My long time followers know two things about me. I love listening to podcasts and am in the middle of earing my master’s in humanities, ever hopeful to teach my favorite subject Shakespeare. So when one of my favorite podcasts Strange Frequencies Radio (SFR) decided to do a show about the Shakespeare authorship debate I eagerly joined in the live chat room.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Shakespeare authorship debate let me explain. Critics of Shakespeare as an author believe that William Shakespeare the actor did not write the plays and poems attributed to him. This idea is not widely held by most scholars, but those who do are rather vocal about their views. This was shown to be true during the live broadcast of SFR Sunday afternoon. Wow the Oxfordians in the chat room were almost shouting! FYI they call themselves Oxfordians because they believe the 17th Earl of Oxford, Edward De Vere, is the true author. The “evidence” for this is comprehensive, ranging from De Vere’s aristocratic knowledge of the upper classes through to his education and the similarities between his poetry and Shakespeare’s (there isn’t any). As regards to the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets, it is believed by the Oxfordians that Edward wrote these under the pseudonym of Shakespeare, both to avoid breaking a voluntary convention against aristocrats publishing poetry (there wasn’t one) and plays and to escape the consequences of the subject matter he was writing about. It is suggested that the character of Polonius bears a striking resemblance to De Vere’s father-in-law. Anyone who has either read the play or watched it probably thinks Polonius bears a striking resemblance his or her father-in-law or at least we all have that one uncle…
Professor and humanities skeptic (I want that title!)Eve Siebert was SFR’s guest. She was on to debunk the arguments for someone else as being the author of the works of Shakespeare. No sooner had she started talking when someone in the chat room rudely typed “Wrong!” over and over again. He then rudely suggested the hosts “get a real scholar” on the show. Not only was this extremely rude and disrespectful it was obvious he could not handle his beliefs being debunked and wanted to only hear from someone whose believes were the same as his. I have to hand it to Bobby, one of the hosts of SFR, for he not only called out those in the chat room who were typing rude remarks, he dared them to call in after Professor Siebert was finished so they could tell their side. And to the doubters credit a “real Oxfordian scholar “did call in. As expected his arguments were weak; he talked about the relationship between De Vere and his father-in-law. As he rambled on his voice became angry not because anyone was arguing with him, but because the two hosts were asking follow up questions.
This post is not a case for Shakespeare, though in the future if you want I will talk about the various claims made by the Oxfordians, yet I feel compelled to talk about one. The one that all doubters of Shakespeare point to; that an uneducated actor could not have possibly written such great works. This, to me, is a disrespectful and ugly argument. It has always bothered me when those without degrees are looked upon as some how not as smart as those with degrees.
But before I do I want to share a couple of thoughts I had during the show.
- It is no secret that those who shout or become rude during a conversation debate always have the weaker argument and they know it. We see this all the time when listening to conspiracy theorists. What happened Sunday afternoon was no different from other conspiracy debates.
- There are those who feel the need to make themselves seem superior to their fellow men. In this case there are those who feel that if they could prove Shakespeare was not a great writer they would not only be intellectually superior to mainstream Shakespeare scholars, they would prove that only someone with a college education could have written the works of Shakespeare. In a way they would be proving that they are smarter than William Shakespeare. Which leads me to my intended post. Using myself as an example I’m going to show you just how easy it is for an “uneducated” person to come up with an idea and then run with it.
For years I felt inadequate because I lacked a college degree. I made up for it by being well read. I collected and read books on a wide range of subjects. I felt by reading I was making up for what I lacked in an education. Perhaps Shakespeare felt the same way. After all many playwrights of his day were college educated. Perhaps Shakespeare was also well read. After all, books come in real handy when doing any kind of research, as I am about to prove.
This last spring I wrote a paper titled What happens in the woods stays in the woods. It was a critical look at the play A midsummer night’s dream. In the paper I compared Greek mythology to the characters found in the play. I wasn’t sure what my hook would be until I did some research on centaurs. I wanted to see if I could figure out why the character of Bottom was depicted as having an ass’s head/ male body instead of the usual horse body/male head. My research paid off. I found out that Chiron, the wisest of the centaurs, is described as “having thoughts too great for man”. Does this sound familiar? It should if you have seen or read the play.
After Bottom is once again transformed into a man he declares ““I have had a dream past the wit of man to say what it was”. “ The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man that not seen, the hand of man is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart what my dream was”. It would seem Bottom also had thoughts too great for man. Bottom couldn’t even explain them with any clarity (he was an ass not an centaur after all).
It was clear the playwright had Chiron’s wisdom in mind when he created the character of Bottom. In fact the majority of the action in the play requires that all of the characters believe they are acting wisely thought the opposite is true. I found my hook within 15 minutes of doing research and did so using books I collected before I earned a degree.
So what does this have to do with Shakespeare? Well, let’s say instead of writing a paper I decided to write a play and said play was to be based in ancient Athens because I just happened to love Greek mythology having studied it in grammar school. How would I go about it? Perhaps I would pick up Arthur Golding’s 1567 translation of Ovid’s The Metamorphoses and look for inspiration and find it in section Six titled, The Less Important Myths. Why this book? Because it was widely regarded during Shakespeare’s day and because this is where I found the mention of Chiron and his being wiser than men. It took my only 15 minutes, but perhaps Shakespeare had this in mind the whole time when he sat down to write. Maybe it didn’t even take him 15 minutes. The idea may have been planted in childhood.
It would not have taken a college education to write this play, just a natural talent for writing, love of Greek mythology and memories of being taught about them in grammar school.
D L Johanyak, Shakespeare’s World
Ovid, The Metamorphoses
George Puttenham ,The Arte of English Poesie
William Shakespeare, A midsummer night’s dream
If you don’t believe William Shakespeare was a writer, go ahead, give it your best shot. Show me your proof. But remember, I have reference books and am not afraid to use them!
29 thoughts on “So, you think you’re smarter than Shakespeare?”
This post really speaks to me, Sari. Not only because I have no formal post-secondary education, nor because I try to compensate for that (overcompensate?) by reading, but because I’ve always felt that I’ve no business writing what I do, being unqualified as I am.
You’ve illustrated nicely, how education comes in many forms, and while formal study in a scholastic environment might be the traditional norm, there are other ways to find enlightenment.
Thanks for writing this.
You are so welcome Martin. I had thought of writing more about my feelings towards smart vs educated but stopped because this is a subject I’ve already tackled. And a three page blog post is long enough don’t you think?
I would not say you are unqualified to write. You put a lot of thought and research into your writing. This makes you extremely well qualified. Just like the Scarecrow you use your brain. No paper will make much of a difference.
I listened to the interview you mentioned with Ann Siebert. The Oxfordian Professor, Mr. Stritmatter, who called in was forthright in his views but never “angry” as you describe him because of any follow-up questions. This is a complete .misreading of what took place.
The argument he used – that a commoner such as the man from Stratford-on-Avon, William Shaksper, could not have gotten away with an obvious parody of a powerful court figure is not weak in the slightest as you erroneously characterize it. It is a strong case for the authorship of Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford. Obviously this is only one of many pieces of evidence in favor of de Vere.
Also, no Oxfordian has ever argued that an uneducated actor could not have written the plays and Sonnets. This is not about who could have written the works. It is about who did and here the evidence for Oxford is very strong.
Thank you for taking the time to write and express your point of view. I really appreciate it.
I have been doing some research into the Oxfordian argument and yes one of their main arguments is that an uneducated man could not have possibly written the plays. Here is a quote from one Oxfordian websites. It is recognized by Oxfordians and Stratfordians alike that writing about royal courts, Italy and law required a certain prerequisite level of education. Edward De Vere fits the bill here since he is known to have graduated from Cambridge University at age 14, becoming master of arts at age of 16
Other Ofordian sites expressly argue that Shakespeare, an uneducated player would not have enough knowledge to write the plays. I only report what I hear and read Howard.
In this case, it is obvious that the person who wrote the plays needed to obtain the necessary education to accumulate the vast knowledge that is shown. This does not necessarily mean that he had to go to a university to do so.
The only problem with the orthodox Shakespeare attribution is that there is no indication of how he may have obtained that knowledge. While the grammar schools in England were very good, the extent and breadth of the learning exhibited in the plays could not have been obtained at that level.
With Oxford, it is clear that he had access to the vast library of William Cecil and an acclaimed scholar, Sir Thomas Smith, as his tutor as well as having attended Oxford and Cambridge universities, so at least his knowledge is traceable.
Howard did you really read my post? It is an example of how easy it is to gain knowledge without an education. Do you by any chance have a blog post about this issue? I’d love for you to link it so my readers can see your side of the argument.
Thank you again for being kind and polite with your views.
Yes, I can see that it worked in your case. On the other hand, for Shakespeare, there is simply no accounting for the detailed knowledge of the law, medicine, foreign languages, Italy, the court and aristocratic society, and sports such as falconry, tennis, jousting, fencing, and coursing that appears in the plays.
Books were expensive and there were no public libraries in Stratford, nor did he have access to vast private libraries. The fact that many books that were used as source material for the plays were not translated into English in Shakespeare’s time is puzzling. For example:
Francois de Belleforest Histories tragiques
Ser Giovanni Fioranetino’s Il Pecorone
Epitia and Hecatommithi
Luigi da Porto’s Romeus and Juliet (Italian)
Jorge de Montemayor’s Diana (Spanish)
If Shakespeare regularly relied on books not yet translated from Italian, French, and Spanish, then he must have been able to read those languages; however, nothing in his background indicates his ability to obtain this knowledge.
I do not have any doubt that genius can spring from the most unlikely of circumstances. The only problem here is that there is in this case no evidence to support it. Would the greatest writer in the English language whose plays feature strong, independent women have allowed his daughters to remain illiterate?
No evidence to support his genius? How about his plays? His genius was evident until this conspiracy theory came about. If you acknowledge that he could simply have been a genius, what evidence would there be for that, other than his accomplishments?
It matters not what qualifications others might have had, to make them candidates for Shakespeare’s work, when Shakespeare could very well have done it himself. An astute child can pick up many things in paces you or I would never look, imagine if astute was elevated to genius.
As for his daughter’s literacy, he was an author, not a teacher…and a child is not a carbon copy of their parent.
Sorry, I forgot to answer your question. No, I do not have any blogs, personally but the Shakespeare-Oxford Fellowship has a website that contains a good summary of the evidence for Oxford.
There is also the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt signed by over 2,000 people including many academics expressing the reasons for doubting the Stratfordian attribution.
Martin – Yes, it is obvious that whoever wrote the plays was a genius. The question, however, is who the true author was. The amount of knowledge in the plays is staggering. Genius without knowledge could not have produced these great works. As Diana Price has said, genius must be traceable.
For William of Stratford, it is not. He left no correspondence, no manuscripts, no letters to or from, no diaries. There are no descriptions, no record of anyone ever claiming to have met the man. There is nothing in his handwriting except six barely readable signatures. When he died, there was silence. His will left no books, no plays, nothing to indicate that he was a writer.
His life is “a well-documented blank.”
Thank you Howard. I just looked at the 8 reason for Oxford and off the top of my head, came up with this.
1.In the Renaissance period in England a powerful stigma was attached to the publication of poetry and, especially, drama by courtiers–this was an unwritten honor code of the court.
No, this not true. It was said Oxford wrote 17 plays, though none exist. He is also known to have published poems which do exist. He is mentioned by name in George Puttenham’s,The Arte of English Poesie. He is praised for his poetry in this book published in 1588, during his own lifetime.
2.Both because of the stigma associated with print, and because publication of controversial material constituted a political risk, the use of pseudonyms and other forms of veiled publication was very common during the period in question.
Which of Shakespeare’s plays are considered controversial? The acting company Shakespeare is associated with was called The King’s Men. Sounds like the crown liked the plays. If Elizabeth or James felt threatened by the plays the acting company would have ended up as a footnote of history.
3.He was also known as a closeted poet and playwright, among “the best for comedy,” as Francis Meres describes him in 1598. The Arte of English Poesie, the leading (and anonymous) work of literary criticism of the Elizabethan reign, lists Oxford first in a list of Noblemen
Ahh, you do realize number 3 negates 1?
4.The sonnets and the plays contain frequent references to events that are paralleled in Oxford’s life
The reason we still read and love Shakespeare’s work is because we can still relate to him. At some time we all feel like a character in one of Shakespeare’s plays. Then again, maybe Shakespeare was making fun of Oxford……? As far as a reference to a tennis match goes, you do realize tennis was a very popular sport in Elizabethan England.
5. Although no play published under Oxford’s name has come down to us, his acknowledged early verse and his surviving letters contain forms, words, and phrases characteristic of Shakespeare.
It is known Shakespeare and Marlow sound alike at times too. Of course he used many of the same phrases that Shakespeare did. They lived in the same society and used a common language.
6. For a controversial author-courtier such as Oxford, writing scandalous satiric drama for the public stage, a pseudonym would have been essential.
Isn’t this the same argument as #2?
7. Following Oxford’s death in June 1604 King James had eight Shakespeare plays produced at court, apparently as a final tribute to the deceased author.
So if this is true, then James knew Oxford wrote the plays so there was no need to use a pseudonym. And since we are told he was a published poet and playwright, why didn’t it come out after his death that he wrote the Shakespeare plays if James wanted to play tribute to Oxford?
“We don’t know how he did it.” is not equal to “he didn’t do it.”
Sariji: Here are my responses to your points.
1. There was a strong distinction between poetry and the public theater which, unlike poetry, attracted a wide popular audience. Under the Puritans, theaters were closed and playwrights arrested. There is to my knowledge no knowledge of the number of plays Oxford wrote, but none exist in his name.
2.Both because of the stigma associated with print, and because publication of controversial material constituted a political risk, the use of pseudonyms and other forms of veiled publication was very common during the period in question.
3. The characters in the plays were disguised to the extent that they could not be traceable to court figures. The connection would have been obvious if a courtier was known to be the author.
4. See my answer to number 1. Since no plays existed in his name, he could stay out of trouble, unlike Ben Jonson and Christopher Marlowe.
5.. As far as the Sonnets are concerned, the first 17 sonnets are addressed to a young man urging him to marry. Most scholars agree that the “fair youth” was Henry Wriothesley, the 3rd Earl of Southampton. At the time the first Sonnets were written, 1590-92, William Cecil was urging Southampton to marry his daughter-in-law, Elizabeth Vere. No commoner such as William of Stratford would have been allowed to urge a nobleman to marry.
In addition, the Sonnets are written by a man who is clearly much older than William of Stratford. Conventional chronology dates the sonnets to between 1592 and 1596. At this time, William of Stratford would have been in his late twenties and early thirties (Oxford was 14 years older). Even if we up the date to 1599, William of Stratford was still in his thirties. The sonnets tell us that the poet was in his declining years when writing them.
He was “Beated and chopped with tanned antiquity,” “With Time’s injurious hand crushed and o’er worn”, in the “twilight of life”. He is lamenting “all those friends” who have died, “my lovers gone”. His is “That time of year/When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang/Upon those boughs that shake against the cold.” The sonnets that most contradict Will of Stratford’s life story are those about shame and disgrace to name and reputation. Here Shakespeare’s biographers have nothing to go on.
I could discuss the many correlations between the plays and Oxford’s life but it would require much more space than is available here.
6. Oxford’s early verse was published in his late teens and early twenties. At that time, William of Stratford would have been six or seven years old.
7. See my response to Number 2.
8. The likelihood is that Oxford had made a deal with Robert Cecil in 1601 for the stay of execution of Southampton after his arrest for his part in the Essex Rebellion if he (Oxford) would agree to never have his name again be associated with the plays.
Thank you for your responses Howard. I applaud you for sticking in there with me.
So, loyal reader, what do you think? Did Howard convince you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
It is always interesting to hear the arguments for a contrary view of what’s generally accepted — and of course not all of what’s generally accepted is true, as history has shown us.
However, here it sounds like special pleading. I’ve seen similar arguments surrounding the Arthurian Question — did King Arthur exist and, if so, wasn’t he someone else with a different name, or from a different place, or from a different time? — and they are also conducted with a similar zealotry.
There are initially two key questions in cases like this that are rarely tackled: (1) why does it matter that such a proposition is true? and (2) what’s in it for the proponents of the proposition? I can only adduce some answers from the Arthurian debates.
For the first question it’s often that a strongly held view is as much about challenging the establishment or academia or ‘so-called experts’ who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo as ascertaining the truth, whatever that is. Of course, that may not be the case here.
With the second key point it’s often about establishing the status of the proponent: I’m the real expert, I’m one of the few who can see the self-evident truth, I’m the one with bona fide status. Again, I’m only citing authors of ‘Arthur was really Breton / Roman / Scottish / Welsh / Cornish / 5th-century / 6th-century’ theories as examples — this may not be applicable here.
Why does it matter who wrote the plays attributed to Shakespeare? Until we answer the ‘why’ question, answering the ‘who / what / when / where’ and even the ‘how’ questions are to me very arid, and often humourless, approaches.
First of all, it is a matter of simple justice that we honor the true author of what is arguably the greatest literary works in the English language.
We cannot possibly understand a man’s (or woman’s) works without understanding who they are, and what empowered them in their life. That is why we have biographies for most if not all of the leading cultural figures throughout history. As author Sarah Smith said, “Biography means a man’s life matters. It matters who Shakespeare is because it matters who we are, every day.”
In Shakespeare’s case, it would mean a deeper understanding of the plays and Sonnets, passages that are obscure and seem to have no relevance to the play would now come alive with meaning. Understanding who the true author is would also allow us to understand the Elizabethan age and the historical context in which they were written.
Most importantly – the transformation of our society into one of unity rather than separation requires the truth to be told. Acknowledging the real Shakespeare would be a major breakthrough towards that goal. Obscuring the truth in whatever endeavor, history, politics, literature, however, keeps us stuck in the old paradigm of power and control.
Who Shakespeare was matters because truth matters.
While some of what you say is true in this case we know it is not. Shakespeare’s work has endured for over 450 years despite us not knowing much about the author’s life.
Knowing about a famous person’s life sometimes turns audiences off. We see this in today’s world. Look at Tom Cruise and his crazy claims on psychology, In America the more we learn about Columbus the more we are disinclined to celebrate his “discovery” of the new world.
I have to wonder in Oxford’s case if it was proven with solid facts, not presumptions, that he was the true author, would we still celebrate the plays? Given his bad behavior in life, many may not want to pay to see his plays.
Shakespeare’s works will always endure because of their universal appeal, their insights into the human condition, and the beauty of their language. Knowing that Oxford was the author would lead to a much deeper appreciation and understanding of the work. Oxford was human and made mistakes which were never as bad as those his enemies accused him of. His acknowledgment of his errors in judgment and financial matters can be found in the Sonnets.
If the character and behavior of the artist was the most important aspect, however, we would have to turn off half of the world’s great artistic works, including those of Wagner, Debussy, Ernest Hemingway, Charles Dickens, Rodin, Beethoven and countless others..
The sad truth is, most people do not know or care to know anything about the lives of the people you listed.And when those who do talk about them all sorts of excuses are made for their behavior. And at the risk of sounding rude, writing an apology in a sonnet does not make up for Oxford’s life.
Please feel free to stop by again if you come up with a letter, manuscript, sonnet etc.. in his handwriting or any other tangible proof of authorship. I am interested in the developments of this case.One should always keep an open mind and appreciate that records change as new documents are found. Happy hunting my friend!
Thanks Sariji for keeping this discussion on a high level.
Oxford was accused of many things by his enemies Howard and Arundel that included “atheism, lying, heresy, disobedience to the crown, treason, murder for hire, sexual perversion and pederasty with his English and Italian servants, habitual drunkenness, vowing to murder various courtiers and declaring that Elizabeth had a bad singing voice.”
None of these charges ever stood up nor was any proof ever offered. Oxford was estranged from his wife because of his strong suspicions that she had given birth to a child out of wedlock. Never being content with the marriage that had been arranged by William Cecil, he stayed away fro five years, but to his credit, reconciled with Anne and they lived together happily until Anne’s unfortunate death.
During the years of their estrangement, Oxford fell in love with Anne Vavasour, a lady of the court and they had a child together. Upon hearing this, the Queen had both Oxford and Anne thrown in the Tower but were released after one month.
Other than that, Oxford was reckless in his finances and had lost most of his property by the time of his death. However, the Queen, recognizing his contributions, awarded him a yearly pension of 1,000 pounds. Oxford was a patron of the arts and was a leading factor in the growth of the London stage during the 1570s after his return from Italy.
According to Wikipedia, “A stream of dedications praised Oxford for his generous patronage of literary, religious, musical, and medical works,and he patronised both adult and boy acting companies as well as musicians,”
If there were any tangible evidence of letters, manuscripts, sonnets and so forth in the hand of either Oxford or Shaksper, there would no longer be an authorship debate.
Sarji, let’s start with this, shall we?
You say: “It is suggested that the character of Polonius bears a striking resemblance to De Vere’s father-in-law. Anyone who has either read the play or watched it probably thinks Polonius bears a striking resemblance his or her father-in-law or at least we all have that one uncle…”
This is typical of the increasingly subjective character of arguments for the orthodox view of the bard. Mark Alexander’s survey of the history of scholarship on this question:
So, you see, what “anyone” thinks is not the issue here. The issue is what scholars, both Stratfordian and Oxfordians, have been saying for over a century and a half.
You also write: “Please feel free to stop by again if you come up with a letter, manuscript, sonnet etc.. in his handwriting or any other tangible proof of authorship.
The assumptions you, like so many others, freely make are a bit off putting. There are over seventy surviving Oxford letters, extensively studied by William Plumer Fowler in this book (http://www.amazon.com/Shakespeare-Revealed-Oxfords-Letters-William/dp/0914339125), available on Amazon or from your local public. Of course, you will find a way to define “tangible” so as to avoid Fowler’s arguments.
It never ceases to amaze me how much energy some will put into ignoring evidence that does exist and continuing the pretense that new evidence is needed, merely because they have not read the evidence that already exists.
But at least you removed the straw man misquotations. Good luck.
O, and by the way Sariji, I think Shakespeare was smarter than all of us – in fact the failure to recognize how smart he was is part of the problem. If you follow this discussion further you will notice that it is the Oxfordians who are consistently reading a “smart” bard, one who challenges the intellect as well as entertaining the senses. Mark Anderson’s popular Shakespeare By Another Name is a great place to start. http://www.amazon.com/Shakespeare-Another-Name-Mark-Anderson-ebook/dp/B0063JH2SU Now available for $6 on Kindle.
Why is it that people, in this debate among others, are incapable of refuting claims without resorting to condescension. I’m new to this particular subject, but of the “Oxfordians” I’ve encountered, this seems to be a feature of their position, smug superiority that is.
Thanks for your comment. Let me see if I can gratify your curiosity. The Oxfordians sound smug because, well, they have heard the arguments of the orthodox side, they understand them, they can repeat them, and they still don’t find them convincing. The question is, can you do with their arguments. When you can do so, your accusation that the smugness of the Oxfordians is somehow misplaced may have some merit. Until then, it is like criticizing a Copernican in 1600 for being “smug.” Its just an ad hominem. Now, would you care to offer a serious argument? If so, I’m sure that any number of Oxfordians would care to take you up on it.
If the evidence for the Oxfordian position is as strong and obvious as you claim, then isn’t that enough? Shouldn’t the claim stand on its own, without your attitude? As I mentioned, I’m new to the subject, and as such am not in a position to offer counterpoints to your argument, but I would point out that the Oxfordian position is not nearly as strong as you suggest…if it were, there would be no argument.
Deep breath, deep breath…First Roger I would like to thank you for taking time to stop by. All views are welcomed here.
Having said that..I will not tolerate such a condescending attitude. My house, my rules. If you cannot play nice with others go find your own sand box.
Unlike Howard, you seemed primed for some fight. You sir, will not find one here! This is a place for scholarly debate not a barn yard brawl. Coming off as smug and condescending does not further the “debate” and only puts others off to your views.
If the Oxfordian claims were half as strong as has been suggested the Supreme Court would have at least been swayed by the arguments during the 1987 debate held for them. Here the claims were laid out for some bright minds to consider. The Oxforidan claims were measured and found wanting.
As far as I am concerned, the issue as presented on this blog is closed.
You are of course welcome.
I’m not sure which of my comments you found to be condescending. Is it condescending to suggest that this is paradigm shift territory? Sorry. That’s exactly what it is. Is it condescending to suggest that persons who are speaking in public should be familiar with the ideas they are criticizing? Sorry, that’s just prudent.
Thank you, however, for mentioning the Supremes.
You are apparently not very familiar with recent history of the authorship question and therefore your comment illustrates very well my larger point about doing some research before reaching hasty conclusions.
In other words, you may wish to consult the status of this question in 2013 rather than treating 1987 as the end of the story. For example, this may be a useful link:
As you can see from this list, two Supreme Court justices, O’Conner and Stevens, have signed the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt. Justice Stevens has led the Supremes in their doubt (others who have publicly suppressed their disbelief in the received story include Powell and Scalia).
His article outlining his own reasons for concluding that de Vere was most likely the author, published in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review in 1992, is widely reproduced on the internet and makes for good educational reading for those just getting started in their study of the authorship question:
Click to access stevens-04182009.pdf
His views have been widely covered in the press so I’m surprised that you have not followed them: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB123998633934729551.
So, your conclusion is at best premature. Did you really expect three supreme court justices in two hours to render an informed verdict for all time on a topic of this intrinsic complexity. Even Stevens, who more than any of the others, came prepared to the moot court, took many months to formulate his own carefully crafted argument on the topic.
May I conclude that both you and your colleague Martin J/. Clemens may want to consult some sources that don’t already confirm your own prejudgments?
I apologize if that sounds “condescending.” I have generally found it to be a useful practice in my own intellectual development. Most things that I know, or have some reason to suppose worth knowing, I found out that way. Best wishes,
Yes, he did sign it. This proves that even with an Oxfordian on the bench, the poor Earl still could not catch a break. Let’ hope someone takes up the Oxfordian challenge so that the claims can bet put to debate once again.
Well, that’s one point of view, I’m sure. Regarding debate, at the recent Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship Conference in Toronto, no Stratfordians in Ontario were willing debate myself and Bonner Cutting. Many were called but none had the courage of conviction. Your team seems to be running away more than debating these days.
So we invited Keir Cutler to explain to why they would not debate, and this is what he said http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpc5A-14tmw
But if you think that I am rude or smug, I don’t recommend the video for you. Best regards.
PS — I appreciate your honesty in your original posting about your own background. I grew up lower middle class and went to public schools my whole life, so I sympathize. But at some point intellectual candor requires us to move beyond our subjective responses to the fact that we prefer a working class Shakespeare and ask what kind of a Shakespeare we actually do have.
As Walt Whitman noted almost a hundred and fifty years ago “only one of the Wolfish earls so plentiful in the [history plays themselves], or some born knower and descendent, would seem to be the true author of these amazing works.”