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"Does having a college degree really make it any more likely that someone could write Hamlet?" - MP
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Okay, this is nutty, but... I remember watching a television program about a famous female Georgia writer. (wish I could remember who she was) She said all of her books came to her in dreams. In her dreams an old black lady would come out of an old house and say to her, "Now you better listen closely to what I'm fixing to tell you!" I'm a big proponent of the transmitter/reciever component to the human brain, and I think it's not unlikely that whoever wrote Shakespeare might of had some input from the other side. I see to recall other authors and artists recieving help and information, all having a spiritual component, from the "other side." For what it's worth!

Probably your best post on the Authorship Question.

Among the biggest pieces of circumstantial evidence pointing AWAY from the Stratford man, are Shakespeare’s apparently local and experiential knowledge of Italy and the apparent impunity with which he addresses and occasionally denigrates the most powerful members of the Court.

Even if one were to accept some remarkable origin for his writing, the thought that a commoner could have written thinly disguised portraits of the Cecil’s is unthinkable.

movie trivia? who was the first white actor motion picture star to kiss a black woman in a major motion picture?

also what was the title of the movie?

Well, Michael, you've certainly convinced me.
QED.

William - Wasn't that Star Trek when Kirk kissed Uhura?

William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke, was known as the “welsh earl”. He is supposed to be the W.H. or ‘fair youth’ of the sonnets, but it’s a bit unlikely. He does look like quite like the image of Shakespeare we have.

The clincher is the anagram: William Shakespeare = “I am Spike, the Welsh Earl”.
Obviously, Spike was his nickname.

Beat that one, Hope ;-)

In your opinion, was Ben Jonson a.) misinformed, b.) lying, or c.) a part of the conspiracy to hide Oxford's authorship of the works (am I missing any other alternatives)?

Sorry, "I am Spike, a Welsh Earl" !!

I like "Spike" way better than "The Bard"!

Seriously though, reading Cantor's piece makes it crystal clear that a higher education is not particular helpful in preventing someone from presenting exceptionally weak arguments in their essays.

>In your opinion, was Ben Jonson a.) misinformed, b.) lying, or c.) a part of the conspiracy to hide Oxford's authorship of the works (am I missing any other alternatives)?

I think it was "C."

Diana Price has a good discussion of Jonson's contribution to the First Folio, and the multiple levels of meaning in his words, in her book Shakespeare's Unorthodox Biography.

There was nothing immoral about Jonson's role; he was acting in accordance with the wishes of the late author and his family. Or so I see it, anyway.

Interesting -- I wasn't thinking about Jonson's First Folio comments, but rather his allusion to Shakespeare in his Discoveries (written between 1630 and 1637 and published posthumously)where Jonson speaks of the players as saying of Shakespeare that “he never blotted out a line,” (corroborating the First Folio material) and writes of them as commending “their friend” on his abilities as a writer. In addition, Jonson writes about his own affection for "the man" while criticizing some of Shakespeare's writing faults. Jonson, therefore, identifies the player, the Stratfordian man, with the playwright. Why, at this late date, with all the major players long since dead, and in a work that he didn't publish, would Jonson have felt the need to continue the subterfuge?

Dominic,

I would refer you to Diana Price's book (linked above) for a discussion of Jonson's commonplace book. The short answer is that Ben was referring to the Stratford man in most of those comments, and recalling him (none too fondly) as an ignorant blowhard who ineptly recited snatches of Shakespearean dialogue, often losing the sense of the words. Jonson's poem "On Poet-Ape" may refer to the same subject, and this portrait of the Stratford man squares rather nicely with Greene's (or Chettle's) portrait of the "upstart crow."

Price's conclusion was that the Stratford man was a play-broker - someone who bought and sold playscripts, making a hefty profit, and often taking credit for others' work. Naturally this did not endear him to the writers he exploited, but it did make him an ideal front man for an aristocrat who wished to remain anonymous.

I admit this doesn't sound convincing when stated so baldly, but the thesis, with all of its supporting evidence, is too complicated to go into in just a paragraph or two.

I certainly agree that Jonson's notes require an explanation. Price's analysis persuades me, but your mileage may vary.

The other possiibility, which I don't dismiss, is that the Stratford man really did write the plays - but in that case he must have been taken in by a privileged household and given an education and a tour of the Continent, and provided with political protection throughout his career. Clare Asquith makes this case in her book Shadowplay, and Eric Sams and E.A.J. Honigmann have made similar arguments. But there is no evidence supporting this scenario, other than a reference to a "William Shakeshafte" employed in a wealthy household in Warwickshire. Maybe Shakeshafte was Shakespeare in a variant spelling or using a (rather flimsy) alias. Asquith suggests that Shakespeare went to college under an alias for political reasons - thus acquiring a university degree without leaving any record of it.

These claims can't be ruled out, but I think they are at least as speculative as Oxfordian theories, and they don't explain the parallels between the plays' content and Oxford's life.

@ William
About your movie trivia, it must be Charlton Heston, right?

Early AM in Buenos Aires and here I am on my first full day reading the musings of my American bloggers...

Anyway, I tried to use my spiritual connections to see if I could get an answer to this question, and I received the cryptic message, "go with Prescott." Spirits love mysteries and are good about keeping cultural secrets in tact.

Furthermore, I was also told this, "There was more than one, but one was 'Him' more than non."

I'm putting my money on de Vere. All of it.
Everyone has their sources, and I have mine.

Marcel I get stuff through like that too, I sometimes get riddles. I'll never forget this one I got 4 yrs ago in prayer, I asked a question and I heard this,

A valley, a mountain, a river, a lark, beyond the rainbow .. .... ....!

Now I left out a few words cos I know what it means today, well I know whats its pointing too but just so people can see, spirit sometimes are not straight too the point, sometimes they prod you too seek.

The other thing you can get stuff through that seems obvious only to find later it wasn't meant to be taken literally but pointed to something else, anyway never a dull moment :-)

Marcel another thing I've discovered is sometimes the sources are to be trusted!

sorry I meant NOT to be trusted.

You are right, Hope, but one can trust oneself, at least most of the time.

Speaking on that topic, here's my take on Truth...

Truth is relative, but as far as relatives go, Truth is not so bad.

I will say this, that based on my sources, I am 100% sure that William Shakespeare was not the sole playwright of the plays and sonnets that bear his name.

Touché, Michael. Excellent rebuttal.

Thanks for the info about Price's theory. I'm not sure how to square her interpretation with Jonson saying that Shakespeare should have blotted lines "in his writing". And I still don't understand why Jonson, who must have been a part of the conspiracy if Price is right (sorry) wouldn't feel free to divulge the name of the true author after 1630, in his private jottings (which Jonson couldn't have known would be published) written long after the death of all interested parties. Guess I'll keep burrowing into the evidence. Thanks again.

Dominic

The word “conspiracy” is loaded with connotations. It’s pejorative and suggests people sitting around and deciding on a deliberate course of action, in this case an intention to deceive.

But most “conspiracies” of this type aren’t like that. Let me give an example, albeit a silly one: Ring Lardner was playing cards with several reporters on a train bringing the Yankees to another city. Suddenly a door opened up and woman ran through the car, chased by a naked Babe Ruth. A pause, then Lardner said, “It’s a good thing we didn’t see that.”

There was no explicit conspiracy to suppress Ruth’s womanizing. It was simply accepted as the way things were done at the time.

You ask why Johnson would not reveal what he knew decades later. An equally valid question is: why would he? Shakespeare, the poet and playwright, was not “SHAKESPEARE” the demi-god yet. He was a writer from a previous generation that Johnson probably thought inferior to himself. Also, he would have felt no need to reveal the “secret”. The public wasn’t hungry for celebrity news like it is now, nor would there be any particular reason to provoke the aristocracy, which was still very powerful would likely have contained many loyal to Oxford. (Those “incomparable brethren” among them.)

Finally, the “secret” was probably not particularly secret – at least not around the court or in literary circles. It is impossible to imagine that Burghley did not know who was satirizing him as Polonius, even using his personal letters to his son as material. Or that Cecil (the son) was unaware of who using him as the model for Richard. As Joseph Sorbon suggests, it was probably and open secret that no one who knew felt the need to write down (and could not have gotten it into print even if they wished).

Johnson had no particular reason to break confidence and many not to. He may have been speaking about both the Stratford man and Oxford with wink here or there. Once you get past the idea of explicit conspiracy theories (which, sadly, some Oxfordians fail to do) it is fairly easy to see how a widely known “secret” passed from living memory.

Tony:

It seems to me there are significant difference between your Ring Lardner example and the situation with Ben Jonson. Lardner didn't report something he witnessed. On the other hand, if the Oxfordians are correct, Jonson participated in a conscious subterfuge (the First Folio) to portray the Stratfordian as the author of the works.

In addition, Lardner chose not to reveal an incident to the newspaper-reading public. Jonson's audience in the Discoveries was Jonson himself...these were his private notes that he couldn't know would ever even be published (and were not published during his lifetime). There would be no public to consider and no provovcation of any nobles. Why would he carry on the ruse in those private notes?

Finally, if Oxford's authorship of the works was an "open secret" at the time, it is puzzling that there is no documentary evidence of that fact somewhere. The only way two people can keep a secret is if one of them is dead. And if it was an "open secret" it would seem that there weren't any real impediments to Jonson writing it in Discoveries instead of continuing to portray the actors' friend as the writer of the plays.

>if the Oxfordians are correct, Jonson participated in a conscious subterfuge

Yes ... as did the White House press corps when they depicted John Kennedy's marriage as idyllic, even while knowing that he was keeping dozens of mistresses.

An earlier White House press corps depicted Franklin Roosevelt as hale and hearty, when in reality he was crippled by polio.

>Why would he carry on the ruse in those private notes?

In a police state, people develop the habit of caution when committing anything to paper, whether it's private or not - because nothing is ever fully private. Thomas Kyd was imprisoned and tortured after "atheistic" writings were discovered in a search of his lodgings. Needless to say, the authorities did not need a search warrant or probable cause ...

Interesting points. Still the reporters were writing (or deciding not to write) for a wide audience. Jonson was writing for himself, not an audience that required him to continue to maintain the cover story...certainly he wasn't trying to fool himself in maintaining the subterfuge about Shakespeare being the writer.

And, in the police state that you describe, would he feel comfortable making such disparaging remarks about the writer of the plays even if he was continuing (for whatever reason) to hide the true author behind the front man. This gets more and more puzzling -- it seems the Oxfordian case would be better served by an argument that Jonson had been hoodwinked as well. Thanks for your comments -- I am muddling my way through the evidence and it certainly helps to test it against possible interpretations.

> It seems to me there are significant difference between your Ring Lardner example and the situation with Ben Jonson. Lardner didn't report something he witnessed.

The example is exaggerated for effect. I could have easily gone to the JFK and FDR examples Michael used but I wanted to make it clear that most so-called consipiricies are not explicit: they emerge from underlying assumptions shared by a group. Rather than being rare or elaborate, they are commonplace.

>On the other hand, if the Oxfordians are correct, Jonson participated in a conscious subterfuge (the First Folio) to portray the Stratfordian as the author of the works.

Well, why wouldn't he? The Earls who backed the Folio (including Oxford's own son-in-law and a man who was nearly his son-in-law) were powerful nobles whose patronage Jonson had every reason to seek. Jonson was also a man of his time and would not have had the democratic impulse to 'blow the whistle' we'd expect today.

Finally, the Folio is far more ambitious than many let on. The phrases "thy Stratford monument" and "Sweet Swan of Avon" are referred to so frequently that many assume they are used in close proximity and explicitly link to the Stratford man. In fact, they appear in separate parts of the folio. (Oxford had an estate on the Avon, by the way).

Many of Jonson's statements about Shakespeare are patently, obviously false - if they are about the poet and playwright. Notably "less Latin and little Greek" and the suggestion that he never blotted out a line. The plays themselves sufficiently rebuke those absurdities.

The point is that you seem to be claiming that it is hard to imagine Jonson engaging in the deceit. Actually, it is quite easy. It's harder to imagine that he would or could resist it.

If you have not read Price's book (which does NOT make a case for Oxford) I urge you to do so. She makes it extremely difficult to maintain the Stratford man's case.

>The example is exaggerated for effect. I could have easily gone to the JFK and FDR examples Michael used but I wanted to make it clear that most so-called consipiricies are not explicit: they emerge from underlying assumptions shared by a group. Rather than being rare or elaborate, they are commonplace.
I’d have to disagree with you there. Most conspiracies are the result of people consciously acting in concert to bring about a shared goal (such as the criminal conspiracies that are involved in fraud, bank robberies, assassinations, etc.). The cost involved in the publication of the First Folio indicates that someone put a lot of thought into it, and whoever was behind the hoax spent a good deal of time, effort, and silver in carrying out the deflection (if that’s what it was..
>>On the other hand, if the Oxfordians are correct, Jonson participated in a conscious subterfuge (the First Folio) to portray the Stratfordian as the author of the works.
>Well, why wouldn't he? The Earls who backed the Folio (including Oxford's own son-in-law and a man who was nearly his son-in-law) were powerful nobles whose patronage Jonson had every reason to seek. Jonson was also a man of his time and would not have had the democratic impulse to 'blow the whistle' we'd expect today.
I think you’re missing my point. Under the Oxfordian scenario, Jonson consciously took part in an effort to mislead the general public into thinking that the works were written by William Shakespeare of Stratford. He knew the “open secret” – this doesn’t seem to square at all with what he was writing to himself later after the participants in this hoax were long since dead. I fail to see what motivation he would have for keeping the secret from himself in his private writings. He wouldn’t be “blowing the whistle” in a private notebook that was not intended to be read by anyone but Jonson himself.
>The point is that you seem to be claiming that it is hard to imagine Jonson engaging in the deceit. Actually, it is quite easy. It's harder to imagine that he would or could resist it.
That is not what I’m claiming at all. I could see Jonson possibly engaging in the deceit that was foisted on the public in the First Folio. What I can’t see as logical is why he would still be carrying on the deception years later in a private notebook that was meant for his eyes only. Who was he trying to fool in that passage -- himself?
>If you have not read Price's book (which does NOT make a case for Oxford) I urge you to do so. She makes it extremely difficult to maintain the Stratford man's case.
I intend to read Ms. Price’s book. However, if her interpretation of the passage in Discoveries (that it is not describing Shakespeare as the writer of the plays) is any indication of her overall reasoning, I’m not sure I’ll be all that convinced – but I’ll withhold judgment until I’ve read it. I’m currently reading Anderson’s book, and I’ll probably read Ogburn next, so it may be a bit before I get to Price.

Another feature of Shakespeare's work that would require an education is his sonnets. Sonnets must follow complicated rules of form. It requires extensive drill-work in school in copying out the sonnets of others and composing practice-sonnets before an author can become proficient enough to produce them as readily as Shakespeare did.

Some of you may be interested in a PowerPoint I created and presented at the De Vere Studies Conference many years ago, called "Shakespeare and Oxford: 25 Curious Connections."

http://www.shakespearefellowship.org/virtualclassroom/25connections/25ConnectionsV5_files/frame.htm

In short, I use primarily Stratfordian sources to demonstrate that many things they point out about the "author" Shakespeare directly connects to "Oxford" and hardly at all to William of Stratford.

Enjoy!

Oops! The link was too long. Thank god for tinyurl.com

Try this one:

http://tinyurl.com/4klobg

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