Tag Archives: Stephanie Hughes

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Stephanie Hughes Reviews “The Bisexuality of Shake-speare’s Sonnets and Implications for de Vere’s Authorship” by Dr. Richard M. Waugaman

With the controversy surrounding the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy swirling around in the headlines, I want to call your attention to Stephanie Hughes’ insightful review of a forthcoming article — to be published in the October issue of Psychoanalytic Review — by Richard M. Waugaman, MD.  Stephanie’s review bears the eye-catching and provocative title “Shakespeare and ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.'”  The title of Dr. Waugaman’s article may have less of a ripped-from-the-headlines feel, but it is nonetheless quite provocative in its own right:  “The Bisexuality of Shake-speare’s Sonnets and Implications for de Vere’s Authorship.”

I’m pasting below a few paragraphs from Stephanie’s excellent review.  To read the entire review, please visit Stephanie’s “Politic Worm” blog.  The link at the very bottom of this post takes you directly to her “don’t ask don’t tell” review.  But anybody interesting in the Shakespeare authorship issue would do well to browse the many other fine posts on Stephanie’s blog. 

On the subject of Shakespeare’s sexuality, I also want to call your attention to an article written by John Hamill, immediate past president of the Shakespeare Oxford Society, and published in the Society’s flagship scholarly journal The Oxfordian.  Hamill’s article (“Shakespeare’s Sexuality and How It Affects the Authorship Issue”) is available in PDF format on the Society’s website:  www.Shakespeare-Oxford.com.  Here’s the link to Hamill’s article:



Review:  Shakespeare and “don’t ask don’t tell” by Stephanie Hughes

An important article, “The Bisexuality of Shake-speare’s Sonnets and Implications for de Vere’s Authorship” by Richard M. Waugaman, MD, is to be published in the upcoming October issue of Psychoanalytic Review, 97 (5).  Dr. Waugaman is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine, and Training & Supervising Analyst Emeritus at the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute.  His 98 scholarly publications began with an article stemming from his senior thesis on Nietzsche and Freud.  He and his wife, Elisabeth Pearson, scholar of Medieval French Lit and an award-winning children’s book author, live in Maryland, near Washington DC.

Dr. Waugaman’s path to Oxford runs from Freud (doctoral dissertation) to William Niederkorn (NYTimes article, Feb. 2002), to Roger Stritmatter (Oxford’s Geneva Bible) to a readership at the Folger.  Now this prestigious academic journal has agreed to publish simultaneously not one, but two of his articles on authorship issues, one on Samuel Clemens’s use of the pseudonym Mark Twain, the other on the psychology of Shake-speare’s Sonnets and their connection to Oxford’s biography, the accusations of pederasty made against him made by his enemies, plus the fact that his daughter was being promoted as a wife to the Earl of Southampton, the Fair Youth of the Sonnets.

News of the publication of Dr. Waugaman’s articles in an academic journal is a sign that the wall surrounding Fortress Academia may be weakening. “Things seem to be changing among my analytic colleagues,” says Waugaman. “I now find them far more receptive.  They react as though there is at least “reasonable doubt’’about the authorship, which is a fine place to begin.  And I’m optimistic about the historians as well.”  That Waugaman speaks from and to the psychology community is a double plus, since that’s one of the two arenas that we can conceivably hope will help us salvage the truth about the authorship, the other being the historians.   Once post docs in the less fiction-based Humanities departments begin delving in the English archives we’ll have to rely less on conjecture.

It’s with gratitude that I read Dr. Waugaman’s essay since, as he emphasizes, the nature of the Bard’s sexuality has been so denied, distorted, ignored, or misinterpreted by so-called Shakespeare experts (including some Oxfordians) over the centuries that a straightforward approach to the obvious by someone of authority is clearly in order.  Waugaman asks why Shakespeare commentators have consistently avoided the obvious, that since the Sonnets reflect that the Poet was having (or at least desiring) concurrent sexual relations with a man and a woman––ipso facto, Shakespeare was a bisexual, or at least was behaving like one.  As he states: “One solution to this cognitive dissonance for the past four centuries has been denial or avoidance of Shakespeare’s bisexuality, and of his actual identity.”  By connecting this massive “blind spot,” as he calls it, to the Academy’s refusal to dig any deeper than the unlikely Stratford biography, Waugaman makes an important connection.  We’ve been subjected to James Shapiro’s efforts to psychoanalyze the authorship community, now lets see what a psychoanalyst has to say about Shapiro and his colleagues.  For any who wish to read his argument in full, Dr. Waugaman will email you a pdf; contact him at rwmd at comcast dot net.

Don’t ask don’t tell

When we add to the evidence in the Sonnets all the gender-bending in the plays, the passionate “male bonding” in Coriolanus, and the obvious homosexual love of the Antonios in Twelfth Night and Merchant of Venice, it would seem that at the very least, homosexual desire was something the author understood.  This may have been shocking to the Reformation clergy who acted as censors for what got published in the early 17th century, to the Victorian literary critics, and apparently also to persons who grew up in the 1950s in America, but that some readers today are still grasping for some other interpretation, desperate to avoid the fact that––Gasp! Choke!––Shakespeare had a sex life!––well, what can I say?  If it wasn’t so deplorable it would be funny.

(To read the entire review, click on the link below)


Hughes on Sir Thomas Smith

Founder and former editor of SOS journal The Oxfordian, Stephanie Hughes, says Edward de Vere’s relationship with his remarkable tutor, Sir Thomas Smith, laid the groundwork for Shakespeare’s prodigious genius.

Hughes says:

Not only did Smith own most of the important works that scholars tell us were Shakespeare’s sources, but his personal interests, the passions that drove him, appear in Shakespeare in depth, astonishing knowledge for a poet and playwright, whatever his class, knowledge he throws about with abandon in allusions, similes and metaphors.  This is an approach to a subject that can only be taken by one who’s been steeped in a subject from earliest days so that it permeates all his thinking.

Read the entire essay, “More nine-inch nails in the Stratford coffin”, posted January 16, 2009 on Hughes’ Politic Worm website, where you can also explore Hughes’ research into Oxford’s Mentors.

Hughes on Oxford’s education

Stephanie Hughes reports on information about Edward de Vere’s education now on her blog at, Politic Worm:

The question of Oxford’s education is crucial to his authorship of the Shakespeare canon. Unfortunately it’s not the “smoking gun” everyone is hoping for, largely because not just one, but two things have to be accepted before its significance can be appreciated. A reader has to understand 1) why William can’t possibly be the author, and 2) what an astonishing education the author actually had.

Because Jonson was forced by the Stratford biography to portray the author as poorly educated (“small Latin and less Greek”), generations of Shakespeareans have assumed, despite all evidence to the contrary, that he was, as Milton saw him, or at least portrayed him, “Fancy’s child, warbling Nature’s woodnotes wild.” Milton should have known better, and perhaps he did. His patroness, Alice Spencer, Dowager Countess of Derby, the probable original of Kate from Taming of the Shrew, certainly knew the truth about Shakespeare.

In any case, for those of us who care about the truth, knowing how Oxford got educated, by whom, and what connection his education has with the works of Shakespeare is fundamental to understanding why he, and only he, can possibly be Shakespeare. More than that, it gives the richest material for the origins of the works.

New titles should appear on your screen in color. A fair amount of background is necessary to understand how and why things happened as they did, but a blog is not a book. Hopefully there’s enough here to make sense but not so much as to overwhelm. If otherwise, please ask questions. I’m grateful to those who do.

Stephanie Hughes

Stephanie Hughes searches for the meaning of Oxford


When Oxfordians express the desire for a smoking gun I have to smile.

What would you call the six pathetic signatures?
What about Jonson’s Sogliardo?
What about Thomas Kynvett’s phrase, “that shadow of thine”?
What about the University Wits who all strangely disappeared just when Oxford lost Fisher’s Folly and Marlowe was assassinated?

Point being, we have dozens of smoking guns and have had for decades. What we don’t have so far is a believable scenario that ties all these things, and scores more, into a story, one that replaces the drunken pederastic murderer of the historians with the troubled, gifted artist who wrote the great Shakespeare canon, struggling to play two mutually exclusive roles at the same time, Lord Great Chamberlain and Renaissance artist.

See http://politicworm.com/2009/09/16/why-we-need-a-scenario/

Note also an interesting comment from Earl Showerman at http://politicworm.com/oxford-shakespeare/birth-of-the-london-stage/they-began-the-beguine/#comment-333

I’m gradually adding material to help support my scenario for the 1580s. Just added: a little history on the theater district where Oxford lived during that time, plus a map of the area: http://politicworm.com/oxford-shakespeare/birth-of-the-london-stage/bishopsgate-history-and-map/

Thanks as always for your interest, questions, and comments.

Stephanie Hughes

Much Ado on the Hudson

Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival at Boscobel on the Hudson

Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival at Boscobel on the Hudson

Reviewed by Stephanie Hughes

My family and I had a wonderful time last weekend at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival’s production of Much Ado About Nothing, performed in (and around) a big circus type tent on the grounds of Boscobel, one of the great estates that line the Hudson River as it approaches Manhattan. Rather than a painted backdrop, the audience sees the action taking place before a living vista of the valley as day draws slowly down to night. Located at one of the most scenic junctures of the river, facing West Point on the western shore, the river dotted with sailboats, it’s as though one of the great nineteenth century paintings from the Hudson River School has come to three-dimensional life.

Like most of the audience, we picnicked first on the lawn.  Once within the theater tent where protected from the weather — though luckily we needed no protection on this beautiful evening — we observed the odd behavior of some beings from another time. We could have been sitting with the English Court on the lawn of some great estate in one of the summer bowers built to keep off the weather, watching the original cast perform this play.

Although the director calls his preferred style of costume design steampunk, the result for the audience is a happy submersion in the holiday world that Shakespeare portrays in most of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, parts of Twelfth Night, Act IV of A Winter’s Tale, Act V of Two Gents, and most of As You Like It, holiday plays meant to be performed out of doors in good weather.  Far more than we could ever be in a theater, here at Boscobel we are in the Old English holiday world of merry-making where there is no past or future.  One enters into it, has as good a time as possible, and leaves it when it’s time to return to the workaday world of clocks and calendars. In this world there is no past or future, so costumes can relate to any period. It’s the audience who, oddly dressed in T shirts and shorts, seem tourists from another time.

Much Ado is a comedy, of course, so out under the summer sky these professionals played it broadly and yet not so broadly that the tenderness is lost, for this is one of the most delicately tender of the Shakespeare romances. The actors who perform the roles of Beatrice and Benedick are more than up to the challenge, Jason O’Connell in particular bringing a wonderfully silly vision of Benedick as a louche narcissist who literally falls all over himself when he finds himself falling in love, while Nance Williamson is all anyone could wish as the as the sharp-tongued but tender-hearted Beatrice. “Everybody plays the fool, one time, there’s no exception to the rule,” goes the old song, and Shakespeare, and this wonderfully intuitive version of Benedick express this timeless message, so welcome on a warm and timeless midsummer eve.

I urge all who live in the New York area to see the show. The work is played in repertory with Pericles through July 31 in Garrison, New York, 8 miles north of the Bear Mountain Bridge on Route 9D.  Directions from Manhattan, New Jersey, and Westchester are on the website: http://hvshakespeare.org/.

The director of Much Ado, John Christian Plummer, is an Oxfordian — with a TV series based on Mark Anderson’s biography, Shakespeare by Another Name, up his sleeve —  and although I don’t see how knowing that affects a particular performance, if in any way it inspired this excellent version of this wonderful play, then efforts to get the Oxford story told have borne some truly excellent fruit.

Stephanie Hughes is an educator and writer who lives in Nyack, NY. She is a former editor of the Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter and the SOS journal, The Oxfordian. Her work can be viewed on her blog, Politic Worm at http://politicworm.com.

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

Stephanie Hughes comments on Dartmouth datamining study

Stephanie Huges came across the work of three Dartmouth student: Oleg Seletsky, Tiger Huang, and William Henderson-Frost,  who wrote a paper titled, “The Shakespeare Authorship Question” in December 2007. They used modern text analysis and datamining techniques to analyize the work of Shakespeare and compare it to leading authorship candidates. They concluded:

In short, our research leads us to believe that out of the suspects, Edward de Vere is the only candidate who shows serious potential. After noticing that Edward de Vere also holds the most followers currently ascribing to the non-Shakespeare philosophy, the authors of this paper are very doubtful that Shakespeare did in fact write his plays.

Stephanie said:

I thought I’d pass along something I just found on the Internet. Not having been on any lists lately or done much reading outside my own research, for all I know you may know about it already, since it’s from 2007. But I can’t help sharing it anyway. I should think this would have sent up some red flags somewhere. Just a student project, but hey, good news for us, and good news that some academics are interested.  Also good news that it appears to have been totally without bias.

Study URL: http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/~datamining/Final.pdf



Politic Worm

Independent scholar Stephanie Hughes has inaugurated a new blog, Politic Worm. She said:

I’m starting a blog on the Authorship Question, not only “who wrote the Shakespeare canon?” but the broader question of who wrote several of the other important literary canons of the Elizabethan Renaissance, and why so many found it necessary to hide their identities as authors.

So different is our present day culture from that of the English Reformation, and so much information is missing that should be there, whether on purpose or through the natural entropy of time, that, to arrive at a scenario has meant looking beyond literary history into mainstream history, most particularly the history of the Renaissance and Reformation periods, as well as modern clinical psychology, art history, theater history, the literary histories of the other European Renaissance nations, and the most complete biographies possible of everyone concerned.