Sonnet Book

We have a run of 750 sonnetbooks. Each book signed by William S



In the blue corner Billy J RAY…

in the red corner Billy CG S.
We did a blog on Oxfordian Howard S. one time,
so now it’s Billy Ray’s turn.

If you want the full transcripts you must click here for the Time Out comment thread. And here for the Screenrant comment thread.

The blue corner belongs to the Oxfordians. The red is our own bloodied but unbowed champion.

The trench warfare in comment threads about Sh’s wounded name is divided and divisive. It is also highly entertaining despite being frustrating. You have not want to win.

I was joined a day or two ago by Mark Johnson. His arguments for our man are very difficult to counter, being historical fact. Point by point he takes Billy R to task.

Just to prove the point, here again is actual physical evidence that Mr. Ray summarily dismisses and simply claims doesn’t even qualify as evidence [judges across the land would find such a statement to be completely unfounded]:
(1.) 1599 (From The Returne from Parnassus, Part I; MS in Bodleian Library): “Mr. Shakspeare” [more than once]
(2.) 1600 (Stationer’s Register entry for Henry the Fourth, Part Two and Much Ado About Nothing; August 23): “master Shakespere”
(3.) 1607 (Stationer’s Register entry for King Lear; November 26): “Master William Shakespeare”
(4.)1608 (Q1 of King Lear): “M. William Shak-speare” (title page) “M William Shak-speare” (head title)
(5.) 1610 (From The Scourge of Folly by John Davies of Hereford; registered October 8): “Mr. Will: Shake-speare”
(6.) 1612 (From “Epistle” to The White Devil by John Webster): “M. Shake-speare”
(7.) 1614 (From Runne and a Great Cast by Thomas Freeman): “Master W. Shakespeare”
(8.) 1615 (From continuation to 1614 in ed. 5 of John Stow’s Annales, by Edmund Howes): “M. Willi. Shakespeare gentleman”
(9.) 1616 (Q6 Lucrece): “Mr. William Shakespeare” (title page)
(10.) 1619 (Title page, Q3 (Pavier quarto) of Henry VI Parts 2 & 3): “William Shakespeare, Gent.”
(11.) 1619 (Title page, Q2 of King Lear, falsely dated 1608): “M. William Shake-speare”
(12.) 1619 (Head title of Q2 of King Lear): “M. William Shake-speare”
(13.) 1622 (Catalogus Universalis pro Nundinis Francofurtensibus; Frankfort book fair list of books to be published in England between April and October 1622): “M. William Shakespeare”
(14.) 1623 (Stationer’s Register entry for First Folio; November 8): “Mr. William Shakspeer”
Here are some of the other references to WS of Stratford as “Mr.” Shakespeare, gent.
(1.) 1601 (Deed transfering the Globe and other Southwark properties from Nicholas Brend to Sir Matthew Brown and John Collett as security for a 2500-pound debt; October 7): “Richard Burbadge and William Shackspeare gent.”
(2.) 1601 (Updated deed for the above transaction; October 10): “Richard Burbage and William Shakspeare gentlemen”
(3.) 1608 (Deed transferring the Globe and other properties from John Collett to John Bodley; November 11): “Richard Burbadge & William Shakespeare gent”

Does this deter Billy J Ray? Not a whit. He invents his own version of augury. He truly deserves the name Orksfordian.

So we pick up after he suggests the following book:

Oh yes, Alistair Fowler great book, great theory. Stratfordian isn’t he?

In sonnets 135 + 136 Will refers to all of the meanings of Will. It isn’t just confined to the two you suggest. It’s future tense, it’s determination, it’s his penis, it’s desire, it’s a testament AND it’s his name. It’s also not serious. It’s a game set amongst some home truths. Serio ludere (serious playing) was commonplace in the time.

Also this paternalist myth with its doctrinal conformity you accuse we stratfordians as blindly accepting is some blinkered criticism.

I hope I am as free thinking and capable of making up my own mind as my intelligence and understanding allow me.

I’ve scratched the surface and returned to the idea that at least the boring version is the way real evidence is collected.

And if it seems like there is energy being expended. It’s because there is.

I”m passionate about Shakespeare as a whole. You seem fixed on proving x is a moron and y is a genius.

And that to the exclusion of how that pragmatically alters my perception of the whole.

Is my reading of Shakespeare more enlightened or enriched by knowing the circumstances of the writer’s biography?

LOTR is a great read and I love the idea he sent it to his son piecemeal whilst he was away in the War. But not knowing that doesn’t spoil or enrich my reading of the story.

Take Coriolanus, Measure for Measure, or let’s go for a famous one, Richard 3rd. Why do I need to tie them to Sh’s biography to appreciate these plays fully? What is missing or added if I know X, Y, or Z wrote them?

I ass-u-me that Sh did his due diligence when researching a play. We don”t know 100% for sure Sh didn”t travel to Europe.

There”s enough evidence of English players on the continent.

The Vatican has papers that are suggestive, but they are a mere footnote on Orthodox scholarship.

Catholic Shakespeare is also a conspiracy, according to Paul and Stanley. I was shocked, but not shocked. On the C/catholic question my boat is certainly out. Robert Bearman bugs out on the Catholics. Brilliant speaker as well as scholar btw.

That was my question on the sixty minutes launch online. Great way to do a conference. Looking forward to more.

But the evidence: his parents both Catholic, not too far removed relatives on his mother’s side burnt at the stake and otherwise executed and persecuted. Catholic school teachers. Abbesses, priests and friars in his plays. The Catholic question was unavoidable in his time. There were the Al Qaeda of the period.

Back to Billy Ray:

I am moved by Shakespeare no less than you. (You know the speech here alluded) from MOV. Sh. is not just words. Silences and pauses in Shakespeare are masterful. And built into the verse.

I love all of it William. From sports writers heading articles with a passing Sh. quote to political writers choosing another angle, to the hip-hop po-mo behind bars reality of it.

As well as the classically trained aficionados and professionals drowning in his words. There in the actor’s holy of holies, the theatre. If actors were no better than whores and drunkards, how fitting then that they played the Kings and Queens. If they kept their wits about them.

The upper and lower classes intermingled constantly. It was not hard to divine how they behaved or talked with one another. Servant master relationships were daily fodder. But the Elizabethan period was about free men who chose their destinies. And these men came from all levels of Society.

The missing ingredient in the Oxfordian theory is wit. Not that Oxfordians aren”t witty. That would be stupid.

Their theory lacks wit.

It’s so serious and earth shattering and history twisting. It’s all very comfy leather armchairs and brandies or single malts and cigars. And let’s go hunt some peasants!

Sorry Freudian slip, I meant pheasants.

All those dumbass low and middle classes and those petrified and paranoid upper class Elizabethans. The fear, the secrets, the threats, the coersions. A Stalinist grip some Oxfordians call it. Thank heaven Jimmi took over.

For all the learning that Oxford had both natural and esoteric, he didn”t display much wisdom of it. His life is a series of blunders leading to disgrace and poverty. He was much hated in his lifetime.

Our guy on the other hand was much loved in his. For his wit and his gentle nature mostly; as regards his disposition. His works are regarded as the work of a natural, and to the life, and simple, and earthy, on one hand; and encyclopaedic, and scientific, and esoteric, on the other hand.

His insight into the psychology of human behaviour, his ability to spin all philosophies into one seamless whole without stating yea or nay politically where he stands with certainty.

His handling of the scale of human emotion.
You want revenge? You got it. You want murder? You got it. You want womance and woses? You got em. Sh is not just words on a page or a screen. You have to sound him to make him live. Breathe life into his verse by speaking it.

Shakespeare was a showman, knew his audience. Listeners and lookers both. He knew his players. He knew his sources. He twisted their stories, adding a sub plot here, or another pair of lovers.

He dealt in the currency of the theatre of his time. And that is the single biggest metaphor he uses too. it doesn”t take a genius to figure it out. All the world”s a stage. So are you playing or are you being played?

Shakespeare is a huge business and has always been from his generation to now. Blaming the establishment of today is pointless. His brand is as strong, if not stronger than Queen Elizabeth’s whole reign.

Oxford must have hated how this upstart crow could produce such plays. Oxford the Salieri, to his Mozart. Deep down Eddie knew he was a lousy poet. (Cue peals of laughter from WJR).

Remember John Lennon and his ‘we’re bigger than Jesus’. Shakespeare in publishing terms is bigger than the Bible. Look at any book of English quotations Sh. outnumbers everyone in entries.

Shakespeare as a concept is a juggernaut that every generation is subjected to as a measure for genius. But what exactly is his genius?

Being a mensch and not a schmuck? A deeply esoteric philosopher or a dumbo fraud?

An addendum:
Mark Johnson thoroughly trashed the supposed scholarship of Billy J Ray without resorting to ad hominem attacks. Something I could learn from. But then I love winding them up!

The debate continues with several Early Modern Scholars against the big guns of Authorship in the Times Educational Supplement here. Janet Baker demolishes the Looney book that started Oxfordianism.

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