More on this Exciting Year for Edward de Vere the seventeenth Earl of Oxford…

There’s much excitement in the “Oxfordian” community these days, with blogs and books and films — not to mention a new online “gallery” devoted to Oxford — pouring forth.  Much of this activity, intentional or otherwise, appears to be in anticipation of Anonymous, the first feature film about Edward de Vere as Shakespeare, with which I begin this partial listing:

ANONYMOUS – the movie from producer-director Roland Emmerich and SONY Pictures to be launched in U.S. theaters on September 23, 2011 (unless the date changes again).  The cast includes Rhys ifans as Edward de Vere, Vanessa Redgrave as Queen Elizabeth I, Derek Jacobi as Prologue, Mark Rylance as Gloucester and Edward Hogg as Robert Cecil.

Vanessa Redgrave as Queen Elizabeth I in "Anonymous"

The trailer is exciting!  In my view any publicity about the Shakespeare authorship question is good publicity, simply because those who control this issue within the academic world have ensured that the subject has been virtually unknown to the majority of teachers, professors and students – or else it has been ridiculed and ignored.

Now there will be questions, more and more of them.   Now the effort to intimidate questioners will not be so successful.  Now, at last, the investigations and the debates will begin on a wide scale.

What I know, also, is that Anonymous will be much closer to the truth than Shakespeare In Love, which, nonetheless, in my view, is a wonderful movie — which depicts the general truth that “Shakespeare” must have been motivated to write his plays by much more important personal matters than the box office.

Charles Beauclerk, author of "Shakespeare's Lost Kingdom"

THE EDWARD OXENFORD REVIEW: Notes Towards the Next Biography of Edward de Vere, 17th earl of Oxford – the blog from Marie Merkel, who is serving up some of the best current writing on the subject. See Marie’s thoughtful and challenging review of SHAKESPEARE’S LOST KINGDOM: The True History of Shakespeare and Elizabeth by Charles Beauclerk, issued this year by Grove Press.

WILLIAM NIEDERKORN’s reviews of Shakespeare-related books in THE BROOKLYN RAIL – the latest a terrific critique of DATING SHAKESPEARE’S PLAYS: A CRITICAL REVIEW OF THE EVIDENCE, edited by Kevin Gilvary with contributions of other members of the De Vere Society in England.

"Dating Shakespeare's Plays"

SHAKE-SPEARE’S BIBLE.COM – the blog from Roger Stritmatter, Ph.D., featuring, among many other fine essays, the series from an indomitable Stratfordian-minded fellow named Mr. Tom Weedy, who has been listing “Reasons Shakespeare was Shakespeare” – perhaps, if I may be so bold, in an attempt to frighten me into abandoning my “100 Reasons” for believing that Shakespeare was Oxford.  Well, we shall see!

THE SHAKESPEARE GUIDE TO ITALY: Retracing the Bard’s Unknown Travels, by Richard Paul Roe – due from Harper Perennial on November 8, 2011.  This book from the late Dick Roe is a ticking time bomb (or a “sleeping smoking gun,” if you prefer) that may well take the Stratfordian world by surprise.

"The Shakespeare Guide to Italy" by Richard Paul Roe

A privately printed edition was issued last year, shortly before the author’s death, and much of it reads like a good-old-fashioned detective story, with Roe tracking down gem after gem of discoveries about the personal experience of Italy that “Shakespeare” needed in order to write Romeo and Juliet, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Taming of the Shrew, The Merchant of Venice, Othello, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, All’s Well That Ends Well, Much Ado About Nothing, The Winter’s Tale and, yes, The  Tempest.

LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT – a documentary film on the Shakespeare authorship question, from producers Laura Matthias and Lisa Wilson.  It will take a look at the issue and the “Shakespeare” claimants with focus on Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford, providing additional information and insights to complement the film Anonymous by Roland Emmerich.

New Bust of the True Shakespeare

THE VERILY SHAKESPEARE GALLERYa new online store from Ben August of Houston, who commissioned a bust of Edward de Vere to replace the old (and incorrect) icons.

When I first jumped into this arena in 1987, it occurred to me that inevitably over the next two or three generations there will be more writings, more video and film, more books and other kinds of communication on this subject than on nearly every other topic.  Why?  Because once the true authorship and meaning of “Shakespeare” are generally accepted as fit for investigation and study, there will be the need for a massive revision of history and biography – on a scale that can hardly be measured at this point.

The biographies of William and Robert Cecil, of Queen Elizabeth and King James, of Philip Sidney and Ben Jonson – etcetera, etcetera, etcetera! – will have to be rewritten in order to perceive these individuals within a wholly different relationship to Edward de Vere.

Rather than depicting them as superior to the madcap, eccentric, scandal-plagued earl, they will be viewed when placed beside the genius who led the renaissance of English literature and drama (and thereby helped to rouse support for unity against Spain) before going on to revise his works into the masterpieces of “Shakespeare” that have filled our shelves and stages from then to now.

It’s quite a privilege — and lots of fun — to be around for this critical stage of the revolution.

New Release Date for Emmerich’s “Anonymous”

A quick note that RAMA’S SCREEN reports that the release date of Roland Emmerich’s movie Anonymous has been changed from March 2011 to September 23, 2011.  We hear the movie will cover some of the “story” told in the Sonnets according to my book The Monument — basically with Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford as the author of the “Shakespeare” works and father of Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton, a prince by blood whose involvement in the Essex Rebellion landed him in the Tower of London as a traitor.

I’ll be back later with any further details.  Cheers from Hank

Contesting “Contested Will” – Part One

James Shapiro reaches the climax of his new book Contested Will in the epilogue, where – lo! – he recounts attending my performance of Shake-speare’s Treason (based on The Monument) in November of 2008 at the Globe playhouse in London.

His point, by page 267, is that it’s simply wrong to try to learn anything of substance about the man who was William Shakespeare, either from the documents about his life in Stratford and London or from his poems, plays and sonnets.  All is speculation, virtually all of it off the mark.

The first and foremost culprits are not those who dare to doubt that Will of Stratford was “Shakespeare,” but, rather, traditional Stratfordians, who have attempted to fashion flesh-and-blood portraits of the Bard by linking aspects of his recorded life to elements of his work and vice versa.

This practice has resulted in puffed-up fictions posing as biographies; these scholars should stop doing it, not only because they keep serving up baloney but also because they encourage anti-Stratfordians to keep doing the same thing for their own candidates, such as Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford.

And since the Oxfordians have so much more biographical evidence from which to pick and choose, they will keep on winning.  Even now, with the coming of Roland Emmerich’s feature film Anonymous about Oxford as Shakespeare (with Vanessa Redgrave as Queen Elizabeth), due out in 2011, the tide of public acceptance may even turn in their favor!

Queen Elizabeth I and Vanessa Redgrave

Shapiro’s solution is extraordinary and courageous and perhaps, in the long run, even foolish:  Let us have no more biographies of Shakespeare!  No more attempts to look in the plays and poems and sonnets to find any reflections of his real life!   Let us stop thinking entirely of Shakespeare the man, before it’s too late!

Such is the problem when you start with the wrong man in the first place!

He criticizes Stephen Greenblatt of Harvard for giving his “seal of approval” for the autobiographical approach with his bestselling Will in the World. Others have erred this way as well, he goes on, admitting that even “I flinch when I think of my own trespasses in classrooms and in print, despite my best efforts to steer clear of biographical speculation.”

Shapiro writes:

“The more that Shakespeare scholars encourage autobiographical readings of the plays and poems, the more they legitimate assumptions that underlie the claims of all those who dismiss the idea that Shakespeare wrote the plays.  And every step scholars have taken toward embracing such readings has encouraged their adversaries to make even more speculative claims.  The recent publication of Hank Whittemore’s Oxfordian reading of the Sonnets, The Monument, offers a glimpse of where things may be heading…

“In November 2008, I joined ninety or so people gathered at London’s Globe Theatre to hear Whittemore share his work.  It turned out to be an elegant revival of the Prince Tudor theory….”

Here he offers a concise (and accurate) summary of the story of the Sonnets as set forth in The Monument and dramatized in Shake-speare’s Treason, which I performed at the Globe at the invitation of the Shakespearean Authorship Trust led by the brilliant actor Mark Rylance, who had been the Globe’s artistic director for a decade.

“It was a spellbinding performance,” Shapiro writes, “as perfect a marriage of conspiratorial history and autobiographical analysis as one could imagine.”

Conspiratorial?  You mean the way President Kennedy privately hosted Marilyn Monroe in the swimming pool of the White House and no agent, no aide, no one at all, ever told about it?  Hmmm, just think of all the people who had to be “in on it” and who had to “agree to be silent.”  Hmmm.

In both the book and the show (co-written with director Ted Story), I simply put together the heretofore separate tracks of the literature and the history.  I show how the central 100-verse sequence of the Sonnets fits within the context of the Essex Rebellion of 1601 and its aftermath, that is, with the ordeal of the Earl of Southampton in the Tower until the death of Queen Elizabeth and the accession of James.  There’s no need to alter either the sonnets or the recorded events of contemporary history; instead, they are brought together in this framework for the first time, where they fit without any trouble, yielding a third dimension – the true story of why Edward de Vere Earl of Oxford agreed to the obliteration of his identity as Shakespeare even after his death, as he states:

My name be buried where my body is – Sonnet 72

I, once gone, to all the world must die – Sonnet 81

What bothers Shapiro most may be that Oxfordians – in this case, specifically The Monument & Shake-speare’s Treason – unfold a better story than even the most fantasy-driven biographies of the Stratfordians:

“If the enthusiastic response of the audience that evening was any indication, Oxfordian concerns about the riskiness of Whittemore’s approach were misplaced.  I looked around the room and saw the same kind of people – middle-aged, sensibly dressed, middle-class – who regularly attend lectures about Shakespeare, nodding their heads in agreement and laughing aloud at the funny parts.  I found it all both impressive and demoralizing…”

Does he sound a tad defeated here?  Well, not yet.  At this stopping point, I’ll let him have the last word:

“I found it all both impressive and demoralizing, a vision of a world in which a collective comfort with conspiracy theory, spurious history, and construing fiction as autobiographical fact had passed a new threshold.”

Well, that’s one way to put it!

In Part Two we dig a little deeper…

%d bloggers like this: