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False Balance and the Shakespeare Authorship “Debate”

Posted on Feb. 03, 2015 by | Comments (287)

Shakespeare-portrait-510px-2About a month ago, my phone suggested that I might want to read a Newsweek article called “The Campaign to Prove Shakespeare Didn’t Exist” by Robert Gore-Langton. I was somewhat disturbed that my phone knew I had an interest in the manufactured controversy over Shakespeare’s authorship of the works attributed to him. I was also a little irritated that my phone, which has apparently progressed from snooping through my email to acquiring some form of telepathy, didn’t know that I was getting tired of the subject.

I’ve written about Shakespeare denialism many times before (most comprehensively here), and I’ve started to feel like I’m running around in circles while simultaneously banging my head against a wall (do not try this). The Newsweek headline, though, seemed to offer a new twist: Shakespeare didn’t exist at all?! Wow, that’s taking Shakespeare denialism as far as humanly possible. It’s as if someone not only claimed that the moon landing was a hoax but also said that there is no moon to land on. (Wait, what? Someone actually claimed that?)

Well, it turns out that Newsweek and my phone had tricked me with that headline. No one is saying that William Shakespeare, whose baptism and burial are recorded, didn’t exist. Instead someone is saying yet again that he was not the primary author of the plays and poems attributed to him.

Specifically, the article discusses Alexander Waugh (grandson of novelist Evelyn Waugh), his new book Shakespeare in Court, and his and the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition’s (SAC) grandstanding challenge to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT). The SAC raised £40,000 which it offered to donate to the SBT if the latter could prove “beyond doubt” that Shakespeare, the actor from Stratford-upon-Avon, really was Shakespeare the poet in a mock trial before “a panel of neutral judges” (the letter can be viewed here; the SAC ran the letter in a full-page ad in the Times Literary Supplement). The SBT turned the offer down. In the Newsweek article, Waugh claims he is considering legal action against the SBT:

Can you believe it? A registered charity turned down the opportunity of £40,000 to defend the very basis on which they are founded! … We are now considering a formal complaint to the Charities Commission and appealing to anyone who would like to join a class action suit against the Trust for all the money they’ve taken under false pretences. I am publicly accusing them of that and I am waiting for my writ. Where is it?

There have actually been moot court hearings on the authorship question before. On September 25, 1987, three sitting US Supreme Court justices–William Brennan, Harry Blackmun, and John Paul Stevens–heard arguments supporting the claims of Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford. The justices ruled in Shakespeare’s favor. The proceedings were filmed for posterity. Ordinarily, Supreme Court rulings can’t be appealed, but Oxfordians are persistent and had the case retried on November 26, 1988 before three British law lords. The British judges upheld the American verdict.

Those decisions didn’t change anyone’s opinion, of course. The Oxfordians didn’t bow to the wisdom of some of the greatest legal minds of the English-speaking world. Instead, they continued their campaign to sway the hearts and minds of the general public. Eventually, they even swayed some Supreme Court justices. For instance, former Justice Stevens later became convinced that Oxford had written Shakespeare based on depressingly fallacious reasoning.

A mock trial is not the right venue to decide a matter of scholarship. As Stanley Wells, honorary president of the SBT noted in the Newsweek article, “Public debates are an exercise of forensic skill rather than an intellectual scholarly exercise. So no, we are not going to debate or take their money. I would hope we have more dignity.”  Scholarly questions in any field are generally decided (or not decided) by people who have a great deal of expertise in the field, not “neutral panel[s] of judges.” Ideally, a scrupulously researched and evidenced paper goes through a rigorous peer review process. Once the paper is printed, it may well provoke lively response, debate, and criticism. Those responses will also undergo peer review before being published. In literary studies, many questions are not absolutely decided one way or another. There is not, for instance, a single right way to interpret Hamlet. But this question, the question of the primary authorship of Shakespeare’s works, has been decided. The evidence in favor of Shakespeare’s authorship and the lack of evidence for anyone else’s primary authorship is so compelling that the question isn’t even really a question worth considering. Imagine if the validity of climate change or evolution were to be decided in a mock trial before a “panel of neutral judges.”

If the SBT were to participate in the mock trial, they would give undeserved legitimacy to a fringe theory. And that, of course, is what the SAC wants. In their letter, they describe their view by saying that “there is ‘reasonable doubt’ [about Shakespeare’s authorship], and…the authorship issue should therefore be regarded as legitimate.”

When the media use false balance in stories about the “authorship question,” they also bestow undue legitimacy on a discredited notion. Shakespeare deniers have received sympathetic treatment in surprising places for a long time. PBS’s Frontline has run three episodes that questioned Shakespeare’s authorship: “The Shakespeare Mystery” (1989), which made the case for Oxford; “Uncovering Shakespeare” (1992), a three-hour video conference update to the previous show; and “Much Ado about Something” (2001), which suggests that Christopher Marlowe wrote Shakespeare’s work. A Teacher’s Guide is available for the Marlowe program. Similarly, NPR’s Morning Edition ran a story called “The Real Shakespeare? Evidence Points to Earl” (2008), and for many years, William S. Niederkorn wrote many ostensibly balanced, teach-the-controversy pieces for the New York Times.

In the Newsweek article, Gore-Langton doesn’t take a position on the authorship question, and he interviewed Stanley Wells to get his side of the story. The article is, however, an example of false balance. More space is given to the Shakespeare deniers, and the article begins and ends by casting doubts. Indeed, it begins with some very misleading statements:

The greatest ongoing investigation in literary history has been caused entirely by William Shakespeare’s thoughtlessness. He left no paper trail. Not a single poem or letter or play has ever been found in his own hand. We have just six shaky signatures. His will mentions no books, plays or anything else to suggest the balding Stratford businessman was also a writer.

His personality, love interests, movements are all a total mysery [sic]. The documents relating to his life are all of a legal nature. Nobody ever recognised Shakespeare as a writer during his lifetime and when he died, in 1616, no one seemed to notice. Not a single letter refers to the great author’s passing at the time.

A possible example of Shakespeare's handwriting. By Unknown. (Scanned from the original document.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

CLICK TO ENLARGE: Facsimile of a page written by ‘Hand D’—a possible example of Shakespeare’s handwriting. (Via Wikimedia Commons.)

First of all, I’d hardly call the authorship manufacturversy the “greatest ongoing investigation in literary history.” Second, the description of Shakespeare as a “Stratford businessman” suggests that he had a full-time job some distance from London that wouldn’t allow him the time to write plays. More importantly, what Gore-Langton says about the lack of documentary evidence is inaccurate. It is true that Shakespeare doesn’t mention plays or books in his will, but he entailed the bulk of his estate, including his primary residence, New Place, and its contents. He didn’t need to mention plays or poems. It might be true that no poem or play survives in Shakespeare’s hand, but that is not unusual among Elizabethan/Jacobean poets. Moreover, Hand D of the play Sir Thomas More may be in his handwriting (see image, right).

Most crucially, Shakespeare absolutely was recognized as an author during his lifetime. About half of Shakespeare’s plays were printed during his lifetime. Many of those list his name as author on the title page. Here is one early example (see image below, left).

Quarto of Love's Labor's Lost. Public domain

Quarto of Love’s Labor’s Lost. (Via Wikimedia Commons)

Wikipedia has a convenient list of Shakespeare’s quartos, along with images of all the title pages. There are many other contemporary references to Shakespeare as a writer as well. Scholarly editions of the Complete Works, such as the Norton Shakespeare and the Riverside Shakespeare, generally include these references in appendices. The problem isn’t that documentary evidence doesn’t exist. The problem is that Shakespeare deniers claim that somehow these references to William Shakespeare don’t actually refer to William Shakespeare, the actor from Stratford, but to a pseudonym of another person. To say that these references don’t exist, however, is simply false.

Gore-Langton gives the impression that he is neutral, just like those mock-trial jurors who will decide the issue once and for all if the SAC gets its way. I imagine he believes that he is presenting both sides of the argument in a light-hearted manner. However, there really aren’t two equally valid sides to this argument. There is a mountain of evidence for Shakespeare’s authorship, no evidence that he didn’t or couldn’t have written the works, and a bunch of weak and contradictory evidence for other authors. After all, evidence (of a sort) has been offered for dozens of putative authors over the years. None of it is convincing.

The Newsweek article reveals  a common problem with false balance: not only does it give a minority view legitimacy it doesn’t deserve, it is often noticeably skewed against the conventional, well-supported view.

 

Eve Siebert

Eve Siebert contributes to the Skepticality podcast and is a panelist on the Virtual Skeptics webcast. She taught college writing and literature for many years. She has a Ph.D. in English literature from Saint Louis University. Her primary area of study is Old and Middle English literature, with secondary concentrations in Old Norse and Shakespeare. Read Eve’s full bio or her other posts on this blog.

287 Comments

  1. Canman says:

    Public debates are an exercise of forensic skill rather than an intellectual scholarly exercise.

    Isn’t the exercise of forensic skill an intellectual scholarly exercise?

    • Eve Siebert says:

      I can’t speak for Wells, but he may have been referring to the rhetorical skills of argumentation. I’m sure we’ve all seen debates where the “winner,” the one who most appealed to the audience, was not necessarily the one who had presented the best evidence.

      • Will says:

        Hi Eve,

        You are aware, aren’t you, that 2 of the 3 Supreme Court Justices – Blackmun and Stevens – have reversed their decision and become Oxfordians?

        So it’s now 2-1 against the orthodoxy.

        • Eddy Veresh says:

          Not only that Will, “Sir Thomas More” is primarily in the handwriting of Anthony Munday….Oxford’s personal secretary.

          • John says:

            Sir Thomas More contains not just Anthony Munday’s writing and the handwriting of the Shakespeare sample but four other hands. These are writers working in collabortion with one another. When did the Earl work with commoners to write a play? One of the major connectors to Shakespeare of Stratford is the matching of the handwriting in Hand D with his known signatures not De Vere’s.

            With Anthony Munday as his personal secretary then that really begs the question – why didn’t Munday just take credit for writing the plays? De Vere could write a play, Munday an established playwright could simply put it out another play under his name. Nothing unusual about a recognized playwright putting out new material. No instead they’re going to farm them out to an illiterate buffoon to take credit? Yeah, that’s not going to draw attention to play writing activities that you’re trying to keep quiet?

            The play Sir Thomas More is the nail in Oxford’s coffin. It ties directly to Shakespeare of Stratford’s handwriting and showing him working with other playwrights (Munday, Heywood and Dekker) in writing a play that was reviewed by the Master of the Revels, Edmund Tilney. The guy who approved any play for showing on the London stage, his hand writing is also in the manuscript with notes to the playwrights.

    • psi says:

      Yes, except when you are playing scholastical games like Ms. Seibert is.

    • psi says:

      Yes, but if you are scared to debate on an even playing field, you will invent various excuses to avoid debating.

  2. Bob Blaskiewicz says:

    Cue Alan Tarica’s post in 3….2…

  3. Adrian Morgan says:

    One of the other blogs I read daily is written by an Oxfordian. It’s a blog that covers a multitude of topics, so an eccentric position on one topic doesn’t particularly compromise its overall worth, but it intrigues me as a case study of why educated people believe such things. I find most claims that William Shakespeare of Stratford didn’t write the plays attributed to him can be quite parodied quite pertinently as, “He was never interviewed on television”.

    However, the blog author has never spelt out the arguments he finds most persuasive. There are occasional allusions, and half-promises to extrapolate on them some other time, but the last post to be tagged “Shakespeare” was written in May 2013.

    If he does ever get around to it, I predict the comments will go wild. Perhaps that’s part of the disincentive.

    • Stan Rehm says:

      You are correct in your assessment that I am an “Oxfordian.” I began monitoring the Shakespeare authorship debates about twenty-five years ago when it was written up in The Atlantic. I joined the Shakespeare-Oxford society at that time, attended some lectures on the debate when I lived in Indianpolis, and subscribed to the Shakespeare Oxford Newletter for many years until it got too expensive for my pocketbook. I’ve bought several hardback books on the subject, one of which is still at my bedside.

      As you note in your comment at The Skeptic, I have briefly alluded to the controversy in a few posts at TYWKIWDBI (and even created a category for it in the right sidebar). The readership of the blog is – predictably – split on the matter, with some committed Stratfordians whose opinions I value and respect.

      The reason I haven’t blogged more about the subject is that I’m not trying to proselytize on the matter. I don’t feel a need to convince others that my opinion is correct. I’m secure in my belief and don’t feel any compulsion to defend it when I hear the error in others speech or writings. (I wish more people on this planet would treat their religion in the same way !!!)

      The other reason is that discussions of this matter do not lend themselves to quick summaries or brief blogposts. To explain to people thoroughly for example how the writings attributed to Shakespeare contain a huge number of references to Italy that could only be known to someone who had personally traveled to Italy requires long documentation. Unfortunately most of the material I would like to reference (from scholarly textbooks and small newletters) is not available online in a format that I can copy and paste into a blogpost. I have file folders-full of material in my desk drawer – much of it awesomely documented by researchers who have devoted their lives to the matter – but I just don’t have the time to retype this just for the benefit of readers at TYWKIWDBI.

      So it would take a lot of time for me to write an Oxfordian post, and then the well-considered and sincere replies would come (as they did on the Skeptic post you replied to), and I would need to take time to reply intelligently to them, and that would take time too. I just don’t have time for that. I try to limit my blogging to just a couple hours each morning and I know the majority of readers here are not interested in the controversy, which I find fascinating but not necessarily blogworthy.

      • Alfa says:

        >>So it would take a lot of time for me to write an Oxfordian post,

        It would take an infinite number of monkeys and typewriters to write a plausible one.

  4. Canman says:

    I find the skeptic movement’s disparagement of debate to be disturbing. In a free society issues have to be debated. If you’re losing a debate and you think it is because the other side has better rhetorical skills, maybe it’s time to brush up on your own rhetorical skills. But is that really the reason that you are losing? Maybe the other side is bringing up points that you are uncomfortable with and don’t want to deal with.

    I’m not much interested in Shakespeare, but I am very interested in climate change. I used to be very interested in evolution and the intelligent design, creationism issue. I feel that the evolution side has won all the debates. Steven J. Gould and Richard Dawkins made an agreement to never publicly debate any prominent creationists. They had a cogent argument about not giving them any publicity, although I’m not sure if I agree with it. Eugenie Scott is reputed to have come up with the term “Gish Gallop” which refers to throwing out more arguments than can be responded to. For a response, I would like to suggest “one argument at a time, please” or “you’re changing the subject”. But I’ve never seen a creationist make an argument that someone on the evolution side was not willing to respond to. I don’t see that with the climate issue.

    The climate issue is a huge complex subject with many different aspects. I hold somewhat of a lukewarmer position. Carbon dioxide certainly absorbes and reradiates infrared radiation and how much its increased concentration will likely warm the Earth and other effects need to be assessed. What can or should be done about it is not all that clear. My favorite climate blog is Climate Etc. I also follow WUWT, Climate Audit, Climate Crock of the Week and Rabett Run among others. I’ve gotten to know a lot of the views and personalities of the various bloggers and commenters and it irritates me when I see them mischaracterized or when important points are ignored. The term “false balance” makes me very suspicious. Who makes the decision as to what balance is true or false? If a sizable portion of the population believes something, whether right or wrong, should they just be ignored or have their views suppressed? On this very politicized and polarized issue, why is one side trying to push the other off the stage rather than confronting and refuting them?

    • Tom Reedy says:

      > If a sizable portion of the population believes something, whether right or wrong, should they just be ignored or have their views suppressed?

      Nobody is suppressing anyone. Shakespeare deniers get more than a proportional amount of attention, and their claims have been answered since they first popped up in the mid-19th century. The problem is that they are impervious to logic and deny the historical evidence for Shakespeare as part of a conspiracy to hide the name of the True Author, usually that of a nobleman or university graduate. For good examples of the evidence for Shakespeare, see the essay at http://shakespeareauthorship.com/howdowe.html or the Wikipedia article at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakespeare_authorship_question.

      As far as their being “a sizable portion of the population”, in reality they are an extremely small fringe group. After more than seven years, despite oubliscity drives and international media attention, the “Declaration of Reasonable Doubt about the Identity of William Shakespeare” has managed to collect only 3,111 signatures: https://doubtaboutwill.org/declaration

    • JW says:

      Canman, this comment of yours seems pretty typical of the majority of ones that I’ve read of yours in the past, here or elsewhere. You seem to mostly do at least one of two things:

      * slander your climate-change opponents as being unreasonable
      * claim victim-hood

      Sorry, I’m not buying it. And the thing that I’d really like to stress is that my opinion on this is based mostly–perhaps entirely–on your own words and behaviour, not anyone else’s. Take whatever lesson you want from that.

    • psi says:

      Canman — you say “I find the skeptic movement’s disparagement of debate to be disturbing. In a free society issues have to be debated. If you’re losing a debate and you think it is because the other side has better rhetorical skills, maybe it’s time to brush up on your own rhetorical skills. But is that really the reason that you are losing? Maybe the other side is bringing up points that you are uncomfortable with and don’t want to deal with.”

      This is indeed an apt description of what the modern “skeptics” movement has become. A shadow of the former Catholic church. Perhaps this is not surprising given that a high percentage of those in the “skeptics” movement are, like Michael Shermer, refugees from families practicing one or another form of fundamentalism.

      • Tom Reedy says:

        And here you demonstrate your deficient comprehension skills. He is not saying what you think he is saying. Perhaps you should consult your remedial English instructor.

  5. Joe Ciolino says:

    Not only is there much contemporaneous evidence that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare — eulogies, references to him by contemporaneous authors, actors, — but that’s what Miss Onello taught us at P.S. 63. So there.

  6. KOJohnson says:

    You’re still not understanding the question. I’m always surprised–although I shouldn’t be at this point!–that denialist articles from Stratfordians make no sense–that they just aren’t structured logically at all. You still haven’t adduced any proof, nor even any evidence, that Shakespere of Stratford is Shakespeare the poet and playwright.

    And you’ve misconstrued, or at least mis-stated, the position of the “doubters”, and in more than one way. The idea is simply to study the authorship question straight on; and to do that the first thing to admit is that there is not a particle of evidence indicating that Shakespere was Shakespeare. None. The idea is to simply start at the beginning and work to figure out who the author really was.

    If it does come down to Shakespere of Stratford, nobody would have any problem with that. But Stratfordians in all of these centuries have never been able to confirm that.

    That is the problem–Stratfordism rests on an assumption that has absolutely no evidence under it. Start with the evidence, and follow it wherever it may lead.

  7. KOJohnson says:

    Above all, it must be obvious that taking contemporary references to “Shakespeare” as confirmation of “Shakespere’s” authorship only begs the question, presuming that which is to be demonstrated. Well, again, there’s no way to see how anybody who does that would be capable of undertaking valid research anyway.

  8. Christine Bastien says:

    Sorry Joe Ciolino, your teacher was wrong. There was no eulogies written when Shakspere of Stratford died. That is one of the oddities of the Shakspere/Shakespere story. I think Mark Twain said it best, “When Shakespeare died in Stratford IT WAS NOT AN EVENT. It made no more stir in England than the death of any other forgotten theatre-actor would have made. Nobody came down from London; there were no lamenting poems, no eulogies, no national tears–there was merely silence, and nothing more. A striking contrast with what happened when Ben Jonson, and Francis Bacon, and Spenser, and Raleigh and the other distinguished literary folk of Shakespeare’s time passed from life! No praiseful voice was lifted for the lost Bard of Avon; even Ben Jonson waited seven years before he lifted his. “

    • Joe Ciolino says:

      Sorry Christine, but YOU are wrong. Eulogies were rarely written (except for nobility) immediately upon the death of those honored. If you knew history, you would know that.

      In either case, Ben Jonson knew The Immortal Bard, William Shakespeare, of Stratford, well in LIFE, and eulogized him in death. Miss Onello – 1, Ms. Bastien, 0.

      • Steve Bari says:

        Jonson did it twice and in print – First Folio and Timbers: and Discoveries.

      • Jerry says:

        Beat me to it! It’s hard to take any comment seriously that repeats these tired old lies. Like a hydra, when you point out the “appeal to authority” approach, “fallacious statements” or “stigma of authorship” rears up and tries to bite you. It’s like arguing with a rabid Creationist.

  9. Kechiro Akuseki says:

    The issue of false balance is a plague on society and a pox on all our houses. I’m trying to come up with a way to explain false balance to first year college students – currently we stress scholarly articles and the CRAAP test, but there’s enough bad scholarship and inexperienced researchers that this isn’t enough.

    This article may be a good lead-in for me to explain why evidence matters, why conspiracy theories are ridiculous and how they as future citizens have a right to know what’s real (and the right to feel bamboozled when the media lies to them). As for me and my beliefs, Shakespeare wrote the plays, the sonnets, shopping lists, love notes to his wife, to-do lists on the 16th century equivalent of the refrigerator door and the addresses of everyone who owed him money.

  10. daniel gautreau says:

    A Scientific American article showed that the alleged portrait of the bard was just a tracing of a portrait of Elizabeth I. Forensic analysis of the RATIOS of lengths of features imples that if not the same face, then a twin. Apparently, the tracing papaer slipped, resulting in the bulging forehead. Note also the absence of masculine eyebrow ridges. …. Good article. Isaac Asimov wrote a short essay proposing that the plays of WS were written by… William Shakespeare. Personally I suspect that his wife wrote them, but had to conceal it.Or maybe his cat wrote them

  11. Adrian Morgan says:

    Anyone who wishes to promote unorthodox claims about who wrote Shakespeare should regard http://shakespeareauthorship.com/ as essential reading, and be sure that any argument they make that is contradicted on that site is backed up with better evidence than is provided there.

  12. Shelphi says:

    The problem with what these people deem “skepticism” is that they are mistaking burying their heads in the sand and not actually questioning the status quo for it, which is not skepticism, or they run around in circles and bang their heads like disoriented ostriches because they have never read any Oxfordian scholarship. There is plenty of reason for doubt. All of their premises are based on interpretation, and that can be mistaken.
    They don’t even realize their case is shakier than a house of cards.

  13. Chris says:

    Fact – William Shaksper of Stratford was mocked on the London stage, in multiple instances, for being illiterate, a braggart, a pretender, and for slightly changing the spelling of his name.

    Fact – The Stratford tourist industry sells portraits of a man, who they claim is Shaksper, despite the fact that not a single PhD in art history not on their payroll believes it to be him. Why do they need to fraudulently posit this portrait as Shakes? Because they have no legitimate portrait, and if he did write the works, someone would have painted his picture.

    Fact – Eminent Shakespearen scholar E.A. Honiggman lamented late in his career that he did not pursue scholarship of early dating of the plays. He urged the scholarly community to do so “no matter the results.” He recounted how as a young scholar he’d been warned off this avenue by the “whales” (read tourist industry), who told him that such pursuits would damage his career.

    Even now, the heavy, corrupting hand of the tourist industry is evidence where every bit of scholarship into ‘collaboration’ is celebrated while remarkable work such as Dr. McCarthy’s into the precedence of tragedy over comedy in literary references is ignored. as that work raises troubling questions the tourist industry is unable to answer.

    • Phil says:

      Chris labels his opinions as facts. But perhaps he can provide primary sources to back them up. For instance:

      — cite the specific instances for Shakespeare being mocked. Each is merely a circular Oxfordian interpretation — if some unnamed person is called illiterate or a pretender, it must be a reference to Shakespeare of Stratford since all Oxfordians know that was what Shakespeare was.

      — Where’s the list of all art history PhDs who have opined on the Shakespeare portrait? Is the portrait you’re referring to the one on the title page of the First Folio that Ben Jonson’s poem says is Shakespeare? How many of the PhDs met Shakespeare? Jonson had.

      — Was E.A. Honiggman any relation to E.A.J. Honigmann? The latter in his review of the Oxfordian bible, “the Mysterious William Shakespeare,” “rejected Mr. Ogburn’s methods and conclusions.” He supported an alternative chronology dating Shakespeare’s first writings about five years earlier than the conventional view (1586) — but he never endorsed the idea that the works were written by anyone other than William Shakespeare.

      • Steve Bari says:

        C’mon Phil. Don’t you realize what Chris is saying? Because Jonson didn’t have a PHD in Art his opinion on the likeness of the First Folio portrait isn’t valid. It doesn’t matter that he knew Shakespeare. No PHD in Art = Not valid.

        Chris states emphatically that base born social climbers who change their name are not to be trusted. Of course he quotes Jonson, a base born social climber who changed his name but forget about that inconvenient fact. Anything reference to an illiterate is Shakespeare. Its as clear as mud.

      • Eve Siebert says:

        I don’t think I quite understand the significance of the argument that no one with a doctorate in art history has ever said that the Droeshout Bobble-Head Shakespeare portrait is really of Shakespeare. Even if it were true, so what? How does it have any bearing on the identity of the author? The engraving doesn’t look like portraits of Bacon, Marlowe, or Oxford. And I didn’t realize that the main object of art historians was to identify the subjects of portraits. No one claims it’s a great portrait, but it’s what we’ve got. Yes, Jonson said it was a good likeness, and perhaps it was more or less like Shakespeare, but even if it weren’t, what was Jonson going to say, “This figure…which is kind of crappy now I come to really look at it…”?

        • Tom Reedy says:

          That’s not what Chris is referring to. He’s referring to the Cobbe portrait, which the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is pushing since Stanley Wells tried to make that case that it’s an authentic portrait of William Shakespeare. It’s the default portrait used in SBT press releases now.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cobbe_portrait

  14. Steve Bari says:

    There was no one named Shakspere so stop using it. The man’s name is William Shakespere, that’s the legally recognized name per the English College or Arms. The more commonly used phonetic variant Shakespeare is more than legitimate as a substitute. The College of Arms refers to him as “ye player” and then they spell it also as “Shakespear”. Spelling was not consistent in this era as his own name was spelled one way at birth, one way at marriage and another way at death. That’s three different people writing the same last name, who are not related to him, spelling the name differently over the course of 50+ years. Look at any folio or quarto where the phonetic spellings aren’t modernized and the same words will be spelled differently all over the place. That’s three direct pieces of evidence that spelling was inconsistent and over several decades.

    No connection between Stratford Shakespeare and the author? How about the book keeper for King James I, is that good enough for you? Shakespeare is referred to as a player getting 4 yards of scarlet red cloth and in the same records is noted as the “Poet” for plays like “Comedy of Errors” and “Measure for Measure”. The same register refers to Richard Burbage as a player who’s named in the Stratford will. Shakespeare is also noted as being the author of 12 plays in print in a volume rounding up other poets and playwrights called “Palladis Tamia”: Wits Treasury

    No laudatory comments after his death – What exactly is the First Folio then? It notes the author was an actor in all of the plays and also mentions Stratford and Avon. If William Shakespeare was an actor not worthy of remembering or noting, why was the expensive undertaking of putting together the First Folio done in the first place? That’s 36 plays where people were paid to collect the plays, edit them, type set them; pay for the paper, the ink, the binding and over a 2 year process. Why pay for all of this for a supposed nobody especially 5 years after he died?

    You know what there is no proof of?
    The name William Shakespeare was a pseudonym used by De Vere or anyone else
    The Earl of Oxford was ever an actor or even familiar with what work goes into putting a play together
    That De Vere and Shakespeare even knew each other
    That a business arrangement existed that Shakespeare was his front man
    That De Vere didn’t want his name associated with writing plays as he was noted in print for being one.
    Anyone in theater world actually questioning the authorship in his lifetime or 100 years afterwards.

    “House of Cards”? Please the De Vere candidacy is synonymous with the term.

  15. Chris says:

    “Anyone in theater world actually questioning the authorship in his lifetime or 100 years afterwards.”

    From Jonson’s Epicene.

    “Cle. They say, he is a very good Scholler.

    Tru. I, and he says it first. A pox on him, a Fellow
    that pretends only to Learning, buys Titles, and no-
    thing else of Books in him.

    Cle. The World reports him to be very learned.

    Tru. I am sorry, the World should so conspire to be-
    lye him.
    Cle. Good faith, I have heard very good things come
    from him.
    Tru, You may. There’s none so desperately ignorant
    to deny that: would they were his own. God b’ w’
    you Gentleman.”

    Mr. Bari appears ‘desperately ignorant’ of the literature of the period, if I may borrow Ben Jonson’s phrase. The world still reports Mr. Shakspere as ‘very learned.’ Jonson calls it a conspiracy.

    As to spelling – Mr. Bari should familiarize himself with the multiple examples in the plays of the period of the base man who changed the spelling of his name for social advancement. There are three prominent examples in Jonson and Chapman. The details can be found on The Festival Robe website.

    • Steve Bari says:

      And what in passage from Jonson’s play specifically points to William Shakespeare of Stratford? Just that you want it to be him and insert him into this random conversation between characters to support your fantasy?

      In the passage you quote, it states the word – “Scholler” – what is this exactly? Is the character saying “Scholar” but spelling it in a different way? That would be an example of Inconsistent Spelling that I alluded to.

      How is this passage questioning SPECIFICALLY the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays? Again, because you want it to be and for no other reason.

      You want an example of a “base born” person, i.e. someone not of noble birth, changing their name for social advancement – how about the guy you just quoted – Ben Jonson? He was not a nobleman and removed the “h” to distinguish himself from other Johnsons. He was concerned with being remembered for posterity and moving up in social circles of the court. Jonson was exactly one of those base born social climbers who changed the spelling of his name that you seem not to like. However, you don’t seem to have a problem with the authorship of his plays. Why Shakespeare and not Jonson? Bias much?

      • Chris says:

        “Again, because you want it to be and for no other reason.”

        One report is hearsay, two is evidence. Jack Daw the ‘scholar’ in the play, shares the “Bed of Ware” with Amourous La Foole. The bed of Ware is believed to have been owned by Vere. That’s specific.

        The Shaksper portrayals over and over are quite specific. Medice in Chapman’s Gentleman Usher is illiterate – but his illiteracy is specifically illustrated when he is unable to read verse that is a clear parody of V&A. Later in the play, he commits a violent act on the very street where Shaksper lived in London! – even though the play is set in Italy.

        The evidence accumulates over and over again. It isn’t what “I want” it is what you remain in denial of.

        • Mark Johnson says:

          >> “One report is hearsay, two is evidence.”

          Piling your speculative interpretations one on top of the other does not magically transform your speculative interpretations into evidence. That you obviously don’t understand the difference between actual evidence and your speculations is remarkable.

          • Shelphi says:

            The same could be said for most Stratfordian evidence which operates a double standard. Mark’s theory of evidence has been discredited elsewhere. The status quo’s evidence
            is not any better and there is less of it.

        • Steve Bari says:

          “The bed of Ware is believed to have been owned by Vere”. Believed to be? How is an unsubstantiated belief about something owned by De Vere specific to Shakespeare? By your reasoning you’re associating De Vere with this Daw not Shakespeare. So De Vere is the supposed scholar and buffoon that the passage alludes to? You made an apparent connection between De Vere and the disreputable character being talked about not William Shakespeare of Stratford. Still waiting on that specific connection.

          “The Shaksper portrayals over and over are quite specific. Medice in Chapman’s Gentleman Usher is illiterate – but his illiteracy is specifically illustrated when he is unable to read verse that is a clear parody of V&A” – How do you know that William Shakespeare was illiterate? For all of his documented business dealings, do you have proof that he bought and sold plays? How is someone who is illiterate, a buyer and seller of plays? If that’s your livelihood than how can deal in that commodity and be unable to tell the worth of what you’re buying? This would be like being a diamond broker and have no way of knowing how to value the diamonds you are buying or selling.

          “Later in the play, he commits a violent act on the very street where Shaksper lived in London! – even though the play is set in Italy.” So someone living on a street in London, a city with 200,000 people automatically connects them with a violent crime because they name drop the street? Why associate Shakespeare and not someone else living on that same street. How many people lived on this street as apparently all of them are suspects for this “scholar”?

          Was Shakespeare ever arrested for a violent crime. I’m not talking about that Francis Langely restraining order, I mean arrested, trial, jail time, etc.

          So let’s recap here, you associated the “scholar” in the passage to De Vere and not Shakespeare because of a “believed” ownership of something. You claim that someone who’s illiterate is making a living selling literature. You don’t demonstrate any connection to Shakespeare aside from the fact that he lived on the same street as one named in Chapman’s play, even though scores of other people also lived on the street.

          As I pointed out that Jonson fits the scheming social climber that you’re painting he also fits this character in Chapman’s play better as Jonson was arrested and tried for murdering a man. Of course, he got off using an obscure legal precedent in that he could read Latin so that certainly doesn’t fit the illiterate.

          None of your examples tie directly to William Shakespeare of Stratford in your Jonson example or Chapman example in any convincing way. They do interestingly enough tie to Jonson but again, you’re not questioning his authorship.

          • Tom Reedy says:

            > None of your examples tie directly to William Shakespeare of Stratford

            They don’t even tie indirectly; the links are imposed by his imagination.

      • Russ Bullitt says:

        Steve, there is so much just plain wrong information in the “facts” you are using and conclusions you have drawn that it is impossible to know where to begin. Let’s try this as an educational starter: Along with numerous others, Sir Hugh Trevor-Roper, who died in 2003 and was a Regius Professor at Oxford University and was made a Life Peer in 1979 (I use him because he has excellent academic credentials and clearly remained open to challenging conventional wisdom throughout his life), found William Shakespeare’s elusiveness “exasperating and almost incredible…. After all, Shakespeare lived in the full daylight of the English Renaissance in the well-documented reins of Queen Elizabeth I and King James I and…. since his death has been subject to the greatest battery of organized research that has ever been directed at a single person. And yet, the greatest of all Englishmen, after this tremendous inquisition, still remains so close to a mystery that even his identity can be doubted.”

        How do you suppose Sir Hugh Trevor-Roper came to that conclusion.

        There is no doubt that someone used the name William Shakespeare (and often William Shakes-spear) to write the great works. There is not a shred of evidence, not one iota of evidence, that indicated the man from Stratford was that person.

  16. Francis Quoint says:

    A ‘manafacturversy’. Well said! As a result of the online debate which followed the Newsweek article, it’s now time to pull the switch on the assembly lines which produce all those tacky Oxfordian slogans and delusions and send the workers home to do something more useful with their lives.

    The Oxfordians were resoundingly defeated and humiliated in this debate. Time and again, they were asked extremely straightforward questions which they simply couldn’t answer.

    ‘Can you give us three pieces of direct evidence for Oxford’s authorship?’ No answer. ‘Can you give us three pieces of circumstantial evidence for Oxford’s authorship?’ No answer. ‘What precisely are the Shakespearean qualities you claim can be found in Oxford’s poetry?’ No answer. ‘What signs of an “extraordinary intellect” can you perceive in Oxford’s letters?’ No answer. ‘Do you understand the difference between a coincidence and a piece of circumstantial evidence? ‘ No answer. ‘Can you explain how the First Folio “hoax’” might have worked?’ No answer. Can you explain exactly how the Monument “hoax” worked? No answer. ‘Why do you say Shakespeare couldn’t have been an actor when his name appears first on the list of actors in the First Folio?’ No answer. ‘Can you explain why you think the bequest to Shakespeare’s fellow actors and shareholders is a forgery?’ No answer. And much, much more.

    This monumental failure to engage in rational debate is now on record and stands as a significant contribution to putting an end to the Oxfordian fallacy once and for all.

  17. Michael says:

    It is indeed disappointing to see a magazine dedicated to skepticism failing so completely in its mandate. In the case of the identity of the poet-playwright Shake-Speare the question in most mainstream Stratfordian circles is so studiously misunderstood and misinterpreted that it reminds one of Creationists’ insistence on citing Newton’s Second Law of Thermodynamics to argue against evolution, despite routine debunking. But let’s explain this one more time: the contemporary references to William Shakespeare the author are not the same thing as evidence that William Shaksper of Stratford-Upon-Avon was that author, any more than contemporary references to Mark Twain the writer refer to a man born with that name. Why is the notion of a pen-name so difficult to accept, particularly when one considers the extremely dangerous political climate in which Shake-Speare wrote? The evidence for the Stratford’s man authorship is far, far from “compelling” as Ms. Siebert assets, and indeed is tissue paper thin; hence the centuries-long mystery. There is simply no documentary evidence from Shaksper’s lifetime that indicate he was a writer of any kind; he was simply a businessman, nothing more. And there are plenty of scholarly papers written by Oxfordians and others laying out the evidence against Shaksper, as well as at least one Oxfordian PhD dissertation, so the debate is far from limited to public debates and mock trials. A truly skeptical publication would look more honestly at this scholarship and the evidence, wherever it leads, and not be bound by tradition — which is all the Stratfordian attribution is.

    • Steve Bari says:

      “the contemporary references to William Shakespeare the author are not the same thing as evidence that William Shaksper of Stratford-Upon-Avon was that author”.So what about the references to Shakespeare as the Poet for “Measure for Measure” and “Comedy of Errors” in the 1604 Christmas entertainment in the financial registry of King James I. The same records that show Shakespeare as “a player”, along with Richard Burbage, a man named in the Stratford will. What about the First Folio, naming Shakespeare as Actor, Author and Stratford and Avon? ,

      “Why is the notion of a pen-name so difficult to accept, particularly when one considers the extremely dangerous political climate in which Shake-Speare wrote?” If the climate was so precarious than why did none of the other prominent playwrights of the period use pen names such as Jonson, Greene, Peele, Drayton, Munday, Marlowe, Dekker, Heywood, Ford, Fletcher, Beaumont, and Middleton. They all used their actual names. Jonson was even arrested for sedition but it didn’t seem to affect his career prospects when he became the most celebrated poet of the era. What notable playwright used a pen name in this time?

      “There is simply no documentary evidence from Shaksper’s lifetime that indicate he was a writer of any kind; he was simply a businessman, nothing more.” – The reference above to in King James’ registry to him being a businessman and poet refutes your assertion. However, you are correct there is no documentary evidence for Shaksper because his name was not Shaksper it was William Shakespeare.

      There’s no proof of a pen name and not that it was ever used by De Vere who had no issue for being known in print as a playwright.

      How’s that for an honest look at the “scholarship”?

    • Mark Johnson says:

      >> “…the contemporary references to William Shakespeare the author are not the same thing as evidence that William Shaksper of Stratford-Upon-Avon was that author…”

      Yes, actually, some of the contemporary references to William Shakespeare the author do, in fact, qualify as evidence that William Shakespeare of Stratford was that same author. Denying this fact does nothing to help your credibility.

      • Sydney Carton says:

        I remember asking Terry Ross how many readers your arguments had converted(despite widespread hype in the less reputable Stfratfordian sources(like Skeptic).Terry recollected two in eight years plus one guy who deconverted and then reconverted.
        Face it ,Tom,just as the Texas Court of Appeals found in another circumstantial case in which you and your employers chose disgrace themselves,”no reasonable finder of fact” could have reached the position which you defended there or the one which you have futilely attempted to defend through several hundred thousand words of often ill informed verbiage.

        • Tom Reedy says:

          I think you’re lying, which wouldn’t be the first time. Or I suppose it could be attributed to senility.

          Why don’t you produce some evidence for Oxford instead of telling half-forgotten anecdotes about imaginary conversations or your stint in the Yeats archives?

          • Roger Parisious says:

            Tom made similar abusive claims in his home base of Denton,Texas, where he is paid to write propaganda for the local “justice” enforcement system.
            Here are a few examples on how Tom, and his employers are judged by those who know them best, how his fellow citizens replied to his mendacious postings.

            Anthony Williams · Top Commenter

            We all know the jury system of Denton county is a joke. Am sure thats why Gabriel Lee didnt mind reversing the decision. Denton county jury system will convict an unborn child without blinking an eye

            http://www.dentonrc.com/local-news/local-news-headlines/20111016-grand-jury-system-questioned.ece
            Mr Williams was supported by seven further citizens who read Tom’s scurrilous statement on the evidence in the Stombaugh murder case,
            And,further,this:l:”… yep, That is Denton county for you, They have the habit of convicting without evidence. Just imagine how many innocent poor people they lock up on daily basis. This man was able to afford a good appeal lawyer. They manupulate the jury system, put their friends on the jury . and have them convict anyone they want to convict.

            http://www.dentonrc.com/local-news/local-news-headlines/20111016-grand-jury-system-questioned.ece

            The entire exchange in the Denton Record of January 23,2013 is well worth reading.
            And so is the report on the nationally respected Justice Denied blog with a link to the 176 page unanimous acquittal rendered by the Court of Appeal.The judges found even viewed in the light most favorable to this corrupt prosecution “ne reasonable finder of fact” could maintain the position that Tom grovelling to the bidding of his corrupt masters,continued to maintain.
            I am always glad to expose corrupt cops.Check out my long running thread on the David Camm case over at liestoppers.blogspot.com. ,among many others.Over eighty per cent of the cases we have defended there have ended in dismals, acquittals or reversals without retrials. Tom should be so lucky.

          • knitwitted says:

            Tom Reedy wrote: “Why don’t you produce some evidence for Oxford instead of …”

            Exactly! Oxfordians, please stop with your trash-talk re Will of Stratford’s last will and testament, his schooling, his father’s coat of arms, his daughters (all of which is offensive, not to mention stoopid as hell) AND just produce your friggin’ evidence.

            Thank you for your attention, Oxfordians, to this matter.

            Kindest regards,
            knit

      • Mark Johsnon says:

        Mr. Carton suggests that it takes some sort of conversion experience to become a member of the Oxfordian faith. I think he had his on the road to Dumb-ass-cuss.

        • Sydney Carton says:

          The clone Mark Johnson ,otherwise Dromio II ,once again demonstrates his inability to construe the most elementary English. The post in question to the concession of the most intelligent editor at HLAS that the earth shaking evidence to which Reedy above refers had succeed in convincing exazctly two uncommitted peoople who chose to comment on the fact and eventually brought back a defecting convert to Stratfordianism.
          Country Boy ios in need of a frest avocation as well as a remedial English course.

  18. Alfa says:

    Whatever you call the Shakespeare Authorship Question, ‘controversy’, ‘manufactureversy, ‘debate’, ‘preposterous waste of shame’ or ‘compendium of idiotic delusions’, you should always precede the noun with the adjectives ‘former’, ‘dead’ or ‘once-noisy’ at the very least.

    As in:-

    “this *once-noisy* parade of ignorant misconceptions” or “this dead attempt at a conjecture”.

    It is a common fallacy that these internet debates go on forever.

    They don’t.

    This one has had 100 years to produce evidence to support itself and come up with nothing. Nothing but increasingly bizarre speculation, such as is already on display here.

    Latterly, as anyone who has participated in public comment threads will know, even this has now stretched to breaking point and the old shikaris who once hunted through Ogburn and Sobran proselytising rubbish like the canon’s Cambridge idiom, are now hanging up their boots and retiring from the public gaze.

    Ignore them. They WILL go away.

    • Chris says:

      for full disclosure purposes – ALFA earns his living from the Stratford tourist industry. These people are never willing to disclose their ethical conflicts of interest in these forums are they. Why is that?

      • Alfa says:

        This is Oxfordian evidence.

        Suggestive, unverifiable, untrue and, in this case, defamatory. Doesn’t even qualify as supposition, half the time. Pure invention, often, like this.

      • Tom Reedy says:

        This is an example of what Oxfordians are forced to stoop to because they don’t understand why the world doesn’t agree with their fringe beliefs. It can’t be that they’re wrong–that possibility never crosses their minds. No, it has to be that the opposing side is either protecting its financial interests (the “Stratfordian” tourist industry hiring people to oppose them on internet discussion boards) or that they’re suppressing the truth in order to protect their tenured positions in academia. It sounds good to them because they’re already primed to detect conspiracies–after all, the conspiracy that robbed Oxford of his rightful place in literary history is still alive and well. The proof? Oxford is not universally recognized as the True Bard.

  19. Mark Johnson says:

    I am not a paid spokesman and have no ethical conflict of interests whatsoever. Your belief that your subjective, idiosyncratic interpretations of literary works qualify as facts or evidence which serve to rebut actual, documentary evidence in the historic record is all that is necessary to show that your conspiracy theory is not based on any valid methodology. Thank you for providing such an excellent example of why your opinions will always remain beyond the fringes of even pseudo-history.

  20. Shelphi says:

    All documentary evidence is based on subjective interpretation of what those documents mean as well. With a clear bias, those who comment as above about documents vs literary evidence are suspect as well to true skeptics. Documents have been misinterpreted, and the Shakspere orthodoxy (look at the signatures–some do seem to be spelled that way)
    runs with their often-disputed interpretations.

    • Mark Johnson says:

      >> “All documentary evidence is based on subjective interpretation of what those documents mean as well.”

      Not true. Many pieces of documentary evidence have a plain, face-value, objective meaning and are not open to subjective interpretation. It is the application of Oxfordian bias that results in the attempt to twist such documentary evidence to mean something other than what it plainly says on its face. As to literary works, the bias is even more pronounced, and yet Oxfordians like Chris treat their speculative interpretations of such works as if they are incontrovertible fact. And then fail to see that as any problem at all.

    • Alfa says:

      All of the documentary evidence is on the Shakespearean side of the scales. There are no documents whatsoever connecting Oxford with the work. So Oxfordians make the blanket statement that documents are no use of themselves and can tell us nothing until they have been interpreted for us by Oxfordian experts.

      It’s rubbish, of course. And weighing their useless rubbish against real evidence in the scales is what produces the false balance. They not only need to get their thumb in there but both hands and their feet as well.

      • Mark Johnson says:

        The Oxfordians are contortionists when it comes to the evidence. They are also distortionists. Ms. Shelphi said the following in this very thread:

        “All of their premises are based on interpretation, and that can be mistaken.
        They don’t even realize their case is shakier than a house of cards.”

        And then complains about double standards being applied.

  21. Mark Johnson says:

    Shelphi says: “Mark’s theory of evidence has been discredited elsewhere.”

    No, actually, it hasn’t been discredited at all, although I am sure you would like to believe that. Why don’t you rise to the challenge and list three pieces of direct evidence and three pieces of circumstantial evidence which you believe support your contention that Oxford was Shakespeare. As to the circumstantial evidence that you list, please demonstrate the logical, inferential process whereby you get from your premises to your ultimate conclusion.

    • Mark Johnson says:

      For anyone who would be interested in seeing for themselves whose theory of evidence has been discredited, the following link to a rather unwieldy thread is the place to go:

      http://www.newsweek.com/2014/12/26/campaign-prove-shakespeare-didnt-exist-293243.html

      • Alfa says:

        It is such a landmark in Oxfordian incompetence, to save anyone interested struggling with 1700+ Facebook comments, I have produced a searchable PDF with everything in here:-

        http://oxfraud.com/file-list

        • Mark Johnson says:

          Thank you for producing that. It demonstrates quite conclusively that not a single Oxfordian was able to show how any of their alleged coincidences actually qualified as circumstantial evidence [they can’t establish the necessary, logical, inferential process whereby they get from their premises to a valid conclusion]. Since they already admit that they don’t have any direct evidence for their theory, it now appears that they have no evidence at all — at least, any of the kind that would be accepted in a legal case. Wells should take them up on that trial.

          • Alfa says:

            That is also the significance I see in the document.

            Quite a few other treasured Oxfordian nostrums were shredded in that column but the most important thing about it is that they began, under the imprimatur of Tom Regnier, with a manifesto of what they considered to be evidence, then set forth their ideas on how it supported their arguments.

            It quickly became transparent to anyone reading with their eyes open that nothing they see as evidence actually qualifies.

            The next step in the logical process is equally damning. Instead of adding plausibility to their ideas by supplying evidence, they add more unsupported guesswork which has the opposite effect of multiplying their improbability.

            They cannot recognise this crucial logical malfunction at the heart of their constructions which weakens everything at exactly at those points where they think it strengthens, by chaining one unlikely premise to another.

            This is how they end up defending staggeringly improbably ideas, like Hampton Court or Bilton House as the source of the swan of Avon reference.

      • Sydney Carton says:

        Don’t waste your time but in the end Mark and Tom limped off as usual with their posteriors in a sling.But no fear Bluto and Pegleg Pete are riding again.They may not be the smartest but they are durable.

        • Mark Johsnon says:

          Mr. Carton; You had your head handed to you — in the end. Anyone who reads the pdf of the debate will see that you are like Monty Python’s Black Knight…that cut all the way through your neck is just a flesh wound, right?

    • Mark Johnson says:

      I was hoping that Shelphi might return with directions on how to get to the legendary “elsewhere” to which she alludes but it appears that will not occur.

  22. Phil says:

    A fundamental tenet of Oxfordianism is that many references to Shakespeare during his lifetime (though not all) are really references to the Earl of Oxford’s pseudonym. It’s like having a carpenter who tells you that every building he works on is plumb and square, as long as you define a right angle as sometimes being 93 degrees rather than 90.

  23. Will says:

    Ms. Siebert,

    You may want to check your facts regarding the 1987 US Supreme Court Case.

    2 of the 3 Justices, Blackmun and Stevens, have reversed their decision and become Oxfordians, making the decision now stand at 2-1 to the doubters.

    • Charles Darnay says:

      Actually the Chief Justice was planning to reverse himself but died before going public. Thereby making it three to zero against the Strats. This is a statement given by his law clerk and published on the new wires.
      It seem incredible that the author of this article was not consciously aware of this fact when she published her article and it has been long known to Tom Reedy, the first Mark Johnson(yes there are two Dromio clones out there )and Mike Leadbeater(Alta,etc.etc.)
      Their endless regurgitations of Stratfordian “evidence” have been rejected both by the American Moot Court and the British Court which issued a binding legal verdict against the Stratfordian claims so far back as the 1960’s.
      That is why the British Strats will never take up the offer for a trial.They lost big before a legally constituted tribunal.

      • Alfa says:

        Kicking field goals by moonlight doesn’t count. You lost another ‘tribunal’ last year.

        Of course no one will touch your money. The $40,000 challenge is another brainless and desperate piece of misdirection. You know you will lose again. Its purpose is to try and breathe some life back into the Oxfordian corpse.

        Anyway, the sum wouldn’t come anywhere near covering the action proposed. Try upping the ante.

        • Charles Darnay says:

          Two of the three Justices have left solid statements on just how they saw through the drivel you people tried to force feed them in the 1980. Moonlight.Lightning struck Mike.
          And,oh by the way in case you actually care to read these pleadings someday you will find that BOTH sides agreed that the fraudulent claims that hand D in “Sir Thomas More”
          is that of Stratford Will should be withdrawn from evidence.The Strats couldn’t find a scientifically qualified forensic expert in the entire country who would back that whopper up.But it is still posted on your website, Leadbeater.
          In all honesty,you should remove all your hand D tripe with an apology and post the decision in the Baconian Will case that you fanatics(I do not say all Stratfordians are fanatics) lost hands(not to mention trousers) down.

          • Alfa says:

            If you can detect an elegiac note in my postings, it’s because we won’t be having this argument many more times.

            Outside the dwindling Oxfordian community, you are more likely to find an English Professor who believes Hand D was written by an infinite number of monkeys than one who does not accept that Hand D is Shakespeare’s. Its position in the canon is now unassailable thanks to the tireless work of people like Mac Jackson and recent developments in computerised technology.

            And now it’s in the canon, it’s connected to the man from Stratford by all the other canon connections, so you can laugh all you like at the work of the professional handwriting analysts (they’re scientists, only fit for stoning), their evidence and conclusions are no longer necessary to connect it up.

            Hand D, because of the way it emends as it goes, is the hand of the author. What it writes is Shakespearean in quality. And Shakespeare is the man from Stratford.

            Yes, there are still Stratfordians who aren’t 100% certain – it destroys their hobby as well as yours. Yes, there are still people who want to see a bit more detail. But as far as the corridor of uncertainty goes, we are down to filling the last few cracks in the plaster before we paint it.

            And your SCJ’s will just have to change their opinions.

            Like the rest of you.

  24. Matt says:

    There is cetainly a “prima facie” case for Shakespeare, however it is based almost entirely on posthumous evidence.

    Ben Jonson lampooned Will in “Every Man Out of His Humour” as Sogliardo, and “On Poet Ape”:

    “Poor Poet-Ape, that would be thought our chief,
    Whose works are e’en the frippery of wit,
    From brokage is become so bold a thief,
    As we, the robb’d, leave rage, and pity it.
    At first he made low shifts, would pick and glean,
    Buy the reversion of old plays; now grown
    To a little wealth, and credit in the scene,
    He takes up all, makes each man’s wit his own:
    And, told of this, he slights it. Tut, such crimes
    The sluggish gaping auditor devours;
    He marks not whose ‘twas first: and after-times
    May judge it to be his, as well as ours.
    Fool! as if half eyes will not know a fleece
    From locks of wool, or shreds from the whole piece?”

    We have contemperaneous evidence that Oxford wrote but supressed it, and that Elizabethan authors used front-men (a “Battilus”).

    The first folio was dedicated to members of Oxford’s immediate family, some of whom lived at Wilton House, next door to Stratford-Sub-Castle on the River Avon.

    Shakespeare’s Sonnets refer to a man whose name is going to be forgotten, just as Shakespeare’s name is becoming one of the most famous in literary Englans. “I, once gone, to all the world must die”….”My name be buried where my body is, and live no more, to shame nor me nor you”.

    I recommend Diana Price’s “Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Biography” and Mark Anderson’s “Shakespeare By Another Name”. You won’t look at the authorship question in the same way again.

    You can buy Anderson’s book in kindle edition for just $4.61:

    http://www.amazon.com/Shakespeare-Another-Name-Mark-Anderson-ebook/dp/B0063JH2SU/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=

    • Mark Johnson says:

      >> “There is cetainly a “prima facie” case for Shakespeare, however it is based almost entirely on posthumous evidence.”

      This statement certainly isn’t true, and, even if it were true, statements made by Shakespeare’s contemporaries subsequent to his death do not lose their evidentiary value. They can carry, and, in this case, doe carry, just as much weight as evidence generated during Shakespeare’s lifetime. It is an Oxfordian trick to complain that certain pieces of evidence are “posthumous” as if that somehow affects their validity or excludes them altogether. This Oxfordian misconception arises from the fact that Diana Price, one of the authors cited by the denialists, misunderstood her own stated criteria for evidence.

      In addition, it is not a fact that Jonson’s “On Poet Ape” lampoons William Shakespeare of Stratford, nor is it a fact that Sogliardo is a caricature of Shakespeare. This is simply more Oxfordian speculation parading as fact. It is not a fact that there is contemporary evidence that Oxford suppressed any of his writing, and any evidence as to Elizabethan authors using front-men does nothing to establish that Oxford was Shakespeare.

      The Folio was dedicated to two brothers, one of whom married one of Oxford’s daughters after Oxford had died. This does not qualify as evidence that Oxford was Shakespeare. If you really want to view actual evidence I would recommend that you go to the original documents showing Will Shakespeare’s connections to the acting companies that performed the plays and the theaters where the Shakespeare plays were performed.

      • Matt says:

        “And in her Maiesties time that now is are sprong up an other crew of Courtly makers Noble men and Gentlemen of her Maiesties owne servaunts, who have written excellently well as it would appear if their doings could be foundout and made publicke with the rest, of which number is first that noble Gentleman Edward Earle of Oxford..” Art of English Poesie, 1589

        • Mark Johnson says:

          Another instance of an Oxfordian removing a comment from its context to try to produce evidence. What the passage actually says:

          And in her Majesties [i.e., Queen Elizabeth’s] time that now is are sprong up an other crew of Courtly makers Noble men and Gentlemen of her Majesties owne servauntes, who have written excellently well as it would appeare if their doings could be found out and made publicke with the rest, of which number is first that noble Gentleman Edward Earle of Oxford. Thomas Lord of Bukhurst, when he was young, Henry Lord Paget, Sir
          Philip Sydney, Sir Walter Rawleigh, Master Edward Dyar, Maister Fulke Grevell, Gascon, Britton, Turberville and a great many other learned Gentlemen, whose names I do not omit for envie, but to avoyde tediousnesse, and who have deserved no little commendation.

          Oxford is not one of the authors who has not made his work public [we know that certain of his poems were published]…he is one of “THE REST” whose works have been made public, just like Buckhurst [when he was younger], Sidney, Rawley, Dyar, etc., all of whom had works published in their names. The notion that Oxford had suppressed his works is simply another instance of Oxfordian bias at work in the interpretation of a text.

          • Matt says:

            That is just your opinion, Mark, please don’t state “Oxford was one of the rest” as if it were fact.

            How many of Sidney’s plays were published by 1589?

            Oxford’s surviving plays are all from his teens and early 20s. In his late 20s and early 30s, Oxford fell from grace after spending time in the Tower of London for impregnating a maid-of-honour and fighting in the streets upon release (amongst other things). Since then, no other writings in his name have survived.

            What is the statistical probability that we would find many of his early works but none of his later works, unless he deliberately did not make them public?

            Come to think of is, what is the statistical probability that Shakspere could leave behind over 70 pieces of documented evidence, including a plethora of legal and business documents, but not a single sentence of fiction in his hand? Or a single letter?

            That is not simply statistically significant, it borders on the mathematically impossible.

            As a member of the nasty “Oxfraud” group, I don’t expect you to change your mind, although I do ask, why form a group against Oxford and no other candidate? Tacit admission that the Oxford case is strong, no?

            For others wanting to read more, here’s a link:

            http://www.shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/the-rest-not-silence/

          • Matt says:

            * poems, not plays.

          • Tom Reedy says:

            At the time of publication 6 of the 9 named authors had been published (that we know of) under their names, including Oxford. It seems a big stretch to claim that Oxford is in the group of unpublished poets, or those who publish under the names of others. Such is the nature of Oxfordian “interpretation” of documentary evidence.

      • John Bedford says:

        In Robert Greene’s FAREWELL TO FOLLY (1591), Greene complained of “poets, which for their calling and gravity, being loathe to have any profane pamphlets pass under their hand, get some other Batillus to set his name to their verses: Thus is the ass made proud by this underhand brokery.”

        Clear contemporaneous evidence that Elizabethan authors used fronts.

        Many orthodox scholars see Sogliardo and “Poet Ape” as Shakespeare. The milieu of the 1590s London literary scene is littered with examples of fronts, underhanded brokery, and “poet apes”.

        And you think there’s no reason to doubt Shakspere wrote the works?

        • Mark Johnson says:

          I don’t think that you have a scintilla of evidence to cast doubt on Will Shakespeare’s authorship of the works, and, to this point, you haven’t produced any such evidence. Even more importantly, as you have admitted, there is a prima facie case, based on evidence, in support of the proposition that WS of Stratford was the author. A prima facie case establishes a rebuttable presumption that the proposition is true, a presumption which can only be overcome by the production of actual evidence. Your speculations, and, yes, the speculations of orthodox scholars, do not qualify as such evidence. They remain mere speculative opinions and are not facts or evidence.

        • Mark Johnson says:

          In the Preface to ‘Farewell to Folly’, Greene wrote the following:

          …Others will flout and ouer read euerie line with a frumpe and say tis scuruie when they themselves are such scabd Iades that they are like to dye of the fazion [ulcerated throat]: but if they come to write, or publish anie thing in print, it is either distild out of ballets, or borrowed of Theological poets, which, for their calling and grauitie being loth to haue anie prophane pamphlets pass under their hand, get some other Batillus to set his name to their verses.

          He continues:

          Thus is the asse made proud by this vnder hande brokerie. And he that can not write true Englishe without the helpe of Clearkes of parish Churches, will needes make him selfe the father of interludes.

          O tis a iollie matter when a man hath a familiar stile, and can endite a whole yeare, and neuer be beholding to art? But to bring Scripture to proue any thing he sayes, and kill it dead with the text in a trifling subiect of loue. I tell you is no small peece of cunning. As for example two louers on the stage arguing one an other of vnkindnesse, his Mistris runnes ouer to him with his canonicall sentence, A mans conscience is a thousande witnesses, and hir knight againe excuseth him selfe with that saying of the Apostle, Loue couereth the multitude of sinnes, I thinke this was but simple abusing of the Scripture. In charitie be it spoken I am perswaded the sexton of Saint Giles without Creeple gate, would haue beene ashamed of such blasphemous Rhetoricke.

          There isn’t anything in any of the above which identifies William Shakespeare as the target of Greene’s writing, and there certainly isn’t the slightest suggestion that Oxford was Shakespeare. This is what passes for Oxfordian evidence for the proposition that Shakespeare’s authorship of the works should be doubted.

          • John Bedford says:

            Not 1 but 2 replies, Mark! You write a lot, but say little.

            I never said it related directly to Shakespeare.

            What I said, and what I repeat, is that it is clear, unequivocal, undeniable, contemporaneous evidence that some Elizabethan writers used fronts.

          • John says:

            So which playwrights of the era used pseudonyms? Jonson, Dekker, Fletcher, Masinger, Marlowe, Greene, Ford, Middleton, and Beaumont to name a few wrote under their own names so which notable playwright wrote under a pen name and what was that pen name?

          • Sydney Carton says:

            Even by your standards ,Mark,you’ve hit an all time low.
            Having spewed your bile on the majority of the Supreme Court,the editors of a prestigious law review,Orson Welles, and even dear old Stanley Wells,it is not surprising that you are not doing any better with Robert Greene.
            The passage in question ,with a quite comprehensive and,generally, still valid elucidation was published by that excellent Stratfordian critic ,Richard Simpson(ever hear of him,Mark?) in “School of Shakespeare”” back in the 1880’s.It is on line,though you will undoubtedly fail to read Simpson correctly should you,just once,try to get your facts straight before mouthing off.
            Simpson was able to specifically identify the piece to which Greene refers to as a play entitled “Fair Em” and he had no doubt that the near illiterate who was being made the father of interludes was your poster boy,Will Shakspere of Strattford on
            Avon.
            Since Greene had effectively blown the concealed author’s cover in advance tne play was published anonymously but it is cataloged in thr library of King Charles as ,along with “Mucedorus” and “The Merry Devil of Edmonton “,as by William Shakespeare.
            So we have a clear contemporary statement that a fraudulent attribution was going to be made about “Faire Em” aand when we get an attribution it is to an author,whom according to your methods of identification ,must be Stratford Will.
            If it makes you feel any better Simpson was so upset by his discovery that he spent many long hours trying to prove that “Faire Em” was a genuine Shakespeare production but he failed to convince even the most die hard Stratfordian of the fact.
            In further corroboration of Stratfordian Simpson’s identification of Shakspere as the near illiterate front man,it has since been discovered that both Shakspere and his brother Edmund did lodge at certain times in the district of St. Giles Outside Cripplegate.
            Reedy ,of course,knows this as some of my home school pupils posted this and many other references on Wickie .They were all taken down and Tomhas the intestinal fortitude to come over here and post that the Greene passage which contains direct quotes from the “Faire Em” manuscript and is actually describing a political pamphlet.”
            We also gave the same history with David Kathman on the same podium during the late 9o’s .And Kathman stood silent.Tom and you would have been better advised to stay silent this time as well..

        • Tom Reedy says:

          Greene is most likely referring to the “profane” Martin Marprelate pamphlets, which were published a couple of years earlier. The rebuttals were written by poets such as Nashe, Greene, and Lily, who were hired by the government to follow the official line and which published them under pseudonyms.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Marprelate

          • John Bedford says:

            Supposition, Tom.

          • Alfa says:

            Of course it is only unequivocal evidence that people published verse in pamphlets under pseudonyms. (As if anyone needed any evidence of this).

            It is unequivocally not evidence that people published plays performed in the professional theatre under *allonyms*, nor is there any such evidence.

            It is, however, primary evidence of the fact that Oxfordians cannot support their case with anything relevant to it. (As if anyone needed any evidence of this).

      • Charles Darnay says:

        Naughty ,naughty. You are telling fibs again ,Mark 1, or Dromio 2 as the case may be.
        Stanley Wells has stated ,and quite recently,that the case for Stratford Will does depend on arguing backward from posthumous evidence. And I believe this was called to the attention of your gang of blowhards on the the Spectator thread quite recently.
        Like the Bourbons your crowd never forget anything and never learns anything. Though you do suppress a lot.

        • Mark Johnson says:

          What an interesting argument you make.

          According to you, I must be “fibbing” since I disagree with a statement made by Professor Wells. Since you disagree with many of the statements made by Professor Wells you must be a liar yourself. Congratulations on pinning yourself.

          >> “Like the Bourbons your crowd never forget [sic] anything and never learns anything.”

          I have already learned what a pompous windbag you are. That’s a good start. You could make an effort to formulate an argument in response to the documentary evidence which I have cited, which is not posthumous [even in the way that Oxfordians misconstrue that term] and which serves to uniquely and specifically identify Will Shakespeare of Stratford as the author, but it appears that the very best you can do is to make silly statements and indulge in attempts at insult.

      • Charles Darnay says:

        Country boy,we just cain’t take you anywhere.
        Stanley Wells has recently identified Sogliardo as Will Shakspere.Do you think Stanley is part of the Oxfordian conspiracy?
        The last few hours we also had occasion to point out that you were calling Stanley an idiiot for stating that the Stratfordian case depended on posthumous evidence,as it plainly does.
        You are just jealous that Stanley’s wife penned that fine horror yarn “The Woman in Black” whereas you flesh eating zombies at Oxfraud never manage to scare anyone except yourselves.

        • Mark Johnson says:

          “Country boy”??? To coin a phrase [you do know what a phrase is now, right], are you hitting the sauce again?

          >> “Stanley Wells has recently identified Sogliardo as Will Shakspere.Do you think Stanley is part of the Oxfordian conspiracy?”

          No, I think he is speculating. Unlike you, I don’t believe that speculation should be treated as fact.

          >> “The last few hours we also had occasion to point out that you were calling Stanley an idiiot [sic] for stating that the Stratfordian case depended on posthumous evidence,as it plainly does.”

          “We”? Do you have a tapeworm? I disagree with Professor Wells on this point, but I don’t think he’s an idiot. In this very thread, I’ve also discussed evidence that is not posthumous that serves to identify William Shakespeare of Stratford as the author. I realize you are unable to mount any counter-argument. Looks like you’ve pithed yourself again.

          • Sydney Carton says:

            Suffering from a maggot in the brain,Mark?
            Any honest critic would have told his readers that he was re-defining the word “evidence”, in a sense never used by any judicial body from Athens to Washington D.C. and not even accepted by such a die hard Stratfordian as Stanley Wells.
            Of course it is quite plausible ,considering the general level of your ignorance of matters Elizabethan,that you have neverbothered to check on what your own authority was compelled to admit.
            You and Stanley disagree, sounds sort of like Mae West,”Beside me and Tennessee Williams,who else is there?”

          • Mark Johsnon says:

            Any honest critic [which automatically excludes you] would have explained to his readers exactly how he claimed I was re-defining the word “evidence. An honest critic would actually engage with the argument that was made and provide examples from what was written to substantiate his claims. Of course, that is quite impossible for you considering the damage you have sustained from the vile parasites which infect your brain.

  25. John Bedford says:

    Doubters include Sir John Hurt, Sir Derek Jacobi, Sir John Gielgud, Vanessa Redgrave, Jeremy Irons, Mark Rylance, Michael York, Jim Jarmush, Prince Phillip, Orson Welles, Charlie Chapman, David McCullogh, Mark Twain, Henry James, Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emmerson, Charles Dickens, Sigmund Freud, to name but a few….

    How many other “conspiracy theories” have such a distinguished list of supporters?

    Perhaps there may be more to it than meets the eye?

    • Mark Johnson says:

      Arthur Conan Doyle believed in fairies flitting about by the garden gate.

      Mark Twain thought that Milton had written Bunyan’s ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’.

      Orson Welles and Charles Dickens were not doubters.

      • John Bedford says:

        “I think Oxford wrote Shakespeare. If you don’t agree, there are some awful funny coincidences to explain away”.

        – Orson Welles

        • Mark Johnson says:

          Right…removing comments from their context is another Oxfordian tactic. Welles was making remarks for the sake of being controversial. For more on the actual story see:

          http://bardfilm.blogspot.com/2011/11/orson-welles-supposed-oxfordianism-no.html

          • Roger Parisious says:

            Mark ,
            Just once in your life I wish you would do some genuine research instead of citing a very badly(or non-) researched blog to which you contributed further misinformation.
            The same baloney was raised way back around 2002 on the infamous HLAS bloog which owed so much to Tom Reedy and David Kathman.
            I was happy to point out that instead of endlessly indulging in mindless speculation (and much verbal dung slinging engendered thereby) Kathman,Reedy(and now you) might have cited Welles’ printed preface to the Mercury Theatre edition of Julius Caesar(circa 1938) in which he excorciates the Baconians. Feel three to expand your ludricous comments with due acknowledgement.
            However, Tom,Dave and now you, ignored Welles’s live run of “Chimes At Midnight”
            at the Gate Theatre , Dublin, during the early sixties. Welles, in the course of artistic conception had immersed himself in every Shakespearian commentary on “Henry IV” available. Inevitably he also came across the blatantly obvious parallels between the Gadshill robbery scenes and the actual Gadshill robbery in which Edward de Vere’s entourage was implicated. He went on from there to check out the Hamlet parallels and, quite possibly, many more.
            I got the report first from my old mentor Richard Schneider,a Fullbright scholar,who was doing his Trinity Ph.D. on James Joyce at the time, and had the good fortune to attend one of the performances. When he caught Welles’ back stage and brought up the Oxford connection Orson was delighted and gave him the next half hour in a local cafe. He had finally found someone on whom he could unload his newly acquired Oxfordian learning.
            I had this confirmed by Anne Yeats (whose archivist I remained for most of 20 years)when I got to know her in 1972. Anne had accumulated a huge amount of “Hamlet” materials so far back as the late 1930 and was a great Oxford fan. She and Orson had a field day.
            Mrs.Snyder and Miss Yeats (both of whom lived into the 21st century)would have been happy to have submitted statements to that effect if there were any serious historians who felt inclined to challenge it. There weren’t.
            Oh and if you are going to raise the ephemeral spectre of Charles Dickens on Shakespeare, you have the decency to print the Dickins line on which Welles was commenting. “The life of Shakespeare is a fine mystery and I tremble every day that something is going to turn up.” For purposes of the interview Wells takes the same position.Better we do not know anything more about the author.
            “The last words of a respectable scholarship can only be that of nescience”.

        • Phil says:

          What was Welles’s view of Shakespeare? Let’s go to the film (about 2 minute mark here): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smMa38CZCSU.

  26. Michael says:

    Hard to keep up but here goes:
    Steve,

    “So what about the references to Shakespeare as the Poet for “Measure for Measure” and “Comedy of Errors” in the 1604 Christmas entertainment in the financial registry of King James I. The same records that show Shakespeare as “a player”, along with Richard Burbage, a man named in the Stratford will.”

    What of them? Again, the name William Shakespeare has no useful context. Even if there is evidence that the Man from Stratford was indeed the “player” mentioned, this is not evidence that he was also a writer, any more than it is evidence he was a doctor.

    “What about the First Folio, naming Shakespeare as Actor, Author and Stratford and Avon?”

    The references to “Stratford moniment” and “Avon” are two separate occurences pages apart. That this is the strongest plank on the Statfordian platform says a lot.

    “If the climate was so precarious than why did none of the other prominent playwrights of the period use pen names such as Jonson, Greene, Peele, Drayton, Munday, Marlowe, Dekker, Heywood, Ford, Fletcher, Beaumont, and Middleton.”

    Wow, that’s a fallacious argument: just because these playwrights published under their own names, does this mean everybody else did? That it’s impossible someone might have chosen to do so?

    “The reference above to in King James’ registry to him being a businessman and poet refutes your assertion.”

    Um…sorry, Steve this document does not refer to him as a businessman. Even if it did, this is not evidence that he was a playwright.

    “his name was not Shaksper it was William Shakespeare.”

    True that spelling was fluid, but the family name is rarely spelled “Shakespeare” in the records; even so, identical spelling would prove little. I share names with another author, but we publish in different fields; might not historians hundreds of years from now mix us up?

    Mark:
    “Yes, actually, some of the contemporary references to William Shakespeare the author do, in fact, qualify as evidence that William Shakespeare of Stratford was that same author. ”

    Oh? which ones, besides the Swan of Avon reference?

    Alfa:
    “This one has had 100 years to produce evidence to support itself and come up with nothing. ”

    Nothing that you care to read, apparently, but the publication record in the last 20 years in particular from skeptics and Oxfordians is impressive and growing. Check out Shakespeare Suppressed by
    Katherine Chiljan, or The Shakespeare Guide to Italy by Richard Paul Roe.

    Tom:
    “It can’t be that they’re wrong–that possibility never crosses their minds.”

    Sure it does. I am swayed by evidence for Oxford, not belief. Are you willing to admit you might be wrong?

    ” your opinions will always remain beyond the fringes of even pseudo-history.”

    Nothing is more pseudo historical than Shakespeare “biographies” replete as they are with conjecture and supposition: “must have” “it is reasonable to assume that” etc.

    • Mark Johnson says:

      >>> “Yes, actually, some of the contemporary references to William Shakespeare the author do, in fact, qualify as evidence that William Shakespeare of Stratford was that same author. ”

      >> Oh? which ones, besides the Swan of Avon reference?

      The ones that identify the author as Mr. William Shakespeare, Gent., which, unless you can produce evidence to the contrary, specifically and uniquely identify that particular William Shakespeare of Stratford, son of John Shakespeare, as the author of the works. The author was not identified using the honorific title {Mr. / Master} until after John Shakespeare had been granted a coat of arms, nor had he been identified with the status of “Gentleman” until that time. Would you like me to list some of these references? If you disagree that these documents qualify as evidence identifying William Shakespeare of Stratford as the author, would you please explain how you reach that conclusion. There is also evidence identifying the author as being the same man as the actor.

      >> I am swayed by evidence for Oxford, not belief. Are you willing to admit you might be wrong?

      Would you care to list some of that evidence?

      >> Nothing is more pseudo historical than Shakespeare “biographies” replete as they are with conjecture and supposition: “must have” “it is reasonable to assume that” etc.

      Now that right there is truly ironic. The entire Oxfordian theory is built entirely upon speculation, supposition, subjective interpretation and conjecture, and there isn’t a single piece of actual evidence, direct or circumstantial, supporting the proposition that Oxford was Shakespeare.

      • Mark Johnson says:

        It appears that Michael couldn’t keep up after all. He waded in and was swept away. And here I thought he might actually be the first Oxfordian here to actually posit an argument against the contention that there are documents which specifically and uniquely identify William Shakespeare of Stratford as the author, M. William Shakespeare, Gent.

    • Steve Bari says:

      @ Matt: The King’s registry identifies Shakespeare as player as a representative of the King’s Men in which he was a shareholder so that is the reference to him as a business man as he had a business interest in that organization and was noted by the King’s office as a representative. The same records refer to Shaxberd as a poet to plays put on by the King’s Men. You agree that spelling was fluid so this means Shaxbeard and Shakespeare (yes that’s how the scarlet cloth reference is spelled) could be the same person. The First Folio identifies the author as Shakespeare and the person who acted in all the plays as Shakespeare. So you have two instances of Shakespeare an actor being identified with being an author of plays in the Shakespeare cannon.

      As for the pseudonym, since we’re talking about plays what playwrights are known to have published under one? My point of listing all these people was that it provides a cross section of working professionals who did not write under a pen name. So which playwrights did do this? Your assumption is that Shakespeare was a pen name but there was a real person by that same name associated with the production of plays so your assumption is faulty that it was a pen named used by someone else. Why would there be a pen name of a real person?

  27. Mark Johnson says:

    Responding to Matt [5:18]

    >> That is just your opinion, Mark, please don’t state “Oxford was one of the rest” as if it were fact.

    I have made an argument from the text, especially from the part that you excised…can you do the same? The words “the rest” are followed immediately by the words, “of which number is first,” followed by a list of names whose works have been made public, including your Lord. And thanks for pointing out that no one need bother paying attention to your textual interpretation, as it is just your opinion — of course, it is an opinion unsupported by any actual analysis of the text itself.

    >> How many of Sidney’s plays were published by 1589?

    What are you babbling about here? Where does the passage cited say anything about plays? In fact, the arte deals primarily with poetry, not plays.

    >> Oxford’s surviving plays are all from his teens and early 20s.

    There are no surviving plays from Oxford unles you are engaging in some circular argument here.

    >> Since then, no other writings in his name have survived.

    We have some of his poetry, some of which was written as late as age 26. None of it is worthy of sharing the same shelf as Shakespeare’s poetry.

    >> What is the statistical probability that we would find many of his early works but none of his later works, unless he deliberately did not make them public?

    Nobody has found any early works from Oxford u=other than some poetry that was published.

    >> Come to think of is, what is the statistical probability that Shakspere could leave behind over 70 pieces of documented evidence, including a plethora of legal and business documents, but not a single sentence of fiction in his hand? Or a single letter?

    Not very surprising actually, and, perhaps not even true.

    >> As a member of the nasty “Oxfraud” group, I don’t expect you to change your mind, although I do ask, why form a group against Oxford and no other candidate? Tacit admission that the Oxford case is strong, no?

    I didn’t form any such group. I occasionally comment on a Facebook page. The only person using derogatory terms is you, which, in my book, would make you the nasty one here. As for why Oxfordians are targeted…it is the only case being made at the moment, but that doesn’t have anything to do with whether or not it has any strength.

    • Tom Reedy says:

      > We have some of his poetry, some of which was written as late as age 26. None of it is worthy of sharing the same shelf as Shakespeare’s poetry.

      Actually, we have some later poems of his that were identifiably written during the Vavasour affair in the 1580s and beyond. It’s not worth of sharing the same shelf as Shakespeare’s either.

    • Matt says:

      Mark, thanks for catching my typos.

      My point is, how many of Sidney’s works- poetry or plays – were published by 1589? I’m not aware of any before 1590. Yet Oxford and Sidney are grouped together.

      I agree with the following argument:

      http://www.shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/the-rest-not-silence/

      Believing that one of the most investigated men in history can leave behind dozens of legal and business documents but not a single letter or a single sentence of fiction flies in the face of mathematical probability. It makes sense, however, if he was not a writer but a play broker who was Oxford’s front.

      • Tom Reedy says:

        Some of those business documents identified him as the author of plays, viz., “Entred for their copies vnder the handes of the wardens. Twoo bookes. the one called: Muche a Doo about nothinge. Thother the second parte of the history of kinge henry the iiijth with the humors of Sr John ffalstaff: Wrytten by mr Shakespere. xij d” and “Entred for their copie under thandes of Sr George Buck knight & Thwardens A booke called. Mr William Shakespeare his historye of Kynge Lear as yt was played before the kinges maiestie at Whitehall vppon St Stephans night at Christmas Last by his maiesties servantes playinge vsually at the globe on the Banksyde vj d”.

    • Matt says:

      Mark, thanks for catching my typos.

      My point is, how many of Sidney’s works- poetry or plays – were published by 1589? I’m not aware of any before 1590. Yet Oxford and Sidney are grouped together.

      I agree with the following argument:

      http://www.shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/the-rest-not-silence/

      Believing that one of the most investigated men in history can leave behind dozens of legal and business documents but not a single letter or a single sentence of fiction flies in the face of mathematical probability. It makes sense, however, if he was not a writer but a play broker who was Oxford’s front.

      • Mark Johnson says:

        Matt,

        I don’t think that the passage from Puttenham requires that the works had to have been published for those authors included in “the rest” whose works had been made public. I believe that many of the works, like Sidney’s poems, would have circulated in manuscript and it would have been publicly known to those who read them who the author was. I only brought up publication [as Tom says, six of nine of the authors named were published authors] because it shows that those who were included in the list of “the rest” had works that had been made public — including Oxford. The passage doesn’t say that the authors listed made some of their works public and suppressed some others. Oxford’s inclusion in a list of authors, some of whom we know had their works made public, would tend to prove that he was not one of the authors in the previous section of the passage who were suppressing their works.

        >> Believing that one of the most investigated men in history can leave behind dozens of legal and business documents but not a single letter or a single sentence of fiction flies in the face of mathematical probability. It makes sense, however, if he was not a writer but a play broker who was Oxford’s front.

        So, did Oxford write Marlowe as well? And it doesn’t make any sense at all if you don’t have some actual evidence to support it. It remains blatant speculation.

  28. Mark Johnson says:

    Responding to John Bedford:

    >> What I said, and what I repeat, is that it is clear, unequivocal, undeniable, contemporaneous evidence that some Elizabethan writers used fronts.

    What I repeat is that your “clear, unequivocal, undeniable, contemporaneous evidence” is entirely relevant to the specific proposition that Oxford was Shakespeare. What I am saying is that you aren’t saying anything relevant, however much you write.

    • Mark Johnson says:

      Sorry, that should be: What I repeat is that your “clear, unequivocal, undeniable, contemporaneous evidence” is entirely irrelevant to the specific proposition that Oxford was Shakespeare. What I am saying is that you aren’t saying anything relevant, however much you write.

      • John Bedford says:

        Mark, you write “What I repeat is that your “clear, unequivocal, undeniable, contemporaneous evidence” is entirely relevant to the specific proposition that Oxford was Shakespeare”.

        Therein lies the issue: who made the “specific proposition” that “Oxford was Shakespeare?” You did, as it requires a higher standard of proof than “Is there reason to believe that Shakespeare wrote the works attributed to him?”.

        That’s why, I suggest, that Blackmun and Stevens initially ruled in favour of Will, but after studying the arguments and letting them percolate in their minds, they became Oxfordians.

        Can we prove that there is reason to doubt that Will wrote the works?

        I can’t see how any rational person who reads Anderson and Price would conclude that the case for Will is watertight.

        • Alfa says:

          At the time, Justice Stevens said ‘the case for Oxford suffers from not having a single coherent theory’. And how right he was. The most recent Shakespearean moot court was in Toronto last year. Another ignominious defeat for the anti-Shakespearaens.

          On our side of the debate, we ask you for evidence which you can never provide; to explain the basic mechanics of your theory, which you never can; to account for the Earl’s death 10 years before Shakespeare finished writing, which you find impossible; and so on.

          On your side, you present a series of extreme long-odds propositions which you link together, believing that this reduces their improbability when in fact it multiplies until reaching the vicinity of impossibility, often in just three or four steps.

          I don’t see how anyone can read Mark Anderson’s book, period. It contains some of the most ludicrous propositions (Mente Videbor*i*!!!) in print.

        • Mark Johnson says:

          John:

          All of the Oxfordian talk about reasonable doubt is merely a smokescreen and a cynical part of a public relations campaign — a traveling salesman’s attempt to get his foot in the door so he can then expound on the certainty of his product. The appeal to “reasonable doubt” isn’t any more valid than the Oxfordian claims that they have mountains of evidence.

          The available evidence in the historical record [documentary, testimonial, physical] establishes a positive case for the attribution of the works to William Shakespeare of Stratford. It isn’t at all difficult to make the case, even without all of the records and docouments we would like to have but don’t.

          Like many Oxfordians, Justice Stevens never even comments on the positive evidence for the attribution to Will of Stratford. Instead, he concentrates on what is missing from the historic record, making a god of the gaps [as creationists do when discussing evolution]. Having read his law review article on the subject and his public comments, he doesn’t even seem to be aware of the prima facie case that can be, and has been, made for the Stratfordian attribution. You say he has studied the arguments. I can’t find any evidence that he has done any such thing.

          If he had, and if he admitted that a prima facie case had been established, he might realize that he would require actual evidence to rebut that prima facie case. In fact, to even arrive at a finding of reasonable doubt he would still have to produce such evidence. The lack of manuscripts , letters, records of schooling, etc. doesn’t do the trick. As I said previously, those gaps may produce doubts for some people, but the question is whether or not they are “reasonable” doubts in light of the positive evidence for Will Shakespeare and the prima facie case established in his favor.

          >> “Therein lies the issue: who made the “specific proposition” that “Oxford was Shakespeare?” You did, as it requires a higher standard of proof than “Is there reason to believe that Shakespeare wrote the works attributed to him?”.”

          This is part of the Oxfordian smokescreen. All you need to do is visit Mark Anderson’s Facebook page [Shakes-Vere] to see that it isn’t a question of reasonable doubt — he, and the participants there [and some here] are all quite certain that they KNOW the absolute truth. It should be understood that even a finding of “beyond a reasonable doubt” is not a finding of 100% categorical certainty — and yet Oxfordians are all quite certain.

          >> “Is there reason to believe that Shakespeare wrote the works attributed to him?”

          Yes, of course thee is. That is what all of the available evidence tends to prove. The question then becomes, “Is there any evidence tending to prove that he did not write the works attributed to him?” So far, Oxfordians haven’t produced the first piece of actual evidence for that proposition. Instead, we get a lot of discussion about what we don’t have in the way of evidence.

          >> Can we prove that there is reason to doubt that Will wrote the works?

          Not so far, and, as I said before, that really isn’t the aim of Oxfordians.

          >> I can’t see how any rational person who reads Anderson and Price would conclude that the case for Will is watertight.

          Ms. Price’s book is one long exercise in special pleading [her attempt to interpret Jonson’s *Timber* to make it mean something other than what it plainly says on its face is particularly hilarious in its contortions], and Mr. Anderson’s even longer book indulges in speculation, conjecture, biased interpretation, and wishful thinking.

          My position is that the evidence that survives in the historic record is more than sufficient to establish a prima facie case for the proposition that Shakespeare of Stratford wrote the Shakespeare works that were performed by the acting companies of which he was a member and that were staged in the theaters where he was shareholder. Is that case “watertight” — as I’ve said, a prima facie case sets up a rebuttable presumption, so, by its very definition, the case is not put forward as incontrovertible. The problem for you and other anti-Stratfordians is that you need actual evidence in order to rebut that case. What evidence do you contend serves to rebut that case or even serves to cause us to reasonably doubt the case?

          • Sydney Carton says:

            “Tom Reedy’s secret weapon,the incredible Mark Johnson clone again bears its teeth:
            ” Having read his law review article on the subject and his public comments, he doesn’t even seem to be aware of the prima facie case that can be, and has been, made for the Stratfordian attribution. You say he has studied the arguments. I can’t find any evidence that he has done any such thing.”
            SEEMS Mark is now claiming that not only the Supreme Court Justice but likewise he law review are equally ignorant of the proper definitions of “evidence” and” prima facie”
            After you finish your course in remediable English,country boy,perhaps you can take a correspondence course in law and write a peer reviewed paper explaining why the words need to be redefined.
            Meanwhile the only “evidence” you have oonly qualiofies as such because of your ignorance.

        • psi says:

          John, you write: “I can’t see how any rational person who reads Anderson and Price would conclude that the case for Will is watertight.”

          Indeed, and that is why the Oxfraud project depends, not on trying to rationally counter the arguments of those and many other fine books of a similar nature, but on making sure that as few persons as possible read them. They conceal their dogma under the rubric of being “skeptics,” which in this case means being skeptical of everyone except for those who have 99% of the power and money. It has not yet occurred to them that this is as simple as the emperor not having any clothes.

          Thanks for the cogent posting.

          • Alfa says:

            Do you have anything to say, psi?

            There are a number open questions for Oxfordians in this thread, all unanswered. All about evidence. Actually, one is about discerning Shakespearean quality in unsigned work. You’re excused that one.

            Care to address one of the others?

  29. Adrian Morgan says:

    I must say the Oxfordians are doing an excellent job of being completely unconvincing.

    The “poet ape” strikes me as completely at odds with the Oxfordian claim, describing a protagonist who plagiarises (not: is voluntarily given credit for) the works of multiple poets (not: one man in particular).

    And I’m sure most people would expect legal and business documents to be stored separately from original copies of artistic works, and would therefore not expect the survival of one to have any bearing on the survival of the other.

    From a layman’s perspective, defenders of the conventional view seem consistently better informed about history than the Oxfordians, whose arguments are too often of the form, “It seems intuitively unlikely that X could happen”. Well, moon hoax theorists find it intuitively unlikely that a photograph wouldn’t have any stars visible. What’s the difference?

    • John Bedford says:

      “And I’m sure most people would expect legal and business documents to be stored separately from original copies of artistic works, and would therefore not expect the survival of one to have any bearing on the survival of the other”.

      And yet we have surviving manuscripts, books or letters from Elizabethan writers such as Ben Jonson, Thomas nashe, Samuel Daniel, Edmund Spenser, Philip Massinger, George Peele, Gabriel Harvey, Michael Drayton, George Chapman, William Drummond, John Marston, Anthony Munday, John Lyly, Thomas Heywood, Thomas Lodge, Thomas Middleton, Robert Greene, Thomas Dekker, John Fletcher.

      So despite the fact that the historical inquiry into their lives has been a fraction of that into Shakespeare’s, all these people can leave behind numerous examples of what we would expect a writer to leave behind?

      • Adrian Morgan says:

        So, who do I believe? You, or the author of http://shakespeareauthorship.com/survival.html who writes, “No manuscript of any play has survived in the autograph of Kyd, Greene, Jonson, Chapman, Dekker, Heywood, Marston, Webster, Beaumont, Fletcher, or Ford — to name only the better known dramatists.”

        I notice you write “manuscripts, books or letters” — not “manuscripts, books AND letters”, — and I hate to be cynical, but I ask myself what the minimum number of documents would be to make that statement technically true. Oh, but you also write “numerous examples”, so clearly I *am* just being cynical.

        More to the point, there are all sorts of parochical factors that affect whether documents written by a particular person survive, and the amount of “historical inquiry into their lives” has very little to do with it. The page I linked to above alludes, in Shakespeare’s case, to conditions not “favorable to the preservation of manuscripts”.

        • Alfa says:

          This is surely cause and effect. The better the play, the less likely the manuscript is to survive the wreckage of the first production as copies are made, chopped, rearranged, edited by unknown hands and thrown God knows where once the parts are learned. Whereas unperformed plays, such as Sir Thomas More, have survived undamaged in the author’s hands.

          So is this issue even relevant to the attribution debate. And if it is, isn’t saying the exact opposite of the Oxfordian claim.

  30. Helena says:

    The psychological basis of disbelief in the well-established fact that Shakespeare is the author of his own plays, is projection of the denialist’s feeling that his own wonderful “work” is not being given the recognition it deserves. He too, like Oxford, could be hailed as one of the world’s greatest genii of all time except for the terrible conspiracy of people with English PhDs keeping him down. I think we see this neurosis demonstrated very clearly in the comments here. Freud, a man who noted in his diary each year–“did not win the Nobel Prize”–suffered from it too, despite actually having achieved something. But some people there can never be enough recognition; the narcissism also helps them dismiss evidence and argument without any intellectual effort. it must be wonderfully convenient.

    • Howard Schumann says:

      Helena: Your dubious psychological assessment of those who have a different opinion than yours is worthless and patronizing in the extreme. It must be “wonderfully convenient” to dismiss evidence and arguments by questioning your opponents psychological makeup. Have you done a psychological profile of the following Shakespeare doubters?

      Mr. Justice Harry A. Blackmun
      Charlie Chaplin
      Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain)
      Ralph Waldo Emerson
      Sigmund Freud
      Sir John Gielgud
      Leslie Howard
      Sir Derek Jacobi
      Henry James
      Malcolm X
      David McCullough
      Amb. Paul H. Nitze
      Mr. Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr
      Mark Rylance
      Mr. Justice John Paul Stevens
      Walt Whitman
      Hamilton Basso (novelist, reviewed 5 Stratfordian biographies in The New Yorker 4/18/50)
      Prof. Louis P. Benezet (Dartmouth)
      Richard Bentley (President, Chicago Bar Association, and Editor of The American Bar Association Journal)
      Tom Bethell (syndicated columnist)
      John Bright (Lord Rector of University of Glasgow)
      John Buchan (novelist, historian & Chancellor of Edinburgh University)
      Otto von Bismarck
      Charles Champlin (Arts Editor of the Los Angeles Times)
      Benjamin Disraeli
      Senator Paul Douglas (also a Chicago University Professor)
      Daphne DuMaurier
      Cyrus Durgin (drama critic, The Boston Globe)
      Prof. William Y. Elliott (Harvard)
      Clifton Fadiman
      Prof. Bronson Feldman (Temple University)
      Daniel Frohman (famed producer of plays & theater historian)
      W.H. Furness (literary scholar and father of the editor of the Variorum)
      John Galsworthy
      Charles DeGaulle
      Prof. Louis J. Halle (Ecole de Hautes Etudes)
      James Joyce
      Helen Keller
      Kevin Kelly (drama critic, The Boston Globe)
      David Lloyd Kreeger
      Lewis Lapham (Editor, Harper’s)
      Prof. Abel LeFranc (College de France; one of 40 members of Academie des Inscription et Belles Lettres)
      Prof. W. Barton Leach (Harvard Law)
      Clare Booth Luce
      Lord Palmerston
      Maxwell Perkins (eminent literary editor)
      Prof. William Lyons Phelps (Yale)
      Canon Gerald H. Rendall (Litt D.)
      Dr. Peter Sammartino (Founder & First President, Farleigh Dickinson University)
      Lincoln Schuster (of Simon & Schuster)
      Joseph Sobran (syndicated columnist)
      Muriel Spark
      Day Thorpe (Literary editor, Washington Star)
      Philip Weld (Publisher, International N.Y. Herald Tribune)
      John Greenleaf Whittier
      Dr. Daniel Wright (Chair, Department of English, Concordia University – Portland, OR)
      Prof. Crane Brinton (Harvard)
      Samuel Taylor Coleridge
      Tyronne Guthrie
      Thomas Hardy
      Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes
      Prof. Sidney Hook (S.Y.U.)
      James Russell Lowell
      Prof. Hugh Trevor-Roper (Oxford University)

      Name calling and labeling saves time from actually having to do research, you know read books and the like, to discover the evidence and weigh different points of view.
      I’d be interested in hearing what books you have read on the life of Edward de Vere and the case for his authorship? Have you read “The Mysterious William Shakespeare” by Charlton Ogburn? Have you read “Shakespeare By Another Name” by Mark Anderson? Have you read “Shakespeare Suppressed” by Katherine Chiljan?

      There are no “well-established facts” here. Since we do not have any manuscripts, there are only conclusions based on circumstantial evidence. In this case, the accumulation of the evidence strongly points to Edward de Vere as the author of the Shakespeare canon which you might have discovered if you had read any of the above-mentioned books.

      • Tom Reedy says:

        And here we have the Oxfordian equivalent of “Smoke Chesterfields, the well-known actor Ronald Reagan does.”

        http://vapestores.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Ronald-Reagan-chesterfield.jpg

        • Howard Schumann says:

          No equivalency at all. Since the poster Helena appears to be into psychoanalyzing Shakespeare doubters, I thought I’d give her some more to tackle.

      • Tom Reedy says:

        > There are no “well-established facts” here.

        Really? These are certainly well-established, and the primary reason why your theory will never get off the ground in academe, no matter how many Facebook pages and internet discussions you infiltrate.

        http://shakespeareauthorship.com/howdowe.html

        • Howard Schumann says:

          The facts mentioned constitute only indirect evidence and are not historical facts that demonstrate with any certainty that William Shaksper of Stratford was the great author William Shakepseare. Direct evidence would be either manuscripts signed by the author, verifiable correspondence signed by the author in which unequivocal statements are made regarding his authorship. Nothing of that kind exists. Anything else is open to interpretation as far as its bearing on the authorship question.

          Incidentally, Tom, I am not a fifth column and I do not infiltrate websites or forums. There is no stealth involved and I am interested neither in sabotage or espionage. I am up front about who I am and what I post. What you see is what you get.

          • Tom Reedy says:

            > The facts mentioned constitute only indirect evidence and are not historical facts that demonstrate with any certainty that William Shaksper of Stratford was the great author William Shakepseare.

            Sorry, but every document with “Mr. William Shakespeare” is *direct* evidence for William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon, gentleman. That includes the poem “To our English Terence, Mr. Will. Shake-speare”, stationers’ records, the title pages of King Lear Q1 and Q2, and the title of the First Folio, “Mr. William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies”, as well as several others.

          • knitwitted says:

            Howard Schumann wrote re Will of Stratford: “Direct evidence would be either manuscripts signed by the author, verifiable correspondence signed by the author in which unequivocal statements are made regarding his authorship. Nothing of that kind exists. Anything else is open to interpretation as far as its bearing on the authorship question.”

            So why do your statements not apply to Oxford as well?

      • Francis Qouint says:

        Howard Schumann

        Re your ‘98% of dentists recommend Colgate’ ad.

        1. Thomas Hardy shouldn’t be on the list. In his 1916 poem ’To Shakespeare’, Hardy wrote that the playwright left no ‘intimate word or personal trace’ outside his ‘artistry’. But here’s what Hardy said about the authorship question in a letter in 1926: ‘The testimonies of Heminges, Condell and Jonson and many other of his contemporaries are weighty enough to set aside all doubts on the point.’ OK?

        2. You missed out Col. Gaddafi.

      • Helena says:

        I’m a Classicist,s o I don;t research much about renaissance literature (something now and again about the influence of Seneca). So I have to rely on expert opinion–in other words, not yours. Can you tell me why there aren’t peer reviewed articles on Oxfordianism. if its so obvious, why isn’t it the scholarly consensus. Must be a conspiracy,huh? All those English professors must be paid by big…? Who exactly? can you tell me so I can collect my check?

  31. Jim says:

    I’m a bit of lay person when it comes to this controversy but I see that there’s a lot of mention that “Shakespeare” was a pen name used by the Earl and that Shaksper was a front. However, I’m not connecting how these men knew each other as the Earl is obviously from the upper classes and Shaksper was from a dirt poor family. Can anyone explain how these two different men met and how this front arrangement worked? How did the Earl get a new play to Shaksper and what did Shaksper than do with it? Did he register the play as his own with the book company? Did he pay to have it published, sold the right for somebody to do it? Was he the man who brought new plays to the Globe and passed it off as his own? The front thing/pen name sounds plausible but trying to pin down the exact details. If anyone can provide some info on how this played out that would be great.

    • Authorship Skeptic says:

      Dear Jim,

      Good questions, but there’s no evidence anyone ever thought Shakspere of Stratford was the author William Shakespeare until seven years after he died. Nothing shows he ever claimed to have written the works, so I doubt that he was ever a front man for the real author. If he had been, then there should be some record of people thinking he was the author during his lifetime. There is none. Shakespeare, contrary to the popular perception today, was not a prominent public figure. He probably was a minor actor, but we don’t know any role he ever played in any Shakespeare play on any date. At least ten people have been identified who clearly know Shakspere, and also knew about the author Shakespeare, and none of them connected the two.

      Even Stanley Wells of the Birthplace Trust has admitted that no reference to the author Shakespeare during Shakspere’s lifetime connects the author to Stratford-upon-Avon. We just don’t know exactly how the deception worked. But there are several examples of people suggesting that they thought “Shakespeare” was a pseudonym. The author himself implied that his real name was not yet know at the time, in sonnets 72 and 81. Anyone can read them and see this, but the orthodox claim the sonnets are fictitious, so it doesn’t count for them. They’re the deniers.

      • Jim says:

        @AS Thanks for the response to my question on the front man item but it makes it more confusing than clears things up. First, I thought his name was Shaksper but you refer to him as Shakspere, aren’t those two separate names? Which is the right one?Why is there a connection made in the folio, which is what I assume you mean by 7 years after he died and not before? If the Earl is the author and has no connection to Shaksper at all wouldn’t there have been a tribute earlier than 1623 since he died in 1604? Why wait until an unconnected man dies?

        Given the known facts about Shaksper I hardly say he was a minor actor. He’s mentioned along side Burbage and other company members in several payments so he’s considered at the same level as these other actors otherwise why mention a minor actor? While I agree with you that it doesn’t look like he personally claimed to have written the plays, “Shakespeare” is referred in the king’s account book as a poet for a few plays where he’s also referred as being a player. If there really was a pseudonym isn’t something like this used in print on a play or poem so why would it be noted in an accountant’s book where also a known actor/play sharer is mentioned? Beyond the business connections to the theater company, a poet referred to Shaksper in his lifetime as playing kingly parts and alludes to “good will” which is a reference to Peter Quince line in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Any king in a Shakespeare play or Peter Quince are hardly small roles. Also Jonson said he was in Sejanus, so not really seeing the minor actor. He appears to be an actor and part owner in the company that produced these plays so the front man idea makes more sense because how else would it get from the Earl to the King’s Men?

        Not interested in what Stanley Wells has to say, he seems totally closed off to the conversation and comes off as pompous so I wouldn’t really trust anything he says. If you’re going to use the sonnets as proof what about Sonnet 135 where the author says “For my name is Will”. Its punned all over the place here and in the next sonnet. Also, why is Hathaway punned in Sonnet 145?

        Seems Shaksper was more involved than you want to give him credit it for. If not the Poet Ape poem by Jonson makes no sense. Why parody someone who wasn’t involved? Come to think of it, the William in As You Like It where the Earl tells William the country guy to leave doesn’t make much sense. If Shaksper wasn’t involved in any way and the Earl is using the pseudonym independently, why is the Earl telling him to leave? They don’t know each other and don’t have any connection so he’s telling someone to leave who he has never met or a connection with? If he’s a frontman why is the Earl telling the man who he’s struck up this arrangement with to leave? Apparently Shaksper was keeping his end of the deal in that situation.

        Its a little difficult connecting the dots here as its not making the Earl look like a very good candidate. Not seeing how the Earl could did it without Shaksper. Its a variation on the name of real man that’s connected with that theater that put on those plays. You can poke holes in the Shaksper story all you want but when it comes down to it, if the Earl’s your guy you gotta show how he did it. Otherwise, you got a bunch of loose facts and little to no meat on the bones.

      • Tom Reedy says:

        > At least ten people have been identified who clearly know Shakspere, and also knew about the author Shakespeare, and none of them connected the two.

        I suppose Leonard Digges and Ben Jonson don’t count.

        • alexander Waugh says:

          Ben Jonson called Stratfordians those of ‘silliest ignorance’, the ‘sordid multitude’ and ‘sluggish gaping auditors.’ (I’m afraid he meant you Tom), and your ‘evidence’ that Leonard Digges knew Stratford Saxby is so weak as to class as pathetic. It really is a jolly spectacle watching you, Mark Johnson and ‘Alfa’ Leadbetter stiffly parading on the deck of your sinking ship. Do remember to salute to the camera as your head submerges.

          • Alfa says:

            You’ve pinched my idea about who ‘seediest’ refers to, Alexander. And you’re trying to sound like Henry James, further down the thread.

          • Mark Johnson says:

            It really is enjoyable watching another Oxfordian proclaiming that his subjective, idiosyncratic interpretations of literary works simply MUST be accepted as gospel truth, because, inspired by his Lord, he has uttered them. This is the Oxfordian methodology in a nutshell: speculations are facts, and those facts are evidence.

          • Jim says:

            Stratford Saxby? Who in the hell is that? Is that supposed to be Shaksper or someone else entirely? What does the literacy of the town have to do with Shaksper’s literacy or not?

            Before reading this article I was very open to the argument that there was reasonable doubt on the Shakespeare Authorship question as there are quite a few gaps in the record and looking for a balanced inquiry into the subject. However, after posing a simple but fundamental question about how did it all work from what I thought were supposed to be the people with the answers all I got was a lot “I don’t knows”, not even a stab at how it could work just “its all very compelling”.

            Then reading the other conflicting views on these threads I’ve come to the conclusion that the Earl is one of the worst candidates because y’all can get your stories straight and be on the same page. I can see why the “orthodox” people get annoyed because there aren’t just one group of Oxfordians, there’s multiple kinds of Oxfordians, each with their own niche and peddling their own story:

            Shaksper was an actor
            Shaksper wasn’t an actor
            His name was actually Shaxberd, Shaxby, Shakspere, (what, we are playing scrabble here?)
            He was a business man only with no connection to the plays but he’s somehow connected to theater that put them on
            Spelling wasn’t consistent
            Spelling was consistent
            He was a front
            He wasn’t a front
            Pen name, no pen name
            Earl an acknowledged playwright and also he’s gotta hide it.

            Can y’all make up your minds and stick the same script. Whatever you want to say about Shaksper he was clearly an actor and at least they can stick to the script which is more than you lot!

          • knitwitted says:

            Jim wrote: “I can see why the “orthodox” people get annoyed because there aren’t just one group of Oxfordians, there’s multiple kinds of Oxfordians, each with their own niche and peddling their own story”

            Hit the nail on the head.

    • Howard Schumann says:

      Jim: In spite of the Stratfordian dogmatarians, the Shakespeare Authorship Question is a compelling literary mystery in which there are many unanswered questions.

      It is not known if Oxford and Shaksper knew each other. Oxford could have used the pen name without Shaksper being a front or even being involved. We just don’t know. What I do know is that the case for Oxford being the true author is very strong. Anyone who can read Charlton Ogburn’s “The Mysterious William Shakespeare” and come away with a different conclusion, in my view, simply needs to take the blinders off.

  32. Authorship Skeptic says:

    Dear Dr. Siebert,

    You wrote: “On September 25, 1987, three sitting US Supreme Court justices–William Brennan, Harry Blackmun, and John Paul Stevens–heard arguments supporting the claims of Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford. The justices ruled in Shakespeare’s favor.”

    No, the justices did NOT rule that Shakspere of Stratford wrote the works! At the start of the trial, Justice Brennan ruled that, due to the weight of tradition, the burden of proof was on the Oxfordian side to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. That meant that they had to prove both that Shakspere didn’t write the works and Oxford did, both beyond a reasonable doubt, and both in an hour. Given the format, the outcome was hardly surprising. Even so, the three Supremes did NOT rule that Shakspere was the author. Instead they rendered a Scottish verdict of “not proven” (not proven either way). So please stop mischaracterizing the outcome of that trial.

    Re: that same trial, you also wrote: “The Oxfordians didn’t bow to the wisdom of some of the greatest legal minds of the English-speaking world. Instead, they continued their campaign…. Eventually, they even swayed some Supreme Court justices. For instance, former Justice Stevens later became convinced that Oxford had written Shakespeare based on depressingly fallacious reasoning.”

    So Stevens and Blackmun, when you agree with them, are among the “greatest legal minds of the English-speaking world,” but when you don’t agree with them, then suddenly they’re not so great and their views are based on “fallacious reasoning.” You’re not making sense here. Why should Oxfordians bow to the wisdom of these great legal minds if you don’t? I say they got it right on the second try, not the first. (BTW, at least five U.S. Supreme Court Justices — those great legal minds — have been authorship doubters: Blackmun, Stevens, Powell, O’Connor and Scalia.)

    In 2013, Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon published “Shakespeare Beyond Doubt: Evidence, Argument, Controversy” in which they claimed that the authorship is, well, “beyond doubt.” It’s that claim that Alexander Waugh questions in issuing his challenge to the Birthplace Trust to participate in a mock trial — whether they can prove _their claim_ that the Stratford man was the author beyond reasonable doubt. Since the Birthplace Trust put it in those terms, using legal language (beyond doubt), I think it’s legitimate for Waugh to challenge their claim, and I find it odd that the Birthplace Trust refuses to participate. If the issue is really “beyond doubt,” what are they afraid of? Why are they unwilling to stand and back up the claim they made in the title of their book?

    Waugh proposes that the question to be tried is this: “If writing the works were a crime, is there enough evidence to convict Shakspere of having done it beyond a reasonable doubt?” The burden of proof would be on the Stratfordian side, which would prosecute, while the doubter side would be defending him from the charge. There would be no alternative candidate. Judges and juries hear and rule in such cases all the time, and I see no reason why it should be inappropriate in this case. Yet you and your English professor colleagues think you are so exceptional that we should just take your word for it and no one has any right to question your authority. And you accuse anyone who doubts the authorship of being motivated by snobbery. Why are the real snobs here?

    You quote Stanley Wells saying “Public debates are an exercise of forensic skill rather than an intellectual scholarly exercise.” But Waugh didn’t challenge him to a “debate.” He challenged him to a “mock trial,” and trials are about evidence, with a presiding judge ruling on relevance and admissibility. Even if it were just a debate, first you suggest doubters are incompetent, then we are so clever that our “forensic skills” would win out over you professors and your “intellectual scholarly exercise.” Can you explain why you English professors, of all people, would be incapable of communicating your position persuasively to judges and jurors in a mock trial? It sounds to me like you Strats just don’t want a fair contest on a level playing field. You also don’t want the public to learn about the issue; you just want to suppress it.

    I’ll give you another reason why Stanley Wells refuses to participate in a mock trial. He knows he would lose, because the evidence doesn’t support the claim in his book. He even went so far as to falsify relevant evidence in “Shakespeare Beyond Doubt.” I’ll be happy to give you some examples if you like.

  33. Mark Johnson says:

    Roger,

    Just once in your life I wish you would read with something approaching comprehension and make an actual argument in response to what I have written. For instance, you contend that I have contributed misinformation to a blog post, but you are unable to identify exactly what that might be.

    As to research, I would rather point out the introduction to Welles’ 1939 Mercury Theatre edition of *The Merchant of Venice* which contains not only a biography of William Shakespeare which comports with the standard biography of the man from Stratford, but also a section ridiculing the notions of the Baconians primarily, but also Oxfordians, Derbyites, and any others who indulge in the type of anti-Stratfordian garbage that you and your ilk peddle. I have that Welles’ edition before me on my desk. It quotes Logan Pearsall Smith as disposing of “the whole authorship controversy in a paragraph. To the Baconians Smith gives this “one inspired line”:

    And then, faint and far, as the wind shifts, we hear the ululations of those vaster herds of Baconian believers, as they plunge squeaking down the Garadene slope of their delusion.

    You should stop your own ululating, Roger.

    Now, should I believe your prattling hearsay, name-dropping, and self-citation as authority, or should I believe the video and what Welles actually set out in his books and interviews? That isn’t really a difficult choice.

    • psi says:

      Mark,

      Maybe for once in your life you could realize that the authorship question is real, and you are mistaken. I don’t know why think I am “authorship skeptic,” and frankly I’m flattered, but your assumption is wrong – like so many others. So I’ll accept your apology for accusing me of “ululating” in a posting that I did compose.

      Thanks.

      Roger

      • Mark Johnson says:

        Roger [the other one],

        Maybe for once in your life you could realize that this isn’t all about you — or you could actually read the thread before jumping in and making a mistake. My comment was directed to a comment made by Roger Parisious elsewhere in this thread. The way commenting is set up at this site only accommodates a certain number of replies to the numbered posts. Once that number has been reached, one has to post at the bottom of the thread in order to reply. So, it is your assumption that is wrong — like so many of the assumptions that you make. Of course, you should have been able to gather that you were making a mistake just by reading my post and the one made by Authorship Skeptic, whoever that unidentified person may be. No need for me to apologize, thanks anyway. Mark

      • Mark Johnson says:

        And now I see you have compounded your error, Roger [the other one], by running back to the friendly confines of the Shakes-Vere page and claiming that I had made a mistake and had ” spontaneously confused ‘Authorship Skeptic’ with” you. Of course that isn’t at all what happened, but the other participants were more than eager to jump in and share your mistaken assumptions without checking for themselves. That probably feeds your ego no end.

        >> “I let Johnson know that he had screwed up and asked for him to apologize for accusing me of ululating when I wasn’t within three thousand miles of the comments section. Who will take the bet that he does so?”

        You are the one who screwed up here, Roger, and it seems that you are the one who should at least admit your error at the SV page, if not issue an apology for accusing me of something I did not do. Should I take bets to see if you will do so?

    • Charles Darnay says:

      Mark,
      I have posted less than five hundred words here.”Windbag:” is funny coming from a intellectually lazy lout who has befouled this blog with thousands of his droppings.You want each of them pointed out individually,you are getting above your station in life country boy.
      Example:
      Wells clearly admitted ,and it took several years to get this out of him, that all credible evidence for Shakespeare’s authorship was posthumous.You claim that that there are “dozens”– or was that “scores” ,Mark?– of contemporary witness. The question is ,of course,not whether you disagree with Stanley but whether you hold to a definition of evidence belatedly at least shared by Dr. Wells,the overwhelming majority of Supreme Court Justices who have passed on the subject(Justice Aiello) dissents) and the English Court which passed on the subject in the sixties.
      The issue isn’t what I believe about ,Stanley,or what you,Mark,belief(for you are certainly incapable of sustained thought}about Stanley or anything else the issue is that you( and your fellow trolls who are posting here) have no acceptable definition of evidence.
      Example:
      You posted a Welles citation which was published at least ten years early on HLAS . Welles’ partiality to the Earl of Oxford was never questioned before this date,over thirty years after he went into print after he went into print on the subject.The same thread tried to deny that Nabokov was an anti-Stratfordian.
      As of a few minutes ago,forty years further on, you ululated:
      As to research, I would rather point out the introduction to Welles’ 1939 Mercury Theatre edition of *The Merchant of Venice* which contains not only a biography of William Shakespeare which comports with the standard biography of the man from Stratford, but also a section ridiculing the notions of the Baconians primarily, but also Oxfordians, Derbyites, and any others who indulge in the type of anti-Stratfordian garbage that you and your ilk peddle. I have that Welles’ edition before me on my desk. It quotes Logan Pearsall Smith as disposing of “the whole authorship controversy in a paragraph. To the Baconians Smith gives this “one inspired line”:

      And then, faint and far, as the wind shifts, we hear the ululations of those vaster herds of Baconian believers, as they plunge squeaking down the Garadene slope of their delusion.
      Surprise,Mark,there is only one Welles preface for the entire Mercury Theatre set.You cited a later reprinting of the same remark I published from the earlier book. And you want to make a federal case out of your gaffe?At the time twenty-something Welles had read all of ten lines on the controversy which he proceeded to publish verbatim.Later he put himself on record in print in favor of the plausibility of the Oxfordian thesis.
      There were still living witnesses,cited publicly, alive in 2002 when I published .If any historian had serious questions they could have written to them at that time for further verification.Yes,Mark,even to your dim,hostile,mind,this is known as verification, not name dropping.I stayed for twenty years,some drop.
      Wells played Dublin(his last known stage performance),February to March,1960.
      As for his 1963 interview,check him further at about twenty minutes on .As in the Dickens quote,he doesn’t rock the boat but does bring up the subject(just as the show ends)of Hamlet as the Renaissance Man.Welles was quite aware that “Shakespeare” drew his Hamlet as Renaissance Man from Castiglione’s “The Courtier” with preface by the Earl of Oxford.
      Incidentally perfectly “orthodox” critics have gone on record as finding that Oxford’s preface as well as Castiglione’s text gets into the play.As both Orson Welles and Anne Yeats knew.

      • Mark Johnson says:

        I have been exposed to more of your inane words than the 500 or so you have plopped in here, and that is more than enough to recognize you for the pompous windbag that you are. Your latest dribbling effort is more proof of that fact. For example:

        >> “Wells clearly admitted ,and it took several years to get this out of him, that all credible evidence for Shakespeare’s authorship was posthumous.You claim that that there are “dozens”– or was that “scores” ,Mark?– of contemporary witness. The question is ,of course,not whether you disagree with Stanley but whether you hold to a definition of evidence belatedly at least shared by Dr. Wells,the overwhelming majority of Supreme Court Justices who have passed on the subject(Justice Aiello) dissents) and the English Court which passed on the subject in the sixties.
        The issue isn’t what I believe about ,Stanley,or what you,Mark,belief [sic] (for you are certainly incapable of sustained thought}about Stanley or anything else the issue is that you( and your fellow trolls who are posting here) have no acceptable definition of evidence.”

        The issue is that you haven’t read, or apparently cannot read and understand,the argument that I have actually made in this thread as to contemporary evidence that uniquely and specifically identifies William Shakespeare of Stratford as the author of the works. It seems that you are mentally incapable of recognizing what the argument even entails and so you create a straw man to wrestle with — I didn’t say anything about “dozens” or “scores” of witnesses and I can only surmise that you have spun this fantasy out of the dross of your straw-stuffed brain. I have stated what I think the evidence is that is not posthumous and which identifies Shakespeare as being from Stratford but you are incapable of even determining what I have actually said. Why should I even bother discussing this with you if you can’t even get that right. As for evidence, I know exactly what qualifies. You, on the other hand, think that your hearsay comments and speculations are evidence.

        >> “Surprise,Mark,there is only one Welles preface for the entire Mercury Theatre set.”

        That is good to know, as it means that when you said that the preface to Welles’ edition of the plays contained an attack on Baconians, you were intentionally omitting the fact that it includes Oxfordians and Derbyites in the ridicule. In addition, you intentionally omitted the fact that it sets forth a traditional biography of William Shakespeare, which identifies him as the man from Stratford. Thanks for demonstrating your dishonest tactics in the discussion. Or were you just being sloppy? As you are with the rest of your speculations.

      • alexander Waugh says:

        I caught this same jesuitical Strat telling terrible lies on another blog. He posted that writers of the Renaissance often referred to the Classical actor Roscius as ‘Boscius’, was rightly mocked for it; went back and altered what he had written and brazenly claimed that he had never written it in the first place, and that we were not paying his words proper attention. Luckily I had taken a screenshot of his ‘Roscius/Boscius’ balls-up and was able to put him to shame; but I was very disgusted by his tactics and have ever since refused to dialogue directly with him on any blog. I would suggest you do the same. He is dishonourable and his reasoning is retarded.

        • Mark Johnson says:

          To set the record straight, Mr. Waugh has his facts wrong — as usual. I did initially make a post based on a couple of references where the name appeared to be spelled with a “B”. Immediately after making the post I attempted to relocate those sources to add links and could not find them, so, within twenty minutes of having made the original post, I edited it to remove that language. Some two hours later [there are time stamps on Disqus posts], Mr. Waugh posted his response. I did not edit my post in any manner after he had responded. I have fully admitted having made the original mistake as to the spelling. Mr. Waugh has since used this occasion to avoid responding to arguments he is unable to refute. My reasoning is quite sound.

  34. Tom Reedy says:

    Well, Eve, how many more Shakespeare authorship articles do you think you might post to the ‘net? Most people get their fill after one.

    • alexander Waugh says:

      …and Tom how many more online essays are you going to post, saying silly things like Weever dedicated a poem to female genitals in ignorance of Latin neuter nouns, and such nonsense – that one was nearly as daft as your colleague the ‘Avon Lady’ who wrote insisting that Lord Oxford must have been a horrible man because he wouldn’t lend Horatio Cocquo his rectal salve. The Stratfordians have become very dirty-minded of, a common symptom of impending mental collapse. Look after yourself, Tom.

      • Alfa says:

        Surely, Alexander, it is you who deserves the title Avon Lady?

        Your Avona boner, the idea that Ben was referring to Hampton Court with his ‘Swan of Avon’ soubriquet, which crashed and burned so recently and so spectacularly, is forever going to be associated with your contributions to the debate.

        • knitwitted says:

          Alfa. Your assessment of Alexander Waugh: “Your Avona boner, the idea that Ben was referring to Hampton Court with his ‘Swan of Avon’ soubriquet, which crashed and burned so recently and so spectacularly, is forever going to be associated with your contributions to the debate.”

          Glad you agree Mr. Waugh will forever be associated with figuring out Jonson’s reference to Hampton Court is the ‘Avon’ of “Sweet swan of Avon”.

          Although it is a shame Mr. Waugh neglected to study his actual sources of such finding thus failing to find a truck-load of parallel references to de Vere as shown here https://noodlework.wordpress.com/2014/10/12/sweet-swan-of-avon-shakespeare-jonson-oxford/

          My sincerest thanks (again!) to Mr. Waugh for finding the key Avon = Hampton Court. Keep up the good work!

          • knitwitted says:

            BTW, Mr. Waugh. Please don’t feel too bad. Your ‘Avon Lady’, Nat Whilk, also missed all those wonderful parallels to Oxford in your sources. Funny how the two of you have so much in common!

      • Tom Reedy says:

        Aexander! How good to hear from you! We were afraid you had stepped out of the fray, but here you are again, and in the same fine–yet misleading–fettle as always.

        Here’s a link to that essay so the peanut gallery can read it and see how accurate your description is: http://oxfraud.com/100-weever

        For more on Weever, see the upcoming N&Q.

      • Tom Reedy says:

        > The Stratfordians have become very dirty-minded of, a common symptom of impending mental collapse. Look after yourself, Tom.

        Really? You should pay attention to your fellow communicants. They’re all hot and bothered to think that Oxford was the son of Queen Elizabeth, with whom he then had an affair, and their love child was the Earl of Southampton, to whom Oxford wrote erotic poetry.

        Now what was that you were saying about dirty-mindedness being a common symptom of mental collapse?

  35. Authorship Skeptic says:

    Dear Dr. Siebert,

    Since you seem reluctant to reply (see #32 above), I’ll go ahead and give examples of Professor Stanley Wells, Honorary President of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon, falsifying and omitting evidence in his book “Shakspeare Beyond Doubt” (SBD).

    1. Not only does SBD misspell the Stratford man’s name “Shakespeare” throughout (he never used that spelling, nor does it appear in the Stratford parish records for any of his immediate family), both Wells (p. 81) and David Kathman (p. 125) misrepresent the spelling of the name in the church register as “‘Shakespeare,” putting it in quotes, when it is clearly “Shakspere” in both cases. This is not a trivial issue. Whether the Stratford man’s name was the same as the author’s is extremely important. It is one thing to claim that spellings were not yet standardized at the time (which is true), and quite another to falsify spellings and put them in quotes. There is a clear, consistent difference between the spelling of Mr. Shakspere’s name and the poet’s.

    What do you think of Wells falsifying the spelling of the name and putting it in quotes?

    2. In his chapter titled “Allusions to Shakespeare to 1642,” Wells says that he aimed to list “_all_ explicit references [to the author] surviving up to the closing of the theatres in 1642” (p. 74, emphasis added). In fact, he omitted several references to Shakespeare, and nearly all of them seem to cast doubt on Shakspere’s authorship.

    A key example: In 1635, Cuthbert Burbage, brother of Richard Burbage, petitioned Philip Herbert, Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery, in a legal case. The Burbages were the founder-investors in the Globe Theatre, and Mr. Shakspere was a sharer. Cuthbert surely knew the role Shakspere played in the acting company. In the petition, Cuthbert names the investors in the Globe, referring to “Shakspere,” and “Shakspeare,” as one of several “deserving men” and as one of several “men players.” These terms do not suggest that Cuthbert thought of him as the author Shakespeare, just another member of the acting company.

    By 1635, after the publication of the first two Folios, the name “Shakespeare” was very well known, and it would always have been spelled that way in print. Further, the man to whom Cuthbert was writing – Philip Herbert – was a dedicatee, with his brother William, of the two published Folios. If Cuthbert knew that the “deserving man” and “man player” was also their playwright, he would have (1) spelled his name “Shakespeare,” and (2) mentioned that this Shakespeare was the author immortalized in first and second Folios. This would have greatly strengthened his petition. The fact that he did not do this suggests that he knew his fellow actor-sharer was not the author Shakespeare.

    So here we have virtually “smoking gun” evidence that Mr. Shakspere was not the author William Shakespeare, and Wells omits it! And he did it after saying he meant to include all such references. How could a leading scholar like Stanley Wells make such a mistake just by accident? And as I said, this is just one example. Do let me know if you would like to see more.

    So here we see the real reason why Wells refuses to participate in Mr. Waugh’s mock trial. He knows he would be exposed, under cross-examination, for misrepresenting evidence. Rather than collecting 40,000 pounds for winning, Wells & Co. would lose.

    What do you make of this, Dr. Siebert? How do you feel about falsifying the record?

    • Tom Reedy says:

      > Not only does SBD misspell the Stratford man’s name “Shakespeare” throughout (he never used that spelling, nor does it appear in the Stratford parish records for any of his immediate family),

      Maybe you should read the text of some of three documents to which Shakespeare attached his abbreviated signature, namely the Bellott-Mountjoy deposition and the two Blackfriars Gatehouse documents. You could also add the plea of Thomasina Ostler in suit of Ostler v. Heminges (1610), the exemplification of fine for purchase of New Place (1597), the conveyance of land in Old Stratford by William and John Combe (1602), and numerous other documents pertaining to “William Shakespeare of Stratford-vpon-Avon, gentleman”, as he is referred to in the Bellott-Mountjoy deposition.

      • Tom Reedy says:

        Can’t edit, but to make it easy for you: http://shakespeareauthorship.com/name2.html#4

      • Mark Johnson says:

        Authorship Skeptic might also want to consider that his anti-Stratfordian, virtual “smoking gun” is actually an instance of an argument from personal incredulity.

        • Howard Schumann says:

          It’s an obvious conclusion drawn from logic, common sense, and an awareness of context as opposed to what is absurd, illogical and simply doesn’t add up. a microcosm of the Stratfordian attribution.

          • Mark Johnson says:

            It’s blatant speculation motivated by an obvious bias. There is nothing at all logical about the conclusion that is drawn, as “what someone simply can’t believe could have happened” does absolutely nothing to establish what actually, factually occurred, much les produce a piece of “smoking-gun” evidence. It is typical of the invalid method generally employed by Oxfordians, as it demonstrates an almost complete lack of knowledge as to what qualifies as actual evidence and a total absence of awareness as to how assumptions and preconceptions inform their interpretations of documentary evidence. You can continue to pile speculation atop conjecture atop subjective interpretation, but it doesn’t add up to anything substantive at all.

          • Tom Reedy says:

            As I pointed out with examples and a link, your spelling argument is not even true, so it could hardly be “an obvious conclusion drawn from logic, common sense, and an awareness of context”

        • Authorship Skeptic says:

          Regardless of whether you agree that it is “smoking gun” evidence against Shakspere, the fact that Stanley Wells omitted it from a chapter in which he says that he aimed to include “all” references to the author to 1642 speaks volumes about what he thought. And as I said, that’s not the only example. So I’ll put the same question to you that I put to Siebert: What do you make of this? How do you feel about falsifying the record? So far, it sounds like it’s fine with you. Is this what Stratfordian standards have come to?

          • Mark Johnson says:

            I would say that your bias is still at the heart of what you write. It generates your suspicion that Professor Wells MUST have been engaged in some nefarious conduct and leads you to conclude that you somehow KNOW “what he thought”. As for me, I believe that all references should have been included, and Professor Wells may rightly be tasked for his failure to omit that particular one.

            As for your opinion as to what the reference means, surely you understand that it is only your opinion, and that, therefore, it doesn’t qualify as actual evidence, much less a “smoking gun”. It is an argument but surely it isn’t evidence.

          • Authorship Skeptic says:

            Mark, you wrote:

            “As for your opinion as to what the reference means, surely you understand that it is only your opinion, and that, therefore, it doesn’t qualify as actual evidence, much less a “smoking gun”. It is an argument but surely it isn’t evidence.”

            Of course Cuthbert Burbage’s petition to Philip Herbert is “evidence.” Wells’ wrote his chapter on “Allusions to Shakespeare to 1642” and said that he aimed to include “all” such references precisely because he regarded them as evidence for his position. How is it that they are evidence when he cites them and not when he omits them? Or evidence when they are interpreted one way but not when interpreted another way?

            As for it being only my opinion what the reference means, I contacted Stanley Wells, called this and other omissions to his attention, and asked if there was any other way to interpret it. He hasn’t replied, and until he does I’ll assume that he can’t explain it. Perhaps you could help him out. If it’s just my opinion that the petition is virtually smoking gun evidence that Burbage didn’t think of “Shakspere” or “Shakspeare” — the “deserving man” and “man player” — as the company’s playwright, then what’s the alternative? Why would he refer to him in this way, in this petition, at this time?

      • alexander Waugh says:

        Authorship Skeptic: If Ms Siebert wishes to remove me of my bottom dollar she should answer your two posts point by point, because I have bet it that she won’t.

        • Tom Reedy says:

          > As for it being only my opinion what the reference means, I contacted Stanley Wells, called this and other omissions to his attention, and asked if there was any other way to interpret it. He hasn’t replied, and until he does I’ll assume that he can’t explain it.

          *Whooosh!*

          • Roger Parisious says:

            Perhaps Dr.Wells will not reply because he like so many,many,others ,including the Texas Judiciary, consider your opinions as impossible “to any rational finder of fact”.

        • Authorship Skeptic says:

          After nearly two days, Eve Siebert hasn’t replied to either of my posts (or many at all), so it appears your bottom dollar is safe, Alexander. But, in case she finds her courage, I’ll ask her two final questions: The Newsweek article that prompted your Skeptic blog, Ms. Siebert was about Alexander Waugh’s e-book, “Shakespeare in Court (Kindle Single),” which, BTW, has gotten unusually good reviews at Amazon. Have you even read it? You didn’t mention it, so I doubt that you have. You should, especially Part I, where Waugh claims that five of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s tourist attractions — the “Birthplace,” “Anne Hathaway’s Cottage,” “Mary Arden’s Farm,” “Hall’s Croft,” and “Tom Nash’s House” — are not what the SBT claims them to be on its website. How does it feel to be putting yourself forward in support of an enterprise that defrauds the public?

          • Bob says:

            Hi, Mr. Waugh.

          • knitwitted says:

            Bob,

            Are you THE Bob who posts at SkepHum? Or, are you THE OTHER Bob who posts comments at SkepHum? Or, are you some other Bob?

            If you are THE Bob, then “Howdy, Bob!”

            If you are THE OTHER Bob, then “Wuzzupp, dude!”

            If you are BOB, then “Excellent comment!” And “hi”.

    • Hitandrun says:

      Dear Authorship Skeptic,

      Would your skepticism extend to your current antiStratfordian position, should you become persuaded that Hand D was indeed that of the player William Sh. of Stratford?

      Hitandrun

  36. Howard Schumann says:

    Everything can be explained in one way or another. Some explanations, however, to those who actually think about it, simply defy reason and common sense. I think the anomaly that Authorship skeptic has pointed out is one of them that points away from the man from Stratford as the true author.

    There are many others that, while they can be explained, just do not have the ring of truth.

    Concluding that a man who had little or no education, whose children were illiterate, who never left any writing other than six unreadable signatures with his name spelled differently in each one, who never traveled outside of London, who spent much time and effort engaging in petty lawsuits, who could not read books in French, Italian, or Spanish yet used untranslated materials as his sources, who never left any books in his will, who left no letters, no correspondence, who did not elicit a single eulogy at his death was the greatest writer in the English language simply boggles the mind.

    I’m sure you will have an explanation.

    • Mark Johnson says:

      To those who think about it, you are entitled to your speculations, but your speculations are not facts. You are still indulging in presentism and the logical fallacy of argument from personal incredulity [whatever “boggles” your mind simply can’t be true].

      >> Concluding that a man who had little or no education,

      That is your speculative conclusion. It isn’t mine.

      >> whose children were illiterate,

      Prove that they couldn’t read. I’ll save you the time — you can’t do so.

      >> who never left any writing other than six unreadable signatures with his name spelled differently in each one,

      This isn’t even accurate if Hand “D” is his. Again, it is speculation on your part. As to spelling, you ought to check out the many ways that Raleigh and his family spelled their name.

      >> and also who never traveled outside of London,

      And how is it that you KNOW this for a fact. This isn’t even speculation, it is pure invention.

      >> who spent much time and effort engaging in petty lawsuits,

      He had a lawyer for that, and it is your conclusion that the lawsuits were “petty” — there are many motivations for filing suit.

      >> who could not read books in French, Italian, or Spanish yet used untranslated materials as his sources,

      More speculation piled atop speculation.

      >> who never left any books in his will,

      How do you know this for a fact? How do you know that books were not included in the property that was passed on without being specifically identified? The Will itself states that an inventory was attached. Unfortunately, no such inventory has been located. How do you KNOW for a fact that there wasn’t an inventory that included books?

      >> who left no letters, no correspondence,

      That have survived.

      >> who did not elicit a single eulogy at his death

      Were you at the graveside? But, seriously, the facts show that he was honored with a Monument within the period after his death — that would be the same Monument about which Dugdale wrote in his personal notes for his book that it was to honor the famous writer, William Shakespeare. I guess all of your speculations did not boggle Dugdale’s mind. Why is it that you think you know better than Dugdale, and other contemporary witnesses, based on what you find hard to believe?

      • Howard Schumann says:

        William Shaksper of Stratford wrote the plays and poems attributed to William Shakespeare.

        Speculative.

        William Shaksper of Stratford wrote anything.

        Speculative

        Stratfordians know what they are talking about.

        Highly speculative.

        • Mark Johnson says:

          Howard: That’s really the best response you can muster…seriously? Simple denial of the evidence topped with an insult. How disappointing.

    • Hitandrun says:

      Mr Schumann,

      Would you seriously consider leaving the nonStratfordian ranks, should you become convinced that the player William Sh. of Stratford penned Hand D?

      Curious,
      Hitandrun

  37. Clay says:

    Mark and all,

    I just don’t buy your “Prima Facie” case assertion. On the face of it, some people may think that the direct evidence absolutely points to the man from Stratford. But these same people may be either biased in wanting that conclusion, or be satisfied that others believe it and that those others are more capable than themselves in judging the evidence. Or those judging this evidence objectively may miss contextual evidence or subtleties that throw into doubt the simple appearance of the evidence.

    The prima facie evidence you use, as I recall at the moment is 1. the name in the folio and in some of the plays and in the sonnets, 2. the collobaration in the folio of Heminges and Condell, and Jonson. 3. the first folio list of players, 4. the stratford man’s association with the acting company, 5. the “Mr.” in front of the name, 6. the reference in the folio to “swan of avon”, and 7. the mention of the Stratford Moniment”. If there are others please specify.

    But each of these as pieces of direct evidence have been shown to be ambiguous. The name of the Stratford man, as he spelled it, is not on all the authorship works, though it could have been. The counter argument that a hidden author used a very similar name has to be weighed against it. It appears to many, even among traditional scholars, that Heminges and Condell didn’t write the folio parts attributed to them, but that Jonson and Florio did. So this is a point of argument. The portrait of ‘Shakespeare’ is anything but as would be expected. It’s a caricature with unnaturalistic features lacking the usual tokens of a literary author. That’s another red flag countering the direct evidence. The mention of ‘Avon’ has been challenged as direct evidence. And the mention by Digges of the Stratford Moniment, although it does point to a moniment and to Stratford where Williiam lived, many think it hardly fits the expected depiction of a famous literary poet and playwright. As Diana Price writes “To sum up, neither the monument nor the epitaph satisfies as memorials to a recognized poet.” The “Mr.” where you find it is hardly sufficient either because the alternate hypothesis is that the hidden author deliberately hid behind the Stratford man or allowed him to be thought of as the true author. The ‘Mr.” just as well fits into this alternate hypothesis wherever it was used, or else whoever had it printed just was unaware of the subterfuge.
    I know you have arguments for all of this, but so does the opposition. That’s why the evidence is ambiguous. This is a highly unusual case and “The precise amount of evidence that constitutes a prima facie case varies from claim to claim.”
    http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/prima+facie

    I don’t have the time to answer the arguments and challenges you’ll likely throw back. I can barely steal the time for this. Nor can I even keep up with all that’s been written so far. But perhaps some other day. Just my two cents for now.

    • Mark Johnson says:

      Clay:

      >> I just don’t buy your “Prima Facie” case assertion.

      I’m not asking you to “buy” it. I am asking anti-Stratfordians to attempt to refute it with actual evidence and reasonable, logical argument of their own. Speculation does not refute actual evidence. I realize that you don’t have the time, but, at some point, you might want to show just how it is that you think the evidence fails to establish a prima facie case.

      >> On the face of it, some people may think that the direct evidence absolutely points to the man from Stratford.

      Exactly right. If you take the documents at face value and accept their objective meaning, the case is made.

      >> But these same people may be either biased in wanting that conclusion, or be satisfied that others believe it and that those others are more capable than themselves in judging the evidence.

      None of which has anything to do with whether or not the available evidence objectively establishes a prima facie case.

      >> Or those judging this evidence objectively may miss contextual evidence or subtleties that throw into doubt the simple appearance of the evidence.

      If that is so, then it is incumbent upon those attempting to rebut the prima facie case to provide actual evidence as to those contexts or subtleties — again, however, speculation and wishful thinking are not sufficient to rebut the case.

      >> The prima facie evidence you use, as I recall at the moment is 1. the name in the folio and in some of the plays and in the sonnets, 2. the collobaration in the folio of Heminges and Condell, and Jonson. 3. the first folio list of players, 4. the stratford man’s association with the acting company, 5. the “Mr.” in front of the name, 6. the reference in the folio to “swan of avon”, and 7. the mention of the Stratford Moniment”. If there are others please specify.

      That is some of it. Since you aren’t returning, I don’t feel obligated to set out the whole case here. There isn’t enough space to do that here anyway.

      >> But each of these as pieces of direct evidence have been shown to be ambiguous.

      Where and when was this done? Simply arguing that something is ambiguous does not make it so, and none of the pieces of evidence have been shown to be ambiguous.

      >> The name of the Stratford man, as he spelled it, is not on all the authorship works, though it could have been.

      And…? Marlowe spelled his name Marley [if I remember correctly] in the only signature we have from him. Does that make his name on the plays at all ambiguous as evidence that he wrote those works? Is there a theory that a hidden author wrote his plays?

      >> The counter argument that a hidden author used a very similar name has to be weighed against it.

      Why would you think that such unsupported such speculation would even qualify as a counter-argument? Do you have any actual evidence that a hidden author was involved?

      >> It appears to many, even among traditional scholars, that Heminges and Condell didn’t write the folio parts attributed to them, but that Jonson and Florio did.

      My own opinion is that Jonson wrote it, but that isn’t evidence which renders what is said therein ambiguous. As a matter of fact, I would [and have] make the argument that, in combination with Jonson’s *Timber*, the fact that Jonson wrote the prefatory material to the Folio and the fact that the actors’ names are attached to it actually serves as excellent evidence that the actor WS was being identified as the author. That argument is too long for me to make here, but, if you wish to be contacted elsewhere, I’ll be happy to explain it.

      >> The portrait of ‘Shakespeare’ is anything but as would be expected. It’s a caricature with unnaturalistic features lacking the usual tokens of a literary author. That’s another red flag countering the direct evidence.

      That isn’t what Jonson says. That is speculation with a presentist bias.

      >> The mention of ‘Avon’ has been challenged as direct evidence.

      Which doesn’t deprive it of its nature as evidence.

      >> And the mention by Digges of the Stratford Moniment, although it does point to a moniment and to Stratford where Williiam lived, many think it hardly fits the expected depiction of a famous literary poet and playwright. As Diana Price writes “To sum up, neither the monument nor the epitaph satisfies as memorials to a recognized poet.”

      Argument from personal incredulity and argument by appeal to alleged authority. Dugdale didn’t appear to think it did not satisfy as a memorial to a “famous” author.

      >> The “Mr.” where you find it is hardly sufficient either because the alternate hypothesis is that the hidden author deliberately hid behind the Stratford man or allowed him to be thought of as the true author. The ‘Mr.” just as well fits into this alternate hypothesis wherever it was used, or else whoever had it printed just was unaware of the subterfuge.

      Do you have any actual evidence for the alternate hypothesis that there was a subterfuge. The use of the honorific/status designation is direct evidence specifically and uniquely identifying William Shakespeare of Stratford as the author, and positing an alternate hypothesis does nothing to strip that evidence of its evidentiary value and significance. You are merely speculating the presence of a conspiracy to try to explain away direct evidence that conflicts with your theory. Oxford was the hidden author. There was a plot to hide his name, so wherever the name Shakespeare appears, it really means Oxford [except when it doesn’t]. Therefore, Oxford was the hidden author. If that isn’t how your argument goes, could you spell it out more clearly.

      >> I know you have arguments for all of this, but so does the opposition.

      But I have hard evidence for my arguments, and all they have is coincidence, conjecture and speculative interpretations of literary works — all of which they illogically treat as facts.

      >> That’s why the evidence is ambiguous.

      Sorry, but I don’t believe that speculative argument makes the evidence at all ambiguous.

      >>This is a highly unusual case and “The precise amount of evidence that constitutes a prima facie case varies from claim to claim.”
      http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/prima+facie

      You could attempt to show why the evidence in this case is insufficient to make a prima facie case.

    • Tom Reedy says:

      Did you even read that definition of prima facie?

      [Latin, On the first appearance.] A fact presumed to be true unless it is disproved.

      In common parlance the term prima facie is used to describe the apparent nature of something upon initial observation.

  38. Alfa says:

    >” many think it hardly fits the expected depiction of a famous literary poet and playwright”

    is a galaxy apart from

    >”But each of these as pieces of direct evidence have been shown to be ambiguous.”

    You cannot assert away Primary Evidence just because it indicates the opposite of why you would like to be true. As a ‘doubter’ the burden of proof is upon you. You need evidence to tilt the balance in your favour. And you have none.

  39. Mark Johnson says:

    Response to Authorship Skeptic [2/6 11:58]

    >> I said:
    “As for your opinion as to what the reference means, surely you understand that it is only your opinion, and that, therefore, it doesn’t qualify as actual evidence, much less a “smoking gun”. It is an argument but surely it isn’t evidence.”

    >> AS replied:
    “Of course Cuthbert Burbage’s petition to Philip Herbert is “evidence.” Wells’ wrote his chapter on “Allusions to Shakespeare to 1642″ and said that he aimed to include “all” such references precisely because he regarded them as evidence for his position. How is it that they are evidence when he cites them and not when he omits them? Or evidence when they are interpreted one way but not when interpreted another way?

    I’m not sure why this seems so confusing. The document itself is, of course, evidence, and I haven’t said anything to the contrary. That does not make your interpretation of the document evidence, nor would my opinion as to its meaning be evidence. Do you not understand this? Your argument as to what the evidence means does not turn that evidence into a “smoking gun”…that’s really a pretty simple concept. In fact, judges instruct jurors that what the advocate lawyers say is not to be considered as evidence. Our interpretations, our opinions, and our arguments are not evidence.

    >> AS: As for it being only my opinion what the reference means, I contacted Stanley Wells, called this and other omissions to his attention, and asked if there was any other way to interpret it. He hasn’t replied, and until he does I’ll assume that he can’t explain it.

    Again, you can assume whatever you’d like but that does not make your assumption factually correct. Perhaps Professor Wells simply doesn’t wish to be bothered with unsolicited emails from anti-Stratfordians or perhaps it went to his spam folder. There could be a whole myriad of reasons why he doesn’t respond to you, so I fail to see any reason for any reasonable person to make a necessary assumption one way or another. Silence can be taken as an admission in limited instances, but this isn’t one of them.

    >> AS: Perhaps you could help him out. If it’s just my opinion that the petition is virtually smoking gun evidence that Burbage didn’t think of “Shakspere” or “Shakspeare” — the “deserving man” and “man player” — as the company’s playwright, then what’s the alternative? Why would he refer to him in this way, in this petition, at this time?

    He might have referred to his as deserving to place him, and those in the petition who had been allied with him, in opposition to those other parties in the suit who should be considered “undeserving”. Perhaps he thought it was so well known that WS was the author that he didn’t feel it necessary to mention it [there was already that dedication in the Folio, after all]. Perhaps he considered that the facts giving rise to the petition had nothing to do with Shakespeare’s authorship of the works so why bother including it. Can you demonstrate why you think the only alternative is that he MUST have included that fact in his petition…how was it so relevant to the petition that you contend he would necessarily have had to refer to it?

    • Nark Johnson says:

      If anyone is interested in inquiring further into the circumstances of the Burbage petition, or in viewing a transcription of the text, thef ollowing link will take you there:

      http://www.oxford-shakespeare.com/NationalArchives/LC_5-133.pdf

      Interestingly, the word “deservings” is used elsewhere in the petition other than in referring to Shakespeare, Heminges, Condell, Phillips and other shareholders as “deserving”. In this usage, it appears to be about those who were entitled to[deserving of] profiting from the theatre business, as opposed to those who are not so deserving:

      “That the petitioners’ desire not to purchase or diminish any part of Mr Taylor’s or Mr
      Lowin’s shares, whose deservings they must acknowledge to be well worthy of their
      gains, but in regard the petitioners’ labours, according to their several ways & abilities, are equal to some of the rest, and for that others of the said housekeepers are neither actors nor his Majesty’s servants, & yet the petitioners’ profit & means of livelihood so much inferior & unequal to theirs,…”

    • Authorship Skeptic says:

      Mark,

      It might have made sense to include him among the other “deserving men” if he was also their playwright, but not to describe him to Philip Herbert, the Lord Chamberlain and a dedicatee of the first two Folios, as just one of the “men players” and spell his name “Shakspere” and “Shakspeare” if Philip Herbert knew he was not just another actor, but also the playwright William Shakespeare. As I said before, it would have greatly strengthened his petition. The fact that he did not do so in an important legal document, addressed to Philip Herbert, suggests that he knew this “Shakspere” wasn’t the author William Shakespeare.

      You’ve addressed the use of “deserving men,” but not the description of him as just one of the “men players,” and not the spelling of his name differently from the author’s name, at the late date of 1635, when the correct, standard spelling of the author’s name would have been well known to Cuthbert Burbage and Philip Herbert.

      • Mark Johnson says:

        >> AS: It might have made sense to include him among the other “deserving men” if he was also their playwright,

        They were all actors and shareholders and so was he, which made all of them “deserving” according to Cuthbert.

        >> AS: but not to describe him to Philip Herbert, the Lord Chamberlain and a dedicatee of the first two Folios, as just one of the “men players” and spell his name “Shakspere” and “Shakspeare” if Philip Herbert knew he was not just another actor, but also the playwright William Shakespeare.

        AS I said, he may not have felt the need to state the obvious, especially in a petition about who was deserving of holding shares in the company.

        >> AS: As I said before, it would have greatly strengthened his petition.

        Sorry, but you are merely repeating this statement without showing how it is that a recognition of Shakespeare as the playwright would have strengthened Cuthbert’s petition regarding who deserved shares in the theatres in 1635.

        >> AS: The fact that he did not do so in an important legal document, addressed to Philip Herbert, suggests that he knew this “Shakspere” wasn’t the author William Shakespeare.

        It doesn’t suggest any such thing.

        >>AS: You’ve addressed the use of “deserving men,” but not the description of him as just one of the “men players,”

        What I have said does address this. There was no need to state the obvious, and it had nothing at all to do with the facts of the petition. He was talking about the shareholders and included Shakespeare with his fellows, Heminge, Condell, and Phillips.

        >> AS: and not the spelling of his name differently from the author’s name, at the late date of 1635, when the correct, standard spelling of the author’s name would have been well known to Cuthbert Burbage and Philip Herbert.

        Where exactly are you getting the spelling, because the transcription supplied by Oxfordian Nina Greene has it as “Shakespeare”. In addition, I don’t believe that the spelling of the name as Shakespeare became standard until a much later time.

        • Authorship Skeptic says:

          The name “Shakespeare,” or the hyphenated version “Shake-speare” (~45% of the time), appeared on over 90% of the published works attributed to that author before the publication of the First Folio, so the spelling was already standard among printers, and it became much more so after the publication of the First Folio and Second Folio. Certainly it would have been the case for someone in the know like Cuthbert Burbage.

          The source of the spellings “Shakspere” and “Shakspeare” is the original of the petition. Nina Green’s website is not an authoritative source for original spellings of appearances of the author’s name because she “modernizes” all such spellings to “Shakespeare.”

          • Tom Reedy says:

            > The name “Shakespeare,” or the hyphenated version “Shake-speare” (~45% of the time),

            Shakespeare’s surname was hyphenated as “Shake-speare” or “Shak-spear” on the title pages of 15 of the 48 individual quarto (or Q) editions of Shakespeare’s plays (16 were published with the author unnamed) and in two of the five editions of poetry, published before the First Folio. Of those 15 title pages with Shakespeare’s name hyphenated, 13 are on the title pages of just three plays, Richard II (Q2 1598, Q3 1598, Q4 1608, and Q5 1615), Richard III (Q2 1598, Q3 1602, Q4 1605, Q5 1612, and Q6 1622), and Henry IV, Part 1 (Q2 1599, Q3 1604, Q4 1608, and Q5 1613).[50] The hyphen is also present in one cast list and in six literary allusions published between 1594 and 1623.

  40. Steve Bari says:

    The name Shakespeare is spelled this way in the King James account book giving 4 and a half yards of scarlet cloth and refers to him as a player along with Richard Burbage and Augustine Philips. So the king’s office recognized a player in the King’s Men as having the same name as the author on all those title pages. If you accept that the author was named William Shakespeare then how do you explain the king’s exchequer recognizing a player in the King’s Men by that same name?

  41. Paul Crowley says:

    It is the Oxfordian case (or, at least, my Oxfordian case) that the cover-up originated in the monarchy itself. (For many reasons, but one example will have to suffice here: The Lady Portia is a representation of Queen Elizabeth . . the casket scene is all about her choice of suitors. In it a speech is addressed to her ” . . . riding on the balls of mine, / Seem they in motion? Here are sever’d lips, / Parted with sugar breath; so sweet a bar. / Should sunder such sweet friends . . .” I won’t explain these lines since you might be too young. Nor will you find an explanation in any commentary. King James and his close advisers did not think his public in 1604 were ready for one either.)

    The officials responsible for the cover-up would IMHO have originated that warrant for the scarlet-cloth — to be used for the livery of members of the Royal Household. Possibly, on this occasion, they were a little over-active. But it was the coronation of a new monarch, and they were probably unsure of themselves.

    • Howard Schumann says:

      Indeed, the cloth may have been offered simply to those listed by The Lord Chamberlain’s Men/ Kings Men as shareholders or players, since King James coming from Scotland most probably did not know the individuals at the time of his coronation.

      The company most likely listed the name of Shakespeare as a player in order to protect the source of their plays. Edward, Earl of Oxford. Indeed this very Earl may have even occasionally acted in the company under the name William Shakespeare and made himself as he describes in the Sonnets “a motley to the view.”

      In any event, the scarlet cloth is not evidence that William of Stratford was a writer.

    • Steve Bari says:

      Philip, What in the world are you talking about? What does potential suitors for Queen Elizabeth have to do with clothing material for the coronation of King James? You are talking about events that nearly 50 years apart! That would have made it even too early for Oxford to have written anything. Exactly what does my sge have to do with anything? Why would a conspiracy be started by the king, for what? They run the country who are they keeping a conspiracy from? This account book states there wad an actor by the name spelled SHAKESPEARE and they then note this person to be a poet of Measure for Measure and other plays. The only thing you got right was that this was this was a clothing allotment for mem

      • Paul Crowley says:

        > Philip, . .Suitors for Elizabeth and the coronation of King James wad almost 50 years apart. This would even be too early for Oxford to have written it.

        The last suitor (Francis, Duke of Anjou) left England in February 1582, a mere 21 years before James began to reign. ‘Courtship’ was still intense in the late 1570s, when the Merchant of Venice was written. You want proof that Portia was a representation of Elizabeth? Let me throw in the Lady Olivia (of AYLI) as well. Name, in the whole of Early-Modern Europe, one other noble, highly-educated, never-married female, who was rich and ran her own estate. You won’t, because there wasn’t one. So had the play been performed in public at the time, or even thirty years later, an intelligent audience would readily have made the identification.

        Did you read the ‘riding on the balls of mine’ speech? If you grasped its sense, you would see why a cover-up was necessary, given that the monarch very much wanted to see the plays in print. James continued her policy. The poet had long been described as ‘ . . a gentleman in the country who rarely came to town . . ‘. As a back-up, an illiterate yokel (with a name roughly similar to the poet’s pseudonym) had been identified, paid well, turned into a gentleman, and told to keep out of the way. He was never an actor — his illiteracy being one of the many bars. As part of the cover-up, the name was put into various wills (which were public documents, as they still are) and (very occasionally) added to lists of actors. This list for cloth was one such.

  42. Roger Parisious says:

    TR wrote:
    The hyphen is also present in one cast list and in six literary allusions published between 1594 and 1623.
    Yes, and at least two of them are quite telling.
    The hyphen first occurs in the libelous “Willobie:His Avisa” . “And Shake-Speare paints poor Lucrece rape”
    The work proceeds to bring on an “old actor” named W.S. and his college buddy H.W. H.W. is trying to seduce a local Oxford bar maid and W.S. is offering him some hot tips on how to proceed.
    The poem professes to be written by Henry himself and a Henry Willobie was registered at Oxford at the time.This in Mark Johnson’s and Tom Reedy”s type of “thinking” establishes a prima facie case that Henry Willobie is the author and presumably the old actor W.S. refers to the Shake-Speare referred to in the opening matter.
    Nothing could be further from the truth.Henry has reportedly gone abroad and his (non-existent ) room mate “Hadrian Doyle” ,who found the manuscript among his friend’s effect, is publishing this piece of soft porn because he is so struck by his buddy’s unsuspected talents.
    No less than five editions of this thing appeared up to 1609 about the time of the appearance of Shake-Ppeare’s Sonnets.All were suppressed but it must have been selling like hot cakes and the real author was never caught.
    To add insult to injury,a sequel ,”Penelope’s Complaint” came out in 1596 announcing that Henry Willobie is dead (he was very much alive) but his possibly non-existent brother ,Thomas ,will be taking over the editorial duties.
    As Henry Wriothesley to whom W.S.dedicated “Lucrece” was actually in Oxford shortly before the underground publication of “Willobie” ,there is little questiion what the author intended by the hyphenated “Shake-Speare”, one good authorship hoax deserved another. As William “Shake-Speare”” to his H.W.,so Hadrian Doyle to the other Oxford ,H.W.
    The third hyphenated “Shake-Speare” occured shortly after the the two others.”To Our English Terence” William Shake-Speare. by the professional scribe,John Davies of Hereford.
    Now if Will Shakspere ever got as far as the Stratford Grammar School ,he would soon have learned,as did many other Elizabethan school boys,that former slave Terence merely acted the part of author at behest of a couple of the Roman nobility.
    This allusion was repeated in another then extremely popular work.John Florio’s translation of Montaigne .There is no way a literate contemporary reader would not have gotten what Davies was quite openly stating.As Terence ,so Shake-Speare.
    Appended to “Shake-Speare’s Sonnets” is a poem entitled “A Lover’s Complaint” .
    It is ,according to a book length analysis, by Dr. Brian Vickers,the work of none other than John Davies.If Dr,Vickers is correct, when Davies addressed Will as Terence,he further meant as Davies to Shkee-Speare,so the Romans to Terence.

    • Sydney Carton says:

      This was accidentally posted without correction. Should run:
      TR wrote:
      The hyphen is also present in one cast list and in six literary allusions published between 1594 and 1623.
      Yes, and at least two of them are quite telling.
      The hyphen first occurs in the libelous “Willobie:His Avisa” . “And Shake-Speare paints poor Lucrece rape”
      The work features an “old actor” named W.S. and his college buddy H.W. H.W. is trying to seduce a local Oxford bar maid and W.S. is offering him some hot tips on how to proceed.
      The poem professes to be written by Henry himself and a Henry Willobie was registered at Oxford at the time.This in Mark Johnson’s and Tom Reedy”s type of “thinking” establishes a prima facie case that Henry Willobie is the author and presumably they agree that the old actor W.S. refers to the Shake-Speare referred to in the opening matter.
      Nothing could be further from the truth.Henry has reportedly gone abroad and his (non-existent ) room mate “Hadrian Doyle” ,who found the manuscript among his friend’s effect, is publishing this piece of soft porn because he is so struck by his buddy’s unsuspected literary talents.
      No less than five editions of this thing appeared up to 1609 about the time of the appearance of Shake-Speare’s Sonnets.All were suppressed but it must have been selling like hot cakes(hence five editions) and the real author was never caught.
      To add insult to injury,a sequel ,”Penelope’s Complaint” came out in 1596 announcing that Henry Willobie is dead (he was very much alive) but his possibly non-existent brother ,Thomas ,will be taking over the editorial duties.
      As Henry Wriothesley to whom W.S.dedicated “Lucrece” was actually in Oxford shortly before the underground publication of “Willobie” ,there is little questiion what the author intended by the hyphenated “Shake-Speare”, one good authorship hoax deserved another. As William “Shake-Speare”” to his H.W.,so Hadrian Doyle to the other Oxford ,H.W.
      The third hyphenated “Shake-Speare” occured shortly after the the two others.”To Our English Terence” William Shake-Speare”. by the professional scribe,John Davies of Hereford.
      Now if Will Shakspere ever got as far as the Stratford Grammar School ,he would soon have learned,as did many other Elizabethan school boys,that former slave Terence merely acted the part of author at behest of a couple of the Roman nobility.
      This allusion was repeated in another then extremely popular work.John Florio’s translation of Montaigne .There is no way a literate contemporary reader would not have gotten what Davies was quite openly stating.As Terence ,so Shake-Speare.
      Appended to “Shake-Speare’s Sonnets” is a poem entitled “A Lover’s Complaint” .
      It has recently been accorded a book length analysis, by Stratfordian Dr. Brian Vickers, who claims the workis by none other than John Davies
      .If Dr . Vickers is correct, it inevitably when Davies addressed Will as Terence,he further meant as the Romans to Terence ,so Davies to Shkee-Speare,

    • Hitandrun says:

      Mr Parisious,

      Would you consider abandoning any antiStratfordian position you may hold, were it demonstrated to your satisfaction that the player William Sh. of Straford penned Hand D?

      Hitandrun

  43. Steve Bari says:

    Philip, What in the world are you talking about? Suitors for Elizabeth and the coronation of King James wad almost 50 years apart. This would even be too early fpr Oxford to have written it. This entry has to do with the coronation of King James I nothing more and nothing to do with Elizabeth. You have an actor identified as Shakespeare and spelled thst way and the identified as the writrr of comedy of errors and measure for measure. I don’t know what drugs you’re on but you might eant to go back and smoke them so more. That’s quite an Acid trip you appesr to be on

    • Howard Schumann says:

      Let me repeat. The cloth may have been offered simply to those listed by the Lord Chamberlain’s Men/ Kings Men as shareholders or players since King James coming from Scotland most probably did not know the individuals at the time of his coronation.

      The company likely listed the name of Shakespeare as a player in order to protect Oxford as the source of their plays. Indeed Oxford may have acted in the company under the name William Shakespeare and made himself as he describes in the Sonnets “a motley to the view.”

      In any event, the scarlet cloth is not evidence that William of Stratford was a writer.

      • Steve Bari says:

        You can repeat it all you want its not going to make it true. The coat of arms application identifies William Shakespeare of Stratford as a player and he became a gentleman. He was an actor in the King’s Men that the King’s account book corroborates and also identifies as the author of Measure for Measure and Comedy of Errors. You have absolutely no proof that Oxford was an actor and would even know what to do on a stage. You have no proof that the King’s Men were covering up anything.

        Why would Oxford write for them and nor for his own company? It makes no sense. Perhaps you would like to explain how this supposed arrangement worked. How did De Vere write a play and it get to the King’s Men stage? How did an Earl appear on stage in front of thousands of people and no one in London say anything? How did the theater company cover it up? Please provide some hard proof on all this happened since you seem so sure of yourself. The sonnet you quote states what an actor would say and William Shakespeare was a documented actor, Oxford was not.

    • Paul Crowley says:

      > Philip, . .Suitors for Elizabeth and the coronation of King James wad almost 50 years apart. This would even be too early fpr Oxford to have written it.

      The last suitor (Francis, Duke of Anjou) left England in February 1582, a mere 21 years before James began to reign. ‘Courtship’ was still intense in the late 1570s, when the Merchant of Venice was written. You want proof that Portia was a representation of Elizabeth? Let me throw in the Lady Olivia (of AYLI) as well. Name, in the whole of Early-Modern Europe, one other noble, highly-educated, never-married female, who was rich and ran her own estate. You won’t, because there wasn’t one. So had the play been performed in public at the time, or even thirty years later, an intelligent audience would readily have made the identification.

      Did you read the ‘riding on the balls of mine’ speech? If you grasped its sense, you would see why a cover-up was necessary, given that the monarch very much wanted to see the plays in print. James continued her policy. The poet had long been described as ‘ . . a gentleman in the country who rarely came to town . . ‘. As a back-up, an illiterate yokel (with a name roughly similar to the poet’s pseudonym) had been identified, paid well, turned into a gentleman, and told to keep out of the way. He was never an actor — his illiteracy being one of the many bars. As part of the cover-up, the name was put into various wills (which were public documents, as they still are) and (very occasionally) added to lists of actors. This list for cloth was one such.

      • Steve Bari says:

        So Elizabeth dressed up as a man and played lawyer since that’s what Portia does or screw around with her fiance over a ring? Tell me who is Bassanio supposed to be in real life, don’t tell me Oxford right?

        Lady Olivia in AYLI. You mean “As You Like It”. There is no character by that name in “As You Like It”. There is in “Twelfth Night” – you want to get your plays straight.

        If people are supposed to identify Portia or Olivia as Elizabeth than why not make those characters ruling monarchs? These characters don’t rule over anything but a rich house, not even a city state, but “intelligent audiences” are supposed to associate them to Queen Elizabeth.

        Again, what does any of this have to do with the coronation of King James I? A “mere 21 years”, oh is that all?

        The monarch is the law, what they saw goes above all else. A conspiracy means you are doing something secret against those in power. They are the power, who are they conspiring against? They’re continuing a conspiracy against themselves? If either of them had such a desire to see Oxford’s plays then they could have just decreed it openly and everyone in the court would have to go along with it for fear of pissing off the monarch. It was called being a favorite of the king or queen. The king or queen are the ultimate patrons and bestowed their favor both in reputation and financially to other nobility they found favorable. If they SO wanted to see these plays of Oxford that’s what they would have done. Court Masques were just that, private theatrical projects spear headed by members of the court for putting on in front of the court and the monarch.

        King James I was an outsider to the English court, why in the world would he care about secret policies that Elizabeth had in place? Southampton who was imprisoned under Elizabeth was released under James. So the new King reversed policies of his predecessor. The same way Elizabeth returned to Protestantism after Mary had switched the country to Catholicism. The new administration does things differently.

        “The poet had long been described as ‘ . . a gentleman in the country who rarely came to town . . ‘” Please provide proof for this statement that it specifically applies to Edward De Vere. Even if it did this quote is disqualifies your guy as a candidate as the plays are full of allusions to being an actor, intimate direction in the verse to instruct an an actor how to play a scene. This was because the author was an actor not a removed individual writing them from the country.

        “As a back-up, an illiterate yokel (with a name roughly similar to the poet’s pseudonym) had been identified, paid well, turned into a gentleman, and told to keep out of the way”

        Provide some concrete proof that William Shakespeare of Stratford was illiterate. You say he was “paid well” please provide proof of that. You are obviously implying that a business arrangement existed between him and De Vere – show it. How did their arrangement work and provide proof of it. Also, the application for being a gentleman was begun by his father John Shakespeare which has no connection to the alleged pseudonym. Provide proof that the name was a pseudonym and used by exclusively by De Vere.

        “He was never an actor — his illiteracy being one of the many bars. As part of the cover-up, the name was put into various wills (which were public documents, as they still are) and (very occasionally) added to lists of actors. This list for cloth was one such.”

        Why go through all of this trouble and who made sure it all happened? What’s the money trail to show all this fixing in wills and lists happened and it connects back to Oxfrod? William Shakespeare was a documented actor, who worked for and part owned the company that put on these plays and was recognized as an author in the King’s account book, by Meres in “Palladis Tamia”, by John Webster in the “White Devil” dedication, in part 1 of the Parnassus play, by John Davies in his Terrence poem, and as an actor and author in the First Folio. All concrete proof of an author connecting to the man from Stratford.

        You on the other hand have NOTHING to back up your wishful conjecture.

        • Paul Crowley says:

          > So Elizabeth dressed up as a man and played lawyer since that’s what Portia does or screw around with her fiance over a ring?

          It IS a play — intended to amuse, and not a report. Do I need to explain how you can usually find some differences between the real events and the fictional tale based on them?

          > There is in “Twelfth Night”

          Oops, sorry — senility threatens.

          > If people are supposed to identify Portia or Olivia as Elizabeth than why not make those characters ruling monarchs?

          It’s a play, not a report.

          > The monarch is the law, what they saw goes above all else.

          Charles I was certainly under that impression; as was Edward II, and John, and Richard II and James II. Whereas James I and Elizabeth (her especially) knew more about history.

          > A conspiracy means you are doing something secret against those in power.

          So governments never do (and have never done) anything that they conceal(ed) from their subjects?

          > They are the power, who are they conspiring against? They’re continuing a conspiracy against themselves?

          Ever heard the name ‘Edward Snowden’ ?

          > King James I was an outsider to the English court, why in the world would he care about secret policies that Elizabeth had in place?

          Firstly, he ruled through English aristocrats. Secondly, he also loved theatre and literature and wanted to see the Canon published. Thirdly, it would have been inadvisable to impugn the name of Good Queen Bess. Fourthly, he had enough problems, raising money, etc., and did not need any more.

          > the plays are full of allusions to being an actor

          Actors are fairly integral to stage performances.

          > Provide some concrete proof that William Shakespeare of Stratford was illiterate.

          His illiterate daughters; his ‘signature’ (at a time when a clear elegant signature was the mark of an educated person); the absence of letters; his illiterate parents; the absence of written material (plays, poems, every kind of manuscript) from the family home — not sold out of it until ~1670.

          > You say he was “paid well” please provide proof of that.

          He bought ‘New Place’ and invested in extra land early in 1597 (just after being made a ‘gent’, for which, of course, he had to pay) — at a time when the playhouses had gone though a rough couple of years, as the result of plague.

          > You are obviously implying that a business arrangement existed between him and De Vere

          I doubt if De Vere was much involved. It was, as I have made clear, a state enterprise.

          > – show it.

          No doubt you want documentary evidence of a successful state cover-up?

          > Also, the application for being a gentleman was begun by his father John Shakespeare

          A traditional, and traditionally fictional claim. Theoretically all gentlemen had come from gentle families back to the Conquest. The ‘original application’ in this case is, of course, lost.

          > Provide proof that the name was a pseudonym and used by exclusively by De Vere.

          It is a sentence in English made up of three syllables, each of which is packed with bawdy potential. The sentence itself announces an intention to shake the emblematic spear of the goddess Athena, the wise all-seeing, strictly virginal ruler of the city, but who loved men. (Guess who she was.) You have to be utterly ignorant of Elizabethan literature not to recognise the name as a magnificent multi-layered Elizabethan pun.

          > Why go through all of this troub.le and who made sure it all happened?

          It’s not a lot of trouble, and what else are government lackeys for? A major agent was Thomas Greene, a highly-qualified barrister and competent poet who ‘wasted’ his best years as Town Clerk in Stratford. On the Stratman’s death, he high-tailed back to London, and rapidly rose to the very top of his profession.

          > William Shakespeare was a documented actor,

          Documented where?

          > who worked for and part owned the company

          He never seems to have sold his supposed share. Nor was it mentioned in his will.

          > that put on these plays and was recognized as an author in the King’s account book, by Meres in “Palladis Tamia”, by John Webster in the “White Devil” dedication, in part 1 of the Parnassus play, by John Davies in his Terrence poem, and as an actor and author in the First Folio. All concrete proof of an author connecting to the man from Stratford.

          No reference to Stratford. They are as relevant as references to ‘George Eliot’ by critics who assumed that writer was male.

          Did your man _know_ he was a great artist? If yes, how come he was so reclusive and so coy about it? If not, is he the only great artist in all time to be so ignorant about the stature of his work?

          > You on the other hand have NOTHING to back up your wishful conjecture.

          Firstly, there’s the monstrous nonsense of Stratfordianism. Secondly, I quoted (as an example) Queen Elizabeth’s private parts being described in detail on the public stage. There is much, much more, visible to those who are not rendered blind by hideous Stratfordianism.

          • Steve Bari says:

            “It IS a play — intended to amuse, and not a report.” So you can cherry pick what moments you want out the plays. These are pertinent and those aren’t because YOU SAY they have meaning. So anyone who independently who runs a household is supposed to be Queen Elizabeth? Again, all of this has nothing to do with the cloth reference.

            “Charles I was certainly under that impression; as was Edward II, and John, and Richard II and James II. Whereas James I and Elizabeth (her especially) knew more about history”. Why the conspiracy then? What exactly is so damning about them that they couldn’t be out in the open? James commissioned a Bible, why not commission the plays if he was so into publishing, after all he also wrote a book on how to hunt witches. Sounds like it would be a no brainer to publish plays. Besides in a society where the nobles considered themselves “the betters” of people like Shakespeare it would make sense for Oxford and James to come out and publish. No instead in a class conscience society an Earl and a King allow the rabble to believe that one of their own created genius – that makes no sense.

            “So governments never do (and have never done) anything that they conceal(ed) from their subjects?” Something of national security yes, again what is some damaging about these plays that the populace had to be kept in the dark about it especially since they were all published.

            “Firstly, he ruled through English aristocrats”. What does that even mean? He made an edict and it was carried out by subordinates, you mean like any other manager? “Secondly, he also loved theatre and literature and wanted to see the Canon published.” What exactly is so horrible about the canon that it could’t be published so half of it was published in quarto and then the rest in the first folio. The London printers were doing a good enough job printing these plays long before James came along.

            “Thirdly, it would have been inadvisable to impugn the name of Good Queen Bess.” Really so why did he release Southampton and reverse other policies that she had in place?

            “Actors are fairly integral to stage performances”. My point was that the plays are so full of these allusions that they could only be written by someone who was intimately familiar with the theater something the Earl of Oxford was not. He was never an actor, he only inherited theater companies that had his family’s title on them but never had any hands on knowledge of the day in and day out workings of running a theater or even knowing how to act.

            “His illiterate daughters”; There’s no proof of this at all. His daughter Susanna wrote her own signature which means she was given instruction in how to form letters and recognize what she wrote which is also known as reading. So this means she was literate There is also an anecdote of Doctor Cooke who transcribed her husband’s medical journal. Cooke comes to her house to collect this volume and Susanna notes that there is a book on Physick of the body that he might also be interested in. Upon getting it Cooke notices it contains handwriting that was of her husband to which Susanna disagrees and states it wan’t his handwriting It gets testy and Cooke mentions he didn’t press the matter further. So Susanna pulls the volume of her husband’s medical journal to give to Cooke, she notes that there is another book on physick of the body and goes to get it for him, she recognizes hand written marks in a book as handwriting and knows it enough to know it wasn’t her husband’s – how can she do all of this if she can’t read? All of the activities in the Doctor Cook episode would require the skill of reading. So if Susanna could do all this why not Judith? They were only three years apart and lived in the same house.

            “his ‘signature’ (at a time when a clear elegant signature was the mark of an educated person);” – Ever see a doctor’s signature? Its a quick scrawl. Are doctors illiterate or any other quick professional illiterate simply because they quickly write their signature. You want a period example of literate people with bad handwriting, google the marriage record of William Shakespeare and you will see several entries for the clerk of Stratford. His handwriting is atrocious but yet he was a clerk whose profession was to write. Someone’s signature then as now is NOT a sign of how literate or educated they are. However, if you want a sample of a fine hand, how about Gilbert Shakespeare, his brother. So if Gilbert could write an elegant signature it would mean by your reasoning he was educated so why not his older brother?

            “the absence of letters” – what about the letter from Richard Quiney to Shakespeare asking for money. Quiney wrote a letter asking for something specific so he was expecting a response. Who was going to answer the letter if Shakespeare is illiterate? It doesn’t say, I hope so and so gets this and reads it to you. Its addressed to Shakespeare expecting that he will get it and read it.

            “his illiterate parents”; – No proof whatsoever. His father was an alderman who had to oversee writs from the crown, pay vendors, approve notations on ale and bread quality, process warrants and be able to read other municipal business. He ran a business where books and supply records had to be kept. How did he do all this if he illiterate?

            “the absence of written material” – Hand D is Sir Thomas More, the handwriting has been matched up to the six extant signatures.

            “He bought ‘New Place’ and invested in extra land early in 1597 (just after being made a ‘gent’, for which, of course, he had to pay) — at a time when the playhouses had gone though a rough couple of years, as the result of plague”. So he couldn’t save money when the theaters were operating? Ever hear of provincial tours? When the theaters were closed in London they went on tour, had performances at court, at the law schools, private houses. Just because plague occurred doesn’t mean the theater business stopped completely. There is no proof that the money used to buy New Place came from De Vere.

            “I doubt if De Vere was much involved. It was, as I have made clear, a state enterprise.” Than how did it work. How did a play get from De Vere’s pen to the stage? What was the basic process of this Ivory Tower nobleman with no connection to the theater and no knowledge of acting, wrote for specific members of the theater company to where their names are included in the play such as Will Kemp in “Romeo and Juliet”? How did it work?

            “No doubt you want documentary evidence of a successful state cover-up?” Yes. We know about Marlowe’s spy activities, Richard Topcliff’s torture chamber so yes, the state secrets should easily be recoverable for a couple of monarchs who just wanted plays to be published.

            “A traditional, and traditionally fictional claim. Theoretically all gentlemen had come from gentle families back to the Conquest. The ‘original application’ in this case is, of course, lost.” – So you have nothing to back up your assertion on the coat of arms application, thought so. Just dismiss it outright. It was begun by John and picked up by William

            “It is a sentence in English made up of three syllables, each of which is packed with bawdy potential. The sentence itself announces an intention to shake the emblematic spear of the goddess Athena, the wise all-seeing, strictly virginal ruler of the city, but who loved men. (Guess who she was.) You have to be utterly ignorant of Elizabethan literature not to recognise the name as a magnificent multi-layered Elizabethan pun.” – It was a family name that the College of Arms recognized and granted a coat for. It was not a made up name as there were also other Shakespeares at the time living around the country. Also, you have no proof that De Vere ever used such a name just a desire to wipe out all references to William Shakespeare by saying it was De Vere.

            Documented where? Oh let.s see the coat of arms application referring to a player, Sejanus cast list that menitions Shakespeare as part of the cast, the same cloth reference that identifies “Player” next to Shakespeare, Burbage and other Augustine Phillips and other payments made to the Chamberlain’s/King’s Men that mentions Shakespeare along with other actors. The First Folio Principal actor list.

            “He never seems to have sold his supposed share. Nor was it mentioned in his will.” So you acknowledge he owned part of a theater and what exactly did he do in this theater according to you? How did someone who supposedly wasn’t an actor become a shareholder in a theater company?

            “No reference to Stratford” – Except for the First Folio.

            Did your man _know_ he was a great artist? If yes, how come he was so reclusive and so coy about it? If not, is he the only great artist in all time to be so ignorant about the stature of his work? Really what about Vincent Van Gough who couldn’t sell any paintings in his lifetime, Edgar Allan Poe who had problems selling , just because someone doesn’t make a stink about themselves doesn’t mean they can’t be great artists. In the Jacobean era, Beaumont and Fletcher and Jonson were the big wigs not Shakespeare so why would he make a big deal? Ever hear of a private person that matches up with what John Aubrey said about his – “Not a company keeper”

            “Queen Elizabeth’s private parts being described in detail on the public stage.” So her female parts could be discussed on stage and nothing ever came of it even though it was “inadvisable to impugn the name of Good Queen Bess”. Apparently nothing ever happened due to this being mentioned on stage.

            Any other useless drivel you want to spout?

          • Tom Reedy says:

            >> William Shakespeare was a documented actor,

            > Documented where?

            1. 15 March 1595 — the Treasurer of the Queen’s Chamber paid “William Kempe William Shakespeare & Richarde Burbage servants to the Lord Chamberleyne” for performances at court in Greenwich on 26 and 27 Dec of the previous year.

            2. In 1602, Peter Brooke, the York Herald, accused Sir William Dethick, the Garter King-of-Arms, of elevating base persons to the gentry. Brooke drew up a list of 23 persons whom he claimed were not entitled to bear arms. Number four on the list was Shakespeare. Brooke included a sketch of the Shakespeare arms, captioned “Shakespear ye Player by Garter.”

            3. 19 May 1603 — the Lord Chamberlain’s Men were licensed as the King’s Men. The document lists “Lawrence Fletcher, William Shakespeare, Richard Burbage, Augustyne Phillippes, Iohn Heninges, Henrie Condell, William Sly, Robert Armyn, Richard Cowly” as members of the troupe.

            4. Account of Sir George Home, Master of the Great Wardrobe, lists the names of “Players” who were given four yards of red cloth apiece for the investiture of King James in London on 15 March 1604. They are “William Shakespeare, Augustine Phillipps, Lawrence Fletcher, John Hemminges, Richard Burbidge, William Slye, Robert Armyn, Henry Cundell, and Richard Cowley.”

            5. The will of Augustine Phillips, executed 5 May 1605, proved 16 May 1605, bequeaths, “to my Fellowe William Shakespeare a thirty shillings peece in gould …”

            6. The 1616 Folio of Ben Jonson’s Works contains cast lists for his plays. The cast list for Jonson’s Every Man in His Humor, performed in 1598, includes “Will Shakespeare, Aug. Philips, Hen. Condel, Will. Slye, Will. Kempe, Ric. Burbadge, Ioh. Hemings, Tho. Pope, Chr. Beeston, and Ioh. Duke.”

            7. The cast list for Jonson’s Sejanus, performed in 1603, includes “Ric. Burbadge, Aug. Philips, Will. Sly, Ioh. Lowin, Will. Shake-Speare, Ioh. Hemings, Hen. Condel, and Alex. Cooke.”

          • Paul Crowley says:

            Steve Bari wrote:

            > So anyone who independently who runs a household is supposed to be Queen Elizabeth?

            The question (which you have not attempted to answer) was ” , , , Name, in the whole of Early-Modern Europe, one other noble, highly-educated, never-married female, who was rich and ran her own estate.”

            > Why the conspiracy then? What exactly is so damning about them that they couldn’t be out in the open?

            The plays were written in the 1560s 70s and 80s. They portrayed aristocrats at work and at play, enjoying bawdy, scatology and much else. The other classes (especially when puritanical) would have been utterly shocked. You have no grasp of history.

            > James commissioned a Bible, why not commission the plays

            Bibles are not the same as plays. The latter have often been the occasion for riots, or the gathering of conspiratorial rebels (as in 1601). And James paid not a penny for that Bible.

            > Sounds like it would be a no brainer to publish plays. Besides in a society where the nobles considered themselves “the betters” of people like Shakespeare it would make sense for Oxford and James to come out and publish.

            You have no grasp of history

            > No instead in a class conscience society an Earl and a King allow the rabble to believe that one of their own created genius – that makes no sense.

            It was an excellent device. The plays got published and everyone could enjoy them at the level of their own understanding. The Stratfordians started out seeing them as low-level fairy-tale entertainments for the masses. That’s how Strats still see them.

            > what is some damaging about these plays that the populace had to be kept in the dark about it especially since they were all published.

            Cromwell removed the monarchy 40 years later. James knew something like that could readily happen during his own reign. You have no grasp of history.

            > “Firstly, he ruled through English aristocrats”. What does that even mean? He made an edict and it was carried out by subordinates

            James needed loyalty and co-operation from his nobility and from most of the rest of the nation. For one thing, parliament controlled the money. You have no grasp of history.

            > What exactly is so horrible about the canon that it could’t be published

            Read the ‘riding on the balls of mine’ speech, and imagine trying to explain it to John Knox, or Quieen Victoria. And that’s just one example.

            > “Thirdly, it would have been inadvisable to impugn the name of Good Queen Bess.” Really so why did he release Southampton and reverse other policies that she had in place?

            Exercising mercy was traditional and expected, Releasing prisoners would not blacken her name. You have no grasp of history.

            > My point was that the plays are so full of these allusions that they could only be written by someone who was intimately familiar with the theater something the Earl of Oxford was not.

            Oxford’s father (like his grandfather) had his own theatre in his own house during the winter months. Oxford was seeing plays before he could talk. He was writing them at about the age you learned to talk. Read Hamlet:” . . he hath borne me on his back a thousand times . . “. Here Oxford is talking about Richard Tarleton, known to him since childhood as “Yo-Rick”. (Btw, Tarleton was the model for Falstaff).

            > “His illiterate daughters”; There’s no proof of this at all. His daughter Susanna wrote her own signature which means she was given instruction in how to form letters and recognize what she wrote

            Not so. Look at her signature . . “Susanna Hall’. Each repeated letter is drawn differently. Three ‘a’s — each different. Two ‘n’s, each different. Two ‘L’s, each different. She has no routine or regular way of writing these letters, because she can’t write. Further, she is not aware that all letters are supposed to run along a line, or she has lost the skill. They randomly jump up and down. Like her father, she once learned how to ‘draw’ her signature. She’s remembered much better than he ever did, but it’s still unconvincing. It’s not a signature produced by someone who knew her letters, and wrote regularly.

            > There is also an anecdote of Doctor Cooke who transcribed her husband’s medical journal. Cooke comes to her house to collect this volume and Susanna notes that there is a book on Physick of the body that he might also be interested in. Upon getting it Cooke notices it contains handwriting that was of her husband to which Susanna disagrees and states it wan’t his handwriting It gets testy and Cooke mentions he didn’t press the matter further. So Susanna pulls the volume of her husband’s medical journal to give to Cooke, she notes that there is another book on physick of the body and goes to get it for him, she recognizes hand written marks in a book as handwriting and knows it enough to know it wasn’t her husband’s – how can she do all of this if she can’t read? All of the activities in the Doctor Cook episode would require the skill of reading. So if Susanna could do all this why not Judith?

            That’s a gross distortion of Hall’s report.
            ” . . . Being in my art an attendant to parts of some regiments to keep the pass at the bridge of Stratford upon Avon, there being then with me a mate allied to the gentleman that writ the following ob-servations in Latin, he invited me to the house of Mrs. Hall, wife to the deceased, to see the books left by Mr. Hall. After a view of them, she told me she had some books left, by one that professed physic with her husband, for some money. I told her, if I liked them, I would give her the money again; she brought them forth, amongst which there was this with another of the author’s, both intended for the press. I being acquainted with Mr. Hall’s hand, told her that one or two of them were her husband’s, and showed them her; she denied, I affirmed, till I perceived she begun to be offended. At last I returned her the money. . . ”

            Dr Cooke was failrly local (from Warwick) yet he does not mention her supposedly famous father, nor seek after any of his books. He clearly expects Susanna to be literate, given her wealth and social status. But she clearly isn’t, tries to hide the fact, and gets annoyed. These manuscript books of her husband have been lying around her house for some ten years after his death, yet she does not know what they are — since she can’t read.

            > “his ‘signature’ (at a time when a clear elegant signature was the mark of an educated person);” – Ever see a doctor’s signature?

            You missed the vital clause — ‘ . . AT THE TIME . . ‘. A demonstration of high literacy (through a good signature) mattered when most could not produce one. But when nearly every Tom, Dick and Harry could, then doctors (and the like) no longer bothered. You have no grasp of history.

            > “the absence of letters” – what about the letter from Richard Quiney to Shakespeare asking for money. Quiney wrote a letter asking for something specific so he was expecting a response. Who was going to answer the letter if Shakespeare is illiterate? It doesn’t say, I hope so and so gets this and reads it to you. Its addressed to Shakespeare expecting that he will get it and read it.

            Rich illiterates got a lot of letters, especially begging ones. They employed literate clerks to read them (and write back when appropriate).

            Your misreadings and misunderstandings are tedious, There is no point in trying to have a discussion with someone so ignorant. Maybe you are still at school.

  44. Steve Bari says:

    Lots of supposition and no actual proof of any kind. You are so certain that Oxford wrote the plays requiring the assistance of a group of men who had no connection with Oxford and could have cared less about him. He wasn’t even their patron why would they do all this for him and not some other random nobleman? These men ran a business where they worked day in and out for over 20 years and not a spy ring. Again why is Oxford writing for them and not his own company? If he’s writing plays why didn’ t one of his srcretaries like Mundy be the front? You seem extremely close minded to any other possibility than your Earl when you are presented with actual evidence to the contrary. All you have is some obsession with Oxford with no actual proof whatsoever.

    • Howard Schumann says:

      I was hoping that you would have been able to at least acknowledge that a different perspective raises many interesting questions, but I guess that was too much to ask.

      Oxford had his own troupe, Oxford Boys and Oxford’s Men, which was mainly a touring group active between 1580 and 1587, though they later became the Worcester Company in 1692.

      During the 1580s and 1590s, Oxford used the Queen’s Men, and then beginning in 1594, the Lord Chamberlain’s/King’s Men as the primary vehicle for his plays.

  45. Steve Bari says:

    If his company was active and became the Worcester Company in 1602 than why didn’t that company produce the plays?

    Why didn’t one of his private secretaries who were established playwrights simply become the front?

    What proof do you have that Oxford wrote for the Queen’s men?

    What proof do you have that Oxford had any connection whatsoever to the Chamberlain’s men?

    Not supposition, but concrete proof.

    Why would Oxford choose an unrelated company to peddle his plays or how about this, why would the Chamberlain’s Men let him? This was Henry Carey’s company. He’s the first cousin to Queen Elizabeth and has the highest office next to Cecil. Why would Carey have stood for another nobleman mucking with his company, who are people in his employ. This would be like the owner of the Yankees, secretly managing players on the Dodgers or your neighbor doing yard work in your own yard and calling it his yard.

    All you have is fervent desire, one might call it an obsession, to shoehorn your Earl into other people’s affairs just because you wish it to be so. You can repeat these bits of fiction all you want until you have concrete proof to back it up and show how it all worked and interconnects and makes logical sense you have nothing but a fantasy story. Shakespeare is a documented actor, shareholder and yes, author with one company for 20 years that produced these plays and it all mutually supports each other. It shows the progression of a man who started at an entry level, made a splash and continued to capitalize on success after success and parlayed that into other business interests. It shows a writer who matured over time and who was INTIMATELY familiar with the theater no just an absentee owner like Oxford.

    You have NOTHING. You LOSE! Good Day, Sir!

  46. Jan Scheffer says:

    Many people, have, from the 19th century on, doubted that William Shaksper, who left no literary trail, wrote the plays, lyrical poems and sonnets under the name Shakespeare. They include even Winston Churchill who made a dismissive gesture to Lesley Howard when offered a the copy of Thomas Looneys 1920 ‘Shakespeare Identified’ with the words: “I don’t want my myth tampered with”. The number of doubters is increasing, which obviously annoys those who grew up with the idea that the man from such a humble background, simply? somehow? because he was a genius? became the most famous playwright in the world – while his father and children were illiterate. The capacity to doubt is generally thought of as a prerequisite for scientific thinking. Edward de Vere’s life is so full of connections to the plays and sonnets that one simply cannot escape the notion that he, like so many writers, fund the sources for his characters and circumstances in his own life, in his many traumatic, conflictuous but also funny and contradictory experiences. With this in mind, watching a Shakespeare play deepens the understanding, it makes a strong appeal on our unconscious and brings us to the realization that writing plays and putting them (his life experiences) on stage, was therapeutical to DeVere, and, to some extent, helped him to keep this difficult life bearable. Perhaps one needs some sensitivity for this or, at least an open mind, to allow you to get into his, or under his skin. You would find, for instance that it suddenly dawned on Oxford (at fourty?), or in a dream, that his father, John, 16th Earl, a ghost, was not killed in ‘a hunting incident’ in 1662, but by one of Leicester’s (Claudius’) men and that Corambis (1603), Polonius(1604), his stepfather Burghley, had been eavesdropping on him, meeting his fate on Hamlets foil, through a (stage, symbolic?) curtain. When I read Oxfords biography, of which there are over twenty by now since 1920, and watched Hamlet, I could not escape this notion, just like Derek Jacobi, after having played the protagonist threehundred, could no longer believe that it was the Stratford’s man’s. Snobs? Conspiracy theorists? why all these insults?

    • Steve Bari says:

      Why all the insults? Because you and your group of deniers seek to deny a man of his work and legacy. A man who toiled in the theater for over 20 yesrs and worked shoulder to shoulder with other theater professionals. 20 years of blood, sweat and collaboration went into creating this extraordinary body of literature and you people would turn that over to a murderer, a wartime deserter, a man who abandoned his wife and squandered his family fortune and that is wrong and criminal. A man’s life work denied just because he doesn’t fit your notion about what he should have been. Oxford was not an actor and knew nothing about the theater. You have no proof whatsoever that Shakespeare’s family was illiterate and his name was not Shaksper. The man created by Looney is the myth and for some inexplicable reason all you want to do is deny reality and paint the real author as someone he wasn’t.

  47. Jan Scheffer says:

    Errors: fund= found, 1662 is, of course 1562.

  48. Howard Schumann says:

    Very well argued, Jan. Don’t expect Stratfordians to see the nuances or read between the lines, however. Also, don’t hold your breath about them reading any books about Oxford and the case for his authorship. They don’t want books to come between them and their made-up minds.

  49. Steve Bari says:

    >The plays were written in the 1560s 70s and 80sThey portrayed aristocrats at work and at play, enjoying bawdy, scatology and much else. Bibles are not the same as plays. The latter have often been the occasion for riots, or the gathering of conspiratorial rebels (as in 1601). And James paid not a penny for that BibleYou have no grasp of history> You have no grasp of evidence. You use selective reading and interpretations to support your views and no facts. There’s no use in a further discussion since you’re completely blind to actual proof.

    >Cromwell removed the monarchy 40 years later. James knew something like that could readily happen during his own reign. You have no grasp of history.Exercising mercy was traditional and expected, Releasing prisoners would not blacken her name.> Southampton was part of the Essex rebellion. Releasing an enemy of the state isn’t a risky move on James’ end and wouldn’t have stirred rebellious thoughts in the people who hated Southampton and his circle. YOU have no grasp of history. Trying to quell rebellious tendencies by hiding that a nobleman wrote fiction you believe, but releasing a political prisoner that took part in a failed overthrow, No That’s ok.

    >Oxford’s father (like his grandfather) had his own theatre in his own house during the winter months.Oxford was seeing plays before he could talk> You have no proof of this and so what, he still didn’t get any instruction on how to be an actor nor is there any record he performed anywhere.

    >Read Hamlet:” . . he hath borne me on his back a thousand times . . “. Here Oxford is talking about Richard Tarleton, known to him since childhood as “Yo-Rick”. (Btw, Tarleton was the model for Falstaff).Not so. Look at her signature . . “Susanna Hall’. Each repeated letter is drawn differently. Three ‘a’s — each different. Two ‘n’s, each different. Two ‘L’s, each different. She has no routine or regular way of writing these letters, because she can’t write. Further, she is not aware that all letters are supposed to run along a line, or she has lost the skill. They randomly jump up and down. Like her father, she once learned how to ‘draw’ her signature. She’s remembered much better than he ever did, but it’s still unconvincing. It’s not a signature produced by someone who knew her letters, and wrote regularly.>

    Point is that she knew how to form them and knew what she was writing hence she was instructed on how to do so and could read and write. Just because she had little occasion to write doesn’t mean that she couldn’t do it.

    As for signatures, I would direct you to view the entries of the marriage of William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway. The clerk that recorded that and other entries has atrocious handwriting and he’s a professional scribe. Again you’re own supposition not backed up by anything.

    .Dr Cooke was failrly local (from Warwick) yet he does not mention her supposedly famous father, nor seek after any of his books. He clearly expects Susanna to be literate, given her wealth and social status. But she clearly isn’t, tries to hide the fact, and gets annoyed. These manuscript books of her husband have been lying around her house for some ten years after his death, yet she does not know what they are — since she can’t read.>

    You’re statement about these books laying around and Susanna not knowing what they are is ludicrous. She was the one who pulled the books, she was the one who noted there were books on physick. How did she know which books to initially give him and that there were book on a specific subject if she couldn’t read what they were? She makes an assessment that handwriting is not her husband’s. How can she do that if she can’t read his handwriting? Why would Cooke mention Shakespeare so many years after he died and the point of his entry is about Dr. Hall’s books?

    >Rich illiterates got a lot of letters, especially begging ones. They employed literate clerks to read them (and write back when appropriate).<
    Again, spouting supposition as fact. You have no proof that this is what Shakespeare did or anyone else.

    You are right that this has grown tedious as you continually throw out your opinion as fact and have nothing concrete to back it up. I'm not still in school for your information, however taking refresher courses on actual Elizabethan history that are comprised of tangible facts would certainly help you do you a world of good. You're myopic and selective view of history based on fictions and supposition has grown tiresome.

    • Paul Crowley says:

      >> . . Further, she is not aware that all letters are supposed to run along a line, or she has lost the skill. They randomly jump up and down. Like her father, she once learned how to ‘draw’ her signature. She’s remembered much better than he ever did, but it’s still unconvincing. It’s not a signature produced by someone who knew her letters, and wrote regularly.>

      > Point is that she knew how to form them and knew what she was writing hence she was instructed on how to do so and could read and write.

      Does not follow. You could be shown your name in Mandarin or in Arabic or in Farsi, copy it, and learn how to draw it, without any idea of what the letters meant, or even where they began or ended. That is clearly how both Susanna Hall and her father acquired their ‘signatures’ — they were just more elaborate forms of ‘marks’.

      > Just because she had little occasion to write doesn’t mean that she couldn’t do it.

      As the wife of a prestigious doctor, and as the (supposed) daughter of the great playwright, she’d have had loads of occasions to write. Queen Henriatta Maria, and Prince Rupert stayed in New Place at one point.

      Susanna’s ‘signature’ is made up of individual letters — not joined-up. That, for a start, is a mark of someone unused to writing. Her father (who was even more incompetent) was more ambitious, or we might say, more foolish. I copied Cooke’s words (not Hall’s as my typo stated) from Schoenbaum, “A Compact Documentary Life”. He goes on to remark and ask: ” . . It is odd that Susanna failed to recognize her own husband’s hand. Could she read and write, or did she have learning sufficient only to enable her to sign her name? . .”

      > As for signatures, I would direct you to view the entries of the marriage of William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway. The clerk that recorded that and other entries has atrocious handwriting and he’s a professional scribe.

      Firstly, I can see little wrong with the handwriting of those entries. They are in competent Secretary script. Secondly, you need to distinguish between _signatures_ and regular handwriting. The latter often became sloppy, and sometimes unreadable — when the writer was under pressure, or tired. But Elizabethan gentlemen and gentlewomen almost invariably took care with the their signatures, especially on legal documents.

      > Again you’re own supposition not backed up by anything.

      Find a signature from an Elizabethan gentleman which is as bad as those of William Shagsper or his daughter.

      > You’re statement about these books laying around and Susanna not knowing what they are is ludicrous. She was the one who pulled the books,

      She ‘pulled’ no books. She could tell the difference between books and pots and pans, etc. You don’t have to be literate to do that. She found the only books in the house, and brought them to Dr Cooke.

      > she was the one who noted there were books on physick. How did she know which books to initially give him and that there were book on a specific subject if she couldn’t read what they were?

      Read Dr Cooke’s words:
      ” . . .she told me she had some books left, by one that professed physic with her husband” She has no idea what’s in those books, or what they are about.

      > She makes an assessment that handwriting is not her husband’s. How can she do that if she can’t read his handwriting?

      She made no assessment.

      > Why would Cooke mention Shakespeare so many years after he died and the point of his entry is about Dr. Hall’s books?

      Would YOU have asked his daughter if he left any books or notes? If you had told that story, and published Dr Hall’s books, would YOU have mentioned (at least in passing) his relationship to the famous poet?

      >>Rich illiterates got a lot of letters, especially begging ones. They employed literate clerks to read them (and write back when appropriate).<

      > Again, spouting supposition as fact. You have no proof that this is what Shakespeare did or anyone else.

      Are you saying (a) that there were no rich illiterates? OR (b) if there were some rich illiterates, they never found out what was in letters written to them, and never replied to any letters?

      In fact, there are still plenty of rich successful illiterates; they can prosper because they employ literate people to help them out.

      • Steve Bari says:

        “Does not follow. You could be shown your name in Mandarin or in Arabic or in Farsi, copy it, and learn how to draw it, without any idea of what the letters meant, or even where they began or ended. That is clearly how both Susanna Hall and her father acquired their ‘signatures’ — they were just more elaborate forms of ‘marks’.”

        Why would she learn to ‘draw’ her name and why not just use a mark? Do you have any examples of people learning to draw their name instead of using a mark? Why would anyone do this when it was a common practice in this era to use marks to sign documents? A simple sketch that would last a couple of seconds vs. recalling how to draw letters which would take twice perhaps three times as long to do, especially for someone who was not used to holding a quill. Why did she opt for the harder task instead of quick mark to get the task over with faster?

        No, she chose instead to sign her name. It doesn’t follow that someone who is illiterate and who rarely held a pen would choose the more difficult of the two options. I’m not going to sift through signatures to find a “bad” example as any handwriting will be subjective and not going to waste time on that point. I don’t agree that handwriting is any different than signatures but we’ll have to disagree on that.
        “As the wife of a prestigious doctor, and as the (supposed) daughter of the great playwright, she’d have had loads of occasions to write.”

        I think you meant “supposed playwright”, she was his daughter and there has never been any contesting of this fact as far as I know. First, I would ask why would a prestigious doctor choose an illiterate buffoon as his wife? You could say “well, her family was wealthy”, however, by all accounts Dr. Hall had a successful practice so why would he need to align himself with such a low rent family if money or career prospects were not an issue?

        In other words what did Dr. Hall gain from a marriage to a simpleton and her simpleton family? Dr. Hall must have found something else appealing about Susanna. If any merit is to be given to her epitaph “She was witty above her sex” than he would have found her an intellect worthy of his hand in marriage and to have a child with. So she had to be learned enough to attract this man. Its speculation however, it fits the fact that they got married and stayed married and Dr. Hall didn’t need her family’s money. So its illogical that such a bumpkin could land such a learned man and keep him when he had plenty of other more worthy prospects. Its only logical that she herself was worthy match to someone of his educational background as money was not an object.

        “Queen Henriatta Maria, and Prince Rupert stayed in New Place at one point.” I recall reading that the queen visited Stratford but I know of no such account that she stayed at New Place. Do you have proof of this?

        “Susanna’s ‘signature’ is made up of individual letters — not joined-up. That, for a start, is a mark of someone unused to writing. Her father (who was even more incompetent) was more ambitious, or we might say, more foolish.”
        That’s your aesthetic assessment of her and her father’s signature, nothing more. Are you a handwriting expert? Still its handwriting so she knew how to write and knew that what she wrote spelled out her name. Hence she could write and read.

        “I copied Cooke’s words (not Hall’s as my typo stated) from Schoenbaum, “A Compact Documentary Life”. He goes on to remark and ask: ” . . It is odd that Susanna failed to recognize her own husband’s hand. Could she read and write, or did she have learning sufficient only to enable her to sign her name? . .”

        Has it ever occurred to you that Dr. Cooke may have been in error about the handwriting and she was simply correcting him? Regardless if it was Dr. Hall’s handwriting or not or who was correct, Dr. Cooke shows Susanna some markings in a book and states “this is her husband’s handwriting”. She says “no, they’re not”. They have an argument that according to Dr. Cooke got contentious and he decided not to pursue the matter further. This means that Susanna held to her opinion that the handwriting was not her husband’s. Its not like Dr. Cooke showed her same random hand written symbols and stated “this” was her husband’s handwriting to which Susanna said not its not. The disagreement was about established handwriting in a book to which she then, MADE AN ASSESSMENT, as to what the handwriting was and stuck to an opinion based on that assessment. In other words she READ what was in the book and to her it didn’t resemble handwriting that she knew to be her husband’s. She knew handwriting to be her husband’s and used that knowledge to counter what she looked at in the book.

        Cooke did the same thing, he was familiar with John Hall’s handwriting from reading it before and assessed that the handwriting in this book was his. Do you get that? They both did the exact same thing. Dr. Cook knew a handwriting style that had read and seen previously and used that recollection as the basis for his opinion.
        However let’s futher break down the doctor’s story, here it is as you copied it earlier
        “Being in my art an attendant to parts of some regiments to keep the pass at the bridge of Stratford upon Avon, there being then with me a mate allied to the gentleman that writ the following ob-servations in Latin, he invited me to the house of Mrs. Hall, wife to the deceased, to see the books left by Mr. Hall. After a view of them, she told me she had some books left, by one that professed physic with her husband, for some money. I told her, if I liked them, I would give her the money again; she brought them forth, amongst which there was this with another of the author’s, both intended for the press. I being acquainted with Mr. Hall’s hand, told her that one or two of them were her husband’s, and showed them her; she denied, I affirmed, till I perceived she begun to be offended. At last I returned her the money. . . “

        So a friend invites Dr. Cooke to Susanna’s house to see books left by Dr. Hall. – “to see the books left by Mr. Hall.” –
        Doctor Hall doesn’t mention this friend again so by his account its just him and Susanna in the house.

        Doctor Cooks says “After a view of them, she told me she had some books left, by one that professed physic with her husband…She brought them forth, amongst which there was this with another of the author’s, both intended for the press.”
        After he initially views a certain set of books Susanna mentions that there were some other books one professing to be physic with her husband and she goes to fetch them. So if its just Susanna at the house getting both the first set and second set of books for Dr. Cooke, how does she know what books to get or pull if she can’t read? Someone as learned as a doctor wouldn’t had a study full of books along with papers and other brick-a-brac however, Susanna, by Doctor Cooke’s account, fetched the correct books not once but twice.

        How does she what books to get and know that one of them is “physic with her husband” if she can’t read their contents? She might as well have pulled books on other subjects but Dr. Cooke doesn’t state that. He never mentions she got the books wrong. The only contention on his end was in the disagreement over if the handwriting was her husband’s or not. If she couldn’t read a word she would have brought Dr. Cooke to the study/room that contained the books and left him to find the books themselves as she could be of no use if she were illiterate. No instead she’s assisting in him in getting the doctor the material he wants to look at, Doctor Cooke isn’t doing it himself.

        “If you had told that story, and published Dr Hall’s books, would YOU have mentioned (at least in passing) his relationship to the famous poet?”

        No, as Dr. Cooke’s interest is in the publishing a medical journal not in a familial connection to his wife. There’s no reason in this account for it come up.
        “Are you saying (a) that there were no rich illiterates? OR (b) if there were some rich illiterates, they never found out what was in letters written to them, and never replied to any letters?”

        I agree that rich illiterates could use a go between to answer correspondence but there is no evidence that there is one. The letter from Quiney does not mention “I hope this letter finds you and “name” here. Its addressed directly to Shakespeare. The fact that you have a letter addressed to someone usually indicates the person receiving the letter can read it. So, unless you have actual proof that William Shakespeare used some assistant to answer letters you just speculating.

        • Paul Crowley says:

          Steve Bari wrote:
          > Why would she learn to ‘draw’ her name and why not just use a mark?

          Because she was wealthy, wife (and then widow) of a learned doctor, daughter of a ‘gent’, Dr Cooke assumed she was literate — presumably for those reasons. Like so many people, then and now, she did not want admit her illiteracy.

          > I’m not going to sift through signatures to find a “bad” example as any handwriting will be subjective and not going to waste time on that point.

          You are dodging. It’s easy to call up hundreds of Elizabethan signatures. It’s very easy to set out objective criteria, and say why some signatures are clear and elegant, and others (such as the Stratman’s) are appalling

          > I don’t agree that handwriting is any different than signatures but we’ll have to disagree on that.

          You are dodging again. Most Elizabethan nobles (and gentlemen) had fancy signatures, but rarely wrote at that level in their ordinary letters.

          > First, I would ask why would a prestigious doctor choose an illiterate buffoon as his wife? You could say “well, her family was wealthy”, however, by all accounts Dr. Hall had a successful practice so why would he need to align himself with such a low rent family if money or career prospects were not an issue?

          I believe that he was, in effect, a government agent, similar to Thomas Greene, sent to Stratford to ‘mind’ the Stratman. As with Greene, there is no obvious reason why such a capable young man, with good contacts, and great prospects in a prosperous and rapidly expanding London, would end up in the remote poverty-stricken sticks. Like Greene, he first lived in New Place, when Susanna was about 18. No doubt he fell for her charms. Maybe his government bosses had hoped that would happen. At that time he was just starting to build up a practice.

          > they got married and stayed married

          Staying married was the rule then. Hall does not appear to have been at all happy in Stratford in later life, making a thorough nuisance of himself.

          > Dr. Hall didn’t need her family’s money.

          When he married, he might have thought he would need it.

          > So its illogical that such a bumpkin could land such a learned man and keep him when he had plenty of other more worthy prospects.

          In Stratford? You obviously don’t know the place.

          > “Queen Henriatta Maria, and Prince Rupert stayed in New Place at one point.” I recall reading that the queen visited Stratford but I know of no such account that she stayed at New Place. Do you have proof of this?

          It’s mentioned in many places, such as
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Barnard

          Unsurprisingly, no courtiers are known to have ever mentioned staying in ‘Shakespeare’s house’ or to collect manuscripts or mementos.

          > Has it ever occurred to you that Dr. Cooke may have been in error about the handwriting and she was simply correcting him?

          Her younger sister Judith was undoubtedly illiterate, putting her mark on legal documents properly signed by her sisters-in-law. So there is no good reason to doubt the illiteracy of Susanna. Another indication is gravestone of her husband,
          (who died in 1635) on which she is mentioned only as the daughter of ‘a gent.’ A literate person told her about this, and (being highly conscious of her status) she had the inscription altered. That was NOT to tell the world she was the daughter of a great poet, nor even of a member of the Royal Household of both Queen Elizabeth and King James. Oh, no. It was to tell the world she was the ‘co-heire’ of a ‘gent.’

          > The fact that you have a letter addressed to someone usually indicates the person receiving the letter can read it. So, unless you have actual proof that William Shakespeare used some assistant to answer letters you just speculating.

          That’s plain silly. If you write to President Obama, or some lesser being like Donald Trump, you can be certain that it will first be read by some low-level lackey, and if it gets through him, by several more lackeys. But you still don’t bother addressing them, nor even acknowledging their existence.

          • Hitandrun says:

            Paul,

            If you became persuaded that Hand D, more likely than not, was indeed that of the player William Sh. of Stratford, would you seriously consider leaving the Oxfordian fold?

            Hitandrun

            Yeats: “The worst are full of passionate intensity.”

  50. Dix-Kenwin says:

    How telling that no one here mentions the Sandra Day O’Connor reversal. Why has that been hushed up? It seems she requested the removal of her name from the Declaration of Reasonable Drought after examining this new evidence for Stratford:

    http://trymbelrod.com/

    • Authorship Skeptic says:

      >”How telling that no one here mentions the Sandra Day O’Connor reversal. Why has that been hushed up? It seems she requested the removal of her name from the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt”

      O’Connor’s name is still on the list of notable signatories (http://doubtaboutwill.org/signatories). What’s your basis for saying she wants it removed? Cite your source.

  51. Jan Scheffer says:

    To Steve Bari,

    The fact that we disagree on who the author was, whether Shake-speare was a pseudonym (to me for Oxford, 1550-1604) or an alternative spelling of Shaksper from Stratford (1564-1616) and try to find and present arguments for either ‘position’, discern facts from suppositions and fantasies, make more or less likely suppositions, be able to tolerate doubt, still does not explain why it should be necessary or perhaps inevitable to use all these insults.

    Jan

    • Steve Bari says:

      It would be a very nice if that were the case but alas it isn’t. Civil debate will never be the norm because these discussions have taken on the level of a political election. Jabs at the other candidate and those who support them are par for the course, whether they are warranted or not.

      You may want to probe Oxforidans for that question, “Why all the insults”? People like Roger Strittmatter go out of their way to be condescending if anyone disagrees with them and use ad hominem attacks. When others respond back in kind, he makes a fuss of being attacked. From what I’ve noticed, the insulting candor on the Oxforidan side often starts with tearing down of Will Shakespeare himself. Anyone who points out a contradictory viewpoint will receive that same level of condescension. So one person starts the name calling and then the other returns the treatment and soon its a free for all.

      • Howard Schumann says:

        Please provide examples of where Oxfordians have tried to tear down the great author, William Shakespeare.

        Saying that the man from Stratford was not the true author in no way diminishes the greatest writer in the English language. It is because his accomplishments are so magnificent that Oxfordians want the true author, Edward de Vere, to be recognized by the world, a recognition that would lead to a deeper understanding and appreciation of his works.

        • Steve Bari says:

          All the comments about Illiterate Buffoon, petty law suits, crappy motto in his coat of arms and not even getting the man’s name right aren’t enough? Unfounded character assassination of William Shakespeare is a central theme to your case.

          • Howard Schumann says:

            You could not be more wrong. Oxfordians are not attacking the real author, only the front man.

  52. Steve Bari says:

    That is who I mean. Oxfordians continually denigrate William Shakespeare of Stratford. Nothing but constant character assassination. I do not call him Shaksper because there were no such person. You just confirmed the source of all the insults, there you go Jan

  53. Jan Scheffer says:

    Dear Mr. Bari,

    Even Stanley Wells – I have been told – mentions that there were no indications that William Shaksper (name according to his birth certificate and other legal documents) wrote the plays and sonnets attributed to Shakespeare until seven years after his death: with the publishing of the first folio. Diana Price, Prof. Tony Pointon and Steve Steinburg all wrote biographies of the man from Stratford which credit him for what documents show he was: a clever and successful businessman – who, for instance was able to buy New Place. You can hardly call these biographies, based on facts ‘character assassination’. I do understand that you are angry that there are people who fail to believe that Shaksper was Shakespeare, but, after all, this idea only got foothold when David Garrick lauched his three day jubilee in Stratford, in 1767.

    Jan Scheffer

    • Hitandrun says:

      Dear Jan Scheffer,

      If it were proven to your satisfaction that the King’s Man, William Sh. of Stratford, indeed penned Hand D, would you consider leaving the antiStratfordian fold?

      Hitandrun

  54. Steve Bari says:

    Jan, There is no birth certificate just a birth listing in a church ledger. The name is spelled in a variety of ways as was the norm of the period. Spellings were not standardized until the 1700s. Shakespeare’s name is spelled several different ways across his lifetime by himself and other people. However, the spelling on the coat of arms application is Shakespere and also noted as Shakespear. The reason this is important is because this is the highest office in England responsible for keeping track of family names and lineages. So if they accept that this is the family name than that is what it is. So Shaksper or any other variant as Oxfordians can’t even agree on how to spell it is incorrect.

    Stanley Wells has never said that only the First Folio was the only mention of William Shakespeare as an author. There are numerous references to William Shakespeare as an author in his lifetime.

    Francis Meres 1598, King James Christmas book account 1604, first part of Parnassus circa 1600, Dedication for The White Devil to name a few. There are references to this same person being an actor and sharer in the company that put these plays on. Sorry, there is no proof whatsoever that Oxford had a pen name, he ever used a pen name, he even knew William Shakespeare, he had any connection to the Lord Chamberlain’s/King’s Men, that any business arrangements existed between Oxford and Shakespeare, that Oxford had any theater experience or acting know how needed to write these plays or even how it was supposed to work – get from Oxford’s pen to the stage. The majority of plays in this era were collaborations and the plays of Shakespeare are no exception. John Fletcher, Thomas Middleton, George Wilkins, George Peele and possibly Marlowe and Kyd all contributed parts to these plays. When did Oxford even meet with these men let alone closely work with them?

    The idea of Shakespeare authorship didn’t begin with Garrick, he never doubted anything as he held the jubilee im Stratford. It began with a retired priest whose name I can’t recall right now in the 1700s simply because he couldn’t locate any books that stated to be owned by Shakespeare. He eventually destroyed his writings and didn’t pursue it. Not until Delia Bacon that it caught wind again. She was the first who stsrted the attacks calling Shakespeare a stupid, boorish, third rate player from a dirty, dogish group of players simply because she wanted Francis Bacon to be the author not Oxford. She never heard of Oxford and probably would have called him similar names if there were Oxfordians around then. Doesn’t it strike you as odd that no one mentioned Oxford until 1920? Why did take 300 years for the allegedly true author to even come to light?

    If you are really interested in biographies that show all the evidence dispassionately I would suggest “Shakespeare: The Evidence” by Ian Wilson or “Shakespeare: A Life” by Park Honan

  55. Dave Randall says:

    For an avowed skeptic, you seem remarkably gullible. Your argument that Shakespeare’s name appeared on some of the plays published during his lifetime, for instance. If we use that logic, we have to believe that Shakespeare also wrote “The London Prodigal,” “The Puritan,” “A Yorkshire Tragedy,” and half a dozen other plays published under his name during his lifetime, or shortly after his death. And I simply cannot believe that you (or any reasonable person) would seriously propose that Hand D in the manuscript of “Sir Thomas More” might be Shakespeare’s. There are no surviving examples of his handwriting to compare it to – even five of the six supposed signatures of Shakespeare are probably not signatures at all, just clerks writing his name on a legal document to identify his seal, or, in the case of his will, to identify it as his. Look at the final signature on the will. The words “By me, William” are CLEARLY written in a different hand than the badly scrawled “Shakesper.”

    • Hitandrun says:

      Mr. Randall, et al,
      If it were demonstrated to your satisfaction that the King’s Man from Stratford, i.e., the player/shareholder William Sh., more likely than not, penned Hand D, would you seriously consider abandoning any nonStratfordian position you may hold?

      Curious,
      Hitandrun

      “Though past is not always prologue, it’s still the way to bet.” (JE, 2010)

      • Howard Schumann says:

        First of all, unless some other examples of Shakespeare’s writing can be discovered (unlikely after 400 years), there is no way to demonstrate that Hand D was in his writing. The only comparison is to six shaky signatures that do not even look they were from the same hand and are hardly the basis even to decide something that is “more likely than not.”

        Besides, with all these alleged collaborations, how come we have never heard a peep from any of his so-called collaborators claiming that they knew the author Shakespeare personally or talk about his many characteristics? The whole think just doesn’t add up.

        • Hitandrun says:

          Mr Schumann et al,

          Thank you for your reply. It does not, however, answer the hypothetical posed in my question. Is silence admissible here as affirmative?

          Hitandrun

  56. Howard Schumann says:

    You just ignored everything I said, including the question I asked so don’t expect a yes or no answer to your ridiculous hypothetical.

  57. Authorship Skeptic says:

    Dear Hitandrun,

    You asked me: “Would your skepticism extend to your current antiStratfordian position, should you become persuaded that Hand D was indeed that of the player William Sh. of Stratford?”

    Yes, of course. If you could prove to me that Hand D is the handwriting of Shakspere of Stratford, then I’d have to change my position on the Shakespeare Authorship Question.

    • Howard Schumann says:

      Your position seems pretty shaky to me. There are many apocryphal plays of lesser quality with Shakespeare’s name on the title page that Shaksper conceivably could have written.

      If, on the million to one chance that it could somehow be proven that William of Stratford was the author of Hand D, that would still not prove that he had written the 38 plays and 154 sonnets in the Shakespeare canon. The only thing that would change my position is the discovery of original manuscripts signed – William Shakespeare of Stratford-on-Avon.

      • Authorship Skeptic says:

        Howard,

        Surely you’re not serious in saying that “There are many apocryphal plays of lesser quality with Shakespeare’s name on the title page that Shaksper conceivably could have written.” Anyone who thinks Shakspere wrote ANYTHING, given his six signatures (which were probably all executed by clerks) is delusional. You seem to have a lot less faith in what the existing evidence shows than I do, and notice that Mr. “Hitandrun” has to prove his claim TO ME. Not likely. You should have the courage of your convictions, rather than running scared of Strats who don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.

        • Howard Schumann says:

          The last thing I want to do is to get into an argument with a fellow doubter, especially not about one’s courage of conviction. All I was saying is that it is unlikely but still conceivable that Shaksper could have written the apocrypha. Actually, this is what is argued by Sabrina Feldman in her book, “The Apocryphal William Shakespeare.”

          http://www.amazon.com/Apocryphal-William-Shakespeare-Authorship-Scenario/dp/1457507218/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1424101348&sr=1-1&keywords=Shakespeare%27s+Apocrypha+Feldman

          While she ascribes the accepted Shakespeare canon as having been written by a nobleman, she postulates that Shaksper may have written the ten apocryphal works pointing out that they were written in a “funny but clumsy manner, employing clunky blank verse, bungled Latin phrases, slapstick, jingoism, jokes about food, and other distinctive features.”

          I do not see it this way but it is still within the realm of possibility.

          My only point being that even if proven that Shaksper wrote Hand D, this does not by itself prove that he wrote the 38 plays and 154 sonnets of the canon.

          • Authorship Skeptic says:

            > “All I was saying is that it is unlikely but still conceivable that Shaksper could have written the apocrypha. Actually, this is what is argued by Sabrina Feldman in her book, “The Apocryphal William Shakespeare.”

            Do you know Feldman? As I say, “Anyone who thinks Shakspere wrote ANYTHING, given his six signatures (which were probably all executed by clerks) is delusional.”

            > “My only point being that even if proven that Shaksper wrote Hand D, this does not by itself prove that he wrote the 38 plays and 154 sonnets of the canon.”

            Agreed, and I never said otherwise.

            Notice that Hitandrun hasn’t even tried to prove to me that Hand D is by Shakspere. Apparently he hasn’t got the goods and he was just bluffing, as I suspected. As John Maynard Keynes said, “If the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, Sir?” Why should we put Strats in a position to say that when the facts change, authorship doubters DON’T change their minds? That was probably his agenda all along. Waiting.

          • Authorship Skeptic says:

            It looks like Hitandrun, rather than backing up his Hand D challenge, has decided to run and hide. Or, as Horatio says of Osric, “His purse is empty already. All ‘s golden words are spent.” All it takes to shut up this Strat is to say put up or shut up. Over and out.

  58. Earthside says:

    I’m rather disappointed in this commentary.

    There is a paucity of evidence demonstrating the a fellow identified as William Shakespeare is the author of the plays and sonnets. It has little to do with ‘false balance’ — there is, in fact, very little balance at all, the vast majority of people and scholars accepting the traditional Shakespeare narrative.

    Skeptics ought to embrace skepticism — especially when there are real competing hypotheses. Skeptics don’t always have to be killjoys; there are mysteries still extant and exciting historical problems to solve. Maybe, in this case, there needs to be an encouragement to real balance — not a diminution of Shakespeare skeptics.

  59. Hitandrun says:

    Dear Dr Siebert,

    Please explain how Justice Stevens’ reasoning is “depressingly fallacious”.

    You state that there is no “single right way to interpret Hamlet”. I believe there is: namely, authorial intent, and how that intent (conscious by definition) is altered both by the author/authors’ own slips (accidental or subconscious) in expressing that intent, and by all collaborators and intermediaries (compositors, printers, editors, etc) in producing the related text. The problem, of course, is ascertaining, as best we can, that intent and its alterations/corruptions by grading, evaluating, and integrating any available evidence. Do you agree?

    Dr Wells appears uncomfortable with uncredentialled ‘nonscholars’ judging scholastic controversies. Do you share his discomfort? Should legal jury pools be restricted to those experienced in law enforcement or adjudication? Do you think “Dr Wells erred in characterizing his Stratfordian position as “beyond doubt”, an impossible position already belied by the participants in this blog?

    Finally, what, in your view, is the “main object of art historians”?

    Thank you for your most interesting blogpost,

    Hitandrun

  60. KOJohnson says:

    Sorry, but if you say, “Most crucially, Shakespeare absolutely was recognized as an author during his lifetime. About half of Shakespeare’s plays were printed during his lifetime. Many of those list his name as author on the title page,” it’s clear that you’re not understanding the question, much less the answer.

  61. Sabrina Feldman says:

    Dr. Siebert overlooks an essential point in the authorship debate: the problem that among the plays printed under William Shakespeare’s name or initials (or otherwise attributed to him, e.g. in play lists) before the 1623 First Folio appeared, around half are now designated as “apocryphal” Shakespeare plays or Shakespearean “bad quartos.”

    Scholars don’t actually believe that “Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare” when it comes to these anomalous plays. However, in Siebert’s own words: “There is a mountain of evidence for Shakespeare’s authorship [of some dozen apocryphal plays and half dozen bad quartos], no evidence that he didn’t or couldn’t have written the works, and a bunch of weak and contradictory evidence for other authors. After all, evidence (of a sort) has been offered for dozens of putative authors over the years. None of it is convincing.”

    Why were two separately authored bodies of work attributed to William Shakespeare during his own lifetime and for many decades afterwards, including The Puritan, The London Prodigal, The Troublesome Reign of King John, Mucedorus, Fair Em, The Merry Devil of Edmonton, Thomas Lord Cromwell, The Birth of Merlin (co-authored), etc.? Perhaps two different men were writing under the same name: the main author of the Shakespeare canon, and the high-spirited, crowd-pleasing author of the apocryphal plays.

    Sabrina Feldman (http://www.apocryphalshakespeare.com)

    • Hitandrun says:

      Dr Feldman writes:

      > However, in Siebert’s own words: “There is a mountain of evidence for Shakespeare’s authorship [of some dozen apocryphal plays and half dozen bad quartos],<

      Did Dr Siebert truly intend what you, Dr Feldman, interpolated in your brackets?

      Hitandrun

  62. William Ray says:

    I agree with Ms Feldman to the extent that there were more plays showing the Shakespeare style than are presently credited. I would not go so far as to say they were written by a shadow figure, Shakspere, as there is no evidence that he could write. The Hand D script is dubiously connected to the six scrawling attempts to write, the only literary output of the Stratfordian figure.

    Having reviewed this exchange, I see that it has devolved very quickly into partisan squabbling. To my mind, there are only a few tenets of the Stratfordian belief in a miracle writer, each faulty to a disinterested reader.

    The first is that Shakspere (as in his birth record and all family spellings) was ipso facto Shakespeare/Shake-speare. This is an inexplicable jump to belief, though there is no accompanying explanation for the changed spelling on play title-pages, about 40% hyphenated.

    The second tenet is that in one case only in the history of great literature, the life of the author need have nothing and does have nothing to do with the tenor, rank, station, or philosophy shown in the works.

    The third tenet is that what appeared on the title-pages constitutes probative value as representing the first tenet, that Shakspere used the name Shakespeare/Shake-speare. In an era when theatrical anonymity and pseudonymity were the rule not the exception, such a belief has no objective support.

    A final tenet, this perhaps held unconsciously more than explicitly, is that it is offensive and unjust to take away from a hard-working burgher the respect and regard he earned through writing glorious and patriotic literature. Here we enter the realm of received values, sanctioned thought, which cannot be easily altered by logic and evidence alone. The existence of this category, implicit belief, is neither new nor few in number. Discredited beliefs include just slavery, eternal segregation, primogeniture, the creation of the world in seven days, and others now deemed superstition or wrong conventions.

    The Shakespeare issue, far from being manufactured as the article writer asserted, continues due to the stress of seeking clarity concerning the historical facts surrounding the writing of the canon and poems. Some do not want a re-evaluation, despite the illogical and insupportable basis for the received view. Others do.

    William Ray
    wjray.net, Shakespeare Papers

  63. Damian Weber says:

    This is so disappointing. What I like about Skeptic magazine is that they use facts and information in order to arrive at the truth, in the face of opposition. But this post is the opposite of that, using dismissive language and simplified arguments. Reading Skeptic magazine reminds me of reading the scholars who argue against William Shakespeare, because they also use honest scholarship. I always imagined that Skeptic magazine would be open to this idea. I’m heartbroken.

  64. knitwitted says:

    I see John Shahan, Chairman of the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition, has written a complaint letter to Michael Shermer, Editor-in-Chief of Skeptic magazine, re Dr. Siebert’s lack of response to Mr. Shahan’s comments here.

    >> http://www.shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/john-shahan-responds-to-skeptic-com-blog-on-authorship-question/

    Funny, but I don’t see any comments posted here by Mr. Shahan. Nor do I note Dr. Siebert is required to respond to ANY comments, much less, any that are not posted.

    Sadly, Mr. Shahan has fallen prey to the Oxfordian classic technique of playing “the victim” for the sake of garnishing much-needed publicity for his group, as any and all attempts to produce evidence for de Vere as the true author have proven not only fruitless but also, not newsworthy.

    For further validation of typical Oxfordian scholarship, Dr. Siebert’s readership would be advised to read the following recently posted thread on ShakesVere, the official home of the Oxfordian echo chamber.

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/shakesvere/permalink/10153173871134529/

  65. Howard Schumann says:

    Speaking of classic techniques, you have just provided an example of the Stratfordian classic technique – just ignore the issues and resort to mudslinging. Mr. Shahan’s letter responded to misstatements of facts in the article, yet you are strangely silent on the substance of his response. I guess I shouldn’t really expect anything else.

    • knitwitted says:

      Howard Schumann wrote: “you have just provided an example of the Stratfordian classic technique – just ignore the issues and resort to mudslinging.”

      FYI, I’m not a Stratfordian. Further FYI, I’ve addressed the ignorance of the Oxfordians’ argument against Will of Stratford’s last will and testament MANY times.

      If, according to the Oxfordians, a person’s last will and testament is paramount to proving his authorship of the Shakespearean works, then Oxford is O-U-T since he neglected to leave one. In fact, Thomas Sackville’s last will meets the demands imposed by the Oxfordians (see Sabrina Feldman’s book *The Apocryphal William Shakespeare*).

      BTW, a last will and testament is a legal document; it is not a literary work.

  66. Hitandrun says:

    John Shahan writes (bracketed comments are mine):
    >Instead they [the Supremes in 1987] rendered a Scottish verdict of “not proven” (not proven either way).<

    I believe this is slightly misleading. Justice Stevens in his 1992 U. of Pa. Law Review article characterized the verdict as follows: "The panel decided that the proponents of the de Vere authorship had not met their burden of proof on the basic issue."

    Mr Shahan later supports Mr Waugh's challenge to the SBT to prove their claim that the Stratford man was the author "beyond reasonable doubt". Are Mr Waugh and the SAC now willing to reduce their posted "beyond doubt" requirement for the SBT to "beyond reasonable doubt"? Which is it?

    Mr Shahan then claims Stratford William "never" spelled his name "Shakespeare". How can he possibly know, given the limited evidence that has survived?

    More later.
    Hitandrun

  67. Hitandrun says:

    John Shahan characterizes as “alleged” the six WS signatures available to us and then quotes Jane Cox’s contention that the four non-Blackfriar signatures are “not of the same man.” Does Mr Shahan agree the Blackfriar signatures are by the same man? Does he believe that William of Stratford personally penned any of the six?

    Mr Shahan states that “at least ten people have been identified who clearly knew Shakspere, and {knew about} the author “Shakespeare”, but never connected the two.” Who are they? Please list them.

    Thank you,
    Hitandrun

  68. Hitandrun says:

    Tom Reedy in his reply to post #35 provides a link to his team’s Shakespeare Authorship Page chronological “List of Non-literary References to William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon”: ( http://shakespeareauthorship.com/name2.html )

    What caught my eye was the Dec 23, 1614, handwritten Thomas Greene diary entry: “my Cosen Shakespeare”. Greene was fairly consistent in spelling his friend’s name “Shakspeare”. I believe this is a transcription error (or overlooked misprint) by Chambers. Schoenbaum (vol. 2), using Scott’s transcription, has it right as “my Cosen Shakspeare”, though in vol. 1 Schoenbaum himself has it as “my Cosen Shakspear”. Has this discrepancy been pointed out to Kathman, Reedy et al with a view to correcting their entry? Perhaps they could check the facsimile themselves.

    Hope this helps,
    Hitandrun

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