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I find the evidence against the traditional authorship quite strong, but have never understood how an actor could pose as a playwright and not be one. Wouldn't it be quickly obvious to the other actors?

Perhaps at the time it WAS reasonably well known, but time has sort of caused that to be unknown.

Wouldn't a rose by any other name smell just as sweet?
Does the genius and beauty of the plays mean less if it was Francis Bacon, Marlowe or now De Vere was the actual writer?
Could there not have been many writers who Shakspear paid as what we would call ghost writers?

How many other things do we think that we know about history, but are completely wrong about? How many other people that we thought were real turned out to be made up?

http://thegodmovie.com/

I'm not one to just jump in to believing things headfirst, which is why I'm neutral on the whole Shakespeare authorship question. I'm just wondering what you think of this site?

http://shakespeareauthorship.com/

I haven't seen anything either way, but it's interesting to see supposed rebuttals to each of the sides.

Michael: are you aware of the British medium Hester Dowden who, in 1947, claimed to have written "conversations" (in the form of automatic writings) with the group of Elizabethans she alleged were responsible for the creative output of Wm. Shakespeare? The author Percy Allen sat with her during these seances as she went on to allege that the Shakespearean works were supposedly the combined efforts of not only Shakespeare himself (she offered nothing to clear up the identity questions you outlined above) and the 17th Earl of Oxford, but also the Elizabethan writers Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, as well as the redoubtable Francis Bacon himself.

According to Dowden's "contacts", this team would each contribute according to their respective talents. Shakespeare himself (?) would create the more vivid characters and construct the dramatic framework. de Vere supposedly wrote the more romantic and lyrical passages, as well as all of the sonnets ("dictating" three new ones to Mrs. Dowden), while Fletcher and Beaumont provided "additional material". Bacon "claimed" to have been the editor of the entirety. Here is an alleged quote from Shakespeare himself, via Hester Dowden's automatic writings:

"I was quick at knowing what would be effective on stage. I would find a plot (Hamlet was one), consult with Oxford, and form a skeleton edifice, which he would furnish and people, as befitted the subject ...I was the skeleton of the body that wrote the plays. The flesh and blood was NOT mine, but I was always in the production."

As always, it is difficult to credit such information, the sources of automaticism being so problematic. Combining this with the valid mysteries of Shakespearean identity and authorship creates a kind of compound interest, as the questions continue to multiply. For those who are wondering, my source for this material is from the multibook series "The Unexplained", first published in the UK in 1983. The editors were Prof. A.J.Ellison, Dr. J.Allen Hynek, Brian Inglis and Colin Wilson.

Kevin, what you're suggesting is an incredibly large conspiracy that gets exponentially harder to believe, the more people you throw in. I would also be skeptical about them all suddenly be willing to divulge their involvement to Jane Medium in England. Perhaps, one could argue, that they saw no harm in it since people would just regard her as a nutty woman screaming about this and that, but I would think that it's more or less unlikely.

To be fair, though, if it was in a book by Colin Wilson, I view it with a bit more interest. Colin Wilson, to me, is utterly brilliant.

Fascinating.

According to this site --

http://www.shakespeare-oxford.com/

-- the authorship has been in question for some time. It did always seem odd to me that he had a wife and children as much as forgotten, away off in Stratford (which is what I was taught in school, that they were estranged), and wrote such romantic sonnets, unless he was very much devoted to someone else, or at least knew what devotion was. To a certain degree Shakespeare defined romantic love for an era, and for many people since.

"Love is not love that alters when it alteration finds. . ." in addition to so much more that he wrote, just doesn't seem in line with what is known of the Stratford Shakspere.

>have never understood how an actor could pose as a playwright and not be one

The idea is that it was something of an open secret, among those "in the know," that an aristocrat was the real author, but no one discussed it publicly. An analogy (suggested by Diana Price) can be made with the way the White House press corps knew about FDR's lameness and JFK's womanizing, and doubtless discussed it among themselves, but did not report these facts to the public.

In those days (unlike now!), there was a strong taboo about embarrassing a member of the aristocracy. Moreover, Elizabethan England was almost a totalitarian society in some respects, and people were jailed or even executed for saying or writing the wrong thing. People would have been especially reluctant to say anything about Oxford, son-in-law of Lord Burghley, the queen's spymaster.

>are you aware of the British medium Hester Dowden

Yes, but I give no credence to those communications or to the theory of group authorship. I don't think Shakespeare's plays were the work of a committee.

>I'm just wondering what you think of this site?
http://shakespeareauthorship.com/

It's an interesting site, but I think they "protest too much." :-)

>Does the genius and beauty of the plays mean less if it was Francis Bacon, Marlowe or now De Vere was the actual writer?

I think we understand the material better once we see it as having clear parallels with De Vere's life. Hank Whittemore's book The Monument provides a very satisfying Oxfordian interpretation of the Sonnets, for instance. When I reread the Sonnets recently, I was struck by how much more meaningful they were in light of Whittemore's approach.

Even small things in the plays are illuminated. For instance, why does Hamlet call Polonius a fishmonger? Orthodox scholarship has no answer, but if Hamlet is a stand-in for De Vere, and Polonius is a burlesque of De Vere's father-in-law Burghley, then the joke makes sense. To stimulate the fishing industry, Burghley had pushed through a law mandating that British subjects eat fish two days a week. Thus, calling him a fishmonger is a neat satirical jab.

Or why is Hamlet captured and then released by pirates? The episode makes more sense when we learn that the same thing happened to De Vere.

Mark Anderson's book provides many more such instances, which give new layers of meaning to familiar Shakesperaean dialogue and situations.

Michael,
You really should discuss these Shakespeare authorship/identity questions with Sandra Sparks from Atlanta, GA..
(All the following citations are from Sandra S)
http://home.earthlink.net/~shakespeareswench/reincarnatingwill/id13.html
"..and was embarrassed if anyone praised Shakespeare too much. If someone claimed he had nothing to do with the plays I was furious. I was always stopping myself from just blurting out things - no, he didn't write all of all of the plays, but he did write at least parts - things I would just think, not check on. I still avoided reading about Shakespeare."
http://reincarnationcafe.freeforums.org/viewtopic.php?t=101&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0&sid=9de50441aaeeaf85164dd7c41635519d
"One thing I want to make clear from the beginning: If I am a reincarnation of William Shakespeare, I do not believe I am the only one alive. So, included in this collection are items and links to information about parallel lifetimes, and the concept of soul-splitting. Also included in this collection are thoughts on dealing with memories of famous past lifetimes, and how to tell if you really have had a famous life, or not."
http://home.earthlink.net/~shakespeareswench/reincarnatingwill/id4.html
"The ultimate question: Did Shakespeare write Shakespeare?
Not all of it, no.
The early Shakespeare plays were already in existence when WS contributed to them: Two Gentlemen of Verona had been around since the days of the great clown, Richard Tarlton, and shows that by retaining his famous bit with the dog. Henry VI part 1 and 2, Edward III, and a few others contain WS's early contributions. WS's gift was for instant dialogue in the early days. The company on occasion lost track of a book, or a piece of dialogue, and he would make new dialogue, which was an improvement on the original. He rapidly increased his work in this fashion.

I think Comedy of Errors was the first comedy he did largely on his own, but I'm not sure. By Henry VI part 3, he was during the lion's share of the work, but very few of the plays were ever totally by his hand. Collaboration and reworking of earlier materials were the habits of the theatre at that time.

Many of his plays were adaptations of earlier works. Even Antony and Cleopatra, which he loved; he could afford to, since almost all of it comes straight from Plutarch and was adapted by him for the stage."

Things were looser, more fluid and creative in that time and place; you have but to examine spelling to see this. Sir Walter Ralegh, for example, spelled his name many ways before eventually settling on Ralegh. (Think of how spelling gradually "hardened" as dictionaries appeared and prevailed.)

The same holds for plays, both in their writing and in theater productions, but here collaboration was only natural -- acting troupes, after all, consisted of many actors, not one, with any number of others (stagehands, financiers, dramatists, and so on).

Consider, too, how there was a disreputable element such enterprises in that time and place; this was not classical Greece.

The increased division, specialization, and formalization of the craft happened later, as with spelling, gradually; we project a later version of playwriting (and acting) backwards on an earlier time.

Shakespeare was a figurehead for the overall collaborative activity, then, a recognized "brand" name. I doubt any thought this at all strange at the time.

Did he do write some portion of the plays himself? Most likely; why would this not be so?

Did he write every single word? Definitely not, nor should anyone find this at all surprising. Shakespeare himself would likely find all of this speculation absurd and amusing.

Regards

Bill I.
http://www.realitytest.com

Michael, could you please explain what you mean when you say that Stratfordians "protest too much"?

>Did he do write some portion of the plays himself? Most likely; why would this not be so?

Because he was a barely literate provincial with only a few years of grammar school education, who struggled to sign his own name (often leaving it unfinished).

>Michael, could you please explain what you mean when you say that Stratfordians "protest too much"?

I was just being cute. I think they rely on lawyerly excuses, appeals to authority, straw-man attacks, ad hominems, etc. In some old essays of mine, written before I decided De Vere was the author, I discuss both sides of the controversy. These essays can be found here, at the top of the page.

>You really should discuss these Shakespeare authorship/identity questions with Sandra Sparks from Atlanta, GA.

I don't think it would be of much use to discuss the controversy with someone who thinks she's the reincarnation (or partial reincarnation) of Shakespeare. It's a doubtful claim at best, akin to saying that one is the reincarnation of Cleopatra or Napoleon. However, I'll take a look at her Web site. Maybe it will surprise me ...

One of the things that Diana Price does so well is focus on what the actual documentation tells us. I try to help researchers get source materials at my Shakespeare Authorship Sourcebook website.

For those who are interested in a methodical look Shakespeare the writer's knowledge of law (without raising the authorship issue, just the history of this particular argument), you can read online a 30,000-word peer-reviewed article I wrote that has been cited by the Miami Law Journal among others.

http://www.shakespearefellowship.org/virtualclassroom/Law/index.htm

Regardless of authorship, it's an interesting commentary on the climate of the era. Here we have the most celebrated literature in Western culture, yet whoever wrote it (if not Shakespeare) was insistent about anonymity.

Must have been interesting times.

Yes, interesting times.

Remember, it was a kind of totalitarian regime where there was no real Free Speech. Drama was purposely used, even by Lord Burghley, to communicate a secondary level of meaning. It was well-known that as long as you counched the message in an ambiguous style, you could get away with it.

Oxford's problem was that he clearly targeted very powerful people, including his father-in-law, Burghley, for ridicule and satire.

Gets you into trouble, and makes those in powerful want to keep others from recognizing the ambiguous message.

Hamlet just a story about the past, having nothing to do with current political reality.

Righhhhht....

Thanks for the link, Mark. Looks like a very interesting article.

Michael what is your opinion is our close encounter with an asteroid doomsayers are saying the asteroid may take a negative tilt causing earthquakes, firestorms on earth.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080124192818.htm

Hi Michael,

Is there some relationship between Burghley ( the “fishmonger”) and the modern word “burley”- a fish attractant ?
Rod McK

I would note for the record that I don't place any faith in the automatic writings of Hester Dowden as revealing the authorship of Shakespeare's writings, but I had stumbled across the article just a day or two previous to Michael's posting and thought that an interesting coincidence. For some years now I have been of the opinion that it was indeed Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, who was the author of the works attributed to William Shakespeare. I was unaware of the claims of Sandra Sparks, but I share Michael's doubts on that. If she were claiming to be Cleopatra reincarnated, we could ask her about the plotline and dialogues found in Shakespeare's dramatization. Always good to get feedback from the source...;)

What a shallow notion of human nature underlies this entire argument! That Shakespeare, the author, should have been a contradictory personality is perfectly consistent with genius. I find the argument appalling in its implicit classism. Like Newton, Shakespeare didn't need to have society tell him about his nobility--it was his genius. This is pure rubbish.

>That Shakespeare, the author, should have been a contradictory personality is perfectly consistent with genius.

There's more to Price's argument than that. Read the book.

Michael, if you ever write a book on the paranormal, it would be interesting to see a comparison between the skepticism of the Stratfordians and the skepticism of CSICOP and similar organisations. I think the case of the controversy around the Shakespeare authorship shows that the same kinds of attitudes permeate not only paranormal topics but more orthodox issues as well, and I think that's a good counter-argument to George Hansen's 'Trickster' theory.

Many Shakespeare scholars show a tendancy towards Randi / Dawkins style scepticism whenever the authorship question is raised - long on verbal debating tactics, short on facts. I remember being warned not to mention the issue when I was doing my English Litereature finals for fear of being marked down.

Oops! Larry Boy beat me to it while I was composing :-)

"I think the case of the controversy around the Shakespeare authorship shows that the same kinds of attitudes permeate not only paranormal topics but more orthodox issues as well"

Another alarming parallel is going on with cosmology. Take a look at the Thunderbolts forum (especially the Net Talk thread).

http://www.thunderbolts.info/forum/phpBB/phpBB2/index.php

Many of these contributors are quite erudite in physics and electrical engineering, yet they are crucified in the mainstream science forums for suggesting that anomalous astronomical observations that have befuddled mainstream theorists may be explained if one reconsiders certain fundamental assumptions.

This is especially troubling considering that the billions earmarked for research each year comes with the caveat that findings must be interpreted only within the context of current accepted theory.

That's not science, it's dogma.

I, too, read Mark Anderson's book and came away quite convinced that Edward De Vere was the author of the works attributed to Shakespeare.

Regarding the blindspots of Stratfordians, Dawkins, Randi, and the like, I've written and presented extensively on the underlying reasons, which have to do with the way the human mind is structured purposely to create blind spots to anything that contradicts what we have subconsciously stored as "The Truth."

A version of these are available on my WitNit blog in a series of posts "How the Mind Works"

http://www.witnit.org/archives/2005/02/1_how_the_mind.php

Let me know if you find these readable...

> Let me know if you find these readable...

They sure do look interesting. I will check them out.

I saw Mark Alexanders book on the shelf in a bookshop and opened it at random: to the passage where he was discussing the Marston and Hall satires, in which the solution to the authorship problem may indeed be found. Alexander tries to make out that deVere is the "Labeo" in the satires, who from other internal evidence must be the author of Venus and Adonis at least. What Mark overlooks, or omits to mention, is that Labeo is clearly and unmistakably identified by the phrase "mediocria firma" within the satires. This phrase can only apply to one person, Francis Bacon. as this was his family motto. Why does Mark Alexander not know this? Or if he does why does he leave it out? I laughed, and closed the book. On it's own this ommision renders the entire thesis of the book dead in the water. Labeo is Shakespeare, and Labeo is Bacon. Case Closed. The case for deVere is the wobbliest hypothesis since phlogiston, a house of cards built on sand. I've yet to meet a single Oxfordian who has taken the trouble to read the case for Bacon in any detail. Write me if you are one. The definitive book on the Bacon case is by Nigel Cockburn and is unanswerable. It's complete and by far and away the best book ever on the topic. No stratfordian or oxfordian has dared touch it to the best of my knowledge. Write me if you are one. Macbeth contains references to the gunpowder plot (1605) but deVere was dead by then, without even starting on the Tempest. Etc etc etc. Visit sirbacon.org for all of the material. or baconisshakespeare.blogspot.com. The case for Bacon is overwhelming: The Promus notebook, the Northumberland manuscript, the parallels, the evidence from his life, and his own words: Francis Bacon is Shakespeare. Forgetaboutit.

I saw Mark Alexanders book on the shelf in a bookshop and opened it at random: to the passage where he was discussing the Marston and Hall satires, in which the solution to the authorship problem may indeed be found. Alexander tries to make out that deVere is the "Labeo" in the satires, who from other internal evidence must be the author of Venus and Adonis at least. What Mark overlooks, or omits to mention, is that Labeo is clearly and unmistakably identified by the phrase "mediocria firma" within the satires. This phrase can only apply to one person, Francis Bacon. as this was his family motto. Why does Mark Alexander not know this? Or if he does why does he leave it out? I laughed, and closed the book. On it's own this ommision renders the entire thesis of the book dead in the water. Labeo is Shakespeare, and Labeo is Bacon. Case Closed. The case for deVere is the wobbliest hypothesis since phlogiston, a house of cards built on sand. I've yet to meet a single Oxfordian who has taken the trouble to read the case for Bacon in any detail. Write me if you are one. The definitive book on the Bacon case is by Nigel Cockburn and is unanswerable. It's complete and by far and away the best book ever on the topic. No stratfordian or oxfordian has dared touch it to the best of my knowledge. Write me if you are one. Macbeth contains references to the gunpowder plot (1605) but deVere was dead by then, without even starting on the Tempest. Etc etc etc. Visit sirbacon.org for all of the material. or baconisshakespeare.blogspot.com. The case for Bacon is overwhelming: The Promus notebook, the Northumberland manuscript, the parallels, the evidence from his life, and his own words: Francis Bacon is Shakespeare. Forgetaboutit.

Actually, you saw Mark ANDERSON'S book on the bookshelf.

I am the OTHER Mark. I know Mark well and people always mix us up.

I always find it entertaining how people go looking for that one datum to allow them to avoid examining an entire argument...

By the way, I just recalled that I created a specific article on Stratfordian blindspots at

http://www.sourcetext.com/sourcebook/essays/scotoma.html

Hello Michael Prescott,

I would add that Stratfordians tend to "protest too much," to pick up an earlier part of the thread, because they have embraced a romantic view of the Poet Shakespeare--the small town boy touched by a genius that allowed him to write masterworks from the perspective of a court insider even though he was always--so far as anyone knows or can prove--a provincial outsider. To find that in reality 'Shakespeare' was an insider who had the motive and means to satirize the great and the near-great, to exalt those he admired and poetically decimate those he despised, as well as successfully conceal his authorship from the public eye, is a terrifying alternative narrative to someone who has taken Shakespeare's life as a beacon of hope that one day despite humble(r) beginnings anyone can grow up to be great. If this 19th/20th/21st century American idea were not in play, Stratfordians could look at the contextual 16th/17th century (English) evidence more objectively. But to admit that one piece favors De Vere would be fatal--pull on that thread and the whole sweater will unravel--and they know it.

Thanks for clarifying the different Marks, Mark. Glad you were entertained by my post. As I said, I didn't go looking, I opened it directly at that spot. And believe me, I am more than familiar with the Oxford arguments. But a single knock-out blow is a knock-out blow, and 22 rounds of dancing around the ring is besides the point. Hall and Marston identify Shakespeare and they say unambiguously he is Bacon. Now you might disagree with them, in which case you would claim that they got it wrong, but it is not possible to ignore their identification of Labeo as Mediocria Firma and pretend that they intended Labeo to be understood as deVere. I hope that snippet also entertains you! Have a great day.

PS: I assume from your comment, Mark, that you are tacitly conceding that Mark Anderson was in error here! Great! This is a good thing. We should all be able to admit our mistakes. But in this case it is a fascinating error to make. It's really a case of trying too hard to make the case isn't it? Anderson would have been better off leaving Labeo completely out of the picture; after all, most newbies have no idea that the Hall and Marston satires even exist...so why bring them up at all if they clearly point to the "wrong" man?

But in his attempt to make the Grand Unified Theory, Anderson just couldn't resist trying to shoehorn Labeo into deVere. Which is highly illustrative of the entire Oxfordian program: start from the assumption that DeVere is your man, then go from there making everything fit. It's all one big circular argument without a single piece of hard fact to base it on. Oxfordians are correct on one thing: Stratford William did not write the works which appeared under his name. From then on, it's all downhill. This is my final comment here on this. Have fun with it!

>Hall and Marston identify Shakespeare and they say unambiguously he is Bacon. Now you might disagree with them, in which case you would claim that they got it wrong

That's what I would suspect. The identity of the author was unknown to most people, so there was a lot of guessing. Then as now, some people guessed Bacon. Other people ventured different guesses.

For instance, in the second Parnassus play (I.i.983-95), Shakespeare is identified as Samuel Daniel. One character is described as reciting "nothing but pure Shakespeare." After this character mangles some lines from Romeo and Juliet, his companion remarks:

Mark, Romeo and Juliet: o monstrous theft. I think he will run through a whole book of Samuel Daniel's.

Implying that Daniel wrote the play, and must therefore be Shakespeare. As Diana Price says, at the very least the playwrights "are pointing to confusion over the authorship."

In the area of Shakespeare authorship, any claim that the answer hinges on a single datum is doomed to reveal nothing more than a bias.

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