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The Shakespeare Authorship Controversy

Bomb#20

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Politesse said:
Just wait til you see my theory that "Geoffrey Chaucer" was really "Dame Julian of Norwich", writing under a different pseudonym than usual so she could indulge in more secular topics without recrimination.

Because otherwise, How did he know so much about nuns???!
I had applauded the open-mindedness exhibited in this thread, but it's not without exception. And from someone who started his participation by admitting he knew little about the matter! Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Ruth B. Ginsburg, several other S.C. Justices, Mark Twain, Sigmund Freud ...? Were they all gullible crackpots?
I think you misunderstand. Politesse wasn't ridiculing the whole authorship controversy; he was critiquing one specific argument: "How stupid is that, an author that writes not from his experiences but just invents whatever he needs to invent, nothing in his works reflecting his life's experiences?".

If you find 20 anti-Stratfordian or pro-Oxfordian claims in the articles you read, and believe 19 of them to be outrageous or stupid, don't tell us about them. Tell us about the one fact that makes you stop and think; that you can't wave away as confusion or coincidence.
That's all very well for 19 weak arguments in the literature; but when somebody presents one of the weak arguments here, open-mindedness does not require the rest of us to refrain from pointing out that it's weak.
 

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Where did you get your definition of enjambment with reference to its use in poetry? Because the one you give is not what I'm talking about.

Enjambment is about lineation, line-ends. It's about running one line into another to create certain effects.

I was NOT proposing any alternate definition, though in hind-sight I see that my terse and badly-written paragraph was quite confusing.

Instead I just used your comment about enjambment in poetry to segue and mention a completely DIFFERENT technique of prose whose name I've forgotten but which sheds the opposite light on the authorship. This technique is ALSO rarish and is ALSO found in the works of Shakespeare. But, this technique IS found in Oxford's letters.

The technique whose name I've forgotten is to use TWO words or phrases (connected with 'and') where a less creative writer would use one. Here's a trivial example from The Merchant of Venice:
Portia's 'quality of mercy' speech in response to Shylock said:
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
 

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I've accessed the Oxford Authorship Site and read two of the 'tin letters' TGGM mentioned. Already caught two words I am unfamiliar with: sithence and satisfice. Could be typos? I don't recall seeing them in Shakespeare, or anywhere else for that matter.

At any rate, this is exciting!

ETA: not typos, just words I don't recollect seeing.
 

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When something occurs sithence another event, it has happened afterward. My students satisfice assignment requirements when they do the aboslute minimum of work necessary to get a passing grade according to the rubric. Neither word is common in modern English, sithence is archaic (replaced by "since" for most speakers) and satisfice is a crass portmanteau only used by people who read too many trendy articles on business optimization.
 

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Let me thank Mr. Moogly a second time for the links to Bonner Cutting videos. Naturally YouTube offers me more videos by Ms. Cutting, which I'm happy to click. The second one I watched is her talk about Edward de Vere's ₤1000 annuity.

I didn't realize how secret this annuity was. According to Ms. Cutting it was mentioned once in the 17th century, then discovered in the 20th century. This was an Exchequer warrant granted in 1586 for Oxford's lifetime. In a letter to Burghley, Oxford refers to his "office." This was NOT charity with the Queen helping her near-bankrupt Earl. It was for specific services; the warrant was similar to warrants granted Walsingham or Robert Cecil for secret operations. The specific service (according to Cutting) was a series of history plays intended as propaganda to support the legitimacy of the Tudor Dynasty. (Recall that most Englishmen were illiterate: it was plays, not books, that were useful as propaganda.)

The warrant was unusual for several reasons: The Queen, extremely stingy and hard-pressed for funds due to expensive wars, preferred to grant monopolies which cost her nothing, but this warrant was for payment of gold bullion out of her Treasury, during a time when she was unable to pay the salaries of her army in the Low Countries.

I don't really recommend the 38-minute video. She goes into much interesting detail, but I think I summarize the main gist here. Her slides are hard to read: She should have used black text instead of light blue.

Ms. Cutting makes much of the non-accountability clause: "... [shall not] be charged toward Us, our heirs or successors." In all other Exchequer warrants with non-accountability clauses, the pronoun is "him" (the payee) — the payee need not repay or account for the funds. But in Oxford's warrant, the pronoun is reversed: It is the payer (the Queen) who need not account for these funds. A weird but meaningless error? Ms. Cutting thinks this further emphasizes the secrecy of this annuity, and the secrecy of the services it recompenses. The non-accountability clause was an order to the Treasury auditors not to look into the payments.

There are various references to ₤1000 in early discussions of Shakespeare. This is often mentioned as a payment made by Wriothesely to Shakespeare, although there is no evidence for such a payment — enough to buy a dozen fine houses, far larger than would be normal in that putative relationship. I don't remember which references to ₤1000 that Oxfordians find most meaningful, but here's one search turns up. (Why "pounds" instead of marks or ducats as the playwright uses elsewhere? The play is set in Denmark, not England.)
Hamlet said:
O good Horatio, I'll take the ghost's word for a thousand pound! Didst perceive?
 

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I've accessed the Oxford Authorship Site and read two of the 'tin letters' TGGM mentioned. Already caught two words I am unfamiliar with: sithence and satisfice.

All's Well that Ends Well; Act I. Scene 3
Steward said:
... sithence, in the loss that may happen, it concerns you something to know it.

The Tragedy of Coriolanus, Act III
Coriolanus said:
Have you inform'd them sithence?


I think the Gutenberg.Org source that I search has mostly modernized spelling; earlier versions may have more instances.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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All's Well that Ends Well; Act I. Scene 3


The Tragedy of Coriolanus, Act III
Coriolanus said:
Have you inform'd them sithence?


I think the Gutenberg.Org source that I search has mostly modernized spelling; earlier versions may have more instances.
Different texts and revisions is actually an issue. Some updates have changed the pronoun gender.

It can be like reading ancient Greek, trying to find the translation that is most representative and accurate, not the author's bias.
 

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... a completely DIFFERENT technique of prose whose name I've forgotten but which sheds the opposite light on the authorship. This technique is ALSO rarish and is ALSO found in the works of Shakespeare. But, this technique IS found in Oxford's letters.

The technique whose name I've forgotten is to use TWO words or phrases (connected with 'and') where a less creative writer would use one. Here's a trivial example from The Merchant of Venice:
Portia's 'quality of mercy' speech in response to Shylock said:
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;

I'm re-reading Mark Anderson's Shakespeare By Another Name and happened to find that hendiadys is the word I'd forgotten. Google gives me a somewhat different definition, with the replacement of "adjective noun" with "noun and noun" being a typical example; a specific example is MacBeth's "sound and fury" where "furious sound" would be more mundane. Virgil's Aeneid and "the Bible" (which translation? Does it matter?) are shown by Google as other writings that use hendiadys. What are English examples?

Elsewhere in Anderson's book is a letter by de Vere, with three instances of hendiadys in the same sentence:
Edward de Vere in a letter to Robert Cecil said:
... But his shifts and knaveries are so gross and palpable, that doubting to bring his parties and juggling to light, he doth address his petition against her that is utterly ignorant of the cause.

'Juggled/juggler/juggling', BTW, occurs 11 times in the Plays, always in the sense of 'deceiving.'

Re-reading Anderson's book reminds me how strong the case is for Oxford; how difficult it is to understand how someone could read a book like that and not conclude that the Oxfordian case is quite strong. Read that book! Or peruse one of the websites with a hundred or more "proofs."

It would be futile and perverse to type into this thread dozens of coincidences from sources like Anderson's — Read that book! Instead I propose to comment in future posts on tangential matters including (1) How did the relationship between Oxford and Shaksper develop?; and (2) Is it just coincidence that the plays of England's Lord Great Chamberlain were performed by the Lord Chamberlain's Men?
 

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Cryptic writings (e.g. anagrams, acrostics, etc.) were very common during the Elizabethan Era and the use of pseudonyms was mandatory for the "courtier poets" who'd be violating a taboo to allow poetry to be published under their real names. Fellow poets writing about a courtier poet would have to invent a fake name. Thomas Nashe referred to Edward de Vere as "Will. Monox [with] his great dagger*" or sometimes "Gentle Master William Apis Lapis." Gabriel Harvey (whom we will meet again in a later post), jealous that he was excluded from Oxford's inner circle, insulted Oxford by referring to him as "Pierce Penniless." While some of the fake names cannot be linked with universal agreement to a specific poet, it is certain that Harvey's "Pierce Penniless" refers (in at least one case) to the man who wrote the works of Shake-speare: Harvey specifically notes that "Penniless" was the author of Venus and Adonis. (Does "Penniless" seem on odd fake name for England's most senior Earl? It was well known that the once wealthy Earldom of Oxford was essentially bankrupt by this time.)

(* - Nashe wrote "... Will. Monox (hast thou never heard of him and his great dagger?)" This is a good example of the sort of cryptic hints common in that era. Neither friend nor foe would dare identify Oxford clearly as a published poet or playwright for the common theater, but this reference with its "hast thou never heard of ..." is very clearly providing a hint about a fake name. "Great", referring to his ceremonial role of Lord Great Chamberlain of England, was an adjective often applied to Oxford. Is it a stretch to think the "dagger" is a cryptic reference to the official Sword of State carried by the Great Chamberlain on special occasions?)

Here is a page with some of Oxford's poems written when he was in his 30's, some with the pseudonym "Ball." (Because some of these authorships may be disputed, I think they are omitted from the algorithmic comparisons Oxford vs Shakespeare.)

The following sonnet, the only writing known by "Phaeton," is thought by some to be the last poem by Oxford to appear without the "Shake-speare" name. (It shares features with an anonymous acrostic tribute to Oxford's 2nd wife.) @ Experts: How does its quality compare? (The poem has also been attributed, with little evidence, to Marlowe.)
Phaeton to his friend Florio said:
Sweet friend, whose name agrees with thy increase
How fit a rival art thou of the spring!
For when each branch hath left his flourishing,
And green-locked summer's shady pleasures cease,
She makes the winter's storms repose in peace
And spends her franchise on each living thing:
The daisies spout, the little birds do sing,
Herbs, gums, and plants do vaunt of their release.
So when that all our English wits lay dead
(Except the laurel that is evergreen)
Thou with thy fruits our barrenness o'erspread
And set thy flowery pleasance to be seen.
Such fruits, such flow'rets of morality
Were ne'er before brought out of Italy.

The longest poem (attributed long before Looney's book to "L[ord] Ver" or "Ball", and which happens to have the "salve a sore" image favored by Oxford and Shake-speare) shown at the linked page above is only eight stanzas (or 48 lines) long. But the great poet was preparing Venus and Adonis, a poem with a whopping 199 stanzas (1194 lines) and of a quality to make it immediately recognized as one of the best poems ever written in the English language. This poem couldn't be published under an obviously fake name like "Phaeton." Nor could it be published anonymously. Oxford was widely agreed to be the greatest of the anonymous "courtier poets"; publishing it anonymously or with an obviously fake pseudonym would be equivalent to using his own real name.

A front-man was needed, a living, breathing "pen-name." How was "William Shake-speare" chosen for this role? I plan to explore that question in the next few posts.
 

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There are no experts with respect to the art of poetry that post here, as far as I know.

But there are quite a few well read members, and a few lovers of poetry.

To my ear, the Petrarchan sonnet you posted is very well made. The author of it writes with authority and confidence. They know their way around iambic pentameter, rhyme, and form. But there's virtually nothing in it that matches the supreme excellence found (read: heard) in Shakespeare's mature plays. It doesn't even match the quality that is found in the early plays.

Later, when I get access to a laptop, I might copy and paste a few examples of the kind of quality I'm talking about. When Shakespeare was in the zone, every line was magnificent, rich, opulent, tasty, perfectly made, surprising and astonishing to the mind and the ear. No other pen in English could do the same thing.
 

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Setting aside references to "Will Monox" or "Gentle Master William" in 1592, the very earliest reference to Shake-speare in connection with writing or the theater comes from a book edited and printed posthumously:
Robert Greene said:
For there is an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his tiger's heart wrapped in a player's hide, supposes he is as well able to bumbast out a blank verse as the best of you; and being an absolute Johannes factotum, is in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in a country.

That book is full of cryptic references. Since the mention is insulting, the writer's name ("Shake-scene") is disguised, though only very thinly. With "tiger's heart ..." (from Henry VI part 3) there is no doubt that this refers to Shake-speare.

Although this quote is trotted out be Stratfordians as proof that Shakespeare was writing plays before Venus and Adonis — if that's when the hoax began — the quote actually supports the opposite case! The quote clearly makes the same claim that anti-Stratfordians make: that Shakespeare was putting his name on others' works. The notion that a crow is vain about its beauty is as old as Aesop, but this one is beautified "with OUR feathers" — beautified by the words of a different writer.

Some say that "supposes he is [able to write verse]" implies that he believes he is the writer, which wouldn't make sense if he were simply adding his name as author. HOWEVER, "suppose" had an alternative meaning of "pretend" in those days. He is pretending to be a writer. "Suppose" is used frequently in Shakespeare's plays and many instances seem to confirm this alternate meaning. "Suppose" was borrowed from Old French, and according to an on-line dictionary French "supposer" retains the "pretend" meaning to this day: "supposer -- ... 3. Poser comme vrai quelque chose de faux, avec intention de tromper.")

Had Shakespeare been a real playwright affiliated with a theater company, his plays would presumably have been written for that company. Yet Henry VI part 3 was performed by three different companies before its early first printing, and the early Titus and Adronicus is known to have been performed by yet a fourth company.

So the usual assumption is that Shaksper became a professional actor, presumably starting as apprentice at an early age (despite that he had a wife and three children to support and minimal income); that Shaksper's duties for a theater company included procuring manuscripts; and that he began putting his name on the anonymous manuscripts hoping for fame or extra income. Edward de Vere needed a front-man anyway (a "living, breathing pen-name") so approached Shaksper since he was already acting in such a front-man role.

How things developed after that isn't clear. Some think Oxford, with physical resemblance to Shaksper, might have participated in the theater directly. It would be difficult for the lame Oxford to perform on stage, but perhaps that's why he had roles like Hamlet's father's ghost. But such speculations seem unlikely and unnecessary.

However things played out, we need to explain a sudden infusion of cash before the publication of Venus. One reason we know Shaksper was suddenly wealthy is that he acquired a coat of arms with the motto Non sans droict ("Not without right"). Since he had little if any hereditary "right" to the arms, they attest that he had good connections or was able to pay a very substantial bribe. The motto, inflicted by the College of Arms rather than chosen by Shaksper, seems sarcastic or worse:
What remains puzzling is that [William] Dethick [Garter King of Arms]—a learned man—made a nonsense of Shakespeare’s motto, writing “Non, sanz droict” (“No, without right”) before he corrected it and put “Non sanz droict” (“Not without right”) without a comma. Shakespeare must have been infuriated.... Shakespeare was an acknowledged master of mottoes. Was Dethick trying to tease him or irritate him?

I mention the motto because it connects to the second cryptic reference to Shakespeare before Venus: Ben Jonson staged a play ridiculing a country bumpkin (hinted as being Shakespeare). In the play it is suggested that the bumpkin change his motto to "Not without mustard"!

Yes, in the months before Venus was published two of London's famous playwrights were happy to make strong insults against ... the greatest writer in history??? Soon Jonson and Green's editor were informed about the true authorship and the associated hoax; they promptly changed their tunes.

Anyway, in this standard account Shaksper was already involved in procuring manuscripts and was putting his name on them; he was chosen as front-man by the real author for that reason. But there is another possibility which I will cover in the next post.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Yes, WAB, the quality of Oxford's verse is the biggest obstacle to the Oxfordian theory. I think Oxford's writing is very good, but it isn't up to the standards of the Great Bard. My working hypothesis — which may seem farfetched — is that Oxford was in close contact with a few other very talented writers and the poems and plays were polished as a team effort.

But if Oxford's poetry wasn't up to the standard of Venus or the Sonnets, what about Shaksper's one undisputed poem:
"Good Friends, for Jesus' sake forbear,
To dig the bones enclosed here!
Blest be the man that spares these stones,
And curst be he that moves my bones."

Off-topic(?) Note: While Googling so I could copy-paste the above epitaph I saw that Shaksper's bones have been disturbed — his skull is missing!
 

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I certainly agree, that's not up to snuff either.

If Oxford penned the Shakespeare plays, and the poems attributed to S, then he was not only the greatest writer in English (and easily at that - the Bard is truly without an equal), but he also made the greatest sacrifice any mortal man could make. He took credit for good but not exemplary verse, and allowed someone else to take credit and live in fame around the world for the greatest works in English ever composed.

If true, it's a great tragedy. And the Stratford man would have to be a shameless villain to allow it to happen, to take credit for another man's effort, make money and earn fame for it. It would require a man with no conscience at all; but there are no reports of him having such a character, in fact there are more to the contrary.
 

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I certainly agree, that's not up to snuff either.

If Oxford penned the Shakespeare plays, and the poems attributed to S, then he was not only the greatest writer in English (and easily at that - the Bard is truly without an equal), but he also made the greatest sacrifice any mortal man could make. He took credit for good but not exemplary verse, and allowed someone else to take credit and live in fame around the world for the greatest works in English ever composed.
Oxford didn't "take credit" for Oxford's poems: they were mostly published without his permission or under a pseudonym.
As for not taking credit for the works of Shakespeare:
  • The people most important to him — his family, sons-in-law, fellow writers, Her Majesty Elizabeth the Virgin and her successor — were all aware of his writing.
  • He, and others "in the know," were under strict, or implicit, instructions from Her Majesty to keep his Authorship secret from the public. The propaganda plays would have their impact reversed were it known they were written by Her Majesty's Great Chamberlain at her request. This was discussed up-thread. (Two-numbered James's right to rule also depended on Tudor legitimacy.)
  • Several of the Sonnets seem to lament that he is denied his due fame.
And, as mentioned up-thread, King James went into a panic when Oxford died, apparently worried about some "To be opened on my death" letter.
Several of the Sonnets seem to lament his denied fame. Look at LXXI - LXXII
... Nay if you read this line, remember not,
The hand that writ it, ...
... Do not so much as my poor name rehearse;
But let your love even with my life decay.
...
... My name be buried where my body is,
And live no more to shame nor me, nor you.
For I am shamed by that which I bring forth,
And so should you, to love things nothing worth.
Sonnet LXXXI is supposedly addressed to Southampton (then young and childless), but makes more sense to me if addressed to the front-man!
Sonnet LXXXII said:
Or I shall live your epitaph to make,
Or you survive when I in earth am rotten,
From hence your memory death cannot take,
Although in me each part will be forgotten.
Your name from hence immortal life shall have,
Though I (once gone) to all the world must die,
The earth can yield me but a common grave,
When you entombed in men's eyes shall lie,
Your monument shall be my gentle verse,
Which eyes not yet created shall o'er-read,
And tongues to be, your being shall rehearse,
When all the breathers of this world are dead,
You still shall live (such virtue hath my pen)
Where breath most breathes, even in the mouths of men.
(But do NOT trust my interpretations of the Sonnets, most of which I find incomprehensible! Is there a good Oxfordian interpretation on-line?)

If true, it's a great tragedy. And the Stratford man would have to be a shameless villain to allow it to happen, to take credit for another man's effort, make money and earn fame for it. It would require a man with no conscience at all; but there are no reports of him having such a character, in fact there are more to the contrary.

:confused: Stratford was acting at Oxford's request! And was probably well paid for it; hence his purchase of a coat of arms and one of Stratford's best houses.

But I'm curious what your references are to Shakespeare's character. He was praised by Londoners who knew his plays but not him personally. As for the glover's son in Stratford:
  • He was accused of grain hoarding during a drought-induced famine.
  • He filed a lawsuit to recover a 2-shilliong debt ... at the same time he was supposedly in London polishing King Lear.
  • He seems to have been on bad terms with Stratford neighbors and much of his family. Nobody stepped forward to eulogize him, or to note his literary work at all, even in contexts where the absence of mention would be quite startling ... were Shakespeare truly the Bard.
Shaksper's death was ignored for almost 7 years, until the Folio was published and the Monument placed. There is evidence that these were both arranged by Oxford's son and son-in-law. (For starters, the Folio was dedicated to "two incomparable brothers", one married to Susan de Vere; the other had been engaged to Susan's sister Bridget.)
 

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There are many types of, and reasons for, pen-names. Stephen King used a fake name for novels he thought too scary for his fan-base; George Elliot was adopted by a woman who thought a male authorship would sell more books (her lover's name was George); Voltaire, Molière were both fake names; as were Jack London, Lewis Carroll, Saki, and so on. Hiring a front-man as Oxford did isn't unheard of: French novelist Romaine Gary won the Goncourt Prize twice, once under a fake name; he coached his cousin to play the fake-named role when necessary.

Samuel Clemens was delighted to come up with 'Mark Twain': It sounds like a real name but was shouted out by leadsmen on Mississippi riverboats, with the happy meaning "Water is two fathoms deep, safe water."

And the late 16th and early 17th centuries were the golden age of pseudonyms. Many of the pen-names were obviously fake: Tom Tell-truth, Cuthbert Curry-knave, Martin Mar-prelate. Oxford wrote some prose under the name Pasquill Caviliero; his play-writing secretary (and collaborator?) Anthony Munday did some writing under the name Lazarus Piot. Despite lacking hyphens, the Caviliero and Piot names were probably also recognized as fake.

When Oxford realized he would need a single permanent pen-name, rather than relying on one-offs like Pasquill or Phaeton, he was faced with a quandary. A meaningful hyphenated name like Tom Tell-truth would be great fun, but useless for concealing his authorship. I suppose he might have gone with John Smith — if one front-man with that real name didn't work out there would be hundreds more to choose from! It's quite possible that when the surname Shake-speare presented itself, a lightbulb clicked in the mind of Oxford or one of his friends.

Athena Pallas (or Minerva) was the Greek (or Roman) God of wisdom, art/literature, and war. She wasn't born but sprang from the forehead of her father (Zeus/Jupiter) fully-grown, wearing armor and brandishing a spear. A case might be made that Shake-spear was a perfect pen-name for a writer! It hints at the Goddess of Literature, yet, unlike Tell-truth or Curry-knave is also a real surname (albeit never spelled with the hyphen before Venus and Adonis was published).

With "Will" prefixed to "Shake-speare" it gets even better. If we tried to design a perfect pen-name for a writer who needed to keep his identity secret, and wanted a pseudonym that especially pleased him (like "Mark Twain" pleased Clemens) but wasn't obviously fake, it might be hard to come up with a better choice than "Will Shake-speare." Serendipitously(?), there was already a man with that name working in the London theater!

(It's also alleged that Minerva and/or a lion shaking a spear appear among Edward de Vere's heraldry.)

For Queen Elizabeth's 1578 Progress (when Shaksper of Stratford was 14 years old), Gabriel Harvey prepared several speeches in Latin to "entertain" Her Majesty and her courtiers. He had been Oxford's school-mate in their teens, was now Professor of Rhetoric at Cambridge, but coveted a job working for Oxford who was in the market for top writers to work as his secretaries. It's not clear to me whether his hugely-flattering ode to Oxford was delivered orally in front of the Queen and her court, or was just sent to Oxford in written form, but the text has survived. Here's part of it:
Gabriel Harvey said:
Fata ignota homini; neque enim perspecta Tonantis Consilia: & quid si subito validissimus hostis Irruat in nostros fines? si Turca cohortes Immanes in nos armet? Taratantara quid si Terribilis tuba nunc resonet? tu videris, an iam Iamque velis pugnare ferox: ego sentio: tota Patria nostra putat: feruescit pectore sanguis; Virtus fronte habitat: Mars occupat ora; Minerua In dextra latitat: Bellona in corpore regnat: Martius ardor inest: scintellant lumina: vultus Tela vibrat: quis non rediuiuum iuret Achellem?
You don't need to know Latin to see that Oxford is being compared to Minerva and Mars. (Harvey didn't get the job, became embittered, and later insulted Oxford as mentioned in a previous post.)

The interesting part of the excerpt is shown in Red; vultus Tela vibrat translates as "Thy countenance shakes spears." (Some translations even replace "countenance" with "will.") If the letter had been translated into English, "Shake spear" might have rung a bell when Oxford chanced upon the man from Stratford 12 years later (or perhaps even sooner).

I don't give this connection much weight but since Stratfordians like to insist that "shakes spears" is a contrived translation of Tela vibrat, I decided to check into that. I know very little Latin (and even less Greek!) but wiktionary.org is a great resource. Here's what it shows for the first (primary) meanings:

  • vibrat — third-person singular present active indicative of vibrō
  • vibrō — shake, agitate, brandish
  • tēla — nominative/accusative/vocative plural of tēlum
  • tēlum — dart, spear, missile
Yep. To deny that 'tela vibrat' translates as 'shakes spears' is just more smoke-blowing by these traditionalist so-called scholars.

The connection to Harvey's flattering speech may be irrelevant, but the idea that "Will" and "Shake-speare" were very appealing pen-names for Edward de Vere seems extremely plausible to me. I think that at some point Edward de Vere happened on this man from Stratford and said "Your name intrigues me. May I buy you a pint or two of fine beer and discuss a business proposition?"
 

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There are many types of, and reasons for, pen-names. Stephen King used a fake name for novels he thought too scary for his fan-base; George Elliot was adopted by a woman who thought a male authorship would sell more books (her lover's name was George); Voltaire, Molière were both fake names; as were Jack London, Lewis Carroll, Saki, and so on. Hiring a front-man as Oxford did isn't unheard of: French novelist Romaine Gary won the Goncourt Prize twice, once under a fake name; he coached his cousin to play the fake-named role when necessary.

Samuel Clemens was delighted to come up with 'Mark Twain': It sounds like a real name but was shouted out by leadsmen on Mississippi riverboats, with the happy meaning "Water is two fathoms deep, safe water."

And the late 16th and early 17th centuries were the golden age of pseudonyms. Many of the pen-names were obviously fake: Tom Tell-truth, Cuthbert Curry-knave, Martin Mar-prelate. Oxford wrote some prose under the name Pasquill Caviliero; his play-writing secretary (and collaborator?) Anthony Munday did some writing under the name Lazarus Piot. Despite lacking hyphens, the Caviliero and Piot names were probably also recognized as fake.

When Oxford realized he would need a single permanent pen-name, rather than relying on one-offs like Pasquill or Phaeton, he was faced with a quandary. A meaningful hyphenated name like Tom Tell-truth would be great fun, but useless for concealing his authorship. I suppose he might have gone with John Smith — if one front-man with that real name didn't work out there would be hundreds more to choose from! It's quite possible that when the surname Shake-speare presented itself, a lightbulb clicked in the mind of Oxford or one of his friends.

Athena Pallas (or Minerva) was the Greek (or Roman) God of wisdom, art/literature, and war. She wasn't born but sprang from the forehead of her father (Zeus/Jupiter) fully-grown, wearing armor and brandishing a spear. A case might be made that Shake-spear was a perfect pen-name for a writer! It hints at the Goddess of Literature, yet, unlike Tell-truth or Curry-knave is also a real surname (albeit never spelled with the hyphen before Venus and Adonis was published).

With "Will" prefixed to "Shake-speare" it gets even better. If we tried to design a perfect pen-name for a writer who needed to keep his identity secret, and wanted a pseudonym that especially pleased him (like "Mark Twain" pleased Clemens) but wasn't obviously fake, it might be hard to come up with a better choice than "Will Shake-speare." Serendipitously(?), there was already a man with that name working in the London theater!

(It's also alleged that Minerva and/or a lion shaking a spear appear among Edward de Vere's heraldry.)

For Queen Elizabeth's 1578 Progress (when Shaksper of Stratford was 14 years old), Gabriel Harvey prepared several speeches in Latin to "entertain" Her Majesty and her courtiers. He had been Oxford's school-mate in their teens, was now Professor of Rhetoric at Cambridge, but coveted a job working for Oxford who was in the market for top writers to work as his secretaries. It's not clear to me whether his hugely-flattering ode to Oxford was delivered orally in front of the Queen and her court, or was just sent to Oxford in written form, but the text has survived. Here's part of it:
Gabriel Harvey said:
Fata ignota homini; neque enim perspecta Tonantis Consilia: & quid si subito validissimus hostis Irruat in nostros fines? si Turca cohortes Immanes in nos armet? Taratantara quid si Terribilis tuba nunc resonet? tu videris, an iam Iamque velis pugnare ferox: ego sentio: tota Patria nostra putat: feruescit pectore sanguis; Virtus fronte habitat: Mars occupat ora; Minerua In dextra latitat: Bellona in corpore regnat: Martius ardor inest: scintellant lumina: vultus Tela vibrat: quis non rediuiuum iuret Achellem?
You don't need to know Latin to see that Oxford is being compared to Minerva and Mars. (Harvey didn't get the job, became embittered, and later insulted Oxford as mentioned in a previous post.)

The interesting part of the excerpt is shown in Red; vultus Tela vibrat translates as "Thy countenance shakes spears." (Some translations even replace "countenance" with "will.") If the letter had been translated into English, "Shake spear" might have rung a bell when Oxford chanced upon the man from Stratford 12 years later (or perhaps even sooner).

I don't give this connection much weight but since Stratfordians like to insist that "shakes spears" is a contrived translation of Tela vibrat, I decided to check into that. I know very little Latin (and even less Greek!) but wiktionary.org is a great resource. Here's what it shows for the first (primary) meanings:

  • vibrat — third-person singular present active indicative of vibrō
  • vibrō — shake, agitate, brandish
  • tēla — nominative/accusative/vocative plural of tēlum
  • tēlum — dart, spear, missile
Yep. To deny that 'tela vibrat' translates as 'shakes spears' is just more smoke-blowing by these traditionalist so-called scholars.

The connection to Harvey's flattering speech may be irrelevant, but the idea that "Will" and "Shake-speare" were very appealing pen-names for Edward de Vere seems extremely plausible to me. I think that at some point Edward de Vere happened on this man from Stratford and said "Your name intrigues me. May I buy you a pint or two of fine beer and discuss a business proposition?"

I'm fine with the Stratford man not being the great Bard. Like I said before I don't really care that much. It's the work I love. I hardly know the man. - or even if it was a man. Don't know, don't really care.

But what I do know is that you posted a link to some poems Oxford wrote in his 30s. So, it so happens that De Vere was still a middling poet in his thirties, and yet we are to believe that he became the greatest poet in English before he died. While this would not be impossible it would be very unusual. Not only did the poetry improve, it suffered a sea-change in style.

Keats was not a very good poet at nineteen, but a lot of his early work showed sparks and hints of genius, and by the time he wrote the Hyperion fragments, he was a full on genius, and one can see the similarity between the great Keats and the not so great.

But there is no similarity between the works by De Vere and the works attributed to Shakespeare. I don't mean with respect to content, shared words, or whatever: I refer to technique, meter, sound, imagery, the magic that happens all the time in the plays, and that never happens in the work we know Oxford wrote.

That is my only problem. I am not here to defend the Stratford man. Only to suggest that the difference between the Earl's acknowledged work and the singular magnificence of 'Shakespeare' is so wide as to be almost miraculous. I mean miraculous if it were the same hand that penned both.

That the Stratford man may have been a front man is not my problem. I just have a hard time thinking it could have been Oxford.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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But I'm curious what your references are to Shakespeare's character. He was praised by Londoners who knew his plays but not him personally. As for the glover's son in Stratford:
  • He was accused of grain hoarding during a drought-induced famine.
  • He filed a lawsuit to recover a 2-shilliong debt ... at the same time he was supposedly in London polishing King Lear.
  • He seems to have been on bad terms with Stratford neighbors and much of his family. Nobody stepped forward to eulogize him, or to note his literary work at all, even in contexts where the absence of mention would be quite startling ... were Shakespeare truly the Bard.
Shaksper's death was ignored for almost 7 years, until the Folio was published and the Monument placed. There is evidence that these were both arranged by Oxford's son and son-in-law. (For starters, the Folio was dedicated to "two incomparable brothers", one married to Susan de Vere; the other had been engaged to Susan's sister Bridget.)
As you point out, and as Oxfordians are quick to agree, Stratford's life has no parallel in the human experience, at least if we are to believe Stratfordian tradition. Much incredulity has been made of the disjointedness of Stratford's apparent life, a life that goes from ignominy, to literary brilliance, then back to ignominy, only to be resurrected to literary brilliance again complete with additional unknown, unpublished works seven years after death. It's also nothing short of unbelievable that none of his Stratford acquaintances are familiar with his alleged, traditional literary genius.

But this is the life we are told he supposedly lived, what we are told must be true. I find this aspect of the traditional Shakespeare story to be nothing less than a smoking gun against Stratford authorship.
 

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There are HUNDREDS of specific facts that connect Edward de Vere to the plays and poems. Hank Whittemore has a list of 100 reasons, though I'm afraid many of the details are off-line or hard-to-find: He wants to sell his book! Anderson's book provides much more circumstantial evidence, and still the surface is barely scratched. After a while, the enormity of circumstantial evidence removes all reasonable doubt.

I have NOT attempted to summarize the enormity of this evidence. (I've pointed out a few coincidences because they were interesting or relevant to the story I was telling, not because I thought that they were, by themselves, probative.)

And a big Thank You to all for indulging me and letting me flood this thread! I did it mainly for myself: It was fun, and useful to me to gather my thoughts and set them down on paper modern digital memory. The finality of posts imposed discipline: If I were editing an essay on my laptop, I'd never make an end of it, but here we have an expiring Edit window!

Very little of what I've written is original thinking, but I've tried to connect dots in my own way. If anyone thinks I've done an adequate job of this, I'd appreciate a pat on the back and a click on the Reputation Star! :)

@ WAB - Your point is a good one. But consider what we do know:

1. The man from Stratford almost certainly did NOT write the plays and sonnets. The true author must have been someone who needed a hoaxed authorship.
2. The parallels between the biography and experiences of Edward de Vere and the content of the plays and sonnets are huge. I assume people have read Anderson's and Whittemore's books, and spent several hours watching Oxfordian YouTubes. :)
3. Many specific hints point to an Oxford authorship, as I've shown in this thread.
4. Whatever the difference in quality, there are similarities between the Oxfordian and Shakespearean canons, in meter, images and devices.

So what should we conclude? If there was a principal author other than Oxford, he must have been closely affiliated with Oxford, writing almost biographically. I can't keep track of all the courtier poets: Did Oxford have TWO sons-in-law or just one who also had a high literary reputation? Do recall that Oxford hired no less than THREE professional playwrights to work with him as private secretaries, and operated Fisher's Folly, a sort of Bohemian club where poets discussed their work.

Could the "whole be greater than the sum of its parts"? Could de Vere, Lyly and Stanley somehow have collaborated to produce verse of a quality none of them could produce alone? This would be unprecedented, but Shake-speare's quality was unprecedented.

In some of the Sonnets, the Ego is very strong. Could Oxford have jotted some ideas, which were fleshed out by his literary son-in-law while leaving intact the personal emphasis on Oxford's Ego? Such scenarios come with their own objections.

We're left with a quandary. I still think that Oxford was the principal Author, but he was surrounded by other top writers who tutored him. It might seem to require super-human effort for a poet like Oxford in his early 30's to improve to the quality of Shake-speare when Oxford was in his 40's, but we know that whoever wrote these poems had nearly super-human ability! Oxford's precociousness is well documented.

The Mystery isn't fully solved. But when Mr. Occam goes slashing with his Razor I think he will be left with a primarily-Oxford Authorship.


BTW, appreciation of the Bard's work and interest in the Authorship are not mutually exclusive and I resent implications to the contrary. If I happen to be intrigued by the phylogenetic relationship between capers and papaya, does that mean I don't notice that capers improve the flavor of my veal piccata?
 

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I have learned much while preparing posts for this thread. Just to check facts or get quotes right I have done much Googling. And thanks to all, especially Mr. Moogly for useful links. I have several tabs still open of videos I want to watch.

[Off-topic:]
In my Googling I came upon  Oxfordian_theory_of_Shakespeare_authorship
Though literary scholars reject all alternative authorship candidates, including Oxford, interest in the Oxfordian theory continues....

The convergence of documentary evidence of the type used by academics for authorial attribution – title pages, testimony by other contemporary poets and historians, and official records – sufficiently establishes Shakespeare's authorship for the overwhelming majority of Shakespeare scholars and literary historians, ...
Does anyone also find this summary unfair? "Most literary scholars reject ..." might be fair, but omission of the quantifier 'Most' renders the Wiki summary simply false in my opinion. Is there a cite for the 'overwhelming majority'? If I edited this to read 'overwhelming majority of scholars who've not bothered to peruse the evidence', would my Edit be reverted? :)

This is all especially reprehensible given the title of the Wiki article. I'm sure there are other higher-level articles where anal-retentive Wiki editors can express their views on the Authorship, but why BEGIN the article on the Oxfordian theory by claiming it's wrong?

(On The.Other.Message.Board, someone wrote "all literary scholars .."; I replied with a list of seven or so contrary thinkers, each with a Literature PhD and got a reply like "Don't you know 'All' means 'Most'? Idiot.")

I admire Wikipedia and consult it frequently, but its model is not without flaws and drawbacks.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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Hey Swammerdami, thanks for all the good information. It takes a lot of time and effort to construct those posts. I'm guessing you are a member of the Oxford Fellowship.

The subject of evidence and what constitutes evidence is discussed by Regnier who is himself a lawyer. It's quite the revelation. We as laymen when we hear the phrase "circumstantial evidence" think of evidence that is sub par, coincidental, lacking in authority. But that is hardly the case. Most people would be quite shocked to learn that DNA evidence is itself circumstantial evidence. All forensic evidence is actually circumstantial evidence, but where would we be in our administration of justice without DNA evidence and forensics? We'd be back to seances, ouija boards, angels on pinheads and hearsay.

The simple fact is that there is a plethora of evidence to support Oxfordian authorship and even more evidence to reject Stratfordian authorship. Regnier's video is worth the forty minutes.

[YOUTUBE]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRAQMQPkcS4[/YOUTUBE]
 

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ETA again: Wiki says Oxford was a "court playwright" - I don't suppose there are any extant versions of these in some form somewhere I could look at? Can't find anything yet in a search...

Rather curious, hmmm? It is well documented that de Vere was a playwright, and two mentions of him apply superlatives. (He was "best for comedy"; I don't remember the other quote off-hand.)

Yet the play-scripts, even the titles, of this great playwright have all disappeared. Might not his TWO (I remember now) very literary sons-in-law have wanted to preserve their father-in-law's work, perhaps collecting his many plays into a Folio? Hmmm.
 

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How things developed after that isn't clear. Some think Oxford, with physical resemblance to Shaksper, might have participated in the theater directly. It would be difficult for the lame Oxford to perform on stage, but perhaps that's why he had roles like Hamlet's father's ghost. But such speculations seem unlikely and unnecessary.
Unlikely, yes, but unnecessary? Do Oxfordians generally consider Oxford acting in Shakespeare plays a viable possibility? It would account for the otherwise remarkable statistics of word-usage in the plays; but it's hard to see how he could have kept it a secret.

It occurs to me that if we assume Oxford did write the plays and slip them to Shakespeare, but that he did not personally act in them, then it pretty much forces us to picture Oxford repeatedly attending performances of his plays, sitting in the audience over and over, silently mouthing to himself the words he'd written -- but in a most peculiar way. While the rest of the audience is focused on Hamlet and Ophelia and Claudius and so forth, Oxford is focused on Hamlet's father's ghost. And the same thing happens in play after play: Oxford keeps going to see his works performed, not to watch the plays themselves but to watch his own front-man. Which raises a possibility: was Oxford in love with Shakespeare? People have long been commenting on homoerotic themes in the plays and poems.
 

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Pardon me for interrupting again. This presentation by Tom Regnier is superior to the one I posted earlier. Much of the material is the same, only better presented. If anyone would care to watch this video, fortyish minutes worth, I would be glad to discuss.

I am certainly no expert on Shakespeare but the evidence Regnier presents seems overwhelming. One item of interest was the name change for Polonius in later revisions of Hamlet from Corambis to Polonius. Why was this done and what does it have to do with de Vere? Watch the video.

Tom Regnier – Justice Stevens, the Law of Evidence, and the Shakespeare Authorship Question

[YOUTUBE]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNcc7_KOnzU[/YOUTUBE]
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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In reading Looney's Shakespeare Identified in Edward De Vere, I was struck by his discussing Shakspere's (the Stratford businessman) will. Looney writes:

J. Thomas Looney 1920 said:
If, then, there be any truth in the tradition of Jonson's visit to William Shakspere just before the latter's death, it quite bears the appearance, in view of the respective parts which Jonson, Herminge and Condell played in the publication of the First Folio edition, of having had something to do with the projected publication: the interlineation of the actors' names into a will that had already been drawn up being possibly one of the results of the visit. The non appearance of Jonson's own name in the will was, under this assumption, a serious defect in the arrangement: the principals were evidently not experts at subterfuge. It was the loss of the last chance of bringing into the Stratford records of William Shakspere anything or anyone connected with contemporary literature: a loss which all Jonson's efforts years after Shakspere's death could not make good. The respective roles which Ben Jonson and William Shakspere had to play in this final comedy had evidently been badly adjusted.

I love his use of the word "comedy" as De Vere was praised during his life for being a master at writing comedy. It's as if De Vere has the last and the lasting laugh, having concocted a comedy that has fooled literally millions.
 

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The internal evidence of the plays themselves -- the statistical patterns in the word usage -- makes it pretty certain that whoever wrote the plays must have been one of the actors who performed them.

https://www.shakespeareauthorship.com/ox7.html

It's one thing to hypothesize that a nobleman such as Oxford secretly wrote the plays and slipped them to a shill; but it's quite another to hypothesize that Oxford was on stage in disguise, over and over, and was never recognized.

Of course we can't rule out the possibility that Shakespeare was fronting for a different actor; but the text statistics allow identification of which roles the author played, and it lines up with what little is known of Shakespeare's own roles -- the ghost in Hamlet for instance.

All of Shakspere's roles in plays are traditional inventions. Even his being the ghost in Hamlet is a traditional claim that appeared 70 years after his death. The name "Shakespeare" appears twice in records, but only in lists, and never Shakspere of Stratford. Neither Shakespeare nor Shakspere is ever mentioned as a writer, or as playing a role in any documents. Looney details this quite well in chapter IX of his book. It is quite odd given the traditional tale of the author's life. Other writers and roles are identified by name, but never Shakspere - or Shakespeare.
 

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I now see I got a date wrong. The Shakespeare coat of arms was issued in 1596 (estimated cost = £20). Ben Jonson's sarcastic "Not without mustard" is from a 1599 play. (These dates may seem unimportant, but I was using them as part of an argument.)
Between 1570 and 1630, there were 45 'gentlemen' in Stratford-upon-Avon out of a population of around 2,200 (in 1595). 28 had been born into the title; the other 17 were tradesmen who, like Shakespeare, successfully applied for the status.

I found this looking at the Chronology appendix in Wilson's Shakespeare: the Evidence. I was looking for the event I've bold-faced, but may as well list essentially every reference to the Stratford man during the 1590's in that chronology.
  • March 1592 - John Shakespeare named as a recusant.
  • 1595 - Shakespeare named as one of Lord Chamberlain's Men
  • 20 Oct 1596 - Renewed application for a coat of arms is made in the name of John Shakespeare.
  • 29 Nov 1596 - Shakespeare and three others issued with Writ of Attachment to keep the peace [in London].
  • 1597 - Shakespeare reported for non-payment of 5 shillings tax.
  • 4 Feb 1598 - Stratford records show Shakespeare as owner of corn and malt and living at New Place [in Stratford].
  • 1 Oct 1598 - Shakespeare listed as defaulter for non-payment of taxes in the parish of St. Helen's Church, Bishopsgate.
  • 6 Oct 1599 - Shakespeare again recorded as owing taxes in the parish of St. Helen's Church, Bishopsgate.
  • 1602 - [Shakespeare buys expensive real estate in Stratford]
Wilson's book, BTW, is decidedly pro-Stratfordian. The only real mention of Edward de Vere is a paragraph alleging that he once farted when bowing to the Queen!

Rather then hunting through Wilson's book for his discussion of that Writ of Attachment, I typed the date into Google, and got this hit. Interesting item, but mainly it serves to confirm that someone going by the name William Shakespeare was doing something in London at that time.

On the matter of Shakespeare portraying Hamlet's father's ghost: Am I the only one almost certain this is some sort of clever "wink"? The ghost was a tiny role, speaking in just one scene. What better way to hint at "Shakespeare's" ephemeral nature than to allege that he played a ghost!
 

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It is quite the historical oddity and coincidence that de Vere's literary exploits went silent just as the illiterate Stratford man's began. De Vere was an acclaimed poet lyricist dramatist as a young man and there are still works to his name, though no dramas. Why would such a literary career just end abruptly without explanation? Obviously it did not.
 

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It is quite the historical oddity and coincidence that de Vere's literary exploits went silent just as the illiterate Stratford man's began. De Vere was an acclaimed poet lyricist dramatist as a young man and there are still works to his name, though no dramas. Why would such a literary career just end abruptly without explanation? Obviously it did not.
Especially since at the transition time you speak of, Edward de Vere specifically explained his absence from court by his retirement to his country home to pursue writing.

Reviewing the thread, I think a very strong case for De Vere has been made. I suspect that those still unconvinced have not studied the thread carefully.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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It is quite the historical oddity and coincidence that de Vere's literary exploits went silent just as the illiterate Stratford man's began. De Vere was an acclaimed poet lyricist dramatist as a young man and there are still works to his name, though no dramas. Why would such a literary career just end abruptly without explanation? Obviously it did not.
Especially since at the transition time you speak of, Edward de Vere specifically explained his absence from court by his retirement to his country home to pursue writing.

Reviewing the thread, I think a very strong case for De Vere has been made. I suspect that those still unconvinced have not studied the thread carefully.

The thread is at most an introduction to an introduction to the evidence. If a person is interested in a subject they can learn. There are numerous videos and books out there making the evidentiary case.

Having watched my share of informative videos I ran across this one which is about the portrait contained on the first folio. The nice thing about the de Vere theory is that like evolution theory it keeps on giving new evidence. This short vid is worth the watch. Try to ignore the creepy background music.

The "Impossible Doublet" in the Droeshout engraving of William Shakespeare

[YOUTUBE]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCQt4pOMUqc[/YOUTUBE]
 

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I've accessed the Oxford Authorship Site and read two of the 'tin letters' TGGM mentioned. Already caught two words I am unfamiliar with: sithence and satisfice. Could be typos? I don't recall seeing them in Shakespeare, or anywhere else for that matter.

At any rate, this is exciting!

ETA: not typos, just words I don't recollect seeing.

If you continue on the investigative, evidentiary path on the Shakespeare Authorship Question you will eventually have a paradigm shift in your appreciation and understanding of the entire Shakespeare canon. Correlated with the life of de Vere it makes sense that the author was writing from experience, same as every other writer in history. Why are we told that Shakespeare did not interject his life and his experiences into his writings? Doesn't that seem preposterous? And it is absolutely preposterous for anyone who has ever written anything to attempt to believe that writing is not from experience. We're told that the Stratford man learned all about it by talking with his chums at taverns.

In Elizabethan times a commoner could not write to or about nobility, even if such a person could even write. It was common practice to have one's hand cut off for slighting nobility, yet these plays are nothing less than political dynamite. And the sonnets are directed directly to the earl of Southampton. The entire traditional accounting that these writings are from a genius, illiterate, Stratford businessman is the whopper of whoppers.

I think the myth is allowed to persist for monied interests and because many people are not so very interested in the subject.
 

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I've been reading about the Shakespeare Authorship controversy since I was in 7th grade. In all that time, no one has ever presented evidence or made a compelling enough argument to change the minds of most English speaking people.

Also, in all that time, I've had the opportunity to know a few playwrights. I can't imagine any of them allowing someone else to take credit for their words, or present someone else's as their own.

The Shamspeare conspiracy breaks down on one simple point, which is the same point that kill World Trade Center truthers and moon landing hoaxes, mainly that too many people would have to be in on the secret. More than a hundred people were needed to put on a play at the Globe theater. All it would take is one disgruntled stage hand, or jealous actor, to reveal it, if not for money, certainly for spite.

We see Hamlet and McBeth as high art, but for Bill Shakespeare, it was commercial hack work. We want our art to be created by artists who do it for the love of their art, and Shakespeare was just a working class guy. That just won't do. Being a working class guy, I find that mildly offensive, but I'm used to it by now. He took his working class work ethic to the theater. He was good at it and when he had enough money, he did what every working class man does, which is quit working.
 

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I've been reading about the Shakespeare Authorship controversy since I was in 7th grade. In all that time, no one has ever presented evidence or made a compelling enough argument to change the minds of most English speaking people.

All it would take is one disgruntled stage hand, or jealous actor, to reveal it, if not for money, certainly for spite.

We see Hamlet and McBeth as high art, but for Bill Shakespeare, it was commercial hack work....

You imply that you've done a lot of reading on the topic, but your post reeks of someone who just Googles "Help me debunk the anti-Stratfordians" :) Points you make have been refuted in this very thread.

I'll repeat the challenge I make to all skeptics: Post one or two pro-Oxfordian arguments that give you pause: that cannot be explained away as confusion or coincidence. If you read up on 20 arguments for Oxford and feel that 19 of the 20 are defective, don't tell us about the 19, tell us about the one argument that gives you pause, that does connect Oxford to the Authorship, that makes you want to seek explanation or further research.

If you cannot find a single pro-Oxfordian argument that leads you to doubt your glib reasoning, we'll know what to think of your research and Googling skills! :) Heck! Don't even bother with Google; have you even read this thread? Was there an argument here that challenges your view?

ETA: At the risk of being repetitious, the assignment is NOT to find an easily refuted argument and then refute it. It is to find an argument that makes you think, and against which you have no glib response. (What's good for the goose is good for the gander: I have already acknowledged two of the strongest anti-Oxfordian arguments.)
 

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I've been reading about the Shakespeare Authorship controversy since I was in 7th grade. In all that time, no one has ever presented evidence or made a compelling enough argument to change the minds of most English speaking people.

Also, in all that time, I've had the opportunity to know a few playwrights. I can't imagine any of them allowing someone else to take credit for their words, or present someone else's as their own.

The Shamspeare conspiracy breaks down on one simple point, which is the same point that kill World Trade Center truthers and moon landing hoaxes, mainly that too many people would have to be in on the secret. More than a hundred people were needed to put on a play at the Globe theater. All it would take is one disgruntled stage hand, or jealous actor, to reveal it, if not for money, certainly for spite.

We see Hamlet and McBeth as high art, but for Bill Shakespeare, it was commercial hack work. We want our art to be created by artists who do it for the love of their art, and Shakespeare was just a working class guy. That just won't do. Being a working class guy, I find that mildly offensive, but I'm used to it by now. He took his working class work ethic to the theater. He was good at it and when he had enough money, he did what every working class man does, which is quit working.

The authorship question has two parts. The first part is trying to demonstrate that the Stratford businessman wrote the plays, poems and sonnets. Please make your case. Then we can move on to De Vere.

I've been reading about the Shakespeare Authorship controversy since I was in 7th grade. In all that time, no one has ever presented evidence or made a compelling enough argument to change the minds of most English speaking people.

All it would take is one disgruntled stage hand, or jealous actor, to reveal it, if not for money, certainly for spite.

We see Hamlet and McBeth as high art, but for Bill Shakespeare, it was commercial hack work....

You imply that you've done a lot of reading on the topic, but your post reeks of someone who just Googles "Help me debunk the anti-Stratfordians" :) Points you make have been refuted in this very thread.

I'll repeat the challenge I make to all skeptics: Post one or two pro-Oxfordian arguments that give you pause: that cannot be explained away as confusion or coincidence. If you read up on 20 arguments for Oxford and feel that 19 of the 20 are defective, don't tell us about the 19, tell us about the one argument that gives you pause, that does connect Oxford to the Authorship, that makes you want to seek explanation or further research.

If you cannot find a single pro-Oxfordian argument that leads you to doubt your glib reasoning, we'll know what to think of your research and Googling skills! :) Heck! Don't even bother with Google; have you even read this thread? Was there an argument here that challenges your view?

ETA: At the risk of being repetitious, the assignment is NOT to find an easily refuted argument and then refute it. It is to find an argument that makes you think, and against which you have no glib response. (What's good for the goose is good for the gander: I have already acknowledged two of the strongest anti-Oxfordian arguments.)

Very well said. This is why I asked Bronzeage to make his case about the Stratford businessman, William Shakspere, being able to produce the writings. Your query is much better in that it asks to pick something particular and then discuss it. It makes the person do some research.

I'm about to finish Looney's original work. Have ordered Anderson's book.
 

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... Was there an argument here that challenges your view?

ETA: At the risk of being repetitious, the assignment is NOT to find an easily refuted argument and then refute it. It is to find an argument that makes you think, and against which you have no glib response. (What's good for the goose is good for the gander: I have already acknowledged two of the strongest anti-Oxfordian arguments.)

Very well said. This is why I asked Bronzeage to make his case about the Stratford businessman, William Shakspere, being able to produce the writings. Your query is much better in that it asks to pick something particular and then discuss it. It makes the person do some research.

I'm about to finish Looney's original work. Have ordered Anderson's book.
I thank you Mr. Moogly for your kind words. I, OTOH, worried that my words were overly harsh, and may have almost seemed to be directed personally. I do apologize if I appeared rude, though your gracious view offers me some redemption. Thanks again, M.

One riposte to my challenge would be: "Oh ho! If you can't cite such a 'fact that gives [me] pause' yourself, why should I bother to look?" Obviously no TFTer would brag about such lack of intellectual curiosity, but JFTR detractors might start with the questions below.

@ Mr. Moogly and others -- I invite you to add to this list.

I. Coincidental(?) resemblances between Hamlet and the teen-age Edward de Vere.
At a minimum I would ask detractors to choose from among:
(a) Shaksper wrote the play. Coincidences are just that, occurring by chance or as common-place motifs. Every day there's a trillion-to-one coincidence somewhere in human awareness (cf. Littlewood's Law). Six coincidences, independent and each a 100-TO-1 long-shot multiply out to ... just that, a trillion-to-one. See below.
(b) Shaksper wrote the play with input from someone (possibly Henry of Southampton or his mother), telling de Vere's biography (though not advertising this fact).
(c) Shaksper wrote the play, as ____________(Other).
(d) The play was written as some collaborative effort with Shaksper and de Vere or friends of de Vere.
(e) The collaboration included de Vere but not Shakespeare. The bulk of the poetic construction fell on de Vere.
(f) The collaboration included de Vere but not Shakespeare. The bulk of the poetic construction fell on someone other than de Vere.
(g) What if the future writing of Hamlet exerted some causal influence on the past, arranging the life-story of Lord Edward (1550-1604).

Please direct I(g) discussion to the "Topics in Retrocausality" thread.



II. Do you have any comments on the Sonnets' dedication? How about the peculiar preface to Troilus?

III. Have you seen any evidence that the Southampton family funded Shake-speare?



Below:
I'm afraid (a) will be a popular, but virtually impossible, answer to Question I.

Yes, I understand that six 100-1 coincidences is only a trillion-to-one, far too large to rule out. But there are over a dozen coincidences, several of which (why do pirates nab Hamlet?) are longer-odded than 100-to-1.
10012 to 1 is 1 septillion to one against (aka trillion trillion). Those are long odds indeed.

Just to ensure a level playing field: If you decide to challenge my assessment of I(a), please show good faith and list 5 or so of the most severe coincidences, in your opinion, between the title role, and the life of the young Earl.
 

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@ Mr. Moogly and others -- I invite you to add to this list...
That was quite an intimidating post!

For a writer like Bronzeage I think asking for a modest investment of time is in order. I don't think listening to a 30 minute presentation by Diana Price is asking too much. Of course, there is much, much, much more information out there.

It's worth restating at this point that we're not talking about recent articles such as occurred in the Atlantic about Shakespeare being a woman based on literary examination. We're only talking about De Vere and evidence.

What is good about Price's video is she also directly answers Bronzeage's question about De Vere wishing to remain anonymous. It's not rocket science.

Shakespeare's Unorthodox Biography by Diana Price

[YOUTUBE]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEQNWpo1PSs[/YOUTUBE]
 

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People are asking me to invest a lot more in this argument than I really care. "As someone wrote, A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
 

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People are asking me to invest a lot more in this argument than I really care. "As someone wrote, A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

31 minutes is not much of an investment for someone who is interested. No one is asking you to come to a secret meeting where they want you to become an Amway distributor.

I've always believed that if continents really moved like that Alfred Wegner guy said they did in 1912 we'd have found out about it a lot earlier. What took thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of years? Continental drift is just more sham crackpottery. And I don't have the time to invest in an examination of any evidence anyway. And Wegner had no credentials to even make such a claim. What a loser!

And don't get me started on stupid stuff like Germ Theory or the Theory of Evolution. Evil spirits make us sick and Jesus gave us our bodies in the garden of Eden.

Case closed.
 

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People are asking me to invest a lot more in this argument than I really care. "As someone wrote, A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

Mr. Moogly asked you to invest 31 minutes. I agree that's burdensome for someone with limited interest in the topic. But I refer you again to my questions which will take you much less than 31 minutes. More bluntly, if you can't make some response to these questions off the top of your head, then you're not serious.

I. What do you think about the similarities between Hamlet and the young Earl?
II. What do you think about the Sonnets' dedication? How about the peculiar preface to Troilus?

I think 3 minutes should be ample time for you to make some response to these. I hope you have more than 3 minutes to spare and can offer comments on other relevant topics. For example, what's your reaction to the pdf by Stanford's Professor Sturrock [linked to above] where for 25 playwrights of that era, he assigns ten binary criteria of notability?

I'll save you two minutes by summarizing Sturrock's data. Here are the (sorted) notability sums for the 25 playwrights:
. . . . . . (10, 9, 8, 8, 8, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 5, 5, 4, 4, 4, 4, 3, 0)
That's Ben Jonson satisfying all ten criteria; Nashe has nine; Spenser and Mundy seven each; and so on. Guess who scores ZERO?

I may as well list Diana Price's ten criteria on which Sturrock reports. The number at right is the number of playwrights who satisfied the criterion. (Shakespeare fails EACH of these "tests.")
1 Evidence of education --> 17
2 Record of correspondence, especially concerning literary matters --> 14
3 Evidence of having been paid to write --> 14
4 Evidence of a direct relationship with a patron --> 16
5 Extant original manuscript --> 10
6 Handwritten inscriptions, receipts, letters, etc., touching on literary matters --> 15
7 Commendatory verses, epistles, or epigrams contributed or received --> 21
8 Miscellaneous records (e.g. referred to personally as a writer) --> 24
9 Evidence of books owned, written in, borrowed, or given --> 9
10 Notice at death as a writer --> 9​
 
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Bronzeage

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I am probably one of the least serious people in this thread, but I might consider watching the video if someone can tell me, in ten words or less, why this matters?
 

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If you're asking "How would solution of the authorship mystery affect me?", I think for 99.9% of us it wouldn't matter.

I personally am driven by a broad range of curiosities, mostly unrelated to anything pertinent to "real life." I want to understand how photosynthesis works; what happened to the Lost Ark of the Covenant; and what my best move is in the on-line Diplomacy game I'm playing right now! :)

I sometimes wish I had more serious questions. Unfortunately I can't find the YouTube clip where Henry Fonda playing Pierre Bezukhov says:
I want to discover... everything!
I want to discover why I know what's right and still do what's wrong.
I want to discover what happiness is, and what value there is in suffering.
I want to discover why men go to war,
and what they really say deep in their hearts when they pray to God.
I want to discover what men and women feel when they say they love.
There's enough to keep me busy.
It's hard to understand someone like me.
Everything is so clear for you.
 

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I am probably one of the least serious people in this thread, but I might consider watching the video if someone can tell me, in ten words or less, why this matters?

It matters if evidence, integrity and historical accuracy are important. (Ten words)
 

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People are asking me to invest a lot more in this argument than I really care. "As someone wrote, A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

Mr. Moogly asked you to invest 31 minutes. I agree that's burdensome for someone with limited interest in the topic. But I refer you again to my questions which will take you much less than 31 minutes. More bluntly, if you can't make some response to these questions off the top of your head, then you're not serious.

I. What do you think about the similarities between Hamlet and the young Earl?
II. What do you think about the Sonnets' dedication? How about the peculiar preface to Troilus?

I think 3 minutes should be ample time for you to make some response to these. I hope you have more than 3 minutes to spare and can offer comments on other relevant topics. For example, what's your reaction to the pdf by Stanford's Professor Sturrock [linked to above] where for 25 playwrights of that era, he assigns ten binary criteria of notability?

I'll save you two minutes by summarizing Sturrock's data. Here are the (sorted) notability sums for the 25 playwrights:
. . . . . . (10, 9, 8, 8, 8, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 5, 5, 4, 4, 4, 4, 3, 0)
That's Ben Jonson satisfying all ten criteria; Nashe has nine; Spenser and Mundy seven each; and so on. Guess who scores ZERO?

I may as well list Diana Price's ten criteria on which Sturrock reports. The number at right is the number of playwrights who satisfied the criterion. (Shakespeare fails EACH of these "tests.")
1 Evidence of education --> 17
2 Record of correspondence, especially concerning literary matters --> 14
3 Evidence of having been paid to write --> 14
4 Evidence of a direct relationship with a patron --> 16
5 Extant original manuscript --> 10
6 Handwritten inscriptions, receipts, letters, etc., touching on literary matters --> 15
7 Commendatory verses, epistles, or epigrams contributed or received --> 21
8 Miscellaneous records (e.g. referred to personally as a writer) --> 24
9 Evidence of books owned, written in, borrowed, or given --> 9
10 Notice at death as a writer --> 9​

De Vere was being paid secretly by Queen Elizabeth the equivalent of a million dollars a year, no strings attached. This information lay hidden for centuries. Persons doing primary source investigation about De Vere discovered this because the authorship question is such a compelling mystery for them.

Persons also became very curious about the literary exploits of the Stratford man and so combed and continue to comb the Elizabethan records for centuries for any relative information. As you have shown, they came up with zip. Yet there was plenty of documentary attestation concerning dozens of other contemporaneous writers. This is nothing short of fascinating that we have absolutely no evidence that the Stratford man ever wrote a line of dialogue yet it is commonly held that he wrote the Shakespeare Canon. That fascinates me.

Pseudonymity was common practice at the time. It was also common practice for theater brokers to put their names on plays and poetry that they were presenting, not that they had written. And we have plenty of examples of Shakspere's name appearing on works written by other dramatists. The Stratford man was certainly associated with the theater and with acting, but to this day there exists no evidence that he penned a single word. Like I said, it's nothing short of fascinating.

I think there have been four supreme court justices, both liberal and conservative who have come to the same conclusion, that based on evidence the Stratford man, could not have written and did not write the Shakespeare Canon. They base their findings as any jurist would on "reasonable doubt." The evidence is just overwhelming. Of course, if a person is not familiar with the evidence it is a different matter.
 

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I think there have been four supreme court justices, both liberal and conservative who have come to the same conclusion, that based on evidence the Stratford man, could not have written and did not write the Shakespeare Canon. They base their findings as any jurist would on "reasonable doubt." The evidence is just overwhelming. Of course, if a person is not familiar with the evidence it is a different matter.

Wasn't it at least five Justices? Blackmun, Stevens and Scalia just for starters, and IIRC RBG (perhaps urged on by Scalia) was anti-Stratfordian if not Oxfordian. (We'll also need a cite on "beyond reasonable." There are lesser evidentiary standards in common use for non-criminal proceedings.)

But the reason I think anti-Stratfordians on the Scotus are worth citing are:
(a) Scotus members are few in number. If I trotted out a list of scores of anti-Stratfordians with relevant PhDs, the pedants would trot out a few thousands of PhDs (including all the 'no comment discerned' which would be lumped as traditionalist).
(b) Scotus members are intelligent, skilled in matters of evidence, interpretation and judgement; and especially have much extra time on their hands, naturally spent in intellectual diversions.
(c) Top jurists who believe in UFOs, the Moon hoax, Birtherism, etc. are exceedingly rare. Even the mostly disgusting bunch we have now were smart enough to know that GOP lies were just too blatant.
(d) Scotus members are in the public eye. Crackpottery would be embarrassing.

Given points (a) through (d) above, the fact that five SCJs reject the Stratford hoax should by itself give us pause. The flippant responses by many who defend the Stratfordian case reek of some generalized skepticism and, all too often, little interest in actually looking at the evidence. Whatever they think of Swammi or Mr. Moogly, I wonder
What do they feel when they learn that at least five Supreme Court Justices
(living and dead) think Shaksper of Stratford did NOT write the plays and poems?

(While my original curiosity was about the mystery itself, watching it be debated at Wikipedia and elsewhere also challenges my curiosity in another way: "Traditionalists" often seem intelligent and well-intentioned, but disinterested in the evidence. To me, it is the Stratfordians who remind us of Birthers, QAnon, etc. Yes, Stratford has Wikipedia on its side. So what?)
 

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The entire traditional accounting that these writings are from a genius, illiterate, Stratford businessman is the whopper of whoppers.
That is not, of course, the traditional accounting. The traditional accounting is that the Stratford businessman went to the Stratford Grammar School and was taught to read and write there. That he was illiterate appears to be your own interpolation.

Why are you so convinced he was illiterate? Because he signed his name strangely when he had to squeeze it into a tight space left for it on a legal document? Because he signed his name poorly a month before he died of an unknown disease? There are all sorts of medical conditions that make it hard to write. You aren't disputing that the Stratford businessman was an actor, are you? Price and Regnier aren't. They make much of the lack of contemporary references to him being a writer. Well, there are contemporary references to him being an actor. So how did he learn his lines if he couldn't read the scripts?
 

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I'm posting because of a specific tidbit question unrelated to Authorship. I'll mention that immediiately, lest it got lost in another blitz from Swammi!

Below is mentioned a 13-letter anagram, perhaps the right size when we want decryption to be possible but not over-easy. A 35-letter anagram would be useful for a different purpose. Too long for someone to guess (and probably ambiguous), it could be used like postal proof! Post the anagram in February, its solution in December and you're proven a dated discovery, but kept it secret for ten months.

I know of one example of a 17th-century scientist using such a discovery proof: Galileo's publication (as 35-letter anagram) that Venus has phases like the Moon. Any others?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
One interesting issue hasn't yet been mentioned in the thread. Contemporary lists of playwrights from this Elizabethan (and Jacobean) Golden Era are found in book chapters and pamphlets. With one exception, each of several lists either contains Oxford's name or Shakespeare's name but not both. Is this probative? I don't think so. We might call it a 3-to-1 subcoincidence, but it gets ignored alongside the septillion-to-one coincidental Hamlet resemblance.

But before reading on, consider the objection Stratfordians offer.
The one exception is a list by Meres(?) that shows both Oxford and Shakespeare as playwrights. That Meres shows them separately proves that the two playwrights were indeed two different people.​
Tell us what you think of that argument? Set aside your views on the Authorship Question; just tell me: Do you think Meres' list (among several contrary examples) proves that O and S were two different playwrights?
Spoiler:

As reiterated already, those in on the hoax knew they had to maintain it. Listing both names might be a way to boost the hoaxsters. Much more likely however is that Meres was simply not expert in the theater and compiled his list by combining 2 or 3 other lists; the collision on both the Bard's names is the natural result since Meres — like about 99.9% of literate Londoners — was ignorant of the hoax.


Among the lists is Henry Peacham's, with an edition in the 1620's showing Oxford and other playwrights including some with the same social rank as Shakespeare, but never Shakespeare's name. I'm enclosing an image from that book showing a writer's hand reaching out, with the writer's identity obviously hidden. The writer has produced what reads as (slightly misspelled) Latin, but is in fact an anagram. (As already mentioned such were in common vogue. Peacham's book is full of such.)
minerva-2.jpeg
This anonymous writer has produced a 13-letter anagram. With fewer letters, an elegant anagram would be hard to construct, or too easy to decipher. Much longer than 13 letters, the anagram would be too difficult to decode(*), or ambiguous.
MENTE.VIDEBORI (“By the Mind I shall be Seen”): The suggestion is that the author, who is behind the curtain, must remain hidden.

In 1937, Eva Turner Clark argued that the phrase MENTE.VIDEBORI is a Latin anagram of TIBI NOM. DE VERE or “The Identity of this Author is De Vere.”

A closer look reveals that the “dot” in the inscription has been placed directly between the “E” and the “V” to create E.V., the initials of Edward Vere.

Latin experts: Am I correct that "Tibi nom de Vere" is indeed a normal way to wrote "Your name is de Vere"? I've indulged in anagram hunts and related challenges, and, if the Latin is sound, I'm going to call this one: Yes, it does have some evidentiary value.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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The entire traditional accounting that these writings are from a genius, illiterate, Stratford businessman is the whopper of whoppers.
That is not, of course, the traditional accounting. The traditional accounting is that the Stratford businessman went to the Stratford Grammar School and was taught to read and write there. That he was illiterate appears to be your own interpolation.
That is not my personal interpolation, that is the evidentiary conclusion. There are no records of him going to any schools or mention of him going to any schools. It's all supposition. The many different biographies of the Stratford man have him supposedly doing all manner of things, all based on the traditional story of him having written the Shakespeare canon. All these suppositions are attempting to explain how he got the experience and knowledge, how he learned all the different languages and customs, all trying to explain his genius for literature. They are all guesses, every single one.

Why are you so convinced he was illiterate? Because he signed his name strangely when he had to squeeze it into a tight space left for it on a legal document? Because he signed his name poorly a month before he died of an unknown disease? There are all sorts of medical conditions that make it hard to write. You aren't disputing that the Stratford businessman was an actor, are you? Price and Regnier aren't. They make much of the lack of contemporary references to him being a writer. Well, there are contemporary references to him being an actor. So how did he learn his lines if he couldn't read the scripts?

This has been the traditional response to a lack of literary evidence, namely to make things up. Why should we have to make up excuses about these signatures for the greatest poet and dramatist in the English language? It is obviously because the traditional picture of the man has him as a sweet, gentle, literary genius and common man. But it's a faith position, there is no evidence for it.

We know he was associated with the theater but are there any records of him playing a role, actually acting in a part where he had to read lines? No such record exists. We have his name on lists of groups, and we have mentions of persons in his group playing certain roles but we do not have him listed anywhere as playing any acting roles. That is to the best of my knowledge but if I am wrong I will certainly admit that I was wrong.

There is abundant documentary evidence showing that other writers of the Elizabethan times were writers, contemporaneous evidence from the times. We have their letters and correspondences and we have mention of them being paid to write. We have other persons talking about their writing. But we have no such thing for the Stratford man, nothing, no mention of his being a famous dramatist and poet. The record is blank. As Diana Price has said it's like hearing tales of the greatest aviator and having no record of their ever having been in an airplane.

It really is a shock to look for literary evidence for the Stratford man and find none in light of the traditional story of him. But that is simply the case, and is why the authorship question is as old as the man himself.
 

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One interesting issue hasn't yet been mentioned in the thread. Contemporary lists of playwrights from this Elizabethan (and Jacobean) Golden Era are found in book chapters and pamphlets. With one exception, each of several lists either contains Oxford's name or Shakespeare's name but not both. Is this probative? I don't think so. We might call it a 3-to-1 subcoincidence, but it gets ignored alongside the septillion-to-one coincidental Hamlet resemblance.

But before reading on, consider the objection Stratfordians offer.
The one exception is a list by Meres(?) that shows both Oxford and Shakespeare as playwrights. That Meres shows them separately proves that the two playwrights were indeed two different people.​
Tell us what you think of that argument? Set aside your views on the Authorship Question; just tell me: Do you think Meres' list (among several contrary examples) proves that O and S were two different playwrights?
Pseudonyms were common back then. Let's remember that freedom of speech wasn't exactly around. Elizabethan England was nothing short of a police state. That De Vere and his Pseudonym were included doesn't prove anything.

And how exactly does "Shakespeare" appear on the list? How is it spelled? Is it hyphenated? The name Shakespeare appears on works of other writers, what are we to make of that?
 

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Wasn't it at least five Justices? ...
Even the mostly disgusting bunch we have now were smart enough to know that GOP lies were just too blatant. ...
Given points (a) through (d) above, the fact that five SCJs reject the Stratford hoax should by itself give us pause.
This is a really odd line of argument. You invite readers to respect people's opinions on account of they're being Supreme Court justices, while simultaneously stipulating that Supreme Court justices' opinions can be disgusting. Supreme Court justices are every bit as susceptible as anybody else to finding arguments convincing because they want to believe. Have you read Bush v Gore? An argument from authority is a feeble argument.
 

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The entire traditional accounting that these writings are from a genius, illiterate, Stratford businessman is the whopper of whoppers.
That is not, of course, the traditional accounting. The traditional accounting is that the Stratford businessman went to the Stratford Grammar School and was taught to read and write there. That he was illiterate appears to be your own interpolation.
That is not my personal interpolation, that is the evidentiary conclusion. There are no records of him going to any schools or mention of him going to any schools. It's all supposition.
That doesn't make it an evidentiary conclusion; that makes it a lack-of-evidentiary conclusion. You aren't going to produce that school's rolls for the 1570s and show Shakespeare wasn't on them. If "Where are his school records?" were evidence of illiteracy then we'd have to find practically everyone in England guilty of illiteracy. In the 1500s schools didn't keep track of their students the way they did in the 1900s. Besides, his father was one of Stratford's leading citizens. Why on earth would his kid not have gone to the grammar school?

If you'd wanted to say "We don't even know whether he was literate", that would be one thing; but when you say "de Vere's literary exploits went silent just as the illiterate Stratford man's began", you're making a positive claim that you know whether he could read and write. A positive claim requires positive evidence. Is there perhaps a letter from a servant mentioning that the Stratford businessman paid him to read business letters to him?

The many different biographies of the Stratford man have him supposedly doing all manner of things, all based on the traditional story of him having written the Shakespeare canon. All these suppositions are attempting to explain how he got the experience and knowledge, how he learned all the different languages and customs, all trying to explain his genius for literature. They are all guesses, every single one.
Exactly like your supposition that he was illiterate.

Why are you so convinced he was illiterate? ... There are all sorts of medical conditions that make it hard to write.
This has been the traditional response to a lack of literary evidence, namely to make things up. Why should we have to make up excuses about these signatures for the greatest poet and dramatist in the English language?
Um, because they're reasonable explanations? Being a great writer confers no immunity to all the medical problems that cursed the pre-modern era. And I didn't say he was the greatest poet and dramatist in the English language; I asked how you knew he was illiterate.

(Incidentally, it's not totally made up: the writings attributed to Shakespeare suggest the author had a peculiar interest in sexually transmitted disease. The author, whoever he was, may well have had gonorrhea; it would have been entirely normal for an Elizabethan doctor to have mistaken it for syphilis and treated it with mercury; and mercury poisoning causes tremors.)

Why are you so convinced he was illiterate? ... You aren't disputing that the Stratford businessman was an actor, are you? ... Well, there are contemporary references to him being an actor. So how did he learn his lines if he couldn't read the scripts?
We know he was associated with the theater but are there any records of him playing a role, actually acting in a part where he had to read lines? No such record exists.
There are records of him being paid after performances along with other actors. There are records where people called him a "player". Are you going to "make up excuses" for people treating him like an actor?

We have his name on lists of groups, and we have mentions of persons in his group playing certain roles but we do not have him listed anywhere as playing any acting roles.
Was everybody else in the troupe listed for particular roles? It would be entirely normal to mention who played the lead roles but not give every detail of who played whom. The simplest explanation would be that he didn't get leading roles because he wasn't the best actor.

There is abundant documentary evidence showing that other writers of the Elizabethan times were writers, contemporaneous evidence from the times. ... As Diana Price has said it's like hearing tales of the greatest aviator and having no record of their ever having been in an airplane.

It really is a shock to look for literary evidence for the Stratford man and find none in light of the traditional story of him. But that is simply the case, and is why the authorship question is as old as the man himself.
None of that is relevant to making a case that the man couldn't read. Can you quote Diana Price or anyone of her stature claiming the Stratford businessman couldn't read and/or wasn't even an actor? Or is it your own lack-of-evidentiary conclusion?
 

Swammerdami

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... If you'd wanted to say "We don't even know whether he was literate", that would be one thing; but when you say "de Vere's literary exploits went silent just as the illiterate Stratford man's began", you're making a positive claim that you know whether he could read and write. A positive claim requires positive evidence. Is there perhaps a letter from a servant mentioning that the Stratford businessman paid him to read business letters to him?

The many different biographies of the Stratford man have him supposedly doing all manner of things, ... They are all guesses, every single one.
Exactly like your supposition that he was illiterate.
...
There are records of him being paid after performances along with other actors. There are records where people called him a "player".

I'm afraid I must take Mr. Bomb's side in this sub-debate. One "handwriting expert" claims that Shaksper's inconsistent signatures suggest illiteracy, but I don't know how much weight to give that. And records from the Stratford grammar school were destroyed in fire, IIRC. Of course there are various records making Shakespeare a player, indeed a principal, in the theater company. There might be hoax involvement there, but the "not without mustard" skit seems to make Shaksper's personal involvement in the theater certain.

Obviously I also have much sympathy with Mr. Moogly's position. If Shaksper were literate, why is there no evidence of that? Stratfordians who came forth to comment on going to school with the great writer? ZERO. Shaksper's son-in-law Dr. John Hall kept a journal, in which he comments on Stratford "poets." Mentions of his father-in-law? ZERO.
 

Amyrich

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I am a firm believer of 'Innocent until proven guilty'. In this case, until and unless there are sound proofs or evidences against Shakespeare's authorship, I would like to believe that he was a genius playwright and continue to marvel at his written words.
 
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