Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship Research and Discussion of the Shakespeare Authorship Question Mon, 05 Oct 2015 12:09:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 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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Oxfordian 17 published Wed, 16 Sep 2015 22:51:54 +0000 The Oxfordian 17

The Oxfordian 17

The Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship journal, The Oxfordian 17, produced under the leadership of new editor, Chris Pannell, is now available online to SOF members at The Oxfordian, password protected under the Publications tab on the SOF website.

The hardcopy edition of The Oxfordian 17 may be ordered from Amazon at a cost of $12.99. It is also available from Amazon in the UK and the EU.

A Kindle version is not available. To read the online edition, join SOF online at JOIN US.

This is the first edition of The Oxfordian released under the new SOF membership policy that provides members electronic access to SOF publications, but does not provide hard copy editions free of charge as in the past. For more information about this project, see “Brief Chronicles VI available from Create Space.”

This edition of The Oxfordian under Chris Pannell’s direction includes three remarkable articles that place the Oxfordian movement firmly in modern context from researchers James Warren, Michael Dudley, and Don Rubin. They include, according to Pannell’s description:

“My Library Was Dukedom Large Enough” by Michael Dudley
Dudley examines the influence of Library Sciences on the Shakespeare authorship question. He reviews the cataloguing practices of the Library of Congress, the purchasing practices of modern libraries, and the relationships between English departments and the management of their libraries in a university context. He surveys the terrain for post-Stratfordian titles and Stratfordian titles within the library environment and comes to some fascinating and chilling conclusions. Along the way, he discusses the politics of academic dissent, and examines how the placement of a book within a library system, can confer or deny meaning, with far-reaching consequences for Oxfordian theory.

“Oxfordian Theory and Continental Drift” by James Warren
Compares the history of Oxfordianism, beginning with J.T. Looney’s Shakespeare Identified in 1920, with the history of the theory of Continental Drift, first proposed by German geophysicist Alfred Wegener in 1915. Like Oxfordianism, continental drift was initially rejected by geologists and scientists in the early 20th century. Warren outlines several valuable things Oxfordians can learn from the story of how continental drift was gradually accepted by scientists, and after that, by the public at large. He also addresses the issue of methodology in research, especially when belief systems are undergoing change or experiencing pressure to change.

“Spinning Shakespeare” by Don Rubin
Don Rubin has adapted a presentation he gave in October 2012 at the joint conference of the Shakespeare Fellowship and the Shakespeare Oxford Society. In this article he describes his experience at York University of lobbying for departmental approval to teach a course on the SAQ. How he succeeded in delivering such a course (one time!) to 4th year undergraduates. Includes appendixes such as an  overview of the course materials, supplementary information on student responses. Article also includes background insights about organizing the SOF’s Toronto conference in 2013 and the sacrifices exacted from academics who speak openly of reasonable doubt about the man from Stratford.

Free article on Ben Jonson

From this edition of The Oxfordian, the SOF has provided a sample article freely available to our readers titled “Honest Ben and the Two Tribes He Hath Left Us” by Gabriel Andrew Ready. This article examines and critiques the publication in 2012 of the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Ben Jonson.

SOF President Tom Regnier said: “I have long been aware of how the Stratfordian presumption skews Shakespearean scholarship. This article shows how it is also skewing Jonsonian scholarship.”

According to Pannell, the article “also brings a fresh analysis and point-of-view to the manner in which Jonson presents himself in the prefatory material of the First Folio” — a topic of great currency with the Folger Shakespeare Library’s First Folio Tour to begin in 2016.

With the publication of The Oxfordian 17, last year’s edition, The Oxfordian 16, is now freely available online.

The Oxfordian 17 contents also include:

“A Newly Discovered Article by J. Thomas Looney” introduction by James Warren
Eighty-percent of this article is a reprint of an essay by J.T. Looney that was published in 1922, in the first issue of a British journal called The Golden Hind. Estimated distribution of the first issue of the magazine was 75 copies. A small part of Looney’s essay was reprinted many years ago in Oxfordian Vistas. In The Golden Hind, the original title was The Earl of Oxford as ‘Shakespeare’: New Evidence. Looney deepens our understanding of the negotiations over Anne Cecil’s engagement to Phillip Sidney (which obviously failed), and explores the ways in which her eventual marriage to Edward de Vere is itself explored in The Merry Wives of Windsor. In his introduction, James Warren provides some provenance for the Looney essay, and describes how he obtained an original copy of this issue of The Golden Hind.

“Is Greene’s Groats-worth of Wit about Shakespeare, or By Him?” by Robert Prechter
An examination of the possible relationship between Robert Greene, William Shakespeare, and Edward de Vere; makes the thesis that neither Greene and Shakespeare existed as writers. Posits that  Robert Greene was a pseudonym created by Oxford and that “Shakespeare” was an allonym, undertaken through a connection to the Stratford man. Examines linguistic parallels between Greene’s plays and Shakespeare’s; cites the many dedications attached to Greene’s works that name relations of the 17th Earl of Oxford; builds on work of previous scholars, for example Stephanie Hughes’s “Robert Greene: King of the Paper Stage” (available at

“A Mint of Phrases in His Brain”: Language, Historiography, and The Authorship Question in Love’s Labour’s Lost by Julie Elb
A historical summary of critical opinions on Love’s Labour’s Lost. This paper reviews the generally negative appraisal of the play over two centuries, as a consequence of misidentification of the author. This has had the result of many critics’ failing to properly evaluate the play’s language and characterizations on their own merits. The paper also examines the way in which this play differs from other Shakespeare comedies, how its sources become easier to understand and relate to the text, how its purpose for being written becomes less problematic, if readers can accept a court insider such as the 17th Earl of Oxford, as the author.

“The Rediscovery of Shakespeare’s Greater Greek” by Earl Showerman
An article that summarizes and updates Showerman’s previously published articles in Brief Chronicles and The Oxfordian on the question(s) of Shakespeare’s knowledge of Greek, his sources, and the literary and linguistic parallels between works by Sophocles, Euripides, and Aeschylus and Shakespeare plays such as Hamlet, Macbeth, Timon of Athens, The Winter’s Tale, and Much Ado About Nothing.

“Subliminal Chaucer in Shakespeare’s History Plays” by Michael Delahoyde
Delahoyde begins by addressing the relatively few studies of Chaucer’s influence on Shakespeare’s writing, and of these, he notes how they only address the obvious connections between Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde and Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida and also between Chaucer’s The Knight’s Tale in The Canterbury Tales and Shakespeare’s The Two Noble Kinsmen. Shakespeare, however has employed his knowledge of Chaucer in many more ways, and in more subtle ways, than has been previously detected. By making connections between many of Chaucer’s lesser-known works and Shakespearean works, he adds significantly to our understanding of the writerly relationship between the two founding figures in the English canon.

Finally, “My Oxfordian Bookshelf,” a new column that will feature reviews of favorite Oxfordian books from the past, debuts with Chris Pannell’s delightful review of Lynne Kositsky’s Shakespeare authorship fantasy for younger readers, A Question of Will.

Letter From The Oxfordian Editor Chris Pannell:

The Oxfordian editor, Chris Pannell

The Oxfordian editor, Chris Pannell

If great writing seems to come from a mysterious place, I’m fine with that.

It doesn’t really, of course. It comes from the mingling of personal experience, training in literature and languages, curiosity, ambition, emotion, and hard work. The only ones who believe in the mysteriousness of creative writing, are those who haven’t tried it, or felt what it’s like to grapple with it.

One is always grappling. The subjects aren’t chosen by the writer, so much as they are forced upon the writer by the injuries and pleasures of his or her life. Memory, in other words. This is part of my impetus to understand Shakespeare through Oxford’s life. I want to observe, with a feeling of fresh clarity, those mysteries about Oxford’s role in the Elizabethan era falling away.

The writers and researchers whose work has filled the seventeenth issue of The Oxfordian, are helping do that. They’re on a quest, perhaps for similar reasons I am.

These were main tasks:

  • reading and thinking about the submissions 
  • sending back work with ideas for refinements
  • debating with the editorial board
  • accepting and rejecting articles
  • assembling the articles into a laid-out book (on deadline)

There were days when I felt like I was clutching the reins of eight horses pulling a rickety old wagon, while trying to keep the vehicle from going off the road and throwing me in the ditch.

Not many days were so action-packed. Mostly I enjoyed hearing so many people – we had twenty-three submissions — talking about Oxford in such a variety of voices, pursuing such a range of inquiries, getting closer and closer to the source of the Shakespeare plays and poems.

My goal is to make The Oxfordian as great a journal as it can be. Of course I’m utterly dependent on the writers who want to publish, who want to improve their work, and better understand the greatest writer in the English language. I’m thrilled my job lets me read many Oxfordian articles before anyone else.

I want to thank all the writers who sent something. Those writers with work in the seventeenth issue of The Oxfordian, have provided readers with much that is exciting and ground-breaking.

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Bevington to discuss First Folio at U Chicago October 17, 2015 Mon, 14 Sep 2015 09:56:43 +0000 University_of_Chicago_logo.svg

David Bevington, PhD, will present a lecture titled, “The Assembling and Printing of the Shakespeare First Folio, 1623” at the University of Chicago Humanities Day October 17, 2015. The event is free and open to the public; registration is recommended.

According to the University of Chicago’s online synopsis, Bevington chose his topic to coincide with the Folger Library’s “First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare” tour of the US in 2016. The synopsis says:

This seems like a good time to ponder the history of this book. How was it assembled after Shakespeare’s death by two of his theater colleagues, John Heminges and Henry Condell? How complete is it? What sorts of copy did the editors have access to? What is the printing history? What is the cultural and literary importance of this book? How has it shaped what we know about Shakespeare and his reputation? What would we be missing if it had not been published? What role if any did Shakespeare have in its being put together, in view of the fact that it was published seven years after his death? What was Henry Folger’s contribution as book collector?

SOF journal editor, Roger Stritmatter, PhD, will address these and other questions about the publication of the First Folio in a special edition of Brief Chronicles titled The 1623 Shakespeare “First Folio” — a Minority Report scheduled for publication December 2015. Stritmatter said:

“The special issue will reprint and make widely available a series of articles written over the past 75 years — approximately — that show how problematic the folio is from an orthodox point-of-view.”

The special Brief Chronicles edition will be available in hardcopy from Amazon and will be available online at the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship website.

For more information on the publication of the First Folio, read the late Robert Brazil’s research on the topic, Edward de Vere and the Shakespeare Printers, available in print and also in a Kindle edition from Amazon.

Postscript Sept. 17, 2015

John Shahan, chairman of the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition, reminded us that David Bevington was one of the experts quoted in the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s 2011 “Sixty Minutes with Shakespeare” project supporting the Stratfordian authorship candidate. Shahan shares Richard Whalen’s anti-Stratfordian rebuttal to Bevington, below.

Shakespeare Authorship Coalition rebuttal
to Question 33 of Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s
“Sixty Minutes with Shakespeare” 2011 authorship project
Oct. 26, 2011

Question 33: What kind of authority is the 1623 Folio collection of Shakespeare’s plays?

David Bevington, Phyllis Fay Horton Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the Humanities at the University of Chicago, replies for the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust:

The 1623 Folio edition of Shakespeare’s plays, published seven years after he died, is an extraordinarily important authority in establishing what he wrote. Approximately half of the plays it contains, including Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra and The Tempest, had not been published prior to 1623 and might otherwise be lost to us. The lists of plays corresponds to many other pieces of evidence as to what plays were his. The editors, John Heminges and Henry Condell, Shakespeare’s long time colleagues in the King’s acting company, had access to drafts and scripts of the plays that had been used in production. They prefaced it with tributes from prominent intellectuals and writers, notably Ben Jonson, who publicly proclaimed in the Folio volume that he regarded Shakespeare as a genius of tragedy equal to Sophocles, Euripides and Aeschylus, and the greatest writer of comedy the world had ever seen. This is stirring praise indeed, coming from a man of such fierce intellectual integrity. That Ben Jonson, and so many others, could have been bamboozled into praising Shakespeare if the plays were not his, or would have consented to a widespread conspiracy to perpetuate a lie about the authorship, is simply inconceivable.

Doubter response

Richard Whalen, Past President, Shakespeare Oxford Society; author of numerous research articles and book reviews in Oxfordian publications over nearly two decades:

We agree with the first 80 per cent of what David Bevington says about the significance of the First Folio. Ben Jonson, however, was not “bamboozled.” He praised Shakespeare and rightly so. The plays were his, appearing as by William Shakespeare, just as the works of Mark Twain were his and appeared under his pen name. The authorship question is whether “William Shakespeare” was a pen name. Note that nothing in the First Folio clearly and unambiguously attributes the plays to Shakspere of Stratford-upon-Avon.

There is no evidence of a “widespread conspiracy to perpetuate a lie.” Doubters make no such claim, and no “widespread” conspiracy would have been required. This is an assumption that Stratfordians impose on doubters for the sake of argument. If a writer uses a pseudonym, does this mean that he, his family, friends and publisher are part of a “widespread conspiracy” to conceal his identity? What is “widespread”? There is little evidence that people knew who the author Shakespeare was in the first place.

However the claim that actors Heminges and Condell wrote the introductory material in the First Folio, or edited the plays, was shown to be false by George Steevens in 1770. His conclusion has been accepted by most Shakespeare scholars ever since. Would they and Ben Jonson have helped to perpetuate a myth for some good reason? Probably yes. We know that this claim by the two actors is false. Why assume everything else is true?

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Research Grant Program Announces 2015 Winners Sat, 12 Sep 2015 22:00:34 +0000 From: John Hamill, Chair of the SOF Research Grant Program

The Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship’s 2015 Research Grant Program selection committee is pleased to announce that it has chosen to fund one proposal for further research into the Shakespeare Authorship Question.  This is the second round of applications we received, and we are looking forward to announcing another round next year. The proposal promises the possibility of exciting new finds to help solve the authorship mystery.

The persons selected for the 2015 SOF Research Grant are:

Michael Delahoyde, PhD, Washington State University

Professor Michael Delahoyde, PhD, Washington State University

Michael Delahoyde and Coleen Moriarty for Research in a few northern Italian archives.  This is to follow up on the research that Michael pursued with his 2014 RGP award this summer in Italy.  We believe that this investment has so far paid off tremendously.

Statement from Michael Delahoyde on Purpose of Research:

Building upon our recent discovery of documented evidence of Oxford’s request and permission to access artwork in private governmental chambers, we intend to remain on de Vere’s archival trail through northern Italy in 1575-1576 as well as that of his personal secretary Anthony Munday in 1579. Beyond the archives, we hope to strengthen a sympathetic alliance among present-day locals engaged in the arts and education who recognize that they have a cultural stake in Oxfordianism and the visitors such fellowship attracts. We aim to expand the historical work into a very contemporary context: what would it mean to know, incontrovertibly, that Shakespeare himself not only drew breath but also found direct inspiration for his works here?

Michael will present a short summary of his summer 2015 findings at the SOF Shakespeare Authorship Conference in Ashland, Oregon on Friday, September 25, 2015.  In addition, the other winners of the 2014 competition, Roger Stritmatter and John Lavendoski, will also present brief summaries of their findings.

The members of the 2015 RGP Review Committee were Katherine Chiljan, Bonner Cutting, Ramon Jimenez, Don Rubin, and John Hamill.

We expect to have another Research Grant Program for 2016.  We will announce the details of the RGP Rules for the 2016 grant in the next few months. Please help us continue the RGP with your donations.

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Wember translates Twain’s “Is Shakespeare Dead?” Fri, 11 Sep 2015 19:17:32 +0000 New German translation of Twain's "Is Shakespeare Dead?" by Hanno Wember

Hanno Wember’s German translation of “Is Shakespeare Dead?” from My Autobiography by Mark Twain

Hanno Wember of Hamburg, Germany has announced that his translation of “Is Shakespeare Dead?” from My Autobiography by Mark Twain will be published this month as the 2015 yearbook project of the German, Shakespeare-authorship organization, Neue Shake-speare Gesellschaft (New Shakespeare Society). 

The 136-page translation is titled Ist Shakespeare tot? Aus meiner Autobiographieand will be available in hardcopy from publisher Stratosverlag and from at a price of EUR 9,90. No electronic version is available.

Wember also translated an essay titled “Mark Twain and ‘Shake-Speare’: Soul Mates” by James Norwood, PhD, to serve as a foreword. Wember said Norwood’s article — originally published in the SOF journal, Brief Chronicles VI — will provide German-language readers with a comprehensive background explanation of the position of “Is Shakespeare Dead?” within Twain’s work.

The impetus for translating Twain’s monograph came from Claus Bredenbrock, director of the award-winning film, Der Nackte Shakespeare (The Naked Shakespeare) that was  screened at the 2013 Shakespeare-authorship conference in Toronto. Wember said:

He [Bredenbrock] had met Keir Cutler and seen his performance [Mark Twain’s “Is Shakespeare Dead?” with Keir Cutler, PhD] — and partially [used it] in his film — and so became aware of Twain’s essay. So we decided to publish “Is Shakespeare Dead” in German as our [Neue Shake-speare Gesellschaft] yearbook right in time before 2016.]

We hope that the name Mark Twain will bring greater attention to the authorship question . . ..This is probably an advantage for Germany, as the book was not translated so far, and is unknown here, [even though] it was available in the English-speaking world.

Translating Mark Twain into German, however,  is not a task for the faint of heart. Wember said:

Twain’s humor and irony is so wonderful; and just this gave — always — the motivation to go on.

There were parts that were not easy to translate, but thanks to three proofreaders with very good English knowledge, a good solution could be found.

But a very few points we have not translated and keep the original, such as Captain Ealer’s soliloquy at the very beginning. There is no equivalent in German for the orders of a Mississippi-pilot!

All Shakespeare references are cited in German. The book also contains approximately 15 pages of detailed comments and explanations of unfamiliar terms and people, and information about the translation.

Wember also noted that film director Claus Bredenbrock will release a sequel to Der Nackte Shakespeare, titled “Ist Shakespeare tot?” – Ein Film von Claus Bredenbrock, frei nach Mark Twain (“Is Shakespeare dead?“ – A film from Claus Bredenbrock according to Mark Twain) that will be aired on the German/French TV ARTE in 2016.

Hanno Wember, Madison WI, 2014

Hanno Wember, Madison WI, 2014

Hanno Wember is a board member of the German Shakespeare-authorship organization, Neue Shake-speare Gesellschaft (New Shakespeare Society), and is a frequent attendee at authorship conferences in the US, although he will not attend this month’s SOF conference in Ashland, Oregon. Wember may be reached directly by emailing <>.

Is Shakespeare Dead? 100 years later

Interest in Mark Twain’s anti-Stratfordian views is sure to be aroused with the publication of the third and final volume of Twain’s uncensored autobiography next month, October 2015.

From the publisher of Autobiography of Mark Twain, the University of Chicago Press:

Created from March 1907 to December 1909, these dictations present Mark Twain at the end of his life: receiving an honorary degree from Oxford University; railing against Theodore Roosevelt; founding numerous clubs; incredulous at an exhibition of the Holy Grail; credulous about the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays; relaxing in Bermuda; observing (and investing in) new technologies. . . .

Fitfully published in fragments at intervals throughout the twentieth century, Autobiography of Mark Twain has now been critically reconstructed and made available as it was intended to be read. Fully annotated by the editors of the Mark Twain Project, the complete Autobiography emerges as a landmark publication in American literature.

Emphasis ours.

The untranslatable soliloquy of Capt. Ealer from “Is Shakespeare Dead” by Mark Twain: “What man dare, I dare! Approach thou what are you laying in the leads for? what a hell of an idea! like the rugged ease her off a little, ease her off! rugged Russian bear, the armed rhinoceros or the there she goes! meet her, meet her! didn’t you know she’d smell the reef if you crowded it like that? Hyrcan tiger; take any shape but that and my firm nerves she’ll be in the woods the first you know! stop the starboard! come ahead strong on the larboard! back the starboard! . . . Now then, you’re all right; come ahead on the starboard; straighten up and go ’long, never tremble: or be alive again, and dare me to the desert damnation can’t you keep away from that greasy water? pull her down! snatch her! snatch her baldheaded! with thy sword; if trembling I inhabit then, lay in the leads!—no, only the starboard one, leave the other alone, protest me the baby of a girl. Hence horrible shadow! eight bells—that watchman’s asleep again, I reckon, go down and call Brown yourself, unreal mockery, hence!” Courtesy Gutenburg Project
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SOF launches YouTube channel Wed, 02 Sep 2015 21:14:20 +0000

The Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship has launched its own YouTube channel at SOF YouTube.

The first SOF video is Bonner Miller Cutting’s “Early Modern Wardship and its Impact on Edward DeVere,” presented at the 2014 SOF conference in Madison, Wisconsin.

Cutting described her presentation in this conference abstract:

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?

The YouTube channel was created by SOF webmaster Jennifer Newton, who prepared the Cutting video for posting. The organization plans to post more material from the Madison conference as it becomes available.

SOF president Tom Regnier said the organization has made arrangements to record the proceedings of this year’s conference in Ashland, Oregon, and intends to make good use of the outreach opportunities provided by the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship channel.

Viewers are urged to subscribe to the SOF channel, and to share news of the site on their social media networks. All comments on the site will be moderated.

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Summer 2015 newsletter published Thu, 20 Aug 2015 02:28:04 +0000

Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship Newsletter editor Alex McNeil has released the Summer 2015 edition of the newsletter, now available online — under password — to SOF members. Non-members may gain access to the newsletter by joining the SOF. Sign up to become a member from our Join the SOF page.  

The summer-edition, cover story, “An Hour with Wells and Edmondson,” is an interview of Stanley Wells and Paul Edmondson by SOF trustee Don Rubin and his wife, poet Patricia Keeney.

SOF Trustee Don Rubin interviewed Wells and Edmondson in 2014.

SOF Trustee Don Rubin interviewed Wells and Edmondson in 2014.

The interview took place in Stratford, Ontario when Wells and Edmondson spoke there last year. This interview, along with a foreword by editor McNeil, is provided to all of our readers at “An Hour with Wells and Edmondson.”

In his foreword, McNeil said:

A couple of things caught my attention. First is Wells’s statement (made before the interview, and brought up in Rubin and Keeney’s first question) that he didn’t intend to read Mark Anderson’s Shakespeare By Another Name until it had been ‘categorically proven’ that the Stratford man was not the author of the Shakespeare canon. That reminded me of something I’d read years ago in a biography of Galileo. Turning his telescope to the night skies, Galileo was the first to see the moons of Jupiter, objects which obviously revolved around something other than Earth. When he invited a professor of mathematics at the local university to look through the telescope, the professor declined the offer because he knew that there was nothing to see.

In addition to SOF news, news notes, and book reviews, this summer issue features an article titled, “Is Ben Jonson’s De Shakespeare Nostrati a Depiction of Edward de Vere?” by Andrew Crider, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Williams College. Crider said:

Ben Jonson’s De Shakespeare Nostrati is usually regarded as a brief remembrance of William Shakspere of Stratford. Yet the person described by Jonson corresponds poorly with what we know from other sources of the life and character of the Stratford man. On the other hand, Jonson’s character sketch is fully consistent with the colorful biography of Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford. Jonson described Shakespeare as an open and creative individual whose writing and whose conduct suffered from a lack of self-discipline. We have no evidence that either openness or poor self-discipline characterized Mr. Shakspere, but both qualities are major themes in de Vere’s biography.

Notes, reviews, and more

A news note, titled “An article in a recent issue of Shakespeare Quarterly Sheds Light on Odd Word in Loves Labours Lost,” is a fascinating report on work by Ross Duffin, author of the award-winning Shakespeare’s Songbook published in 2004. The note begins:

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 Loves Labours Lost—“Concolinel”—is a mistranscription of the title of a then-popular bawdy French song, “Qvand Colinet.”

Reviews include:

An article about estate planning titled, “Making a Planned Gift to the SOF: Taking a First Step” is condensed on our Ways to Give page.

Editor McNeil said:

In each issue I try to include a good mix of articles — up to 3000 words or so— book reviews, news notes, and official announcements from the SOF. Three-thousand words is not necessarily the maximum length for an article; sometimes we’ve run an article in two parts in consecutive issues. I’ve been fortunate to have a surplus of good articles for each issue of the newsletter, which means that some items have to be cut. So for those who may have submitted something quite a while ago, that doesn’t mean I won’t get to your article!

Keep up to date using the SOF website

SOF president Tom Regnier reported that changes have been made to the conference agenda since the newsletter went to press. For an up-to-date agenda, check the “2015 Ashland Conference Agenda” page on this website. Regnier said, “Conference attendees will receive a printed program with the latest schedule when they arrive at the conference.”

Subscribe to SOF online news

Since the publication of the summer newsletter, changes have been made to the process for subscribing to SOF news via email. To assure your continued access to SOF news, please subscribe, or resubscribe, using the new two-step process described below:

1. Go to the SOF home page. Under “Subscribe” in the right-hand column, fill in your name and email address, and click “Sign up.”

2. You will immediately receive an email from SOF asking you to confirm your subscription. Open the email, and click “Yes, subscribe me to this list.”

That’s all. Once you’ve signed up, we at the SOF will alert you to important news and information about our publications, conferences, and activities. You can stop receiving email at any time by clicking “Unsubscribe” in any SOF email message.
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Regnier, Joyrich and Warren nominated to SOF board; Kositsky retires Thu, 13 Aug 2015 22:49:48 +0000 Reported by the SOF Nominations Committee chaired by Bonner Miller Cutting and published in Summer 2015 SOF Newsletter edited by Alex McNeil

The Nominations Committee of the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship has nominated the following persons for office:

For a one-year term as President, and for a three-year term on the Board of Trustees: Thomas Regnier, JD, LLM.

For three-year terms on the Board of Trustees:  Richard Joyrich, MD, and James Warren.


Thomas Regnier, JD, LLM

Thomas Regnier, JD, LLM, currently serves as president of the SOF, and is nominated for a second one-year term as president and for a three-year term as a trustee. He is a practicing attorney in the Miami, Florida, area. He received his juris doctor, summa cum laude, from the University of Miami School of Law, and his master of laws from Columbia Law School, where he was a Harlan F. Stone Scholar. He has taught at the University of Miami School of Law (including a course on Shakespeare and the Law) and at Chicago’s John Marshall Law School. Tom has frequently spoken at authorship conferences on aspects of law in Shakespeare’s works, and he wrote the chapter on Shakespeare’s legal knowledge in Shakespeare Beyond Doubt? In June 2014, Tom delivered a presentation at the Cosmos Club in Washington, D.C., entitled, Hamlet and the Law of Homicide: the Life of the Mind in Law and Art.”


Richard Joyrich, MD

Richard Joyrich, MD is a current trustee, and is being nominated for another term. He has been practicing radiology (specifically nuclear medicine) for over twenty-five years in Detroit. He has been a regular attendee at the Stratford Festival in Ontario as well as the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and other theatrical venues and has “completed the canon” (seen all of the recognized plays of Shakespeare) at least three times. He was a contributor to the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition’s Exposing an Industry in Denial campaign and has also contributed to the Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter. He has served on the boards of trustees of the SOS and SOF since 2006 and is a past president of the Shakespeare Oxford Society.


James Warren

James Warren has not previously served as a trustee. He was a Foreign Service officer with the U.S. Department of State for more than twenty years, during which he served in public diplomacy positions at American embassies in eight countries, mostly in Asia. He later served as executive director of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training (ADST) and then as regional director for Southeast Asia for the Institute of International Education (IIE). He is the editor of An Index to Oxfordian Publications, and has given presentations at several Oxfordian conferences.

No nominations were received by petition. Thus, under the SOF bylaws, no ballots will be sent to members, and the three persons nominated by the Nominations Committee will be deemed elected to their respective offices upon approval of motions to that effect made at the Annual Meeting of the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship in Ashland, Oregon, on Saturday, September 26, 2015.

The members of the 2015 Nominations Committee were Bonner Miller Cutting (chair), Cheryl Eagan-Donovan, and John Hamill.

Kositsky to retire from SOF board

Lynne Kositsky

Lynne Kositsky

Lynne Kositsky is leaving the SOF board of trustees this year after completing her term. A longtime trustee and former president of the Shakespeare Fellowship, Lynne was instrumental in laying the groundwork for the merger of the Shakespeare Fellowship and the Shakespeare Oxford Society, which was effected in late 2013. The Board of Trustees is deeply grateful for her many years of service.

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