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2016 SOF Conference in Boston, MA

Julie Sandys Bianchi – The Influence of Card Play on the Production of the First Folio: Jonson Reveals his Hand

In trick and bid card games between pairs of players, partners covertly try to transmit the hidden contents of their hands to each other with code words, subtle signals, inferential plays and outright cheating. In the preface to the First Folio, Ben Jonson and his writing teammates appear to have shown their hands openly to their readers. But a curious abundance of card play terms and inferences in Jonson’s chosen vocabulary signal through investigatory reading that there likely is content still hidden in the First Folio waiting to be revealed. This presentation will introduce how the history, jargon and conventions of card play during the time of the First Folio production are embedded in its prefatory language and cover portrait, and will demonstrate that Italian card games played by the nobility in the 16th century are reflected by the catalogue of First Folio plays. Visors optional.


Bonner Cutting – A Sufficient Warrant: Taking a Closer Look at Oxford’s 1,000 Pound Annuity

On June 26, 1586, Queen Elizabeth signed a Privy Seal Warrant in which she instructed her Exchequer to pay an annuity of 1,000 pounds annually to her “right trusty and well beloved Cousin the Earl of Oxford.” Surprisingly, this large monetary gift from the parsimonious Queen Elizabeth to her supposedly extravagant courtier has been largely ignored by historians. This document was commented upon only once in the 17th century and then forgotten until its publication in 1928 in Captain Bernard Ward’s biography of the seventeenth Earl of Oxford. The historical quiescence is odd given that this large annuity was to continue indefinitely, and the inclusion of a non-accountability clause made it all the more of an anomaly. The implications of the Queen’s Warrant have yet to be fully explored, and new documentation has been found that may contribute to our understanding of these payments from the Royal Exchequer to the Earl of Oxford.


Earl Showerman – 1584: Shakespeare’s Greek Satires on Misanthropy and War

During 1583-84, the Earl of Oxford’s boys company performed John Lyly’s Sappho and Phao and Campaspe, as well as the anonymous play The History of Agamemnon and Ulysses, at court.  Several literary works published in 1584 make reference to characters in these dramas. William Warner’s euphuistic novel Syrinx references Lyly’s Diogenes from Campaspe as the “Sinopian cynic,” alludes to an Athenian misanthrope, “or man-hater biting on the stage,” and to Apollo’s “coy prophetess,” Cassandra.

Robert Greene’s 1584 euphuistic novel, Gwydonius: The Card of Fancy, was dedicated to the Earl of Oxford. Greene alludes to Timon in two passages, to a number of Trojan War characters including Troilus, Cressida, Agamemnon and Ulysses, and to Diogenes, Appelles, and Alexander, major characters from Lyly’s CampaspeGwydonius also contains passages of paternal advice that echo Lord Burghley’s Certain Precepts for the Well Ordering of a Man’s Life, early manuscripts of which were dated to 1584.  William Warner accused Robert Greene of having plagiarized Syrinx in a later edition of his novel.

Interpretations of Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens and Troilus and Cressida as allegorical satires reflecting the Earl of Oxford’s personal and political persuasions circa 1584 provide a radical departure from traditional scholarship. A decade of prodigal excess, his long exile from court, the death of his first-born son, and the collapse of his fortunes in 1583-84 provide a plausible motive driving Oxford to employ the conventions of Aristophanic political satire in writing Timon. The moral wasteland of war and conflict of factions reflected in Troilus and Cressida arguably presents a critical satire of members of the Elizabethan court in the run-up to war with Spain.


Priscilla Costello – Shakespeare and Spiritual Philosophy (Derived from Neoplatonism)

Shake-spear’s plays are written consistently from the perspective of Pythagorean, Platonic, and Neo-Platonic spiritual philosophy–similar to what’s called “the Elizabethan World Picture”–in both broader and finer strokes. This worldview includes the spheres of the planets. Where would the Bard have encountered such ideas? (Not likely in the Stratford grammar school!)


Sky Gilbert – A Pagan Play about Language: Challenging the Traditional Dating of Macbeth

This presentation corrects the notion that Macbeth was written in 1606 —a presumed fact provided by Henry N. Paul’s 1971 book The Royal Play of Macbeth—and thus challenges that dating of the play which puts it outside the Earl of Oxford’s lifetime. Henry Paul makes a complex and unconvincing argument that Macbeth was written for King James, who, after writing his treatise on witches (Daemonology), became skeptical of the existence of witches. But Thomas Nashe’s Terrors of the Night (1594) creates a cosmology balancing Christianity and superstition that matches the play’s universe much more closely. Similarly, Paul suggests that Macbeth’s references to “equivocation” are meant to refer to the 1606 treason trial of Jesuit priest Henry Garnet.

There is no foundation for this assertion. Macbeth does contain direct references to the poet Robert Southwell, a Catholic whose trial for treason occurred in 1595 and who also famously spoke of equivocation. Macbeth is in fact about equivocation; that is, it is about the uncertainty of language, and may be referencing Martin de Azpilcueta (alias Navarrus; 1491-1586) a philosopher whose works would have surely been in the library of the learned Earl of Oxford.  Navarrus wrote of equivocation in the context of the instability of meaning—an obsession for euphuists such as John Lyly, and also (as I posited in my essay “Was Shakespeare a Euphuist?”) for Edward de Vere.

2015 SOF Conference in Ashland, OR

Tom Regnier – The Law of Evidence and the Shakespeare Authorship Question

Over the centuries, Anglo-American law has developed rules of evidence that are useful in evaluating and weighing evidence for legal purposes. While the Shakespeare Authorship Question (SAQ) is more a literary-historical question than a forensic one, the legal rules of evidence are instructive in examining the evidence in the SAQ.

This presentation explores such legal concepts and their relevance to the SAQ as: “evidence” vs. “proof,” relevant evidence, direct vs. circumstantial evidence, contemporary vs. posthumous evidence, motive to fabricate, hearsay, and expert witnesses. This presentation will also touch on the debate concerning circumstantial evidence that occurred in the “Comments” section of the December 29, 2014 Newsweek article on the SAQ.


Katherine Chiljan – Origins of the Pen Name, “William Shakespeare”

The great author told us that “William Shakespeare” was a pseudonym in Venus and Adonis and in his sonnets. Several of his contemporaries believed this, too, as related in printed references, and by including a hyphen in the surname. With an Oxfordian perspective, this paper will try to answer why the great author chose “William Shakespeare” as a pen name, and present evidence of its existence before its 1593 print debut.

Katherine Chiljan has studied the Shakespeare authorship question for over 30 years. In 2011, she wrote Shakespeare Suppressed: the Uncensored Truth about Shakespeare and his Works which earned her an award for distinguished scholarship at Concordia University (2012). A former editor of the Shakespeare-Oxford Newsletter, Chiljan has published two Oxfordian anthologies, Dedication Letters to the Earl of Oxford (1994) and Letters and Poems of Edward, Earl of Oxford (1998). Chiljan (B.A. History, U.C.L.A.) has debated professors on the authorship question at the Smithsonian Institution, The Mechanics’ Institute Library, and U.C. Berkeley.


Ros Barber – The Value of Uncertainty

Stratfordians are certain that William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon wrote the works attributed to him. Most non-Stratfordians are equally certain that he didn’t. This paper will explore the benefits of uncertainty. Uncertainty not only allows us to be collegial, reducing the likelihood of stressful and energy-sapping personal battles, but by opening our minds to evidence and counter-arguments which undermine our position it allows us to discard weak arguments and concentrate on those which extend and deepen the challenge to orthodox thinking. Perhaps counter-intuitively, uncertainty also offers non-Stratfordians the possibility of gaining academic legitimacy for the Shakespeare authorship question.  Using concrete examples of arguments and counter-arguments derived from researching and writing Shakespeare: The Evidence, this paper will demonstrate why the apparently ‘weak’ position of uncertainty is actually the strongest, most beneficial position a non-Stratfordian can adopt.

Ros Barber, PhD is a Lecturer in Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London, and author of the award-winning verse novel, The Marlowe Papers (2012),Shakespeare: The Evidence (2013), and Devotion (2015).  She is the editor and co-author of 30-Second Shakespeare (2015). Her most recent publications include two articles in Notes & Queries* and she has a forthcoming article in a special ‘Shakespeare’ edition of the Journal of Early Modern Studies.  She is director of research of the Shakespearean Authorship Trust (London).

Margrethe Jolly – Juliet and the Grafter

‘Juliet and the Grafter’ reports on part of an investigation into the relationship of the first two quartos of Romeo and Juliet, dated 1597 and 1599 respectively. The popularity of the play hasn’t resulted in as much research upon it as, say, Hamlet, but the two plays have much in common. Tycho Mommsen paired them together in 1857, and since then many scholars have seen the first quarto of each as ‘bad’ or ‘piratical’, and the result of (communal) memorial reconstruction (by actors). The latter is a hypothesis which has gained a significant number of adherents among the major Shakespearean scholars of the last 150 years. It leads to the belief that Shakespeare’s ‘genuine’ and ‘authentic’ text is the second quarto of Romeo and Juliet and that the first quarto is a ‘bad’ quarto, a ‘spurious’ reconstruction from memory, possibly by the actors who played Romeo and Paris. The idea that the first quarto might be a first draft is rejected firmly by one scholar, who declares that ‘all those theories which … have contributed to the conception of Shakespeare as an artist much given to the revision of his own past work are quite without evidence or plausibility’.
A three way comparison between the underlying French source of Hamlet and the first two quartos of that play provided an external reference point for indications of which quarto came first. This text-based evidence indicates clearly that the first quarto of Hamlet is closer to the source than the second quarto is. It also shows that the first quarto has almost double the echoes of the source that the second quarto has. The comparison supports the view held particularly by early reviewers that the first quarto was a ‘first sketch’. In contrast, the second quarto draws away from the source, and from the first quarto. It appears that the second quarto is substantially revised, and that the playwright was not afraid of a bit of hard graft to ensure his play achieved the effect he wanted on stage.

What would another three way comparison show, this time between the first two quartos of Romeo and Juliet, and their source, Arthur Brooke’s Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet? Might there be any justification for the note on the title page of the second quarto, ‘Newly corrected, augmented, and amended’? ‘Juliet and the Grafter’ delves into Brooke’s presentation of Juliet and her transformation in the plays, with a sideways glance at the most memorable images of the play. It also notes that the second quarto isn’t exactly error-free. The paper concludes with considering what these findings suggest about the playwright, his writing habits, and the relationship of the two quartos; could we see the first quarto as an example of ‘juvenilia’? And what does this new three way comparison suggest about the hypothesis of memorial reconstruction?

Margrethe Jolly, PhD — a lecturer in English literature and language turned independent researcher — took her first degree at Southampton University and her second at Brunel. She has been exploring issues relating to the Shakespeare canon where there has been scholarly debate, such as the value of Francis Meres’ testimony in Palladis Tamia. Her principal focus has been on Hamlet: ‘Hamlet and the French Connection’ (Parergon, 2012), and The First Two Quartos of Hamlet: A New View of the Origins and Relationship of the Texts (2014) resulted from her doctoral thesis (http://bura.brunel.ac.uk/handle/2438/10543). These texts argue that the original responses to Hamlet, that the first quarto was the anterior text, are right, and that the date of the play needs reconsideration. Her current research is on the hypothesis of memorial reconstruction and the alleged ‘bad’ quartos.

Michael Delahoyde – New Evidence of Oxford in Italy

Dr. Delahoyde reveals findings from his research in the Venetian State Archives, shedding light on the activities of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, while in Italy during the summer of 1575.

More information is available on his website at http://public.wsu.edu/~delahoyd/shakespeare/index.html.


Robert Prechter – Why Did Robert Greene Repent His Former Works?

Various theories propose that Robert Greene, Henry Chettle and/or Thomas Nashe wrote Greenes Groats-worth of Witte (1592). Biographers have proposed that either Robert Greene or the ghost-writer of his book suffered a crisis of conscience that prompted the puritanical religious conversion and the apology for former works declared in the book. In every century since the 1700s, scholars have stated there is “no doubt” that the pamphlet’s complaint about an “upstart Crow…a Shake-scene” refers to William Shakespeare. Evidence contradicts all these ideas.

Two Oxfordians have proposed the name of the true author, and Robert Greene’s dedications confirm his identity. Linguistic markers link the book to Shakespeare’s plays and poems, making Shakespeare the writer, not the subject. Greene’s prefacing material openly declares that the book’s purpose is not self-expression but a literary exercise. A Jacobean writer in 1617 marveled at its artistry.

Robert Prechter is Executive Director of the Socionomics Institute, an organization dedicated to understanding the causality of social action. He has co-authored papers for academic journals on financial theory, forecasting election outcomes, and financial-market herding. In 2014, he was a main-session speaker at the annual conference of the Academy of Behavioral Finance and Economics in Los Angeles and the closing speaker at the annual conference of the International Federation of Technical Analysts in London. Prechter has written/edited fifteen books on finance and social-causality theory. His title Conquer the Crash was a New York Times bestseller. His newest book—The Socionomic Theory of Finance—is due for publication in 2016. Since 1979, Prechter has been president of Elliott Wave International, a financial publishing and forecasting firm. For nine years he served on the board of the national Market Technicians Association and in 1990-1 served as its president. He has written a number of articles and papers for Oxfordian journals and newsletters. Since 1998 he has been doing research for a book in this field. Prechter is a graduate of Yale University.

Resources: Additional articles available at http://www.robertprechter.com/prechters-shakespeare-publications/


2014 SOF Conference in Madison, WI

Bonner Cutting – Evermore in Subjection: Wardship in Early Modern England and Its Impact on Edward de Vere

The wardship system that existed in Tudor England has been described as a “squalid system of cold-blooded profiteering off the misfortunes of others.” It is well known among Oxfordians that Edward de Vere became a ward of William Cecil at the death of his father in 1562. Did de Vere’s nine years as Cecil’s ward impact his life favorably or unfavorably? What can be learned from the circumstances of de Vere’s early years as a ward that enabled and/or motivated him to write?

Bonner Miller Cutting is a past trustee of the Shakespeare Fellowship who has presented papers at numerous Shakespeare authorship conferences. She is currently working to expand her paper “Shakespeare’s Will Considered Too Curiously” into a book. Bonner has recently organized an Oxfordian study group in Houston, TX, called the Lone Star Shakespeare Roundtable and regularly gives her presentation “Shakespeare’s Cross-Examination” to schools, libraries, book clubs and civic groups. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Tulane University in New Orleans where she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Bonner also holds a Masters of Music degree in piano performance from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, LA. She continues to concertize occasionally and judges piano auditions for the National Guild of Piano Teachers, the National Federation of Music Teachers and other music organizations.

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