Tag Archives: Justice John Paul Stevens

From SAC: Actor Keir Cutler’s Excellent New Video — Shakespeare Authorship Question

The SAC is pleased to announce that a new video about the Authorship Question, by actor Keir Cutler, Ph.D., is now available for viewing on YouTube. In the video, titled “Why Was I Never Told This?” — — Cutler first explains what changed his mind about the Shakespeare Authorship Question, and then invites people to join him in signing the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt.
The video targets a general audience, but especially young people and students who are unfamiliar with the Authorship Question. In recounting his personal journey, discovering little-known facts about Shakespeare, Cutler creates a highly engaging narrative. The quality of the video is superb, in keeping with Keir’s previous work, such as his interpretation of Twain’s “Is Shakespeare Dead?”
The Declaration is a great introduction to the Authorship Question, and the Cutler video is a great introduction to the Declaration. We urge all authorship doubters to watch the video, then help us make it “go viral” by calling attention to it in the following ways:
1. Send the link to everyone you know who may find it interesting, and ask them to forward it on to others who may be interested. 2. If you control a website or blog — especially one dealing with the Authorship Question — embed the video where people will see it.
With your help, the new Cutler video will greatly increase the visibility, and credibility, of the Shakespeare Authorship Question.

Please support the work of the SAC.

The SAC had a good year in 2010, and we expect 2011 to be even better. We were pleasantly surprised when James Shapiro praised the Declaration lavishly in Contested Will, a book written with the stated purpose of “putting an end” to the Authorship Controversy. That should enhance our credibility among mainstream academics! Thanks to Shakespeare Fellowship President Earl Showerman, we staged our fourth public Declaration signing ceremony at the Joint Authorship Conference in Ashland, Oregon, last September. Ten prominent theater people participated, including OSF Executive Director Paul Nicholson and long-time actor James Newcomb. Local media coverage was good, thanks to reporter Bill Varble. We added 217 signatories: 65 with advanced degrees, 39 academics. Finally, the development of the Keir Cutler video gives us a great new tool to increase our visibility with the general public in 2011.
So what’s up for 2011?
1. Add an MP3 audio recording of a well-known actor reading the Declaration to our website so people can listen as they read along. 2. Renew the nine different domain names that go to our website for 5 years to put them out of reach of Stratfordians through 2016. 3. Organize another Declaration signing ceremony in Washington, D.C., around the time of next fall’s Joint Authorship Conference. 4. Raise funds to advertise the Keir Cutler video, and the Declaration, to high school English teachers and college English professors.
All of these initiatives take money, and especially the Declaration signing ceremony if we are to gain the maximum benefit from it. Please make a tax-deductible donation to the SAC to support our work. As a non-membership organization, we depend on donations. Donors of $40.00 or more ($50.00 outside the U.S.) are eligible to receive a Declaration poster like the one seen in the Cutler video. See the donations page at the SAC website for details.
Thanks for supporting the SAC!
John Shahan, SAC Chairman

Christina Radish Interviews Screenwriter John Orloff About Roland Emmerich’s “Anonymous” — A Period Drama About The Shakespeare Authorship Mystery

Check out this interview with John Orloff, the screenwriter behind Roland Emmerich’s forthcoming film about the Shakespeare Authorship Mystery.  Note that the movie’s release date has been pushed back from March 2011 to September 23, 2011.   Here are a few paragraphs from the interview … followed by the link to read the entire article.  Enjoy!  Matthew

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John Orloff is an acclaimed screenwriter who is quickly proving how adept he is at creating worlds that audiences can lose themselves in. He has the Zack Snyder-directed 3D animated feature Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole in theaters on September 24th, and then Anonymous, a period drama centered on the Shakespeare authorship question, directed by Roland Emmerich, out in the fall of  2011.

Although I spoke to him in an exclusive phone interview for Collider to promote the release of Legend of the Guardians, Orloff also talked in-depth about Anonymous and the approach in making it, as he is also an executive producer on that film. Because there was so much detail on what sounds like a very intricate, multi-layered story, I decided to split the interview in two, starting with what he had to say about Anonymous. Check out what he had to say about that film after the jump, and then check back later this week to read about how he got involved with Legend of the Guardians.

Where did the idea for Anonymous come from and what is that film about?

JOHN ORLOFF: That script was actually the first script that I wrote, about 15 years ago. I became interested in the Shakespeare authorship issue in college, in regard to who wrote the plays. I had no idea there was a Shakespeare authorship issue at all, and the more that I became totally fascinated by it and the more research I did, the more I went, “Wow, this is an amazingly complicated world in Elizabethan England.” It’s never really been shown, how dark it was. It was really a totalitarian state. And, when you combine that with this incredible person, whoever he may have been, that’s a really interesting idea for a movie.

So, I just did tons and tons of research and eventually wrote a script. Unfortunately, my script was completed about two months before Shakespeare in Love came out, but it was my calling card. People would take meetings with me because they had read the script. I would have the meeting and they would go, “Oh, we love the script, but we’re never going to make this movie because there was just Shakespeare in Love.” So, I just put it in my desk and anytime I’d go to a meeting, I’d bring it up and I’d usually have the same response of, “Nobody’s going to make that movie.” And then, one day, about eight years ago, I was in Roland Emmerich’s office talking about a different movie and he asked me about other things that I was passionate about and what I had written, and I started to tell him the story of this movie. He was quite fascinated and he read the script, and he also became enamored and interested in the subject matter and did his own research. We did a lot of revisions on the script, and we finally made it a couple months ago.

Click Link To Read More …

http://www.collider.com/2010/09/22/anonymous-interview-john-orloff-screenwriter/

Oh Shakespeare, Shakespeare … Who Art Thou? Wikipedia article about Roland Emmerich’s forthcoming film Anonymous

In case you haven’t seen this, there is a nice Wikipedia entry about the forthcoming Roland Emmerich film — Anonymous.  The article states right at the beginning that the film presents Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, as the true author behind the Shakespeare works.

Here’s how the Wikipedia article begins:

Plot

Anonymous is a political thriller which also involves the question of who actually wrote the plays of William Shakespeare. It follows Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (Rhys Ifans), and is set against the backdrop of the succession of Queen Elizabeth I (Vanessa Redgrave) and the Essex Rebellion against her.

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The section about the Controversy is interesting highlighting how James Shapiro really misrepresents in an op-ed piece the positions taken by three U.S. Supreme Court Justices at the famous 1987 moot court case on the Shakespeare authorship question.  It’s worth pasting below this section from the Wikipedia article.  Note especially the quote from Sir Derek Jacobi, who plays the narrator of Anonymous:  ” I’m on the side of those who do not believe that the man from Stratford-upon-Avon wrote the plays. I think the name was a pseudonym, certainly. [Anonymous] puts the authorship question firmly and squarely on the big screen. It’s a very risky thing to do, and obviously the orthodox Stratfordians are going to be apoplectic with rage.” 

It is rather sad, if you think about it, that Stratfordians would react that way.  It makes it sound as if the Stratfordian position is something akin to a religious faith which does not tolerate any dissent or “heretical” thinking.  Having a faith-based attachment to the Stratfordian position makes it very difficult for new information to seep into the barricades that have been erected to protect against (or silence) any opposing views.   

Here’s a link to the full Wikipedia entry … followed by an excerpt from the article that deals with Shapiro’s mischaracterization of the position taken by the three Justices.  The Emmerich film may not capture the whole truth of the Shakespeare authorship question but I am hopeful that this film will open people’s minds to the possibility that there is something rotten in the state of Stratfordian scholarship and that the case for Oxford’s authorship should not be lightly or cavalierly dismissed. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anonymous_%28film%29

Controversy

In response to the inception of the film, James Shapiro, Columbia University English professor and author of Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?,[9] wrote an April 11, 2010 op-ed article in the Los Angeles Times titled “Alas, Poor Shakespeare.” He acknowledged recent substantial worldwide support for Oxfordian theory, including three Supreme Court Justices quoted in a 2009 Wall Street Journal article.[10] Shapiro said that 25 years ago, support for Oxfordian theory was not strong, and that in a celebrated moot court in 1987, Supreme Court Justices John Paul Stevens, Harry Blackmun and William Brennan had “ruled unanimously in favor of Shakespeare and against the Earl of Oxford.”[11] Shapiro calls Oxfordian theory “conspiracy theory,” and argued further against Anoynmous in an April 2010 Wall Street Journal interview.[12]

In screenwriter John Orloff‘s published response in the Los Angeles Times, he said “Shapiro has, at best, oversimplified the facts.” He responded to Shapiro’s characterization of the original 1987 moot court decision by saying:

In fact, Brennan, the senior justice on the case, did not rule on whether Shakespeare actually wrote the plays; he simply ruled that the Earl of Oxford did not meet the burden of proof required under the law.
Blackmun agreed, but then added, “That’s the legal answer. Whether it is the correct one causes me greater doubt” (emphasis mine).
Stevens went even further, saying: “I have lingering concerns. . . . You can’t help but have these gnawing doubts that this great author may perhaps have been someone else. . . . I would tend to draw the inference that the author of these plays was a nobleman. . . . There is a high probability that it was Edward de Vere [the Earl of Oxford].”
I would hardly characterize these as opinions “unanimously for Shakespeare and against the Earl of Oxford.

In a June 2010 post-filming interview with the Washington Post, Derek Jacobi, who plays the Narrator of Anonymous, noted that he is not neutral in the Shakespeare authorship debate. “I’m on the side of those who do not believe that the man from Stratford-upon-Avon wrote the plays. I think the name was a pseudonym, certainly. [Anonymous] puts the authorship question firmly and squarely on the big screen. It’s a very risky thing to do, and obviously the orthodox Stratfordians are going to be apoplectic with rage.”[13]

Professor Michael Egan, Shakespeare Scholar Who Is Open-Minded on the Shakespeare Authorship Question, Named Editor of Shakespeare Oxford Society’s Quarterly Newsletter

Contact:
Matthew Cossolotto
Ovations International, Inc.
914-245-9721
matthew@ovations.com

Professor Michael Egan, Shakespeare Scholar Who Is Open-Minded on the Shakespeare Authorship Question, Named Editor of Shakespeare Oxford Society’s Quarterly Newsletter

Professor Egan believes the Shakespeare authorship issue is a “legitimate and important area for investigation” and that “there are enough doubts to continue serious academic research”

YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, NY – June 7, 2010 – The Shakespeare Oxford Society (SOS) has announced the appointment of Professor Michael Egan, a Shakespeare scholar who is open-minded on the Shakespeare authorship question, to be the editor of the Society’s quarterly newsletter.

With M.A. and PhD degrees from the University of Cambridge, Professor Egan is an internationally known writer, consultant and educator.  Professor Egan will continue in his role as editor of The Oxfordian, the Shakespeare Oxford Society’s flagship annual scholarly publication.

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, Walt Whitman, Henry James, Sigmund Freud, and Charlie Chaplin.  More recent skeptics include renowned Shakespearean actors Sir Derek Jacobi, Jeremy Irons, Michael York, and Mark Rylance.

Last year, the Shakespeare Oxford Society and the Shakespeare Fellowship jointly presented the 2009 “Oxfordian of the Year Award” to John Paul Stevens, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.  Justice Stevens has long doubted whether William Shakespeare of Stratford-on-Avon is the real Bard.

The BBC published a story about the case for Edward de Vere as the real Shakespeare. (See BBC News: The Earl of Oxford’s Big Secret.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/oxford/hi/people_and_places/history/newsid_8380000/8380564.stm.) 

In this BBC article, Professor Egan is quoted as follows:

“One of the most disturbing aspects of the whole debate is the way the anti-Stratfordians are silenced. There isn’t any real attempt to confront the arguments. There’s just a general mocking and ridiculing strategy — what I call arguing by adjective… ‘ridiculous, absurd’ and so on… whereas in fact there’s some very suggestive and interesting pieces of information that need to be factored in there. It’s a little like the Copernican theory of the universe. What seems obvious at first turns out to be not so when you try to reconcile the obvious with the anomalies and the anomalies are great.”

Regarding the case for the 17th Earl of Oxford as “Shakespeare,” Professor Egan told the BBC: 

“He was very interested in the theatre.  He was often mentioned by contemporaries as being the finest writer of comedy in his day.  There are aspects of Oxford’s life which are reflected otherwise in the plays.  For example, he was captured by pirates at one point, which is also a mysterious moment in Hamlet.  There are lots of suggestive hints and details which should make a thoughtful person reflect a little bit on the question.”

John Hamill, president of the Shakespeare Oxford Society, said:  “We’re delighted that a Shakespeare scholar of Professor Egan’s stature agreed to join us as the editor of newsletter and our flagship annual publication. We invite other Shakespeare scholars and Bard lovers worldwide to approach the Shakespeare authorship issue with the same open mind that Professor Egan displays.  It’s a fascinating topic that deserves the serious attention of scholars and the media.”

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. 

More About Professor Michael Egan, PhD
Michael Egan is an internationally known writer, consultant and educator, with experience working in England, South Africa, the US mainland and Hawaii. Formerly Scholar in Residence, Brigham Young University-Hawaii, Egan earned his BA from Witwatersrand University, and his M.A. and PhD degrees from Cambridge. He has served as Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Lecturer in English, Lancaster University, UK. and as Visiting Professor at the University of Hawaii, Hawaii Pacific University, and South London University. He is a prize-winning author of ten books and over 80 professional articles.

About The Shakespeare Oxford Society

Founded in 1957, New York-based 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 for more information.

Happy Birthday William Shakespeare? Or Have James Shapiro and the Shakespeare Academic Establishment Been “Barding” Up the Wrong Tree?

For Immediate ReleaseMedia Contact
Matthew Cossolotto
Ovations International, Inc.
914-245-9721
matthew@ovations.com

Happy Birthday William Shakespeare?   Or Have James Shapiro and the Shakespeare Academic Establishment Been “Barding” Up the Wrong Tree?

Shakespeare Oxford Society calls for creation of an unbiased Shakespeare Authorship Commission to resolve the authorship mystery

YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, NY – April 23, 2010 – Traditional Shakespeare biographers – including James Shapiro with his new book (Contested Will) on the Shakespeare authorship mystery – believe the great poet and playwright, William Shakespeare, was born on April 23, 1564. 

Before you raise your glass to salute the Bard’s 446rd birthday, consider this:  You just might be paying tribute to the wrong person. 

Matthew Cossolotto, former president and current vice president of the Shakespeare Oxford Society, says there is plenty of room for reasonable doubt about the traditional authorship theory professor Shapiro’s new book notwithstanding.  “It’s a little sad to see Shakespeare’s birthday celebrated around the world every April 23rd,” says Cossolotto.  “What if we’ve been honoring the wrong guy all these years?  What if we’ve been ‘barding up the wrong tree’ and the so-called Stratfordian attribution is wrong?  I think any reasonable, unbiased person looking at the evidence objectively would have to conclude the jury is still out, that there truly is a legitimate Shakespeare authorship question.”

Indeed, there is a long and distinguished history of doubting the Stratfordian attribution of the Shakespeare works. Noted doubters over the years include Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, Henry James, Sigmund Freud, and Charlie Chaplin.  More recently, the ranks of doubters include noted Shakespearean actors like Orson Welles, Michael York, Mark Rylance, Jeremy Irons and Sir Derek Jacobi, not to mention current or former US Supreme Court Justices Harry A. Blackmun, Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthonin Scalia and John Paul Stevens.

The Shakespeare Authorship Coalition (SAC) has been collecting signatures on a “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 Shakespeare Authorship Commission must be unbiased,” said Cossolotto.  “They must 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.”

Cossolotto explained that the initial task of this commission would be to take a fresh look at the available evidence and determine whether there truly is reasonable doubt as to the true identity of the famous author.

The Society is proposing that an unbiased educational institute, think tank, foundation, or concerned educational philanthropist should take the lead in sponsoring the proposed Shakespeare Authorship Commission.  “After all, this is Shakespeare,” Cossolotto said.  “He’s the greatest writer in the English language, perhaps the greatest writer ever.  We should make sure we’re honoring the right author.  That’s the least we can do.  The evidence for the Stratfordian theory just isn’t sufficient.  That case is full of holes.  An unbiased, multidisciplinary panel of real experts should take a fresh look at the evidence and give the world the benefit of their judgment in this important matter.”

Cossolotto continued: “I hope Shakespeare enthusiasts in the media, the entertainment industry, and the foundation community will embrace this challenge.  All Shakespeare lovers around the world should be able to agree that it’s important to determine the true identity of the author. It’s a matter of basic fairness to give credit where it’s due. In addition, knowing the identity of the author will also help us better understand the works and the author’s motivations. Let’s get the facts and reach a scientific, evidence-based conclusion.”

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 for more information. 

Oxfordian of the Year award presented to Justice Stevens

Melissa Dell'Orto, Thomas Regnier, Justice John Paul Stevens, Alex McNeil, and Michael Pisapia -- November 12, 2009, Washington DC. Credit: Photo by Steve Petteway, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Alex McNeil and Matthew Cossolotto report on presentation of Oxfordian of the Year award to Justice John Paul Stevens:

The Shakespeare Fellowship and the Shakespeare Oxford Society awarded the 2009 “Oxfordian of the Year Award” to John Paul Stevens, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.  Justice Stevens has long doubted whether William Shakespeare of Stratford-on-Avon is the real Bard.

The award was conferred jointly by the Shakespeare Fellowship and the Shakespeare Oxford Society, the two leading American organizations that promote the case for Edward de Vere, seventeenth Earl of Oxford, as the true author of the works attributed to Shakespeare.

On November 12, 2009, representatives of the two groups – Alex McNeil, Thomas Regnier, Michael Pisapia, and Melissa Dell’Orto – traveled to Washington, DC, where they presented a plaque to Justice Stevens, recognizing him for his interest in and support of the Oxfordian thesis.

Appointed to the high court by President Ford in 1975, Justice Stevens has been interested in the Shakespeare authorship problem since 1987, when he participated in a moot court on the topic at American University. In an article published by The Wall Street Journal April 18, 2009: “Justice Stevens Renders an Opinion on Who Wrote Shakespeare’s Plays”, Justice Stevens expressed his view that “the evidence that (Shakespeare of Stratford) was not the author is beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Justices Stevens and O’Connor sign Declaration of Reasonable Doubt

Shakespeare Authorship Coalition Chairman John Shahan reported from Claremont, California today:

The Shakespeare Authorship Coalition announced today that U.S. Supreme Court Justices John Paul Stevens and Sandra Day O’Connor (retired) have added their names to a growing list of prominent signatories to the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt About the Identity of William Shakespeare .  At least three other U.S. Supreme Court Justices – Harry A. Blackmun, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., and Antonin Scalia – have also expressed doubts about the identity of   the author “Shakespeare,” but Stevens and O’Connor are the first to sign the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt.

The Declaration was first issued on April 14, 2007, in same-day signing ceremonies at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles and at Concordia University in Portland, Oregon. Five months later, on September 8, 2007, actors Sir Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance, founding Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, took the lead in promulgating the Declaration in the U.K. in a signing ceremonyat the Chichester Festival Theatre in Chichester, West Sussex.

Over 1,660 people have now signed the Declaration. Nearly 80% are college graduates, and 595 have advanced degrees – 347 master’s degrees and 248 doctoral degrees. A total of 295 are current or former college or university faculty members . Of these, the largest number were in English literature (62, 21%), followed by those in theatre arts (35), the arts (24), natural sciences (23), math, engineering and computers (20), other humanities (20), medicine and health care (19), education (16), social sciences (17), history (13), management (12), law (11), psychology (9), and library science (6). With the addition of Justices Stevens and O’Connor, nineteen names now appear on the separate list of notable signatories on the SAC website.

The Declaration is neutral about the true identity of the author. Rather than seeking to resolve the long-standing controversy outright, it aims to legitimize the issue by calling attention to the many reasons for doubt about the Stratford man’s authorship.

Not one play, not one poem, not one letter in his own hand has ever been found. This is remarkable for such a prolific writer. His six surviving signatures, each spelled differently, are all poorly-executed, suggesting he had difficulty signing his own name. His detailed will contains no Shakespearean turn of phrase and mentions no books, manuscripts or literary effects of any kind. Nothing about it suggests a man with a cultivated mind — no writing materials or furniture, no art works or musical instruments. Nor did he leave any bequest for education — not to the Stratford grammar school, or even to educate his own grandchildren.

Many people in Stratford and London who knew the Stratford man seem not to have associated him with the poet-playwright; and when he died in 1616, no one seemed to notice. Not until seven years after he died did anyone suggest he was the author. Orthodox scholars tend to assume that all references to “Shakespeare” mean the Stratford man, but this is never made explicit during his lifetime. Contemporary comments are mostly about the works. Nobody seems to have known the author personally. Certainly there is no evidence that the Stratford man ever claimed to have written the works, contrary to what people assume.

“The subject of Shakespeare’s identity is fascinating to students, but the great majority of orthodox Shakespeare scholars deny that it has any legitimacy, and many actively seek to suppress the question in academia,” Shahan said.  “But with increasing numbers of prominent signatories like Justices Stevens and O’Connor, this may become difficult.”

The SAC is a private, non-profit charity founded to advocate for recognition of the legitimacy of the Authorship Controversy. The Declaration of Reasonable Doubt can be read and signed online at the website of the SAC at: www.doubtaboutwill.org

Contact person: SAC Chairman John Shahan at: sac@doubtaboutwill.org

Signatory Recruitment

The addition of two U.S. Supreme Court Justices provides an opportunity to leverage our signatory recruitment going forward. There is safety in numbers, and people like to be in good company. Combined with our other notable signatories, we are now in a position to tell prospective signatories that they will be in very good company indeed. Please take advantage of this opportunity by trying to recruit at least one additional signatory prior to our next update on April 18, 2010. A draft signatory recruitment letter inviting people to join some of our more prominent notables in signing the Declaration is available for use on our Downloads page . The draft letter is in MS Word, so you can modify it however you like. The Declaration’s success depends on networking, i.e, on you. Every signatory counts, and will help us achieve our goal of legitimizing the Authorship Question in academia by April 23, 2016.

Thanks very much for your support.

Letter from SOS President, Matthew Cossolotto

This letter appears in the June 2009 issue of the Shakespeare-Oxford Newsletter.

April 2009 may well be remembered ages and ages hence — hopefully sooner — as something of a watershed month in the Shakespeare authorship mystery. With apologies to Robert Frost, the prophesy of this slightly edited stanza from “The Road Not Taken” may indeed come to pass:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two birthdays diverged in a month, and I—
I took the one less toasted by,
And that has made all the difference.

Those of us who have not taken what appears to be a dead-end road to Stratford-upon-Avon, should be heartened by several developments around April 2009. These developments put both the authorship question and the case for Oxford on the map in a big way.

We just might be seeing some big mo — as in momentum — for the Big O.

The alleged birthday of William Shakespeare is celebrated around the world on April 23. Many media outlets in many countries routinely run a “Happy Birthday Will” story. We know this is going to happen every year and we should do what we can each April to raise the authorship issue and encourage consideration of the Oxford theory.

Again this April, SOS issued a press release about the bogus “Shakespeare” birthday. Here’s a link to the press release, which was posted on our new SOS blog: “Toast But Verify”

As readers of this newsletter know, Edward de Vere’s birthday happens to fall in April 12. That means when Oxford is finally recognized as the real author behind the Shakespeare works people will continue to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday in April.

Two birthdays diverged in a month, and we have celebrated the one less toasted; but this will change.

This year something unexpected happened a few days before the annual April 23 birthday celebration in Stratford-upon-Avon. It’s fair to say that the annual Bard B-Day Bash was marred somewhat by an unwelcome — from the Stratfordian viewpoint – reminder that all is not quiet on the Shakespeare authorship front.

I refer to the front-page story in the Wall Street Journal, April 18, 2009, to a jarring headline for those of the Stratfordian persuasion: “Justice Stevens Renders an Opinion on Who Wrote Shakespeare’s Plays: It Wasn’t the Bard of Avon, He Says; ‘Evidence Is Beyond a Reasonable Doubt’”

How refreshing to see those powerful words in print, on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. The evidence against the Stratfordian theory “. . . is beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Worth noting: Justice Antonin Scalia declared publicly that he, like Stevens, is an Oxfordian! It is interesting that Stevens and Scalia, whose opinions on most legal issues diverge significantly, find themselves in agreement on the case for Oxford.

If you missed the WSJ article, it’s well worth a careful reading. Please visit the News & Events page on the SOS website or go directly to the WSJ.

Here’s a quick rundown of other recent developments that may be seen one day as part of a major turning point in the authorship debate:

Article in the UK’s Evening Standard, April 23, 2009:
“Shakespeare did not write his own plays, claims Sir Derek Jacobi.” Both Sir Derek and Mark Rylance are referred to as signatories of the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt. The article says both Shakespearean actors believe Shakespeare’s works were written by an aristocrat. Sir Derek said he was 99.9 percent certain that the actual author was Edward de Vere.

Shakespeare Authorship Coalition marks second anniversary of the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt about the Identity of William Shakespeare. SAC issues April 13, 2009 press release announcing: Michael York has joined fellow actors as a Shakespeare Authorship Coalition (SAC) Patron; Seven signatories added to SAC notables list.

The thirteenth annual Shakespeare Authorship Studies Conference is held at Concordia University April 16-19, 2009. For a detailed account of the conference, see Richard Joyrich’s article in this newsletter. I also found Bill Boyle’s blog, Shakespeare Adventure, entries on the conference very informative.

Oberon Shakespeare Study Group in Michigan celebrates Shakespeare’s UN-Birthday on April 23. Visit the Oberon group’s blog for details.

Lee Rosenbaum, a blogger known as CultureGrrl, outs herself as an Oxfordian –she calls herself a deVere-ian. I found her discussion on her blog to be very interesting, especially her suggestion that “Shakespeare” was de Vere’s alter ego in the sonnets. I’ve been kicking that idea around for sometime myself.

A few authorship-related blogs have been launched recently – in and around April 2009: Visit Stephanie Hopkins Hughes’s Politic Worm; Robert Brazil’s 1609 Chronology blog. Also, I’m in the early stages of developing a blog dedicated to the relatively narrow –but extremely important — hypothesis that the 1609 volume of Shakespeare’s Sonnets was published posthumously. Please visit Shakespeare’s Sonnets 1609 to offer comments and share ideas.

May 3 article in the UK’s Sunday Express — now removed from their website – included several comments that Kenneth Branagh is reported to have made in Los Angeles at the April 29 US premiere of the new PBS mystery series Wallander. Branagh is reported to have said:

There is room for reasonable doubt. De Vere is the latest and the hottest candidate. There is a convincing argument that only a nobleman like him could write of exotic settings.

A version of the report can be viewed at Top News.

So there seems to be some big mo for the Big O right now. We need to seize the public awareness initiative and build on the recent momentum. I strongly encourage members of the society to widely circulate the WSJ and Evening Standard articles to friends, relatives, media contacts, teachers, professors, clergy, neighbors and members of congress. These articles lend enormous credibility to our central messages: that the authorship question is a legitimate issue for serious discussion and the case for Oxford’s authorship is very persuasive.

As always, thank you for your ongoing support as we endeavor to fulfill our mission of researching and honoring the true Bard.

Matthew Cossolotto, President
Shakespeare-Oxford Society
June 2009 Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter

Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter out

A new issue of the quarterly Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter has been published thanks to the work of many fine writers and skilled editors including former editor Lew Tate, the entire Shakespeare-Oxford Society Publications Committee: Chairman John Hamill, Katherine Chiljan, Richard Smiley, Ramon Jimenez, Frank Davis, Brian Bechtold and Jim Brooks, and to Richard Whalen and all the Oxfordians whose generosity inspired this effort.

In this space we will preview the current newsletter with a letter from SOS President Matthew Cossolotto and an interview with playwright Alan Navarre. Other articles in the current issue include:
a report of the thirteenth Shakespeare Authorship Studies Conference by Richard Joyrich, MD
a commentary on the April 2009 Wall Street Journal article on Justice John Paul Stevens’ Oxfordian point-of-view by R. Thomas Hunter, PhD
a translation and elucidation of Spanish ambassador Antonio Perez’s letters by John Hamill,
an article on the relevance of Shakspere’s signatures by Frank Davis
and a review of Stanley Wells’ Is It TrueWhat They Say about Shakespeare? by Richard Whalen.

Hardcopy of the newsletter is available as a benefit of Shakespeare-Oxford Society membership. Support SOS by joining online at:
http://www.goestores.com/catalog.aspx?Merchant=shakespeareoxfordsociety&DeptID=27020 Membership also includes hardcopy of the SOS annual journal, The Oxfordian — a new issue of The Oxfordian is due out in time for the SF/SOS joint conference in Houston November 5-8, 2009.

Linda Theil, Editor
Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter