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Daily Inspiration — Who was Shakespeare?

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Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, is now widely accepted as the legitimate author of the plays and sonnets attributed to the illiterate Stratford businessman, Will Shaksper. I won't go into the voluminous evidence for this claim as it has been investigated and produced in countless publications. De Vere wrote because he had to - to silence the voices in his head; to exorcise the demons, to relieve his profound unhappiness with the title and constrictions forced upon him by noble birth and the times he lived in. to rouse the mob to action. He was Hamlet, an observation not lost on his peers at the time. He watched from a darkened box as his words took effect on the populace. Nearing death he wrote of dying finally, obscure and quickly forgotten. and for centuries he was right about that. Jane Austen suffered a similar fate. Still by several strokes of luck their work survived. All of it speaks to us of our own lives and times. In a television interview the director, Mike Nichols, said that he always thought his plays and films were about this or that social or political ill that needed to be aired. But late in life he understood they were all about himself. Isn't that always the way. It's not just that we prefer to watch from the back row of the darkened theater. We require anonymity to protect our psyches, our innermost thoughts, from public exposure. Dorothy Parker wrote a story about her love for Robert Benchley. She titled it, "Big Blonde" of course. She was a small brunette. As I watched Mike Nichols on the screen, I nodded. I create all of my protagonists as men. As much as we may know that it is "all about ourselves" what we wish for is not notoriety or acclaim, but that the work - our progeny - will outlast us, speak for us, reach people and move them. to action, to tears. to love.

Edward de Vere was born this day in 1550. The article above was guest-blogged by Lila York.

 

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Lila York is a choreographer and activist. "The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media." -- William Colby (Former CIA Director) "We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything (more...)
 

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5 people are discussing this page, with 14 comments  Post Comment


John Lawrence Ré

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Thanks for this, Lila. You can add Hemingway to that group, too.

Submitted on Monday, Apr 15, 2019 at 2:06:20 AM

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Jerry Lobdill

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Thanks for this, Lila. Very interesting! I'm going to forward it to a few friends who are English Lit Ph.D.s to see how they react. I'm personally rather ignorant of the subject but aware of the Shakespeare issue. I'm not sure about the need for anonymity to protect our psyches though. I wonder if Parker, de Vere, and Austen would have posted their innermost thoughts on the web if they had lived in our day or if they would have still felt it necessary to use a pseudonym.

Submitted on Monday, Apr 15, 2019 at 1:00:33 PM

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What I find most interesting about the subject is that the Renaissance aristocrats who brought the enlightenment to England were subject to the same smears and narrow-minded prosecutions that are happening now in the US. Even under Elizabeth's reign an astronomer was burned at the stake for claiming that the universe was infinite. (I forget the name but could look it up.) Questioning church doctrine landed most of them in the tower for extended terms. Raleigh was beheaded in the end. Many scholars take the "what difference does it make" position. As an artist I find it incredibly sad that a person who gave us so much and went unacknowledged in his/her lifetime, should remain unacknowledged for all time. Documentary evidence still turns up from ardent researchers. So it is possible that something more concrete will emerge.

Submitted on Friday, Apr 19, 2019 at 4:37:33 PM

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Mark Twain had much to say on this. I thought he made a convincing case that Francis Bacon was "the man behind the scenes." No expert here, but I recall being mighty convinced after reading Twain's arguments. For what it's worth... click here

Submitted on Monday, Apr 15, 2019 at 6:46:36 PM

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Many reasons Bacon could not have been the playwright - too involved to get into here. email me if you want to hear the arguments

Submitted on Friday, Apr 19, 2019 at 4:26:30 PM

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Jim Arnold

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"the illiterate Stratford businessman, Will Shaksper"

I've seen school records of Shakespeare, his father was the equivalent of a councilman in Stratford, contemporary playwrights mourned him as a great writer, etc.

It may make for a fun intrigue, but I think a great writer is being slandered.

Submitted on Monday, Apr 15, 2019 at 11:22:17 PM

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I have to differ on this point. There are no school records at all for William Shakspere. I refer you to the book Shakespeare, the Unorthodox Biography, and this brief lecture by the author Diana Price, who spent years researching the question "Was William Shakspere a writer". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEQNWpo1PSs

It is well worth your time. All posthumous accolades for "Shakespeare" refer to the author of the plays after the first folio was published, not to William Shakspere of Stratford, and none during his own lifetime.

As for the candidates for authorship, there is no smoking gun, and there is some evidence for each of them - Marlowe, assuming he faked his death, Sir Henry Neville, Mary Sydney have the best cases. It is certainly possible that, since they all belonged to the same secret societies, the plays were not by one author. As of now, de Vere is the prominent candidate, largely because Hamlet reflects his own life so vividly. Personally I put the impossible candidate William Shakspere with the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny as a comforting myth.

Submitted on Friday, Apr 19, 2019 at 4:23:39 PM

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One more that might interest you - Sir Derek Jacobi and Sir Mark Rylance, two noted Shakespearean actors on The Declaration of Reasonable Doubt. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZNYifQfYiE

One further point - while numerous eulogies were written and still exist for all other major writers of the period, none were written upon the death of Shakespeare. His death went unacknowledged by his "peers". There is also documentary evidence that a lot of mucking about occurred to the monument in the Stratford church that bears his name a few decades after his death- namely that the original monument portrayed a grain broker holding a sack of grain, not a writer. Much has been written about the two writings composed in code - the dedication to the sonnets and the text beneath the Stratford monument. Whole books exist on those subjects if you would like to investigate them.

Submitted on Friday, Apr 19, 2019 at 5:22:21 PM

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I'm looking for the documentary I saw several years ago. Gimme a few days...

Submitted on Friday, Apr 19, 2019 at 8:15:49 PM

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There are hundreds of books from Stratfordian scholars as well as documentaries on what they imagine his life could have looked like if he were the writer. What is missing is evidence. See Diana Price for corroboration. Shake-speare was a pen name. a common practice in that era, when it was also common to hyphenate the pen name to make it clear it was a pen name. (Imagine if you read a novel and the author's name on the cover was "shake-speare". You would immediately picture a man shaking a spear and think it was a joke - i.e, a pen name. So it was in 1593 when that name first appeared on a manuscript.) Since that name also appeared on plays the author did not write, we can assume the name was used for marketing purposes after the success of the tragedies. The only real question is who the actual author was- or what group of authors. I could detail the arguments for and against for each, but it would necessitate a separate article.

In any case I wrote this piece about something else - not the Shakespeare controversy. That was a metaphor in my thoughts on anonymity and why artists retain a measure of it.

Submitted on Friday, Apr 19, 2019 at 9:44:39 PM

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Understood. But here's some documentary evidence (with links):

[for some reason the following 3 links don't format as links, and are too long for a "word" here, so you'll need to paste each one into the address bar on your browser, then delete the space and parentheses around "html"]

fly.hiwaay.net/%7Epaul/shakspere/evidence1. (html)

fly.hiwaay.net/~paul/shakspere/evidence2. (html)

fly.hiwaay.net/~paul/shakspere/evidence3. (html)

Here's more:

click here

Submitted on Saturday, Apr 20, 2019 at 2:33:22 AM

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I am curious about any evidence on this subject. I will certainly look at all of it,

Submitted on Saturday, Apr 20, 2019 at 2:55:18 AM

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okay - This is more than I wanted to get into, but I will give you the readers' digest version of the facts. I am aware of everything in those pages - again, please consult the book or lecture I linked of Diana Price. What is listed is all that we know of William Shakspere (also spelled Shaxper on some documents) - birth, death, baptism, we know he brokered wool and grains, bought property, sued his neighbors for small sums, had a small stake in a theater company, acted three times in minor roles, hoarded grain during a famine, lent money at interest and defaulted on his taxes. He was a hustler, who brokered commodities and may very well have brokered the Shakespeare plays as a front man, taking money for the role. What we do not know is that he ever wrote a single word. And judging by the deplorable quality of the signatures that are all that exist of his 'writing', it is inconceivable that he ever wrote a single poem much less a four hour play. His parents and grandparents were illiterate, his children were illiterate, and there is no record that he ever attended a single year of grammar school. Most of the references in the plays were from rare books written in Italian and Greek that had never been translated into English. The author of the plays read and wrote in French, Italian and Greek. There were no public libraries. Books were rare and expensive and only existed in universities and in the libraries of nobles. nowhere else. No one in Shakspere's family or in the town of Stratford knew him to be a writer. of anything. He was known as a shrewd businessman in the new commercial class, and that is all. He possessed no books, no desk, no ink, no paper, no quills, and he left no manuscripts. so let's get real.

Submitted on Saturday, Apr 20, 2019 at 3:34:24 AM

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ok then.

Submitted on Saturday, Apr 20, 2019 at 5:57:17 AM

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