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Colin Wright: How I Became an Oxfordian

It all started because I was feeling sorry for myself. I now spend most of my time writing: novels, plays, and articles—everything except poetry, in fact. And it seemed that nothing since my one earlier academic book was getting accepted for publication or performance.

A. Colin Wright is a retired professor of Russian Language and Literature, and a writer, in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

A. Colin Wright is a retired professor of Russian Language and Literature, and a writer, in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

I started thinking: who else might be depressed over his or her lack of success? Well, although I knew little about him, I’d heard vaguely that the Earl of Oxford was considered as a possible contender for the authorship of Shakespeare, and it immediately occurred to me: here was a man whose plays and poetry were recognized to be those of the greatest writer in the world but (for various reasons that I didn’t yet know) he had to keep quiet about it. What an agony that must have been! Far worse than my own petty disappointment.

So that was the beginning. I got as many of the basic texts as I could, starting with Katherine Chiljan’s Letters and Poems of Edward, Earl of Oxford  (1988).  Then J. Thomas Looney, of course, Charlton Ogburn, Sr., and gradually a whole host of others: Oxford’s Sonnets, his dedications to the Earl of Southampton in The Rape of Lucrece and Venus and Adonis, books showing his handwriting.

Then I had to read about William Cecil and how Oxford was forced to become his ward—but with the providential use of his library—and later to marry Cecil’s daughter Anne. Here was plenty of material for a fascinating play, provided I could put it all together concisely enough: in three acts however, with a change of scenery for each.

Now I had to make choices for the plot details. I had to decide whether to make Queen Elizabeth Oxford’s lover, his mother (which I rejected), or leave the issue undecided. I had to read about James I, with his entertaining homosexual tendencies. I had to decide who should be the Dark Lady of the Sonnets, what to do about Cecil’s son Robert, and Oxford’s second wife, Elizabeth Trentham. How should I show Oxford’s death and what role should I give to the traditional Shakespeare?

Well, with some doubling of roles, I managed to create the play I called The Loss Of My Good Name, with six male and three female actors. It was work-shopped in my local theatre, but alas it has still not seen a professional production, not even in this year of (Shakspere’s) anniversary, 2016. But my novels and other non-fiction have appeared, at least in self-published editions—see http://www.acolinwright.ca. 

But of course it is a production of The Loss Of My Good Name that I’m most hoping for.

— Colin Wright

“How I Became an Oxfordian” is edited by Bob Meyers. You may submit your essay on this topic (500 words or less in an editable format such as MS Word), along with a digital photo of yourself, to:info@shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org. Also include a sentence about yourself (e.g., “John J. Smith is a businessman in San Francisco.”).

You may join the SOF or renew your membership for 2016 at our membership page.

About Erik Eisenman

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