Literature

Guest Blog: Shakespeare Beyond Doubt

By Professor Stanley Wells, CBE

It’s not often, when one publishes a book, that a parody of it appears shortly afterwards – or, indeed, ever – but this has happened with Shakespeare Beyond Doubt, the collection of essays that I edited along with Paul Edmondson and that was published by Cambridge  University Press in  April of this year. Round about the time of publication an article appeared in the Evening Standard saying that Alexander Waugh, grandson and editor of the more famous Evelyn, intended to publish a riposte. It didn’t materialize quite as soon as was threatened but a few days ago there appeared on my desk and on Paul Edmondson’s a volume which clones ours. Entitled Shakespeare Beyond Doubt? – note the question mark – and published by an American press which describes itself as providing ‘self-publishing services’ (which one might think of as a vanity press),  it is co-edited with John M. Shahan, described as ‘Chairman of the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition’. It has a jacket modelled on ours and uses a similar type face.  And like ours it is made up of a number of contributions discussing various aspects of the topic. Over seventy pages print material which has been available on the internet for well over a year. Very soon after the copies arrived the editor of The Literary Review, formerly edited by Alexander Waugh’s father Auberon, got in touch with me to say – are you listening carefully? – that they were publishing a review of our book written by Alexander Waugh, and inviting me to review his book. And then a few days later my co-editor and I received copies of a letter addressed to Peter Kyle, Chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, of which I am Honorary President, challenging us to take part in a public debate about the authorship of Shakespeare. The letter replicates a challenge also published in the book, where an extraordinarily elaborate format of debate involving a whole week of events and counter-events is proposed.

Intellectual disagreement is welcome but there are several aspects of the Waugh/Shahan volume that I find unpleasant and indeed offensive. Its editors falsely and repeatedly say that our book is published by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. And the back jacket is headed ‘The book the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Doesn’t Want You to read’. It goes on to claim ‘Never has the case against the Stratford man been made so clear and compelling’, describing itself as a ‘withering reply’ to shakespeareour book. Emphasis on the Trust is part and parcel of a slur campaign, repeating a technique common among the doubters, implying that those who defend Shakespeare’s authorship are influenced by mercenary considerations, fearful that if their case is accepted they will suffer financially. In fact our book is published by Cambridge University Press whose Syndics accepted our proposal after receiving reports from several independent and unidentified readers. Moreover almost all of our contributors, who include well over twenty distinguished English and American scholars, have no connection with the Trust.

The essays in the Waugh/Shahan volume rehearse arguments that will come as no surprise to anyone who is familiar with the ways in which the controversy has manifested itself, and it is endorsed by the usual supporters such as Sir Derek Jacobi, Mark Rylance, and other worthies including a ‘Clinical Professor of Psychiatry: Faculty Expert on Shakespeare for Media Contacts, Georgetown University, Washington D. C.’– how sad it is that great Shakespeare actors such as Rylance and Jacobi (who once supported Marlowe as the author but now roots for the Earl of Oxford) should be so ready to bite the hand that has fed them for so long!

The book repeats arguments made elsewhere such as that Shakespeare couldn’t have written the plays because on the evidence of the surviving signatures he had poor handwriting. If that is a valid argument, perhaps someone will soon dispute my authorship of the books I have written. Waugh in his essay repeats claims, which I dispute, that the plays show a detailed knowledge of Italian topography but doesn’t acknowledge that while there is no evidence that Shakespeare went to Italy, equally there is no evidence that he did not. Much, as so often, is made of the presence or absence of hyphens in printed forms of the author’s name. There is no systematic attempt to controvert the arguments for Shakespeare’s authorship which I advance in my essay in our book. As usual, there is an irrational refusal to accept posthumous evidence however strong it may be.

What a pity that the great comic novelist Evelyn Waugh is not in a position to comment on these two books! I should like to have been able to see what his satiric pen would have made of them.

Stanley Wells CBE is Emeritus Professor of Shakespeare Studies of the University of Birmingham, Honorary President of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, and the author of Shakespeare, Sex, and Love (OUP). He is also the co-editor (with Paul Edmondson) of Shakespeare Beyond Doubt (CUP) and contributes to the website Blogging Shakespeare.

412 Comments

  1. There’s another way of approaching this issue: read the plays and poems and see if Stratford-based exegeses hold water. They don’t. See, Hamlet Made Simple and Unreading Shakespeare, New English Review Press, 2013, 2015.

    • David as you wrote these books you might have had the courtesy to tell readers that this is the case. Actually, I have read the plays and the poems, some of them many times.

      • Well, it wouldn’t be the FIRST time an author touted his own books. Here, from PBS’s Frontline – The Shakespeare Mystery:

        Interviewer: Why do you suppose the doubts about William Shakespeare of Stratford being the true author have persisted all these years.

        A. L. Rowse: Well, nearly all the rot that’s spoken by people who don’t really–should shut up. I had a letter only a month or two ago from some silly woman who wanted to know, didn’t I think, Dr. Rowse, that William Shakespeare must have been a woman. And then shortly after I got another nonsense letter: didn’t I think that Elizabeth I–Queen Elizabeth–must have been a man. Why don’t they get on and the read the books that can really tell them what is absolutely straight–history.

        Interviewer: You own books?

        A.L. Rowse: My own books.

  2. It all has to begin with the 1623 First Folio, the plays written by Francis Bacon, the verses in the frontmatter
    contributed by Bacon’s great friend and scribe, Ben Jonson. The Stratford Broker wrote nothing, he died
    in 1616, the First Folio came off the presses in 1623, full of the greatest plays in European history, all
    written by Bacon, edited by Jonson. Bacon and Jonson had lived in a house in Twickenham for some years,
    that may have been the beginning of their literary relationship. When the lease on the Twickenham house
    ran out, Bacon and Jonson rowed across the Thames and took up residence in the Blackfriar’s Gatehouse
    for which the Queene (Bacon’s mother by her ONLY HUSBAND Sir Robert Dudley, the earl of Leicester,
    by the way, both Bacon and Oxford were the queen’s two sons, she used Bacon to punish Robert Dudley
    for making an irregular marriage to her younger and prettier cousin, Lettice Knowles. Sadly, Lettice
    gave birth to the Earl of Essex, who tried to rally the Londoners behind him to rush the gates of London,
    the Queen had only one choice, she sent Essex to the Tower and hence to the block.
    Well, those who realize that Bacon and Jonson’s 1623 First Folio plays have held up on stages all over
    the world, all these five centuries later must also realize that the illiterate Stratford Broker wrote nothing,
    he couldn’t even recognize his own name on the Montjoy documents, even though he had signed his
    name only a little earlier. And yes, Bacon and Oxford were, in fact brothers, the Queen had two sons,
    it was an open secret . . .

    neonprose@gmail.com

  3. Stanley Wells? What a coup!

  4. Alasdair Brown wrote:

    >>> Perhaps try: ‘To be or not to be’
    > Of course these are familiar. But when I hear these speeches delivered by exceptional actors, I find something new in them every time. You have simply copped out of what could have been a useful discussion.

    It seems you think you have something to say. So why not come out with it? My guess is that it’s either obviously wrong or utterly banal. You seem to regard Shake-speare as a one-dimensional being, to be placed at a point on a scale with ‘education’ at one end and ‘genius’ on the other. OK, it’s the Strat way of ‘thinking’ but it should not limit you so drastically.

    > But I’m not surprised because Oxfordians rarely want to look at text objectively and in detail.

    What’s the objective question? On what detail?

    > They are terrified of not finding you-know-who in it.

    You have a strange conception of authorship. Oxford was not going to make his own personal experience the subject of every single speech — e.g. his life in Italy, or his relationship with his wife (Anne Cecil) or that with his father-in-law (Burghley) although such matters will frequently intrude. Why the obsession about the ‘jealousy of husbands’ do you think? Why the concern with ‘reputation’ and with ‘loss of good name’ ?

    But here’s an objective question. Tell us how your candidate for the authorship managed to write Line 1 of Sonnet 125 which begins: “Were’t aught to me I bore the canopy . . ” Is the following a reasonable parallel (i.e. as an illustration of its sense): “Were it something to me I wore the Garter . . .”. If not (a) what is wrong with the parallel ? And (b) suggest a better one. If you think it is a reasonable parallel, how did the poet imagine that anyone could conceive of him either bearing the canopy over the Queen, or getting the Garter? And — even allowing that you might _somehow_ read in a subjunctive (which btw I don’t accept) — surely it would be a grievous insult to the noble person he was supposedly addressing (e.g. Southampton) who could well someday bear the canopy or get the Garter ?

  5. George. C’mon now. You can’t start defending The Oxfordian Fallacy from scratch for a third time on someone else’s site. At least not with that pusillanimous surname spelling nonsense.

    If you have questions for the author of ‘Canon fodder’ you can pose them right underneath the article.

  6. Why thank you, George.

    Would you like to see a real nail in the Oxfordian coffin? http://oxfraud.com/100-cannon

  7. Our work here would appear to be done Alasdair. Paul is one doing far more damage to his own case than we are.

    Exactly as Tom Reedy predicted he would at the start of the thread.

  8. Paul Crowley, look up dictionary definitions of ‘theory’ and you will find one of them always accommodates the Oxfordian position perfectly. Look up definitions of ‘cult’ and you will find the same thing. Shakespeare’s authorship is not a theory. It is a fact. You and you George can pour your dollops of bizarre gunk over the facts but you will always fail to disprove them.

    Nevertheless, you will carry on doing this until eventually Oxford joins Bacon in his oblivion and until another strange cultural zeitgeist in the future produces yet another peculiar candidate for authorship.

    Anyway, never mind all that. I have had quite enough of trading generalities with you.

    Instead, let’s have another go at testing some Oxfordian theory against the best evidence there is. Which is William’s Shakespeare’s writing. And see if you do any better this time.

    A currently popular Oxfordian mantra seems to be: ‘You can be born with genius but you can’t be born with learning’.

    But what do you actually think is the proportion of book learning in Shakespeare as opposed to the proportion of wholly original insight into human thought, emotion and behaviour? Is it really the former rather than the latter that you believe is Shakespeare’s chief characteristic?

    Try to put aside some prejudice that you can’t have one without the other and give us your thoughts about my question in relation to one of Hamlet’s soliloquies. Perhaps try: ‘To be or not to be’ or ‘How all occasions do inform against me’.

    Tell us what books Shakespeare needed to read in order to write them.

    We are, after all, in a discussion group called Interesting Literature.

  9. Thanks for sharing this insight here! Years ago, I had the distinct honor of being part of a class conducted by Prof. Wells over the course of a summer in Stratford-Upon-Avon through Roehampton Institute, and I have to say that the experience left me with a deep appreciation for the creations of the Bard and also for the world that nurtured and shaped him.

  10. Mr. Blomquist wrote: “for me, Nat, the terse, three word entry in the Holy Trinity church death register says it all: ‘Will Shakspere, gent.’”

    And so?

    Is “George Blomquist, Jr.” some sort of insult? Does “Junior” denote an intrinsic inferiority? Does “Gent”? (“They’re not like Us, you know.”) And you’re not even Us. Do you think that identifying with an earl upraises you above the common herd?

    “Will Shakspere, gent” was the poet’s legal name. After the Stratford Shakespeares–father and son–were granted arms in 1596, “Master,” “Mr.” or “Gent.” appears in all published (and most written) references to the playwright.

    The register records the fact of Shakespeare’s death. The praises were inscribed on his monument:

    IVDICIO PYLIUM, GENIO SOCRATEM, ARTE MARONEM,
    TERRA TEGIT, POPULUS MAERET, OLYMPUS HABET

    It doesn’t get much higher than that.

    The parish register of St. John’s at Hackney records the death of one “Edward de Veare Erle of Oxenford.” His legal name. But no one cared to raise a monument to Oxford: not his widow and children. Not William Herbert, nor any of those people you imagine knew his supposed “great secret.” Unlamented, Neddy No-Good* was buried in the churchyard. And in that—as in so many other things—his society observed rank. Worthies got a place within the church, the nearer to the altarstone, the better. The nobodies–the riff-raff, rabble, hoi polloi–got put outside in the churchyard for the cats to piddle on. Before the Reformation, an earl would have had a chantry built for him, and priests endowed to sing masses *in aeturnum*. In 1604, he would’ve at least had a monument, something modest like this:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/norfolkboy1/8376145574/in/pool-65944872@N00/lightbox/

    (You don’t put work like that out in the rain.)

    At the very least (you would have thought) they’d have given him a simple marker: “Dead! And never called me Author!”

    But no, this earl was buried in the glutted churchyard: where, in the course of time, his bones were shoveled up for the charnel house, to make room for newer nobodies.

    Nat

    *Oooh! Look, a hyphen!

    • And because (unlike Oxford) I care about Latin spelling, I correct my inadvertent typo: “in aeternum.”

      Nat

    • Nat

      Such an apt and eloquent closure to this thread.

      Alasdair

    • Dear Nat,

      No sarcasm was intended…just a personal observation (shared by many, many other people over the years) as to how odd an entry for a person who would have arguably been the most famous citizen in town, IF he had been the Great Writer. On the other hand, the entry, “Will Shakspere, gent” makes perfect sense in light of what the actual historical records DO reveal about the fellow – i.e., that, on several occasions he had attempted to acquire the title “Gentleman” for his father John (and by extension, himself) and eventually succeeded. Nothing wrong with that…but it has nothing to due with matters literary.

      The same can be said of Mr. Shakspere’s last will and testament…it’s plainly that of a businessman, completely devoid of anything of a literary nature. That strikes me (as it has many others over the years) as very odd, IF he had been the Great Author. However, when one studies the actual historical documents about the man’s various and sundry business ventures during his lifetime, the document makes perfect sense.

      As for the Latin inscription upon the Stratford monument…that too, has struck many as being rather odd, difficult to understand, and seemingly out of context – that is, IF the fellow had been the Great Writer.

      As you know, the English translation reads as follows: “The Judgement of Nestor, the genius of Socrates, the art of Virgil: the earth encloses, the people sorrow, Olympus possesses.”

      In his article, “The Stratford Bust: A Monumental Fraud”, Richard Whalen comments on the Latin inscription (and the ensuing six lines) in part, thusly:

      “The abstruse eight-line epitaph on the Stratford monument also argues against its having been erected to a writer. The epitaph never mentions poems, plays, or the theater. It opens with two lines in Latin referring to Nestor, Socrates, Virgil, and Olympus. But Nestor and Socrates were not writers. Virgil was much less important than Ovid for Shakespeare, and Mount Olympus should have been Mount Parnassus, home of the Muses and literature, since the lines are supposed to be for a writer.”

      Of course, these are merely three examples of the so-many things that makes one want to say, “Hmmmm” about the legend of Will Shakspere. I’ll see if I can bring some more puzzlers to your attention for your consideration in the coming days and weeks.

      But, for now, let’s agree to disagree.

      Peace!

      GB

      • GB, Jr.:

        This is a style of Oxfordian argument I call “Bees can’t fly.”

        We say: Look, it’s flying.

        You say: It can’t. The wings are too stubby. The body’s too heavy. The stripes are all wrong.

        We say: Look, we’ve had 38 pots of honey from this bee. With labels. We’ve made a study of what fields the flowers grew in. And we’re working on collaboration in the hive.

        You say: Our Dr. X has written an equation =proving= that bees are aerodynamically unsound. Without aristocratic tutelage in flapping, no insect can rise.

        Then you point to your pet grub.

        Nat

        • Actually, Ned, it’s more appropriate to describe this particular line of Oxfordian argument as, “There’s no there there”, as opposed to “Bees can’t fly”.

          But, to carry-on with you’re honey bee analogy, we’d say something along these lines: No one’s disputing honeybee Shakspere ever lived or worked very hard at producing honey during his lifetime; indeed, he retired as one of the wealthiest of honeybees in all of Stratford…that’s what the actual historical records show, after all. Unfortunately, the same historical records shed no light on honey bee Shakspere’s supposed literary career!

          Carry-on, good man!

          GB

  11. Dear Steve Evans,

    I admired your post . I found it intelligent and humane. The fact that you are also a novelist added credibility to what you had to say. You have opted out of this discussion and perhaps that is the sensible thing to do, even though you clearly think that Oxfordians sing loony tunes.

    I’m opting out too because I have work to do. But before I do, I want to say something to you.

    You made me feel guilty about patronizing Oxfordians. For about thirty seconds.

    I was an active member of an educational wing of the anti apartheid movement for over ten years. The reason I stayed in this ‘non-discussion’ as you call it is not just because I love Shakespeare and find nothing problematic about his background but because I feel exactly the same sense of repugnance towards Oxfordians as I felt towards that obnoxious South African regime.

    There’s the same meanness of spirit. The same depressing view of humanity. The same anti-democratic impulses. The same construction of fundamental human differences. The same smug sense of superiority. The same perception of a divinely sanctioned order of things. The same distortion of history. The same denial of human capability and potential.

    We’re not just talking about people who are bonkers or intellectually challenged. We are talking about people whose ideas are insidious, reactionary and dangerous.

    Steve, they seriously want their garbage taught in schools, for God’s sake.

    Have a look at a recent post on the Facebook Shakesvere group.

    It’s entitled: ‘When Genius and Privilege Collide’

    It’s followed by a fantasy of De Vere floating through ‘celestial realms of royal privilege’ and stroking ‘rare and valuable books’ in ‘his august library”

    Fatuous, purple prose perhaps, but I’m hearing those Nietzchean bells ringing rather too loudly there.

    Amongst the many enthusiastic comments that follow, the only cautionary note is that “there’s always the possibility that genius might randomly strike some bumpkin.”

    Please note the pseudo- reasonable tone which varnishes the virulent class-hatred.
    It reminded me so much of an argument I once had with an Afrikaaner businessman. “Look”, he said, “Maybe the black man can run our country one day. But before he draavs a car, he’s got to learn how to ride a bicycle.”

    Ultimately, the fact that that Oxfordians have a hopelessly muddled view of history and literature doesn’t matter to me. As you suggest though, it’s very sad that they can’t just read Shakespeare and allow him to inform a deeper understanding of the world.

    What does matter is the nastiness of the ideology that lurks behind every single word they say.

    Dear Steve Evans,

    I admired your post . I found it intelligent and humane. The fact that you are also a novelist added credibility to what you had to say. You have opted out of this discussion and perhaps that is the sensible thing to do, even though you clearly think that Oxfordians sing loony tunes.

    I’m opting out too because I have work to do. But before I do, I want to say something to you.

    You made me feel guilty about patronizing Oxfordians. For about thirty seconds.

    I was an active member of an educational wing of the anti apartheid movement for over ten years. The reason I stayed in this ‘non-discussion’ as you call it is not just because I love Shakespeare and find nothing problematic about his background but because I feel exactly the same sense of repugnance towards Oxfordians as I felt towards that obnoxious South African regime.

    There’s the same meanness of spirit. The same depressing view of humanity. The same anti-democratic impulses. The same construction of fundamental human differences. The same smug sense of superiority. The same perception of a divinely sanctioned order of things. The same distortion of history. The same denial of human capability and potential.

    We’re not just talking about people who are bonkers or intellectually challenged. We are talking about people whose ideas are insidious, reactionary and dangerous.

    Steve, they seriously want their garbage taught in schools, for God’s sake.

    Have a look at a recent post on the Facebook Shakesvere group.

    It’s entitled: ‘When Genius and Privilege Collide’

    It’s followed by a fantasy of De Vere floating through ‘celestial realms of royal privilege’ and stroking ‘rare and valuable books’ in ‘his august library”

    Fatuous, purple prose perhaps, but I’m hearing those Nietzchean bells ringing rather too loudly there.

    Amongst the many enthusiastic comments that follow, the only cautionary note is that “there’s always the possibility that genius might randomly strike some bumpkin.”

    Please note the pseudo- reasonable tone which varnishes the virulent class-hatred.
    It reminded me so much of an argument I once had with an Afrikaaner businessman. “Look”, he said, “Maybe the black man can run our country one day. But before he draavs a car, he’s got to learn how to ride a bicycle.”

    Ultimately, the fact that that Oxfordians have a hopelessly muddled view of history and literature doesn’t matter to me. As you suggest though, it’s very sad that they can’t just read Shakespeare and allow him to inform a deeper understanding of the world.

    What does matter is the nastiness of the ideology that lurks behind every single word they say.

    • Thank you, Alasdair. Well said.

      Nat

    • Gosh, Alasdair, do anti-Strats kick kittens, too?

      • I really couldn’t say Linda. But there’s some evidence that they kick dogs. Scroll back to Paul Crowley explaining Sonnet 125.

        • Oh, I thought they ate puppies live!

          • To be fair, that’s only when they run out of supplies and go but mad on a North- North -West expedition.

            • But you do agree that anti-Strats are slave masters who devour their young.

              • No. As long as they don’t catch their kids reading James Shapiro or googling Oxfraud.

              • Dear Linda,

                You’ll have to pardon Alasdair. The poor fella has been very grumpy of late – trying to defend the indefensible can be very fatiguing, you know! And his Aug. 14th diatribe against poor Steve Evans she may becoming unhinged…so tread lightly, my dear, give him some slack!

                By the way, have you noticed that in your exchanges with the dear lad you haven’t been discussing his hero Shakspere? Well, that’s the whole point, you see! It’s called “changing the subject”. Can’t say that I blame him, though…if I was dealt the hand the Strats have been dealt (i.e., Shakspere’s non-existent literary paper trail during his life time), I’d want to change the subject, too!

                And you can be comforted by what H.L. Mencken once observed: “Human beings never welcome the news that something they have long cherished is untrue. They almost always reply to the news by reviling its promulgator.” How true! How sad!

                GB

              • Linda,

                Sorry for my typo in my opening paragraph…the 3rd sentence should read: “And his August 14th diatribe against poor Steve Evans causes me to fear that he may becoming unhinged…”

                GB

                • No way was that a diatribe against Steve Evans, George. If you read his nice reply to me, it is perfectly clear that he didn’t think it was either.

                  • Dear Alasdair,

                    In reading your letter to Steve Evans, I do, indeed, need to apologize for describing it as a diatribe against Mr. Evans…but it was a diatribe, nonetheless, against folks who happen to disagree with you re. the authorship of Shakespeare. You’re better than that, lad. Deep down, I know there’s a kinder, gentler person there!

                    And may I tip my hat to you for your (no doubt) valiant, tireless efforts to help free So. Africa from the jaws of apartheid? I have no doubt there’s a place waiting for you (and Nelson Mandela!) in heaven – and I salute you, my friend!

                    It kind of reminds me of what Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Rings and jewels are but apologies for gifts. The only true gift is a portion of thyself.”

                    Take care, Alaisdair, and God Bless!

                    GB

    • Alasdair Brown wrote: “There’s the same meanness of spirit [among Oxfordians] . The same depressing view of humanity. The same anti-democratic impulses. The same construction of fundamental human differences. The same smug sense of superiority. The same perception of a divinely sanctioned order of things. The same distortion of history. The same denial of human capability and potential. We’re not just talking about people who are bonkers or intellectually challenged. We are talking about people whose ideas are insidious, reactionary and dangerous.”

      Oxfordians do accept that they cause a lot of distress, and everyone can see where Alasdair is coming from. His kind of emotions are inevitable when you are obliged to demonstrate that some hallowed, primordial belief has no basis in reality. It’s like telling a child that Santa Claus does not really exist, or that there are, in fact, no fairies at the bottom of the garden, or that storks don’t bring new-born babies. The same applies when you try to disabuse a firm believer in Genesis, or in the story of Noah and his Ark. How could such ancient, much-beloved and beautiful stories possibly be wrong?

      Strats have the comforting belief that almost anyone could become the greatest writer of all time. Perhaps you will wake up in the morning with the Great Bard’s gift for eloquence, and perhaps that day — in the morning before you have lunch — you will write a play as good as Romeo and Juliet. After all, if a yeoman, brought up by illiterates, with no training, no mentor, no access to a library, could do it, why shouldn’t you? All you need is pen and paper.

      Unfortunately, the real world is not like that, and such fantasies can be dangerous. In the real world, you have to have a lot of talent, and you have to work insanely hard — over years and decades — to produce anything of value.

      So, sorry Alasdair. Sometimes growing-up can be hard.

      • You’re right Paul and I am going to try really hard to grow up now. It’s only because I’d forgotten how Santa used to bring me a falcon every year. And how , every Christmas Day, that august aroma of scented gloves would thrill my bumpkin’s nose.

      • “After all, if a yeoman, brought up by illiterates, with no training, no mentor, no access to a library, could do it, why shouldn’t you? All you need is pen and paper.”

        Elizabethan playwrights, all of them, are an example to us all. (Unlike Elizabethan aristocrats)

        “Strats have the comforting belief that almost anyone could become the greatest writer of all time. . . .Unfortunately, the real world is not like that,”

        The real world, as we have seen almost daily since the introduction of free education and the trivium, is EXACTLY like that. Only people who seek to overvalue their own intelligence would ever argue with the fact that there are people who were born off the scale, with ability miles beyond all we sub-geniuses.

        Or to put it another way, ‘Talent instantly recognises genius. Mediocrity recognises nothing above itself’.

        Oxfordianism is a mediocre pastime for the terminally mediocre.

        • alfa at oxfraud.com wrote:

          > > “Strats have the comforting belief that almost anyone could become the greatest writer of all time. . . .Unfortunately, the real world is not like that,”

          > The real world, as we have seen almost daily since the introduction of free education and the trivium, is EXACTLY like that.

          So to elaborate the Stratfordian Theory of Literary Genius (SToLG): (a) In Elizabethan times only a tiny fraction of the population received good education. Today the number would be tens of thousands of times a multiple. Somehow I have not noticed tens of thousands of Shake-speare equivalents. Maybe I’ve just missed them.

          SToLG (b) might be that the first literate generation coming out of the ranks of the illiterate yeomanry had a special talent. But there are several problems with that. Firstly, there would still be tens of thousands of such cases. But what makes it worse is that it’s almost impossible to find any author in that generation, let alone a good one.

          So what is the dominant SToLG? In fact, there isn’t one. No one proposes any remotely plausible SToLG. It’s almost never discussed in the so-called literary journals. That’s because everyone knows that there is no likely solution. At some deep level everyone knows that the Stratfordian theory is nonsense, and that it’s pointless to attempt to fit it into any kind of sensible historical, literary, genetic or other framework.

  12. As we know, we have to be patient for the walls of Stratford to crumble and tumble down into the sea. I mean, for heaven’s sake, the RSC just spent more than a L150 million on renovating the theaters in Stratford. How much has Oxfordians spent on British theaters?

    Meanwhile, the RSC (apparently secretly) retains the elderly Dr. Stanley Wells to do battle with all Oxfordians. He, of course, does so covertly, and is most concerned with publishing houses and actors (who defect from behind the Iron Curtain). Actors who develop some kind of preternatural desire for knowing more about what they act, and can’t seem to find anything in the CV for the Stratford man.

    (Did you note the aristocratic aire throughout the film of “Much Ado” by Joss Whedon? – The actors learned all of that, of course – of course – from the traditional biography.)

    Oxfordians know they have the upper hand when it comes to the life and correspondence of de Vere and how it matches up to the plots and diction in the dramas and poems. But they certainly lack leadership in directing the flow of government funds and donations to Oxfordian projects in England. The RSC has a turnover of roughly L60 million, where as I noticed this June, Lord Pembroke (an Oxfordian), the 18th earl of Pembroke, donated approximately L3 million to the purchase of two Bugatti Veyrons. They will help Oxfordians attend any debate at 233 mph, with the tops off.

    • What you hear is the uproarious guffawing coming from the Oxfordian Shakespeare forums.

      • They’re so easy to amuse. Give them a piece of paper with ‘For conclusive evidence of Oxford’s authorship, turn over’ written on both sides and you can keep them entertained for hours.

        Authenticate Hand D and you”ll have nothing left but a pair of Stritmatter’s old socks in the bottom of the drier. Not matching, of course

      • All I hear is the sound of poor Professor Bruster sighing as he opens his emails.

        Mrs Bruster: What’s the matter dear?

        Prof Bruster: Just some guy Bill Bryson warned me about.

        Mrs Bruster: Does he want to burn our house down?

        Prof Bruster: No, Don’t worry. He thinks I’ve just proved some English Lord or other wrote Shakespeare.

        Mrs Bruster| Oh good! Cup of coffee dear?

      • Ankas,

        FYI, I’m putting my thoughts together re. the significance of Thomas Thorpe’s dedication to the 1609 edition of Shakespeare’s sonnets vis-a-vis the authorship debate, and hope to share them with you (and any other who may be interested) within the next few days. Please stay tuned.

        And remember:

        “Truth hath a quiet breast.” (Richard II, iii, 96)

        GB

      • Or, Ankaz, it may be all that flatulence emanating from the Strats’ lobby! [which is quite appropriate, since “flatulence” is secondarily defined as: “pretentious without real worth or substance.” (Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary)].

        Tally-Ho!

        GB

  13. If education was all that was required to produce Shakespeares, there would be more than one of them.

  14. very nice publish, i actually love this website, keep on it

  15. Authors in general will always have their critics. Many of the people who know me in my home town of Thronbury, Onatrio would prefer that a book I’m working on called “God’s Miracles For Him” http://osborne2029.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/gods-miracles-for-him/ never would be published. It will shine a light on how even our own police constable tried to pacify my schizo affective father by saying after he came when my mom had been beaten up, “Now, Jim, you need to be good. Promise me you’ll be good.”

    You are to be commended for standing up for your literary convictions. People can agree or disagree. That is their right. That is the priviledge we should all be thankful for. Let us never forget that in many countries where citizens are ruled by a despot or some self-serving and evil dictator, that they have no right to express their opinion about anything. To do so would mean their impisonment and maybe even their life.

    I encourage you to keep on writing, even when you have your critics. And let us all remember to be respectful even as we criticize. Let us treat those even whose opinions we disagree on the same way we would like to be treated ourselves. I enjoy debating, but not at the cost of being right for right’s sake.

    Keep up the writing that causes us to really think and listen with both our mind and heart.!

    Kevin

  16. Paul Crowley, why do you keep asking everyone if they know 13 year old boys? As it happens, I know two. One does nothing except play computer games. The other breeds terrapins and is learning Japanese for reasons completely unknown to his parents. Apart from demonstrating, like other members of your cult, that you want to fit all human activity , behaviour and experience over many hundreds of years into mental compartments you have already designed, what exactly is your point?

    • Alasdair Brown asks: ” Paul Crowley, why do you keep asking everyone if they know 13 year old boys? . . . what exactly is your point?

      My point is that IF the Stratman had attended school — and, in spite of the difficult financial straits his father was in from around the son’s 9th year, completed syllabus — his education would have finished at 13. Take a look at those 13 year-olds you know and imagine telling them “No more edycation for you, my lad — from now on you’ll be full-time in the tannery”. Then try to match this with your conception of the Great Bard.

  17. Pingback: Postscript as preface* | Steve Evans

  18. alfa@oxfraud.com wrote ” . . the chosen profession of a lot of other grammar school boys who got their learning in precisely the same way as Will got his. Some, like Greene (son of saddler), Marlowe (shoemaker), Jonson (parson then bricklayer), Ford (farmer), Marston (lawyer) and Dekker (???) clearly made even more of an effort than Will (glovemaker). You’ll find more erudition and a wider range of classical reference in their work. Others, Kyd (scrivener) , Beaumont (lawyer) , Fletcher (cleric), Middleton (bricklayer), Webster (coach maker) seem to have a similar educational hinterland to Will.

    Stratfordian lies. Nearly all are recorded at university or the Inns of Court. Grammar school was for boys between 7 and 13. It seems no Strat has ever met a 13-year-old boy — and especially not one from an illiterate family.

    > Some, like Greene (son of saddler),

    I doubt if ‘Greene’ existed (other than as a pseudonym). In any case ‘he claims to have attended Cambridge — indicating either family wealth or a scholarship.

    > Marlowe (shoemaker

    Marlowe has a scholarship to Cambridge. But his literary reputation is entrely posthumous. ” . . his father became a freeman of the Shoemakers’ Company; he progressed through a series of minor offices to become ‘searcher’ (inspector) of leather in 1581, and warden of the company in 1589. . .” (DNB)

    > Jonson (parson then bricklayer),

    The bricklayer has been plausibly identified as Robert Brett, a contractor of comfortable means who had risen to become master of the Tylers’ and Bricklayers’ Company by the time of his death on 29 August 1609 (DNB)

    > Ford (farmer),

    Ford, John (bap. 1586, d. 1639×53?), playwright, was baptized on 12 April 1586 at Ilsington, near Newton Abbot, Devon, the second son of Thomas Ford (d. 1610), a Devon landowner and justice of the peace. The Fords were a prosperous and well-established gentry family, and Ford’s mother was niece to Sir John Popham, lord chief justice under both Elizabeth and James (1592-1607); (DNB)

    > Marston (lawyer)

    Marston senior’s grant of arms (29 November 1587) describes him as ‘late of the Middle Temple … now of the city and county of Coventry’ although the family retained property in Wardington and Cropredy as well as acquiring a new house in Cross Cheaping, Coventry. By 1592 the Middle Temple records were listing Marston senior as ‘of Coventry’ and his son, who matriculated at Brasenose College, Oxford, in February 1592, described himself as a gentleman from Warwickshire. . . . As the son of a prosperous and prominent lawyer, Marston was expected to follow his father into the law . . . (DNB)

    > Kyd (scrivener)

    Kyd’s father achieved distinction as warden of the Company of Scriveners in 1580. Thomas entered Merchant Taylors’ School in 1565, and may have remained a pupil there under the noted educationist Richard Mulcaster until 1575. The school curriculum included Latin, French, and Italian, a good grounding for the future translator. (DNB)

    > Beaumont (lawyer)

    Beaumont, Francis (1584/5-1616), playwright, was the third son of Francis Beaumont (d. 1598), a judge of the court of common pleas . . His mother, Anne Pierrepoint (d. in or before 1598), came from a prominent recusant family of Holme Pierrepont, Nottinghamshire. Francis was born at the family seat in Grace Dieu, Leicestershire, where the Beaumonts had long been among the leading county families.(DNB)

    > Fletcher (cleric),

    Fletcher, John (1579-1625), playwright, was born on 20 December 1579 into a strongly protestant family in Rye, Sussex, the fourth of nine children of Richard Fletcher (1544/5-1596) and Elizabeth Holland (d. 1592). His grandfather, also a Richard Fletcher, was friend to the martyrologist John Foxe, and his father, then dean of Peterborough, attended the execution of Mary, queen of Scots, exhorting her to renounce her Catholicism; he later became bishop of London, (DNB)

    > Middleton (bricklayer),

    William Middleton . . coat of arms . . William was a fairly prosperous member of the Honourable Company of Tilers and Bricklayers.(DNB)

    > Webster (coach maker)

    John Webster the elder . . ran a thriving business, building and hiring out coaches and wagons. He also became a prominent member of the Guild of Merchant Taylors (DNB)

    • As I said higher up, your Oxfordian case depends on a misunderstanding of the role of aristocracy in English society, a profound misunderstanding of Elizabethan education and social mobility and an inability to recognise the fact that Elizabethan professional dramatists were part of a homogenous and coherent social group.

      I’m not quite sure why you have amplified my point.

      • alfa at oxfraud.com writes: I’m not quite sure why you have amplified my point.

        Stratfordian lies. Nearly all are recorded at university or the Inns of Court. Grammar school was for boys between 7 and 13. It seems no Strat has ever met a 13-year-old boy — and especially not one from an illiterate family.

        • I actually was a 13 year old Grammar schoolboy. At one of the grammar schools listed above. So I knew plenty of 13 year old grammar schoolboys.

          Elizabethan professional playwrights, almost to a man, were grammar schoolboys, even if some then went on to university, as many did. Training for the law was just the day job they didn’t give up until they were successful. ‘Grammar schoolboy’ has no pejorative sense in modern English. It is synonymous with hard-working, enterprising, self-motivated, upwardly mobile. The latter may have given it a pejorative overtone in ‘The Jewel in the Crown’ but for 800 years, grammar schoolboys and latterly grammar schoolgirls, have been climbers and strivers in English society.

          De Vere came from somewhere else. A background of privilege and entitlement. He was a waster, not a thriver. He was no more capable of applying himself to the profession of playwright than he was to anything else in his useless and empty life.

          He couldn’t manage his own affairs, he couldn’t manage the only public office with which he was ever entrusted and he couldn’t secure himself a place at court after falling from grace, despite being the son-in-law and protégé of the most powerful man in England.

          He could no more have written the plays of Shakespeare than have climbed Everest or flown to the moon.

          No creative pedigree. No creative talent. No creative work worthy of the name.

          A creative nobody.

          Unworthy of notice in an age of creative genius.

          • Alfa at_ oxfraud.com writes: “I actually was a 13 year old Grammar schoolboy. . . . So I knew plenty of 13 year old grammar schoolboys”

            I doubt if you knew many (or any) who LEFT school at 13. The life-time academic progress of such was rarely other than minimal.

            > ‘Grammar schoolboy’ has no pejorative sense in modern English. It is synonymous with hard-working, enterprising, self-motivated, upwardly mobile.

            Any American readers are unlikely to get the undertones. A ‘grammar-school boy’ was invariably a university graduate who had _not_ been to public (i.e. fee-paying) school, e.g. Eton. Harrow, Winchester, St. Paul’s, Westminster. Oxbridge and then the professions (doctors, lawyers, university professors, army officers, bankers, upper-civil-servants) and the like, accepted ‘grammar-school boys’ when they had to — when they had no reasonable public-school candidate. Such institutions and occupations were filled by public-school boys. The pattern still thrives. Look at the current British Cabinet — stuffed with Old Etonians. ‘Grammar-school’ boys are still the exception in many circles.

            > The latter may have given it a pejorative overtone in ‘The Jewel in the Crown’ but for 800 years, grammar schoolboys and latterly grammar schoolgirls, have been climbers and strivers in English society.

            Mr Alfa Shag-fraud misses the point. The grammar-school boys who made it did so (almost invariably) because they went to university and _changed_their_class_. They learned to speak in different accents and use longer words. They picked up all manner of social customs which allowed them to pass as ‘gentlemen’. THAT was the principal function — to them — of university. Whereas the Stratman never went through that process. He would never have been able to pass as ‘a gentleman’. He would never have learned how to use long words, or speak in educated accents, or hold an intelligent conversation with an educated person. He would never have learned to understand history, or politics, or a foreign language, or the arts. The very idea that he could have been a poet / playwright is a joke — as was quite specifically intended from the moment he was picked to be a kind of nominal ‘front-man’,

            > De Vere . . . couldn’t manage his own affairs, he couldn’t manage the only public office with which he was ever entrusted and he couldn’t secure himself a place at court after falling from grace, despite being the son-in-law and protégé of the most powerful man in England.

            The last point is mistaken, since he was the 17th Earl of the most ancient noble lineage, and (like everyone else at the time) would have regarded Burghley as inferior in almost every respect (as we also see in ‘Hamlet’). But otherwise, what’s the problem? Have great artists (and especially great writers) been known for their sense of order and their diligence in practical affairs? Have they treated their wives and families with consideration? Would Burghley have given a job to James Joyce, or Evelyn Waugh, or Dylan Thomas or Lord Byron?

            • We keep having to remind you that your social history is completely inadequate for the subject. Just the day before yesterday you were arguing that England didn’t change between 1450 and 1750. By the time Will left school, the number of hours he had spent at KE6 would have been significantly greater than a modern grammar school boy’s total, leaving at 18.

              Grammar School was enough for Shakespeare and Jonson, the two greatest playwrights of the age, to use as many large words as they liked. Like every other Elizabethan grammar school boy. Like every other commoner. And of course ‘Stratman’ not only passed as a gentleman, he confirmed his title, was recognised as such by his contemporaries and got a Coat of Arms past the College of Heralds.

              For half his life, Oxford was on his knees to at least one of the Cecils. Yet he had neither the wit, charm, nor brains to get them to re-establish his place at court.

              Great writers exhibit greatness in their writing. Oxford exhibits incompetence absolutely everywhere you look.

              As I said higher up, your Oxfordian case depends on a misunderstanding of the role of aristocracy in English society, a profound misunderstanding of Elizabethan education and social mobility and an inability to recognise the fact that Elizabethan professional dramatists were part of a homogenous and coherent social group.

          • Alfa at_ oxfraud.com writes: “I actually was a 13 year old Grammar schoolboy. . . . So I knew plenty of 13 year old grammar schoolboys”

            I doubt if you knew many (or any) who LEFT school at 13. The life-time academic progress of such was rarely other than minimal.

            > ‘Grammar schoolboy’ has no pejorative sense in modern English. It is synonymous with hard-working, enterprising, self-motivated, upwardly mobile.

            Any American readers are unlikely to get the undertones. A ‘grammar-school boy’ was invariably a university graduate who had _not_ been to public (i.e. fee-paying) school, e.g. Eton. Harrow, Winchester, St. Paul’s, Westminster. Oxbridge and then the professions (doctors, lawyers, university professors, army officers, bankers, upper-civil-servants) and the like, accepted ‘grammar-school boys’ when they had to — when they had no reasonable public-school candidate. Such institutions and occupations were filled by public-school boys. The pattern still thrives. Look at the current British Cabinet — stuffed with Old Etonians. ‘Grammar-school’ boys are still the exception in many circles.

            > The latter may have given it a pejorative overtone in ‘The Jewel in the Crown’ but for 800 years, grammar schoolboys and latterly grammar schoolgirls, have been climbers and strivers in English society.

            Mr Alfa Shag-fraud misses the point. The grammar-school boys who made it did so (almost invariably) because they went to university and _changed_their_class_. They learned to speak in different accents and use longer words. They picked up all manner of social customs which allowed them to pass as ‘gentlemen’. THAT was the principal function — to them — of university. Whereas the Stratman never went through that process. He would never have been able to pass as ‘a gentleman’. He would never have learned how to use long words, or speak in educated accents, or hold an intelligent conversation with an educated person. He would never have learned to understand history, or politics, or a foreign language, or the arts. The very idea that he could have been a poet / playwright is a joke — as was quite specifically intended from the moment he was picked to be a kind of nominal ‘front-man’,

            • Paul: Harold Pinter. Son of a tailor. Went to a grammar school in Hackney. Good at sport- cricket not falconry. Went to Drama School. Dropped out. Became an actor . Then became a playwright. Won the Nobel Prize for Literature. I rest my case.

        • Has it occurred to you that a low school leaving age was influenced by the fact that the average life expectancy in Shakespeare’s time was around 35 mainly because of plague, smallpox , syphilis, typhus and malaria? And that perceptions of how long pupils should stay at school might have been influenced by this ?

  19. Mr. Crowley:

    May I commend to you the Scriptorium online course on English paleography?

    Here’s a nice Elizabethan page from an *immaculately* aristocratic source: an earl’s letter to his son. Don’t worry! I’ve chosen one of the easier secretary hands for you to decipher. Can you tell us what it says?

    http://scriptorium.english.cam.ac.uk/handwriting/course/lesson.php?lesson=10&img=gc200-21#

    If you have a good eye and you’re diligent, you can work your way up to passages like those in lessons 16 or 27.

  20. Mr. Crowley:

    May I commend to you the Scriptorium online course on English paleography?

    Here are some nice Elizabethan examples for you from immaculately aristocratic sources. Don’t worry! I’ve chosen some of the easier ones for you. Can you tell us what these passages say?:

    http://scriptorium.english.cam.ac.uk/handwriting/course/test.php?lesson=10

    http://scriptorium.english.cam.ac.uk/handwriting/course/test.php?lesson=16

    If you have a good eye and you’re diligent, you can work your way up to passages like this:

    http://scriptorium.english.cam.ac.uk/handwriting/course/test.php?lesson=27

  21. Is that you throwing in the towel??

  22. It do not believe Dr. Wells was being honest about his recent compilation. He scratched just the extreme fringe of Oxfordian research. However, to be sure, it did raise enough alarm for him to personally help dissuade scholars from any further research. No one should blame him for ignoring the stronger facets of the research which could fill all of Portia’s villa right up to its fresco ceilings with an endless series of books – “Shakespeare Beyond Doubt II,” “Shakespeare Beyond Doubt III,” etc.

    The undeniable success of Oxfordian research comes from a different perspective entirely about another Stratford man, whom Oxfordians call ‘Shaksper’ (the world calls him “William Shakespeare”) because they find he had poor parochial acumen, he lacked a single realistic motive and staying power to entertain Elizabeth’s courtiers for at least a decade, he lacked personal freedom and access to tour the great cities and palaces of Italy, for at least as long enough in duration it took for the composition of one third of the great dramas, plus the extra slow delivery time for each back to Elizabeth’s court.

    In fact, over the past four centuries, scholarship failed to place the Stratford man anywhere near Italy. But, in 1949, the great Stratfordian scholar Ernesto Grillo proved “Shakespeare” had intimate knowledge with Italy’s geography, classics, and sociology. He declared that Shakespeare’s Italian dramas provided more detailed insights translated into English (and into new English) than any other great poet that lived in Italy from the past and modern eras.

    (Note: there’s more room for books in Prospero’s spacious cave.)

    • The fruits of Oxfordian ‘research’ culminated in the film Anonymous.

      It was all catastrophic, anti-historical, warped, deluded nonsense. People laughed out loud at De Vere, twirling an actual red and white Tudor rose, claiming all art was political.

      If Oxfordianism is not quite toast yet, it very soon will be.

      • Not QUITE toast yet Alfa? I’ve been smelling it burning since this thread began.

        Highlights for me, in ascending order of ludicrousness, have been:

        Greg Koch and his Leninist sonnet.

        Ed Boswell’s assertion that De Vere must have written the plays because he had private secretaries and Shakespeare didn’t.

        Paul Crowley and his grotesque attempts to grapple with English grammar.

        And, best of all, the imperious entrance of the cult leader himself declaring all such confusion to be a victory for Oxfordians.

        • I particularly enjoyed the implication that looking at what the sonnets actually say is not a valid method of working out what they mean.

          Have a go at our collective noun competition – http://oxfraud.com/collective-poll

          • Well, since Nat introduced the idea of Oxford Barbie dolls, I’ve been thinking about the possibility of marketing Oxford inflatable dolls. I envisage two slightly different models- one for guys and one for gals, with appropriately tweaked design features.

            Thinking along those lines and incorporating certain aspects of Oxfordianism, here is my entry for your competition:

            A bouncy castle of Oxfordians.

            I thought of a coffin of Oxfordians but there is more air in a bouncy castle.

  23. The Tea Party’s dream High School curriculum: The life of Edward De Vere; Creationism; Falconry ; the stupidity of gun laws. And gardening.

  24. I love the way Ankaz includes hawking in the same list as astronomy. Just how high did De Vere get those hawks to fly?

  25. I meant of course PAUL. I was thinking about how Nat and Alfa had also made heroic efforts at enlightening Paul. So sorry Nat.

  26. Dear Nat,
    I have already wasted a great deal of time trying to explain a very basic point of English grammar to you.I also tried to help you by providing a complete paraphrase of sonnet 125. Like DeVere’s tutor, I have concluded that there is no more I can do for you.

    If you now require me to give you a lesson in how to present logical argument in a coherent and structured way, then I require a very large cheque in advance.

    In the meantime, I hope you will write to Alfa and Greer thanking them for free History tuition.

  27. Yes, Stratford Grammar offered courses in astronomy, astrology, contemporary French and Italian, ancient history, ancient Roman philosophers and Greek dramatists, law, gardening, rhetoric, music, hawking, etc., etc. And Willie was valedictorian of his class.

    • Ankaz: At the heart of the Oxfordian Fallacy lies a failure of learning, a failure of understanding and above all, a failure of imagination. Characterising Elizabethan education in terms of the modern American High School helpfully underlines exactly what is being misunderstood.

      Demonstrating a sufficient knowledge of how Elizabethan society behaved, its interests, concerns, pastimes and its colourful personalities was part of Will’s job. His chosen profession. He took it seriously, he worked at it. He was damn good at it. It was also the chosen profession of a lot of other grammar school boys who got their learning in precisely the same way as Will got his. Some, like Greene (son of saddler), Marlowe (shoemaker), Jonson (parson then bricklayer), Ford (farmer), Marston (lawyer) and Dekker (???) clearly made even more of an effort than Will (glovemaker). You’ll find more erudition and a wider range of classical reference in their work. Others, Kyd (scrivener) , Beaumont (lawyer) , Fletcher (cleric), Middleton (bricklayer), Webster (coach maker) seem to have a similar educational hinterland to Will.

      None of them are what you would call deficient in knowledge about anything on your list.

      Given that Oxfordianism prefers to make patterns out of suggestive coincidence rather than tackle evidence, it’s astonishing that Oxfordians cannot see what Elizabethan and Jacobean dramatists all have in common.

      They weren’t courtiers, they weren’t aristocrats and they weren’t privately educated.

      Grammar School boys, in fact. Pretty much to a man.

      • “His chosen profession.”
        No Oxfordian has argued here, or I daresay on any other forum, the impossibility of a commoner becoming a great writer, but what is the probability of this particular merchant’s son (from a backwater town, presumably with only a grammar school education, whose daughters were illiterate, whose only documented dealings were financial) rising to the level of Great Author? This of all Stratfordian contentions is the most ludicrous, and most cogently so, when contrasted to the vast amount of evidence which connects Oxford’s superb education to the subject matter, style and allusions of the plays and poems. You would have us believe that young Willie made a conscious decision to become “a writer” at a time when there was no such vocation, and no such option afforded a commoner expected to carry on the family business. Yes, all of the writers you mentioned (most of whom btw, were the recipients of college degrees) attained some level of literary fame, but when attempting to support your point you put them on a par with Shakespeare – because doing so suits your purpose. You fall back on that same lame argument which purports that any ol’ grammar school boy of the era exhibited an equal or superior facility in any given facet of their writing. Well, which is it? Was Willie just one of a number of small-town-boys-made-good? Or was he a Genius, sprung full-form from the dung heap before his daddy’s house on Henley Street?

        • “No Oxfordian has argued here, or I daresay on any other forum, the impossibility of a commoner becoming a great writer,” Don’t be silly, it’s your core thesis. The fact that you centre your arguments on just one playwright doesn’t make them any less ridiculous. It just heightens your inconsistency.

          What if I told you that far from being stratospheric, the odds were only evens? Or less? In fact, the odds of any professional Elizabethan playwright being a belted Earl are VASTLY higher than the odds of him being a grammar school boy.

          What if I told your all the claims and assumptions in your post are false? That there is no evidence that Oxford had a superb education – didn’t for example, go to university apart from four months when he was eight. That the majority of playwrights in my list are not graduates. That the collection of allusions, style and subject matter you refer to point not to an Earl’s but to a commoner’s knowledge of the court, the law and Elizabethan society. I’ve never seen an Oxfordian, for example, try to distinguish between Will’s representation of life at court and Marlowe’s, or Fletcher’s or Webster’s. The evidence you cite for Oxford’s connection to the plays isn’t evidence at all but a collection of illusions and delusions.

          What if I were to point out that you and many other Oxfordians repeatedly and wilfully misunderstand the point about grammar school education and its relationship to Elizabethan entrepreneurs, impresarios, actors and playwrights?

          And point out that your interpretation “fall back on that same lame argument which purports that any ol’ grammar school boy of the era exhibited an equal or superior facility in any given facet of their writing. ” is a very, very, very, very silly misrepresentation of an obvious fact? That Elizabethan dramatists came from the middle classes, not the aristocracy.

          Will was, of course, an unparalleled genius. His work proves it.

          His colleagues and rivals came from the same background. They could write plays, some just as popular as Will’s. Together, they invented the professional theatre, pretty much as we know it today, pretty much unassisted by the aristocracy.

          They just didn’t have his facility with words. But then no one did.

          Certainly not Fast Eddie from Essex. He was a mediocre, forgettable versifier. His work proves it. Will wouldn’t have paid Oxford to write his handbills.

          • Your Sisyphusarbeit is laughable. Carry on….

            • Is that you throwing in the towel???

              • [Cue the brushes on snare drum…]

                Hi there. Nice to be with you. Glad you could stick around. Like to introduce The Grammar School Boys…

                Robert `Saddle-sore’ Green (BA, MA Cambridge; MA Oxford), drums…
                And Kit Marlowe (BA Corpus Christi College, Cambridge), rhythm pole…
                And Ben Jonson (Westminster School under Wm. Camden), bass guitar…
                And Thomas Dekker, piano…
                Come in John Ford (Exeter College, Oxford; Middle Temple) on the saxophone…
                With John Marston (BA Brasenose College, Oxford; Middle Temple), on tenor sax…
                I, A. L. Rowse, on the kazoo…
                Big hello to Thomas Kyd (Merchant Taylors School), xylophone…
                And Francis Beaumont (Pembroke College, Oxford; Inner Temple), guitar…
                John Fletcher (Corpus Christi College, Cambridge), spoons…
                And looking very relaxed, Thomas Middleton (Queens’ College, Oxford) on vibes. Nice!
                Princess Anka on sousaphone. Mmmmm…
                And specially flown in for us, John Webster (Merchant Taylors School; Middle Temple) on vox humana…
                Over there, Eric Clapton, ukulele. Hi, Eric!
                On my left Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (Queens’ & St John’s Colleges, Cambridge) on euphonium…
                A great honor, Sir!
                Drop out with Alfa Oxfraud on duck call…

                • Bouncer, throw that De Vere fellow out into the street. He got sent down from Queens for breaking windows after five months. He’s an impostor. He’s like the rest of the aristocracy. Rich and thick.

                  And you’ll see better verse than his on the lavatory walls.

                  You and Paul both seem determined to prove my point. The playwrights have a playwright’s background. De Vere sticks out like a sore middle finger.

                  • Eric Clapton is a genius and he didn’t go to University. What’s he doing there? Is Ankaz a closet Strat inserting a hidden message about Will?

                    • The word “genius” (like “icon” or “rock star”) is overused, diluting the essence of its meaning. Was Shakespeare on a par with Mozart…. or Eric Clapton? By equalizing its application willie-nillie [sic] you stray from the Stratfordian tenet that, for lack of proof of a higher education, the works are a product of Genius.

                • Ankaz, we musn’t forget to include the VOCALS in our extravaganza!

                  “The Thomas Writers’ Trio” (Doo-Wop):

                  Tom Nashe (Cambridge, B.A.)
                  Tom Lodge (Merchant Taylors’, Oxford, Lincoln’s Inn)
                  Tom Watson (English College, Douai)

                  “The Scriveners’ Barber Shop Quinet”:

                  Philip Massinger (St. Alban’s Hall, Oxford)
                  Gabriel Harvey (Cambridge)
                  Samuel Daniels Magdalen Hall, Oxford)
                  George Peele (Oxford)
                  Bill Drummond (Edinburgh University)

                  Finally, we’ve got Will (I’m a Genius) Shakspere lip-synching “Nowhere Man”!

                  Hey, is that Steady Eddy de Vere I see coming back in, looking none-the-worse for wear? What’s that you say? The bouncer had run into his sword??? Oh, my!
                  GB

                  • GB, you’re a genius. Wait. Check that… ;-)

                  • Serendipity…

                    I just read a lengthy review of Robin Fox’s book, Shakespeare’s Education: Schools, Lawsuits, Theater and the Tudor Miracle, in which the reviewer quotes the author:

                    “…it is depressing how anxious defenders of the orthodox position are to belittle Shakespeare: to claim on the one had his transcendent genius and in the next breath deny him any achievements of learning and travel if these suggest a noble background. All to preserve the image of jolly and genial, never-left-merry-England, simple country-grammar-school-boy and journeyman playwright Will from Warwickshire. The less cultivated, knowledgeable and traveled he is, the better their case.”

                    • Yeah, Ankaz, the Strats do have tall order, ’cause historically speaking, they don’t have much to work with re. their hero (at least literature-wise).

                      Mark Twain (God bless’m), pointedly observed that the formation of the Shakspere legend could be likened to…”the very way Professor Osborn and I built the colossal skeleton brontosaur that stands fifty – seven feet long and sixteen feet high in the Natural History Museum…We had nine bones and we built the rest of him out of plaster of paris. We ran short of plaster of paris, or we’d have built a brontosaur that could sit down beside the Stratford Shakespeare and none but an expert could tell which was biggest or contained the most plaster.” (from, chapter IV, “Is Shakespeare Dead? From My Autobiography”, by Mark Twain, 1909).

                      To put it another way, the Stratfordians’ unyielding support for their man, Will Shakspere, is more a matter of FAITH than FACT. They don’t call it “Bardolatry” for nothing, you know!

                      So I suppose we must be resigned to the fact that they BELIEEEEVE and will not be swayed, no matter how reasonable and logical the case for de Vere may be.

                      For me though, I intend to continue engaging the Strats, for, being a man of faith myself, I believe miracles can happen!

                      Be getting back to you soon, Ankaz, and remember:

                      “Vero Nehil Verius” (Nothing is Truer than Truth – the de Vere Family motto)

                      GB

                    • Is that the book that recommends that Oxfordians downplay Oxford’s education?

                  • The longer you make the list, the more apparent it becomes that De Vere does not belong on it.

                    Not a single arisotcrat anywhere. Adding university wits doesn’t help your cause, either. De Vere did no go to university – you don’t get honorary degrees from an institution in which you have worked for one – his degrees are merely decorative. His tutor quit when he was 13 saying he’d done all he could for him. From this point on, De Vere was obsessed with necromancy, tilting, travel and seeing how far he could outspend his allowance. He never mentioned poetry or the arts in his letters, he never wrote a love poem and Gabriel Harvey told him to ‘put away his feeble pen’.

                    And he seems to have obliged.

                    • Alfa, my friend, the point Ankaz & I are making (as if you didn’t know, you coy dog, you!) is about your hero, Mr. Shakspere, not Edward de Vere – the length and breadth of his education after all, is beyond question (except in the world of the see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, and speak-no-evil world of Stratfordian “True Believers”).

                      Alas, the historical cupboard is bare re. Mr. Shakspere’s education – as you well know…and so, you’re reduced to “coulda-woulda-shoulda” speculation…but, as I said to Ankaz yesterday, it’s difficult to carry-on a rational conversation with those who belieeeeve, but, I’m certainly willing to give it a go!

                      Best regards,

                      GB

                • Ankaz There is no ‘red’ reply word on your post about ‘genius’ so I am replying to your post here. I completely agree with you that the word is overused. In fact, I think the word ‘genius’ is almost meaningless and I’m not sure what it’s ‘essence’ is in relation to Shakespeare. Are you? I was just using it as a lazy hyperbole for saying Clapton is the greatest rock guitarist I ever heard. And that is just an opinion. I wish people would stop using ‘genius’ in connection with Shakespeare. If the word didn’t exist we could have a sharper discussion about his writing and the authorship question probably wouldn’t exist.

                  • Alasdair: ” I wish people would stop using ‘genius’ in connection with Shakespeare.”

                    What? And disavow the all-encompassing orthodox explanation for the disconnect between the canon and Willie’s life? Looks like the genius gambit has been a total failure, doesn’t it?

                    I doubt that your “grammar school boy” tactic will work either.

                    FAIL x 2.

                    • Sorry, ankaz?

                      We have a list of Elizabethan playwrights. They are all commoners. They are all grammar schoolboys, even the ones who went to university and did a bit of time at Gray’s Inn. They were all professional writers, part of the entirely new professional theatre class.

                      Your boy Oxford strikes out on all counts.

                      Add in the fact that his writing is mostly atrocious and the fact that he is a complete stranger to metaphor, conceit, compression and blank verse and you have a titanic profile mismatch. It’s like claiming Enid Blyton wrote the works of F Scott Fitzgerald. It wipes him out completely, before you even get to stylometry.

                      Which bit aren’t you clear about?

                    • I don’t see any disconnect between Shakespeare’s plays and his life. You are trying to impose on Stratfordians an argument that they simply don’t make. If we have been saying any one thing it is that there is a perfectly logical and reasonable connection between the two.

                      I DON’T use the misty concept of genius to make a connection. Einstein said: “I have no special talent- only a passionate curiosity’ Michaelangelo: ‘If people saw how much work went into it, they wouldn’t call it genius” . I think more on those lines.

                      I would have been more interested in getting a serious answer to my genuine question about the essence of Shakespeare’s ‘genius’ .

                  • Alasdair: “I don’t see any disconnect between Shakespeare’s plays and his life.”

                    No disconnect? Let’s attempt a connect then…

                    Just a few coincidences in Oxford’s life and Hamlet:

                    Gertrude : Queen of Denmark & Hamlet’s mother : : Elizabeth : Queen of England & Oxford’s guardian
                    Polonius : Gertrude’s advisor : : Cecil : Elizabeth’s advisor
                    Ophelia : Polonius’ daughter engaged to Hamlet : : Anne : Cecil’s daughter engaged to Oxford
                    Laertes : Ophelia’s brother who goes off to Paris and is admonished by Polonius in his precepts : : Thomas Cecil : Anne’s brother who goes off to Paris and is admonished by Cecil in his precepts
                    Horatio : Hamlet’s best friend : : Horace Vere : Oxford’s favorite cousin
                    Francisco : soldier : : Francis Vere : soldier, Oxford’s cousin
                    Claudius : killed Hamlet’s father : : Robert Dudley : suspected of killing Oxford’s father

                    Coincidences in the life of Willie Shakspeare and Hamlet:

                    The name Hamlet is similar to Hamnet, Willie’s son.
                    Jane Shaxspere, who lived 20 miles from Willie in 1569, drowned à la Ophelia when she fell into the River Salwarpe picking flowers. Amazing coincidence.

                    There you have it.

                    • Anklebiter–

                      That’s an argument? Really?

                      Bones are white and this stick is white, and ooh! I found a bone?

                      This stuff has been demolished to its atoms twenty thousand times. Yet you still keep running up to the scientists, brandishing your stick, and shouting, “Look! I found a dinosaur! I win!”

                    • ‘There you have it’.

                      Oh no I haven’t, Anklebiter .

                      What about Rosencrantz and Guildenstern , the Gravediggers, the Ghost, Fortinbras , Osric the Players and the Liberal Shepherds? You have to do them all.

                      And what about ‘Absent thee from Felicity awhile’. Which De Vere was Felicity?

                      And ‘Now might I do it, Pat’. Who was Pat? Was that the Dublin De Veres or the Connemara De Veres?

                    • Ankaz, girl, you’re just spinning your wheels trying to reason with those poor souls…

                      Why, if an elephant came a-hoofing into the room and you said, “Hey, Guys! Look! An Elephant!”, They’d simply reply, “No, that’s not an elephant…it’s just a mouse with a gland problem!”

                      Oh well, such is life.

                      By the way, correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s my understanding that Edward de Vere – being a noble Ward of the Crown at age 12, and living under the auspices of the Queen’s right hand man, William Cecil – would have received a top-notch education, both in terms of its breadth and depth (and so readily apparent in the works of Shakespeare) with the private tutors Cecil would have afforded him. And didn’t Cecil have one of the largest and most entensive private libraries in all of Europe, which de Vere would have had direct access to for his studies and research?

                      Oh, if only the Strats could even come close to saying the same about their guy! But they can’t, so they trash de Vere, instead.
                      It’s an old debating tactic, actually – just a variation of ad hominem, that’s all…pretty transparent, too!

                      The Strats’ blindness toward the obvious really can’t be helped once you realize that it’s only human nature at work here. They’re stuck, entrapped in the maw of Conventional Wisdom (CW)…

                      Leo Tolstoy’s words come to mind: “Most men can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, have proudly taught to others, and have woven thread by thread into the fabric of their lives.”

                      So, Ankaz, don’t take it personally…they just can’t help themselves!

                      GB

                    • Just a few of the herd of elephants in ankaz’s room.

                      Polonius was the advisor of Hamlet senior and Claudius and not Gertrude’s adviser. Gertrude was the consort of two Kings with one son, first in line to the throne. Elizabeth was an absolute monarch with more than 200 wards in her lifetime, none of whom were in line for anything. Polonius’ daughter was not engaged to Hamlet. Ann Cecil was married, extremely unhappily, to Oxford. Polonius’ advice to his son is delivered in 21 unforgettable lines. Cecil’s precepts cover different ground and go on forever. Both contain more or less the same advice every father gives a departing son. Oxford’s father died of natural causes.

                      What are you left with? A couple of similar sounding names.

                      Another Oxfordian mirage.

                      Less than nothing.

                    • GB,

                      I’ll bow out from the ring gracefully now since I must tend to other, more important Oxfordian matters. ;-) I’ll leave the Nat and Alasdair tag team to wrestle more formidable opponents, in the hope that their trainer Alfa-Fraud is still willing to sop up the blood they leave behind on the mat in their futile attempt to best our roster of Oxfordians.

                      eVer,
                      Anka

                    • Dear Ankaz,

                      Hope you don’t mind if I share some serious Oxfordian matters with you at this site in the coming days? Please advise.

                      And as for the guys from the other side, well, you have to understand that they’re scurrying-about, re-arranging the deck chairs on the slowly-but-surely sinking HMS Shakspere…they’re in panic mode, incapable of logical, reasoned thought – their emperor has no clothes and they know it!

                      Take comfort, then, in the old adage, “Where ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise.” Ain’t it the truth?

                      Let’s keep in touch, dear lady!

                      GB

                    • Mr. Blomquist:

                      First lessons in the subjunctive mood and now the conditional!

                      De Vere =might have= received a superb education in Cecil’s household, =if= he had had the intelligence and discipline to benefit by it. He had neither. In reality, his last tutor quit when C+ Augustus was 13, saying he’d done all he could for him. Nothing in the man’s letters or poetry reveals the faintest intellectual curiosity or power.

                      You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

                    • Dear Nat,

                      Funny you should bring up the topic of subjunctive and conditional moods…I can also understand it, too, because the typical orthodox biography is riddled with such – especially re. your hero’s supposed LITERARY career…so, you folks are certainly the undisputed experts in the use of the “subjunctive” and “conditional” moods (not to mention the “grumpy” mood)!

                      As Mark Twain put it:

                      “The historians ‘suppose’ that Shakespeare attended Free School in Stratford from the time he was seven years old till he was thirteen. There is no ‘evidence’ that he ever went to school at all.

                      The historians ‘infer’ that he got his Latin in that school – the school which they ‘suppose’ he attended.

                      They ‘suppose’ his father’s declining fortunes made it necessary for him to leave school they supposed he attended, and get to work and help support his parents…They ‘suppose’ he assisted his father in the butchering business…it was ‘conjectured’…he accomplished all this and more, much more: learned law and its intricacies…the complex procedure of the law courts; and all about soldiering, and sailoring, and the manners and customs and ways of royal courts and aristocratic society…a wider and more intimate knowledge of the world’s great literatures, ancient and modern, than was possessed by any other man of his time”, etc., etc. Well, you get the drift, Nat (or do you?). Mark Twain certainly did!

                      That’s why Ralph Waldo Emerson (among countless others over the years, right up to the present time) couldn’t “marry” the works of William Shakespeare with the KNOWN, MUNDANE life of Will Shakspere.

                      I’ll close with this thought…for me, Nat, the terse, three word entry in the Holy Trinity church death register says it all:

                      “Will Shakspere, gent”

                    • Ankaz in Wonderland.

                      Off to The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.

                      Where it’s always 16:04.

                      Why is their ravin’ like a writing desk?

                    • Oxfordians playing cards.

                      “I’ve got Horatio!”

                      ‘Well, I have got…..Horace!!!!!’

                      Snap!

    • Dear Ankaz,

      As you may have already noticed, I’ve been engaging Alfa, Nat, Tom, et al, since Aug. 1st – no doubt, good blokes all…and I’ve tried my darnedest to keep them on topic re. their body of ACTUAL, DOCUMENTED EVIDENCE that CLEARLY and UNAMBIGUOUSLY PROVE that their hero Will Shakspere was the great writer (i.e., see my opening challenge letter, 8/1, 2:22 PM), but, alas, it’s been a difficult task, as you can see!

      Anyway, I wish to complement you on showing such admirable restraint when conversing with the Strats, for they do come across as being rather surly and grumpy (and down right hostile!) at times, do they not? But, as I’ve said before, I can understand and appreciate their frustration and anger – heck, I remember how I reacted when an elder grade-schooler first gleefully informed me that there was no Santa Claus. My reaction was something resembling Elizabeth Kubler – Ross’ five stages of grief and loss…it wasn’t pretty! So, I’m willing to give them plenty of slack on that score – I feel their pain!

      By the way, I plan on posting some commentary re. DOCUMENTED evidence that alludes to Shakespeare being deceased well before the Stratford fellow’s demise, so please stay tuned (and you, too, all you Strats out there)!

      Meanwhile, do carry-on, dear lady, and remember the phenomenon we’re contending with here, namely, a firmly entrenched CONVENTIONAL WISDOM, wherein, “It is difficult to overcome dogma by logic or common sense.” (Dr. John Mc Millan Mennell). Patience!

      GB

      • Apropos, GB, that you should choose Santa Claus as an example of shattered childhood myths, Santa being the front man for the flesh-and-blood Saint Nicholas. ;-)

        • Dear Ankaz,

          As promised, allow me to offer the first of three examples of documented evidence that strongly suggest “Shakespeare” – the Great Writer – was deceased WELL BEFORE Mr. Shakspere had met his maker.

          In David L. Roper’s book, “Proving Shakespeare: In Ben Jonson’s Own Words ‘I Vow He Is De Vere”, the following is noted:

          “William Barkstead, who acted in Jonson’s play “Silent Woman” at the Whitefriars in 1609, confirmed this [that Shakespeare was dead] was so. In November of 1607, he entered his poem, *Mirrha the Mother of Adonis*, in the Stationers’ Register. The poem contains a verse, which removes all legitimate doubt that Barkstead knew Shakespeare had died.” It reads as follows:

          ” But stay my muse in thine owne confines keepe,
          I wage not warre with so deere lov’d neighbor
          But having sung thy day song, rest and sleepe,
          Preserve thy small fame and greater favor.
          His song was worthie merit (Shakspeare hee)
          Sung faire blossome, thou the withered tree,
          Laurel is due him, his art and wit
          Hath purchast it, Cypres thy brow will fit.” (p.159)

          You’ll note that Barkstead is writing in the PAST TENSE and that the narrative itself plainly relates to someone who’s deceased. And just WHO is that “someone”? “Shakspeare hee”!

          The late Joseph Sobran, in his book “Alias Shakespeare” (p.144, 1997) comments, “The passage can only embarrass the mainstream biographers, and it does…they rarely cite this item. Lee, Adams, Chute, Bentley, Quennell, Halliday, Rowse, Schoenbaum, Levi, Fraser, Kay, and O’Connor all fail to mention Barkstead’s tribute.” Sixteen years later, I suspect the list of orthodox biographers who have ignored this passage has greatly expanded!

          Ankaz, I’d very much like your take on this.

          AND ALL YOU STATFORDIANS OUT THERE…let me know what you think, because, as Rickie Riccardo used to say tp Lucy, “You got some ‘splainin’ to do!”

          Peace!

          GB

          • GB, the rebuttal to this evidence has already been addressed by Terry Ross and David Kathman here:
            http://shakespeareauthorship.com/barksted.html
            Having read the Alias Shakespeare book more than a decade ago, I thank you for the reminder, but I doubt that Stratfordians will lose any sleep over Barkstead’s reference in the past tense or to Sobran’s failure to mention his name. That said, I eagerly await your examples 2 and 3.

          • Oh dear, George. A rebuttal about Barkstead from another Oxfordian. Rather embarrassing.

            May I warn you about other blunders you might make in future posts:

            Don’t mention PT theory. They are trying to downplay it. It’s too rich an ingredient in the Oxfordian fruitcake
            Don’t mention Conspiracy Theory for the same reason.
            Also currently being downplayed are Oxford’s poetry, Oxford’s letters, Richard Field and most recently the Monument in Holy Trinity Church.

            If you could say something to help them downplay a man writing plays when he was dead, that would be most helpful.

  28. alfa_at_oxfraud wrote: We have Oxford’s own work to judge him by.

    This ‘work’ consists of a variety of dubiously attributed poems.

    alfa_at_oxfraud wrote: And your English Social History is off by from here to Venus. England had a middle class in the 13c, never mind the 16c.

    We have to trust the people of time. They knew what classes existed in their society and the described them in the finest of gradations. such matters were (much more than now) crucial in all social relations. (Why do I have to tell you this?) Read Jane Austen, and or anyone before and since. NO ONE uses the term ‘middle class’ nor anything like. It would have been utterly meaningless before 1750, and its use was quite uncertain for the next 100 years.

    alfa_at_oxfraud wrote: As soon as you ally the rule of law to a judiciary which allows basic property rights to be defended, you’ll get a middle class. Henry II’s progress was measured in magistrates and English country gents. Thereafter, if you could teach yourself to read and write

    What fantasy world do you live in? No one ‘teaches themselves to read and write’. Do you have children? Do you know how long they take to learn? Literacy is a family attribute, usually taking generations to acquire in any depth. (Which is one reason for the absurdity of the fantasy of the Great Bard growing up in a household of illiterates.)

    alfa_at_oxfraud wrote: you could make money

    At what?

    alfa_at_oxfraud wrote: Geoffrey Chaucer, born 200 years before Will, was a member of the middle class, son of a vintner.

    Look up http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoffrey_Chaucer#Life. After a highly privileged childhood, he became page to the Countess of Ulster, wife of Lionel, Duke of Clarence, the second surviving son of the king, Edward III.

    alfa_at_oxfraud wrote: So were most of his pilgrims in The Canterbury Tales.

    (a) That was fiction. (b) Only the wealthy could afford such jaunts.

    alfa_at_oxfraud wrote: In the mid-16c, the dissolution of the monasteries created thousands of small personal fortunes,

    Not true. Some of the gentry (and most of the aristocracy) became a lot richer.

    alfa_at_oxfraud wrote: as did the arrival of the wealth of the New World.

    Not until around 1680, And then not much. Some English people smoked, and later eat more sugar. A few made money from that consumption. Where is the ‘wealth’ created such processes. Was less manual work somehow required?

    alfa_at_oxfraud wrote: Shakespeare and the rest of the Elizabethan writing crew were ALL commoners, sons of middle-class, socially ambitious families. The part of the population that still worked, indentured, on the land was shrinking rapidly

    It must have been all the labour-saving machinery. What a dope you are.

    alfa_at_oxfraud wrote: as the wool industry dominated English agriculture.

    The wool industry enabled _rich_ land-owners to become even richer. It impoverished many peasants, many yeomen, and some lower gentry.

    alfa_at_oxfraud wrote: Wealth from new industries drove the burgeoning market for consumer goods,

    Fantasy. Do you think people around Stratford-upon-Avon got DHL to deliver these ‘consumer goods’ on the motorway? Or with the railways? You don’t get the basic point that ALL transport into and out of Stratford (i.e. what little went in and out) did so by pack-horse — in 1400, in 1500, in 1600, in 1700, and (I’m guessing a bit here) probably most of the way from London in 1600.(See http://www.turnpikes.org.uk/English%20turnpike%20table.htm) http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/transport.htm Btw, a canal got to Stratford by 1800.

    alfa_at_oxfraud wrote: creating more wealth and by Will’s time,

    Fantasy ‘history’. How did life change for an average yeoman in Stratford between 1500 and 1700,

    alfa_at_oxfraud wrote: it had created a very thick, middle-class layer of civil servants, administrators, tax collectors, manufacturers, merchants, professionals and so on, which accounted for over 20% (some social historians say 30%) of the population.

    Insane: Samuel Pepys regularly met the monarch and dukes, as well as the poorest sailors. He lists the people he works with — a tiny number of names.

    alfa_at_oxfraud wrote: Illustration? The rate of litigation between all these competing Elizabethan social climbers was the same as that for the Victorians. The King’s Bench and the Court of Common Pleas handled 25,000 cases in 1606.

    The illiterate Stratman initiated a lot of litigation (as did other illiterates in that town). It just means (a) that they were litigious, and (b) that compared to today, the legal system was fast, cheap and efficient.

    alfa_at_oxfraud wrote: By the end of the 16c, every smart aristocrat had 10 even smarter grammar school boys behind him

    Nonsense. The names of the few people who did such work are known. Even the most rich never had more than a small number. Many of their households are well-documented.

    alfa_at_oxfraud wrote: taking care of his investments

    Investments in what? Do you think there was a Stock Exchange, or a mass of limited companies?

    alfa_at_oxfraud wrote: and balancing his books.

    Getting sillier and sillier. Organised book-keeping came in much later.

    alfa_at_oxfraud wrote: Where do you think the audiences for all these plays came from?

    I don’t share your overblown view of the commercial theatre. Lots of people enjoyed bear-baiting and the like.

    alfa_at_oxfraud wrote: Just as your reading of the work is based on a poor understanding of the literature of the time, your background scenario is based on an equally poor understanding of Elizabethan history. The England you are imagining is that of Richard I and Robin Hood.

    Tell us how the lives of peasants and yeomen changed between 1300 and 1700. And how the transport infrastructure enabled these vast improvements, And what ‘industries’ in England generated the wealth you imagine — and to whom the ‘products’ were sold. There were, of course, improvements — but not enough to change the fundamental social structure. The great bulk of the population (~97%) worked with their hands, and mostly in agriculture. Some of the gentry became wealthy (the aristocracy remained enormously rich). But no other real change.

    alfa_at_oxfraud wrote: The Elizabethan state might have had to get by with mediaeval plumbing but it was a modern state. If William Cecil and his back office crew were alive today, after a day or two getting up to speed, they’d be running the country better than the lot we have currently in power.

    The Cecils did employ a few people — but, by modern standards, a ludicrously tiny number. Much the same applied to ;the Pitts around 1800. The expansion (in the government-employed middle-class) was much later and is primarily a 20th-century phenomenon.

  29. >and budding literary genius

    We have Oxford’s own work to judge him by. Whatever similarities you detect between his biography and Will’s plays, Oxford’s literary talents couldn’t have stretched to writing Will’s playbills.

    And your English Social History is off by from here to Venus. England had a middle class in the 13c, never mind the 16c.

    As soon as you ally the rule of law to a judiciary which allows basic property rights to be defended, you’ll get a middle class. Henry II’s progress was measured in magistrates and English country gents. Thereafter, if you could teach yourself to read and write, you could make money and hang on to it. Geoffrey Chaucer, born 200 years before Will, was a member of the middle class, son of a vintner. So were most of his pilgrims in The Canterbury Tales. In the mid-16c, the dissolution of the monasteries created thousands of small personal fortunes, as did the arrival of the wealth of the New World.

    Shakespeare and the rest of the Elizabethan writing crew were ALL commoners, sons of middle-class, socially ambitious families. The part of the population that still worked, indentured, on the land was shrinking rapidly as the wool industry dominated English agriculture. Wealth from new industries drove the burgeoning market for consumer goods, creating more wealth and by Will’s time, it had created a very thick, middle-class layer of civil servants, administrators, tax collectors, manufacturers, merchants, professionals and so on, which accounted for over 20% (some social historians say 30%) of the population. Illustration? The rate of litigation between all these competing Elizabethan social climbers was the same as that for the Victorians. The King’s Bench and the Court of Common Pleas handled 25,000 cases in 1606.

    By the end of the 16c, every smart aristocrat had 10 even smarter grammar school boys behind him taking care of his investments and balancing his books.

    Where do you think the audiences for all these plays came from?

    Just as your reading of the work is based on a poor understanding of the literature of the time, your background scenario is based on an equally poor understanding of Elizabethan history. The England you are imagining is that of Richard I and Robin Hood.

    The Elizabethan state might have had to get by with mediaeval plumbing but it was a modern state. If William Cecil and his back office crew were alive today, after a day or two getting up to speed, they’d be running the country better than the lot we have currently in power.

    • Greer Gilman wrote: What do these Oxfordians think grammar schools were *for*? They trained tens of thousands of boys who would be churchmen, lawyers, scholars, publishers, doctors, and merchants. Poets were a by-product.

      What do Stratfordians think modern schools and universities are for? They train billions of boys AND girls from 5 to ~25, who turn into churchmen and churchwomen, lawyers, scholars, publishers, doctors, and merchants. Poets are a by-product.

      Something wrong with some logic somewhere? I don’t see hundreds of millions of university professors, nobel-prize winners, and poets.

      You are aware that Elizabethan grammar schools took pupils between 7 and 13? And that a vital accomplishment for every pupil was to learn how to write a clear elegant signature? (Which demonstrates that your man did not attend.) And btw do you know any 13-year-old boys? Of course, in your Stratfordian fantasy world 13-year-old boys then were genetically far superior to those now.

      • “So to elaborate the Stratfordian Theory of Literary Genius (SToLG): (a) In Elizabethan times only a tiny fraction of the population received good education. Today the number would be tens of thousands of times a multiple. Somehow I have not noticed tens of thousands of Shake-speare equivalents. Maybe I’ve just missed them.”

        I refer you to my earlier post ‘if Shakespeares could be produced by education, there would be more than one of them’.

        You have, of course, missed ‘them’ and almost everything else which makes the last quarter of the 16c such an interesting period of literary history. I have come to the conclusion that it is actually the word ‘theory’ that is causing all the trouble. It’s fairly clear, after spending so much time with their head in the sand, that Oxfordians can’t tell a theory from a bucket of razor-clams.

        Chaucer, a commoner, a grammar school boy, a page in service, a tax clerk who then flowered into one of the 10 greatest writers of the last Millennium, was writing 200 years before Will. His masterpiece, The Canterbury Tales is less than half finished, according to its original design. Door-opening education gave us only one Chaucer but it created hundreds of Chaucer wannabes who all attempted to finish off what Chaucer started without any one of them coming close to the quality of the original.

        These are the people you have missed.

        Not the exceptional talents but the hundreds of wannabes in their wake. Educationally qualified to write blank verse but without the gift to make it immortal. The playwrights who wrote the thousands of plays which are now lost because no one cared enough to save them or even produce them. That’s the gift of mass education, which had its humble beginnings in the 13c, beautifully caught by Tom Stoppard in Shakespeare in Love when the boatman, after straightening Will out, announces ‘I’m a bit of a playwright myself.’ By the end of the 16c, over 90% of the males in the gentility and merchant classes were literate, over 50% of the yeoman class could read as could almost 10% of the remainder of the male population. And England was ruled by its smartest as well as its richest citizens. For a while.

        And commoners like Will, who took their chance – adding the required 99% perspiration to their 1% inspiration – rose from the crowd to produce England’s greatest artistic creations.

        • alfa at oxfraud.com wrote:

          >> “So to elaborate the Stratfordian Theory of Literary Genius (SToLG): (a) In Elizabethan times only a tiny fraction of the population received good education. Today the number would be tens of thousands of times a multiple. Somehow I have not noticed tens of thousands of Shake-speare equivalents. Maybe I’ve just missed them.”

          > I refer you to my earlier post ‘if Shakespeares could be produced by education, there would be more than one of them’.

          So, if it wasn’t education, what was it? Let’s have YOUR theory, or some other Stratfordian theory. How come there was one author of Shake-speare’s stature in England, in the English language in the late 16c and no one since? Not in any country, nor in any other culture or language. Surely, if Stratfordianism had some validity, it would have a reasonably well-worked-out theory.

          • There is no theory called ‘Stratfordianism’. There is Elizabethan, Jacobean and literary history, none of which gives the slightest credence or even much notice to the crackpot conspiracy madness we saw in Anonymous, the film of The Oxfordian Fallacy.

            Nor is it in any way remarkable that there should be only one Shakespeare. There was only one Chaucer the century before, there would be only one Milton and only one Jane Austen a century or so later. There’s only one Keats, only one Dickens and there’s only one Conan Doyle. In addition to talent, opportunity, work ethic and access to an audience, you need luck and longevity. Marlowe was an exact contemporary, another grammar school boy from an exactly similar provincial background and was unquestionably in Shakespeare’s class. When he died, in 1593, he had the better portfolio of work. So there could have been two Shakespeares if Marlowe had lived until 1616.

            If you want a theory as to how these apparent explosions occur at different times in history, read Matthew Arnold on epochs of concentration or Leavis on The Great Tradition. Almost any reputable work will give you a better idea than Oxfordian literature which starts from a series of false premises and goes downhill from there.

            Oxfordianism’s congenital blindness to real literary history engenders ideas like “How come there was one author of Shake-speare’s stature in England, in the English language in the late 16c and no one since? Not in any country, nor in any other culture or language.”

            There are lots of writers like Shakespeare. Conditions were right in Elizabethan England to turn them out in numbers. There were lots working alongside him in Elizabethan theatre, many whose work is still performed today, he had a Spanish contemporary or two at the time like Lope de Vega. Will never wrote anything funnier than She Stoops to Conquer and I think, if he’d been around in the 20c, he might have been on the theatrical frontline with Brecht, Ionesco and Pirandello though it’s just as likely he might succumbed and taken Hollywood’s dollar.

            Nothing in The Oxfordian Fallacy is dafter than the idea that Will was produced by a unique set of circumstances.

            Especially since de Vere was such a production-line, B minus, generic, incompetent, aristocratic mediocrity.

            • alfa at oxfraud.com wrote:

              > Nor is it in any way remarkable that there should be only one Shakespeare. There was only one Chaucer

              This question was why there is only one of his stature. How many readings (or re-enactments or plays or films) of Chaucer’s works have you attended or seen in the past few years? It’s a safe bet that your experience of the works of one poet/ playwright are _vastly_ in excess of the other, and of all others — perhaps more than all others combined. We all appreciate that you have to dodge and dodge again, but don’t try to deny the most obvious of facts of our (and now of world) culture.

              > Conan Doyle.

              Yeah. yeah. To be classed with Shake-speare.

              > Marlowe was an exact contemporary, another grammar school boy from an exactly similar provincial background and was unquestionably in Shakespeare’s class. When he died, in 1593, he had the better portfolio of work. So there could have been two Shakespeares if Marlowe had lived until 1616.

              All of which is a powerful argument for regarding their works as having only one author. Note that no one mentioned Marlowe in a literary context until he was safely dead. But, of course, to you the ‘facts’ of history (as told to you by your teachers at school) are sacrosanct. Questions are necessarily heretical.

              > If you want a theory as to how these apparent explosions occur at different times in history, read Matthew Arnold on epochs of concentration or Leavis on The Great Tradition.

              In other words, it happened ‘cos it happened, and that’s because it happened, which is ‘coz it happened. There is no explanation (nor theory). Nor — within the childish set of doctrines that constitute Strafordianism — can there ever be one. You might as well read the Bible to learn about Evolution or Geology.

              • Once again, there are no doctrines or catechisms associated with crediting WIll with his own work. Shakespeare wrote his plays. It says so on the frontispieces. Jonson said so. Meres said so. Camden said so. Davies of Hereford said so. His co-workers and legatees Burbage, Hemmings and Condell said so. His other colleagues and rivals said so. His monument and eulogies say so. No one has to prove anything to anyone.

                Questions are endemic to Shakespeare scholarship, as the recent work on collaboration analysis shows.

                Oxfordians are the creationists, here. Their creed is based on half a dozen separate, non-interconnecting Acts of Faith and is led by some of the dodgiest High Priests you’ll find anywhere.

                Questions are not endemic or even welcome in Oxfordianism.

                Oxfordians are compelled to reject the idea that plays are collaborations because it doesn’t fit with the Earl’s death in 1604 (after they’ve given up inventing childish stories about them being left incomplete and finished off – they were blocked). They have to reject the recently unearthed presence of John Florio’s editing in the First Folio because it doesn’t fit with the idea that The Earl of Pembroke owned the plays and kept them in a cupboard until work of the First Folio started.

                And they do even worse things to silence questions and doubt. Look at them now preparing a position on both sides of the Hand D fence. If it’s authenticated, it’s written by De Vere – he’s just using and entirely different style of handwriting from that they claim he used in the margins of the Geneva Bible. If it’s not authenticated, then Oxfordian handwriting analysis proves that it can’t have been done by the person who signed himself ‘William Shakespeare’.

                Look at the intrinsic untenability what you yourself are arguing – that Shakespeare was a unique creation impossible outside the confines of educational prodigy and courtly superstardom – when there were literally hundreds of dramatists all writing in similar genres for similar audiences. Of course there was a champion. But he was a product of his milieu, not an anointed member of the elite, descending from on high.

                The Oxfordian Fallacy is the nonpareil of intellectual dishonesty.

                • alfa at oxfraud.com wrote: “Once again, there are no doctrines or catechisms associated with crediting WIll with his own work.”

                  It’s easy to list a few (although attempting a comprehensive list would be like trying to describe all those part of modern science in conflict with the Bible).

                  1) That an author (let alone a great one) could grow up in an illiterate household;
                  2) That the author of the canon could have been responsible for the upbringing of illiterate daughters;
                  3) That a (supposed) grammar-school education ending at the age of 13 could have been enough;
                  4) That this (supposed) gentlemen would have produced such an appalling set of ‘signatures’ at a
                  time when a mark of a gentleman was a capacity for clear elegant writing.
                  5) That this (supposed) above-board author would never have left one record about himself in his prolific writing;
                  6) That no one would ever have met the man and left a record;
                  7) That no one would ever have got a letter from him that they did not treasure;
                  8) That no one got a poem or part of a play-script or any other kind of writing that they would not have treasured;
                  9) That this (effective) poet-laureate would not have said one word about any public event (such as the deaths
                  of Elizabeth and Prince Henry, or the coronation of King James).
                  10) That this low-born author could write a play criticising a weak monarch, and see it performed on the eve
                  of a rebellion — for the rebels — and not even have his name mentioned in the subsequent legal proceedings;
                  11) That this low-born author could caricature monarchs on stage, including living ones, such as the ruler of
                  an allied nation during a long and bitter war

                  And so on and on and on . . . .

                  > Shakespeare wrote his plays. It says so on the frontispieces.

                  Sure — “Shake-speare” (often with the hyphen) was name the author used. No one denies it. But he was not the illiterate yeoman, Shagsper, whose name was always spelled in a form different from the poet — until the poet’s spelling was copied.

                  > Questions are endemic to Shakespeare scholarship, as the recent work on collaboration analysis shows.

                  Questions? Have you seen ANY discussion? ANY controversy? This discipline is not alive. It’s a field of sheep, where occasionally one gets spooked, and the rest chase after him into one corner or another. Then it all dies down, until the next spook-fest.

                  > Look at the intrinsic untenability what you yourself are arguing – that Shakespeare was a unique creation

                  You have to be a brain-dead Strat to be able to deny such a thing.

                  > – when there were literally hundreds of dramatists all writing in similar genres for similar audiences.

                  Only a brain-dead Strat would think that this a phenomenon not needing an explanation.

                  > Of course there was a champion. But he was a product of his milieu,

                  Another close-to-insane doctrine that Strats are obliged to accept is that this ‘champion’ came late, copying his numerous, glorious predecessors. Nothing in Stratfordianism makes sense. The idea, that it should, has simply never occurred to Strats.

                  In fact, Oxford wrote under a variety of pseudonyms — and numerous works (such as his ‘Spanish Tragedy”) have been attributed to others, invariably on far-fetched grounds.

                  • 1-11, straight out of the Oxfordian catechism. Chapter 2 – routine problems with the Stratfordian case. There is No Stratfordian case. Your points 1-11 perfectly illustrate the way that the ‘Stratfordian case’ is just another of Oxfordianism’s noodly appendages. Invented by Oxfordians for use by Oxfordians.

                    “Questions? Have you seen ANY discussion? ANY controversy? ”

                    Head in the sand. Again. There is a large and active controversy at the moment concerning how much collaboration went on and with who. Authorship questions. Discussed in English Faculties. With proper critical apparatus and method.

                    Yet the whole discussion is utterly ignored and rebuffed by blind Oxfordians because it is all utterly fatal to their feeble cause. Oxford could hardly have collaborated with Fletcher as he didn’t arrive on the scene until Oxford had left it in a coffin.

                    • alfa at oxfraud.com wrote: “There is No Stratfordian case.”

                      Sure — There are so many authors brought up in illiterate households that you could not list them all — not even one. There are so many who brought up their own children as illiterates that it would be tedious to mention them all — nor even one or two.

                      >> “Questions? Have you seen ANY discussion? ANY controversy? ”

                      > Head in the sand. Again. There is a large and active controversy at the moment concerning how much collaboration went on and with who. Authorship questions. Discussed in English Faculties.

                      Thanks for all the references.

                      > With proper critical apparatus and method.

                      Strat Academic A: I don’t understand computers but this program says that X wrote this passage. So it must be true.
                      Strat Academic B: I don’t understand them either, but program I use backs Y as author.
                      Strat Academic A: The program I use is better — although I can’t tell you why,
                      Strat Academic B: No, my program is superior, although I can’t tell you why.

                      . . . . . And so on.

                      > Yet the whole discussion is utterly ignored and rebuffed by blind Oxfordians because it is all utterly fatal to their feeble cause. Oxford could hardly have collaborated with Fletcher as he didn’t arrive on the scene until Oxford had left it in a coffin.

                      For some strange reason (perhaps a special kind of stupidity) Strats routinely come out with the most extraordinary ‘conclusions’ which appear perfectly normal to them. They are like members of some weird cult, where the articulation of, and the mindless belief in, extreme fantasies is expected and required. One example is that the poet wrote many of the Sonnets under a commission from the family of the Fair Youf whereby he was to persuade the noble scion of the importance of heterosexual marriage by writing him passionate homosexual love poetry.

                      In this case, Strats would have us believe that someone who had written Hamlet, Lear, Macbeth, etc., would happily have worked with a inexperienced junior writer. It’s like suggesting that late Beethoven would collaborate with Jedward (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jedward). Do Strats never listen to themselves? Sorry, silly question.

                      There may well be some of Shake-speare’s work in the plays of Fletcher (and/or Beaumont). The poet was so prolific (his many secretaries must have been stretched) that some of his output may well have finished up in their hands, and they may have adapted or modified it for their own purposes.

                    • Paul Crowley, calm down. See my post about ten posts up (beneath the sensible Carla Stockton’s) and let’s have a civilised discussion about a Hamlet solilioquy. It’s the one about how we are in a discussion about Interesting Literature.

                    • Our work here would appear to be done Alasdair. Paul is one doing far more damage to his own case than we are.

                      Exactly as Tom Reedy predicted he would at the start of the thread.

                    • Dear Alfa, Alasdair, Nat, Tom, and valiant Stratfordians everywhere:

                      I wish to extend my heartfelt thanks to you all for sharing your thoughts and insights re. the Shakespeare authorship question…on this side of the Pond, in my every day life experience, there’s no one who gives a damn about Shakespeare, and trying to strike-up a conversation about the Great Writer simply draws a blank stare or worse, a big, wide yawn (perhaps you’ve had similar experiences in your own lives?) So, for me, these past three weeks have certainly been stimulating, thought-provoking, and, well, FUN!

                      Personally, I’d very much like to continue our tete-a -tetes re. the authorship question, but, by the tenor of your most recent exchanges above, it appears you wish to move on. But, if any one of you would like to accept my offer of further discussion, please let me know.

                      Thanks again, men…and may the Good Lord be with you all the days of your lives!

                      Sincerely,

                      George R. Blomquist, Jr.
                      Worcester, MA.

                      PS: Nat, if you’re reading this, please accept my apologies for misspelling your name in my Aug. 17th reply letter (wherein I had erroneously addressed you as “Ned”)…it wasn’t intentional.

                    • Why thank you, George.

                      Would you like to see a real nail in the Oxfordian coffin? http://oxfraud.com/100-cannon

                    • Dear Alfa,

                      Thanks for passing along the above-captioned article…with that in mind, I was wondering…could you be so kind as to identify the letters (i.e., dates of the letters, to whom were they were written to, etc., etc.) from which the noted excerpts originate?

                      You see, I have “Letters and Poems of Edward, Earl of Oxford”, edited by Katherine Chiljan, which was believed to be the COMPLETE collection of de Vere’s accredited letters and poems at that time (1998). The letters are in chronological order, so dates in particular would be quite helpful….otherwise it would be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Once you’ve provided me with that info., I can readily refer to the particular letter, study the excerpt within the actual context of the letter and then I’d be happy to share my thoughts with you re. the referenced article. Hope you can be of help.

                      Now, if only we could find any extant letters by the Stratford fellow to study and critique – what fun that would be!

                      GB

                      PS: Ramon Jimenez recently had an article, “Shakspere in Stratford and London: Ten Eyewitnesses Who Saw Nothing”; there are oddities throughout which you may find interesting, and that I’d like very much to discuss with you in greater detail, if you’re so inclined. Please advise.

                    • Mr. GB, Jr. writes: “Now, if only we could find any extant letters by the Stratford fellow to study and critique – what fun that would be!”

                      We have two: both published as dedications, both written to the Earl of Southampton (very much *de bas en haut*), both signed William Shakespeare (he was not yet Master). Enjoy!

                      I know not how I shall offend in dedicating my vnpolisht lines to your Lordship, nor how the worlde vvill censure mee for choosing so strong a proppe to support so vveake a burthen, onelye if your Honour seeme but pleased, I account my selfe highly praised, and vowe to take aduantage of all idle houres, till I haue honoured you vvith some grauer labour. But if the first heire of my inuention proue deformed, I shall be sorie it had so noble a god-father : and neuer after eare so barren a land, for feare it yeeld me still so bad a haruest, I leaue it to your Honourable suruey, and your Honor to your hearts content, vvhich I wish may alvvaies ansvvere your ovvne vvish, and the vvorlds hopefull expectation.

                      Your Honors in all dutie,
                      WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

                      The love I dedicate to your Lordship is without end: wherof this Pamphlet without beginning is but a superfluous Moity. The warrant I have of your Honourable disposition, not the worth of my untutord Lines, makes it assured of acceptance. What I have done is yours, what I have to doe is yours, being part in all I have, devoted yours. Were my worth greater my duety would shew greater, meane time, as it is, it is bound to your Lordship; To whom I wish long life still lengthned with all happinesse.

                      Your Lordships in all duety,
                      WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

                      I will leave you now to your invincible fantasies.

                      Farewell.

                      Nat

                    • I give you an “A” for effort, Nat.

                      Correct me if I’m wrong, but the ORIGINAL, HANDWRITTEN MANUSCRIPTS of the two above – noted dedications have never survived (which is a shame, since we could then readily compare the hand writing with that of de Vere’s known letters and settle the matter once and for all). Besides, the fellow closed his dedications with the name “Shakespeare” (de Vere’s pen name), NOT Shakspere, which, as you know, was the Stratford man’s actual sir-name (hey, don’t blame me, I’m only reminding you about what the historical documents clearly indicate).

                      So, what we have here, then, is yet another example of Stratfordians’ propensity for circular reasoning – i.e., Shakspere wrote Shakespeare, and since “Shakespeare” purportedly signed-off on these dedications, well, that means Shakspere actually did!

                      Pretty thin gruel, Nat, pretty thin gruel!

                      So, c’mon, now, how about some REAL EXAMPLES of clear-cut, unambiguous, EXTANT letters written by the Stratford fellow, say, to any of his neighbors in Stratford, or, maybe to the butcher just down the street, or, heck, how about some correspondence to and from his patron(s), or to his many supposed fellow poet-playwrights? How about to ANYBODY???

                      Like Mark Twain, Nat, you could say I’m from Missouri (figuratively speaking, anyway) – the SHOW ME STATE…

                      Which reminds me…hope you and/or Alpha can pass along the dates of the letters from which those excerpts came in that “Smoking Gun” article Alpha had referred me to, as I had requested above…you see, one musn’t believe everything one reads on the internet at the drop of a hat…so, don’t let me down!

                      Good hearing from you, Lad.

                      Respectfully,

                      GB

                    • George. C’mon now. You can’t start defending The Oxfordian Fallacy from scratch for a third time on someone else’s site. At least not with that pusillanimous surname spelling nonsense.

                      If you have questions for the author of ‘Canon fodder’ you can pose them right underneath the article.

                    • Dear Alfa,

                      I suppose that means you’re unable to cite the historical sources of the “Smoking Gun” excerpts. Why doesn’t that surprise me?

                      As for “defending the Oxfordian fallacy from scratch for the third time on someone else’s site,” well, I think it could be better described as my doggedly reminding folks who insist on repeatedly trotting-out (from “scratch” you might say) arguments based solely on circular reasoning are inherently faulty arguments, and that simply won’t do (for me, anyway) – no matter who’s site they may be argued on.

                      As I had commented in an earlier letter, when I studied Shakespeare in school way – back – when, we never discussed the life and times of the author. In other words, we hadn’t been subjected to any sort of indoctrination re. the authorship question, and so, when I was first introduced to this controversy some 21 yrs ago, I approached the subject matter with a relatively open mind – or, to put it another way, I had nothing invested in the Stratford fellow one way or the other and would go where the evidence would take me. In my view (and in the view of so many others who are far more eloquent than I), the tale of the lad from Stratford -on-Avon somehow blossoming into arguably the greatest poet/playwright of all time (as appealing it may be to one’s egalitarian spirit) is simply not supported by the historical record.

                      Hope you have a great day, Alfa!

                      Sincerely,

                      GB

                    • -As I had commented in an earlier letter, when I studied Shakespeare in school way – back – when, we never discussed the life and times of the author. In other words, we hadn’t been subjected to any sort of indoctrination re. the authorship question,

                      Now you’re getting to it, George, I had the same experience at school and much later had an open mind which led me in an entirely different direction from you. If Shakespeare were taught in schools minus the mythology and alongside a proper study of his historical period, I don’t believe there would be an authorship question at all. It’s decent education, not indoctrination, which will consign Oxfordianism to oblivion.

                    • Good hearing from you, my friend!

                      Actually, I’ve been “getting it” for quite some time now, Alaisdair…

                      From my vantage point, the body of circumstantial evidence pointing to de Vere as the likely author is far more substantial and persuasive than that for Mr. Shakspere.

                      Speaking of which, allow me to share with you Michael Hart’s (author of “The Hundred Most Influential People in History”) thoughts re. his 1992 revision of his original, 1978 edition…as he explains in his Preface:

                      “Another revision – and one which is likely to be controversial – is my inclusion of Edward de Vere as the real ‘William Shakespeare”, rather than the man from Stratford-On-Avon who is described as the author by most ‘orthodox’ textbooks. This change was made only reluctantly; it represents an admission that I made a serious error in the first edition, when, without carefully checking the facts, I simply ‘followed the crowd’ and accepted the Stratford man as the author…Since then, I have carefully examined the arguments on both sides…and have concluded that the weight of the evidence is heavily against the Stratford man, and in favor of de Vere.”

                      By the way, Hart’s 1992 edition states de Vere’s ranking thusly:

                      #31…Edward de Vere, better known as William Shakespeare.

                      So, Alaisdair, I suppose we can agree to disagree, can we not?

                      Respectfully yours,

                      George

                    • I’m still waiting to hear anything that qualifies as evidence for De Vere’s authorship. Apart from conjecture, there isn’t any evidence at all. Not a scrap. Nothing. People have allowed themselves to be distracted by appealing guesswork.

                      If you copy 10 words of any of the letters in Canon Fodder and paste them into google, you’ll get two results. One pointing to Oxfraud (of course) and one pointing to the relevant letter containing the passage on Prof Nelson’s site.

                      Sorry to disappoint you. But that article is ACTUAL evidence that Oxford is not your man. Will can’t have written any of Canon Fodder.

                    • No, I don’t agree to disagree, George, because on this issue I will only agree to evidence and not conjecture. I thought you raised a useful point about the way Shakespeare is taught in schools. I tried to follow up but you just quoted another opinion unrelated to the point you made previously. You have, though, made strenuous efforts to be civil and friendly and I appreciate that. Goodbye George. Goodbye Paul.

                    • Dear Alasdair,

                      I appreciate where you’re coming from – and guess what? In my eyes, that doesn’t make you a “bad” person by any stretch of the imagination (you, too Alfa!). I’ve really enjoyed the give-and-take we’ve been engaged in over the past three weeks, or so – I’m going to miss you guys!
                      .
                      But, I guess it’s for all to move on – so I’ll conclude with a sentiment I think you’d share – LONG LIVE SHAKESPEARE!

                      Wishing you and yours the very best, I am

                      Respectfully Yours,

                      George R. Blomquist, Jr.
                      Worcester, MA.

                    • You’re the guy who wrote (August 14, 2013 at 12:54 pm) ” . . We’re not just talking about people who are bonkers or intellectually challenged. We are talking about people whose ideas are insidious, reactionary and dangerous. . . . Ultimately, the fact that that Oxfordians have a hopelessly muddled view of history and literature doesn’t matter to me . . ”

                      Yet it seems THIS is the best ‘argument’ you can pose to show Oxfordians are “bonkers, intellectually challenged. . . . insidious, reactionary and dangerous”?

                      > A currently popular Oxfordian mantra seems to be: ‘You can be born with genius but you can’t be born with learning’. But what do you actually think is the proportion of book learning in Shakespeare as opposed to the proportion of wholly original insight into human thought, emotion and behaviour?

                      Those are all your words. They present a hopelessly false dichotomy — almost a classic case of the blind alleys down which Stratfordianism takes its victims. “Book learning” is nearly always sterile without a good social context. The Stratman did not have one. Nor can “insight into human thought, emotion and behaviour” ever be “wholly original”. That also largely comes from interactions with, and discussions among, your family, friends, and entire social milieu. There was only one class in Elizabethan England that had the education, leisure time, opportunity and desire to consider and discuss such matters and the Stratman was nowhere near it.

                      > Perhaps try: ‘To be or not to be’ or ‘How all occasions do inform against me’.

                      This is so familiar to most of us that it’s hard to conceive the reaction of someone hearing (or reading) it the first time. But there are plenty of 13-year-olds who have never heard it, or of it. Find one and check his or her reaction. It will be at least as well informed as that of the typical illiterate groundling (as supposed as being Shake-speare’s audience). If you get through the first four lines without an “Err . . WHAT ?” followed by a complete switch-off, you’ll be doing well.

                      > Tell us what books Shakespeare needed to read in order to write them.

                      He didn’t need books. He needed a whole society thoroughly familiar with books and with discussions of books and of ideas, and with the readiness to listen to, and absorb the meaning of, complex grammar, long words, and sophisticated reasoning. He was necessarily a part of such a society from his youngest days. I am certainly not saying that aristocratic societies are generally of that nature, nor that, even when they are, most of its members are interested in such ideas, or are capable of such discussions, or of grasping such grammar. But no one doubts the intellectual sophistication of the Elizabethan court, especially in its heyday of the 1560s, 70s and early 80s. However, the Scottish courtiers who came down with James would not have regarded the kind of language we see in Hamlet’s soliloquys so favourably. They would have seen it as pretentious ‘southern talk’ — which indeed, to some extent, it was.

                    • > Perhaps try: ‘To be or not to be’ or ‘How all occasions do inform against me’.
                      >This is so familiar to most of us that it’s hard to conceive the reaction of someone hearing (or reading) it the first time.

                      Of course these are familiar. But when I hear these speeches delivered by exceptional actors, I find something new in them every time. You have simply copped out of what could have been a useful discussion. But I’m not surprised because Oxfordians rarely want to look at text objectively and in detail. They are terrified of not finding you-know-who in it.

                      Mark Rylance said, ‘You can be born with genius but you can’t be born with learning’ or something extremely similar. Members of your cult have been parroting it ever since. Do keep up.

    • I wrote a long reply to this (refuting every point) which was (quite properly) ‘moderated’.

      alfa_at_oxfraud wrote: And your English Social History is off by from here to Venus. England had a middle class in the 13c, never mind the 16c.

      Firstly, we have to trust the people of time. They knew what classes existed in their society and the described them in the finest of gradations. such matters were (much more than now) crucial in all social relations. (Why do I have to tell you this?) Read Jane Austen, and or anyone before and since. NO ONE uses the term ‘middle class’ nor anything like. It would have been utterly meaningless before 1750, and its use was quite uncertain for the next 100 years.

      Secondly, why is it that Stratfordians lack all grasp of basic economics? In every pre-modern society the great bulk of the population worked with their hands, mostly in farming. Someone had to ‘draw the water and hew the wood’. Economic reality did not change (from Roman times and before) until the Industrial Revolution.

      alfa_at_oxfraud wrote: Shakespeare and the rest of the Elizabethan writing crew were ALL commoners, sons of middle-class, socially ambitious families. The part of the population that still worked, indentured, on the land was shrinking rapidly

      It must have been all the labour-saving machinery. Care to describe what was on the land before 1800?

      • Sheep, Paul. Sheep were on the land before 1800. Sheep are very largely responsible for the birth of capitalism in England and the rise of the English middle class. OK , it wasn’t actually called the middle class back then. Let’s try merchant class instead. Up to about the middle of the fourteenth century your muddy rustic feudal perceptions have some accuracy . But then there is a major economic paradigm shift. The Black Death of c1350 wiped out anything between a third and a half of the population. Landowners found it impossible to operate crop based farming with such huge shortages of labour. What is far less labour intensive? Sheep farming . And what do folks all over Europe want? Wool. And where are they going to get it from ? Merchants who buy the wool from the landowners and sell it on a for a profit. Who were these merchants before? Yeomen. What did they become? Capitalists. What did they do next? Establish wool towns and build themselves houses there. They diversified and set up businesses. They tried to establish a power base by influencing central government by becoming things like Mayors in small towns in Warwickshire etc. They had ambitions for their sons and sent them to grammar schools. The sons were inspired by the drive of their fathers and did all kinds of interesting things.

        • Alasdair Brown wrote: “Sheep, Paul. Sheep were on the land before 1800.

          Still no grasp of basic economics. Sure, a few (emphasis on FEW) rich people acquired a lot of land from the monasteries, and enclosed more and ‘grew sheep’. They got rich — exporting wool and importing wine and fancy clothes etc., BUT what did any of that do for the great bulk of the population? Who hewed the wood and drew the water? Do you think that the 98% of the population (e.g. around Stratford) now lived on foreign grain? Or on imported fruit? Or consumed anything significant not produced locally?

          Alasdair Brown wrote: “OK , it wasn’t actually called the middle class back then. Let’s try merchant class instead.

          Except that no one at the time called any social group ‘the merchant class’ nor anything like it. Merchants existed, The few who got rich (e.g. the Spensers) bought land,and aped their social betters. And they did so without using quotes around ‘betters’ — exactly as happened in 1150, or 1350, or 1750 or 1850,.

          Alasdair Brown wrote: Who were these merchants before? Yeomen.

          As I said, No idea of economics. People needed food, accommodation, clothes and other necessities. In 1700 these were produced as efficiently as they had been in Roman times — in fact, probably less so since the Romans had much better roads. Roughly the same proportion of the population did that work then, as at all earlier times.

          Alasdair Brown wrote: What did they become? Capitalists. What did they do next? Establish wool towns and build themselves houses there.

          The people who got wealthy from wool were those who owned the land — those who were already rich.

          Alasdair Brown wrote: They diversified and set up businesses. They tried to establish a power base by influencing central government by becoming things like Mayors in small towns in Warwickshire etc. They had ambitions for their sons and sent them to grammar schools. The sons were inspired by the drive of their fathers and did all kinds of interesting things.

          Fantasy economics. The social structure in (say) 1750 was much the same as in (say) 1450. The _means_of_production_ had not altered. The same classes were needed, in much the same proportions. How can you fail to grasp this?

          • And Paul Crawley, your grasp of literary history as a whole is out from here to a faraway planet with a name like a silly innuendo. Shakespeare was not the first great writer to think radically outside the boxes I mentioned earlier. That was,of course ,Chaucer and his father was a wine merchant. The first writer after Shakespeare to be proclaimed as having similar qualities was Keats. His father was a stable man. The only notable writer in English literature with a background similar to De. Vere’s was Byron . The image of this dashing figure , amplified by an enormous mountain of biography is connected in no small way to the Oxfordian Fallacy.

            • Alasdair Brown writes: “Shakespeare was not the first great writer to think radically outside the boxes I mentioned earlier. ”

              It’s the kind of boxes that matter. For example, Shake-speare portrayed monarchs on stage, even a living one (caricaturing the king of a major allied power during long and bitter war). He wrote on the nature of monarchy, and when it was fitting to dethrone a weak ruler. None of that would have been conceivable (a) from a person of low rank, OR (b) without the personal protection of Elizabeth. So you can forget the Stratman. Look for someone very close to her. (This is an example of one topic, btw.)

              > That was, of course ,Chaucer and his father was a wine merchant.

              He was some ‘wine merchant’. He was able to get his son appointed page to the (politically powerful) wife of the King’s brother. Chaucer was a highly-placed courtier for the rest of his life. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoffrey_Chaucer

              • Chaucer’s father was a wine dealer to the court. Because of the court’s reliance on the commodity of wine, both Chaucer and his sister were taken in as servants as a thank you present. The job of a page involved washing dishes and taking the rubbish out. Chaucer’s sister ended up marrying into John of Gaunt’s family.

                It’s only the early fourteenth century and already your blinkered pre-conceptions of a rigidly class- based hierarchical English past are crumbling. Chaucer spent most of his life as a ‘middle class’ customs and excise official, forester and buildings supervisor. We don’t know how he learned Italian but because he did he was sent on diplomatic missions to Italy Unlike Shakespeare, we don’t have proof of his authorship so because he began his career as a dishwasher you should just go away and make up a conspiracy theory about him.

                Paul, like other members of your cult you are also cursed with an insistence on seeing people as ‘types’. There is no such thing as ‘a poetic type’. Think of Dylan Thomas and Philip Larkin. Andrew Motion and Benjamin Zephaniah. They are as different as Earth and Uranus. You don’t have enough information about Shakespeare to fit him neatly him into the ‘poetic type’ cardboard box in your head, so you simply categorise him according to your social prejudices.

          • “Fantasy economics. The social structure in (say) 1750 was much the same as in (say) 1450. The _means_of_production_ had not altered. The same classes were needed, in much the same proportions. How can you fail to grasp this?”

            Completely and utterly wrong. As in hard to be more wrong. These are the myths on which your Oxfordian fantasy is built.

            The period you describe contained the Enclosures, the Agricultural Revolution, The Dissolution of the Monasteries, The Renaissance, The Reformation, The Civil War and the establishment of The British Empire, the start of the hegemony of The Royal Navy and the globalisation of trade.

            Only an Oxfordian, with his lenses, opaque to all matters of fact, could make such a nonsensical statement. Read Adam Smith.

            • Alfa_at_ oxfraud.com writes The period you describe contained the Enclosures, the Agricultural Revolution, The Dissolution of the Monasteries, The Renaissance, The Reformation, The Civil War and the establishment of The British Empire, the start of the hegemony of The Royal Navy and the globalisation of trade.

              I did not say nothing happened. I said “The social structure in (say) 1750 was much the same as in (say) 1450. The _means_of_production_ had not altered. The same classes were needed, in much the same proportions.” None of the episodes you list had a major influence on the _means_of_production_ or the social structure. In 1750 the vast bulk of the population were manual workers on farms. Peasants and yeomen thrived — in huge numbers. There was still no ‘middle class’ of the kind you fantasise.

              > Read Adam Smith.

              His ‘Wealth of Nations’ was published in 1776, and described the initial phases of the Industrial Revolution. How would any of it — before 1750 — have affected the peasantry around Stratford?

          • Paul. I fail to grasp it because it’s simply not true. It’s outrageous rubbish to deny the growth of a merchant class who made money by buying wool from landowners. You can see the evidence by walking around any old English town. How did they get hold of the money in the first place? Maybe by borrowing it? That’s why it’s pathetic, arrogant nonsense for members of your cult to think there was anything odd or unsavoury about prosperous people, like Shakespeare and his father lending money. And horror upon horror’s head- they wanted it back! And that’s why Shakespeare couldn’t have been a playwright. It’s a mystery to me where this kind of logic comes from. Well, actually… having met you it’s not really.

            Sneering at this is part of the process of historical denial you’re all colluding in. Moneylending was a useful service, just as it is now. It helped people set themselves up. It assisted in driving social change. Haven’t you ever had a bank loan? You have a credit card don’t you? ‘Early Modern England’ isn’t just a literary term, you know. It’s about economics as well. Duh.

            Anyway, I think you should forget History and that you should go back to a study of the subjunctive. As Nat hinted, it will introduce you to the concept of an unreal past. An unreal past, geddit?

            • Alasdair Brown writes: “It’s outrageous rubbish to deny the growth of a merchant class who made money by buying wool from landowners. You can see the evidence by walking around any old English town.”

              The wool trade was significant (it was about the only major commodity that could be transported across country and exported). Some people got rich. But how much money got to the average peasant, yeoman, or farmer? Go around any modern town and you will see the importance of cars and trucks. Is there a class of motor vehicle dealer? Of course not. The job is not heritable. Car dealers don’t marry their daughters to other car dealers. Wool merchants were no more a class than car dealers and, as a proportion of the population, they were probably even smaller. There were wool-dealers. But their existence did not alter the social structure.

              > Shakespeare and his father lending money. . . . . Moneylending was a useful service, just as it is now. It helped people set themselves up. It assisted in driving social change.

              If someone told you that Mr X (let’s call him Mr Alfa Shagfraud) was a successful car-dealer, and also an excellent, prolific and famous poet and playwright, would you be surprised? You will probably deny it, but most people would be amazed. They are radically different occupations, and be good (let alone outstanding) at either one is more than enough. Either will take a lot of time, training, energy and single-minded dedication. It’s the “single-minded” bit that counts. But so does the fact that each is inimical to the other. They attract different _types_ of people. Stratfordians (most ignorantly) claim that “poetic types” did not exist before (say) Byron. Why? Because they have to. They could not be Stratfordians if they did not hold on to such an absurd belief. The less hidebound can recognise that this is a nonsense, and that is why Stratfordianism is so rapidly disappearing down the plug-hole.

              • Mr. Crowley: If someone told you that Mr X (let’s call him Charles Ives) was a remarkably successful insurance agent, and also an excellent, prolific, modernist composer, one of the first American composers to win international renown, would you be surprised? You will probably deny it.

              • Nothing is more hilarious than your collection of ‘Stratfordian’ nostrums. Entirely invented by Oxfordians in their childish games of Aunt Sally, they exist to conceal the obvious from people with their eyes open.

                After the destruction of Antwerp in 1576, London was the premier port on the North Sea. It population rose from 50,000 at the beginning of Henry VIII’s reign to 225,000 at the end of Elizabeth’s. 10% of England’s population lived in London. 80% of Londoners were making do with incomes of less than £10 p.a. but 20%, 40-50,000 people had trades, professions, were living in heated houses and possessed disposable income. And yes there definitely was an exchange for trade and investment. Your chum Oxford lost £3,000 there. The Royal Exchange was built in 1568.

                This may not have been the case in France, or Spain or most of Italy but in England, in the Low Countries and in Hanseatic Germany a step change had taken place in how the middle class lived, largely due to the fact that its smallholders and entrepreneurs could use a functioning legal system to protect their interests from the predations of the state and church. You only have to look at Ghent, or Bruges or Hamelin or Lubeck or Rothenburg to see when middle class wealth took off.

                From the 40-50,000 Londoners grew the group of professional theatre workers who turned theatre from amateur displays of learning at court and didactic lessonettes for religious instruction into the modern theatre we know today. Nobody has called them a ‘class’. They were a homogeneous and coherent social group. In which the Earl of Oxford did not feature.

                Anyway, teaching you Elizabethan history is clearly a job at which other people have failed.

                I suppose it’s necessary to go on rewriting it or wilfully misunderstanding it or The Oxford Fallacy just crumbles like a bride’s piecrust.

      • Your social history is still out by from here to Venus.

        Do you think Jane Austen was an aristocrat writing about the aristocracy? Ever read any of her books yourself?

        Your Oxfordian case depends on a misunderstanding of the role of aristocracy in English society, a profound misunderstanding of Elizabethan education and social mobility and an inability to recognise the fact that Elizabethan professional dramatists were part of a homogenous and coherent social group.

  30. Alasdair Brown wrote: If somebody could demonstrate to me that Oxford was a very unusual person indeed for an aristocrat of his time and possessed the radical mindset which Shakespeare exhibits, I might be interested.

    You’re not interested, of course, in what you can find about “the radical mindset” of the Stratman . . . how he was so desperate to become a ‘gent’; how he brought up his daughters to be illiterate, how – even though rich himself — he pursued trivial debts through the courts, how (almost uniquely for his time) this ‘gentleman’ never learned how to make a presentable signature. However your basic logic is wrong. Which other great author has left non-literary personal letters (or left a non-literary personal reputation) from which you could deduce that he or she possessed the genius (or the enormous talent) we know he or she actually did had? Byron? Shelley? Jane Austen? Tolstoy? James Joyce? Dylan Thomas? Scott Fitzgerald? Hemingway? Evelyn Waugh? Likewise the personal lives of artists in other fields rarely match their work. Nat Whilk would never be able to listen to Mozart if he had read his letters to his sister. Or how about Wagner or Caravaggio?

    Alasdair Brown wrote: I associate Shakespeare’s mindset with the new, driving energy of the middle- class cultural revolution of which he was part.

    Then you demonstrate a profound ignorance of history. The great bulk of the population consisted of rural peasantry; with some rural yeomanry; craftsmen in towns and cities were nearly always illiterate; the gentry consisted of around 2% of the population with a small number of aristocrats. The few professionals (doctors, lawyers, clergy) worked for the gentry. There was simply no room for a ‘middle class’, not then, nor for the next 200 years. When the term came into use around 1770, it had to be explained: 1766 Queen Caroline Matilda of Denmark Letter. 25 Dec. in Memoires of an Unfortunate Queen (1776) 21 “There is no such thing here [i.e. in Denmark] as a middle class of people living in affluence and independence.” (From the OED). Even that is far removed from the modern conception of ‘a middle class’. How much of it today ‘lives in affluence and independence’ ?

    The Stratford man came from the yeomanry (the top layer of agricultural manual workers). That class had been illiterate since it was began with the invention of farming some 10.000 years earlier. It remained illiterate until farm machinery drove it out of existence.

    Alasdair Brown wrote: However, the rank and file Oxfordians predicate their case on an aggressive insistence that De Vere was completely TYPICAL – a falcon- flying, silken- gloved ,

    Simply false. He was, of course, an aristocrat, and so was knowledgeable about hawking, hunting, fine gloves and the like (as seen throughout the canon) and he had the opportunity to travel overseas and to learn about politics, history, music, painting, geography, medicine, etc., — all topics inaccessible to the rest of the population, including the Stratman.

    Alasdair Brown wrote: And further, that the sensibility of this stereotype permeates the plays.

    Ludicrous distortion. That ‘stereotype’ (like all other stereotypes) had no sensibility.

    Alasdair Brown wrote: Please do correct me if I am wrong but I understand Oxford did not become a theatre patron until he was 30.

    The Oxfords had their own theatre company in their own house every winter — an ancient family practice. Oxford, as a four-year-old, would have understood more about theatre than all the illiterate inhabitants of Stratford-upon-Avon put together. Hamlet tells us how Yorick ” . . hath borne me on his backe a thousand times”: Yo-Rick was almost certainly Richard Tarleton, buried in 1588 in St. Leonard, Shoreditch. (Oxford lived 2 miles north, and the graveyard was on his way into London). Of course, none of this is forensic proof — nor liable to affect closed minds. But, set against the cultural wasteland (and the theatrical desert) into which the Stratman was born, and where he lived until his mid-twentes (according to Strats) which story is more plausible to open minds?

    Alasdair Brown wrote: Where is the evidence of the intensely practical ‘shop floor’ involvement he would have needed to develop such a brilliant sense of stagecraft?

    Having your own theatre company in your own house for every winter could provide a pretty good start for a trainee playwright, and budding literary genius. Can you think of any other playwright with that advantage? IMO Oxford wrote Gorboduc. The listed authors were Thomas Norton, an intense Calvinist (and Queen Elizabeth’s “Rackmaster-General”), and Thomas Sackville, who produced little or nothing literary in the rest of their lives..

  31. Elizabeth’s funeral canopy was borne by six Knights of the Garter.

    Hank’s paraphrase is pretty good, until he drags the PTT into it. Paraphrasing great poetry is not the way to go about understanding it. It’s not written in code.

  32. Greg. It’s only you guys who are saying somebody actually the bore the bloody canopy. I think I’ll need a restraining order myself if I see that word again. I mean – were I to see it again. Yes… I know we started it! You still haven’t explained that Leninist sonnet btw.

    • Actually it’s the poet (remember him) who says “I bore the canopy”. You’ll find the words in the first line, and they are preceded by “Were’t aught to me” which in modern idiom would be “Does it matter to me that . . [ I bore the canopy ]”. Note he doesn’t say “Were it aught to me if I might sometime in the future be invited to bear the canopy”. So it’s all the poet’s fault. Why didn’t he say what you want him to say? If you’d been there, you’d have put him right, and made him use the grammar that you think should be in the poem. It would have been a much better sonnet.

      .

      • Well that simplifies everything.

        If the poet bore the canopy, we can rule out Oxford completely.

        • Greetings and Salutations!

          Hey guys (Strats AND Oxfordians), you’re giving me a popsicle headache!

          You’re like a bunch of medieval theologians hacking away at one another, arguing over how many angels can fit on the end of a pin – Jeesh, lighten-up, will ya? Did any of you read my plea for civility in my Aug. 5th, 9:22 PM letter?

          Anyway, sorry I’ve not been able to get back to you sooner, Alfa, but some family matters have tied me up the past few days – such is life…

          Hope you don’t mind if this novice (re. the Sonnets, anyway) joins the fray…I’d like to pass along a couple of paraphrases of Sonnet 125 for your (and anyone else’s) consideration and share some thoughts.

          A. The one from *Sparknotes*’ “No Fear Shakespeare” is as follows:

          “Would it matter at all to me to carry the ceremonial canopy of a monarch in a procession, honoring the display of power with my appearance? Or would I think it worthwhile to lay the foundations of supposedly eternal monuments, which actually last only as long as decay or ruin permit? Haven’t I seen those who focus on appearances and covet the favors of the powerful lose everything, by spending too much on their obsessions? Such pitiful strivers give up simple pleasures for the sake of lavish meals, using up all their resources on their fickle desires. No, I shall be obedient and faithful to you only, and you shall accept my offering. It is simple but freely given, contains nothing second-rate, no unnecessary additions, only mutual surrender: myself for yourself. Get out of here, you paid spy: When a faithful person like I am accused, someone like you has no power over him.” (p. 251)

          B. From Hank Whittimore’s “Monument”…a line-by-line translation (reflecting the Prince Tudor Theory):

          “Would it matter to me if I bore the Canopy today,
          With my outward self honoring Elizabeth in public,
          Or joined great ceremonies for eternal fame
          That will be no match for time’s waste of them?

          Have I not seen poor courtiers seeking favor
          Lose everything by selling their souls
          For Royal gifts; giving up unalloyed pleasure,
          Pathetic aspirers wasting time with adoring looks?

          No, let me honor her funeral with YOUR heart,
          And take now my sacrificial offering, freely given,
          Which is not corrupted and has no contrivance,
          But only mutual sacrifice of me for you, my son.

          From now on, testify falsely! A true prince
          Accused of treason has least in control as king.” (p. 650)

          Some thoughts to share:

          For what it’s worth, it appears to me that the opening line, “Were’t ought to me I bore the canopy” is translated/paraphrased essentially the same in both renditions…so, I don’t understand why everyone has to get their knickers all in a twist over such minutia.

          As to whether or not anyone has ACTUALLY carried a canopy, Whittimore comments, “Oxford may or may not have been one of the noblemen in the procession who ‘bore the canopy’ over the Queen’s coffin; the wording of the opening line can be taken two ways: (1) ‘DOES IT MEAN NOTHING TO ME THAT I BORE THE CANOPY?’ (2) ‘WHAT WOULD IT MATTER TO ME IF I HAD BORNE THE CANOPY?’

          He continues, “Whatever the case, he is expressing profound sorrow and even bitterness; the end has finally come and all hope for his son’s succession been lost…Oxford is also summing up his more than forty years of service to the Queen, starting when he became a Royal Ward in 1562; and so his opening line might read: “What does it matter to me if I participated in so many royal ceremonies to support the state?”

          This is just my gut reaction to these two examples-

          A. Seems a bit amorphous to me, kinda like trying to nail Jello to the wall…and the line, “Get out of here, you paid spy” seems very awkward, even incongruous within its given context – can’t figure out who’s being addressed or spoken to.

          B. Whittimore’s take on it at least gives matters flesh and blood, and thus, a more compelling read, whether or not one agrees with the PT theory. – something to hang your hat on, if you will.

          Well, it’s approaching 10 PM, I’ve got to get up at the crack of dawn – so it’s off to bed!

          Take care, Alfa!

          Sincerely,

          GB

        • Still throwing that scary subjunctive leg out of bed. I think the problem’s neurological.

          • Nat Whilk : Still throwing that scary subjunctive leg out of bed. I think the problem’s neurological.

            There is no point in throwing around words you don’t understand. WHAT are you claiming that the poet meant to say? The only ‘reasonable’ Stratfordian reading so far was Alasdair”s suggestion that ‘bearing a canopy’ was a figure of speech for the achievement of a certain social status. But (a) there is not a scrap of evidence for that, and (b) it would still have been far beyond the Stratman’s reach. He didn’t even get a knighthood — not even when James was giving them out for almost nothing.

  33. (I’m afraid I took the comments too far away from Stanley Wells.) But I can’t resist asking, did the Stratford man bear the canopy before or after his restraining order in Southwark? The poor lad fell in among the gangsters of London. And, that, really is all we know about his career, other than being listed as possessing (someone’s) share of the newly built Globe at the end of the 1600s. Most likely obtaining his share by coercion.

    Our real playwright used the ‘canopy’ often. In Hamlet, the ‘canopy’ contained anxiety. It kept mortality away in Sonnet 12 – the veil between life and death. The same in Julius Caesar, Henry VI, and R & J. In Sonnet 125, it was more the dichotomy of ‘her’ public and private kiss (I believe). Yes? Which was an anxiety; even limbo?

    GUILDENSTERN: My lord, we were sent for.

    HAMLET: I will tell you why; so shall my anticipation
    prevent your discovery, and your secrecy to the king
    and queen moult no feather. I have of late–but
    wherefore I know not–lost all my mirth, forgone all
    custom of exercises; and indeed it goes so heavily
    with my disposition that this goodly frame, the
    earth, seems to me a sterile promontory, this most
    excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave ****
    o’erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted
    with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to
    me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours.
    What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason!
    how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how
    express and admirable! in action how like an angel!
    in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the
    world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me,
    what is this quintessence of dust? man delights not
    me: no, nor woman neither, though by your smiling
    you seem to say so.

    Sonnet 12
    When I do count the clock that tells the time,
    And see the brave day sunk in hideous night;
    When I behold the violet past prime,
    And sable curls all silver’d o’er with white;
    When lofty trees I see barren of leaves
    Which erst from heat did canopy the herd, ****
    And summer’s green all girded up in sheaves
    Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard,
    Then of thy beauty do I question make,
    That thou among the wastes of time must go,
    Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake
    And die as fast as they see others grow;
    And nothing ‘gainst Time’s scythe can make defence
    Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence.

    125
    Were’t aught to me I bore the canopy, ****
    With my extern the outward honouring,
    Or laid great bases for eternity,
    Which proves more short than waste or ruining?
    Have I not seen dwellers on form and favour
    Lose all, and more by paying too much rent
    For compound sweet; forgoing simple savour,
    Pitiful thrivers in their gazing spent?
    No, let me be obsequious in thy heart,
    And take thou my oblation, poor but free,
    Which is not mixed with seconds, knows no art,
    But mutual render, only me for thee.
    Hence, thou suborned informer, a true soul
    When most impeached, stands least in thy control.

  34. alfa at oxfraud wrote: ” . . “Yet the Strat case does not survive its first line.” This would be first line you have failed to understand despite it being explained to you upwards of 10 times. ”

    Actually you ‘explained’ it once, and have been careful to avoid repeating the words. (August 3, 2013 at 12:35 pm ” . . The poet did not bear the canopy. . . . He is addressing himself to someone who did [thought it was a big deal]. The fact that ‘The Stratford man would not have come within a social mile of such a role’ is partly the point of the poem . . BEING A COMMONER, . . He does not go in for great outward show nor does he have ancient aristocratic roots. . . )

    So when the poet says “Were it ought to me I bore the canopy” you produce a typical Strat ‘reading” “Were it aught to me that I DID NOT bear the canopy”.

    Of course, you will never make an attempt at a paraphrase. Apparently the Stratman was a socialist yeoman, and was upbraiding his aristocratic patron for wanting to bear the canopy, and for supporting feudal ideas about hierarchy. Putting this nonsense into words only brings out its absurdity.

    alfa at oxfraud wrote “Because you can’t distinguish between past and present tenses and the indicative and subjunctive moods? We may have stopped teaching the subjunctive mood in Basic Grammar but that doesn’t mean it has gone away. Ask anyone who speaks French or Spanish.”

    You can spout empty abuse with words you don’t understand, but you can’t do a paraphrase.

    alfa at oxfraud wrote Your latest example actually underlines your own confusion. “Were it aught to me if my mother were to die next year” This is a mixture of everything and makes no almost no sense whatsoever.

    That’s what I said. I was merely trying to do your job and put your reading into some kind of recognisable parallel fprm. Not a hope, of course, You don’t try because ‘making sense’ has never been your aim, nor within your capacity. The poet was a master at compression, and ambiguity. It’s often not easy to clarify what he is saying. You have to work at it. Avoiding paraphrases and parallels, and mouthing grammatical terms you don’t understand, is not the way to do it.

    alfa at oxfraud wrote Your extended analysis, a bit higher up, reveals you don’t really know what rhetorical questions are

    Rhetorical questions are those which don’t expect answers. Are you reallly claiiming that the poet expected an answer to his “Were it aught to me . . ” ‘question’ . . ?

    alfa at oxfraud wrote ” . . . and you don’t seem to know what sarcasm is, either. “The poet is lying or being political or being sarcastic.”

    People who pose rhetorical questions of the “Would it matter to me , , ” kind, are commonly lying, or being political or being sarcastic — or some mixture of all three. That’s how it is with real people in the real world.

    alfa at oxfraud wrote: “is your assessment of the second quatrain”

    I did not assess the second quatrain. I skipped over it (as I said) as being parenthetical to my point about the grammar of the ‘question’ and its ‘answer’.

    alfa at oxfraud wrote: “The second quatrain is a commoner’s assessment of worth of courtly behaviour and ambition. Pitiful thriving, he calls it. It’s bitter and resentful, as you might expect from a commoner addressing the issue of aristocratic entitlement. ”

    Courtiers hung around the court day after day, year after year, and saw exactly what that the poet says he saw. A visiting commoner would not have grasped what was going on, let alone been bothered by it.

    alfa at oxfraud wrote: Was Will a Red? Famous socialists Hazlitt, Marx, Engels and Brecht all thought he was. Where is De Vere’s socialist pedigree?

    Actually, he was s feminist and campaigned for gay rights (including gay marriage), for racial equality, and for equal pay, for the abolition of capital punishment and every kind of physical punishment. He read the Guardian every day and voted Liberal Democrat. IOW, to be a Strat, you need a really firm grasp of history.

    • Paul. I have accepted the challenge to do a paraphrase of Sonnet 125

      Note: I have invented the first line because I think you have to do this with a number of the sonnets as they seem to be responses to something just said by the person to whom they are addressed. And picked up a clue from 124 which `i think is part of the same conversation. As we know, speculating about the context of the sonnets is something virtually everybody does. So forgive this invention. I don’t think the rest depends on it.

      Sonnet 125:

      What you say about my secret social aspirations is false . You must know what I would say in the extremely unlikely event of my being ever offered an opportunity to …carry the canopy- for example.

      Do you really think I am the kind of person who wants to show off by poncing down the street in a royal procession? I don’t care about people’s rank and status. I care about who they really are. I’m not worried about doing something which will write my name in history. I am worried about getting ill and dying .

      Everybody knows about those flattering panders at court who go over the top in their fawning and end up in the creek without a paddle. Do you think I want to be one of those pathetic sycophants who salivates at the idea of promotion but can’t tell the difference between a plate of wobbling, pink blancmange and good honest sausage and mash?

      (Sorry! End of rant)

      Look . The only thing I want to be a servant to is my love for you. I have no desire to be at court. The only place I want to be is in your heart. I just ask you to see that my love for you is honest and simple and uncomplicated, and real. That’s all there is to it .

      So away with your doubts about my feelings, my honesty and my motives. They are coming into your head as if they were planted there by one of those creeps at court who are paid to spread false rumours.

      You can’t control the love I have for you. You can doubt me and you can accuse me. But my love is here to stay and just grows deeper and deeper whatever you say to me.

      • Lovely piece of work, Alasdair. I would just draw a bit more attention to the juxtaposition in the last line of ‘most impeach’d’ and ‘least in thy control’. This is clearly a relationship without much of a future.

        How does this sound?

        ‘Your accusations could not have been more painful and so have liberated me from the need to carry on paying attention to what will make you happy”

        or maybe

        “and he’s like ‘Oh give me a break, buy me a coffee’, and I’m like ‘Oww, it’s no good asking me for anything now, you’ve done all you can to hurt me and accuse me of What-ever, so it’s no good expecting to bully me into babysitting your kids any more”

        • I like the first one . It’s a very difficult last line. An hour’s discussion at least! I went for something a bit too cheesy I think.

          Thinking more about MOST impeached

          ‘Your accusations are like that courtier’s rumours. The greater the number of them ( or the more ridiculous they are) the more my case is proved to be true.’

          Bit like the avalanche of arguments in Ed Boswell’s postings really!

          • The exercise underlines the fact that whilst you can argue forever about appropriate paraphrases, ultimately it’s a pointless exercise.

            You read and recognise Will in the sonnets precisely because, to communicate his meaning, you sometimes need 40 words to explain two of his.

            • Agree. And we’ve used a thousand words trying to explain to Paul the significance of ‘Were’ plus ‘it’. It’s been emotional. And surreal. I’m outa here.

    • Like so many Oxfordians, you interpret criticism as abuse. For whatever reason.

      Your original boast, let me remind you, was that you could provide an Oxfordian reading of any sonnet which would prove that Strats ‘have not the beginnings of a clue as to what any of them are about.’

      You then treated us to an extended failure to prove that 125’s first sentence, ‘If it meant anything to me to have borne the canopy” – if you must have another paraphrase – was not in the subjunctive mood, coupled to an entirely misguided interpretation of the following three lines accompanied by your laughable impressions of what you claim Stratfordians think:

      >>Line 2: ” . . With my extern the outward honoring . .” implies ” With my internal thoughts the inward dis-honoring”. No subject would say (or imply) such a thing publicly — so there is clearly much else going on. This is explicable (just about, and with complexities) with Oxford as the poet, but has no purchase whatever if the Stratford man wrote the line — which is why all the standard Stratfordian commentators simply skip it.

      You take the liberty of assuming Will means the opposite of what he says (destroying the sense of the rest) for no better reason than that it fits your argument – “just about and with complexities” of course! And then, having irrationally changed the phrase’s meaning to its opposite, you conclude it resembles De Vere’s biography better then Will’s.

      >>Line 3 ” . . Or layd great bases for eternity . .”. Here the poet states that (among other things) he is fully aware of the greatmess of his literary achievements. Whereas, according to Stratfordians, he wrote only for the money.

      The poet is talking about court ceremony, outward show and aristocratic entitlement. However great these are perceived, by courtiers, who he will go on to call ‘pitiful thrivers’ in a few lines, however much they may appear to be eternal, they are transitory.

      Since the opening of the theatres, no playwright has written for anything other than money. But what poet writes sonnets expecting to be paid? Another groundless jibe.

      >>Line 4 ” . . Which proues more short then wast or ruining . .”. What waste or ruining did the Stratford man ever experience? (There is no need to elaborate on Oxford’s life in this regard).

      Your final misunderstanding. Line 4 finishes the conditional statement begun in the first line. Sic transit gloria mundi. ‘Bearing the canopy’, ‘outward honouring’, ‘laying great bases for eternity’ can all be transitory. The line has nothing to do with anything ruined in the poet’s life.

      The rest of your interpretation simply amplifies these mistakes. There is no sarcasm, the poem is not packed with religious allusions and your claim that most commentators agree ” the poet loved Catholic form and ritual.” is another of your wild imaginings.

      You introduced the idea that 125 was political, not me.

      Anyway, I’ve explained the whole sonnet once and its first quatrain three times.

      In direct contradiction of your boast, as you proudly confirm, you haven’t really offered any proof you’ve read beyond the first 8 lines.

  35. The Stratfordian commentary on this blog illustrates in quite striking terms the reasons why the orthodox view of Shakespeare is failing. Here we read every logical fallacy in the book, especially those of straw man, ad hominem, argument by innuendo, etc. ad nauseum. It is telling that Professor Wells must depend on such a host of arguments from ignorance in order to sustain the plausibility of his case. Mr. Brown, get a grip on yourself and learn something about Edward de Vere. Then you won’t have to keep asking silly rhetorical questions which are logical red herrings. The first thing you learn about Edward de Vere if you are really serious about this discussion, after the fact that he was a known closeted dramatist who cast a legendary if carefully suppressed shadow of influence over his own day, is that he was one of the most downwardly mobile men in the history of England. The word most commonly written in the margins of his Geneva Bible is “poor.” Nearly every serious admonition to charity in both the old and new testaments is underlined in that book. Therefor we should not be surprised to learn that, according to the testimony of those such as G.M. in *Honour His Perfection* (1624) (among others), among the most generous of Elizabethans.

    Ask your own question about the guy you are defending as the author, a money lender and grain hoarder who prosecuted people for a few shillings and died as one of the wealthiest men in Stratford. Huh? Your sociology leaves a little to be desired, to say the least.

    • You have yet to prove that =any= of your Geneva graffiti are in Oxford’s hand–or even in the same hand. Over three centuries, the book belonged to many readers. As many as willed could have written in it, for disparate and unknowable reasons of their own. It is (barely) possible that at some time someone went from reading Shakespeare to their Bible, to mark his allusions; but the overlap both ways between his scriptural concerns and this marginalia is statistically random.

      The patterns that you think you see in it are pareidolia, canals on Mars.

      As for De Vere, the only “shadow of influence” that he cast was over servant-boys.

    • Roger:

      My perceptions of the author of the plays and sonnets are fundamentally based on two things:

      1. His writing demonstrates that he was a man who thought completely outside the ideological boxes of his time in a quite astonishing way. Those would be the boxes of class, gender and race.

      2. His plays demonstrate a man for whom theatre was absolutely central to his life – a man who lived and breathed and dreamt theatre constantly.

      With regard to 1

      It may surprise you to know that I do not totally discount the possibility of someone else having written the plays. I believe everyone who cares about the authorship question should have one small door in their mind which is capable of being opened should a convincing piece of evidence present itself. Whether or not you own such a door, I don’t know.

      If somebody could demonstrate to me that Oxford was a very unusual person indeed for an aristocrat of his time and possessed the radical mindset which Shakespeare exhibits, I might be interested. I associate Shakespeare’s mindset with the new, driving energy of the middle- class cultural revolution of which he was part.

      However, the rank and file Oxfordians predicate their case on an aggressive insistence that De Vere was completely TYPICAL – a falcon- flying, silken- gloved , canopy- bearing aristocrat with all the values and attitudes associated with that stereotype.

      And further, that the sensibility of this stereotype permeates the plays. This is the construction of Oxfordians and not mine. If I make silly innuendoes, it’s because I find this construction silly.

      If you are discovering evidence to the contrary, as you suggest, then maybe you are failing to communicate properly with your supporters.

      With regard to 2.

      Please do correct me if I am wrong but I understand Oxford did not become a theatre patron until he was 30. This was not because he was interested in the theatre but because he wished to curry favour at court. I also understand there is not a single reference to the theatre in his letters and minimal, if any, evidence of his interaction with his players. “Best for comedies’ doesn’t convince as anything other than fawning.

      Where is the evidence of the intensely practical ‘shop floor’ involvement he would have needed to develop such a brilliant sense of stagecraft? You have a bit of work to do on that one. Good luck.

      If you really insist, I can respond to those mantras about the grain – hoarding etc with those of my own. Another time maybe?

    • “The Stratfordian commentary on this blog illustrates in quite striking terms the reasons why the orthodox view of Shakespeare is failing. Here we read every logical fallacy in the book, especially those of straw man, ad hominem, argument by innuendo, etc. ad nauseum.”

      Your foolish triumphalism is as hollow as your arguments.

      What we are actually looking at is some concentrated pressure on a central piece of Oxfordian catechism. ‘Why did they (sic) choose sonnet 125?” cries the bemused herd on ShakesVere. The answer, of course, is because it is a keystone in the Oxfordian arch.

      What we have actually seen is a perfect synthesis of what lies right at the heart of The Oxfordian Fallacy. Misunderstanding and misinterpretation of truly great creative work.

      Sonnet 125 is a masterpiece. It is clearly, unequivocally, written by a poet lower in the social scale than its intended recipient, clearly saying that the trappings of wealth and courtly life are nugatory compared to the rewards of true love, ‘not mixed with seconds’. It demonstrates a humility and capability for self-sacrifice which are nowhere evident in the biography of De Vere and a measure of verbal dexterity and metrical agility which come from an entirely different creative universe to the Earl’s plodding, self-pitying threnody.

      In short, The Oxfordian Fallacy can’t contain or explain Sonnet 125.

      Not only does it not fail to correspond with any of the central planks of argument, not only does the author fail to match the profile but the catechistic Oxfordian reading (not Hank’s – bravo Hank!) depends on a misunderstanding of its first line.

      Making too much of a single issue in a wide debate, perhaps?

      No.

      This is the core technique of Oxfordian argument. Grind the evidence till it fits. Put it in the catechism. Learn the responses.

      Your arrogant, totally unsupported, summary of the debate here is just another illustration of the blindness of the cause.

      Largely thanks to Orloff and Emmerich’s exposition, it’s a lost cause, these days.

      That’s why you can’t get anyone to come to your conference. Who, in their right minds, would want to risk giving credence to that nonsense?

  36. He might seem a younger Stratfordian Marxist, but by Sonnet 58 he was pure Leninist. Right after the Players Register negotiated the injury charter which limited exploitation to one’s own self-doing. –

    Sic semper tyrannis:

    That god forbid that made me first your slave,
    I should in thought control your times of pleasure,
    Or at your hand the account of hours to crave,
    Being your vassal, bound to stay your leisure!
    O, let me suffer, being at your beck,
    The imprison’d absence of your liberty;
    And patience, tame to sufferance, bide each cheque,
    Without accusing you of injury.
    Be where you list, your charter is so strong
    That you yourself may privilege your time
    To what you will; to you it doth belong
    Yourself to pardon of self-doing crime.
    I am to wait, though waiting so be hell;
    Not blame your pleasure, be it ill or well.

    • You may be onto something

      Let the “socialist” snivellers croak, let the
      bourgeoisie rage and fume, but let only
      people who shut tight their eyes not to see,
      and block up their ears that they may not hear,
      will fail to notice now all over the world
      the birth pangs of the old capitalism,
      pregnant with socialism, have begun.

      Lenin writes in blank verse.

      Who knew?

      • Never mind Marx or Lenin. Shakespeare invented Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution in King Lear. Can anyone really imagine Edward De Vere having a fantasy about subjecting an English monarch to ideological rehabilitation by stripping him naked and sending him out on a heath in a raging storm to make him realise this:

        ‘Through tatter’d clothes small vices do appear;
        Robes and furr’d gowns hide all. Plate sin with gold,
        And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks;
        Arm it in rags, a pigmy’s straw doth pierce it.’

    • Sorry Greg, you’ll have to explain to me in more detail why this is a Leninist sonnet. Is it something to do with waiting for the train to the Finland Station to arrive?

  37. Shakespeare as Marxist

    Citizen:
    ‘We are accounted poor citizens; the patricians good. What authority surfeits on would relieve us: if they would yield us but the superfluity, while it were wholesome, we might guess they relieved us humanely; but they think we are too dear: the leanness that afflicts us, the object of our misery, is an inventory to particularize their abundance; our sufferance is a gain to them.–Let us revenge this with our pikes ere we become rakes: for the gods know I speak this in hunger for bread, not in thirst for revenge. ‘

    Coriolanus

  38. Nat Whilk wrote: Would you listen if I boxed your ears? Would anyone cry if you left? Would it matter if Ophelia’s father thought me mad? Speculations about the future do take the past tense.

    Speculations about the future can bring in the past tense — as when Consequence Y could follow from Action X. Action X is (at that point) a past event. But all that is irrelevant. The poet is telling us about his mental state NOW. His current mental state could theoretically be caused by a future possible event (“Were it aught to me if my mother were to die next year”). Yet that expression clearly does not work. In the Sonnet the poet is denying that something is aught to him, in circumstances where the expectation is that he would be concerned about it.

    In any case it’s ludicrous to claim that the poet would express worry about a future possible bearing of the canopy — especially given that the Stratman was never likely to be within a country mile of any canopy. let alone a request to bear one over the monarch.

    Are Strats necessarily insane? Or is that condition forced upon them?

    Remember that I did not bring up this Sonnet. Yet the Strat case does not survive its first line. The Strat theory is so far-fetched that any part of it turns to dust on close examination.

    • “Yet the Strat case does not survive its first line.” This would be first line you have failed to understand despite it being explained to you upwards of 10 times. Because you can’t distinguish between past and present tenses and the indicative and subjunctive moods? We may have stopped teaching the subjunctive mood in Basic Grammar but that doesn’t mean it has gone away. Ask anyone who speaks French or Spanish.

      Your latest example actually underlines your own confusion. “Were it aught to me if my mother were to die next year” This is a mixture of everything and makes no almost no sense whatsoever.

      And we’re the insane ones?

      Your extended analysis, a bit higher up, reveals you don’t really know what rhetorical questions are (ask Ed Boswell – he seems to talk in them exclusively) and you don’t seem to know what sarcasm is, either. “The poet is lying or being political or being sarcastic.” is your assessment of the second quatrain, which is antithetical (not parenthetical) to the first.

      The second quatrain is a commoner’s assessment of worth of courtly behaviour and ambition. Pitiful thriving, he calls it. It’s bitter and resentful, as you might expect from a commoner addressing the issue of aristocratic entitlement. But not sarcastic. If you want to call it political, the politics are distinctly proletarian.

      Was Will a Red? Famous socialists Hazlitt, Marx, Engels and Brecht all thought he was. Where is De Vere’s socialist pedigree?

    • In regards to speculation as to whether Oxford did, or did not “hold the canopy” for the Queen, I remember seeing a detailed sketch of one of her processions placing the Earl of Oxford on one of the four corners around the Queen. I think it’s safe to say that it’s a fact that Oxford held the canopy for the Queen. In a coronation, Oxford would have been holding the ceremonial sword of state, as the Lord Great Chamberlain. I question whether you’ll ever change the intractable and humorless minds of the entrenched. I enjoy reading your comments, thanks~~

      • Whilst I quake at thought of contradicting such convincing evidence as a half-remembered sketch of a fully forgotten procession, I can assure you it is entirely safe say the exact opposite. Until anyone comes up with new contradictory evidence, it’s safe to say it’s a fact Oxford did not bear the canopy.

        I question whether you’ll ever change the intractable and humourless minds that invent this stuff adn toss hearsay round as if it holy writ but there you go.

        • Buzz off, Alpha Creep. I can’t attach the drawing of the procession showing Oxford in position to hold the canopy for the Queen, or I’d show it to you. He was the Great Lord Chamberlain, not a two-bit actor, and was most certainly high enough in rank to warrant holding the canopy for the Queen, so let’s assume the highest ranking Earl in the realm most likely on at least one occasion held the canopy for the Queen. As for “humourless minds” (underlined in red on my computer as a misspelling) scroll back to read the pitiful attempts at “humour” exhibited by your buddies. They sicken me. It makes total sense why you and your pals think someone as dull as Shaksper is the true author. As for me, the fact that Oxford had as fine an education as the Queen herself, and was tutored by eminent scholars, and had access to one of the world’s greatest private libraries at Cecil House is worth knowing. Considering that the 1609 sonnets describe the poet as “ever-living”, as in DEAD, and that the Dedication to the First Folio is given to Oxford’s in-laws, I’m truly baffled why the ridiculous and lout spawning Stratford Myth still exists. Granted, fools whose life work is based upon the myth will fight like badgers, as well as the Stratford Tourist Trap, along with dullard smart-ass jerks such as yourself, but I would think more academics would step forward to end this charade. If they read the mean-spirited tripe you and your comrades produce on comment threads such as this, they might make the effort to erase this example of human stupidity once and for all. In the meantime, without meaning to repeat myself, Buzz off, Alphafraud~~~~

          • Humo-u-r is correct. We can’t answer for what colonials get up to but they should realise that even today, standardised spelling is still not universal.

            Ever-living doesn’t mean dead. Just as likely to mean still-living.

            Post your drawing on the internet. It won’t be of Oxford bearing the canopy.

            Keep taking those tablets.

  39. Eee… that were a reet lovely song that. I met that Earl of Oxford at a cocktail party once. He could tell I weren’t interested. So he went and bored the canapés instead.

  40. Brilliant! Shall I wrap your Internet or will you wear it home?

    Nat

  41. There is safety in numbers as the mob which benefits from blind faith and refusal to see the slightest doubt, until, finally, in a kind of fulgent terror they follow the whitened figure into the New Land.

    That is the elaborate and labored progress of recent traditional scholarship. All the whirlings and flappings to get the Stratford man off his front yard.

    Will doubt settle the account? Perhaps the long march of matching up artifacts from Sotheby’s to the fine arts will reveal their palpable delusiveness. Perhaps when Stanley Wells has a vision, his supernumeraries suddenly change the vulgar chants.

    They go forth and meet Edward de Vere.

    • “There is safety in numbers as the mob which benefits from blind faith and refusal to see the slightest doubt, until, finally, in a kind of fulgent terror they follow the whitened figure into the New Land.” The community of dufflepuds that Greg is describing is called ShakesVere. Go visit.

      We may have trespassed too long on Interesting Literature’s interesting site. Inspired by Nat’s Oxford Barbie post, perhaps we can leave our hosts, English Music Hall style, with a song. It’s a new version of Aqua’s 90’s hit, Barbie Girl.

      I’m a Barbie Earl
      In a Barbie World . . .
      Some with hindsight
      Say I’m a playwright

      You can see my verse
      You won’t read any worse
      In fourteen feet – or
      Iambic Pentameet – or

      Oo O oo

      I’m a blond bimbo Earl in a fantasy whirl
      Pick me up, teach me Greek, I’m a writer
      Dress me up, stroke my arms
      Shake my spear, smell my gloves
      Feel my sword, tie my belt, make it tighter

      You can touch
      You can claim
      You can say I wrote Shakes-peare

      Set the cats
      On the Strats
      Get the doubters out of here

      Oo oooo ooo

      Make me walk, make me talk, do whatever you please
      I wrote this, I wrote that, I can beg on my knees
      I am John over there in my tabard of yellow
      I am Hamlet, I’m Hal, I’m Othello
      You can laugh, and you will, you can say it’s fantaseeeeeee
      I don’t care, I’m an Earl, Mine is made just to serve meeeee

      Oo oooo oooo

      I’m a Barbie Earl
      In a Barbie World . . .
      Life in plastic
      It’s fantastic etc etc

      OO ooooooo – I’m having so much fun, Orazio
      Well, Barbie, we’re just getting started

  42. I’ve been waiting for a Strat here to attempt to provide a remotely sensible Stratfordian reading of “Were’t aught to me I bore the canopy”, but not a chance — as was to be expected. I now want to extend my Oxfordian analysis. Take a look at the famous painting of Queen Elizabeth attending a wedding on 23rd June 1600. This is an absolutely typical use of a canopy, in accordance with an ancient tradition. The monarch (or other personage) needed to be protected from the elements, such as rain and sun, and his or her dignity and special role needed to be emphasised. But look at the courtiers. The major ones are in front, with, or wearing, badges of office, and displaying their garters. They were far too senior and important for routine canopy-bearing. While that role was respected and reserved for courtiers, it was for those of lesser importance. In this painting, they cannot be identified. Here is another picture of a canopy over Francis I of France. All the significant people are on horseback. No one knows, nor cares, who the canopy-bearers were. And this is a general pattern.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Taddeo_Zuccari_003.jpg
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Elizabeth_I,_Procession_Portrait..jpg

    So when Oxford states that he bore the canopy, he is remarking on the way he has been treated by the royal court — never given an office of any kind, let alone a significant one. It was a bit like someone confessing that his best role as an actor was the third-spear-carrier on the left.

    But there is much more to this line. When Elizabeth came to the throne there were three ‘personages’ in her realm who had canopies borne over them. There was (a) the Monarch; (b) the Eucharist, and (c) the Virgin Mary. Within a few months there was only one: the Monarch. She had pushed out the other two. Do a google image search on ‘bearing a canopy’ and you will see numerous eucharistic processions with canopies. That over the Virgin Mary is now less common. However, the poet as a child (i.e altar-boy) very likely bore the canopy over the Host, and possibly the Virgin Mary. As a high-ranking visitor in Italy he was probably honoured with requests to do so when he attended church services, or at public celebrations. He may have done so in Catholic ceremonies in private houses while he was pretending to be an ardent Catholic around 1580 (as part of the government plot to uncover his disloyal Catholic cousins). The Queen (like the court generally) was fully aware of the change in symbolism; she would have known of Oxford’s embarrassment when bearing the canopy in a Catholic ceremony.

    This is how he would justify the apparently-quasi-treasonous implication of Line 2 (“with my intern the inward dis-honouring”). His reader (the Queen) might suspect double-talk — that, in reality, he was full of bitter complaints against her — but he had a good cover-story.

    This Sonnet was written in the wake of the imprisonment of his Catholic cousins, and its religious allusions are largely ironic. They derive from the intense conflict of loyalties he felt during his under-cover role, and the resulting bitterness and anger which then led to the libels his cousins were now laying at his door.

  43. Rather like De Vere Ed, I employ a worthy scribe to do my posts. He doesn’t think about how he spells ‘humour’ any more than you do. He wouldn’t make a silly, arrogant sneer about a spelling difference. It would be too much like calling Shakespeare ‘Shaksper’.

  44. In fact, Alice-dare, the only “denialists” are those who pretend there’s no reasonable doubt about the Stratford Myth. If your candidate had only taken the time to write a few letters, or have anyone refer to him in clear terms, such as, “I love the Stratford Dramatist William Shakespeare”, or if there were records of him employing people to help him with these complex and expensive to produce plays, there would be no debate. Granted a hundred “coincidences” that link Oxford with the source material used in the plays, and point away from the Stratford man would still linger, but let’s forego that and simply say you are holding a faith based belief with virtually no evidence other than a name close to the pen-name “Shake-speare”. And remember this comment thread revolves around Stanley Wells denying that there is an iota of doubt. Like it or not, the people who have doubted the myth are not crazy, and they comprise an elite group, Walt Whitman, Sir Derek Jacobi, Paul Nitze, Justices Stevens and Scalia, Mark Twain and Sigmund Freud amongst them. Deride all you want, but the facts are such that you’re on the side of flat-earthers and holocaust deniers, because the serious doubts about Will are real, and you deny it. Your sense of humor reeks. The confidence you crudely exhibit in your “cause” is unwarranted. All one has to do is look at the doggerel on your man’s grave to figure out he was a dullard. His will, 3 pages long without a single punctuation mark screams out that it’s not the bard, yet you believe it all, hook, line and sinker. So yuck it up.

    • Ed, we don’t have a candidate, we have an author. In 150 years of effort, deniers haven’t found single item of evidence to cast genuine doubt on what the evidence, the contemporary attribution and the writings of his colleagues and rivals makes obvious to everyone who doesn’t have their eyes wide shut.

      As you do.

      • Messrs. Boswell, Crowley, and Ray are classic studies in the arrogance of ignorance: they don’t know what they don’t know.

        “The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than average. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their mistakes. … ‘Across four studies, the authors found that participants scoring in the bottom quartile on tests of humor, grammar, and logic grossly overestimated their test performance and ability.'”

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect

        • You’re right. We should sit at the feet of Stanley Wells, and absorb his wisdom. Would you mind writing to him, and asking him what the Stratman meant by ” . . I bore the canopy” in Line 1 of Sonnet 125. Being a top expert, he must know, and Strats around here are in desperate need of his scholarship.

          • Mr. Crowley:

            You’re still beheading the sentence, which is “Were‘t aught to me I bore the canopy…?” (Even if I did bear / could have borne / might ever bear the canopy, so what? ) It’s all a big *As if!* “I bore the canopy” has no independent existence: it serves the subjunctive. Just what do you think “Were‘t aught to me” is doing there? What do you think it means? Hey nonny nonny? A sneeze?

            This isn’t string theory, you know: it’s simple arithmetic. It’s -2 + 2 = 0. Every time. And you keep insisting, look, there’s a 2 there! Two is two! Two is two is two! Is too! You remind me of that guy in Oliver Sacks who’d had a stroke, poor fellow, and kept trying to throw his other leg out of bed. He thought it was someone else’s, and was horrified. That “Were‘t aught to me” is an invading leg to you: you called it “extra grammar.” Sorry, it’s attached.

            Nat

            • Come on Nat, you know perfectly well that when Topol sings ‘If I were a rich man ” he actually means he WAS a rich man. From Yorkshire. ” I were a rich man once, me. Aye. and I bore t’ canopy an’ all. I can see it now. All fulgent it were. “

              • “Canopy? You were lucky! We ‘ad nobbut an awd blanket full of ‘oles that let t’rain through.”

                “Blanket? You were lucky! *We* ‘ad nobbut an awd Oxfordian theory, blown to rags!”

                “Oxfordian theory? Hah! Lucky buggers. There were 29 of us, huddled up under Queen Elizabeth, and ‘er a man.”

                Nat

              • Alasdair Brown writes: “Come on Nat, you know perfectly well that when Topol sings ‘If I were a rich man ” he actually means he WAS a rich man. From Yorkshire”

                There is _no_ “IF”. You have to pay attention to the grammar. If you think that there is an “IF”, then spell it out. IF what? . . . . In fact, in modern idiom the question would be “Does it matter to me that . . . ” This is followed by a statement (or assertion) of fact. “Does it matter to me that you were not a virgin when we married? “Does it matter to me that 200,000 innocent people died when we dropped the Atom bombs in August 1945?”

                Wer’t ought to me I bore the canopy, 125:1
                With my extern the outward honoring, 125:2
                Or layd great bases for eternity, 125:3
                Which proues more short then wast or ruining? 125:4

                The first quatrain asks two (largely rhetorical) questions. “Does it matter to me that I bore the canopy? And “Does it matter to me that I laid great bases for eternity? The second quatrain is grammatically parenthetical — incidental observations. However, the poet is so attached to grammatical form that he answers the questions (In spite of their largely rhetorical nature) in the third quatrain: “Noe, let me be obsequious in thy heart”

                Haue I not seene dwellers on forme and fauor 125:5
                Lose all, and more by paying too much rent 125:6
                For compound sweet; Forgoing simple sauor, 125:7
                Pittifull thriuors in their gazing spent. 125:8

                The poet is lying or being political or being sarcastic, Of course, it bloody matters. But he feels so close, or so attached, to his beloved, that he is prepared to put his (deeply hurt) feelings to one side. (At least, that’s what he says.)

                Noe, let me be obsequious in thy heart, 125:9
                And take thou my oblacion, poore but free, 125:10
                Which is not mixt with seconds, knows no art, 125:11
                But mutuall render, onely me for thee. 125:12
                Hence, thou subbornd Informer, a trew soule 125:13
                When most impeacht, stands least in thy controule. 125:14

                • No. The imaginary poem you’re reading would have said “Is’t aught to me I bore the canopy.” IS’T. And “is’t” isn’t in the text. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t put it there. Rain falls downward, fire burns, and “were ‘t” means “if it were.”

                  Since you asked, “if” is implicit in the subjunctive mood, which is “typically used to express various states of unreality such as wish, emotion, possibility, judgment, opinion, necessity, or action that has not yet occurred.”

                  • Nat Whilk wrote: No. The imaginary poem you’re reading would have said “Is’t aught to me I bore the canopy.” IS’T. And “is’t” isn’t in the text.

                    That is ridiculous. The poet does not need to pose the question “Is it aught to me”. He knows what’s aught to him — i.e. what matters to him and what doesn’t. In this Sonnet, he is telling us (whether truthfully or not) that it isn’t aught to him — i.e. that the fact he bore the canopy does _not_ matter to him (or so he says). He phrases it as a rhetorical question – with a conditional “Were it . . ” but that should not confuse you. Just remember that he knows perfectly well what he feels about this matter.

                    Try to put the phrase into something you understand. “Were it aught to me that England won the cricket match . . . . I might not be so angry about the fact that cricket takes over the airwaves”. Forget my last bit, and you have the same form of ‘question’. Does it matter to me that England won the cricket match . . . . .NO, it does not.

                    • Paul: So near and yet so far. You last paragraph starts with what looks like a light coming on. ‘Were it aught to me that England won the cricket match . . . . ‘ opens the door to hypothetical possibilities. You could be about to muse. And you do.

                      However, in a perfect synthesis of the Oxfordian Fallacy, you can’t get beyond the unconditional. There IS a difference.

                      ‘Might it matter to the meaning of this poem that I do not understand subjunctives? Yes, in this case, it might.’

                      and

                      ‘Does it really matter that I don’t understand subjunctives? Yes it does.’

                      Can you see the difference yet?

                • The point of quoting the Topol line was to show that “If I were a rich man” and “Were I a rich man” mean exactly the same thing. Even though the ‘if’ isn’t there in the second one , it’s still embedded in the verb and you can’t therefore excise the notion of speculation about the future from the meaning. Grammatically, ‘would’ has to accompany either ‘were I ‘ or ‘ if I were’ or ‘were it’. That’s why I said it was elliptical speech. But ‘were’ is the clue to what’s been left out. And that’s ‘If’ and ‘would’ OK?

                  So lets try something using that logic:

                  Would it mean anything at all to me if I were I to bear the canopy and thus only be appearing to honour someone on the basis of their status rather than their true nature?

                  • Alasdair Brown wrote: Even though the ‘if’ isn’t there in the second one , it’s still embedded in the verb and you can’t therefore excise the notion of speculation about the future from the meaning.

                    This is even more ridiculous than Nat Whilk’s confusion. “Were it aught to me . .” is NOT speculation about the future. The poet is telling us about his own present feelings. He’s saying this issue (this X matter) is of no concern to him. He states this X matter in the _past_ tense. “I bore the canopy”. That fact is not (he says) something that bothers him. End of story.

                    Try a parallel in something you know. Hamlet might say: “Polonius thinks me mad. Were that aught to me, I’d be distressed.” Or to put it in the form of the Sonnet “Were it aught to me Polonius thinks me mad”.

  45. Nat, that’s the Gish Gallop again. We need to send Ed’s posts to Rational Wiki as brilliant examples. That was one of Nat’s excellent posts and here it is again just in case you missed it Ed. You shouldn’t be the only one to have a monopoly monopoly on repetition:

    Denialists adore a public debate. It gives them a stage to strut and fret on, and a chance to overwhelm all reasoned argument with a firestorm of fantasy. The syndrome is well-studied: “The Gish Gallop, named after creationist Duane Gish, is the debating technique of drowning the opponent in such a torrent of half-truths, lies, and straw-man arguments that the opponent cannot possibly answer every falsehood in real time. The term was coined by Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education. Sam Harris describes the technique as ‘starting 10 fires in 10 minutes.’” (Rational Wiki)

    And, by the way, Will had ‘grammar school humour’

    • I think the Gish Gallop would make a terrific ragtime dance.

      Nat

      • Dear Nat, Tom, Alpha, Alasdair, et al…in the immortal words of Austin Powers, “Oh, Behaaaaave!”

        Guys, I know you’re passionate about your man Shakspere – and that’s quite alright – really, it is. After all, everyone is entitled to one’s own opinion without one’s character having to be savaged, and I sincerely hope you concur with that sentiment. Life is too short to carry-on in such a discourteous fashion (I’m talking about folks on BOTH sides of the issue, by the way – not just you…we all seem to get carried away, at times, and I think that’s a pity – not to mention counter-productive).

        So, allow me to tell you a bit about myself and how I became enthralled with this issue…it may resonate with you.

        When I studied Shakespeare in school (back in the ’60’s), we simply dove into the plays – no discussion of the author’s life and times, and certainly, not a peep about any authorship controversy. In other words, I emerged with no particular opinion on the authorship matter, one way or the other, only a deep and abiding love of Shakespeare (parenthetically: it breaks my heart to read about so many school systems in the USA eviscerating their literature studies, especially in the classics – are you witnessing a similar phenomenon in the UK?).

        So when I happened-upon Charlton Ogburn’s “The Mysterious William Shakespeare: The Myth and The Reality” in 1992 at a local bookstore, my curiosity was piqued, especially when I read the glowing Foreword by famed American historian David McCullough (on this side of THE POND, when David McCullough speaks, people listen!). I’ve never regretted purchasing and carefully studying Ogburn’s opus, and I’ve been gobbling-up/absorbing all sorts related books and articles (pro and con) to the present time.

        But, enough about me (hope you hadn’t nodded off, guys!)…back to the matter we’re all so passionate about!

        Nat, I don’t mind at all parroting those “Diana Price absurdities”, because it really does go to the heart of the “Shakspere – being – Shakespeare” problem (that is, Shakspere leaving no literary paper trail during his lifetime). Heck, you don’t have to take my word for it. Lots of reputable, intelligent folk have expressed their reservations and doubts about the Stratford man over the years. Among them…

        A. The late (and great) Shakespeare professor/scholar Samuel Schoenbaum (a Stratfordian, through and through) conceding the issue (in one of his weaker moments, I suppose), as follows: “Perhaps we should despair of ever bridging the VERTIGINOUS EXPANSE BETWEEN THE SUBLIMITY OF THE SUBJECT AND THE MUNDANE INCONSEQUENCE OF THE DOCUMENTARY RECORD.” (“Lives”, 568…emphasis mine).

        B. Mark Twain made essentially the same observation – albeit much more bitingly:

        “We are The Reasoning Race. We can’t prove it by the miraculous ‘histories’ built by those Stratfordolaters out of a hatful of rags and a barrel of sawdust…We are The Reasoning Race, and when we find a vague file of chipmunk-tracks stringing through the dust of Stratford village, we know by our reasoning powers that Hercules has been along there. I feel our fetish is safe for three centuries yet.” (from “Is Shakespeare Dead? From My Autobiography”, by Mark Twain, 1909).

        C. Then, there’s the quote by 19th century Stratfordian, William Furness: “I am one of many who is unable to bring the works of William Shakespeare within planetary space of Shaksper of Stratford’s personal life. ARE THERE ANY TWO THINGS IN THE WORLD MORE INCONGRUOUS?” (from p. 285, “Malice Aforethought: The Killing of a Unique Genius”, by Dr. Paul H. Altrocchi…emphasis mine).

        If it weren’t for the aforementioned “…vertiginous expanse between the sublimity of the subject and the mundane inconsequence of the documentary record”, J. Thomas Looney would not have been compelled to seek out an alternative author in the first place. But search he did, ultimately yielding his remarkable “Shakespeare Indentified” in 1920.

        In closing, I’d like to thank Alpha for exchanging his thoughts with me over the past few days…on balance, I’d say our give an take has been both stimulating and reasonably courteous, for which I’m grateful.

        Take care, Guys and God Bless!!

        GB

    • “and by the way, Will had ‘grammar school humour’ ” (is that some sort of correction?) First of all, Mr. Brown, I said that Nat Whilk was exhibiting “grammar school humor”, not “WIll”. You’re not bothering to read what it is I’m posting, which is the sign of laziness or low reading comprehension. “And by the way”, I’m an American, and we spell words differently than the British. Deal with it. But enough of my prattle, let’s see what WALT WHITMAN says about Shakespeare’s History Plays~~ the ones written right around the time QE started secretly giving Oxford 1000 pounds a year. (The plays were very expensive to write and stage)

      “Conceiv’d out of the fullest heat and pulse of European feudalism -personifying in unparalleled ways the medieval aristocracy, its towering spirit of ruthless and gigantic caste, with its own peculiar air and arrogance (no mere imitation) -only one of the “wolfish earls” so plenteous in the plays themselves, or some born descendant and knower, might seem to be the true author of those amazing works -works in some respects greater than anything else in recorded literature.”

      • Oh blimey, change the Walt Whitman record. You have no idea how many times I’ve heard it. Here’s a tip. A more interesting doubter is Henry James. Read ‘The Birthplace” and sock me with some of that instead.

  46. You know what you lot hate about Shakespeare? He’s real. A real person with a real life in real Stratford and the real London theatre world. He doesn’t fit your tumescent fantasies of what *your* Shakespeare should have been. So childish: “You’re not my *weal* Shakespeare. My weal Shakespeare has a *canopy*!” So you invent a toy Oxford you can send on thrilling adventures, and a toy Will of Stratford to mock at. Fine. Pretend whatever you like in your secret hideout, but don’t keep bothering the grownups. We want to talk about Shakespeare.

    Go play with your Oxford Barbies.

    • “He’s real”, “in real Stratford” (like the modern day tourist trap?)
      He’s close to 400 years dead now, Nate, without a single letter with which one could know for certain he’s reading the thoughts of the man from Stratford. If his recorded personal history is what we go by, he’s boring, cheap, and potentially dangerous. What bothers me about this particular comment thread is the grammar school humor and insults that are used so clumsily by Stratfordian zealots, as exampled by Nate’s toy de force. They are devoid of any wit. The fact that Oxford spent vast sums of money pulling this off, with the help of renowned literary and dramatic heavyweights from the period seems to be lost on them. Cognitive dissonance abounds, humor suffers, insults ring hollow, Oxford prevails~~~ Nate, answer me this simple question. Why did William Jaggert dedicate a book to Susan de Vere in 1619? Why did he dedicate the First Folio to her husband, Edward de Vere’s son-in-law? Could he have dedicated the book to Susan de Vere with the hope of being able to print the First Folio? Could he have shown his appreciation for that by dedicating the 1st Folio to Montgomery and Pembroke, the “incomparable brethren” aka Oxford’s in-laws? Or should he have dedicated it to Shaksper’s semi-literate daughters, in order to make your imaginary Stratfordian world make sense?

  47. Paul: You don’t recognise the perfect subjunctive. This prevents you from understanding line 1 of Sonnet 125 and helps to account for your misunderstanding of lines 2,3 and 4.

    Apart from an unsupportable claim that the rest of the sonnet is full of religious ideas, I have yet to see any evidence you’ve have read beyond line 4.

    Leaving the subjunctive aside, a very good historian took another approach and proved that Oxford hadn’t ever born the canopy by ruling him out of all the possible occasions when he might have done so. Your comments on this subject and the picture you linked to reveal that you don’t recognise a canopy, increasing your handicap. The picture you link to is of a type of litter. There is a whole chapter on that picture and what it means in Roy Strong’s book but even famous Oxfordian William Leahy doesn’t think it depicts Oxford. There were very few opportunities to bear the canopy in Oxford’s lifetime and there is rather good documentation about all of them. In the reign of Elizabeth I (and II) it was born exclusively by Knights of the Garter.

    I’m not sure how far you can get with Sonnet 125 if you can’t get to grips with line 1. If you have a look at Hank Whittemore’s analysis (yes, this IS still me) it might help you on a stage.

    • Alfa_at_oxfraud.com wrote: “You don’t recognise the perfect subjunctive.” ANSWER: Do you think this kind of pomposity is going to impress anyone? If you don’t like my paraphrase of the line, give us your own. (We all know you never will.)

      Alfa_at_oxfraud.com wrote: “Apart from an unsupportable claim that the rest of the sonnet is full of religious ideas” ANSWER: Have you not read any of the commentators (other than Whittemore)? All of them refer to the multiple allusions to the Book of Common Prayer (except Kerrigan — which is odd, because they all copy each other).

      Alfa_at_oxfraud.com wrote: ” a very good historian took another approach and proved that Oxford hadn’t ever born the canopy by ruling him out of all the possible occasions when he might have done so. Your comments on this subject and the picture you linked to reveal that you don’t recognise a canopy” ANSWER: The word ‘canopy’ is ancient. It occurs about 20 times in the canon, often as a verb (Shake-speare has the first record of that use). Its meaning has not changed, Everyone knew it then, as they do now. There was no special word for the item used in the coronation.

      Alfa_at_oxfraud.com wrote: “The picture you link to is of a type of litter.” ANSWER: The Queen is seated in a litter. The canopy is a separate construction, borne over her by the usual four canopy-bearers.

      Alfa_at_oxfraud.com wrote: “There were very few opportunities to bear the canopy in Oxford’s lifetime” ANSWER: Only IF you take ‘ . .the canopy . .’ to mean that used for the coronation. That is indeed, a possible sense but (as you say) hardly relevant — neither to Oxford NOR to the Stratman NOR to anyone else ever thought to have written Sonnet 125

      Alfa_at_oxfraud.com wrote: ” and there is rather good documentation about all of them. In the reign of Elizabeth I (and II) it was born exclusively by Knights of the Garter.” ANSWER: So was the Stratman complaining that he did not have the Garter? Or that did not expect to get it? What wild realm of nonsense are you now getting into? Do you expect to be King of Great Britain? No? How about writing a sonnet the terrible distress this must cause you?

      • Paul: Can you see what is going on here?

        My postings prove you don’t understand Sonnet 125.

        Your postings prove you don’t understand Sonnet 125.

        ” If you don’t like my paraphrase of the line, give us your own. (We all know you never will.)” I went to some trouble to explain line 1, first from a grammatical point of view and then from a literal, historical point of view. You, par contre, have yet to provide any evidence you have read beyond line 4.

        As you are clearly not reading what I write, we are hardly having a discussion, are we?

        You’re just wasting everyone’s time.

  48. Alasdair Brown writes: “And I am still taken aback by Paul accusing me of inserting into the sonnets, grammar which isn’t there”. ANSWER You can’t insert an “IF” into a plain ordinary sentence, just because it takes your fancy. Here you can’t accept the simple plain reading “I bore the canopy, and it meant nothing to me” because you know your man was never near any canopy. So you have to go around the houses, and twist the words into some weird fantasy, producing nonsense: “If someone ever asked me to bear the canopy, I wouldn’t, and the generosity (or whatever) of the request would mean nothing to me” — a “statement” that no Elizabethan (nor anyone else in any generation) would ever articulate. You compound this by claiming that this was some kind of insult directed at his patron — an Elizabethan nobleman, one of whose purposes in life was exactly “to bear the canopy’. And you claim that your reading is ‘grammatical’. What a laugh.

    Alasdair Brown writes: “I want to stay with the grammar issue though and just make the following observation. The sonnets appear highly complex precisely because the grammar is so compressed. ” ANSWER: The meaning is compressed. The poet routinely exploits a common poetic technique — deliberate ambiguity — writing on several quite different themes at the same time. But he ALWAYS respects the grammar. Sometimes, its application to his third or fourth level of meaning gets a little strained, but that’s about it.

    Alasdair Brown writes: “It’s partly a way of reflecting the intensity of thought about extreme emotion. It can take many, many readings before you begin to grasp the nature of the progression between one thought and another” ANSWER: Agreed. The structure and the expression are often extremely complex. But that does not mean that they always are. The poet commonly makes very clear simple statements. If you read complexity into them (as is indeed a temptation) then you get lost. The poet thought very clearly, but he had so much to say, that it can be hard to get all he means. But he would never have expressed (nor tried to express) the empty, banal and tangled tripe you seek to read into Line 1 of Sonnet 125.

    • I suspect Paul dropped out of school before English grammar was covered.

    • Yes Paul, right. Shakespeare ALWAYS respects the grammar. Perfect, complete, beautiful grammatical construction every time:

      ‘Pish! Noses, ears and lips! Is’t possible? Confess? Handkerchief? O devil!

      • Alasdair Brown writes: “Yes Paul, right. Shakespeare ALWAYS respects the grammar”

        When he puts words into the mouths of illiterates in his plays, or into others under great emotional pressure, grammar will go out the window. I should not have to say that. I meant only when he speaks in his own voice — above all, in the Sonnets. In a few cases there he parodies the style of his rival, but I’d be very interested in any other examples you can find from the Sonnets which you think show bad grammar. I’d bet that in every instance, you are just misreading.

        • Paul, ignoring the suggestion that Othello was illiterate and your alleged interest in copraphila, may I just say that I appreciate your posts rather more than some other Oxfordians on here. You engage with Shakespeare’s texts; you hammer away at evidence which is actually in front of you and you go away and think about what your opponent has said. You don’t just come charging in with a firestorm of arguments and questions like some hysterical arsonist.

          Can I ask you a question? How do we know that Shakespeare is speaking in his own voice in the sonnets? Biographical facts about the 80 or so ‘candidates’ for their authorship could be a bit confusing. So leaving all that stuff aside, what do you think?

  49. I’m still bit taken aback by Paul’s analysis (seen by the cowering denizens of ShakesVere, watching from afar, as an ‘evisceration’ of my own).

    When conspiracy theories bump up against immoveable obstacles one just ‘grinds them till they fit’, like American teenagers in European stick-shifts. But the elimination of not just the perfect subjunctive but the entire subjunctive mood; not just from the poem but from the entire English language was simply breathtaking.

    Apart from the fact he has only read the first four lines (and misunderstood almost every word), there are only a couple of things to be learnt from his ‘reading’. The first is that the credulity of the Oxfordian herd is such that members will swallow canards the size of The Queen Mary if it’s for the cause. The second is that, whatever it says, the text of any of Shakespeare’s work is SO automatically supportive of the Oxfordian case, it’s scarcely worth reading it and pointless citing it in argument.

    Anyway.

    I made the mistake of clicking on Nat’s link and looking at more of Paul’s ANALysis. Ouch! Ouch, ouch, ouch!

    Now if England don’t avoid the follow-on, this has the makings of a VERY bad weekend.

    • “Ouch! Ouch, ouch, ouch!”

      Sorry. That should have come with a hazmat warning.

    • And I am still taken aback by Paul accusing me of inserting into the sonnets, grammar which isn’t there when Oxfordians parachute in a PERSON who isn’t there. Not to mention a steaming pile of ickiness relating to incest and copraphilia.

      I want to stay with the grammar issue though and just make the following observation. The sonnets appear highly complex precisely because the grammar is so compressed. It’s partly a way of reflecting the intensity of thought about extreme emotion. It can take many, many readings before you begin to grasp the nature of the progression between one thought and another.This is too much for our friends who start to panic if an author dares to venture beyond the primary level of
      signification.

      They can’t get no satisfaction so what do they do ?

      1: Learn Oxford’s life story by heart. Must be written by an Oxfordian though.
      2: Go skimming through the sonnets
      3: Find the word ‘canopy’
      4: KERCHUNG!!!!!

  50. Does anyone have any idea why Oxford, if he was Shakespeare, would simply ignore the death of his first son in regards to sonnets or subject matter? Any idea why he never had a setting ofHedingha m in a play? And why didn’t he stage a single play during his retirement in Hedingham Castle? Any idea why his father-in-laws journal gushes about Oxford’s shortcomings as a husband and father and never mentions a single word about Oxford writing plays and entertainments for the court? Any idea why Gabrial Harvey would satirize him as somewhat of a braggart/Buffoon who thought he was the epitome of Italian fashion? Any idea why several intimates accused him of bestiality, buggery, and treason but said not one word about his play writing? Any idea why no one in the London theatrical scene never mentioned him as a dramatist? Any idea why not a single person ever claimed to have seen an Oxford play at the court or theatre?

    • Tom, I appreciate that you are new to the authorship debate, so let me point out a couple of things. The two sides are not equivalent. It is not appropriate to direct the same questions at them. Stratfordians maintain that all was above board — but unfortunately the records of many things (such as the Stratman’s letters and books) were lost. Oxfordians say that there was a government-sponsored cover-up, and that’s the main reason so much is lost or hidden. So you need to pay attention to what each side says, and then criticise any faults you then find in their argument. You’ll get the hang of it in a few weeks.

      Tom Reedy writes: “Does anyone have any idea why Oxford, if he was Shakespeare, would simply ignore the death of his first son in regards to sonnets” ANSWER: His first son, Edward Vere, was born illegitimately to Anne Vavasour in May 1581. He distinguished himself as a soldier and died in 1629. His first legitimate son (born to Anne Cecil) died at birth. The poet was indeed upset by this and did write at least one sonnet on this death. You can find it easily with a little careful reading among the canonical sonnets — so long as you avoid the nonsense of the Stratfordian commentators.

      Tom Reedy writes: “Any idea why he never had a setting of Hedingham in a play?” ANSWER: Not much happened there. And see below (Don’t ask me to repeat this)

      Tom Reedy writes: “And why didn’t he stage a single play during his retirement in Hedingham Castle?” ANSWER: He ‘retired’ to Hackney, close to Stratford (where the London Olympics were held). And see below (Don’t ask me to repeat this)

      Tom Reedy writes: “Any idea why his father-in-laws journal gushes about Oxford’s shortcomings as a husband and father and never mentions a single word about Oxford writing plays and entertainments for the court?”
      ANSWER:
      ________Don’t ask me to repeat this__________
      No one in the court wanted the common people (and especially the Puritans) to associate those plays and poems with the monarchy or the aristocracy, They are full of bawdy and scatological comments on, and caricatures of, highly respected courtiers and a highly respected monarch. The (essentially illiterate) common people would have been incapable of understanding the humour and the context, and they would have taken the words in a simple-minded literal manner. They were as humourless as (say) modern Americans or Germans or academics everywhere, and they would have read into the works all manner of nonsense, such as we see today from the likes of Roland Emmerich.
      ________Don’t ask me to repeat this________

      Tom Reedy writes: “Any idea why Gabrial Harvey would satirize him as somewhat of a braggart/Buffoon who thought he was the epitome of Italian fashion?” ANSWER: Why not? Bitchy feelings and expressions were the everyday stuff of life about that court (as about most courts).

      Tom Reedy writes: “Any idea why several intimates accused him of bestiality, buggery, and treason ” ANSWER: Oxford had informed on them (i.e. betrayed them) and they were in prison, doing their best to postpone or avoid a painful execution. (If you had ever studied the issue, you’d have known that).

      Tom Reedy writes: “but said not one word about his play writing? ANSWER: See above. (Don’t ask me to repeat this)

      Tom Reedy writes: “Any idea why no one in the London theatrical scene never mentioned him as a dramatist?” ANSWER: (a) Was not Meres part of the ‘London theatrical scene’? (b) Oxford wrote for the court in the 1560s, ’70s and early ’80s. The “London theatrical scene” did not get going until the 1590s, and all most of them knew about some complex plays (usually far too highbrow for their clientele) was that they were in print and at least one company could occasionally get permission to put them on. (c) And see above (Don’t ask me to repeat this)

      Tom Reedy writes: “Any idea why not a single person ever claimed to have seen an Oxford play at the court or theatre?” ANSWER: (a) Oxford was extraordinarily precocious and was compelled to employ anonymity and pseudonymity from his earliest days (for obvious reasons — and the Queen et al. expected him to become a great statesman). The anonymity / pseudonymity gave him the freedom to be licentious in his literary work. So the anonymity / pseudonymity became even more essential;. and circle around again and again. (b) See above. (Don’t ask me to repeat this)

      • I’m enjoying your posts~~ thanks for taking the time. Sadly, some of our species lack basic intuition when it comes to mysteries such as these. I’ve been involved in the creative arts my entire adult life, which is dismissed by our Stratfordian friends as being worthless information, but it allows me to think of the possible author in a realistic way, and I’ve always sensed that something was terribly amiss in regards to marrying the Stratford Man to the WS canon. It would be hard to find a worse match, in my opionion, and it’s perplexed thousands of intelligent people for the longest time, and for good reason. I think there is a vested interest by many of our Stratfordians in knowing that a dull person could be the true author, and it gives them solace. Creative people accomplishing anywhere near what “Shakespeare” did don’t fit the biographical profile of Shaksper, plain and simple. Never did, and never will.

      • IOW, conspiracy! A conspiracy so successful that all traces were erased from the historical record, journals, diaries, and letters, including those of the spies of England’s enemies.

        And all this over the authorship of some plays and poems! Would that we had such efficiency in government today!

    • Thanks for the intelligent reply, Tom Reedy. We both know the “intimates” you mention were on trial for their lives based upon the testimony of Edward de Vere. I can’t speak for you, but I’d be willing to say anything to avoid losing my head over testimony by someone such as de Vere. So the Earl of Oxford was lampooned for being enfatuated with Italy. Do you think that actually hurts his case, or helps it? The fact that he pissed people off, do you think that somehow precludes him from consideration? Who said Oxford retired to Hedingham Castle? Are you sure about that? Any idea why Meres would list him as the best at comedies if he’d never ever been to a play, or had never written a comedy? If the Queen insisted that Oxford’s plays were to remain anonymous, why would someone fighting for his life in court bring up such a subject? And if they had, do you think there is any chance that those statements would have been excised from the record of the trial? In spite of our opposing positions in regards to the Authorship Question, I appreciate your comments, as I’ve learned from them. Thank you for that.

  51. Ed Boswell, the answer to many of your questions are unknowable, but some of them are ill-advised and either ignorant or simply wrong. Like others of your ilk what you try to do is ignore the vast amount of evidence that Shakespeare wrote what he wrote, and not someone else. I have been following this blog for some time and there are more comments on this post than any other by a great stretch, but despite the subject matter, nothing new has been added.

    One thing that interests me is that “Oxfordians” such as yourself keep referring to people who say Shakespeare wrote what he wrote – such as the contents of the first folio and the poems associated with him – as “Stratfordians”, though you do not. This seems to me to be a very clever but also very dishonest dodge, as the question is not where Shakespeare was born, but who wrote the material associated with him. That question was never in doubt for more than 200 years, and is actually not in doubt today despite the quavering objections of people such as yourself.

    • There is a vast amount of evidence that Mark Twain, and not Sam Clemens wrote Huckleberry Finn. To claim any mention of the author “Shake-speare” as being proof that the man from Stratford is who they’re talking about is “ill-advised”, “ignorant” and “simply wrong”..

    • Mr. Evans —

      Let’s start with a kind of kindergarten question for you, shall we? Who are the two patrons of the 1623 “Shakespeare” folio — and what is their relationship to Edward de Vere? When you can answer those two questions, and learn to stop using gratuitous insults like “ilk,” then we can have a real conversation. Until then, you may be making yourself feel better, but you aren’t really formulating an argument.

      • I have bowed out of this discussion as if you read properly you will have seen. I do not enter into disagreements with people who use nom de plumes on principle. Asking me questions is silly. Ask yourself a few.

  52. Does anyone have any idea why Shakespeare would simply ignore the death of his son in regards to sonnets or subject matter? Any idea why he never had a setting of Warwickshire in a play? And why didn’t he stage a single play during his retirement in Stratford? Any idea why his son-in-laws’ journal gushes about meeting Michael Drayton and never mentions a single word about marrying the great Shake-speare’s daughter, and living in his house, the one he inherited without a book case? Any idea why Jonson would parody him as somewhat of a braggart/Buffoon who falsely claimed he was a writer? Any idea why no one in Stratford knew him as a poet or dramatist? Any idea why not a single person ever claimed to have corresponded with him? Any idea why Anne Cecil’s letters to Oxford exist, and all of his to her are destroyed? Perhaps Dr. Wells knows the answers to these questions. (not the last one, because learning too much about Oxford is verboten)

    • Musical Hall Entertainers No: 3: Ed’s the magician with the Disappearing Act. But he just can’t get that trap door at the bottom of the wardrobe to work.

      • Your humor is stale, Alasdair. Why don’t you can the lifeless jokes and deal with this mystery as a serious subject? You’re coming off as a witless person. There are comedy nights for amateurs you could go to, if you really think you’ve got something to share with the public. I’m sure you’d be well received. In the meantime, when you respond to a comment of mine, (I wish you wouldn’t) kindly deal with the content, funny man. Again, any idea on why Jonson would parody Shaksper as a buffoon who falsely claimed to be a writer of plays?

        • Assuming you are talking about Poet Ape and assuming it is about Shakespeare, I’m afraid my answer is about Oxfordians again. You have a problem with recognising the complexity of real people just as you have a problem with acknowledging the complexity of Shakespeare’s work .

          You want to simplify the plays by reducing them to the expression of an aristocratic point of view and contempt for commoners, and even the most obvious plot device to an incident from Oxford’s life.

          By the same token, you want to reduce Ben Jonson’s complex, ambivalent, conflicted response to the extraordinary success of his friend to an accusation of fraud. There’s such a thing as duality you know: love and hate, envy and admiration, jealousy and fidelity, spite and generosity.

          Who do you think writes those anonymous, venomous reviews of first novels on Amazon? The jealous friend of the writer? Who goes along and sings their praises at the funeral ? You got in one- the loyal friend of the writer.

          • Alasdair:

            Oh, most excellent post on complexity! A pleasure to read in this howling wasteland.

            Nat

            • I am glad you likde it Nat. Thanks

              Taking a one dimensional view of Jonson of course comes from the same place as their construction of the malt dealer/ writer dichotomy and other simplistic perceptions. All packets of taxonomy should come with a government health warning.

              Alasdair

  53. “Why is that at all suspicious? Lorenzo da Ponte, son of a tanner, penniless for half his life, arguably the greatest librettist of all time, counted Casanova and the Holy Roman Emperor among his friends, yet he never learned, properly, to play the piano or any other musical instrument.” –alfa@oxfraud.com

    I would check your methodology here. Analogy is the lowest order of proof. The extraordinary quality of the artist you mention does nothing to support the skills and learning of Shakspere of Stratford, for whom there is recorded no quality of any kind.

    Which is the paradox of the Stratfordian hypothesis. Wells and company wish to respond with power to the challenge against the fable, but they are unable to discard their faulty presuppositions. The integrity of truth just isn’t there.

    I see the remainder of this blog discussion has dwindled to a nest of shadows in the cellar where they seem quite comfortable. I will not intrude.

    • William: I did not attempt to prove anything by analogy. Merely illustrate the obvious foolishness of your idea that the absence of musical instruments in a poet’s house are grounds for suspicion that he may not have written the work accredited to him.

      Most sensible people would not require any proof of this. The example of one of the greatest librettists of all time, who came from a similar background to Will, rose to prominence in the Court of The Holy Roman Emperor and yet a a man who was not himself a musician is simply an illustration that you, like many Oxfordians, have not given your premise an ounce of thought beyond its selfish context and that your suspicions are simply part of the same pareidolia which has created your larger illusions.

      The pattern-hunting of a patternless malignity. As Coleridge might have called it.

      • You are fighting fruitbats. Start by acknowledging the rational basis for doubt and seeing if you can paraphrase the position you are contesting. I know, that will take a lot of work and you’re such a busy and important person that you really can’t bothered. Meanwhile, the Oxfordians can’t seem to find anyone in the province of Ontario willing to debate them this fall. All the big names have run for cover. Pathetic.

        • No Shakespeareans at your conference?????

          Do you think it might be because you’ve lost the public argument? Seems the most likely explanation to me.

          • Actually there will be quite a few Shakespeareans. But so far all the leading Stratfordians in Ontario are afraid to debate. You can rationalize their failure any way you like. Having met some of these gents, I will tell you its just cowardice.

    • William: ‘A nest of shadows in the cellar’ is a really nice piece of poetry. I like it. The trouble is that’s also an analogy – which you claim is ‘the lowest order of proof.’

  54. Fairly obviously, Greg Koch is the Lion Tamer. But with a difference. He comes in dressed as Geoffrey Chaucer because that’s who he thinks was Will’s contemporary. His assistant is The Mayor of Stratford who he tries to feed to the lions. But they just ignore him – even when he gives them a lecture on iconoclasm containing lots of subordinate clauses.

    Somebody else now

  55. Google is your friend:

    https://groups.google.com/forum/m/#!topic/humanities.lit.authors.shakespeare/b7H4Vhdcjgg

    Mr. Ray, I think, comes out in a seedy dress suit and recites “Gunga Din” to an untuned orchestra, with an impassioned throb in his voice. He’s billed as Hamlet. He cannot be hooked.

    Your go.

  56. So sorry to have missed out on the copraphilia. Which circus or music hall acts are most likely to be performed by the following do you think? Greg Koch, Ed Boswell. William Ray?

  57. I’m still reeling a bit from “The rules of interpretation demand that you take the simplest and most obvious meaning — and NOT read in all manner of supplementary senses and extra grammar.” What will he say next?

  58. Mr. Crowley’s posts are always mildly diverting, like watching a juggler drop everything. Anosognosia: he stands there in a hail of bananas, shoes, and oranges, bowing triumphantly.

    But I so hoped that he’d favour us with one of his coprophiliac turns. His exegesis of Sonnet 103–with Oxford and the Queen as duelling defecators–is legendary.

    Think of her as Ethel Merman:

    Anything you can , I can better
    I can anything better than you.

    What a showstopper!

    • > Mr. Crowley’s posts are always mildly diverting, like watching a juggler drop everything.

      That’s funny, and so apt.

    • > But I so hoped that he’d favour us with one of his coprophiliac turns. His exegesis of Sonnet 103–with Oxford and the Queen as duelling defecators–is legendary.

      > Think of her as Ethel Merman:

      > Anything you can , I can better
      > I can anything better than you.

      > What a showstopper!

      The original Aristocrats.

  59. Shakespeare Denial plus Subjunctive Denial. Does this result in abuse of household pet denial?

  60. I want to thank alfa_at_oxfraud.com for writing this:
    “The opening words clearly illustrate that someone thinks bearing the canopy is a big deal. But not the poet. Who didn’t.”

    This opinion is, I think, unique. All the commentators read a fawning sentiment into the line But they are wrong and Alfa is right. The line has an ‘edge’ “Were‘t aught to me I bore the canopy” The poet does _not_ think it a big deal. This is so obvious that I cannot understand how I’ve missed it for so long. It’s mainly the fault of the ghastly Stratfordianism in which we all swim. Centuries will be needed to wash it away.

    Before I explain why, let me pose a question. If you had Shake-speare at your beck and call, would you employ him? Let’s say to write your inaugural address? Or to compose commemorative verse on the death of your heir? Or translate and edit a new Bible? Or ghost your autobiography? Of course, you would. So why didn’t it happen? We have a person of the highest literary ability, yet no one (not even the Queen, and then the King, nor any government minister) seems to have felt that they ever had the need.

    The answer is that he was Lord Oxford, the 17th earl. The only person he’d work for was the Queen. While she undoubtedly used him (e.g. for her Tilbury speech) she didn’t want him in any position of responsibility. We can make a fair guess as to her reasons. But he was never put on the Privy Council, nor awarded the Garter, nor given a public office.

    So he was not pleased. His public role was entirely ceremonial. All he was ever known to do was ‘bear the canopy’.

    The edge.is one of bitter sarcasm,

    The phrase has a lot of other senses. I’ll come to them later.

  61. Alasdair Brown wrote: Wer’t aught to me I kicked a dog ‘ is not past tense. It’s the eliiptical grammar of speech.

    The relevant clause is simple past tense. Try a modern equivalent on the person nearest to you: “It does not bother me that I kicked a dog”. Ask them if you are admitting to a fact: namely that you kicked a dog, In Sonnet 125 the poet is stating a plain fact: “I bore the canopy”. He says it meant nothing to him.

    Alasdair Brown wrote: ‘How can you possibly claim that is simple past tense? He uses the elliptical subjunctive which means he omits the conditional ‘if”, one phoneme of the subject ‘it’ and most of the predicate of the full sentence.

    The rules of interpretation demand that you take the simplest and most obvious meaning — and NOT read in all manner of supplementary senses and extra grammar.

    • I am not adding ‘extra grammar’. I am looking at the grammar that is THERE.

      ‘I bore the canopy’ is NOT an independent clause. You CAN’T isolate it from the subjunctive form of the verb on which it’s predicated so you can manipulate it into meaning ‘I bore the canopy’. The simplest way of explaining ‘Wert ought to me’ IS to see it as elliptical speech. At the end off the verse sentence is a question mark which means you HAVE to supply the words which frame the opening of the poem as a QUESTION.

      So it HAS to be something like, ‘ What would it matter to me if I were to bear the canopy? What would I get out of it if I were to bear the canopy? Or you can make it work for the past as: Would it have made any difference to me if had born the canopy? And since this is a QUESTION the rest of the sentence can effectively be seen as an answer. Because I am not interested in making superficial gestures to superficial people. Because I have no interest in reputation or eternal fame- because I know everything wastes away, including me.

      Paul, I don’t know what your politics are but please don’t get paranoid about there being some kind of revolutionary socialist message in the above. It’s all about love.

      • “I am not adding ‘extra grammar’. I am looking at the grammar that is THERE.”

        Thank you. I have yet to encounter an Oxfordian who knows how to read. They just pass text in front of their faces, looking for things they can pretend are clues.

  62. Seems I was wrong about Oxfordians understanding subjunctives. My theory about them never looking past the first four lines is holding up pretty well, though. You can’t win ’em all.

  63. ‘Wer’t aught to me I kicked a dog ‘ is not past tense. It’s the eliiptical grammar of speech. People don’t use full grammatical form in speech. When Shakespeare chooses to imitate authentic speech or thought patterns, he doesn’t either. What you say about ‘our poet always respecting grammar’ is incorrect.

    If Shakespeare were to use the full grammar he would say: ‘if the act of kicking the dog were to contain any excitement for me, then I would definitely have already kicked a dog. ‘How can you possibly claim that is simple past tense? He uses the elliptical subjunctive which means he omits the conditional ‘if”, one phoneme of the subject ‘it’ and most of the predicate of the full sentence.

  64. 2nd attempt to post

    Alasdair Brown writes ‘Were’t aught to me’ sounds as though he’s just been accused of seeking fame or high position and he’s responding by saying that even if he was offered the chance of bearing the canopy,

    The standard Stratfordian dodge is to change the meaning of the words “We know better than the poet what he intended to say”. Our poet ALWAYS respected grammar. Here he uses the past tense: “[I] bore the canopy . .”. It’s not “Were’t aught to me that I would have born the canopy if I was asked” — or any other abomination of that nature.

    Alasdair: ‘Bearing the canopy ‘ doesn’t need to have a literal meaning. It could easily have been a commonly used idiom for achieving celebrity.

    You’d need good grounds to support such a theory. You have none at all. There were thousands of other roles that could theoretically have worked, e.g. “Were I the Groom of the King’s Close Stool”.

    alfa_at_oxfraud.com writes: How amazing that you should dismiss the critical history of the Sonnets as pointless vapouring.

    Quote one paragraph or even one sentence that isn’t pointless vapourising.

    alfa_at_oxfraud.com: “Firstly Oxford didn’t bear the canopy”

    You don’t know this. The Queen attended numerous events where a canopy was employed, or might have been. There is a picture of one over her at a wedding on June 23rd,1600. The names of those who bore the canopy that day are not recorded. The same would have applied to the great bulk of similar occasions throughout her long reign. Given Oxford’s rank, and his near-constant presence close to her during the first half of her reign, he very likely bore the canopy on numerous occasions. http://beingbess.blogspot.ie/2012/06/on-this-day-in-elizabethan-historyjune.html

    alfa_at_oxfraud.com: that some of them now understand the subjunctive mood.

    How is “[I] bore the canopy” subjunctive? Is “I kicked the dog” subjunctive as well?

    alfa_at_oxfraud.com: The opening words clearly illustrate that someone thinks bearing the canopy is a big deal. But not the poet. Who didn’t.

    IF your reading had any basis in reality, you’d be able to find support for the Stratman’s socialist and anti-royalist sentiments elsewhere in the canon. Good luck with your search.

    alfa_at_oxfraud.com: He is addressing himself to someone who did.

    Yeah, yeah. The yeoman-poet, son of a tanner, is likely to criticise the political and hierarchical views of his noble patron. What kind of historical fantasy-world do you think the Stratman inhabited?

    alfa_at_oxfraud.com: I don’t know where you get ‘internal thoughts’ and ‘inward dishonoring’ from ‘extern’ and ‘the outward honouring’.

    There would be _no_point_ in telling us about his ‘extern’ unless he was implying that his ‘intern’ was substantially different.

    alfa_at_oxfraud.com: BEING A COMMONER, lines 2-3 are about other things he has NOT done. He does not go in for great outward show nor does he have ancient aristocratic roots.

    What would be the point in telling anyone ANY of that? Would it have been news to his supposed patron? Or to anyone else?

    alfa_at_oxfraud.com: These great bases don’t last anyway, he says in line 4.

    How can eternity not last? You may be an idiot. The poet certainly wasn’t.

    alfa_at_oxfraud.com: 5-8 Leading straight on,

    Do you recall the phrase “pointless vapourising”. Were you seeking to prove my argument? The comedy of your ‘reading’ of the first four lines is plenty for the present. Would you please write a paraphrase.

  65. Going back to First Principles? Here’s T J Looney, the great man himself.

    “”our case will either stand or fall” as readers are convinced that De Vere’s poetry does in fact “contain the natural seed and clear promise” of Shakespeare’s verse …”

    Your case didn’t stand. It fell.

      • Thank you Geoffrey but this contains the same examples as Mikael sent more or less. Without looking at the names of the authors you can tell immediately which is which because De Vere just doesn’t do figurative language, imagery or metaphor well, if at all. And Oxfordians who try to big up De Vere’s poetry never look at these features. Even, if he uses a similar patterning devices like parallelisms, De Vere’s thoughts are simple and ‘in your face’ whereas Shakespeare is always infinitely more complicated , economic, subtle with ideas being developed rather than being re-stated in different ways – which is De Vere’s poetic trademark. I have no idea what you think the single, strongest piece of evidence for authorship is because Oxfordians always seem very reticent to answer this. Whatever it is, De Vere as poet is a complete non-starter.

    • Complete nonsense, as usual, showing how little you know of both Shakespeare and de Vere’s poetry.

  66. Hi there Greg! We were talking about Sonnets 124 and 125. It would be great to hear you explain ( with close reference to the texts of course) why you think De Vere wrote them. Go on- you know want to! You iconoclastic devil, you.

  67. Part of the problem in communicating a thousand corollaries to the great dramas from the earl of Oxford’s life is that Oxfordians do not make their intentions very clear. And, worse, Stratfordians deliberately mask Oxfordian objectives in the hope of making them disappear.

    First, “Stratfordians” exist because “Oxfordians” exist. So let’s review Oxfordian objectives which indeed are overall iconoclastic. I feel I can voice them here because of my early introduction to the leading contributors of the Shakespeare Oxford Society, including youngster, Charles Beauclerk, at the time in his early twenties.

    To be direct, the primary objective hasn’t changed: that is, the goal of toppling the Stratford icon. Quite simply to reject the narrow traditional biography, and deprecate perhaps half the Shakespeare scholarship still circulating that interprets the texts based on the Stratford man. This rejection comes clearly from primarily a few centuries research of matching up the earl of Oxford’s life to the intrinsic characteristics in the known canon of “Shakespeare” dramas and poems. The second objective: moving the national “Birthplace Trust” to its rightful place quite a bit North-East, near Castle Hedingham, Essex.

    Another key objective: the diversion of government funds away from the Royal Shakespeare Company (which currently manages “Shakespeare” projects of L100 million an up) to the development of Shakespeare productions sponsored by leading Oxfordians and their related charities. Hopefully, this becomes a positive influence for productions which enlighten audiences better about the complexities in the sacred works, and especially from understanding the life of the true author.

  68. Alasdair Brown writes ‘Were’t aught to me’ sounds as though he’s just been accused of seeking fame or high position and he’s responding by saying that even if he was offered the chance of bearing the canopy,

    The standard Stratfordian dodge is to change the meaning of the words “We know better than the poet what he intended to say”. Our poet ALWAYS respected grammar. Here he uses the past tense: “[I] bore the canopy . .”. It’s not “Were’t aught to me that I would have born the canopy if I was asked” — or any other abomination of that nature.

    Alasdair: ‘Bearing the canopy ‘ doesn’t need to have a literal meaning. It could easily have been a commonly used idiom for achieving celebrity.

    You’d need good grounds to support such a theory. You have none at all. There were thousands of other roles that could theoretically have worked, e.g. “Were I the Groom of the King’s Close Stool”.

    alfa@oxfraud.com writes: How amazing that you should dismiss the critical history of the Sonnets as pointless vapouring.

    Find one paragraph or even one sentence that isn’t pointless vapourising.

    alfa@oxfraud.com: “Firstly Oxford didn’t bear the canopy”

    The Queen attended numerous events where a canopy was employed, or might have been. There is a picture of one over her at a wedding on June 23rd,1600. The names of those who bore the canopy that day are not recorded. The same would have applied to the great bulk of similar occasions throughout her long reign. Given Oxford’s rank, and his near-constant presence close to her during the first half of her reign, he very likely bore the canopy on numerous occasions. http://beingbess.blogspot.ie/2012/06/on-this-day-in-elizabethan-historyjune.html

    alfa@oxfraud.com: that some of them now understand the subjunctive mood.

    How is “[I] bore the canopy” subjunctive? Is “I kicked the dog” subjunctive as well?

    alfa@oxfraud.com: The opening words clearly illustrate that someone thinks bearing the canopy is a big deal. But not the poet. Who didn’t.

    IF your reading had any basis in reality, you’d be able to find support for the Stratman’s socialist and anti-royalist sentiments elsewhere in the canon. Good luck with your search.

    alfa@oxfraud.com: He is addressing himself to someone who did.

    Yeah, yeah. The yeoman-poet, son of a tanner, is likely to criticise the political and hierarchical views of his noble patron. What kind of historical fantasy-world do you think the Stratman inhabited?

    alfa@oxfraud.com: I don’t know where you get ‘internal thoughts’ and ‘inward dishonoring’ from ‘extern’ and ‘the outward honouring’.

    There would be _no_point_ in telling us about his ‘extern’ unless he was implying that his ‘intern’ was substantially different.

    alfa@oxfraud.com: BEING A COMMONER, lines 2-3 are about other things he has NOT done. He does not go in for great outward show nor does he have ancient aristocratic roots.

    What would be the point in telling anyone ANY of that? Would it have been news to his supposed patron? Or to anyone else?

    alfa@oxfraud.com: These great bases don’t last anyway, he says in line 4.

    How can eternity not last? You may be an idiot. The poet certainly wasn’t.

    alfa@oxfraud.com: 5-8 Leading straight on,

    Do you recall the phrase “pointless vapourising”. Were you seeking to prove my argument? The comedy of your ‘reading’ of the first four lines is plenty for the present. Would you please write a paraphrase.

  69. How amazing that you should dismiss the critical history of the Sonnets as pointless vapouring. How ironic that in the same post you should also make the same purblind, agenda-centric misreadings as so many of your fellow Oxfordians. Or fail to spot the self-delusion in the claim ‘all the standard Stratfordian commentators simply skip it.’ when this Stratfordian has made it his first choice for discussion.

    Firstly Oxford didn’t bear the canopy. I know you have carefully avoided saying he did but he came no nearer the office than Will did. Oxfordians have now comprehensively lost this historical argument and it appears that some of them now understand the subjunctive mood.

    Hank agrees. The poet did not bear the canopy. The opening words clearly illustrate that someone thinks bearing the canopy is a big deal. But not the poet. Who didn’t. He is addressing himself to someone who did. The fact that ‘The Stratford man would not have come within a social mile of such a role’ is partly the point of the poem, entirely missed in all Oxfordian analysis. I don’t know where you get ‘internal thoughts’ and ‘inward dishonoring’ from ‘extern’ and ‘the outward honouring’. BEING A COMMONER, lines 2-3 are about other things he has NOT done. He does not go in for great outward show nor does he have ancient aristocratic roots. These great bases don’t last anyway, he says in line 4.

    5-8 Leading straight on, on the same subject, he says courtiers who depend on favour and flattery waste their lives. In his oxymoronic coupling, pitiful thrivers, Will shows once again, his extraordinary command of economy. He refers to the pitiful state of those whose whole existence is an attempt to thrive by flattering their betters. He needs but two words to do what has taken me sixteen. Whereas there’s hardly a line of Oxford that wouldn’t benefit from cuts. Nothing remotely popish here. It’s clearly someone addressing another person, higher up the social scale complaining about the meaningless superficiality and the emptiness of courtly life.

    9-12 The poet is offering is a true soul, poor but free and not mixed with seconds, polluted by the insincere courtly art of flattery. The word ‘poor’ is here used in its monetary as well as its metaphysical sense. Unmistakably, once again, the work of someone addressing a person higher up the social ladder. Unmistakably the work of someone capable of self-sacrifice, a trait completely absent from Oxford’s nature.

    The final couplet is a metrical tour de force, so far beyond Oxford’s reach and capability it scarcely needs discussing. Someone has clearly been gossiping and Will’s plea to ignore whatever has been said and learn to valuer the true soul is one of the great ornaments of the English language.

    The idea that Strats are afraid to discuss this sonnet is truly laughable.

    It would be hard to find anything LESS likely to have been written by the 17th Earl of Oxford than Sonnet 125.

  70. Line 1: Paul, have you noticed how some sonnets begin in the vernacular , as if responding to something somebody has just said: ‘Oh never say’; ‘Alas ‘tis true’; ‘ ‘tis better to be vile than vile esteemed ‘ and so on?

    ‘Were’t aught to me’ sounds as though he’s just been accused of seeking fame or high position and he’s responding by saying that even if he was offered the chance of bearing the canopy, it would mean nothing to him. ‘Bearing the canopy ‘ doesn’t need to have a literal meaning. It could easily have been a commonly used idiom for achieving celebrity. This is written with a common sense hat on