…over at discover magazine blog this discussion is going on. I replied a looong comment.
Now I don’t say that Will Shakespeare of Stratford did write his works and basta! end of conversation.
I say there is no reason to doubt why somebody in the position he was in couldn’t have written these plays. Negating the need for an alternative candidate.
I agree with Anthony McCarthy and Will Monox that the Stratford biography as known is boring. I want there to be another Shakespeare that fits the bill. The egghead that’s there is not my favourite conception of Shakespeare.
I have given the other candidates a fair and open hearing and found myself sick of all the misreading of the historical record and misappropriations of rhetoric; applied like base lawyers’ tricks. Anything goes for a quibble and the verdict. Ad hominem with reason: you make my candidate, therefore me, into a cabbage brained blockhead.
I have seen Stratfrodians defend their burrows time again with nothing but straws to clutch onto. Not once have the Orksfordians conquered, like Tamburlaine, cruelly dragging the fallen King in a cage and feeding him scraps.
I don’t doubt.
I have read all his plays and seen them all live at least once. I’ve read all his poems and memorised his sonnets. I’ve even read all Oxford’s extant poems, and letters. And believe me if the stratfrodians had a collection that big we’d be cross-examining them for clues to plays, handwriting style to personality etcetera. We know Oxford was a degenerate, that’s why he’s a good candidate. Kick ol goody two-shoes from his throne.
The orksfordians candidate and those conspiracists who would have him Will, (let’s not shy from the ‘C’ word: one is needed for Shaksper to comply) have such letters and do no such thing. Why? Because there is nothing in them to connect him with writing plays and secreting them to be published 19 years after his death. Now there’s a well-thought out plan. What if they all hadn’t been published? would we be having this discussion?
He is the fallen Earl, begging for scraps from the monarch’s table. An aristocrat to the end and such a fall. He died in 1604, is buried who knows where, whilst Shakespeare lived to write Timon, Lear, The Tempest, Winter’s Tale and Henry the Eighth, that phoenix-like would fire up the house at the Globe in 1613. Oxford dead near ten years since. Verily.
Oxford straddles the downfall of Noblesse Oblige with loss of Land and inheritance,
as Shagsberds does the rise of the Gentleman and the pragmatic Business classes.
I doubt Oxford’s influence on the world of printers and booksellers.
I doubt Oxford’s influence behind the scenes in Public theatre companies.
I have no doubt my Will knew both worlds from the typeface to the straw onstage.
The doubters doubt because there is no evidence connecting our Will to writing, or even being capable of conceiving these plays, most based on stories stolen from extant sources he did have access to through the printers and booksellers he knew. Esoteric knowledge and foreign languages aren’t a barrier to an inquisitive mind. I speak, read and write four languages, why couldn’t Shaksper learn any? I have a middling grammar school education.
You tell me your Earl speaks, reads and writes five or six languages, and therefore he had access to the source materials necessary to conceive the plays. Well so too the compositor at Vautrollier’s Print shop, have the necessary linguistic chops and access to those same sources. Besides noblesse oblige extended only to the first-born sons: many second and third sons of Noblemen were as illiterate as Shakespeare’s daughters.
Learning other languages doesn’t demand great intelligence, it takes an accurate ear and the ability to imitate what you hear, and then learn to think, read, write and speak it for yourself.
Oxford squandered a fortune, wardship took the rest, leaving him nothing but a name. And then he gives that away so he can use some schmoke from stratford to put his creations onstage and preserve them for immortality under his name. For why?
The crucible of theatrical London involved hundreds of people to sustain it as a viable platform for making money. It happened from the mid 1570’s through the 80’s and into the 90’s, when Shakespeare hits his publishing stride midway through the decade. Theatres slowly start to move indoors and the players and playwrights exploit this fact.
Oxford of course had foreseen this darker trend and written these late plays during the Essex Rebellion and the death of Elizabeth and James arrival. Not to menion tossing out Macbeth to flatter the new scottish King. How he collaborated with Fletcher beats me.
No. The life of Shakespeare were enough if seen as a practitioner of theatre and a best-selling published author in a world where no celebrity scene outside the Nobility, Adventurers, Warriors and Players exists. No authors were famous.
The name Shakespeare as a writer of plays would have been known all over London by readers who bought one of the several re-prints of his 18 published quartos. Plus his pomes in the smaller Octavo size. NO-ONE asked the question, who is writing this stuff?
How is this hidden? How is this secret? Why these plays?
I doubt the alternative candidates more than i doubt Will of Stratford. But please 3 centuries have gone by since Reverend Wilmot, so can’t we just agree it doesn’t really matter, as we have the plays and poems. Stuttering John Heminges and Henry Condell two truer or falser men who ever lived, hit it on the nose in their sell in the First Folio, read him and read him againe.
Sorry for the length of this defence but i am open minded and interested in anything that truthfully examines the historical record and doesn’t try to force it to suit any particular character over all possible candidates. Nor me mine.
Always with Occam’s razor poised and ready to slash away the hopes and fears of biography. So he’s boring, it doesn’t matter, his plays and poems aren’t. Not like Oxford’s poems and letters. Nothing remotely like Shakespeare there. But of course when im reading Shake-speare i’m reading Oxford.
I like Fulke Greville for his proximity and intimacy with Stratford. What, a backwater with no books? Sir Fulke had no library? University of Harvard founder, John Harvard’s mum was a Stratford girl. Could she read?
A small town Stratford, never know who you’ll meet down the pub. Shakespeare’s friends were no dummies and under-achievers.
I just got Mark Eccles book Shakespeare’s Warwickshire.
Why in the name of all the Muses fil’d isn’t this still in print?