Tag Archives: Justice John Paul Stevens

Still Plenty Of Room For Doubt — “Macduff’s” Insightful Review On Amazon.com Of Shakespeare Beyond Doubt: Evidence, Argument, Controversy

The following review, penned by “Macduff,” is certainly worth reading.  Here’s the link:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A6LSWAP1OPLEB/ref=cm_pdp_rev_title_2?ie=UTF8&sort_by=MostRecentReview#R2AHSYAEJA9BMW

Review of Shakespeare Beyond Doubt: Evidence, Argument, Controversy by Stanley Wells and Paul Edmondson

This book’s overriding theme is that readers should stop thinking for themselves and accept the word of “authority” when it comes to the Shakespeare authorship question. It disparages open-mindedness, belittles its ideological adversaries, presupposes the truth of the thesis for which it is purportedly presenting evidence, ignores its most able opponents while making mincemeat of weaker opponents, dodges some of the most critical questions regarding the Shakespeare authorship question, and attempts to shame the reader away from even considering the possibility that the traditional authorship theory might be flawed. And yet this book accuses its opponents of being dogmatic and unreasonable.

Anonymity and use of pseudonyms were common among writers in Elizabethan times, when people could be punished for expressing views that offended the authorities. Furthermore, as George Puttenham wrote in 1589, many noblemen wrote literary works, including plays, but would not allow them to be published under their own names because writing for publication was regarded as beneath a nobleman’s dignity. Such facts make it reasonable to entertain the possibility that “William Shakespeare” was a pen name. Yet Shakespeare Beyond Doubt (SBD) summarily considers that hypothesis out of the question.

SBD never once mentions Diana Price’s seminal 2001 book, Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Biography: New Evidence of an Authorship Problem, which demonstrated that the Stratford man, whose name was spelled “William Shakspere,” left no literary paper trail during his lifetime: out of the 70 or so existing documents from the Stratford man’s life, not one identifies him personally as a writer of any kind or links him to the works published and performed under the name “William Shakespeare.” Price looked for a literary paper trail for 24 other Elizabethan writers and found evidence identifying each one personally as a writer during his lifetime, but found no such evidence for Shakspere.

But even though SBD doesn’t mention Price’s book, it more or less concedes her point. Stanley Wells admits in chapter 7 that no reference to the works of “William Shakespeare” before 1623, when the First Folio was published, explicitly identifies the writer with Stratford. SBD has no plausible explanation for the fact that the Stratford man’s death in 1616 was greeted by complete silence from the literary world, the nobility, and the public. Is it possible that no one at that time connected the Stratford man to the works of Shakespeare? Likewise, in chapter 6, Andrew Hadfield concedes that “there are virtually no literary remains left behind by Shakespeare outside his published works, and most of the surviving records deal with property and legal disputes.” Yet SBD insists that documentary evidence proves “beyond doubt” that the Stratford man was the true Bard.

While SBD ignores Price and other serious anti-Stratfordian scholars, such as George Greenwood, The Shakespeare Problem Restated, Mark Anderson, Shakespeare By Another Name, and Tony Pointon, The Man Who Was Never Shakespeare: The Theft of William Shakspeare’s Identity, it devotes three chapters to Delia Bacon, who wrote an unreadable book about the authorship controversy in the 19th century and later went mad. While no serious authorship skeptic of the past century relies on Delia Bacon’s work, she is an easy target for the authors of SBD. Its stratagem is to paint all doubters with the same brush as Delia Bacon and make the reader think that she epitomizes anti-Stratfordianism.

SBD categorically dismisses the idea of looking for a connection between the author’s life and his works. Matt Kubus in chapter 5 insists that there is no “inherent connection” between an author and “the content of his works.” While not all literature is thinly disguised autobiography, isn’t it reasonable to suppose that a writer might inadvertently reveal something about himself in the stories he chooses to tell? This should be an open question, one for debate and discussion, but the Stratfordians do not seem interested in discussion.

MacDonald P. Jackson in chapter 9 discusses stylometrics, the use of computer analysis of grammatical patterns and word usage, which allegedly shows that the Stratford man wrote the majority of Shakespeare’s plays with a little help from other playwrights of his time. But stylometrics is not a science: different stylometrics analyses come out with different answers as to who wrote what. Besides, the most that stylometric studies show is that the person who wrote the bulk of the plays (whoever that was) sometimes collaborated with others. They cannot prove that that central figure was the Stratford man because there is no known writing unquestionably belonging to the Stratford man to be used as a standard. Stylometrics may be a useful tool, but it cannot provide the total answer to the authorship question.

SBD never addresses the question of how the Stratford man acquired the vast knowledge of law, philosophy, classical literature, ancient and modern history, mathematics, astronomy, art, music, medicine, horticulture, heraldry, the military; etiquette and manners of the nobility; English, French and Italian court life; Italy; and aristocratic pastimes such as falconry, equestrian sports, and royal tennis, that is seen in the plays. Many books and articles have been written on Shakespeare’s intimate knowledge of these and other subjects. The author must have had extensive formal education, easy access to books, abundant leisure time to study on his own, and wide experience of the world gained through travel. This simply does not fit with the life of the Stratford man, who may or may not have had a few years of a grammar school education (documentary evidence is completely lacking on that subject), yet SBD makes no attempt to answer this anomaly.

Finally, and most disgracefully, SBD never ceases to use shaming techniques to frighten the reader away from questioning orthodoxy. One of its most unattractive ploys is to label anti-Stratfordians as “anti-Shakespearians.” As Edmondson and Wells explain in their introduction, the authors employ that word because “anti-Stratfordian . . . allows the work attributed to Shakespeare to be separated from the social and cultural context of its author.” How’s that for circular reasoning? It assumes that the Stratford man was the true author and implies that anyone who disagrees opposes the great playwright and all he stands for. Edmondson, in chapter 19, says that “open-mindedness” is merely a rhetorical maneuver and should be allowed only after the evidence for Shakespeare has been disproven, not (as Edmondson says) “merely ignored.” If Edmondson had read the better anti-Stratfordian writers, he would know that they have not ignored the evidence; rather, they have examined it and found serious flaws in it. “There is, too,” says Edmondson, “the loaded assumption that even though one may lack the necessary knowledge and expertise, it is always acceptable to challenge or contradict a knowledgeable and expert authority. It is not.”

That is the message of SBD: don’t question the authorities, who know better than you; don’t be open-minded; don’t read anti-Stratfordian books because you’ll go mad like Delia Bacon. It is an attempt to lull the reader into drowsy acceptance of authority. I hope that readers of SBD will resist its call for intellectual servitude, will explore the subject on their own, and will reach their own conclusions. Any reader who likes to hear both sides of an argument before making up his or her mind is encouraged to read Shakespeare Beyond Doubt? — Exposing an Industry in Denial.

Keir Cutler’s E-Book — The Shakespeare Authorship Question: A Crackpot’s View — Takes On Shakespeare Academic Establishment

Keir Cutler (Ph.D. in Theater) has published an e-book titled The Shakespeare Authorship Question: A Crackpot’s View, on Kindle. The book is based on Cutler’s articles in The Montreal Gazette and elsewhere. Cutler discusses the Shakespeare Authorship Question but also takes on the Shakespeare academic establishment for failing to present students with a fair account of the evidence for and against the orthodox Stratford authorship theory.  Here’s a link to Cutler’s e-book on Amazon.com:  http://www.amazon.com/The-Shakespeare-Authorship-Question-ebook/dp/B00BV7DVVG

Cutler points out that he is not alone in questioning the traditional Stratfordian theory.  Others who have doubted the Stratford theory include Mark Twain, Sigmund Freud, Orson Welles, Sir John Gielgud, Sir Derek Jacobi, Michael York,  Jeremy Irons, Mark Rylance, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and former U.S. Supreme Court Justices John Paul Stevens and Sandra Day O’Connor.  The author Henry James wrote:  “I am… haunted by the conviction that the divine William is the biggest and most successful fraud ever practiced on a patient world.”

Cutler adapted and performed Mark Twain’s essay”Is Shakespeare Dead?”  Please visit www.keircutler.com for more information about Keir Cutler and the Shakespeare authorship question. Cutler also discusses the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition‘s “The Declaration of Reasonable Doubt About the Identity of William Shakespeare” in this short YouTube video Shakespeare Authorship Question: Why Was I Never Told This?

Spring 1988 American University Law Review: Shakespeare Authorship Moot Court Briefs and Essays

A few days ago I posted a link to the 1987 American University Moot Court video (see below).  In case you’d like to read the briefs and related essays, here’s a link to the Spring 1988 issue (Volume 37) of The American University Law Review.  The briefs present the case for and against the orthodox “Stratfordian” authorship theory, and the case for and against the so-called “Oxfordian” theory.  Click on this link www.wcl.american.edu/journal/lawrev/37/37-3.cfm

Once again, here’s the link to the video of the November 25, 1987, moot court held at American University.    Here’s the description on the website:

“Three U.S. Supreme Court Justices heard a moot court debate over the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays. The mock trial was organized to explore the theory that Edward De Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, was the actual author of the plays, writing under the pseudonym of Shakespeare.”  Click here for the video:  http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/618-1


Link to 1987 American University Moot Court — Shakespeare: Author or Pseudonym?

Here’s the link to the video of the November 25, 1987, moot court held at American University.    Here’s the description on the website:

“Three U.S. Supreme Court Justices heard a moot court debate over the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays. The mock trial was organized to explore the theory that Edward De Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, was the actual author of the plays, writing under the pseudonym of Shakespeare.”

http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/618-1

It’s April 23rd …Happy Birthday William Shakespeare? The Shakespeare Oxford Society Says “Toast But Verify” and Issues Two Top Ten Lists

The Society issues the top ten reasons to doubt the traditional Strafordian theory and the top ten reasons to consider the Earl of Oxford as the true Bard 

YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, NY – April 23, 2012 – Traditional Shakespeare biographers claim the great poet and playwright, William Shakespeare, was born on April 23, 1564.

But before you raise your glass to salute the Bard’s 448th birthday this April 23rd, consider this:  You just might be paying tribute to the wrong person.

The Shakespeare Oxford Society reiterates its position that traditional scholars have been “Barding up the wrong tree” in Stratford-upon-Avon.   Consequently, the Society recommends that Shakespeare lovers around the world should adapt former U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s famous “Trust but Verify” dictum.

The Society calls it “Toast but Verify” and explains that we should toast the peerless works but also attempt to verify the author’s true identity.

There is a long and distinguished history of doubting the traditional “Stratfordian” attribution of the “Shakespeare” works. Noted doubters over the years include Mark Twain, Henry James, Orson Welles, Charlie Chaplin, and Sigmund Freud. More recent skeptics include U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and former Justice John Paul Stevens along with renowned Shakespearean actors Derek Jacobi, Michael York, Jeremy Irons, and Mark Rylance, former artistic director at the Globe Theatre in London.

In 1996, the great Shakespearean actor Sir John Gielgud, while serving as president of the World Shakespeare Congress, signed the following petition:

“We, the undersigned, petition the Shakespeare Association of America, in light of ongoing research, to engage actively in a comprehensive, objective and sustained investigation of the authorship of the Shakespeare Canon, particularly as it relates to the claim of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford.”

In 2007, the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition (SAC) began collecting signatures on a compelling “Declaration of Reasonable Doubt About the Identity of William Shakespeare.”   Concordia University in Portland, Oregon, and Brunel University in West London have launched degree programs in Shakespeare authorship studies.

To resolve the Shakespeare authorship mystery once and for all, the Shakespeare Oxford Society has called for the creation of an independent, blue ribbon commission composed of distinguished, internationally recognized experts in relevant fields – including historians, biographers, jurists, and other esteemed writers and scholars. All members of the proposed Commission should be unbiased.

The Two Top Ten Lists

Top Ten Reasons To Doubt The Conventional Theory That

William Shakspere of Stratford Wrote the Works of “Shakespeare”

10) Illiteracy ran in William of Stratford’s family – his parents and wife seem to have been illiterate. His two daughters were either illiterate or functionally illiterate at best. Why should we believe the greatest writer in English history, perhaps the greatest writer ever, would raise two functionally illiterate daughters? Wouldn’t he want his own daughters to read his works?

9) No evidence exists that adequately explains how William of Stratford acquired the educational, linguistic and cultural background necessary to write the “Shakespeare” works. Where did his extensive knowledge of history, languages, geography, and aristocratic manners and lifestyle come from – divine intervention?

8) The Name Game. The few barely legible signatures of William of Stratford show that he did not even spell his own name “Shakespeare.” Moreover, with very few exceptions records dealing with William of Stratford’s personal and business activities (birth, wedding, taxes, court documents, and will) frequently spell his family name Shakspere, Shaksper, Shacksper, or Shaxper whereas the name on the poems and plays is almost invariably spelled Shakespeare (with an “e” after the “k”) and often hyphenated, which suggests a pseudonym.

7) William of Stratford took no legal action against the pirating of the “Shakespeare” plays or the apparently unauthorized publication of “Shake-speare’s Sonnets” in 1609.

6) The 1609 Sonnets paint a portrait of the artist as a much older man. The author of the Sonnets at times is clearly aging and seems to be anticipating his imminent death. The publisher’s dedication refers to Shakespeare as “our ever-living poet” – a term that implies the poet was already dead. William of Stratford lived until 1616.

5) With the hyphenated “Shake-speare” name on the cover, the Sonnets also suggest strongly that “Shakespeare” was a penname and that the author’s real identity was destined to remain unknown. In Sonnet 72 “Shakespeare” asks that his “name be buried where my body is.” Sonnet 81: “Though I, once gone, to all the world must die.” Sonnet 76: “Every word doth almost tell my name.”

4) Unlike other writers of the period, not a single manuscript or letter exists in Shakspere’s own handwriting. Nothing survives of a literary nature connecting William of Stratford (the man) with any of the “Shakespeare” works.

3) There is no evidence of a single payment to William of Stratford as an author. No evidence of patron-author relationship and no personal, contemporaneous evidence of a relationship with a fellow writer.

2) William of Stratford’s detailed 1616 will makes no mention of anything even vaguely literary – no books, unpublished manuscripts, library or diaries. Not even a family bible is mentioned.

1) William of Stratford’s death in 1616 was a singular “non-event,” despite the fact that “Shakespeare” the author was widely recognized at the time as one of England’s greatest writers. Why was no notice taken of his death if he was such a literary luminary? Reprints of Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece published after his death do not mention his recent passing.

 

***

 

Top Ten Reasons to Consider Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford,

as the author known to history as “William Shakespeare”

10) Many Shakespeare plays contain characters and details that relate directly to Oxford’s life and foreign travels, creating a strong circumstantial case for his authorship. Orson Welles said: “I think Oxford wrote Shakespeare. If you don’t, there are some awfully funny coincidences to explain away.”

9) Act II, scene 2 includes this stage direction: “Enter Hamlet reading on a book.” Hamlet’s book is widely considered by scholars to be Cardanus Comfort, translated from Italian into English and published in 1573 at the behest of Oxford. Plus, the character Polonius in Hamlet is widely regarded as a parody of William Cecil, Lord Burghley – who was Oxford’s guardian and father-in-law.

8) “Shakespeare” displayed an intimate knowledge of a wide range of subjects, including the law, Italy, foreign languages, heraldry, music, navigation, court manners and intrigues, and warfare. Oxford’s known educational background, foreign travels and life experiences match the knowledge base displayed in “Shakespeare’s” writings. In fact, the Italian cities used as settings in Shakespeare’s plays were the very cities that Oxford is known to have visited, while William of Stratford never left England.

7) Oxford was praised during his lifetime as the best of the courtier playwrights for comedy and he was known to have used a pseudonym. While a small number of Oxford’s acknowledged poems survive –probably written when he was very young — no plays exist. Were these later published under the Shakespeare name?

6) Oxford was a leading patron of the arts, widely known to support a large circle of fellow writers with money and lodgings, including Anthony Munday, John Lyly, and Robert Greene. They also worked for him as secretaries and possible collaborators. Conventional scholars have long recognized these writers as having influenced the work of “Shakespeare.”

5) Ovid’s Metamorphoses, translated into English in 1565 by Arthur Golding, had a profound influence on “Shakespeare’s” writing. Golding was Oxford’s maternal uncle, and some scholars believe Oxford translated some or all of Metamorphoses when he was still a teenager.

4) The 1623 First Folio was financed by William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke, and his brother Philip Herbert, 1st Earl of Montgomery (later 4th Earl of Pembroke). Philip Herbert was married to Oxford’s daughter, Susan Vere, and William Herbert was once engaged to another Oxford daughter, Bridget.

3) Beginning in 1586, Oxford was granted a substantial annuity £1,000 by the notoriously parsimonious Queen Elizabeth for unspecified services. It’s possible he used the money to support the production of patriotic history plays later known as Shakespeare’s.

2) The 1609 volume called Shake-Speare’s Sonnets contains numerous autobiographical details that link directly to what is known about Oxford’s life including the poet’s advancing age, his preoccupation with the ravages of time and his own imminent death, his lameness, his shame, and his “outcast state.” Another Oxford uncle, Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey, was the first to introduce what would later become known as the “Shakespeare” sonnet form.

1) The publisher’s 1609 Sonnets dedication refers to Shakespeare as “our ever-living poet” – a term that implies the poet was already dead. Oxford died in 1604 and William of Stratford lived until 1616.

About The Shakespeare Oxford Society
Founded in 1957, the Shakespeare Oxford Society is a nonprofit, educational organization dedicated to exploring the Shakespeare authorship question and researching the evidence that Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford (1550 – 1604) is the true author of the poems and plays of “William Shakespeare. The homepage of the Society also says the group is “Dedicated to Researching and Honoring the True Bard.”  Visit www.shakespeare-oxford.com and www.shakespeareoxfordsociety.wordpress.com for more information.  SOS on Facebook.  Join SOS or renew your membership online here: http://www.goestores.com/catalog.aspx?Merchant=shakespeareoxfordsociety&DeptID=27020.

Actor Michael York and Shakespeare Authorship Coalition challenge Stratford’s Shakespeare Birthplace Trust with new reasons to doubt the identity of author William Shakespeare in the wake of Sony Pictures’ heretical film, “Anonymous.”

Note: This story is embargoed until the date specified in the release: November 21, 2011.

Actor Michael York and Shakespeare Authorship Coalition challenge Stratford’s Shakespeare Birthplace Trust with new reasons to doubt the identity of author William Shakespeare in the wake of Sony Pictures’ heretical film, “Anonymous.”

Los Angeles, CA., Nov. 21, 2011 – amidst all the controversy surrounding Sony Pictures’ recently-released film Anonymous, actor and author Michael York, O.B.E., launched a powerful, multi-pronged counter-offensive against the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT) in Stratford-upon-Avon, and its “60 Minutes with Shakespeare” authorship campaign, initiated in response to the film. York also announced a monumental breakthrough in the controversy – detailed evidence that Shakespeare traveled all over Italy. The problem for orthodox Shakespeare scholars is that the traditional author, Mr. William “Shakspere” of Stratford-upon-Avon, never left England.

During a briefing at the Los Angeles Press Club’s Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood (10:00 a.m.  to ~noon at 4773 Hollywood Blvd. – one block west of Vermont Avenue on the north side of street) Michael York, Hilary Roe Metternich, daughter of the man who discovered the new evidence, and John M. Shahan, Chairman of the California-based Shakespeare Authorship Coalition (SAC) lambasted the SBT for its Orwellianattacks against doubters, and for poor scholarship in its “60 Minutes with Shakespeare” website, featuring 60 SBT supporters, each giving a 60-second audio-recorded response to one of 60 questions posed by the SBT.

Michael York, in language echoing that which brought down Senator Joseph McCarthy, castigated Professor Stanley Wells, Honorary President of the SBT, and Paul Edmondson, Head of Learning and Research at the SBT, for suggesting that the authorship controversy is merely another “conspiracy theory,” and for labeling doubters “anti-Shakespeareans.” “Have you no sense of decency sirs, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”* York asked. “Or, as Shakespeare put it in Hamlet, ‘O shame! Where is thy blush?'” he added. “Doubters are not ‘anti-Shakespeare,'” York insisted, “but your behaviour is most un-Shakespearean.”

SAC Chairman John Shahan announced that a coalition of a dozen authorship organizations, based in the U.S., U.K., and Germany, has rebutted each point in the SBT “60 Minutes.” The rebuttal document, titled Exposing an Industry in Denial: Authorship Doubters Respond to “60 Minutes with Shakespeare, is at the SAC website at doubtaboutwill.org. “The SBT erred in coming down from their ivory tower to attack,” Shahan said, “This rebuttal document makes clear that the best of our scholars are far superior to theirs.”

Shahan challenged the SBT (online petition) to write a declaration of the reasons why they claim there is “no room for doubt” about the identity of “Shakespeare” and post it with the names of those who have endorsed it. He noted that the SAC wrote and posted a statement of its own position, the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt About the Identity of William Shakespeare, in 2007. It has now been signed by over 2,200 people – over 800 with advanced degrees, and nearly 400 current or former college/university faculty members.

Hilary Roe Metternich announced the discovery of powerful new evidence in the controversy, contained in the newly-released book,  The Shakespeare Guide to Italy: Retracing the Bard’s Unknown Travels, by Richard Paul Roe (HarperPerennial). Ms. Metternich, the daughter of the author, a prominent Pasadena attorney who died late last year, said that her father spent more than 20 years traveling in Italy, his only guide being the texts of Shakespeare’s 10 “Italian Plays” (not counting three plays set in ancient Rome).

“The clues were all right there in the plays” Metternich said. “My father found the locations of nearly every scene in all 10 of these plays – locations unnoticed by Shakespeare scholars and biographers for 400 years.” “His great chronicle – a tour de force of travel, analysis and discovery – paints with amazing clarity a picture of what the author ‘Shakespeare,’ whoever he was, almost surely witnessed before writing his Italian plays.”

Contact persons: Re: Coalition and rebuttals: John Shahan at (909) 896-2006;  jmshahan@verizon.net

Re: The Shakespeare Guide to Italy: Hilary Roe Metternich: hrm3325@aol.com

——————

*Question put to Senator Joseph McCarthy on June 9, 1954, at the Army-McCarthy Hearings.

Columbia Magazine’s Review of Shapiro: Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?

Dear Friends … Many thanks to Tom Regnier for sharing this link to the review of James Shapiro’s Contested Will that appeared in Columbia Magazine last summer.  I’ll post several paragraphs below.

Here’s an excerpt that addresses the Oxfordian thesis directly and fairly sympathetically.

“There is no question that Contested Will, which has already occasioned considerable debate, lands at a time of great popular interest in the subject. As Shapiro acknowledges, this is a cultural high-water mark for the presumed authorship of de Vere, a celebrated poet and playwright who would have been intimate with court manners and politics, and whose life story evokes incidents in Hamlet and the rest of the canon. The progenitor of the Oxford hypothesis was the Englishman J. T. Looney, whose 1920 book, “Shakespeare” Identified in Edward de Vere the Seventeenth Earl of Oxford, was embraced by Freud, among others. Shapiro reads it as “a product of Looney’s profound distaste for modernity,” but also calls it a “tour de force.”

And here’s the link to read the entire review on the Columbia Magazine website.

http://magazine.columbia.edu/reviews/summer-2010/brush-your-marlowe?page=0,0

Brush Up Your… Marlowe? by Julia M. Klein

by Julia M. Klein

When James Shapiro ’77CC began plotting out Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?, a friend unnerved him by asking, “What difference does it make?” Shapiro, the Larry Miller Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia, answered, “A lot,” without articulating why. This intellectually passionate book represents his more complete and considered response: The controversy matters, he suggests, because a belief in Shakespeare’s authorship affi rms the power of the human imagination.

The authorship debate, though mostly ignored by specialists, has long intrigued writers from Mark Twain and Henry James to Helen Keller and the now-obscure Delia Bacon. It has fl ourished because so little biographical information has survived about the Stratford-upon-Avon-born actor and grain dealer — and the facts that are known point to a man of modest education, travel, and life experience. How in the world, the doubters say, could such a man, neither an aristocrat nor an intellectual, write such masterpieces, with their literary sophistication and references to law, foreign languages, courtly customs, the classics, and European geography?

In Contested Will, Shapiro has two aims: to provide insight into the debate and to make what is known as the Stratfordian case, which he does with gusto. His account of the theories of skeptics is purposely selective (though a bibliographic essay usefully points readers to more information). “My interest,” Shapiro writes, “is not in what people think — which has been stated again and again in unambiguous terms — but in why they think it.” Shapiro attempts to take the opposition seriously, locating its origins in the Higher Criticism that undermined Homer’s authorship and exposed the piecemeal composition of both the Old and New Testaments. But, in the instance of Shakespeare, he can’t help being dismissive of the briefs for Sir Francis Bacon and Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, the only two claimants to whom he allots full chapters. (The playwright Christopher Marlowe and other alternative bards receive only passing mentions.)

The history of the skeptics, Shapiro writes, is “strewn with . . . fabricated documents, embellished lives, concealed identity, pseudonymous authorship, contested evidence, bald-faced deception, and a failure to grasp what could not be imagined.” He uncovers a scam himself, involving what he says is a forgery of a 19th-century manuscript that spread doubt about Shakespeare’s capacities.

In Shapiro’s view, to believe that anyone but Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare’s plays is to succumb to conspiracy theories, weird cryptographic excesses, social snobbery, and incipient lunacy, not to mention the anachronistic fallacy of reading Elizabethan and Jacobean literature as autobiography. This last is Shapiro’s particular bête noir, and he is lacerating on the subject, indicting such early Shakespeare scholars as Edmond Malone for pointing the (wrong) way. “The plays are not an à la carte menu, from which we pick characters who will satisfy our appetite for Shakespeare’s personality while passing over less appetizing choices,” Shapiro writes.

[SNIP]

Read the entire review:  Click HERE.

SOS-SF Joint Shakespeare Authorship Conference October 13-16, 2011 In Washington DC. Registration Form Now Available

The Shakespeare Oxford Society and The Shakespeare Fellowship Society
Present
The Washington DC Joint Authorship Conference

 October 13, 14, 15, and 16, 2011 in Washington, D.C.

A tour of the Folger Shakespeare Library has been scheduled for October 14.

The 2011 joint authorship conference sponsored by the Shakespeare Oxford Society and the Shakespeare Fellowship will be held in Washington DC from October 13-16. Arrangements have been made for a block of rooms at the Washington Court Hotel. The program will include a tour of the Folger Library with a viewing and discussion of the Earl of Oxford’s Geneva Bible.  Arrangements may be made for a trip to a local Cineplex for a group viewing of Anonymous.

The registration form is available by visiting the Shakespeare Oxford Society’s website:

http://www.shakespeare-oxford.com/?p=138

If you have any questions regarding the conference, please contact:

Shakespeare Oxford Society

P.O. Box 808

Yorktown Heights, NY 10598-0808

Telephone: 914-962-1717

sosoffice@optonline.net

Speakers who have already made proposals or signaled their intent to speak include Mark Anderson, Roger Stritmatter, Bonner Cutting, Gerit Quealy, Richard Waugaman, Ron Hess, Barbara Burris, Cheryl Eagan-Donovan, Tom Hunter, Tom Townsend, Albert Burgstahler and Earl Showerman.

The SOS and SF are dedicated to academic excellence, as defined through the independent scholarship of several generations of scholars, among them J.T. Looney, B.R. and B.M. Ward, Charles Wisner Barrell, Charlton Ogburn, Jr., Ruth Loyd Miller, and Mark Anderson, among others.

The primary focus of both organizations is to consider and advance the case already argued by these and other writers identifying Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, as the true mind behind the mask of “Shakespeare.” Although papers exploring alternative authorship theories (e.g., Mary Sidney, Francis Bacon, etc.) are welcome, presenters should bear in mind that conference attendees are for the most part well versed in the arguments for and against Oxford’s authorship as presented in these seminal works. Those desiring an audience for alternative authorship scenarios, or writing from an orthodox “Stratfordian” perspective, should prepare themselves by carefully considering the expectations of their audience.

To inquire about submitting paper or for further information about the program, please contact:
John Hamill,   Earl Showerman,  or   Bonner Cutting.

The Conference is scheduled to begin just two weeks after the expected release of a Sony Pictures film, Anonymous, directed by Roland Emmerich and featuring a cast of Shakespearean thespian luminaries such as Vanessa Redgrave, David Thewlis, Joely Richardson, Rhys Ifans, and Sir Derek Jacobi.

A recently released trailer promoting Anonymous begins with this intriguing question:  “What if I told you Shakespeare never wrote a single word?”  Later in the trailer a male voice says:  “Promise me you’ll keep our secret safe.”  An older woman’s voice, presumably that of Queen Elizabeth played by Vanessa Redgrave, says ominously:  “None of your poems or your plays will ever carry your name.”

The tantalizing trailer ends with a clever tagline — “We’ve All Been Played” – followed by a stage filled with actors taking their bows and the audience applauding wildly.

Here’s the link to the trailer.  www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBmnkk0QW3Q&feature=channel_video_title

In light of the scheduled release of this major motion picture – the first-ever that explicitly challenges the traditional authorship theory – the Shakespeare Oxford Society reiterates its position that traditional scholars have been “Barding up the wrong tree” in Stratford-upon-Avon.   Indeed, there is a long and distinguished history of doubting the traditional “Stratfordian” attribution of the “Shakespeare” works. Noted doubters over the years include Mark Twain, Henry James, Orson Welles, Charlie Chaplin, and Sigmund Freud. More recent skeptics include U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and former Justice John Paul Stevens along with renowned Shakespearean actors Derek Jacobi, Michael York, Jeremy Irons, and Mark Rylance, former artistic director at the Globe Theatre in London.

In 1996, the great Shakespearean actor Sir John Gielgud, while serving as president of the World Shakespeare Congress, signed the following petition:

“We, the undersigned, petition the Shakespeare Association of America, in light of ongoing research, to engage actively in a comprehensive, objective and sustained investigation of the authorship of the Shakespeare Canon, particularly as it relates to the claim of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford.”

In 2007, the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition (SAC) began collecting signatures on a compelling “Declaration of Reasonable Doubt About the Identity of William Shakespeare.”   Concordia University in Portland, Oregon, and Brunel University in West London have launched degree programs in Shakespeare authorship studies.

About The Shakespeare Oxford Society
Founded in 1957, the Shakespeare Oxford Society is a nonprofit, educational organization dedicated to exploring the Shakespeare authorship question and researching the evidence that Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford (1550 – 1604) is the true author of the poems and plays of “William Shakespeare. The homepage of the Society also says the group is “Dedicated to Researching and Honoring the True Bard.”  Visit www.shakespeare-oxford.com and www.shakespeareoxfordsociety.wordpress.com for more information.  SOS on Facebook.  Join SOS or renew your membership online here: http://www.goestores.com/catalog.aspx?Merchant=shakespeareoxfordsociety&DeptID=27020.

Happy Birthday William Shakespeare? This April 23rd … Toast But Verify!

Media Contact:
Matthew Cossolotto

Vice President, Communications and Outreach

Shakespeare Oxford Society
914-245-9721
Matthew.Cossolotto@gmail.com

Pointing to the scheduled Sony Pictures release this September of Anonymous, a major motion picture that challenges the traditional Shakespeare authorship theory, the Shakespeare Oxford Society says orthodox scholars have been “Barding up the wrong tree” in Stratford-upon-Avon and calls for creation of an unbiased Shakespeare Authorship Commission to resolve the authorship mystery

YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, NY – April 21, 2011 – Traditional Shakespeare biographers claim the great poet and playwright, William Shakespeare, was born on April 23, 1564.

But before you raise your glass to salute the Bard’s 447th birthday this April 23rd, consider this:  You just might be paying tribute to the wrong person.

That’s the main premise of the forthcoming Sony Pictures film, Anonymous, directed by Roland Emmerich and featuring a cast of Shakespearean thespian luminaries such as Vanessa Redgrave, David Thewlis, Joely Richardson, Rhys Ifans, and Sir Derek Jacobi.

A recently released trailer promoting Anonymous begins with this intriguing question:  “What if I told you Shakespeare never wrote a single word?”  Later in the trailer a male voice says:  “Promise me you’ll keep our secret safe.”  An older woman’s voice, presumably that of Queen Elizabeth played by Vanessa Redgrave, says ominously:  “None of your poems or your plays will ever carry your name.”

The tantalizing trailer ends with a clever tagline — “We’ve All Been Played” — followed by a stage filled with actors taking their bows and the audience applauding wildly.

Here’s the link to the trailer.  www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBmnkk0QW3Q&feature=channel_video_title

In light of the scheduled release of this major motion picture – the first-ever that explicitly challenges the traditional authorship theory – the Shakespeare Oxford Society reiterates its position that traditional scholars have been “Barding up the wrong tree” in Stratford-upon-Avon.   Consequently, the Society recommends that Shakespeare lovers around the world should adapt Ronald Reagan’s “Trust but Verify” dictum.

“We call it ‘Toast but Verify,’ says Shakespeare Oxford Society spokesman Matthew Cossolotto.  “We should all toast the peerless works but also attempt to verify the author’s true identity.”

Indeed, there is a long and distinguished history of doubting the traditional “Stratfordian” attribution of the “Shakespeare” works. Noted doubters over the years include Mark Twain, Henry James, Orson Welles, Charlie Chaplin, and Sigmund Freud. More recent skeptics include U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and former Justice John Paul Stevens along with renowned Shakespearean actors Derek Jacobi, Michael York, Jeremy Irons, and Mark Rylance, former artistic director at the Globe Theatre in London.

In 1996, the great Shakespearean actor Sir John Gielgud, while serving as president of the World Shakespeare Congress, signed the following petition:

“We, the undersigned, petition the Shakespeare Association of America, in light of ongoing research, to engage actively in a comprehensive, objective and sustained investigation of the authorship of the Shakespeare Canon, particularly as it relates to the claim of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford.”

In 2007, the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition (SAC) began collecting signatures on a compelling “Declaration of Reasonable Doubt About the Identity of William Shakespeare.”   Concordia University in Portland, Oregon, and Brunel University in West London have launched degree programs in Shakespeare authorship studies.

Needed: A Shakespeare Authorship Commission
To resolve the Shakespeare authorship mystery once and for all, the Shakespeare Oxford Society has called for the creation of an independent, blue ribbon commission composed of distinguished, internationally recognized experts in relevant fields – including historians, biographers, jurists, and other esteemed writers and scholars. All members of the proposed Commission should be unbiased. They should declare going in that they have open minds on this subject and are willing to follow the evidence wherever it leads – using internationally recognized evidentiary standards employed by leading historians and biographers.

The Society is proposing that an unbiased educational institute, think tank, foundation, or individual should take the lead in sponsoring the proposed commission.

About The Shakespeare Oxford Society
Founded in 1957, the Shakespeare Oxford Society is a nonprofit, educational organization dedicated to exploring the Shakespeare authorship question and researching the evidence that Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford (1550 – 1604) is the true author of the poems and plays of “William Shakespeare. The homepage of the Society also says the group is “Dedicated to Researching and Honoring the True Bard.”  Visit www.shakespeare-oxford.com and www.shakespeareoxfordsociety.wordpress.com for more information.  SOS on Facebook.  Join SOS or renew your membership online here: http://www.goestores.com/catalog.aspx?Merchant=shakespeareoxfordsociety&DeptID=27020.


Famed Shakespearean Actor Reads the “Declaration of Reasonable Doubt About the Identity of William Shakespeare”

I’m delighted to be able to pass along this bit of news.  I just happened to notice this recently and I found it to be a special treat.  Visitors to the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition’s website can now listen to famed Shakespearean actor Michael York read the text of the “Declaration of Reasonable Doubt About the Identity of William Shakespeare.”  Yes it’s easy enough to read the Declaration yourself, but it really is enjoyable to listen to Michael York’s rendering of the Declaration.  Well worth the investment of less than 30 minutes.

So go ahead.  Click on the link below.  Once you’re on the SAC’s homepage, simply follow instructions and click on the play button and you’ll immediately begin listening to Michael York’s distinctive voice.  I’m sure you’ll enjoy listening and learning.  Matthew

http://doubtaboutwill.org/declaration_with_audio