Roger Stritmatter reports the journal Critical Survey published a special Shakespearean authorship issue:
The current issue of Critical Survey Volume 21, Number 2, Summer 2009, guest edited by Brunel University Professor William Leahy and titled “Questioning Shakespeare,” includes four articles by prominent anti-Stratfordians, including two former trustees of the Shakespeare Fellowship, Roger Stritmatter and Lynne Kositsky. Critical Survey is a leading British journal of literary studies, published and distributed by Berghahn journals under the general editorship of Graham Holderness of Hertfordshire University.
The editorial board includes Jonathan Bate, Catherine Belsey, Michael Bristol, Leah Marcus, Annabel Patterson, and Stanley Wells, among other notable Shakespeareans. According to Bate, Critical Survey is “an essential journal for anyone interested in the critical debates of our time.” To board member Barbara Hodgdon of Drake University the publication is a “A superb journal, fast becoming ‘required reading’, especially for those interested in cutting-edge work in early modern studies.”
In his introduction, Leahy writes that “the objective of the edition is not to question events in the plays and poems themselves, but rather to question and challenge the conventional Shakespearean critical tradition.”
The issue includes four articles by anti-Stratfordian scholars. Leading the issue is Lynne Kositsky and Roger Stritmatter’s fourth article in a series on the sources, date, and liturgical design of the Tempest, “ ‘O Brave New World’: The Tempest and Peter Martyr’s De Orbe Novo,”. Editor Leahy said: “. . .the authors demonstrate that although Eden/Martyr’s influence has been noticed in previous Tempest scholarship, the nature and extent of its impact on Shakespeare’s work have been profoundly underestimated for more than two centuries. In their devastating critique, the authors show that the continued support of Strachey as Shakespeare’s source is, at the very least, highly questionable.”
Without Strachey as the source for Tempest’s new world imagery and symbolism, as Stritmatter and Kositsky have argued in several other contexts, the traditional basis for the 1611 date of the play collapses.
Penny McCarthy’s “Cymbeline: The First Essay of a new Brytish Poet?” continues the theme that many of the so-called “late plays” of the Shakespearean canon were actually written earlier than has been commonly supposed. McCarthy’s detailed analysis of Cymbeline’s sources and significations suggests a play written not, as conventionally supposed, during the Jacobean period. The play’s genesis, she argues, is better found in the literature and preoccupations of the 1580’s, particularly the fear of Spanish invasion around the time of the 1588 armada.
In the third article of the issue, Roger Stritmatter examines some longstanding interpretative questions regarding Troilus and Cressida, and finds an explanation for the strange bibliographical anomalies (in both quarto and folio texts) that have always perplexed scholars in the realities of early modern censorship, arguing that the play’s topical humor – and particularly its relentless lampoon of William Cecil as the “Pandarus” of England – apparently provoked reprisal from censoring authorities which accounts for the printing anomalies.
The fourth and final article, Rosalind Barber’s “Shakespeare Authorship in Doubt in 1593,” quietly throws down the gauntlet to the popular academic myth that the Shakespearean authorship question is an invention of the nineteenth century. On the contrary, Barber’s essay analyzes the Harvey-Nashe pamphlet war to show that Harvey was already in 1593 writing about the author of Venus and Adonis as a concealed “mummer” whom he threatens to “dismaske.”
Over the 125 years since Alexander Grosart’s edition of Harvey’s work, orthodox Shakespeareans have overlooked the significance of this reference, which is testimony to the powerful influence that assumptions play in creating perceptions. Since orthodox Shakespeareans assume that the authorship question is an invention of nineteenth century romanticism, they remain incapable of reading and understanding the abundant evidence that contradicts this assumption, showing the existence of a Shakespearean authorship question as early as the 1590s.