No. 100 of 100 Reasons for the Earl of Oxford’s Authorship of the Shakespeare Works: How It Began by Searching for a Special Kind of Genius and Finding the Conditions Fulfilled

This one hundredth reason for Edward de Vere’s authorship of the Shakespeare works is by no means the end; on the contrary, it takes us back to the beginning – to the characteristics and conditions required even by the “genius” of that great author. It takes us back to the “long foreground” of earlier development that “Shakespeare” needed before he was able to complete his masterworks such as Hamlet and The Sonnets.

Oxford tan

“We venture to say that, whatever course the discussion may take, either now or in a distant future, one of the most serious hindrances to the formation of correct views will be the necessity of reversing judgments that have had a longstanding social sanction,” J. Thomas Looney wrote in “Shakespeare” Identified (1920), wherein he revealed his finding of Edward, Earl of Oxford (1550-1604) as the most likely author.

“We shall first have to dissociate from the writings the conception of such an author as the steady, complacent, business-like man-of-the-world suggested by the Stratford Shakspere. Then there will be the more arduous task of raising to a most exalted position the name and personality possibly of some obscure man hitherto regarded as quite unequal to the work with which he is at last to be credited. And this will further compel us to re-read our greatest national classics from a totally new personal standpoint.”

Looney book

His prediction continues to carry enormous implications for the authorship question in general and the Oxfordian movement in particular. The task of turning our perception of the works “inside-out” is even now still in its infancy, even with the centennial of the publication of Looney’s groundbreaking work due to arrive in 2020 — and even with the thirtieth anniversary this year of the publication in 1984 of The Mysterious William Shakespeare by Charlton Ogburn, Jr., which ignited interest in the authorship question among many who had never known it existed.

“The work in question being the highest literary product of the age,” he continued, “it cannot be otherwise than that the author, whoever he may have been, when he is discovered must seem in some measure below the requirements of the situation; unequal, that is, to the production of such work. We shall therefore be called upon in his case radically to modify and correct a judgment of three hundred [make that four hundred] years’ standing.”

But there is a “natural limit” to such inferiority in appearance, Looney noted. Given that the writings attributed to “Shakespeare” are masterpieces of English literature, and that all the world’s other literary masterpieces were produced by those who wrote of “matters in which they were keenly interested, and to whom writing (or the mental occupation of composing) has been a master passion, we are entitled to require – in the person put forward as the author – a body of credentials corresponding to the character of the work.

John Thomas Looney 1870 - 1944

John Thomas Looney
1870 – 1944

“That is to say, we are bound to assume that the writer was an Englishman with dominating literary tastes, to whom the classical literature of the world, the history of England during the period of the Lancastrians and Yorkists, and Italian literature, which form the staple materials of his work, were matters of absorbing interest, furnishing the milieu in which his mind habitually worked …

“Unless, then, we are to recast all our ideas of how the great things of literature have been achieved, we cannot think of him otherwise than as one who had been swept by the irresistible force of his own genius into the strong literary current of his times.” Even if he hid from the men of his day the fact that he was himself busy producing such works, it is “inconceivable that he should have hidden from them where his chief interest lay.”

Charlton Ogburn Jr.  1911 - 1998

Charlton Ogburn Jr.
1911 – 1998

When the British schoolmaster came upon a summary of Edward de Vere’s life by Shakespeare editor and biographer Sir Sidney Lee, in the Dictionary of National Biography (DNB) for 1885-1900, he was amazed and gratified by what he found. Looney had been searching for someone who was (1) a matured man of recognized genius, (2) apparently eccentric and mysterious, (3) of intense sensibility – a man apart, (4) unconventional, (5) not adequately appreciated, (6) of pronounced and known literary tastes, (7) an enthusiast in the world of drama, (8) a lyric poet of recognized talent and (9) of superior education – classical – the habitual associate of educated people.

More specifically he had been looking for (1) a man with feudal connections, (2) a member of the higher aristocracy, (3) someone connected with Lancastrian supporters, (4) an enthusiast for Italy, (5) a follower of sport – including falconry, (7) a lover of music, (8) a man loose and improvident in money matters, (8) a man who was doubtful and somewhat conflicting in his attitude to women and (9) someone of probable Catholic leanings, but touched with skepticism.

Lee’s article on Oxford quickly mentioned that his uncle Arthur Golding (“the translator of Ovid,” Shakespeare’s favorite classical source) acted as his tutor and receiver of property while the young earl lived at Cecil House as the Queen’s first royal ward. Lee noted Oxford’s studies at Cambridge and that one of his tutors was Bartholomew Clerke (Latin translator of The Courtier, sponsored by Oxford in 1572 and a major source of Hamlet).

Mysterious William Shakespeare

“He was thoroughly grounded in French and Latin,” Lee wrote of Edward de Vere, “but at the same time learnt to dance, ride, and shoot. While manifesting a natural taste for music and literature, the youth developed a waywardness of temper which led him into every form of extravagance, and into violent quarrels with other members of his guardian’s [William Cecil’s] household…

“[Cecil, Lord Burghley] found his perverse humor a source of grave embarrassment” but “found in the earl ‘more understanding than any stranger to him would think’ … ‘My Lord of Oxford,’ wrote Gilbert Talbot to his father, the Earl of Shrewsbury, on 11 May 1573, ‘is lately grown into great credit, for the queen’s Majesty delighteth more in his personage, and his dancing and valiantness, than any other … If it were not for his fickle head, he would pass any of them shortly’ …

“In 1575 Oxford realized his ambition of foreign travel, and … made his way to Italy. In October he reached Venice by way of Milan. He returned home laden with luxurious articles of dress and of the toilet. To him is assigned the credit of first introducing from Italy into this country embroidered gloves, sweet-bags, perfumed leather jerkins, and costly washes or perfumes. He ingratiated himself with the queen by presenting her with a pair of perfumed gloves trimmed with tufts or roses of colored silk…

“Oxford’s eccentricities and irregularities of temper grew with his years … In September 1579 he grossly insulted Sir Philip Sidney in the tennis court at Whitehall by calling him a ‘puppy’ … In 1581 he received from the queen’s hand a prize for the prowess that he displayed in a grand tilt at court…

sban300

“In March 1581 his violence involved him in new difficulties … He engaged in a duel with Thomas Knyvet, a gentleman of the privy chamber. Both were wounded, the earl dangerously … In October 1586 he was appointed special commissioner for the trial of Mary Queen of Scots … In 1588 he joined, as a volunteer, the fleet which repelled the Spanish armada…

“During these years Oxford’s continued extravagance involved him in pecuniary difficulties … He had squandered some part of his fortune upon men of letters whose bohemian mode of life attracted him. He was patron of a company of players [actually two companies, along with a troupe of musicians] …

“Oxford, despite his violent temper and perverse temper, his eccentric taste in dress, and his reckless waste of his substance, evinced a genuine interest in music, and wrote verse of much lyric beauty. Puttenham and Meres reckon him among ‘the best for comedy’ in his day; but, although he was a patron of a company of players, no specimens of his dramatic productions survive.”

How could all his writings for the stage have disappeared? The answer from here is that his plays written during the 1570s and 1580s were never “lost” – instead he revised them for later release under new titles as written by “Shakespeare,” a pen name adopted in 1593. Those early plays are part of the “long foreground” that has always been missing from traditional Stratfordian biography; and they supply the answer to the objection that many of the plays were written after Oxford’s reported death in 1604 – a conclusion dictated by the need to give the traditional author more time to (supposedly) write the works, while Oxford would have composed the first versions way back when Shakspere was still a boy.

“A sufficient number of his poems is extant, however, to corroborate Webbe’s comment that he was the best of the courtier-poets in the early years of Elizabeth’s reign, and that ‘in the rare devices of poetry, he may challenge to himself the title of the most excellent among the rest…

“Verses by Oxford ‘To the Reader,’ together with a prefatory letter from the earl’s pen to the translator, were prefixed to Bedingfield’s translation of Cardanus’s Comfort, 1573, which was ‘published by commandment if the right honorable the Earl of Oxenford’ …

“Among men of letters who acknowledged Oxford’s patronage the chief were John Lyly, who dedicated to him Euphues and his England (1580), and Edmund Spenser, who addressed a sonnet to him in the opening pages of his Faerie Queen (1590). Of books of smaller account that were dedicated to him mention may be made of the translation of Justinus’s abridgment of Trogus Pompeius by his uncle, Arthur Golding (1564), Underdown’s rendering of Heliodorus (1569), Thomas Twine’s translation of Humphrey Lhuyd’s Breviary of Britain (1573), Anthony Munday’s Galien of France (1579? Lost), Zelauto (1580) and Palmerin d’Olivia (1588), Southern’s Diana (1584) and John Farmer’s song-books (1591, 1599).”

“I venture to say,” Looney wrote, “that if only such of those terms as are here used [in Lee’s article on Oxford] to describe the character and quality of his work were submitted without name or leading epithet, to people who only understood them to apply to some Elizabethan poet, it would be assumed immediately that Shakespeare was meant.”

scientific american

What scientists today are learning about “genius” applies to Oxford in the strongest possible ways; for example, here are statements in two current magazines focusing on the topic:

“Let us challenge the basic assumption that the individual creator is the only critical component of the creative process. Indeed, let us consider the possibility that groups play an essential role in creativity … We concluded that it is problematic and unhelpful to separate the creativity of individual minds from the communities in which they flourish.” – Scientific American, July/August 2014

atlantic

“For centuries, the myth of the lone genius has towered over us, its shadow obscuring the way creative work really gets done. The Lennon-McCartney partnership reveals just how misleading that myth can be, because John and Paul were so obviously more creative as a pair than as individuals … The essence of their achievements, it turns out, was relational.” – The Atlantic, July/August 2014

Oxfordians agree that “Shakespeare” was a genius, but we also know he was bound by the natural laws of humankind. We know that any inherited capacity of intellect or talent, especially on the part of one who writes masterworks, is a seed that requires nurturing soil and other elements to ensure its life and growth to full maturity.

From birth onward Oxford found himself in circumstances and relationships that “Shakespeare,” whoever he was, needed in order to flourish as he did:
• He had access to enormous amounts of information and a vast array of sources;
• He was placed in extremely competitive situations;
• He was motivated by the vibrant female monarch who claimed him as her first royal ward and then as her highest-ranking earl;
• He built up resentments over hypocrisies and lies perpetrated by other members of the court, fueling his devotion to [indirectly] revealing the truth about them;
• Reflecting the conclusions of current scientific studies, he was stimulated by collaborative relationships with scholars and musicians, writers and actors, on and on…

No one emerges from the womb intimately familiar with Italy, music, botany, seamanship and medicine, not to mention Venetian law. Such knowledge cannot be “imagined” out of whole cloth; it must be absorbed by the artists before he or she can use it creatively. The author of Hamlet used his own vast storehouse of facts with consummate ease, spontaneously, even joyously, as it flowed out of his mind and heart in service of higher purpose.

And for Oxford that purpose was eventually driven by the knowledge that powerful forces were determined to eradicate him from the record. “My name be buried where my body is,” he forecast in Sonnet 72, writing now as an act of survival, if only for generations in the future. “Your name from hence immortal life shall have,” he told the younger Earl of Southampton in Sonnet 81, “though I, once gone, to all the world must die.”

Those personal predictions by the great author could never be made by the traditionally perceived author known as Shakespeare – a writer’s name that is surely among the most popular and enduring that the world has known. So hereby submitted are these first 100 reasons why the man behind that illustrious name was a proud, eccentric, unpredictable, misunderstood, complicated, Hamlet-like nobleman who died lamenting his “wounded name” and asking his trusted friend, Horatio, to “report me and my cause aright to the unsatisfied.”

Which brings us back to the beginning, to Reason No. 1, posted on February 23, 2011, nearly three and a half years ago, under a headline proclaiming that “Oxford, like Hamlet, was involved with Plays and Play Companies at the Royal Court.”

Once again, let us begin …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And so he became … a butcher’s apprentice. 

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

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

High Street, Southwark, in Elizabethan times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The famous six signatures … No Comment!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(To be continued)

Published in: Uncategorized on August 4, 2012 at 3:04 pm  Comments (2)  
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Oxfordian Journal Chapter 4: Searching for Shakespeare’s Creative Process … His Working Method … His Confidence That What He Wrote Was Real and True

It was the spring of 1987 and I was living in Portland, Maine, with an office in the Congress Building on the corner of High Street.  After a quarter of a century since college I could still recite most of Hamlet’s soliloquies; during those years I’d walk the river, as they say, spouting the prince’s lines to the trees or the ocean or the sky…

What an idea! A play set in the White House…!

After several months on Deer Isle and now in Portland, for some reason it occurred to me that I should write a play.  And that I should set this play … in the White House!  I had spent several months as a journalist in the West Wing press section, so I had some familiarity with the place.

I planned to write a one-act drama about a government official who manipulates people and the different ways they respond to him.  My main interest was in the psychological and emotional dynamics.  What happens when a powerful figure tries (skillfully) to manipulate others?  What happens when someone attempts to resist?  And of course there were wider implications, in terms of how such a manipulator might affect political decisions and government policies.

Congress Street in Portland, Maine … A long way from the White House

I’d already written plays and scripts for TV and film, but this project offered a chance to go back to the basics.  I read some books on play-writing (a favorite was The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri, a classic work written in 1942) and I read a good many plays.  At the same time I wrote out character biographies, made plot outlines, sketched out scenes with some dialogue.

Everything was going pretty well, but at one point I started thinking about the need to do some research.  Did I really know enough about how things worked inside the White House?   How far could I trust myself to make up dialogue for the President or the Secretary of Defense and so on?  I had no doubt that writing such a play was possible, even if I’d never set foot in the Oval Office or the Cabinet Room, but it felt good to go to the library to find some materials that might help.

After about a week of research, I spoke with a friend at a coffee shop in downtown Portland.  “I think I can write this play,” I said, “but I still feel kind of distant from it.  Maybe it’s just that Washington, D.C. seems a million miles away from here.  And it’s not like I can just go down there and walk through the White House gate.  I’d need credentials.  And besides, what kind of notes would I take?  What would I learn if I was still an outsider?”

“Well,” my friend said, “you’re using your imagination.”

“Yeah, I know, but it’s starting to feel more like fantasy.  I think most writers end up writing what they know best, don’t they?  Why am I giving myself such a difficult challenge?  Who do I think I am?  Shakespeare?”

Prince Hamlet with the Players who have arrived at the castle

Then it hit me.  Of course!  Shakespeare!  He, too, was an outsider – an actor.  Every so often he must have found himself inside those great royal palaces with the other players, to perform for Queen Elizabeth or King James and members of the Court, but he still had to do research!  How else could he write all those chronicle plays – King John, Henry IV, Henry V, Richard II, Richard III and so on?

To write those plays he needed to know a hell of a lot about England’s royal history, solid information, and he had to inhabit each of his kings and queens and nobles with utter confidence in his ability to bring them to life.

[Here’s a strange thought — according to the traditional view of the authorship, Shakespeare would have been one of the players being greeted by Hamlet…]

How did Shakespeare do it?  How did he gain such belief in his own power and abilities as a writer?  He wrote the way Babe Ruth swung his bat.  What was his creative process?  How did he get ready to write, say, Macbeth or King Lear?  When Shakespeare created characters inside a palace or a royal court, I thought, he was doing the equivalent of some modern playwright creating characters inside the White House.

There were still lots of great used bookstores around.  (A friend, Pat Murphy, ran one of the best ones, over on Danforth Street.)  You could get some wonderful old books quite cheaply.  So I started browsing, in and around Portland, for biographies of Shakespeare that might tell about his creative process.

During the first week or so I came across five of them.  One book cost only three dollars and none cost any more than ten, as I recall.  I lined them up according to their copyright dates and figured I might as well start with the oldest, which was A Life of William Shakespeare by Sidney Lee, published in 1898.  I was pretty excited as I opened this book, which seemed to cover every aspect of Mr. Shakespeare’s time on earth.

I was about to meet the man, the artist, the genius who gave us Prince Hamlet, the most complex and fully realized tragic hero ever created for the stage…

(To be continued)

The Second of 100 Reasons Why Oxford was Shakespeare: Uncle Golding & Ovid!

“Ovid, the love of Shakespeare’s life among Latin poets, made an overwhelming impression upon him, which he carried with him all his days: subjects, themes, characters and phrases haunted his imagination. The bulk of his classical mythology came from the ‘Metamorphoses,’ which he used in the original as well as in Golding’s translation.” –A.L. Rowse, “Shakespeare, The Man” (1973)

I’ve always loved this one.  It was one of the first things I’d tell people around the dinner table, whether they gave a damn or not:

The favorite classical source of the author “Shakespeare” was the literary work of the ancient Roman poet Ovid (43 B.C.-A.D. 18).   As our two experts (quoted above) tell us, he drew upon the stories and rhythms and language of Ovid, from the original Latin text and, heavily so, from the English translation of the Metamorphoses by Arthur Golding (1567).  And this same Golding was the young Earl of Oxford’s uncle, living under the same roof with him at Cecil House in the early 1560’s, just when the translating of Ovid’s 15-book masterpiece would have been carried out!

“I mean … come on,” I’d say at the dinner table.  “Ain’t that a hoot? Why are you all looking at me like I’m speaking a foreign language?  Oh, well…”

A lot of times these things are astounding only because of the way in which you come upon them.  In this case, the British schoolmaster J. Thomas Looney put forth hypothetically that Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford (1550-1604) wrote the Shakespeare works, which are filled with material drawn from Ovid’s Metamorphoses in both the original and the Golding translation of the 1560’s — and then he discovered that Oxford had been physically present at Cecil House in London during the 1560’s, when his Uncle Golding had been acting as his “receiver” for financial affairs and apparently translating the Ovid work.

Hedingham Castle (what’s left of the original), childhood home of Edward de Vere

(John de Vere, the sixteenth Earl of Oxford, died in 1562, when his twelve-year-old son Edward, the future seventeenth earl, left his home at Hedingham Castle in Essex and went to London to live as a royal ward of Queen Elizabeth in the custody of her chief minister William Cecil, the future Lord Burghley.)

I say Golding was “apparently” translating the Ovid because it’s far more likely that it was done by the young earl himself.  Golding was a puritanical sort who translated Calvin’s Psalms of David (which he dedicated to Oxford, his nephew) and would not have been crazy about translating Ovid’s tales of passion and seduction and lovemaking as well as incest by pagan gods and goddesses.  No, he was in every way incapable of it.

Here’s what I wrote about this in 1996, viewing the teenage Edward de Vere as “the young Shakespeare” at work:

“J. Thomas Looney used the phrase ‘long foreground’ for Shakespeare’s formative years, a period of necessary artistic growth and development which has always been totally missing from Stratfordian biography.  Unless he was a god with miraculous powers, the sophisticated English poet who wrote ‘Venus and Adonis’ went through much trial and error, creating a
substantial body of apprenticeship work beforehand.  By all logic Shakespeare must have begun translating Ovid in his earliest years, becoming thoroughly grounded in his old tales.  He would have labored over the original texts and ‘tried on’ various English nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs, inventing new ones along the way; and in the process he would have acquired his astounding vocabulary of some 25,000 words, more than twice the size of Milton’s.”

The ancient Roman poet Ovid

And here is what Looney wrote in 1920 about the nature of some “discoveries” such as this one about Edward de Vere and Shakespeare’s favorite poet Ovid:

“The force of a conviction is frequently due as much to the intrinsic value of the evidence.  For example, when a theory, what we have formed from a consideration of certain facts, leads us to suppose that certain other facts will exist, the later discovery that the facts are actually in accordance with our inferences becomes a much stronger confirmation of our theory than if we had known these additional facts at the outset.  We state this principle in matters of science when we affirm that the supreme test and evidence of the soundness of a scientific theory is its power of enabling us to foresee some events as a consequence of others.  The manner, therefore, in which facts and ideas have been arrived at becomes itself an important element in the evidence.”‘Shakespeare’ Identified, 1920

“Shakespeare” Identified by J. Thomas Looney, 1920

So that’s the second of the first 100 reasons I conclude that Oxford was Shakespeare…

If there was any evidence of this kind in the life of William Shakspere of Stratford, would there be an authorship question?  I doubt it.  But such is the power of traditional thinking that, despite the fact that such evidence exists in Oxford’s life, the academic folks in the ivory tower won’t even consider it.

Another thought — which I should bring up in a separate blog, but I’d rather deal with it right here.  The orthodox camp loves to say that the doubters of Shakspere’s authorship are “creationists.”  Well, that’s ridiculous.  If anything in that metaphorical equation we’re evolutionists. The biblical creationists came first, as did the traditional Stratfordians; the evolutionists came later, just as we Oxfordians came later.

Stratfordians, echoing creationists, believe in the miracle of genius when it comes to Shakespeare’s vast knowledge and skill; we Oxfordians, echoing evolutionists, know that such amazing knowledge, skill and insight can be acquired — even by a genius — only through long development based on much learning and experience and painfully acquired artistic growth.  That they would stoop to calling us a name that should actually be applied to themselves is a measure of their growing desperation…

Cheers from Hank!

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