Jane’s identity.  In fact, people pay tribute to Jane all the time!

Such was the case of the pen name “Shakespeare” or “Shake-speare,” suggesting a warrior shaking the spear of his pen…

I should stop here for now.  But let’s put it to rest: the wiser sort among us “heretics,” as McCrea routinely calls Oxfordians and those supporting other claimants, have understood that Will of Stratford was never a “front man” or “stand-in” who was posing or acting as the man to eventually be regarded as the greatest writer the world has known. But I must admit that some of my colleagues in the “heresy” camp do, in fact, entertain that nonsensical notion.

(Of course Will was in fact a real individual, a businessman, and in a future blog I’ll describe my version of his entry into this history as well as the role he played up to, and after,his death in 1616. And I’ll take up the matter of Ben Jonson’s testimony at the same time, since, as a matter of fact, Ben and Will go together…)

Castle Hedingham in Essex, England, birthplace of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford

Castle Hedingham in Essex, England, birthplace of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford

The fact is that Edward de Vere was a central figure behind the great growth of literature and drama in England up to the victory over the Spanish armada in 1588, after which he went “underground,” while “Shakespeare” emerged in 1593 as the printed name for an author whose contemporary sources were nearly all associated personally, on the record, with Oxford.   That’s a fact, a verifiable fact, and it’s much more interesting and meaningful than the last dozen biographies of the Stratfordian Shakespeare put together!  Beyond that, it’s the truth.

McCrea’s overall problem, which I’ll get to in one of these blogs about his book that has “ended” the authorship question (Not!), is that he’s holding onto a mythical figure with no more physical reality than Santa Claus.

He thinks we’re pulling a “con job” by separating the Stratford man’s recorded life from the documented history of the “Shakespeare” name — but McCrea himself would never have connected the two on his own, certainly not during Will’s lifetime, since the words “Sweet Swan of Avon” and “Stratford moniment” (correct spelling) in the First Folio came later in 1623. (Even then few if any readers would have connected those two phrases, which were in separate eulogies.)

Near the very end of his book McCrea states:  “We can try to make sense of the world and make decisions based on reason, or we can cling to our prejudices.  We can defend our wrong ideas to the death or be open to the possibility of changing our minds.”

Well, Scott, most Oxfordians including myself were once Statfordians; we tried to make sense of the facts we were given and to make decisions about them based on reason; we did not cling to our ‘prejudices’ or ideas that had been ingrained in us; we did not try to defend those old knee-jerk ideas to the death; instead, without being conspiracy nuts or snobs or misguided con men, we were open to the possibility of changing our minds — and when we learned about a Hamlet-like nobleman named Oxford whom no college professor had ever told us about, in fact we did begin to change our minds … and we are still on that exciting adventure, learning, discussing, debating, researching, having the time of our lives … and I suggest you come on over and try it with the possibility of changing your mind!

Cheers from Hank

“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


Series Editors: Paul Altrocchi & Hank Whittemore


iUniverse Publishing (800-288-4677 x 5024) … (search by volume title)


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


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


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


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


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.

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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