Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship Research and Discussion of the Shakespeare Authorship Question Wed, 25 Nov 2015 18:21:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Shahan’s video rips Shakespeare’s doublet Wed, 25 Nov 2015 17:09:43 +0000

On Monday, Shakespeare Authorship Coalition chairperson John Shahan released a 14-minute video deconstructing the “ridiculous clothes” worn by Shakespeare in the First Folio portrait. Shahan and Malcolm Blackmoor of England’s De Vere Society  produced a video professionally narrated by actress Debbie Radcliffe on the topic of “Shakespeare’s Impossible Doublet.”

They based their video on work done by authorship researcher John Rollett, who passed away October 31, 2015 in Ipswich, England.

“I was shocked and saddened to learn that John Rollett died shortly after the impossible-doublet video was finished,” Shahan said. “John was a prolific researcher who made many outstanding contributions to the authorship debate for which he will be remembered — and this is one of the most important.”

Shahan explained how the video was created.

John Rollett’s analysis was first published in Brief Chronicles, Volume 2 (2010), with the title “Shakespeare’s Impossible Doublet: Droeshout’s Engraving Anatomized.”

John and I were friends, and he had shared [the article] with me, asked me to comment on it, and asked where he might be able to get it published. I immediately recognized its importance and recommended that he try to publish it in one of the two Oxfordian scholarly journals, which he did.

Then, in 2013, [Rollett] contributed a revised version that appears as “Chapter 10: Shakespeare’s Impossible Doublet” in the book Shakespeare Beyond Doubt? — Exposing an Industry in Denial co-edited by me and Alexander Waugh. That chapter is a revised version of the original article, but largely the same.

Then in April of this year Rollett published his book William Stanley as Shakespeare: Evidence of Authorship by the Sixth Earl of Derby (McFarland, 2015). Chapters two and three present much the same version as in Shakespeare Beyond Doubt?.

I ended up writing the script, working from Rollett’s description of the analysis. I thought it could be simplified and improved and that its implications for the authorship controversy should be spelled out.

John provided the images used in the video, and I simplified the captions to make them easier to read. John and I collaborated on all of this, so it was very much a joint effort. He approved everything.

When asked why he decided to take the step of committing the research to video, Shahan said the content demanded a graphic presentation.

The way the video came about is I was working on a document describing breakthroughs in our understanding of the First Folio, and it included a description of [Rollett’s] “Impossible Doublet” analysis. The problem is that, unlike some of the other [arguments], one must visualize it to understand it.

We were planning to do videos as part of the project anyway, so it occurred to me that we might try doing a separate one on the “Impossible Doublet.” John contacted Malcolm Blackmoor of the DeVere Society, and he agreed to help. Malcolm has TV and film contacts, so he organized the production. All of the people he involved did an excellent job. We couldn’t have done it without Malcolm.

I must admit that I wasn’t at all sure we would end up with anything useable, but they exceeded my expectations.

For more information:

In 2013 William Niederkorn reviewed John Rollett’s precursor to this year’s William Stanley . . . — Rollett’s 2011 monograph, Shakespeare Lost and Found. Niederkorn’s review was published in the Feb. 5, 2013 edition of The Brooklyn Rail under the title, “Shake-Speare Fission”.

For further analysis of the Droeshout engraving from the First Folio see “Mysteries of the First Folio” on Shakespeare Underground.

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David Van Vleck: How I Became an Oxfordian Tue, 24 Nov 2015 19:45:28 +0000 I’m a playwright/novelist/screenwriter (whose favorite actor is, coincidentally to Oxfordiania, Sir Derek Jacobi). Sometime in the mid-1990’s, I was at my grandparents’ summer farm in Vermont, and relaxing on our porch, I found myself in conversation with my (now-ex; met another woman on the Internet) brother-in-law, who was citing his mother’s belief that Shakespeare was some guy named Oxford.

David Van Vleck is a playwright/novelist/screenwriter who lives in Brooklyn, NY.

David Van Vleck is a playwright, novelist, and screenwriter who lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Being a playwright and therefore all-knowing re: the theatre, I smugly replied that Shakespeare was an actor who came to London and wrote plays while being a part-owner of a theatre, the Globe. When I returned to my tiny apartment in Brooklyn, to be kind I mailed my brother-in-law a biography of William Shakespeare, a small book, ¼” thick, feeling myself a wonderfully generous person for taking the time to enlighten my sister’s sales/marketing husband.

About a week later, in the mail arrived a box from my brother-in-law; I opened it to find a big book, two very fat inches thick, called The Mysterious William Shakespeare by Charlton Ogburn. I groaned, hefting the book’s weight, thinking, Oh great, what conspiracy b.s. must be in here. But, to pay my brother-in-law family respect (and because I had nothing else to do), that evening I opened the heavy tome with a sigh of anticipatory boredom.

Actually before I opened it, I noticed a jacket blurb by David McCullough; I figured, well, maybe McCullough went to college with the author or something and is doing him a favor. I started reading. The first thing I noticed was how well-written the book was, beautiful English, and being foremost a fan of beautiful writing, it was easy to continue reading, though with a sense of, yeah OK whatever.

Ogburn.2d.edBy page 80 the author had proved, with mathematical-like proof, that Shakespeare couldn’t have been Shaksper the actor/grain guy from Stratford. By page 250, he had ditto proved Shakespeare, “Shake-speare,” was Oxford.

From that day, I have known – not wondered, not mostly believed – but known – Oxford was Shakespeare. From the addendum scholarly articles of the now-Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship; from finding out Oxford’s Bible exists, with its smoking-gun annotations; from Richard Roe’s book on Italy, re: the specific landmarks in those plays, that only someone who had been in those cities could have known about; from the fact that Shakespeare used unconscious metaphors from falconry, when only an earl had the right to own one; William Cecil, Lord Burghley, someone all scholars, and Stratfordians, concede was the model for Polonius, was Oxford’s father-in-law; countless other proofs; but in a way most of all, being a playwright/novelist myself and knowing there must be a Why for a (great) writer to write something of profound value, the knowledge that Oxford’s father died when Oxford was 12 and his mother remarried “sometime before” 14 months had passed: hmm, that plot sounds familiar. The young Oxford’s pain, seeing his mother remarry so quickly, had to have simmered all his life, and finally brought forth, as the driving narrative Why, from deep old pain inside, the play Hamlet. For me, this is the emotional supreme proof, on top of all the other countless proofs . . . .

— David Van Vleck, Jr.

This is the first article in the series “How I Became an Oxfordian,” edited by Bob Meyers, President Emeritus of the National Press Foundation. You may submit your essay on this topic (500 words or less in an editable format such as MS Word), along with a photo of yourself, to:

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How Did You Become an Oxfordian? Fri, 20 Nov 2015 19:00:49 +0000 The SOF launches a periodic series of essays from members called, “How I Became an Oxfordian.”

Bob Meyers, editor of online series, "How I Became an Oxfordian"

Bob Meyers, editor of online series, “How I Became an Oxfordian”

The SOF welcomes Bob Meyers, President Emeritus of the National Press Foundation, who will edit this series. Bob wants to hear from you about how you became an Oxfordian. Every Oxfordian has his or her own story about the events that led to that moment of recognition when it became clear that Oxford had to be the real Shakespeare. Every Oxfordian’s story is unique and an inspiration to other Oxfordians and to people new to the authorship question. See the Style Sheet below to find out how to submit your essay.

Bob Meyers is a former reporter for The Washington Post, and a former assistant city editor at the San Diego Union. While at The Post, he worked on the Watergate investigation, focusing on the “dirty tricks” campaign that was a part of the paper’s Pulitzer Prize winning Public Service package. As a Post staffer he was nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize. He has written two books, Like Normal People and D.E.S.: The Bitter Pill.

In 1993, Bob joined the National Press Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to educate and train journalists on critical issues confronting the public. He was appointed president of the foundation in 1995 and retired in 2015. Bob has been director of the Harvard Journalism Fellowship for Advanced Studies in Public Health. He has lectured at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Tsinghua University in Beijing, and in Lithuania, Poland and Estonia, among other places.

As a way of introducing the series, here is Bob’s own story about how he became an Oxfordian:

When I was about 11 or 12, we read Julius Caesar in junior high. When I tried to find out about the author, I learned that he was a glover’s son who completed elementary school, went to London to write great plays, become rich, and went back to his rural home.

That was in contrast to all the kids’ bios of English writers I was reading for school in New York City – Spenser, Chaucer, Keats, Shelley, etc. It also contrasted with the bios of contemporary figures I was reading for fun at home – Dwight Eisenhower, Harry Truman, Mickey Mantle. All of them had some background in the things they did or became later in life: Ike was a farm boy smart enough to get into West Point, Truman “ ‘plowed the straightest furrow in the county,’ his mother said,” (I’ve never forgotten that line), Mickey was tossing baseballs with his father from the age of three and learning to switch hit.

Shakespeare’s bio didn’t make any sense. I figured he wrote the plays, but we just didn’t know anything about him.

In high school I focused on drama and wanted to be a stage director. In college in Miami and Los Angeles I majored in English with a focus on Shakespeare and 16th-17th English lit. I graduated from UCLA in 1965 and that nagging feeling I had had in junior high stayed with me – who was this guy?

Somewhere I read that there was an authorship controversy, and read what I could of Bacon and Marlowe. For me their known writings were no match to Shakespeare’s – either in tone or sensibility. It was like trying to fit the square peg in the round hole. Then, somehow, I read about Oxford – I wish I could remember where or when – and it made a lot of sense to me. The background, the knowledge, the familiarity with the still-closed Elizabethan society – could this be the guy?

Beginning in 1968 I joined or purchased material from The Shakespearean Authorship Society (UK), The Shakespeare Oxford Society (US), The Shakespearean Authorship Review (UK), and others. In a used bookstore on Hollywood Boulevard I found a 1949 copy of Thomas Looney’s Shakespeare Identified. In 1972 I went to London for the 50th anniversary of the SAS and in addition to talks we toured Castle Hedingham. On that trip I met the marvelous scholar and researcher Ruth Loyd Miller, who sent me copies of her invaluable publications from Kennicat Press. I read works by the Ogburns, Eva Turner Clark and then, more recently, Mark Anderson’s essential “Shakespeare” By Another Name. I read Roe’s Shakespeare’s Guide to Italy, joined the Fellowship, read Roger Stritmatter’s groundbreaking precise work on Shakespeare and the Geneva Bible, met the astoundingly well-read Richard Waugaman, and felt I was home.

Oxford’s the guy.

— Bob Meyers

Please send us your story. See the Style Sheet below for guidelines. Articles should be 500 words or less and sent to

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

“How I Became an Oxfordian”

Style Sheet

Dear Contributing Member:

  • Thank you for offering to write an informal story about how you became convinced Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, was the author or co-author of the plays, poems and sonnets attributed to William Shakespeare of Stratford. We find that the personal stories of our members are often fascinating, and believe that others will want to read them. This educational opportunity is being offered only to members of SOF and no others will be allowed to submit.

About You:

  • This will be a first person piece, which means we will use your real name as the author.
  • Please provide a phone number or an email address that may be used to contact you. That personal information will NOT be published or released in any way.
  • Be informal and conversational in your writing. Walk us through the process by which you became convinced de Vere was the guy. Don’t hesitate to show us your excitement as you gain new insights.
  • If certain books or lectures were important to you, let the readers know that too.
  • Please use a spell-check program to make sure the titles and names are spelled correctly.
  • At least two SOF editors will review your submission. You will be notified once the piece is ready to go.

About Your Article:

  • Limit yourself to no more than 500 words.
  • Please submit your entries in digital format to:
  • Please make sure your word processing system is “unlocked” so that the article can be edited by us.
  • Articles do not need to be footnoted but it must be clear who or what is being discussed.
  • Please add a brief note about yourself at the end of the piece (“John J. Smith is a businessman in San Francisco.”)
  • Please submit a digital picture of yourself, similar to those that appear on Facebook or Twitter. It will appear in the article.

Thanks from the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship team!

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Support the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship through AmazonSmile Thu, 19 Nov 2015 17:00:14 +0000 You Shop. Amazon Gives.

AmazonSmile.logo2Do you shop through Now, through the AmazonSmile program, you can ensure that every time you buy merchandise on Amazon, a portion of the proceeds of your purchase will go to the SOF. And it doesn’t add anything to the cost of your purchase. The AmazonSmile program was established to allow Amazon customers to support the nonprofit organizations of their choice through their purchases. When you buy through AmazonSmile, Amazon donates one-half percent (0.5%) of your purchase price to the nonprofit organization that you choose. You shop. Amazon gives.

Would you like to help the SOF through AmazonSmile? Here’s how it works:

  1. Next time you log onto, use this link: Enter your Amazon password if requested. Save or bookmark the link and use it whenever you log on to
  1. Shop and buy items on as you normally do. If you have Amazon Prime, your Amazon Prime privileges still apply when you buy through AmazonSmile.
  1. Amazon donates 0.5% of the money generated by your purchase to the SOF. The combined effect of many SOF members shopping through AmazonSmile will provide additional funds that will help support SOF activities such as our newsletter, website, and social media.

The SOF thanks Amazon for making this program possible.

With the holidays approaching, this is a great time to support the SOF through AmazonSmile. You shop. Amazon gives to the SOF.

To get started on AmazonSmile, click here.

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

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Fall Issue of Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter Now Available Wed, 18 Nov 2015 17:34:38 +0000 The Fall 2015 issue of The Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter has been published, and is available online.

“My ‘From the Editor’ column usually goes inside the issue,” said Newsletter editor Alex McNeil. “But there wasn’t room for it this time. That’s because the principal article—the report of this year’s Conference in Ashland, Oregon—is longer than most articles, and we decided to include several photos from the well attended event.” The issue also includes a separate report by Earl Showerman on authorship-related activities that took place in Ashland on the day before the Conference; the first of a two-part article by C.V. Berney on Cymbeline; three book reviews; Tom Regnier’s “From the President” column; and several news items and letters.

SOF members who subscribe to the printed newsletter will soon be receiving it in the mail. All 2015 SOF members may download the newsletter in pdf format at using the same password that they have been using this year for newsletters and journals. Members who are unsure of the password may email for assistance.

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

To give you a taste of the Fall newsletter, below is Earl Showerman’s report of the events that took place in Ashland the day before the conference when our contingent of visiting Oxfordian scholars from England appeared on Jefferson Public Radio and then spoke at a two-hour forum at Southern Oregon University called, “Did Shakespeare Really Write Those Plays? How Credible Is the Evidence?”

Shakespeare Authorship Discourse at Southern Oregon University

By Earl Showerman

Eddi Jolly, Kevin Gilvary, Alexander Waugh, Wally Hurst, Ros Barber, and Earl Showerman (l. to r.)

Eddi Jolly, Kevin Gilvary, Alexander Waugh, Wally Hurst, Ros Barber, and Earl Showerman (l. to r.)

Although the SOF annual conference did not begin until Thursday, September 24, two important events took place in Ashland on the previous day. Both featured several of the distinguished scholars who came all the way from England to Oregon. The first event was an hour interview on “The Jefferson Exchange,” broadcast on Jefferson Public Radio, Southern Oregon University’s internet radio outlet. Hosted by Geoffrey Riley, the program featured Ros Barber, Kevin Gilvary and Alexander Waugh. [The interview was still available at press time on the Jefferson Exchange archive for September 22:]

Gilvary stated that he became curious about the Shakespeare authorship question through the history plays, which he recognized as Elizabethan propaganda. Shakspere of Stratford did not get rich writing plays, he argued, and his fortune (over £1,000 equity in Warwickshire properties) had to have been gained by other means, perhaps by being a front man for an anonymous author. Barber noted that the documentary record proves Shakspere was a businessman, and a shareholder in the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, the King’s Men, and the Globe, suggesting the possibility that he was also a broker of plays. Henslowe’s diary lists the majority of plays as written collaboratively. However, printed editions—those intended to be read as literature—were almost exclusively listed under the name of a single author.

Gilvary summarized his doctoral thesis, “Shakespearean Biogra-fiction: How modern biographers rely on context, conjecture and inference to construct a life of the Bard,” in which he found that almost all claims made by modern Shakespeare biographers have no foundation in documentary evidence. He and Barber asserted that writing about the Shakespeare authorship challenge is still a taboo subject in academia. Both obtained their doctorates by writing theses that did not directly address the authorship question: Barber’s thesis, “The Marlowe Papers,” was written as imaginative, lyrical fiction.

Waugh challenged the traditional interpretation of the First Folio dedicatory epistles, noting that the “sweet swan of Avon” may not refer to Stratford-upon-Avon. “Avon” was commonly used to refer to Hampton Court on the Thames, the royal palace where many dramatic productions were staged (“Hampton” is a corruption of “Avon dunum,” the ancient name for the fort constructed along the Thames). He also noted that many cryptic allusions to “Shakespeare” in 16th and 17th century texts suggest that the name is a pseudonym, and that most traditional scholars have ignored or misinterpreted them.

Gilvary added that it was not until 1843 that a serious attempt at a biography of Shakespeare was written, and that it established a pattern of romanticized, imaginative speculation about the poet’s life that continues to this day. And, at about the same time, authorship doubt became a popular concern. He stated that documentary evidence that might support Oxford’s authorship was probably lost in fires, one at Hedingham Castle and another at Wentworth Library, which held the papers of Susan Vere.

Concluding the interview, Barber noted that Christopher Marlowe invented blank verse drama and the English history play, that “most scholars” doubt the inquest testimony of the witnesses to his death in 1593, and that he possessed the “means, motive and opportunity” to avoid being killed and to change his identity. Waugh stated that there are “thousands” of reasons to believe Oxford was Shakespeare, with 300 books and 600 articles supporting this theory, and that Oxford maintained a “scriptorium” of writers. Further, of the hundreds of literary sources identified in Shakespeare, none were published after 1604, the year Oxford died. Gilvary stressed the singular importance of biography in the interpretation of literary works.

The second event of the day was a two-hour forum at SOU, “Did Shakespeare Really Write those Plays? How Credible Is the Evidence?” sponsored by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), a national organization with over 1,500 retiree members in southern Oregon. Interest in the Shakespeare authorship question among OLLI members was established in 2012, when over 100 attended a screening of Last Will. & Testament with Lisa Wilson and Laura Wilson Matthias. This time, more than 140 persons attended the program, the largest turnout ever for an OLLI community lecture or panel. Barber, Gilvary and Waugh were joined by Julia Cleave and Eddi Jolly.

Posing the question, “Why Is Shakespeare’s Authorship Doubted?” Ros Barber amused her audience by reminding them that authorship skeptics are often accused of being “ignorant snobs,” “anti-Shakespearean” or conspiracy theorists. However, she pointed out the extant records pertaining to Shakspere of Stratford all concern legal and business matters, and that none of them suggest a literary life. She compared the elegant italic signatures of other writers to the six extant scrawls of Shakspere. She challenged the traditional interpretation of Ben Jonson’s effusive praise of Shakespeare in the dedication of the First Folio, citing Jonson’s disparaging reference elsewhere to the “poet-ape” who “wanted art,” and Jonson’s mocking Shakspere’s family motto, “Not without right,” as “Not without mustard” in Everyman Out of his Humor (1599). Reproducing Diana Price’s table for a “literary paper trail,” she demonstrated how Shakespeare’s literary contemporaries all had numerous points of proof, while Shakspere met virtually none of Price’s criteria.

Julia Cleave challenged the claims made by traditional scholars that no one doubted Shakspere’s authorship for more than 200 years after his death, and that Delia Bacon was the first to do so in the 1850s. To the contrary, she noted, literary evidence exists for a much earlier tradition of doubt about the attribution. Among the examples she cited were:

  • “A mere factotum of the theatre – a vulgar and unlettered man.” The Romance of Yachting by Joseph C. Hart (1848)
  • “I dreamt of nothing but a black gentleman, at full length, in plaster-of-Paris…he said it was Shakespeare just as he had been when he was alive, which was very curious indeed….” Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens (1839)
  • Lord Carducis (a character based on Byron) expresses doubts about Shakespeare’s authorship. Venetia by Benjamin Disraeli (1837)
  • “With equal falsehood has he been father’d with many spurious dramatic pieces. ‘Hamlet, Othello, As You Like It, The Tempest, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, for five, of all which I confess myself to be the author. …” The Story of the Learned Pig (1786)
  • “Shakespeare’s a Mimicke.” The Great Assises Holden in Parnassus (1645)

Cleave further noted that Shakespeare’s contemporaries tell a story of pseudonyms, impostures, plagiarizing, proxy and concealed authorship. They seem to drop heavy hints about what Greene called an “underhand broker” of plays.

Kevin Gilvary recounted his initial disillusionment on discovering that there was no evidence William Shakespeare had served as a tutor to the 3rd Earl of Southampton, whose family seat was the village of Titchfield where Kevin resided; he then cited other examples of fictional and unsubstantiated claims by Shakespeare biographers for the past 150 years. Alexander Waugh continued his commentaries on the cryptic nature of 16th and 17th century allusions to the man from Stratford being a front man and the Earl of Oxford being the true author.

Eddi Jolly concluded the forum with “The Mystery of the First Quarto of Hamlet” (Q1), a text which was only discovered in 1825. Reviewing the history of scholarship on the dating of the very different versions of Hamlet and the invention of an “ur-Hamlet” by Thomas Kyd to explain the references to a “Hamlet” play between 1589 and 1596, she noted that the early scholars considered Q1 to be a “corrupt,” “mutilated,” “mangled” or “marred” text. More recently, it has been proposed that Q1 represented an abridgement or a faulty memorial reconstruction. She identified many similarities between Q1 and Shakespeare’s primary source, Francois Belleforest’s Les Histoires Tragique (1576), analogues that are not present in Q2 or the Folio Hamlet. “The evidence supports the hypothesis that Q1 was written first, suggesting a playwright who pursued a deliberate and extensive process of revision, working from the source to Q1, and then to Q2. It suggests that Q1 may be an example of what some would see as the missing ‘juvenilia,’ and that the date for Hamlet needs reviewing.”

On Thursday, a number of OLLI members attended the screening of Nothing Is Truer Than Truth at the Ashland Springs Hotel and joined our group at the special exhibit of Folio editions in the Bailey Collection at SOU’s Hannon Library. In recent years, Southern Oregon University programs and facilities have proven to be valuable resources for Shakespeare authorship studies, and I expect that future endeavors involving SOU, OSF and the SOF are also likely to be highly educational, entertaining and just as successful.

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SAT hosts “Shakespeare’s Histories” conference Nov. 22, 2015 Wed, 21 Oct 2015 12:06:18 +0000 sat_2015

The Shakespearean Authorship Trust, in collaboration with Brunel University, will present “Shakespeare’s Histories: Whose Agenda Do They Serve?” at their annual conference November 22, 2015 held at Shakespeare’s Globe, London.

Three USA scholars will present at the event: Gerit QuealyDonna Murphy, and former SOF trustee Ramon Jimenez.

Jimenez, who has a special interest in Shakespeare’s history plays, will present “George Peele didn’t write The Troublesome Reign of King John.” Jimenez said:

I’m taking the opportunity to speak at the SAT Conference in order to correct an erroneous attribution by Sir Brian Vickers and the Manchester University Press. They have mistakenly assigned the anonymous play The Troublesome Reign of John to George Peele. It is clearly a Shakespeare play.

Quealy will present “A Play-full delve into the Henries: Why Authorship Matters to Actors,” and Murphy will present “Shakespeare and the Earl of Northumberland in Five Histories”.

Among the British scholars presenting, The Marlowe Papers author Ros Barber, PhD, will discuss advances in the authorship question; and Brunel University Deputy Vice Chancellor William Leahy, PhD will lead a panel discussion. Key scenes will be performed by leading Shakespearean actors: Richard Clifford, Derek Jacobi, Annabel Leventon, and Mark Rylance.

A complete list of presenters and more information about the event is available on the SAT website at “Shakespearean Authorship Trust Conference 2015“.


Update Oct. 22, 2015: This event is sold out, but some unused tickets may be made available on the day of the conference.

SAT conference 2015 Date: Sunday 22 November 2015 Time: 11:00 a.m. to 6 p.m. GMT Venue: Shakespeare’s Globe, Bankside, London, SE1. Tickets: £45 (including tea and coffee, free glass of wine and book) Booking: Shakespeare’s Globe Box Office: Tel: 020 7401 9919
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Delahoyde edits Anthony & Cleopatra Sun, 11 Oct 2015 12:15:11 +0000 Anthony & Cleopatra cover

Shakespeare’s Anthony and Cleopatra edited by Michael Delahoyde, PhD

Michael Delahoyde, PhD, managing editor of the SOF journal Brief Chronicles, has released his Oxfordian edition of William Shakespeare’s Anthony and Cleopatra, available through CreateSpace, Amazon’s independent publishing platform.” Although this edition of Anthony and Cleopatra was originally conceived as one of several Oxfordian editions of Shakespeare plays under the general editorship of Richard Whalen, Delahoyde found it expedient to publish under his own imprint with the assistance of SOF webmaster Jennifer Newton as book designer.”

Delayhoyde said:

[Anthony and Cleopatra] was more or less done in 2011. CreateSpace was the recommendation from many people when I announced this edition could be ready for the conference and had to bypass Richard Whalen’s system. I’m very very happy, but Jennifer Newton is entirely responsible for the actual physical existence of this edition in that respect. I am well into work on Twelfth Night, and trust that the process will be extremely streamlined so that it can be in print within the year.

Michael Delahoyde, PhD, Anthony and Cleopatra editor

Michael Delahoyde, PhD, Anthony and Cleopatra editor

Delahoyde, a professor of English and humanities at Washington State University, said his editorial work on Anthony and Cleopatra provides detailed line-by-line annotations, and restores the play to the context in which it was written, the Elizabethan court:

I’d say there are two most significant Oxfordian features of the play: how much Oxford could see himself in Plutarch’s descriptions of Antony, and how much he fashioned Cleopatra after Queen Elizabeth, including many scenes matching Elizabeth’s high drama that he did not derive from his source. The play promises Elizabeth immortality, and it worked!

Oxfordian editions of Macbeth edited by Richard Whalen, and Othello edited by Ren Draya and Richard Whalen have been published under Whalen’s Oxfordian Shakespeare Series imprimatur at Llumina Press. Other editions are anticipated including a Tempest edited by Roger Stritmatter and Lynne Kositsky that Stritmatter recently confirmed is forthcoming, and Jack Shuttleworth’s Hamlet, which Whalen says is still in the works.

Although fellow originator of the series, Daniel Wright, PhD, is no longer active in the project, Whalen remains committed to the concept:

Although we’re not on the best-seller lists yet, I’m very enthusiastic about the long-term success and potential impact of our Oxfordian Shakespeare Series. In the short term, most people think that since they have already seen and read, for example, Macbeth and Othello, they know what they are all about. An Oxfordian perspective, however, reveals that they are in fact very different plays from what the Stratfordians would have us believe.

Whalen says other forthcoming Oxfordian editions include: Henry the Fifth edited by Kathy Binns-Dray of Lee University, Love’s Labor’s Lost edited by Felicia Londre of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and Much Ado About Nothing edited by Anne Pluto of Lesley University.

Note: For more information about Whalen’s editorial project, read a 2011 interview at “Interview with Richard Whalen about the Oxfordian Shakespeare Series.”


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LLL music a labor of love by Duffin, Caird, and Schmidt Thu, 01 Oct 2015 18:52:00 +0000 Juan Chioran as Don Adriano de Armado (left) and Gabriel Long as Moth (Josh Johnston and Shruti Kothari as Servants to Armado, background) in Love’s Labour’s Lost through Oct 9, 2015 at Stratford Festival in Stratford, Ontario, Canada. Photo credit: David Hou courtesy of The Stratford Festival

Juan Chioran as Don Adriano de Armado (left) and Gabriel Long as Moth (Josh Johnston and Shruti Kothari as Servants to Armado, background) in Love’s Labour’s Lost through Oct 9, 2015 at Stratford Festival in Stratford, Ontario, Canada. Photo credit: David Hou courtesy of The Stratford Festival

Ross Duffin’s work in documenting the deep importance of music in Shakespeare’s plays is a valuable resource to all Shakespeare lovers. Duffin’s article “‘Concolinel’: Moth’s Lost Song Recovered?” published in the Spring 2015 edition of Shakespeare Quarterly* was reported this summer by SOF Newsletter editor Alex McNeil:

An article in a recent issue of Shakespeare Quarterly was picked up by many media outlets, including Live and several newspapers. In the SQ note, Ross Duffin, Professor of Music at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, makes a solid case that a one-word line uttered by Moth at the beginning of act 3 of Love’s Labour’s Lost—“Concolinel”—is a mistranscription of the title of a then-popular bawdy French song, “Quand Colinet.”

Case Western Reserve’s The Daily, in a May 13, 2015 article, reported:

Ross Duffin, the Fynette H. Kulas Professor of Music, explained a commonly misunderstood line of Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost. “Moth’s solitary word [‘Concolinel’] has generally been taken as representing a song, now lost, for which the lyrics are not given in the play,” he wrote. But, he found, “Concolinel” is actually a misspelling of a then-popular French song called “Qvand Colinet.”

The lyrics of “Quand Colinet,” mild in the first two verses, become progressively bawdy beginning in verse three (translated from the French):

“When Colinet returns from the countryside he wants someone to rub his glans, so that he can enter . . . into the passage.” The song goes on to discuss the inadequate state of Colinet’s penis.

In his Shakespeare Quarterly article, Duffin conjectures that the song may have been a comical insult by Moth on the unknowing Don Armado.

In July, Duffin spoke on the topic of “Reconstructing Shakespeare’s Songbook” at the Stratford Festival Forum series of lectures in Stratford, Ontario. The promotional material for the lecture promised:

For nearly 400 years, Shakespeare lovers lamented that few songs in his plays survived with original music. In Shakespeare’s Songbook (Norton, 2004)Ross W. Duffin brought all of Shakespeare’s musical source material together for the first time and, in the process, shed new light on the delicate interplay between words, music and drama in the plays.

Since the Stratford Festival is producing Love’s Labour’s Lost this year, we asked director John Caird if he was familiar with Duffin’s new interpretation and whether he might be featuring “Quand Colinet” in his production of the play. Caird said:

 I had a look at this song, but in the end I decided that I couldn’t use it in my production, nor do I think it can possibly have been used in contemporary Elizabethan performances.

The lyric is so explicitly coarse and sexual and so completely inappropriate for the scene in which it is mentioned, that I feel sure that if “Quand Colinet” was ever used for this play, it must have been the tune only with other lyrics added.

What I have done in my production is to use my own adapted version of the old King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid ballad drawn from Richard Johnson’s Crown Garland of Goulden Roses anthology of 1612. **  I feel reasonably certain that this, or some earlier version of the ballad, must have been the original lyrical content of the song as it is so explicitly set up in the previous Armado scene as something he plans to have ‘newly writ o’er’ so that the song can serve to ‘example my digression by some mighty precedent’.

My hunch is that some version of this ballad may have originally been used with “Quand Colinet” perhaps as the accompanying melody — but I have no hard evidence for this.

What I am quite sure of is that Shakespeare would never have had the boy Moth singing an explicitly bawdy song at this point in the play, nor could Armado have any interest in his page singing such a thing.  Explicit ribaldry is not part of their relationship and Moth is far too knowing a little boy to be caught singing something he doesn’t understand.  For his part, Armado is much more the hopeless romantic than the salacious predator or the sexual cynic.

It is of course just possible that Shakespeare, or some other lyricist, translated the bawdy French into a less bawdy English version, but if that was the case, I can’t see a reason why the resulting lyric didn’t make it into the published text.  .  .  .

The story of the king and the beggar maid is referred to twice in Love’s Labour’s Lost. In the first act referred to by Caird, and again in Armado’s long letter in the fourth act where the maid is referred to as Zenelophon instead of Penelophon as in the ballad.

We asked Duffin if he had considered this ballad for the “Concolinel” spot in Love’s Labour’s Lost, and how he would respond to Caird’s opinion that the French song was too ribald. Duffin said:

I think it’s important not to underestimate the Elizabethan taste for bawdiness, first of all.  Even the publication censors had no problem passing lyrics that would make many people blush today.  It was sedition they were worried about.  I also think that it wasn’t necessary for an entire song to be sung in order for the audience to get the joke, though I think that the entire first stanza — including the association of jaquette and jaquenetta — would very likely have been sung.

Much of my work in Shakespeare’s Songbook showed Shakespeare citing or quoting a line from a ballad, which would have reminded the audience of the entire ballad and drawn that experience into their understanding of the play.  As for Armado having no interest in Moth singing such a thing, I think that’s part of the joke.  Armado, I believe is oblivious to the allusion, and Moth is making fun of him.

Lastly, regarding the King Cophetua ballad, I agree that it’s an important background to this play and it’s astute of John Caird to recognize that and make use of it.

. . . My job, as I see it, is to provide information about the original songs, but whether directors choose to use them, of course, is up to them.

Caird adapted the lyrics to “King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid”, but he did not use the tune originally connected to that ballad by Duffin in Shakespeare’s Songbook. Caird had his adapted lyrics set to music by Josh Schmidt who composed the music for Caird’s Stratford production. Schmidt said:

Working on LLL with John was an absolute joy! It is my favorite of the canon.

As John may have explained to you, he elected not to use the text of “Quand Colinet” that has been identified through research; instead he adapted/constructed King Cophetua and Beggar Maid ballad drawn from Richard Johnson’s Crown Garland of Goulden Roses. This is the text that I set.

In terms of all the music in the show, John outlined the parameters for the score very clearly — all the music had to be live (we had actors on stage who played guitar, ukulele, percussion, etc), and the instrumentation had to include/grow out of the festival brass ensemble, inclusive of two trumpets, french horn, trombone and percussion (consciously, we wanted to embrace instrumental anachronism right from the start – any such occurrence would just be part of the unique world of our production). As the festival brass calls the audience in from various places around the theatre/grounds, the music of the show is present even before the performance begins, creating an immersive effect right from the start.

Musically, the show straddles the line between regal 16th/17th century fanfare and fado-esque chord progressions and ballad structures. These choices were directly influenced by the visual aspect of the set and costumes, John’s direction, and responsively the requirements of the show on its feet, rather than any historical model. I was very lucky to spend a significant amount of time in rehearsal, and had the privilege to build the score very collaboratively with John and our actors.

Josh Schmidt's "Cophetua" from John Caird's 2015 Stratford Festival production of Love's Labour's Lost

Josh Schmidt’s “Cophetua” from John Caird’s 2015 Stratford Festival production of Love’s Labour’s Lost

John Caird’s production of Love’s Labour’s Lost will play through October 9, 2015 at the Stratford Festival in Stratford, Ontario, Canada. Stratford Festival publicity coordinator Amy White said the production will be filmed October 6 and will be released to cinema as part of their Stratford Festival HD series in 2017.


Shakespeare Quarterly, Volume 66, Number 1, Spring 2015, pp. 89-94

** This ballad is preserved in ‘A Crowne-Garland of Goulden Roses’ (1st. ed., 1612) by Richard Johnson, reprinted by the Percy Society, vol. VI. It was repeated by Percy in his Reliques, p. 164.

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Ashland Conference Afterword Tue, 29 Sep 2015 03:19:18 +0000  

SOF Conference, Ashland, Oregon, Sept. 24-27, 2015

SOF Conference, Ashland, Oregon, Sept. 24-27, 2015

I wish to thank everyone who attended, followed, helped organize, or presented at the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship’s 2015 conference in Ashland, Oregon. This conference will long be remembered for its high-quality presentations, its revelations of exciting research discoveries, its invasion by a charming contingent of British scholars, its record-setting attendance, and the general sense of camaraderie, joy, and, yes, fellowship that pervaded the entire event.

Special thanks to Earl Showerman, who organized the event, and to everyone who helped him. Congratulations to Alexander Waugh, the Oxfordian of the Year for 2015, for his remarkable research discoveries concerning the “dark lady of the sonnets,” which, I think, inspired everyone who heard his presentation. Thanks to Michael Delahoyde and Coleen Moriarty, who detailed how their explorations of Italian archives turned up hitherto-unknown documents concerning Edward de Vere’s travels in Italy. Thanks to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for its delightful Much Ado About Nothing, its passionate Antony and Cleopatra, and its peerless Pericles. Thanks also to the Festival for allowing performers and production staff to participate in panel discussions on each play for our conference attendees.

I believe that this was a watershed gathering for the Oxfordian movement. Again, thanks to everyone who participated in this magical event.

Tom Regnier, President
Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship
September 28, 2015


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Alexander Waugh Named Oxfordian of the Year Sun, 27 Sep 2015 21:35:52 +0000 Alexander Waugh

Alexander Waugh

The Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship has named British author and critic Alexander Waugh the Oxfordian of the Year for 2015 at its conference in Ashland, Oregon. In recent years, Mr. Waugh has garnered considerable publicity for his articulate skepticism of the Stratfordian theory of authorship and his advocacy of Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, as the true creator of the works of “Shakespeare.” In 2013, he co-edited, with John Shahan, Shakespeare Beyond Doubt? Exposing an Industry in Denial, in which he authored a chapter on Shakespeare’s knowledge of Italy. There, Waugh refuted Stratfordian critic John Doherty’s assertion that there had never been a St. Peter’s Church in Verona by citing Richard Paul Roe’s research showing that there were four churches of that name in Verona and identifying the only one of the four that Shakespeare could have had in mind when writing Romeo and Juliet. Waugh also spoke on Shakespeare and Italy at the 2013 Shakespearean Authorship Trust Conference.

In 2014, he debated on behalf of the Oxfordian theory in the Fleet Street debate, Does the Authorship Question Matter?. He also introduced a new theory about the phrase “Sweet Swan of Avon” in the First Folio. Mr. Waugh demonstrated that “Avon” was the ancient name of Hampton Court, where Shakespeare’s plays were performed for Queen Elizabeth and King James I. He has recently presented a “holistic” interpretation of the Stratford monument, in which he argues that the references to Nestor, Socrates, and Virgil on the monument are allusions to three great English poets, Beaumont, Chaucer, and Spenser, all of whom were buried in the Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey. Waugh argues that the monument is telling us that “Shakespeare” (i.e., Oxford) is also buried there, which explains the meaning of a manuscript by Oxford’s cousin, Percival Golding, stating that Oxford was buried in Westminster Abbey.

In his 2014 “Kindle Short,” Shakespeare in Court, Mr. Waugh exposed the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust as a prime source of misinformation and subversion concerning the life and times of the World’s greatest playwright. The book also hilariously satirized the Stratfordian theory in a courtroom cross-examination of “a typical orthodox Shakespeare pundit.” Mr. Waugh gave a presentation entitled “‘Vulgar Scandal’ Mentioned in Shakespeare’s Sonnets” at the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship’s 2015 Ashland conference and spoke on the authorship question, along with several other anti-Stratfordian scholars from England, at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute the day before the conference began.

Mr. Waugh is the author of several books, including Classical Music (1995), Opera (1996), Time (1999) and God (2002). Waugh inherits a distinguished literary tradition, including his grandfather Evelyn and his father Auberon. His biography Fathers and Sons (2004) is a portrait of the male relations across five generations in his own family. It was made into a 90-minute BBC documentary film in 2005. A second family memoir, The House of Wittgenstein, the story of the Austrian family of philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, was published in 2008. The General Editor of the scholarly 42-volume Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh for Oxford University Press, Waugh is a Senior Visiting Fellow at the University of Leicester, Honorary President of the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition and life-member of the De Vere Society.

The Oxfordian of the Year award was first given in 2005. Previous winners are:

2014 Alex McNeil

2013 Roger Stritmatter

2012 John Shahan

2011 Kevin Gilvary

2010 Richard Roe

2009 John Paul Stevens

2008 Daniel Wright

2007 Richard Whalen

2006 Lynne Kositsky

2005 Mark Anderson

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SOF conference begins tomorrow in Ashland, Oregon Wed, 23 Sep 2015 15:56:42 +0000 Ashland, Oregon. Photo by Fred Stockwell courtesy Ashland Chamber of Commerce

Ashland, Oregon. Photo by Fred Stockwell courtesy Ashland Chamber of Commerce

The annual Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship conference begins tomorrow, Sept. 24, 2015 in Ashland, Oregon. Full-conference or single-day admission is available online, or in person at the Ashland Springs Hotel tomorrow from 8 a.m. to noon — conference welcome at 1 p.m.

Pre-conference kick-off today

Today, from 9-10 a.m. and from 9-10 p.m. Pacific Time, three British scholars who are presenting at the conference will join radio host Geoffrey Riley on The Jefferson Exchange news/info show to discuss the Shakespeare authorship.

Tune in to the program via live-streaming on the Internet at Jefferson Public Radio. Click on the Listen Live button under the JPR logo on the upper left side of the page. The program will also be available as a podcast within a day after the program.

Later today, those three scholars: Ros Barber, PhD; Kevin Gilvary, PhD; and Alexander Waugh will join their British colleagues Julia Cleave, MA (Oxon.), and Margrethe Jolly, PhD from 1-3 p.m. PT to present the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) community lecture titled “British Scholars Address the Shakespeare Authorship Challenge” at the First Presbyterian Church of Ashland, Oregon. The lecture is free and open to the public.

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Anti-Strat Brits to speak on JPR radio Sept. 23, 2015 Thu, 17 Sep 2015 19:30:13 +0000 Jefferson Exchange news/info on Jefferson Public Radio

Jefferson Exchange news/info on Jefferson Public Radio

British authorship scholars Ros Barber, PhD; Kevin Gilvary, PhD; and Alexander Waugh will be guests of host Geoffrey Riley on the Jefferson Public Radio news and information program, The Jefferson Exchange from 9-10 a.m. PT on September 23, 2015. The show will repeat at 9-10 p.m. PT and will be available as a podcast after the broadcast.

Jefferson Public Radio is affiliated with Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon. The Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship will be gathering in Ashland next week for our annual SOF authorship conference.

Barber, Gilvary and Waugh are conference presenters who will discuss the Shakespeare authorship controversy with The Jefferson Exchange host Riley, and promote their appearance later that day with fellow British researchers Julia Cleave, MA (Oxon.), and Margrethe Jolly, PhD at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) community lecture to be held from 1-3 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of Ashland, Oregon. The afternoon lecture is titled “British Scholars Address the Shakespeare Authorship Challenge” and is free and open to the public.


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