Tag Archives: Shakespeare Authorship Coalition

Required Reading! Diana Price, Author of Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Biography, Reviews Shakespeare Beyond Doubt Edited by Stanley Wells and Paul Edmondson

Everybody who is interested in the Shakespeare authorship question should read Diana Price’s entire review of Shakespeare Beyond Doubt.  I’m pasting below a long section from Diana Price’s review.  To read the entire review, please visit Diana’s website (http://www.shakespeare-authorship.com) or click on this link:  http://shakespeare-authorship.com/Articles/Shakespeare%20Beyond%20Doubt%20review%20website.htm.

A long section of Diana Price’s review follows.  I encourage you to read the entire review.  It’s well worth a careful read.

*****

i.

Shakespeare Beyond Doubt: Evidence, Argument, Controversy is a collection of essays that purports to put an end to the so-called Shakespeare Authorship Question, once and for all. Its editors, Stanley Wells and Paul Edmondson, recruited 20 contributors, most of whom also contributed to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s “60 Minutes with Shakespeare,” a project that provided 60 seconds each to 60 scholars addressing various topics, most with significance for the authorship question.

The essay collection was prompted in part by the release of Roland Emmerich’s 2011 film Anonymous (a box office flop dramatizing a fringe version of a “royal birth” theory positing the earl of Oxford as the real Shakespeare) and the “Declaration of Reasonable Doubt” (now signed by over 2,700 individuals) published on the website DoubtAboutWill. The substance of the Declaration is, in some measure, based on the research in my own book, Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Biography: New Evidence of An Authorship Problem. It was the first book challenging the traditional biography to be published by a mainstream publisher in a peer-reviewed series (Greenwood Press, 2001, “Contributions in Drama and Theatre Studies” no. 94; now revised and published in paperback by shakespeare-authorship.com, 2012). A major argument in the book is based on a comparative analysis of documentary evidence left behind by Shakespeare and two dozen writers active during his lifetime. The results of that analysis demonstrate that Shakespeare is the only alleged writer of consequence from the time period who left behind no evidence that he wrote for a living, or even as a vocation.

At the April 2013 launch of Shakespeare Beyond Doubt in Stratford-on-Avon, Ros Barber (author of the prize-winning The Marlowe Papers, a fictionalized case for Marlowe’s authorship) criticized the editors of the essay collection for failing to contend with their peer-reviewed opposition. In this review essay, I focus on particular contributors who defend the traditional biography, with the hope that my critique will move the debate forward.

As a general comment, it is unfortunate that a decision on nomenclature was made in this collection to re-label authorship skeptics as “anti-Shakespeareans,” rather than the more accurately descriptive “anti-Stratfordians. “Anti-Shakespearean” is unnecessarily pejorative (and it was a relief to read James Shapiro’s reversion to the term “anti-Stratfordian” in his Afterword). Also, in several places, some contributors assert that the authorship question first emerged, not during Shakespeare’s lifetime, but in 1856-57, when Delia Bacon published her unreadable tome (2, 87, 246). But Miss Bacon was not the first to ask questions about Shakespeare’s authorship. She was the first to formalize the question. Expressions of confusion about Shakespeare’s authorship were recorded during Shakespeare’s lifetime by Thomas Edwards, the Parnassus authors, Gabriel Harvey, and John Davies of Hereford, among others.

Now to particulars.

ii.

Andrew Hadfield is the author of the recent and well-received biography of Edmund Spenser. Spenser left behind good evidence of his literary interests and activities, the evidence that I call personal literary paper trails. These include books exchanged with his friend, Gabriel Harvey, his handwritten transcription of a Latin poem, and records of his education. Despite such evidence for Spenser, in his essay “Theorizing Shakespeare’s authorship,” Hadfield attempts to lower his reader’s expectations for evidence surviving for writers from the time period, essentially excusing the absence of literary paper trails for Shakespeare:

Even a superficial trawl through the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography will reveal how little we know about many important figures, making the gaps in the biographical records of Shakespeare seem typical rather than unusual and therefore in no need of explanation. . . What are left are scraps, fragments, and clues in parish registers, court records, and probate offices” (65, 66).

To which list I would add personal literary paper trails.

Hadfield admits that “there are virtually no literary remains left behind by Shakespeare” (66), but he also claims that in that sense, Shakespeare is no different than other writers, such as Henry Chettle, Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Middleton, Anthony Munday, and Thomas Nashe, among others (66). While the canons of these writers, like Shakespeare’s, present various attribution or authenticity problems, unlike Shakespeare, these writers left behind solid records of their activities as writers. To take one example (chosen here because Hadfield singled out Nashe in his 60 seconds contribution to the SBT program), among the personal literary paper trails for Nashe are an autograph poem from his days at Cambridge; a record of how much he was rewarded for writing by one of his patrons, as specified in a letter from Sir George Carey to his wife (the dedicatee of the pamphlet in question); and a letter to Carey’s servant describing his difficulties “writing for the stage and for the press.” Despite the survival of that letter, Hadfield claims that “personal letters did not survive in an age when paper was scarce and expensive” (64). Yet additional autograph letters DO survive for, among others, George Chapman, Ben Jonson, John Marston, and Michael Drayton, and all of them contain reference to literary topics (Price, Unorthodox, 314-18). There are no comparable records for Shakespeare, so Hadfield’s claims do not hold up. The deficiency of personal literary paper trails for a writer from the time period is not an expected or common phenomenon; the deficiency is unique to Shakespeare.

iii.

David Kathman’s essay “Shakespeare and Warwickshire” attempts to situate Shakespeare in the intellectual and literary communities in Stratford-on-Avon, investing him with intellectual credentials in a sort of literacy-by-association. Yet his sections on Shakespeare’s Stratford associates do nothing to establish Shakespeare as a man interested in literary matters. Identifying neighbors, such as Richard Quiney or Abraham Sturley, who read books or wrote letters, sometimes in Latin, is not evidence that Shakespeare read books or wrote letters. Indeed, the reason Kathman can state categorically that Quiney or Sturley read books or wrote letters is because letters survive to support those statements (124-27). No comparable evidence survives for Shakespeare.

Kathman claims that the plays “include numerous offhand references to people and places from the area around Stratford” (129). But those “numerous” Warwickshire characters and locations appear in only two plays, Henry IV (2) and The Taming of the Shrew. He further claims that the plays “are peppered with dialect words from Warwickshire and the West Midlands” (129). He cites three sources in his endnote, primarily C.T. Onions, and also R.C. Churchill (actually Ivor Brown’s introduction) and Hilda M. Hulme. Not only do these sources fail to verify all his claims, he omits other resources that would compromise or invalidate several of them. After consulting Joseph Wright’s still valuable six-volume The English Dialect Dictionary, James Orchard Halliwell’s Dictionary of Archaic Words, James Appleton Morgan’s Warwickshire Glossary, and the OED, I would propose that at least five of the nine words Kathman mentions don’t belong on his list.

For example, Kathman defines a “ballowas a ‘cudgel,’ which Onions locates in the north Midlands (12). But the texts of King Lear (IV.vi.238) read, variously, “battero” (Qq), “bat” (Q1 and Q2), and “ballow” (F), so there is not even a secure basis for accepting “ballow” as the intended word. The OED elaborates:

Only in the Shakes. Folio of 1623, and subseq. editions, in loc. cit., where the Quartos have battero, and bat (stick, rough walking-stick); besides which, batton, battoun, ‘stick, cudgel’ obs. f. baton n. (q.v.) is a probable emendation. Bailey (1742) has ‘Ballow, a pole, a long stick, quarter-staff, etc. Shakesp.’ (quoted by Halliwell as ‘Northern’): but no such word seems to exist, or to have any etymological justification.

The Arden 2 editor goes with “ballow” and cites Wright’s entry (1:145) for the word as common to Nottinghamshire (Muir, 173; Wright also specifies the word as in use in the shire of Kent). The Arden 3 editor goes with “baton,” rejecting the Folio reading of “ballow” since he could find “no convincing parallels” (Foakes, 346).

According to Onions, “potch,” meaning to thrust, “survives in Warwickshire” (165). Wright lists the word “potch” as a variant form of “poach” (4:562), defines “poach” (and its variant spellings) as “to poke, esp. with the fingers; to thrust, push suddenly,” etc., and locates the variant “potch” not only in Warwickshire, but also in Staffordshire, Shropshire, and Gloucestershire. The Arden 2 editor of Coriolanus glosses potch as “jab, poke” but is silent on the matter of dialect (Brockbank, 149), as are the editors of recent Oxford and Cambridge editions, as well as Halliwell. Morgan’s Glossary contains neither “poach” nor “potch.”

The word “batlet,” meaning ‘club (for washing)’ is described by Onions as “current recently in Yorks[hire] and Warwick[shire] (13). “Batler” is in the OED with reference to the modified word “batlet” in modern editions of As You Like It, but no dialect is mentioned. The word in the Arden 2 edition of As You Like It (II.iv.46) reads “batler.” Halliwell lists “batler” but does not assign a shire of origin or use (149). The New Variorum editor (Knowles, 93) cites [John R.] Wise’s list of Warwickshire words, but also cites Wright, who specifies Yorkshire and Warwickshire (per Wise’s list) and adds a disclaimer: “not known to our correspondents in Warwickshire” (1:186). Morgan’s glossary contains only “batten,” defined as “a stick used in washing clothes” (76), but provides no examples in the Shakespeare canon.

At least two other words in Kathman’s list, “pash” and “tarre,” fare no better. Of the nine dialect words cited by Kathman, only four may withstand scrutiny. Kathman acknowledges that while the dialect words that he cites “don’t prove anything,” they are “consistent” with the Stratford man’s authorship (129). But they are not. In order to make that case, he would need to show  (1) that Warwickshire and West Midlands dialect words are particular to, or better yet, usually exclusive to, those shires, and  (2) that the Shakespeare canon contains disproportionately higher numbers of dialect words from those regions. When a word such as “batlet” is found in Yorkshire as well as (possibly) Warwickshire, Kathman’s argument is weakened. It is further diluted as the known use of a word is discovered in additional shires or regions. It is difficult to give credence to words that he claims as Warwickshire dialect, even those found in Onions’s Glossary, when there is no further support or corroboration from Halliwell, Morgan, the OED, various critical editions, or especially Wright.

It is puzzling that Kathman cites Hulme’s research in his endnote. Her examples of Warwickshire or Midlands dialects are either qualified or introduced as speculative. She also shares the skeptical opinion that future research will likely “establish as more widely current such elements of apparently ‘Stratford’ language as occur in his text” and cites G.D. Willcock’s opinion that the Shakespeare corpus “shows no sign of surviving local patriotism” (316, 315). Hulme cites some idiosyncratic Shakespearean spellings consistent with, if not unique to, Warwickshire spellings (316, 318), but some of her citations depend upon the unfounded assumption that the printing house’s orthography faithfully followed the author’s manuscript (the hypothetical ‘foul papers’), when spellings are more likely scribal, compositorial, or editorial.

The last section in Kathman’s chapter is about “Shakespeare and Stratford after 1616,” in which he claims that “a wealth of evidence from the decade after Shakespeare’s death illustrates Stratford’s fame” (130). That “wealth of evidence” is, by definition, posthumous. The first testimony in the historic record explicitly identifying Shakespeare of Stratford as the dramatist appeared in the 1623 First Folio, seven years after Shakespeare’s death. Kathman failed to establish any significant connection between the author of Shakespeare’s canon and Warwickshire during Shakespeare’s lifetime.

*****

To read the rest of Diana Price’s excellent, insightful, well-argued review of SBD, please click on this link:

http://shakespeare-authorship.com/Articles/Shakespeare%20Beyond%20Doubt%20review%20website.htm

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New Book — Shakespeare Beyond Doubt? Exposing An Industry In Denial — Kicks Off Shakespeare Authorship Debate In British Media

Shakespeare Beyond Doubt?

One article appeared in The Guardian bearing this headline and subhead:

Shakespeare identity debate

reignited with TV challenge

Alexander Waugh, who doubts the accepted authorship of the plays, has dared orthodox experts to join a televised discussion

Here’s the link to read that article.  It’s well worth reading.  Alexander Waugh is the grandson of novelist Evelyn Waugh.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/jul/04/shakespeare-identity-debate-reignited

Another article appeared in The Daily Mail with this “punny” headline:

A Waugh of words over the Bard…

The article features a photo of Sir Derek Jacobi above this caption:  “Actor Sir Derek Jacobi has endorsed the theory that William Shakespeare’s authorship should be questioned.”

Read the article by clicking on this link:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2356578/RICHARD-KAY-A-Waugh-words-Bard-.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

To read more about the book Shakespeare Beyond Doubt? visit:

http://www.parapress.co.uk/books/shaks_beyond_doubt.php

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?

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

In First Folio, a New Novel by Scott Evans, the 17th Earl of Oxford Emerges As The Author of The “Shakespeare” Works

Below are some excerpts from an article in the local newspaper in Davis, CA — the Davis Enterprise.  Click HERE to read the entire article.  Congrats to Scott Evans on his new novel!  Note the info below about a Meet The Author event in Davis on March 18th.  Matthew
Davis Enterprise | Thursday, March 10th, 2011 | Posted by Chloe Kim
So, was Shakespeare a fraud?

Davis author Scott Evans' new novel,               "First Folio," is set partially in his hometown.               The literary mystery should appeal to fans of "The Da               Vinci Code," Evans says. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise               photo

Davis author Scott Evans’ new novel, “First Folio,” is set partially in his hometown. The literary mystery should appeal to fans of “The Da Vinci Code,” Evans says. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise photo

In Scott Evans’ new novel, “First Folio,” priceless handwritten manuscripts reveal that the most famous writer in the world — William Shakespeare — was a fraud, and that the true author of Shakespeare’s iconic plays actually was Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford.

The book is fiction, and the Bard hasn’t really been officially dethroned. But other than that, and “the fact that Joe (the main character) receives handwritten documents, which don’t exist, all other factual information is well-researched and true,” said Evans, a Davis author.

“There are few samples of Shakespeare’s handwriting, all of which are signatures on legal documents. The handwriting is pretty halting and poor. It doesn’t look like something an experienced writer would produce,” Evans said.

Evans explores this conundrum in “First Folio,” a literary mystery that he says fans of “The Da Vinci Code” will enjoy.

The main character is Joe Conrad, a professor at the fictional Central Lutheran University in Stockton, who lives in Davis. His mentor, Jack Claire, finds what seem to be authentic handwritten manuscripts of Shakespeare’s plays, along with a leather-bound copy of the First Folio, the first collection of Shakespeare’s plays.

[SNIP]

Local residents can meet him at 3 p.m. Sunday at Atria Covell Gardens, 1111 Alvarado Ave. in Davis. Bistro 33, 226 F St., also will host a reading and reception from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, March 18, and Evans will be at The Avid Reader, 617 Second St., at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 25.

Meet the author

Who: Scott Evans, author of “First Folio”

When: 3 p.m. Sunday

Where: Atria Covell Gardens, 1111 Alvarado Ave., Davis

From The Archives: Parts I and II of About.com’s Interview With Matthew Cossolotto About The Shakespeare Authorship Question

Dear Friends:  I was doing some web surfing and I came across this two-part interview on About.com.  I had forgotten all about this but now that I see it again I think it’s worth sharing on the SOS Online News.  I’m pretty sure this interview took place before the SOS Online News was launched.  I think the interview bears repeating.  Sometimes it’s worth remembering that the authorship debate does receive considerable attention.  And not only from scholars intent on dismissing the topic — like James Shapiro in his book Contested Will.  So I thought I’d post portions of the interview here with links to the full Q&A.  I also wanted to take this opportunity to express my thanks again to Lee Jamieson at About.com for doing the interview and recognizing that the Shakespeare Authorship Question deserves to be given serious consideration.   Enjoy!   Matthew

Part I:  Shakespeare and De Vere

An Interview with Matthew Cossolotto About The Shakespeare-De Vere Relationship

By , About.com Guide

The Shakespeare authorship debate1 has been raging for years and the circumstantial evidence for one candidate is particularly compelling: Edward de Vere2, 17th Earl of Oxford.

In this two-part interview3 we ask Matthew Cossolotto, Shakespeare Oxford Society4 president (2005-2009), to defend the case for Edward de Vere by answering some common Stratfordian questions.

In the first installment we ask Cossolotto to consider the Shakespeare-De Vere relationship and ask how William Shakespeare5 from Stratford-upon-Avon6 fits into the De Vere story.

About.com: There is documentary evidence that a man called William Shakespeare existed? How does this man fit into the authorship case for Edward de Vere?

Matthew Cossolotto: There’s no question that a native son of the town of Stratford-upon-Avon with a name similar to “William Shakespeare” did in fact exist. Nobody questions his existence. The issue is whether this “William of Stratford” – as I like to refer to him – was in fact William Shakespeare, the great poet and playwright.

As far as I’m concerned, the jury is still out as to the exact role that this William of Stratford played in the Shakespeare story. More research is needed. There are several theories: he may have been go-between, a play broker, or a front man for the real author. Personally, I don’t think he ever played the traditional front man role as the public face of the writer during his lifetime.

About.com: So you don’t believe the conventional story: that William Shakespeare left Stratford-upon-Avon to become a prominent actor on the London theater scene?

Matthew Cossolotto: No. There’s virtually no contemporaneous evidence that William of Stratford was an accomplished or prominent actor on the London stage7. Did he play a few bit parts in some plays? Perhaps. But that does not prove he was William Shakespeare, the great poet and dramatist. It simply suggests he might have been recruited to play a kind of stand in role – perhaps because his name was so similar to the famous Shakespeare name

In fact, the evidence suggests that William of Stratford spent most of his time in Stratford-upon-Avon and very little time in London. After his death in 1616, William of Stratford began to play what I think of as the “fall guy” role. As Shakespeare wrote in Twelfth Night:

Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.

After his death, William of Stratford had greatness thrust upon him.

Partisans of the Stratford theory are fond of circular reasoning. “Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare” is a frequent refrain. But partisans of the Stratfordian theory deny even the possibility that “William Shakespeare” could have been a pseudonym. So they shut down the debate and close their minds instead of opening their minds – Maybe I’m naïve, but I always thought true scholarship required an open mind.

READ MORE Of PART I

Part II: Was Shakespeare a Pseudonym for Edward De Vere?

An Interview with Matthew Cossolotto About The Case for Edward De Vere

By , About.com Guide

Edward de Vere1, 17th Earl of Oxford, has emerged as the strongest candidate from the Shakespeare authorship debate2.

In the second part of our interview with Matthew Cossolotto, Shakespeare Oxford Society3 president (2005-2009), we discuss why Edward De Vere would have needed a pseudonym.

About.com: Why did Edward De Vere need to write under a pseudonym? Why not simply use his real name?

Matthew Cossolotto: There were undoubtedly a host of reasons Edward de Vere did not publish his works under his real name. One likely reason is that he may well have been prevented from doing so by the powers that be at Court. In Sonnet 66, Shakespeare complained of “art made tongue-tie by authority.” That’s one theory.

De Vere may well have chosen to remain anonymous and employ a pseudonym because it gave him greater creative freedom and the ability to speak truth to power. If de Vere was revealing embarrassing or even scandalous facts about powerful figures at Court (Queen Elizabeth, Lord Burghley, the Earl of Leicester among others) he may well have concluded that discretion was the better part of valor and not put his name on his works.

About.com: So potentially, it would have been dangerous for de Vere to put his name to the plays and poems we now attribute to William Shakespeare?

Matthew Cossolotto: Yes. Sometimes I think of de Vere as the “deep throat” of Elizabeth’s Court. Remember, there was no such thing a freedom of the press in those days. If de Vere’s writings could be construed as critical of the government or specific individuals, especially the Queen, he would not have lasted very long.

In addition, there was something of a social taboo that tended to discourage high-ranking noblemen – Edward de Vere was the 17th Earl of Oxford after all – from publishing works of drama and poetry under their own names. My feeling is that this was not a hard-and-fast sort of thing. I wouldn’t argue that this so-called “stigma of print” was the only reason the Earl of Oxford opted against publishing under his own name. I’d say it’s one of the factors that should be taken into account.

READ MORE OF PART II

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)

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

Ashland — Shakespeare Authorship Conference Schedule (Sept. 16-19, 2010)

Thought folks might want to see some additional details about the upcoming Shakespeare Authorship Conference schedule.  You can register online for the Shakespeare Fellowship/Shakespeare Oxford Society’s  SF/SOS Annual Conference — Sept. 16-19, 2010 in Ashland, Oregon at the online registration site: http://www.goestores.com/catalog.aspx?Merchant=shakespeareoxfordsociety

Shakespeare Fellowship
and Shakespeare Oxford Society

2010 Conference Schedule

On-site registration check-in will begin at 9:00 AM on September 16, and the education program will begin at 10:00 AM.

Conference registration includes an opening reception with appetizers on the 16th, buffet lunches on day two and three, and the annual awards banquet at the conclusion of the conference on the afternoon of the 19th.

Saturday afternoon will be dedicated to performances with music provided by the lute duet Mignarda, Ron Andrico and Donna Stewart, creators of My Lord of Oxenford’s Maske. OSF all-star Robin Goodrin-Nordli will present her original show, Bard Babes, and Keir Cutler will give an encore performance of his adaptation of Mark Twain’s satire, Is Shakespeare Dead? The afternoon will conclude with a signing ceremony for the ‘Declaration of Reasonable Doubt’.

Thursday: September 16

Music by Mignarda with Ron Andrico and Donna Stewart
Prof Tom Gage: The Bone in the Elephant’s Heart
Dr. Tom Hunter: The Invention of the Human in Shylock 
Dr. Earl Showerman: Shakespeare’s Shylock and the Strange Case of Gaspar Ribeiro
Cheryl Eagan-Donovan: Shakespeare’s Ideal: Sexuality and Gender Identity in The Merchant of Venice
Dr. Marty Hyatt: Teaching Heavy Ignorance Aloft to Fly
Conference Opening Reception – Ashland Springs Hotel Conservatory & Garden
Merchant of Venice at OSF Elizabethan Theatre

Friday: September 17

Shakespeare Fellowship Annual Meeting
Richard Whalen: ‘Goats and Monkeys!’ Othello’s Outburst Recalls a Fresco in Bassano, Italy
Dr. Frank Davis: The “Unlearned” versus the “Learned” Shakespeare
Prof Jack Shuttleworth: Hamlet and Its Mysteries: An Oxfordian Editor’s View
Merchant of Venice Panel: Tom Hunter, Tom Regnier & OSF Actors
Bill Rauch: Artistic Director of OSF and Director of Hamlet and Merchant of Venice
Prof Roger Stritmatter: The “Little Eyases” and the “Innovation” of 1589
Katherine Chiljan: Twelve “Too Early” Allusions to Shakespeare’s Hamlet
Tom Regnier: Hamlet’s Law
Prof Sam Saunders: The Odds on Hamlet’s Odds
Prof Helen Gordon: The Symbols in Hamlet: An Oxfordian Interpretation
Hamlet at OSF Bowmer Theatre

Saturday: September 18

Shakespeare-Oxford Society Annual Meeting
Hank Whittemore: The Birth and Growth of Prince Hal: Why did Oxford write The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth?
Marie Merkel – “In the Fit of Miming”: A brief history of Sir John Falstaffe and the “whole school of tongues” in his belly
Lynne Kositsky: The Young Adult Novel Minerva’s Voyage and its Relationship to True Reportory and Minerva Britanna
Hamlet panel: Prof Ren Draya, Jack Shuttleworth & OSF Actors
Music by Mignarda
Robin Goodrin Nordli: Bard Babes
Keir Cutler: Is Shakespeare Dead?
“Declaration of Reasonable Doubt” Signing Ceremony with John Shahan, Paul Nicholson, Executive Director at OSF, and other signatories
1 Henry IV at OSF Elizabethan Theatre

Sunday: September 19

William Ray: Proofs of Oxfordian Authorship in the Shakespearean Apocrypha
Bonner Cutting: Let the Punishment Fit the Crime
John Hamill – Bisexuality, Bastardy, Avisa and Antonio Perez Revisited
Michael Cecil: Revisiting the 1st Baron Burghley’s Precepts for the Well Ordering and Carriage of a Man’s Life
Henry IV Panel: Felicia Londré & OSF Actors
2010 Annual Joint Conference Awards Banquet

For further information write to the local coordinator at earlees@charter.net

The Ashland Authorship Conference — September 16-19, 2010

Plans for this year’s Shakespeare Authorship Conference (in Ashland, OR) are proceeding apace.  Here’s some info and a link to get more details.  You can register online via this link: 

http://www.goestores.com/catalog.aspx?Merchant=shakespeareoxfordsociety&DeptID=170579

The Shakespeare Oxford Society and The Shakespeare Fellowship Society

 Present

The Ashland Authorship Conference

September 16-19, 2010
Ashland Springs Hotel and Oregon Shakespeare Festival

The sixth annual joint authorship conference of the Shakespeare Fellowship and the Shakespeare Oxford Society will take place in Ashland, Oregon from September 16-19, 2010. This year the conference will focus on the plays in production at the Tony Award winning Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. Group tickets have been secured for the conference for three productions at OSF: The Merchant of Venice, Hamlet and 1 Henry IV.

The conference will convene at the Ashland Springs Hotel. Already a number of outstanding scholars, authors and theatre professionals have committed to presenting at Ashland, including Professors Daniel Wright, Felicia Londre, Ren Draya, Roger Stritmatter, and Chris Duval. OSF Artistic Director Bill Rauch and Executive Director Paul Nicholson will both address the conference, and Robin Goodrin-Nordli will perform her comedic Shakespeare heroine composite, Bard Babes. Keir Cutler will present his wonderfully satiric production, Is Shakespeare Dead? and award-winning musicians Ron Andrico and Donna Stewart, who produced My Lord of Oxenford’s Masque, will also perform their music during the authorship conference.

Other presenters will include OSF’s James Newcomb, Tom Regnier on Hamlet’s law, Bonner Cutting on Shakspere’s Will, Bill Farina and Tom Hunter on The Merchant of Venice, Michael Cecil on Lord Burghley, plus Hank Whittemore, John Hamill, Paul Altrocchi, Richard Whalen, Frank Davis, Katherine Chiljan, Ramon Jimenez, Earl Showerman, John Shahan, Marie Merkel, Sam Saunders, William Ray, and Cheryl Eagan-Donovan. The conference will feature panel discussions with OSF actors after each show and include a signing ceremony of the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt.

(More Details)

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