From the Catholic Herald: Shakespeare did write Lear; what is more, he was a Catholic

Interesting article.  I’ll post a few graphs below and the link to the full article.  Note the wording in the subtitle.  I don’t think anybody has suggested “that Shakespeare could not have written his own plays?”  If they are “his own plays” (a loaded way to put it) then “Shakespeare” must have written them.  The relevant question is, Who was Shakespeare?  Did the actual playwright and poet employ a pseudonym?  Ultimately, there’s no escaping the fact that Shakespeare (whoever he was) did write Shakespeare (the plays and poems of Shakespeare).  Anyway, I thought folks would want to see this article.  The author, Francis Phillips, asserts that Shakespeare — here she means specifically William of Stratford — was a Catholic and that the paucity of biographic information about the playwright William Shakespeare is attributable to the fact that he destroyed the evidence because of his adherence to the Old Faith.  The article is accompanied by what appears to be the so-called “Cobbe” portrait and the caption makes the claim that it is “believed to be authentic.”  By whom?   There’s virtually no evidence this is a portrait of William of Stratford.  This portrait is almost certainly a painting of Sir Thomas Overbury.   I’ll paste the one Overbury likeness I have available next to the Cobbe portrait.  This composite was created by the late Robert Brazil and posted to his Elizaforum listserv.  Many thanks to Robert for creating this composite. 

These two faces bear a striking resemblance.  On the left may well be a younger version of the face depicted on the right.  Same hair, hairline, ears, etc.  If you take a look at the painting in the article below you’ll see that the painting that’s claimed to be an “authentic” Shakespeare portrait seems pretty clearly to be the Cobbe, which is most likely a painting of Sir Thomas Overbury.  A question worth asking is whether the Overbury portrait was somehow used as a model for the famous, crudely drawn Droeshout engraving of Shakespeare that first appeared in the First Folio in 1623.  That’s a very long discussion for another time.  Anyway, take a look and see what you think.   Matthew

Shakespeare did write Lear; what is more, he was a CatholicSir Derek Jacobi is wrong to think that Shakespeare could not have written his own plays; the greatest poet and dramatist of all times was an Englishman and a Catholic

By Francis Phillips on Friday, 7 January 2011

The actor Sir Derek Jacobi is currently acting the part of King Lear to great critical acclaim at the Donmar Warehouse. I must get to see it before the production closes just to see if he gets my personal imprimatur or not. But there is one matter on which I cannot agree with Sir Derek: the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays. Apparently the knighted thespian takes a benighted view on this one: that a semi-educated country boy from Stratford couldn’t possibly have written the works of genius attributed to him.

Indeed, Jacobi has publicly declared, “The only evidence of Shakespeare’s literary life was produced after he died and is open to dispute. Nothing, apart from some shaky signatures, puts a pen in his hand. Legend, hearsay and myth have created this writer.”

This is bilge and balderdash, stuff and nonsense. But rather than rehearse his arguments at second-hand, may I direct readers of this blog to an excellent book, Contested Will: Who wrote Shakespeare? by James Shapiro, a professor at Columbia University. Shapiro demolishes all the far-fetched and tendentious theories advocated by Jacobi and others – Sigmund Freud and Mark Twain among them – who are too intellectually contorted to see the obvious: that if you are a genius you don’t have to experience at first-hand everything you write about; you use your imagination. After all, Shakespeare did not have to commit murder to be able to write Macbeth; nor did he have to go mad in order to write King Lear.

Read More (and see the portrait)

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