Tag Archives: Shakespeare’s Sonnets 1609

Sweet Will of Stratford — “Beachcombing” Blogger Gets Into The Authorship Issue

Dear Fellow Shakespeare Lovers!  Several days ago a friend sent me a link to a blog called Beachcombing.  As you’ll see, there’s a lengthy discussion and a few responses from readers (including a long submission from me) about the authorship question.  Just passing this along.  See link to the blog below along with my somewhat long-winded post in response to some points made by Beachcombing.   Beachcombing is decidedly Stratfordian but he seems reasonable, respectful, and even somewhat open-minded.  Enjoy!  Matthew

Link To Beachcombing Blog:
http://beachcombing.wordpress.com/2011/04/04/sweet-will-of-stratford/
Here’s the post I submitted with a few comments from Beachcombing.

7 April 2011: Beachcombing got a fascinating email from Matthew C.  Matthew writes that ‘I certainly encourage you to do some more reading on the subject.  You seem to only scratch the surface and you leap to conclusions based on limited information.  So keep at it. My line about this issue:  Traditional scholars including the academic establishment have been Barding Up The Wrong Tree for a few centuries.’ Matthew then takes Beachcombing’s argument apart bit by bit starting with some well made points about Beachcombing’s misuse of the word ‘fact’. Then, Matthew deals with Beachcombing’s allegation that Shakespeare could have travelled in the missing years. ‘You’re engaging in rank speculation… There’s not an actual fact lurking anywhere in what you say.  You speculate that he might have gone to Italy.  Yes, he might have.  He might have gone to Russia or China for that matter.  You assume that he wasn’t in Stratford with his family.  Yes age 21-28 are crucial years for an aspiring author.  Can you provide any evidence at all that he wasn’t simply living in Stratford?  He was, after all, married.  He had a wife and three children who lived in Stratford all these years.  Why do you claim ‘we don’t know where Shakespeare was between 1585 and 1592?’  What you’re really saying is there’s no evidence he was in London … or anywhere else on the planet.  So why couldn’t he have simply been living in Stratford?  Without any evidence to the contrary – and given the presence of his young family in Stratford – wouldn’t the fair assumption be that he was living there as well?  Your assumption that William of Stratford was off traveling to Italy and soaking in knowledge and experience is based on … well … nothing … except for the need to cram some worldly experience and knowledge into him.  If you’re going to posit some other theory, you really need to come up with some evidence to support it.’ Then Beachcombing gets in trouble over his comments that Shakespeare’s learning was shallow: ‘Here you’re engaging in a strange effort of ‘dumbing down’ Shakespeare so his learning comes closer to what might be feasible or believable for what we know about the actual life of William of Stratford.  Nice try out of desperation but really unfortunate.  And repeating the old canard about the Bohemian coast is simply sad.  A little bit of research on your part would reveal adequate evidence that Bohemia did in fact include a seacoast at different points in history.  It’s too bad you feel the need to denigrate Shakespeare’s knowledge in an effort to prop up the Stratfordian theory.  We need not idolize Shakespeare but let’s not resort to taking him down a few notches simply to force the square Stratfordian peg into a round hole.’ Matthew then adds. ‘There’s one topic you address briefly that deserves a great deal more attention – the Sonnets.  Both the content of those poems and the publication in 1609 strongly suggest, to my mind at least, that this was a posthumous publication.  Traditional scholars have not been able to explain the poet’s complete absence from the publication process, the absence of a dedication from the poet, and his complete silence about the publication (one way or another) after 1609.  The reference to ‘our ever-living poet’ in the dedication provides powerful prima facie evidence that the poet was, in fact, dead at the time of publication.  William of Stratford, of course, was very much alive until 1616 … and yet he remained completely silent about the Sonnets … and no scholar has yet provided any credible explanation as to how Thomas Thorpe could have acquired and published these very personal poems against the will of the poet himself.  There are more or less convoluted theories but posthumous publication offers a reasonable, Occam’s Razor explanation for the publication itself, the dedication, and the poet’s strange absence during and silence after publication.’ Then finally Matthew moves on to the question of Shakespeare’s daughters. ‘Finally, one quick point about raising illiterate (or perhaps semi-literate) daughters.  Your rather dismissive comment that this does not surprise you is, again, an attempt to dumb down the Bard.  Just think for a moment about all of the witty, highly educated heroines in Shakespeare’s works.  It’s hard to imagine that the poet would not want his own daughters to be able to appreciate not only his works but the wonderful world of literature that education opened up for him.  It’s remarkable to me that you would discount this “fact” so glibly.  There’s no indication that any members of the “Shakespeare” family who resided in Stratford for many years after 1616 took any interest in or asserted any connection with the life and works of William Shakespeare.  I would also ask why it is that we have no evidence that the rather well-to-do William of Stratford donated any money to the King Edward VI grammar school that supposedly gave him his start?  Nothing in the man’s will hints at anything remotely literary (as I’m sure you know).  But I’ve always been baffled by the absence of a bequest to the school in Stratford that supposedly provided his educational foundation.  One would expect him to have been eternally grateful to his school – if indeed he attended the school and learned so much from the year or two most scholars assume he spent there.’ Leaving aside, for a moment, the whole question of whether or not Shakespeare of Stratford was Shakespeare the author the one thing that strikes Beachcombing from the several emails he’s received is the passion with which both sides address this argument. It is enough to make a sleepy bizarrist retreat into his rabbit hole: back to zombies, unicorns and werewolves. Seriously, thanks to Matthew for this long contribution!

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