Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship Research and Discussion of the Shakespeare Authorship Question Sat, 01 Aug 2015 23:11:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Brief Chronicles VI available from Create Space Sat, 27 Jun 2015 18:31:15 +0000 Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship journal Brief Chronicles VI, available in hardcopy from Amazon.

Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship journal Brief Chronicles VI, available in hardcopy via CreateSpace at Amazon.

The Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship journal, Brief Chronicles VI, produced by general editor Roger Stritmatter, PhD, and managing editor Michael Delahoyde, PhD, is now available online to SOF members at Brief Chronicles VI under the Publications Tab on the SOF website.

This is the first edition 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.

Hard copy issues will now be available to both membership and the general public at low cost through Amazon’s CreateSpace print-on-demand publishing arm at A Kindle version is not currently anticipated by the SOF board.

SOF president Tom Regnier, JD, LLM, said that members were informed of the new publishing policy in the Fall 2014 edition of the SOF newsletter and directly by email. Regnier said:

We announced last year that the increased costs of printing and mailing the journals made us consider whether to cut back on the frequency of their publication. After hearing from our members, we decided to continue publishing both Brief Chronicles and The Oxfordian annually.

Although we could no longer afford to offer printed journals as a membership benefit, we decided that all members would have online access to the journals. Furthermore, those who desired print copies of the journals would be able to buy them as a separate purchase. 

Through CreateSpace, we are able to make printed copies of BC6 available to you from Amazon for only $12.99, plus shipping. At present, BC6 is available through (U.S.) and Amazon affiliates in the European Union. Our Canadian members may purchase through BC6 will sell for £8.29 in British pounds and under €12.50 in Euros (prices vary slightly from country to country).

We think you will enjoy BC6 whether you prefer to read it digitally or in print form. We thank you for helping us bring the truth to light.

The SOF board of trustees hopes that news-page readers will support the work of research into the Shakespeare authorship by joining SOF now.

Inside Brief Chronicles VI

For a glimpse into the new edition of Brief Chronicles, see SOF trustee and University of York professor Don Rubin’s historical accounting of the press war incited by the 2013 authorship conference in Toronto. Rubin’s article,:“Sisyphus and the Globe: Turning (on) the Media” published in Brief Chronicles VI is available free to our readers. A video of Rubin’s presentation of this account given at the 2014 authorship conference in Madison WI will also be available on this site soon.

Professor Rubin’s study of Nestruck’s craven attempts to have him discredited serves as a fascinating case study into how a human might behave when he is hell-bent on keeping a raft afloat that is slowly and ingloriously submerging beneath the muddy waters of a rising tide.

Alexander Waugh, Introduction. Brief Chronicles VI

In his introduction to Brief Chronicles VI, Alexander Waugh referred to Rubin’s Toronto adventures:

Professor Don Rubin, who has achieved much success in inspiring students at the University of Toronto to take a keen interest in the Shakespeare authorship problem has, like most of us, made his fair share of enemies along the way. In this issue he tells of the hair-raising animosity levelled against his work by one James Kelly Nestruck, a theatre critic of Toronto’s Globe and Mail. Stratfordians enjoy speculating on the psychological aberrations that motivate those who question their orthodoxy — we are snobs, anarchists, neo-romantics, Shakespeare-haters, mentalists, holocaust deniers, supporters of South African apartheid, etc., etc., ad nauseam. Above all we are scary. Professor Stanley Wells, in a television interview with his colleague, Carol Rutter, announced, in quite hysterical tones, that it is “dangerous to encourage people to question history.” A petrified educationalist called Alasdair Brown, in internet discussion, similarly announced that the Oxfordian challenge to his creed was “insidious, reactionary and dangerous.” Professor Rubin’s study of Nestruck’s craven attempts to have him discredited serves as a fascinating case study into how a human might behave when he is hell-bent on keeping a raft afloat that is slowly and ingloriously submerging beneath the muddy waters of a rising tide.

Waugh’s full introduction of Brief Chronicles VI titled “From the Pulpit: A Few Home Truths — A British Introduction” may be read on this site. A full table of contents of Brief Chronicles VI includes:

  • “From the Pulpit: A Few Home Truths — A British Introduction” [to BC VI] by Alexander Waugh
  • “Sisyphus and the Globe: Turning (on) the Media” by Don Rubin
  • “Biography, Genius, and Inspiration” by Bernd Brackmann
  • “Strat Stats Fail to Prove that ‘Shakspere’ is Another Spelling of ‘Shakespeare’” by Richard F. Whalen
  • “Arms and Letters and the Name ‘William Shake-speare'” by Robert Detobel
  • “The Use of State Power To Hide Edward de Vere’s Authorship of the Works Attributed to ‘William Shake-speare’” by James Warren
  • “Chaucer Lost and Found in Shakespeare’s Histories” by Jacob Hughes
  • “A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Shakespeare’s Aristophanic Comedy” by Earl Showerman
  • Mark Twain and ‘Shake-Speare': Soul Mates”by James Norwood
  • “Ben Jonson and the Drummond ‘Informations': Why It Matters” by Richard Malim
  • “Was William Scott a Plagiarist? A Review of Scott’s The Model of Poesie” reviewed by Richard Waugaman
  • “Dr. Magri’s Bow and Quiver: Such Fruits Out of Italy: The Italian Renaissance in Shakespeare’s Plays and Poems” reviewed by William Ray
  • “Towards a Pragmatechnic Shakespeare Studies: A Review-Essay on U. Cambridge’s Shakespeare and the Digital World” reviewed by Michael Dudley

With the release of the latest edition of Brief Chronicles, the previous edition —Brief Chronicles V — has been removed from password protection and is now available to all readers on the SOF website under the publications tab.

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Mark Anderson will keynote Ashland conference Thu, 25 Jun 2015 02:41:42 +0000 Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson, author of Shakespeare
By Another Name, a biography of the 17th
Earl of Oxford, will be keynote speaker
at the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship
authorship conference September 24-27,
2015 in Ashland, OR.

Ashland authorship conference update
reported by Earl Showerman

For further information on lodgings or travel, or to register for the SOF conference and reserve group order theatre tickets, go to: 2015 Conference

The early response of both scholars and the membership to gather in Ashland, Oregon for the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship annual conference September 24-27, 2015 has been remarkable.  The program schedule includes over 25 presentations, featuring a number of scholars from Great Britain, and an exhibit of Renaissance folio editions from the special collection at the Hannon Library of Southern Oregon University. Full registration includes all plenary sessions, a printed syllabus, an opening reception, two buffet lunches, and the awards banquet at the conclusion of the program.

Group ticket sales to the three Shakespeare plays in production at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival have been robust, and as of June 21, the tickets reserved for the SOF group for Pericles have sold out. Theatre tickets to Much Ado about Nothing and Antony and Cleopatra are still available on a first-come, first-served basis.

For SOF conference registrants unable to purchase tickets to the OSF production of Pericles, a video of the 1984 BBC production will be screened at the Ashland Springs Ballroom on the same evening as the OSF production.

For further information on lodgings or travel, or to register for the SOF conference and reserve group order theatre tickets, go to 2015 Conference.

Program schedule for conference events in Ashland, OR:

Thursday, September 24, 2015
8:00 – 12:00 – Conference Registration Opens
9:00 – 12:00 – Exhibit of Folio Editions at Hannon Library of Southern Oregon University
10:00 – 12:00 – Screening of Nothing Is Truer than Truth at Ashland Springs Hotel Ballroom – Cheryl Eagan-Donovan
12:00 – 1:00 – Lunch (on own)
1:00 – 1:15 – Welcome, Introductions and Orientation
1:15 – 2:00 – Michael Morse: “Such virtue hath my pen”:  Onomastic Wit and Revelatory Wordplay in Shake-speare’s Sonnets
2:00 – 2:45 – Jan Scheffer: Oxford’s Capture by Pirates, April 1576
2:24 – 3:00 – Coffee/Tea Break
3:00 – 3:45 – Heward Wilkinson: Did We Mislay Hamlet’s ‘as ‘twere’ on the Way to the Authorship Amphitheatre?
3:45 – 4:30 – Don Rubin: Methinks the Man:  Peter Brook and the Authorship Question
4:30 – 5:00 – Alexander Waugh & Roger Stritmatter: A New Shakespeare Allusion Book
5:00 – 5:30 – Shakespeare Identified 100
5:30 – 7:30 – Opening Reception with No-Host Bar and Appetizers
8:00 – 10:40 – Much Ado about Nothing (Bowmer Theatre)

Friday,  September 25, 2015
8:00 – 8:30 – William J. Ray:  The Droeshout Etching as a Revolutionary Renaissance Work of Art
8:30 – 9:15 – Robert Prechter: Why Did Robert Greene Repent His Former Works?
9:15 – 10:00 – Margrethe Jolly: Romeo and the Grafter
10:00 – 10:10 – Michael Morse: eMERITAS
10:10 – 10:30 – Coffee/Tea Break
10:30 – 11:30 – OSF Actor Panel: Much Ado about Nothing
11:30 – 12:15 – Julia Cleave: Shakespeare and the Visual Arts: The Case of the Bassano Fresco
12:15 – 1:30 – Buffet Lunch
1:30 – 2:15 – Ros Barber: Shakespeare: The Evidence
2:15 – 3:00 – Alexander Waugh: ‘Vulgar Scandal’ mentioned in Shakespeare’s sonnets
3:00 – 3:15 – Coffee/Tea Break
3:15 – 4:15 – Michael Delahoyde: Antony & Cleopatra
4:15 – 5:00 – Richard Whalen: The Queen’s ‘Worm’ in Antony and Cleopatra
5:00 – 5:30 – Julia Cleave: Antony and Cleopatra as Chymical Theatre
5:30 – Adjourn
8:00 – 11:00 – Antony and Cleopatra (Allen Elizabethan Theatre)

Saturday, September 26, 2015
8:00 – 9:30 – Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship Annual Membership Meeting
9:30 – 10:15 – Mark Anderson: Shapiro Agonistes — Why James Shapiro’s claims of a Jacobean phase to Shakespeare’s career are wrong
10:15 – 10:30 – Coffee/Tea Break
10:30 – 11:30 OSF Actor Panel – Antony & Cleopatra
11:30 – 12:15 – Kevin Gilvary – Who Wrote Shakespeare’s First Biography?
12:15 – 1:30 – Buffet Lunch
1:30 – 2:15 – Katherine Chiljan – Origins of the Shakespeare Pen Name
2:15 – 3:00 – Roger Stritmatter The Theology of Pericles
3:00 – 3:15 – Coffee/Tea break
3:15 – 4:00 – Wally Hurst – Pericles, Prince of Tyre: Its Authorship, The Question of Collaboration, and its Place in the Shakespearean Canon
4:00 – 4:45 – Earl Showerman – Pericles: Shakespeare’s Early Tragi-Comedic Miracle Play
4:45 – 5:30 – Ren Draya: Shakespeare’s The Tempest:  Music, Structure, and Fantasy
5:30 – Adjourn
7:30 – 10:30 – Screening of BBC Pericles in Ashland Springs Ballroom
8:00 – 10:30 – Pericles, Prince of Tyre (Thomas Theatre)

Sunday, September 27, 2015
8:00– 8:45 – John Shahan: Shakespeare Authorship Coalition Update
8:45 – 9:30 – James Warren: Oxfordian Theory and Academia: Past, Future and Present
9:30 – 10:15 – Tom Regnier: The Law of Evidence and the Shakespeare Authorship Question
10:15 – 11:00 – Coffee/Tea Break
10:30 – 11:30 OSF Actor Panel – Pericles
11:30 – 12: 30 – Legitimizing the SAQ Panel: Tom Regnier, Wally Hurst, James Warren, and John Shahan
12:30 – 2:00 – SOF Awards Banquet – Keynote Speaker – Mark Anderson

Earl Showerman is chairperson of the 2015 SOF conference in Ashland, OR. Showerman, Richard Joyrich, John Hamill, Bonner Miller Cutting, Don Rubin, and Wally Hurst form the nucleus of the SOF annual conference committee.

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Royal Shakespeare Company Website Retracts False Claims About Authorship Doubters Mon, 01 Jun 2015 10:00:18 +0000 Prof. Stanley Wells of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Prof. Stanley Wells of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

A few years ago, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) posted on its website an article by Professor Stanley Wells of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT) that called disbelief about the Stratford man as the author of the works of Shakespeare a “psychological aberration” attributable to “snobbery . . . ignorance; poor sense of logic; refusal . . . to accept evidence; folly; the desire for publicity; and even . . . certifiable madness.”

Mark Rylance, 3-time Tony Winner

Mark Rylance, 3-time Tony Winner


At the persistent urging of John Shahan, Chairman of the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition (SAC), a group of authorship skeptics, the RSC has at last removed the offensive article from its website! The Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship notes that Mark Rylance, the multi-award winning Shakespearean actor, authorship doubter, and an honorary trustee of the SOF, also helped to persuade the RSC to withdraw the article.

Following are excerpts from the SAC’s update, issued on June 1, 2015, in which Mr. Shahan details the efforts that brought about this triumph for the principles of free and open inquiry.


Good news! In response to letters from SAC, the RSC has removed false claims about authorship doubters from its website.

Professor Stanley Wells’ article on the “Authorship Debate” taken down!

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon (SBT) has long promoted a false negative stereotype of authorship doubters, and nowhere more blatantly than in an article on its website by then-SBT chairman Stanley Wells on “Shakespeare’s Authorship,” which included the following statement:

“The phenomenon of disbelief in Shakespeare’s authorship is a psychological aberration of considerable interest. Endorsement of it in favour of aristocratic candidates may be ascribed to snobbery – reluctance to believe that works of genius could emanate from a man of relatively humble origin – an attitude that would not permit Marlowe to have written his own works, let alone Shakespeare’s. Other causes include ignorance; poor sense of logic; refusal, wilful or otherwise, to accept evidence; folly; the desire for publicity; and even (as in the sad case of Delia Bacon, who hoped to open Shakespeare’s grave in 1856) certifiable madness.”

The purpose of this and similar claims by Stratfordians is, of course,  to smear and intimidate doubters and thus stigmatize and suppress a legitimate issue. If the case for Mr. Shakspere were as solid as they claim, there would be no need for such tactics. Since it is not solid, it is easier for them to keep people from looking into the evidence than having to confront and deal with it.

It is ironic that an English professor who is so jealous of his exclusive authority to rule on all things Shakespearean would think he could get away with usurping the authority to diagnose behavioral, character and psychiatric disorders and then generalize from a few specious, or even non-existent, examples to an entire group of people, virtually none of whom fits his stereotype. Here he was encroaching on one of my areas of expertise, and I knew that, if challenged, he would be unable to back it up.

In April of 2010, I sent him the following letter:


Dear Professor Wells,

I am writing on behalf of the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition to challenge your claim on the SBT website … that the phenomenon of widespread doubt about William Shakespeare’s identity is “a psychological aberration of considerable interest,” attributable to a variety of causes, including “snobbery” based on class prejudice, or “even certifiable madness (as in the sad case of Delia Bacon . . .).” If these allegations are true, it should be possible for qualified experts in the disciplines of psychiatry, psychology and sociology to validate your claims with empirical evidence. I hereby challenge you to either obtain such expert validation, or stop making the claims. Specifically, I challenge you to either back up your claims on the SBT website with data worthy of the high scholarly standards you claim to represent, or remove them forthwith.

Any theory should be evaluated based on the best arguments of its strongest proponents. There will, of course, be some level of aberrant thinking and behavior in any population; but to prove your claims, not only must you show that the prevalence of these conditions and behaviors is much greater among authorship doubters than in the general population, or in a control group, such as orthodox Shakespeare scholars, but that they are pervasive.

The enclosed “Declaration of Reasonable Doubt” names twenty prominent past doubters, including Mark Twain, William and Henry James, Tyrone Guthrie and Sir John Gielgud. On what basis do you claim that their doubts were due entirely to the defects you allege? Over 1,700 people have signed the Declaration. Of these, over 300 are current or former college/ university faculty members. Some of them are much better qualified to diagnose psychological disorders than you are. On what basis do you claim that they are aberrant?

You appear to label as “psychologically aberrant” anyone who disagrees with your view. You seem to be exploiting prejudices against the mentally ill to discredit your opponents. The use of such tactics is morally reprehensible, and those who would resort to them are unworthy of being regarded as legitimate stewards of the legacy of William Shakespeare. If you continue to make such allegations, on your website or elsewhere, with no credible evidence to back them up, you should assume that the SAC will pursue this issue further.


John M. Shahan, Chairman, SAC


I received no reply. Wells never provided a shred of evidence to back up his claim, and 14 months later the article was taken down from the SBT website. Later I learned that it had been posted on the RSC website under the title “Authorship Debate.” It must have been very effective there, sending a clear message to both current and aspiring RSC actors to toe the party line.

Unfortunately for Wells, it also made it possible to appeal to a higher authority, unlike at the SBT. In June of 2014, I wrote a similar letter to the Prince of Wales in his capacity as president of the RSC. His assistant forwarded it to officials at the RSC, and in January of this year I sent a follow-up letter to RSC chairman Nigel Hugill renewing the request and calling attention to several other falsehoods in Wells’ article. After that, it still took an assist from Mark Rylance before it was finally taken down.

The entire sequence, including the three letters and Wells’ article, can be read on the SAC website at this link.

We thank the Prince of Wales, Nigel Hugill and Mark Rylance for their kind assistance.

— John Shahan, Chairman, SAC


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J. T. Looney Reading List compiled by James Warren Tue, 19 May 2015 13:52:31 +0000 Excerpted from the recently released third edition of James Warren’s Index to Oxfordian Publications published in hardcopy by William Boyle’s Forever Press, which is available in paperback, and in an online, searchable database format at Boyle’s Shakespeare Online Authorship Resources (SOAR) catalog. The list is printed below in both chronological and alphabetical order.




Looney, J. Thomas    “Shakespeare” Identified in Edward De Vere, the Seventeenth Earl of Oxford.  London: Cecil

Palmer. PR2947 09 L6  (excerpts reprinted in SAR, Issue #22: 2-12, Christmas, 1969; SON.

Vol. 25/1: 9-10, Winter, 1989; SON, Vol. 30/1: 13, Winter 1994; BTC, Vol. 1: 218-38;

BTC, Vol. 7: 230-31; and in TOX, Vol. 16: 19-28, 2014)

Looney, J. Thomas    “Shakespeare” Identified in Edward De Vere, the Seventeenth Earl of Oxford.  New York:

Frederick A. Stokes Company.  PR2947 O9 L6 1920a

1920, March 4

Author Not Listed      “Review of “Shakespeare” Identified,” Yorkshire Evening Post.

Author Not Listed      “Review of “Shakespeare” Identified,” Hull Daily Mail.

Author Not Listed      “Review of “Shakespeare” Identified,” Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer.

1920, March 5

Author Not Listed      “Review of “Shakespeare” Identified,” Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer.

1920, April 5

Author Not Listed      “Review of “Shakespeare” Identified,” Aberdeen Journal.

1920, April 12

Author Not Listed      “Review of “Shakespeare” Identified,” Nottingham Evening Post.


Björkman, Edwin       “Review of “Shakespeare” Identified by J. Thomas Looney (1920),” The Bookman, Vol. 51.


Looney, J. Thomas    The Poems of Edward De Vere, Seventeenth Earl of Oxford.  London: Cecil Palmer.  PR2326 O8

1921, February 16

Author Not Listed      “Review of The Poems of Edward de Vere (1921), edited by J. Thomas Looney.

1922, February

Looney, J. Thomas    “Shakespeare – Lord Oxford or Lord Derby?,” National Review (London), p. 801-09.

1922, October

Looney, J. Thomas    “The Earl of Oxford as ‘Shakespeare:’ New Evidence,” The Golden Hind, Vol. 1/1. [an edited

excerpt was reprinted in OXV, p. 168-176.

1929, Feb.

Looney, J. Thomas    “Letter: death of George Greenwood,” Shakespeare Pictorial, No. 12, p. 16.

1933, May 12

Robinson, Joan V.     Shakespeare and Mr. Looney, Cambridge Review, No. 54, p. 14-16. (reprinted in DVN, Vol. 15/1:

14-16, March 2008)

1935, April

Looney, J. Thomas    “Jonson v. Jonson (Part 1),” Shakespeare Pictorial, No. 86, p. 64.

1935, May

Looney, J. Thomas    “Jonson v. Jonson (Part 2),” Shakespeare Pictorial, No. 87, p. 80.

1935, Aug.

Looney, J. Thomas    “A More Important Christopher Sly,” Shakespeare Pictorial, No. 90, p. 120.

1935, Nov.

Looney, J. Thomas    “Lord Oxford and the Shrew Plays, Part 1,” Shakespeare Pictorial, No. 93, p. 176.

(reprinted in BTC, Vol. 2: 17-19)

1935, Dec.

Looney, J. Thomas    “Lord Oxford and the Shrew Plays, Part 2,” Shakespeare Pictorial, No. 94, p. 190-91.

1939, December

Author Not Listed      “Review of “Shakespeare” Identified,” Shakespeare Fellowship Newsletter (American),

Vol. 1/1, p. 8. (reprinted in BTC, Vol. 2: 20-24)

1940, Dec.

Looney, J. Thomas    “Author of “Shakespeare” Identified Comments on Professor Campbell’s article “Shakespeare

Himself,” in Harpers (July 1940, p. 172-85),” Shakespeare Fellowship Newsletter

(American), Vol. 2/1, p. 1-3.

1941, Feb.

Looney, J. Thomas    “Shakespeare: A Missing Author, Part 1,” Shakespeare Fellowship Newsletter (American),

Vol. 2/2, p. 13-17.  (reprinted in BTC, Vol. 2: 135-44)  (excerpt reprinted in SON, “Vol. 13/1:

1-6, Spring, 1977; and in BTC, Vol. 6: 112-18) (another excerpt reprinted in SON, Vol. 24/4:

1-7, Summer, 1988)

1941, April

Looney, J. Thomas    “Shakespeare: A Missing Author, Part 2,” Shakespeare Fellowship Newsletter (American), Vol.

2/3, p. 18-30.  (repr. in BTC, Vol. 2: 144-55)

1944, April

Editors (SFQ)             “Discoverer of the True Shakespeare Passes: John Thomas Looney, 1870-1944,” Shakespeare

                                                     Fellowship Quarterly, Vol. V/2, p. 17-23. [includes letters from Looney to Eva Turner Clark

(10 Aug.1928), Carolyn Wells (6 Dec. 1932), Charles Wisner Barrell (6 June 1937 and 15

May 1942) and Will D. Howe (2 June 1938)] (reprinted in BTC, Vol. 3: 26-36)

1944, May

Allen, Percy                “John Thomas Looney (1870-1944),” Shakespeare Fellowship Newsletter (English), p. 2-4.                SE   Page 2-4


Author Not Listed      “Review of “Shakespeare” Identified (1920).  New Yorker.


Looney, J. Thomas    “Shakespeare” Identified in Edward De Vere, the Seventeenth Earl of Oxford.  Introduction by

William McFee; Afterword by Charles Wisner Barrell.  New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce.

PR2947 O9 L6 1949

1950, April 8                    

Basso, Hamilton         “The Big Who-Done-It,” review of “Shakespeare” Identified by J. Thomas Looney, 1949 edition,

New Yorker, p. 113-14. 117-18.

1962, Autumn

Demant, V. A.             “Obituary of John Thomas Looney (1870-1944),” Shakespearean Authorship Review, No. 8, p. 8-

  1. (reprinted in SON, Vol. 46/1, p. 21, May, 2010; and in BTC, Vol. 1: 214-217, and in BTC,

Vol. 5: 92-94).

1969, Christmas

Author Not Listed      “Review of “Shakespeare” Identified,” Shakespearean Authorship Review, Issue #22, p. 1.

1970, June 30

Horne, Jr., Richard    J. Thomas Looney’s Anniversaries, Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter, Vol. 6/2, p. 4.


Looney, J. Thomas    “Shakespeare” Identified in Edward de Vere, Seventeenth Earl of Oxford, and The Poems of

                                                     Edward de Vere.  3rd edition.  Ruth Loyd Miller, editor.  Two volume set.  Oxfordian

                                                     vistas is the title of the second volume.  Port Washington, NY: Kennikat

Press for Minos Pub. Co.  PR2947 O9 L6 1975

1976, Spring

Cyr, Gordon C.           “Review of “Shakespeare” Identified and The Poems of Edward de Vere, by J. Thomas Looney,

3rd revised edition edited by Ruth Loyd Miller (1975),” Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter, Vol.

12/1, p. 5-6.


Wainewright, Ruth    “Review of “Shakespeare” Identified and The Poems of Edward de Vere, by J. Thomas Looney,

3rd revised edition edited by Ruth Loyd Miller (1975),” The Bard, Vol. 2/2, p. 75-79.

1992, Winter

Goff, Tom                   “Review of “Shakespeare” Identified and The Poems of Edward de Vere, by J. Thomas Looney,

3rd revised edition edited by Ruth Loyd Miller (1975),” Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter, Vol.

28/1, p. 10-11.

2000, Spring      

Campbell, Susan        “The Last Known Letter of Edward de Vere Brought to Light,” Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter,

Vol. 36/1: 4-6

2007, Summer

Paul, Christopher       “A New Letter by J. T. Looney Brought to Light,” Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter, Vol. 43/3, p.


2008, June

Paul, Christopher       “Letter to the Editor: re Joan Robinson’s correspondence with and article on J. Thomas

Looney,” De Vere Society Newsletter, Vol. 15/2, p. 31-32.


Lagwitz, U.;                               John Thomas Looney und Sigmund Freud (includes article by Richard M. Waugaman,

Hanno Wember;         “Psychoanalyse und die Verfasserschaftsfrage”)

Robert Detobel



Egan, Michael            “J. Thomas Looney Discovers Edward de Vere, Seventeenth Earl of Oxford,” in The Oxfordian,

Vol. 16: 29-30.


*   *   *   *   *




Allen, Percy

1944, May           “John Thomas Looney (1870-1944),” Shakespeare Fellowship Newsletter (English), p. 2-4.                                                                                                             SE       Page 2-4

Author Not Known

1945                     “Review of “Shakespeare” Identified,” New Yorker.

Author Not Listed

1920, March 4      “Review of “Shakespeare” Identified,” Yorkshire Evening Post.

1920, March 4      “Review of “Shakespeare” Identified,” Hull Daily Mail.

1920, March 4      “Review of “Shakespeare” Identified,” Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer.

1920, March 5      “Review of “Shakespeare” Identified,” Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer.

1920, April 5        “Review of “Shakespeare” Identified,” Aberdeen Journal.

1920, April 12      “Review of “Shakespeare” Identified,” Nottingham Evening Post.

1921, Feb. 16                “Review of The Poems of Edward de Vere (1921), edited by J. Thomas Looney.

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer.

1939, Dec.             “Review of “Shakespeare” Identified,” Shakespeare Fellowship Newsletter (American), Vol. 1/1, p. 8.

1945                               “Review of “Shakespeare” Identified (1920).  New Yorker.

1969, Christmas   “Review of “Shakespeare” Identified,” Shakespearean Authorship Review, Issue #22, p. 1.

Barrell, Charles W.

1949      Afterword to “Shakespeare” Identified in Edward De Vere, the Seventeenth Earl of Oxford by J. Thomas Looney.  New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce.  PR2947 O9 L6 1949

Basso, Hamilton

1950, April 8              “The Big Who-Done-It,” review of “Shakespeare” Identified by J. Thomas Looney, 1949 edition, New Yorker, p. 113-14. 117-18.

Björkman, Edwin

1920                     “Review of “Shakespeare” Identified by J. Thomas Looney (1920),” The Bookman, Vol. 51.

Campbell, Susan      

2000, Spring               “The Last Known Letter of Edward de Vere Brought to Light,” Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter, Vol.

36/1, p. 4-6.

Cyr, Gordon C.

1976, Spring               “Review of “Shakespeare” Identified and The Poems of Edward de Vere, by J. Thomas Looney, 3rd rev. ed. edited by Ruth Loyd. Miller (1975),” Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter, Vol. 12/1, p. 5-6.

Demant, V. A.    

1962, Autumn     “Obituary of John Thomas Looney (1870-1944),” Shakespearean Authorship Review, No. 8, p. 8-9.  (repr. in SON, Vol. 46/1, p. 21, May, 2010; in BTC, Vol. 1: 214-217, and in BTC, Vol. 5: 92-94).

Douglas, Lt. Col. Montagu W.                                                                                                             

1952                     Lord Oxford and the Shakespeare Group: a summary of evidence presented by J. T. Looney. G. H. Randall and Gilbert Slater.  Preface by Canon Gerald H. Rendall.  [Reprint of The Earl of Oxford as “Shakespeare”with new title.]  Oxford: Alden Press.  PR2947 O9 D62 1952 (Preface reprinted in BTC, Vol. 4: 223-224)

Editor (SFQ)     

1944, April          “Discoverer of the True Shakespeare Passes: John Thomas Looney, 1870-1944,” Shakespeare

                                             Fellowship Quarterly, Vol. V, No. 2, p. 17-23. [includes letters from Looney to Eva Turner Clark

(10 Aug.1928), Carolyn Wells (6 Dec. 1932), Charles Wisner Barrell (6 June 1937 and 15

May 1942) and Will D. Howe (2 June 1938)] (reprinted in BTC, Vol. 3: 26-36)

Egan, Michael

2014                     “J. Thomas Looney Discovers Edward de Vere, Seventeenth Earl of Oxford,” in The Oxfordian, Vol. 16: 29-30.

Goff, Tom

1992, Winter              “Review of “Shakespeare” Identified and The Poems of Edward de Vere, by J. Thomas Looney, 3rd rev. ed. edited by Ruth Loyd Miller (1975),” Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter, Vol. 28/1, p. 10-11.

Horne, Jr., Richard C.

1970, June 30     “J. Thomas Looney’s Anniversaries,” in Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter, Vol. 6/2: 4.

Lagwitz, U., Hanno Wember, and Robert Detobel (editors)

2010                     John Thomas Looney und Sigmund Freud (includes article by Richard M. Waugaman, “Psychoanalyse

und die Verfasserschaftsfrage”)

Looney, J. Thomas  

1920                     “Shakespeare” Identified in Edward De Vere, the Seventeenth Earl of Oxford.  London: Cecil Palmer.

PR2947 09 L6  (excerpts reprinted in SAR, Issue #22: 2-12, Christmas, 1969; SON. Vol. 25/1: 9-10, Winter, 1989; SON, Vol. 30/1: 13, Winter 1994; BTC, Vol. 1: 218-38; BTC, Vol. 7: 230-31; and in TOX, Vol. 16: 31-45)

1920                     “Shakespeare” Identified in Edward De Vere, the Seventeenth Earl of Oxford.  New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company.  PR2947 O9 L6 1920a

1921                     The Poems of Edward De Vere, Seventeenth Earl of Oxford.  London: Cecil Palmer.  PR2326 O8 1921

1922, Feb.            “Shakespeare – Lord Oxford or Lord Derby?,” National Review (London), p. 801-09.

1922, Oct.            “The Earl of Oxford as Shakespeare: new evidence,” The Golden Hind, Vol. 1/1.

1929, Feb.            “Letter: death of George Greenwood,” Shakespeare Pictorial, No. 12, p. 16.

1935, April          “Jonson v. Jonson (Part 1),” Shakespeare Pictorial, No. 86, p. 64.

1935, May           “Jonson v. Jonson (Part 2),” Shakespeare Pictorial, No. 87, p. 80.

1935, Aug.           “A More Important Christopher Sly,” Shakespeare Pictorial, No. 90, p. 120.

1935, Nov.           “Lord Oxford and the Shrew Plays, Part 1,” Shakespeare Pictorial, No. 93, p. 176.

(reprinted in BTC, Vol. 2: 17-19)

1935, Dec.           “Lord Oxford and the Shrew Plays, Part 2,” Shakespeare Pictorial, No. 94, p. 190-91.

(reprinted in BTC, Vol. 2: 20-24)

1940, Dec.           “Author of “Shakespeare” Identified Comments on Professor Campbell’s article “Shakespeare Himself,” in Harpers (July 1940, p. 172-85),” Shakespeare Fellowship Newsletter (American), Vol. 2/1, p. 1-3.

1941, Feb.            “Shakespeare: A Missing Author, Part 1,” Shakespeare Fellowship Newsletter (American), Vol. 2/2, p. 13-17.  (reprinted in BTC, Vol. 2: 135-44)  (excerpt reprinted in SON, “Vol. 13/1: 1-6, Spring, 1977; and in BTC, Vol. 6: 112-18) (another excerpt reprinted in SON, Vol. 24/4: 1-7, Summer, 1988)

1941, April          “Shakespeare: A Missing Author, Part 2,” Shakespeare Fellowship Newsletter (American), Vol. 2/3, p. 18-30.  (repr. in BTC, Vol. 2: 144-55)

1949                             “Shakespeare” Identified in Edward De Vere, the Seventeenth Earl of Oxford.  Introduction by William McFee; afterwords by Charles Wisner Barrell.  New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce.  PR2947 O9 L6 1949

1975                     “Shakespeare” Identified in Edward de Vere, Seventeenth Earl of Oxford, and The Poems of Edward de Vere.  3rd edition.  Ruth Loyd Miller, editor.  Port Washington, NY: Kennikat Press for Minos Pub. Co.  PR2947 O9 L6 1975

McFee, William

1949                     Introduction to “Shakespeare” Identified in Edward De Vere, the Seventeenth Earl of Oxford by J. Thomas Looney.  New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce.  PR2947 O9 L6 1949

Miller, Ruth Loyd   

1975                     “Shakespeare” Identified in Edward de Vere, Seventeenth Earl of Oxford, and The Poems of Edward de Vere, both by J. Thomas Looney.  3rd ed. Two volumes set; “Oxfordian Vistas” is the title of the second volume.  Port Washington, NY: Kennikat Press for Minos Pub. Co.  PR2947 O9 L6 1975

Paul, Christopher

2007, Summer     “A New Letter by J. T. Looney Brought to Light,” Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter, Vol. 43/3, p. 8-9.

2008, June           “Letter to the Editor: re Joan Robinson’s correspondence with and article on J. Thomas Looney,” De Vere Society Newsletter, Vol. 15/2, p. 31-32.

Robinson, Joan V.   

1933, May 12      Shakespeare and Mr. Looney, Cambridge Review, No. 54, p. 14-16.

(reprinted in DVN, Vol. 15/1: 14-16, March 2008)

Wainewright, Ruth M. D.     

1979              “Review of “Shakespeare” Identified and The Poems of Edward de Vere, by J. Thomas Looney, 3rd revised edition edited by Ruth Loyd Miller (1975),” The Bard, Vol. 2/2, p. 75-79.



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Waugh Presents New Interpretation of Shakespeare Monument at Stratford Sun, 22 Mar 2015 18:43:28 +0000 Leave it to writer and editor Alexander Waugh to come up with a theory that ties together almost every aspect of the Shakespeare Monument in the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon. That’s what he has done in his recent article, ‘Thy Stratford Moniment’ – Revisited, a “holistic interpretation.” Mr. Waugh demonstrates, among other things, a connection between the Monument inscription and the lines about Beaumont, Chaucer, and Spenser in the First Folio.

The Monument has long puzzled observers. First, there is the enigmatic inscription – two lines in Latin followed by three couplets in English – all of it suspiciously reminiscent of the style of Ben Jonson, the mastermind behind the prefatory material of the First Folio. A reference to “all that he hath writ” is the only suggestion that the Stratford man might have written anything at all, but the Monument never explicitly connects him to the plays and poems written under the name “William Shakespeare.” Then there are the mysterious changes in the bust of Shakespeare. The bust, as it was sketched in the early 1600s, depicted a man clutching a woolsack (pictured, left). This is nothing like the one on display in the Church today, with quill pen and paper (pictured, right):Monument.then&now

Mr. Waugh’s article first appeared in the U.K. in the De Vere Society Newsletter in October 2014. It has now been republished on the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship website, in a version revised and updated by the author, with the kind permission of our sister organization, the De Vere Society. We hope you’ll find Mr. Waugh’s article, which you can read on our website, as fascinating as we did.

[posted March 22, 2015] ]]> 0
Waugaman and Stritmatter confer with Global Hamlet co-founder Nefeli Misuraca in DC Sat, 14 Mar 2015 13:27:41 +0000 Nefeli Misuraca, PhD co-founder of the Global Hamlet

Nefeli Misuraca, PhD co-founder of The Global Hamlet with Simone Barillari, PhD


Oxfordian researcher Richard Waugaman, MD, and Brief Chronicles general editor Roger Stritmatter, PhD, met recently with The Global Hamlet co-founder Nefeli Misuraca, PhD, at the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC to discuss the first crowd-sourced edition of a Shakespeare play.

Lisa McAlister of With Good Cause  is handling public relations for the Global Hamlet in the US. After seeing Waugaman’s work on the Internet, McAlister contacted him on February 17 to ask him to participate in the project.

McAlister said to Waugaman:

I am reaching out to invite you to be part of our [Global Hamlet] community as I think you have some valuable insight and opinions to share. A new global edition of Hamlet will be published in 2016 to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. This will be the very first crowdsourced edition of a book anywhere. The Global Hamlet invites people from all over the world to contribute by sharing a quote, making a comment or telling a story of how Hamlet is still so relatable in modern society. Where other collective works become a globalarchive, the Global Hamlet will create a globalauthor. Everyone who contributes will receive recognition by being listed in the book as a contributor.

Waugaman agreed and suggested McAlister contact fellow Oxfordians: Stritmatter and Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship president Tom Regnier, JD. In turn, McAlister suggested DC locals Waugaman and Stritmatter meet with co-founder Misuraca who was in town early in March. Waugaman reported that during their three-hour lunch on March 3, Misuraca told them about the Global Hamlet project and was enthusiastic in her praise for both Waugaman and Stritmatter’s work.

Stritmatter said:

Dr. Misuraca seems like an ideal person to help lead up this exciting new global Shakespeare initiative. She is clearly committed to the ideal of bringing the play to an international audience, not keeping it locked up an academic suitcase as an object of scholarly reverence. She has read at least some of the Oxfordian commentary on it, and seems to me fully aware that Oxfordian scholarship has much to contribute to the comprehension of the work itself and understanding of its place in history. It seems like the Global Hamlet initiative will become a major venue for students and scholars to learn about the play in a less restrictive atmosphere than that promoted by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the Folger library, and the other institutional forces that seem to be committed to the orthodox view of the bard.

Waugaman and Stritmatter are enthusiastic about the Global Hamlet project, and both plan to participate.

Waugaman said:

. . . this is a wonderful instance of the healthy role of the internet in returning Shake-Speare to those who love his works. For far too long, Shakespeare scholars have held a monopoly on a respectable understanding of who wrote these works. They have tried to act as priests, controlling access to who was allowed to write authoritatively on Shake-Speare. It’s reminiscent of past eras when the laity was forbidden to read the Bible, and translating it so common people could read it was a capital crime.

I was in college during the 1960s, so the ideals of Global Hamlet remind me of the ideals of “Power to the People.” The Stratfordian priests have become corrupted with power, and deserve to be exposed. We need to remember that before the twentieth century there weren’t professional Shakespeare scholars in academia, since only the Greek and Latin classics were taught as literature.

It’s still too soon to know just how I might be involved in Global Hamlet. For starters, I sent Nefeli my review of Bronson Feldman’s book Hamlet Himself. I’m proud of Sigmund Freud’s prominent role as an early Oxfordian, and Feldman was the first psychoanalyst I’m aware of who took up Freud’s suggestion that we re-examine the works of Shake-Speare from a psychoanalytic perspective, based on a more correct understanding of who wrote them.

When contacted to inquire about her meeting with Waugaman and Stritmatter, Misuraca said:

I was very happy to meet professors Waugaman and Stritmatter during my very successful trip to the US. I found an openness of mind and an attention towards what we are trying to accomplish here at The Global Hamlet that reinforced my idea that inclusion is always the best medicine for a stagnant culture.

While we are experiencing an excess of philology in certain areas of studies – an idea that, in the end, every subject matter should be approached via a scientific standpoint – we are also witnessing a true renaissance in independent studies who try to open new avenues of critical thought.

Professors Waugaman and Stritmatter shared with me their experiences and their ideas with a generosity characteristic of those who believe that research means taking many points of view into consideration. I believe that students and people in general all over the world should be introduced to a variety of theory and approaches, so that they can navigate through complex ideas and authors more proficiently.

Shakespeare in particular, with all his complexities and challenges is the perfect medium to start an international and trans-critical dialogue. The Global Hamlet wants to be precisely this: the first in a series of collective classics created by the people, for the people, a platform where everyone can participate under the guidance of expert editors and contribute to the creation of the ultimate Hamlet edition: a snapshot of how this infinite work of art is perceived by the people and influences our times.

Hamlet has created what we now call “the modern man”, it is only fitting that an encyclopedia that wants to produce people’s editions of the major works of the western world would start by annotating, illustrating and also translating this piéce.

. . . Professor Waugaman told me that it would be interesting if we were to participate to each other’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Our community base is rapidly growing (we opened the Facebook page only a couple of months ago) and we are organizing a number of e-events in which your Facebook people could be interested, as well.

Although the Global Hamlet website is currently in beta and won’t be accessible to the public until later this year, anyone who wishes to participate in the project may begin by interacting with editor Damien Peters on one of the project’s social media pages at:

Global Hamlet website: (projected to open Sept 2015 at

Global Hamlet co-founder Simone Barillari, PhD

Global Hamlet co-founder Simone Barillari, PhD

The Global Hamlet co-founder Simone Barillari, PhD, clarified the social media initiative as follows:
The collective annotation will start in the next few days on our Facebook page through the guidance of an expert editor. Any and all annotations will transfer on the regular website once it will be up and running. In the meantime, we have already started a collective illustration of Hamlet on our Pinterest account, with users proposing images taken from the vast existing iconography of the play (drawings, photos, stage designs, paintings and sculptures), and contributing them also through Facebook and Twitter. These images will be organized scene by scene and captioned. The idea of launching first on the social media the collective illustration and the collective annotation is aimed to build up a community before the launch of the [web]site.
For more information, contact Global Hamlet public relations director Lisa McAlister at <>.

Global Hamlet logo

The Global Hamlet project Q & A with Lisa McAlister

Must all commentators enroll as members and pay a fee? If so, how much is the fee?
No, there is no fee to participate.

Must all readers and/or commentators be members to gain access or is the site open to the public?
The site is open to the public, but if participants would like their name to be included in the credits of the final published book, then they should register as a member on the site. Since that functionality is not yet available we are keeping track of contributors manually at the moment.

Is the Global Hamlet website open to the public?
The site that is currently password protected is a beta site only and the only purpose for going there is to view our concept, not to actually participate. All current annotation activities are taking place on Facebook, Tumblr and Pinterest and the fully interactive site will be launched sometime late summer, probably September [2015].

How can commentators gain access until the website opens?
All activities are on social media and we encourage people to participate on social media.


Will the Global Hamlet provide training to those who wish to participate?
Although training is not required to participate, the project will offer workshops and conferences to the public. The workshops are suited for any kind of university, school, course, class, as well as libraries and national cultural centers. The conferences are suited for universities, festivals, cultural events and public venues in general.  For more information, contact: <> .

Who are the editors who approve commentary? How are they chosen? Are the editors the sole arbiters of content?
Currently we have one editor, Damien Peters. More editors will be selected as the project grows. For example, we are currently working with universities to select graduate students who have a deep knowledge of Shakespeare and an interest in contributing to the project to work as editors. The editors are selected by the project co-founders Dr. Nefeli Misuraca and Simone Barillari. The editors put the content into correct context, but do not determine the “correctness”, so to speak, of annotations as part of the point of the project is to create the ultimate resource on Hamlet with many viewpoints.

Who is the main benefactor or funding source for the project? Who will publish the 2016 edition of The Global Hamlet?
There is not one particular University associated with the project, but we are forming relationships with many universities in order to have a large student population participating. Italian and international private contributors have funded the nonprofit organization — The Global Hamlet, based in Rome –which is behind the project; we have also received an advance from each of the publishing houses we have signed contracts with: Feltrinelli Editore in Italy; Anagrama in Spain and South America; Athenaeum Uitgeverij in Hollande; La Table Ronde, an imprint of Gallimard, in France.

Who is on the Global Hamlet board of directors?
Global Hamlet co-founders Simone Barillari, PhD and Nefeli Misuraca, PhD and Marco Poletto, treasurer of the association, a financial consultant and tax advisor registered in the Italian Board of Advisors

Will the Global Hamlet website continue to be accessible after publication? Will annotation continue?
Yes, definitely (under the supervision of a new team of editors).

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Warren releases third edition of comprehensive index of Oxfordian research Tue, 24 Feb 2015 15:44:01 +0000 INDEX TO OXFORDIAN PUBLICATIONS (Cover thumbnail, resized_2)





The recently released third edition of James Warren’s Index to Oxfordian Publications published in hardcopy by William Boyle’s Forever Press is available in paperback, and in an online, searchable database format at Boyle’s Shakespeare Online Authorship Resources (SOAR) catalog.


A hardcopy version of James Warren’s Index to Oxfordian Publications, Third Edition (Forever Press, 2015) is available from Amazon for $39.95 and from the NESOL bookstore for $30. For a $35 NESOL/SOAR membership, readers gain access to the library’s materials not available on the Internet. The library also offers a copy of Warren’s index and a one year subscription to NESOL/SOAR for $55.

Warren is a Sacramento native and retired Foreign Service officer with the U.S. Department of State who lives in Thailand. He published the first edition of his Oxfordian index in 2011, and was honored for his achievement with the Vero Nihil Verius Award for Distinguished Shakespearean Scholarship by the Shakespeare Authorship Research Centre of Concordia University in 2013.

In his introduction to the third edition of his index, Warren said:

This Third Edition includes two thousand new listings (an increase of 50-percent over the 2013 Second Edition), including several new sections that expand the Index’s coverage to practically all Oxfordian publications over the past 95 years. In addition to updating all current Oxfordian periodicals (newsletters and journals) and filling in the gaps where older records had been incomplete before, the Index now includes more than 1,000 articles from 200 non-Oxfordian publications that have reviewed and commented on the Oxfordian theory.

Among these are the regular Oxfordian columns that appeared in Louis Marder’s Shakespeare Newsletter (1979-1991) and Shakespeare Pictorial (1929-1939), as well as others ranging from the Times Literary Supplement, The New York Times Book Review, Harper’s, Shakespeare Quarterly, and Notes & Queries, to newspapers, magazines and smaller literary reviews from around the world. Not every author listed has been convinced that Edward de Vere wrote Shakespeare’s works, but all have had something substantive to say about the question of his authorship.

The Index has also been expanded to include an extensive bibliography of almost every Oxfordian book published since 1920, along with selected non-Oxfordian books on the Shakespeare authorship question in general. The 350 listings in the new book section include both nonfiction commentary and criticism, and also fictional works inspired by the authorship question. The Index also includes the contents of 22 collections of Oxfordian articles in book form, all cross-referenced with the original publications, and a “J. Thomas Looney Reading List” with details of all of Looney’s Oxfordian writings as well as commentary about them and him by others, in preparation for the important 2020 centennial of the publication of “Shakespeare” Identified.

Since Warren’s Index . . .  is available in hardcopy from William Boyle’s Forever Press imprint, we asked Warren if this monumental work would be made available in an electronic edition with hot links to the materials indexed. Warren said:

Bill Boyle and others working with him are actively at work putting the information in the index into a database that can be viewed and searched online through the Shakespeare Online Authorship Resources (SOAR) catalog, available at the New England Shakespeare Oxford Library (NESOL) website. That database already contains links to thousands of the articles listed in the Index, and will eventually have links to all of them.

William Boyle, librarian/owner of NESOL/SOAR said, “SOAR is the online, digital version of (Jim Warren’s) index. Every single index entry — author, article title, publication title/volume#/issue#/page numbers — is in SOAR as a catalog record, which can be searched in ways you can’t in a printed index, and in which each record will eventually be linked directly to the full text article.”

Warren and Boyle joined forces in 2011 when Warren was looking for a way to distribute his index and Boyle was developing his online resource, the Shakespeare Online Authorship Resources (SOAR) catalog. Boyle said:

The SOAR catalog [founded by Boyle in 2007] is an online catalog of Shakespeare authorship research which had already been embarked on the same mission as Warren’s, i.e. to identify and make available all Oxfordian research in one place, but was proceeding slowly, adding just a few hundred records each year. When I first met Warren via email exchanges over the summer of 2011, Warren shared his progress to date on his index. He had approximately 3,500 entries in Excel and Word formats, far exceeding what was in SOAR at the time; and we agreed to join forces.

I prepared a bound, printed version of Warren’s document for distribution at Concordia University at the premier of Anonymous in Sept. 2011, and several dozen copies were gobbled up in a few days. In the next two years a First Edition (2012) and a Second Edition (2013) of the Index to Oxfordian Publications were published by my Forever Press imprint, and were available for purchase on — thus making Warren’s work available to the book-buying public as well as the Oxfordian community. At the same time all the index entries were also being added to the SOAR Catalog. This Third Edition is a milestone, since it now provides Oxfordians, for the first time ever, with a complete history of Oxfordian research as published in Oxfordian and non-Oxfordian publications since 1920, in both a traditional print format, and in an online, searchable format.

Since Jim [Warren] first showed me his Excel spreadsheet for his index in summer 2011 I have been working with him on publishing print editions of the index each of the last three years, and also in using the Excel spreadsheet data as the basis for records in the SOAR catalog. So everything in the 2013 second edition of the index is already in SOAR and can be searched by author, title or key word. Much new material in the third edition will be added soon. There is no paywall to access SOAR, but I do have a suggested SOAR subscription price for anyone who would like me to supply an article — if I have it — that isn’t available online. Anyone can go to my New England Shakespeare Oxford Library website, click on the SOAR catalog link and go to SOAR and use it. And if there is a link to an article online they can click on that [link to access the article].

My arrangement with Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship is that we [SOAR] break out all the individual articles from Shakespeare Matters and the Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter and will have the right to maintain those articles on the New England Shakespeare Oxford Library server as the SOAR Archive — where eventually all the articles in the print index will reside as SOAR catalog records. Each record in SOAR for an article in an SOF publication — approximately. 2,500 entries — has a link to the SOF website pages that list each full issue.

Everything in Jim’s spreadsheet eventually gets loaded into SOAR as a catalog record in the library standard MARC format — a format mostly used for books and journal titles, but which also supports cataloging individual articles. Cataloging individual articles is what is now happening everywhere, from JSTOR to Gale Research, etc. SOAR is the beginnings of an online catalog dedicated to the Shakespeare authorship issue, focused on Oxford. Future plans we are considering include cataloging all the articles available on websites, and all the documents available on sites like Nina Green’s, and more.

Warren says the index project is far from complete:

As comprehensive as the Index is, much work remains to be done. It contains all the Oxfordian articles from the 1920s onwards that I know of, but listings of the contents of many older literary journals in England and the United States likely to contain reviews of Oxfordian books when they first appeared are not available online. And the full texts of many of the older articles listed in the index are not available through any online database that I am aware of. So, while I have in my possession copies of all the Oxfordian publications indexed, the same is not true for all the articles from non-Oxfordian publications.

Shakespeare Online Authorship Resources (SOAR)

SOAR is a catalog of all articles published by Oxfordians and/or by non-Oxfordians about the Oxfordian theory since the 1920s, plus selected material on the authorship debate in general. Catalog records range from in-depth research articles to reviews, news items, conference reports, obituaries, and letters to the editor. SOAR presently has over 5000 catalog records, and by the end of this year will have more than 6500, after everything new in the third edition of James Warren’s Index to Oxfordian Publications is added. SOAR is the digital version of the Index to Oxfordian Publications, but with more access points, plus there are some records in SOAR that are not in the index, such as web-based articles and digitized documents.

Current catalog records in SOAR for publications of the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship (not including articles from 2014, currently available only to Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship members) are:

Shakespeare Oxford Society Newsletter (1965-1995), 747 records
Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter (1996 to date), 967 records
Shakespeare Matters (2001-2013), 733 records
The Oxfordian (1998 to date), 201 records
Brief Chronicles (2009 to date), 51 records

This is a total of of 2,447 records for the newsletters, plus 252 entries for the journals. That leaves 2,500 other records in SOAR that cover The De Vere Society Newsletter, the older Shakespeare Fellowship newsletters (1930s-1950s), The Bard, The Shakespearean Authorship Review, etc. It is these 2,500 other records that we own in hardcopy, but must first be scanned and uploaded to the SOAR archive before a link to them can be added to a catalog record.

SOAR owner Bill Boyle said: “Since the SOF had the most articles overall, and since all these articles were available in the PDF versions of the newsletters on the SOF site, we began with them, after first clearing it with the SOF board [in 2013]. Anyone can search SOAR because it is a public catalog, and anyone can call up a PDF version of an article if there is a link in the catalog record. Until all the older hardcopy is converted to PDF anyone who wants a hard copy would have to ask us to copy it and send it. That is where we ask researches to subscribe to SOAR, to help support our work and to pay for the service.”

Timeline for James Warren’s Index of Oxfordian Publications

2007 Boyle creates Shakespeare Online Authorship Resources (SOAR) catalog  as one of the resources available on his New England Shakespeare Oxford Library (NESOL) website.

2011 Summer, SOAR creator William Boyle and index author James Warren join forces to publish Warren’s Index to Oxfordian Publications, and to combine Warren’s index files with SOAR online catalog records. Warren’s material includes 3500 records to be added to the 400 plus records already in the SOAR catalog.  (See: Oberon weblog post “Warren creates Index . . .” Sept. 7, 2011.)

2011 September, James Warren takes a limited edition of Index to Oxfordian Publications to authorship conference held at Concordia University, Portland Oregon, to enthusiastic response.

2012 First Edition of James Warren’s Index to Oxfordian Publications is published by William Boyle’s Forever Press, and made available from Amazon.

2013 Second Edition of James Warren’s Index to Oxfordian Publications is published by William Boyle’s Forever Press and made available from Amazon. (See Boyle’s Everreader weblog announcement of May 9, 2013.)

2013 April, James Warren receives Vero Nihil Verius Award for Distinguished Achievements in the Shakespearean Arts from the Shakespeare Authorship Research Center of Concordia University, Portland OR. (See: Oberon weblog post “SARC conference . . . ” dated March 9, 2013.)

2013 Fall, SOF board agrees to allow SOAR to break down SOF publications into individual article files to be housed and accessed from SOAR (as well as SOF website, if SOF chooses this option in lieu of linking to individual files on SOAR).

2015 January, Warren releases third edition of index with over 2000 new listings. Eighty-percent of articles are linked to online resources through SOAR, with complete links to be made available by the end of the year. Boyle said: “This third edition is a milestone, since it now provides Oxfordians, for the first time ever, with a complete history of Oxfordian research as published in Oxfordian and non-Oxfordian publications since 1920, in both a traditional print format, and in an online, searchable format.” (See Boyle’s Everreader weblog announcement of January 14, 2015.)Links to SF/SOS/SOF publications are available by permission of the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship.

Bonus Reading!
Click HERE to read the full text of James Warren’s introduction to the Index of Oxfordian Publications, Third Edition (Forever Press, 2015)

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Editor Alex McNeil releases Winter 2015 Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter Mon, 23 Feb 2015 19:03:23 +0000 February 23, 2015

The Winter 2015 Issue of the Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter is here! Printed copies will arrive in the mail within the next week or so for 2015 SOF members who subscribed to the printed newsletter as part of their memberships. All 2015 members were sent an email on February 23 containing the password for downloading the newsletter in PDF form from our Newsletter page. If you have renewed or joined for 2015 and did not receive the password, please send an email to to get the password.

Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter Winter 2015

Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter Winter 2015

If you have not renewed your membership for 2015, now is a good time to do so. If you want to receive the printed Newsletter as part of your membership, you can still get the Winter issue, hot off the press. See details on our Membership page.

This 32-page issue of the newsletter is filled with interesting news and articles. This issue leads off with Ramon Jiménez’s fascinating article on Shakespeare’s early drafts of Henry V, Taming of the Shrew, and King John, and includes articles on DNA testing of Richard III’s remains, John Shahan’s “take” on the Stratford, Ontario Authorship Appeal, Robert Prechter on the Sonnets dedication, Alexander Waugh vs. Oliver Kamm, a cartoon by John Regnier, news about our conference in September at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival . . . and more.

To give you a taste of what’s in this issue, here is a link to “Shakespeare Full Circle” by Nate Briggs, in which the author discusses the sensation that he has long had “that, year by year, the ‘unedited’ Bard is becoming accessible to fewer and fewer people when these works are staged.”

We hope you enjoy the Winter Issue! Thanks for your support of the SOF and all of its activities.

— The Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship

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John Shahan Responds to Blog on Authorship Question Sat, 21 Feb 2015 05:03:07 +0000 On February 3, 2015, Eve Siebert posted a blog on the website, called False Balance and the Shakespeare Authorship “Debate.” In her blog Siebert stated, among other things, “There is a mountain of evidence for Shakespeare’s authorship, no evidence that he didn’t or couldn’t have written the works, and a bunch of weak and contradictory evidence for other authors.” John Shahan, Chairman of the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition, wrote the following response, which he sent on February 10 to Michael Shermer, Editor-in-Chief of Skeptic magazine. As of February 20, Mr. Shahan had not received any response from either Shermer or Siebert. The Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship thanks Mr. Shahan for allowing us to publish his response.

John Shahan explains the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition's Declaration of Reasonable Doubt

John Shahan explains the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition’s Declaration of Reasonable Doubt

Letter from SAC chairman John Shahan to Skeptic magazine editor Michael Shermer in response to a Skeptic blog posting critical of Robert Gore-Langton’s article in Newsweek

February 10, 2015

Dear Michael,

I’m writing to complain about Eve Siebert’s Insight blog, False Balance and the Shakespeare Authorship “Debate,” which includes several false and/or misleading claims. I submitted two detailed comments in response, and I think they warranted replies. She hasn’t replied to mine, or to several other comments that I think warranted replies. It’s very unimpressive that she fails to respond when challenged, and especially that she did not acknowledge and correct her false description of the outcome of the 1987 moot court trial before three U.S. Supreme Court Justices at American University in Washington, D.C. I’ve copied my two comments at the end of this for your convenience.

Note that I call attention in them to two examples of falsification of evidence in the book Shakespeare Beyond Doubt: Evidence, Argument, Controversy (SBD), edited by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon. It is an especially egregious offense to falsify evidence in a book like SBD, which purports to be the definitive statement on the subject by orthodox academics. In fact, it is no such thing, as pointed out in this review by Thomas Regnier. Sadly, it is increasingly apparent that the Birthplace Trust has a habit of making false claims. As a leading tourist destination, they have always had a conflict of interest. What we didn’t know until recently is the extent to which their Shakespeare theme park (Disneyland for Shakespeare is an apt description) is based on fraudulent claims.

Siebert’s article briefly mentions that the Newsweek article by Robert Gore-Langton was prompted by Alexander Waugh’s recent e-book by Kindle, Shakespeare in Court. But she never talks about the book and probably did not read it. She should have. It’s quite an eye-opener. It is mainly about a fictional mock trial of the authorship issue, but in Part I Waugh first identifies the parties to the dispute. He introduces the Birthplace Trust by quoting the descriptions of five of their properties – tourist attractions – and then giving a detailed history of each property based on documents found in the Birthplace Trust’s own archives. Not one of the five properties is what they claim it is. Nothing shows that what they call Shakespeare’s “Birthplace” is where Shakspere was born. What they call “Anne Hathaway’s Cottage” isn’t where Anne Hathaway lived. What they call “Mary Arden’s Farm” isn’t the farm where Shakspere’s mother lived. The building called “Hall’s Croft” isn’t, as they say, where John and Susanna Hall lived. What they call ”Tom Nash’s House” wasn’t.

There is a clear pattern of false claims about their tourist attractions, quite apart from whether Shakspere was the author. It is these false claims by the Trust that would be the focus of any legal action, and not just the fact that they refused our mock trial challenge and £40,000 donation offer. The Trust has a lot to hide, and they’ve gotten away with it for so long that they seem to feel totally unaccountable. So they also falsified evidence in their book, SBD. This is scandalous, but most people are blind to it and just accept what these “experts” say.

Other misleading claims by Dr. Siebert:

1. “It is true that Shakespeare doesn’t mention plays or books in his will, but he entailed the bulk of his estate, including his primary residence, New Place, and its contents. He didn’t need to mention plays or poems.”

 Mr. Shakspere’s will is relatively long and detailed for the time. He mentioned many other very minor personal possessions, rather than just “entailing” them to his heirs. Books were valuable possessions at the time, and especially many of the rare books Shakespeare used as sources. It makes no sense that he would not mention them but that he would mention many less valuable items. Is this the behavior of a man who loved books and lived by them? Why didn’t he leave any of his most prized books, or anything else, to some fellow writer, collaborator, or to his alleged patron, the Earl of Southampton? And what happened to the alleged books after they were “entailed”? Why do they all seem to have totally disappeared? Not a single book that Mr. Shakspere owned, or that is known to have been in his possession, has ever been found.

More importantly, focusing only on books is misleading. It suggests that the absence of books is the only issue with the will and everything else is as one would expect. Nothing could be further from the truth. Not one thing about the will suggests in any way that it is the product of the mind that produced the works of William Shakespeare. Not only does he not mention that he has been a writer, he neither names nor quotes from any of the works, and not a single turn of phrase is reminiscent of any of them. He left no intellectual property! Nothing about it suggests a man who lived an intellectual life. On the contrary, it tends to confirm everything else that suggests he did not.

On a website titled ”60 Minutes with Shakespeare,” Birthplace Trust trustee Michael Wood says that “To deny Shakespeare’s authorship is to deny the primary sources, above all his will.” In reality, the will is the one primary source document that is most damaging to his claim. In Shakespeare Beyond Doubt? (Shahan and Waugh, eds.), we included an entire chapter on the will, explaining in detail why it isn’t the author’s will, and we included a transcript. We also predicted, correctly, that, despite Wood’s claim, the Trust wouldn’t talk about the will in SBD. It is clear, solid evidence against Shakspere. Just read it. Or, better yet, read Chapter 5 in our book, SBD?. How does Dr. Siebert explain the fact that the Birthplace Trust first claimed that the will is “above all” primary source evidence for Shakspere, then left it out of their book when it came time to present the definitive case for his authorship? They could have reproduced the entire will for all to see and let it speak for itself. They didn’t. We did. Who are the real “deniers” here?

2. “It might be true that no poem or play survives in Shakespeare’s hand, but that is not unusual among Elizabethan/Jacobean poets.”

It’s true that we have manuscripts for only about ten writers of the period, but Shakespeare was prolific and his works were admired; so it’s odd that we have none for him. But more telling than the absence of manuscripts of plays or poems is the complete absence of any letters he wrote. That is very unusual for a major writer of the period. It’s especially odd for a man who divided his time between London and Stratford – a situation conducive to correspondence. What about all of his many collaborators? How is it possible that many of their letters survived but none for the greatest writer of all? The author must have written hundreds of letters. Why none for Mr. Shakspere? His six alleged signatures offer an explanation.

 3. “Moreover, Hand D of the play Sir Thomas More may be in his handwriting (see image, right).”

 Notice the weasel words “may be,” and then she shows the image of the Hand D manuscript as if to suggest that it is in his hand. There is no way to say that the Hand D writing is in Mr. Shakspere’s hand because there’s no valid sample of his handwriting against which to compare it. The only generally-accepted writings in his hand are six signatures on legal documents, each spelled differently, and in the view of Jane Cox, Custodian of Wills at the Public Records Office,

“It is obvious at a glance that these signatures, with the exception of the last two [the Blackfriar signatures] are not the signatures of the same man. Almost every letter is formed in a different way in each. Literate men in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries developed personalized signatures much as people do today and it is unthinkable that Shakespeare did not.”

Perhaps Dr. Siebert can explain on what basis she speculates that Hand D is in Shakspere’s hand if no two letters in his six signatures are formed the same way. (For a study comparing Shakspere’s alleged signatures to those of other contemporary writers and actors, see Chapter 2 in Shakespeare Beyond Doubt? ).

Here’s an alternative hypothesis about where Hand D comes from: We know that the main body of The Book of Sir Thomas More is in the hand of one Anthony Munday. But Munday was not the author of the play because he makes transcription errors that the author wouldn’t have made. So he was apparently a scribe for the real author. So who was Anthony Munday? He was secretary to the leading alternative authorship candidate, Edward de Vere, possibly about the time Sir Thomas More was written. So even if Hand D represents the revisions of Shakespeare himself, there is no way to prove the handwriting is Mr. Shakspere’s and not that of another scribe of de Vere. Stratfordians avoid mentioning that Munday was Oxford’s secretary.

 4. “Most crucially, Shakespeare absolutely was recognized as an author during his lifetime. About half of Shakespeare’s plays were printed during his lifetime. Many of those list his name as author on the title page…. The problem isn’t that documentary evidence doesn’t exist. The problem is that Shakespeare deniers claim that somehow these references to William Shakespeare don’t actually refer to William Shakespeare, the actor from Stratford, but to a pseudonym of another person. To say that these references don’t exist, however, is simply false.”

First, even Stanley Wells of the Birthplace Trust now says that none of the many references to the author “Shakespeare” during the lifetime of the Stratford man identifies him as being from Stratford-upon-Avon (Why Shakespeare WAS Shakespeare, Kindle Single, Stanley Wells, 2014). Not until seven years after he died did anyone suggest that he had been the author Shakespeare, in the First Folio. Only if one assumes that every appearance of the name “Shakespeare” refers to the Stratford man can it be said that they are evidence for him during his lifetime. It’s not a safe assumption. One problem is that he never spelled his name “Shakespeare” in his life, and it probably was not pronounced the same as the author’s name. Another problem is that nobody who referred to the author during Mr. Shakspere’s lifetime indicated that they knew him. Another problem is that at least ten people have been identified who clearly knew Shakspere, and [knew about] the author “Shakespeare,” but never connected the two. The evidence for him as author is so thin that it even undermines the theory he was a front man for the real author. If he had been, then more evidence would point to him.

Second, notice that Siebert contradicts herself when she first says that authorship doubters think the appearances of the name are explainable as being a “pseudonym,” and then suggests that we deny the existence of the documents. If we deny the existence of documents, how do we propose that a non-existent name is a pseudonym? Notice also that she doesn’t actually quote any doubter who claims that the documents don’t exist. I know of no authorship doubter who has ever denied the documents. This is an example of the Stratfordian tactic of setting up a false straw-man argument, attributing it to us, and knocking it down. It’s dishonest, and they do it all the time.

 5. “There is a mountain of evidence for Shakespeare’s authorship”

 This statement is totally false. There is no “mountain of evidence” for Shakspere, especially not from his lifetime, as even increasing numbers of Stratfordians now admit. If there were, the Birthplace Trust would not hesitate for a moment to accept our mock trial challenge, collect our £40,000 donation and put the controversy behind them. The fact that they are unwilling to defend the claim in the title of their book, Shakespeare Beyond Doubt, speaks volumes. At least we have the courage of our convictions. They don’t. If there is a “mountain of evidence,” fine: put up or shut up. They didn’t put up any mountain of evidence in Shakespeare Beyond Doubt, and that would have been the place to do it. Instead, here’s how attorney Thomas Regnier characterizes SBD in the final paragraph of his review:

One might have thought that, given the chance to put the authorship controversy to rest once and for all, the authors and editors of SBD would have laid out their evidence in all its glory, with clear, cogent explanations of its significance and coolly reasoned rebuttals to any arguments questioning its authenticity. That they have chosen instead to assert authority, disparage open-mindedness, and belittle adversaries says a great deal about the mindset and the state of scholarship, as it regards the authorship question, of the Shakespeare establishment.

6. “There’s … no evidence that he didn’t or couldn’t have written the works”

 False again. A key example of evidence that he didn’t [write the works] is the evidence Wells omitted from SBD — evidence which virtually rules out Shakspere as the author (below).

I could go on, but I’ll leave it there. Sorry about the length of this, but it’s difficult to be succinct with such detailed material. I’ll be happy to try to answer any questions.

Very sincerely,


John M. Shahan, Chairman & CEO
Shakespeare Authorship Coalition
310 North Indian Hill Blvd, #200
Claremont, CA 91711 – U.S.A.

Shakespeare Beyond Doubt?

Shakespeare in Court


My two Insight blog comments:

Dear Dr. Siebert,

You wrote: “On September 25, 1987, three sitting US Supreme Court justices–William Brennan, Harry Blackmun, and John Paul Stevens–heard arguments supporting the claims of Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford. The justices ruled in Shakespeare’s favor.”

No, the justices did NOT rule that Shakspere of Stratford wrote the works! At the start of the trial, Justice Brennan ruled that, due to the weight of tradition, the burden of proof was on the Oxfordian side to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. That meant that they had to prove both that Shakspere didn’t write the works and Oxford did, both beyond a reasonable doubt, and both in an hour. Given the format, the outcome was hardly surprising. Even so, the three Supremes did NOT rule that Shakspere was the author. Instead they rendered a Scottish verdict of “not proven” (not proven either way). So please stop mischaracterizing the outcome of that trial.

Re: that same trial, you also wrote: “The Oxfordians didn’t bow to the wisdom of some of the greatest legal minds of the English-speaking world. Instead, they continued their campaign…. Eventually, they even swayed some Supreme Court justices. For instance, former Justice Stevens later became convinced that Oxford had written Shakespeare based on depressingly fallacious reasoning.”

So Stevens and Blackmun, when you agree with them, are among the “greatest legal minds of the English-speaking world,” but when you don’t agree with them, then suddenly they’re not so great and their views are based on “fallacious reasoning.” You’re not making sense here. Why should Oxfordians bow to the wisdom of these great legal minds if you don’t? I say they got it right on the second try, not the first. (BTW, at least five U.S. Supreme Court Justices – those great legal minds – have been authorship doubters: Blackmun, Stevens, Powell, O’Connor and Scalia.)

In 2013, Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-on-Avon published Shakespeare Beyond Doubt: Evidence, Argument, Controversy (SBD) in which they claimed that the authorship is, well, “beyond doubt.” It’s that claim that Alexander Waugh questions in issuing his challenge to the Birthplace Trust to participate in a mock trial – whether they can prove their claim that the Stratford man was the author beyond reasonable doubt. Since the Birthplace Trust put it in those terms, using legal language (“beyond doubt”), I think it’s legitimate for Waugh to challenge their claim, and I find it odd that the Birthplace Trust refuses to participate. If the issue is really “beyond doubt,” what are they so afraid of? Why are they unwilling to stand and back up the claim they made in the title of their book?

Waugh proposes that the question to be tried is this: “If writing the works were a crime, is there enough evidence to convict Shakspere of having done it beyond a reasonable doubt?” The burden of proof would be on the Stratfordian side, which would prosecute, while the doubter side would be defending him from the charge. There would be no alternative candidate. Judges and juries hear and rule in such cases all the time, and I see no reason why it should be inappropriate in this case. Yet you and your English professor colleagues think you are so exceptional that we should just take your word for it and no one has any right to question your authority. And you accuse anyone who doubts the authorship of being motivated by snobbery. Who are the real snobs here?

You quote Stanley Wells saying “Public debates are an exercise of forensic skill rather than an intellectual scholarly exercise.” But Waugh didn’t challenge him to a “debate.” He challenged him to a “mock trial,” and trials are about evidence, with a presiding judge ruling on relevance and admissibility. Even if it were just a debate, first you suggest that doubters are incompetent, and then that we are so clever that our “forensic skills” would win out over you professors and your “intellectual scholarly exercise.” Can you explain why you English professors, of all people, would be incapable of communicating your position persuasively to judges and jurors in a mock trial? It sounds to me like you just don’t want a fair contest on a level playing field. You also don’t want the public to learn about the issue; you just want to suppress it.

I’ll give you another reason why Stanley Wells refuses to participate in a mock trial. He knows he would lose, because the evidence doesn’t support the claim in his book. He even went so far as to falsify relevant evidence in Shakespeare Beyond Doubt. I’ll be happy to give you some examples if you like.


Dear Dr. Siebert,

Since you seem reluctant to reply (see comment above), I’ll go ahead and give examples of Professor Stanley Wells, Honorary President of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon, falsifying and omitting evidence in his book Shakspeare Beyond Doubt (SBD).

1. Not only does SBD misspell the Stratford man’s name “Shakespeare” throughout (he never used that spelling, nor does it appear in the Stratford parish records for any of his immediate family), both Wells (p. 81) and David Kathman (p. 125) misrepresent the spelling of the name in the church register as “Shakespeare,” putting it in quotes, when it is clearly “Shakspere” in both cases. This is not a trivial issue. Whether the Stratford man’s name was the same as the author’s is extremely important. It is one thing to claim that spellings were not standardized at the time (which is true), and quite another to falsify spellings and put them in quotes. There is a clear, consistent difference between the spelling of Mr. Shakspere’s name and the poet’s.

What do you think of Wells falsifying the spelling of the name and putting it in quotes?

2. In his chapter titled “Allusions to Shakespeare to 1642,” Wells says that he aimed to list “all explicit references [to the author] surviving up to the closing of the theatres in 1642” (p. 74, emphasis added). In fact, he omitted several references to Shakespeare, and nearly all of them seem to cast doubt on Shakspere’s authorship.

A key example: In 1635, Cuthbert Burbage, brother of Richard Burbage, petitioned Philip Herbert, Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery, in a legal case. The Burbages were the founder-investors in the Globe Theatre, and Mr. Shakspere was a sharer. Cuthbert surely knew the role Shakspere played in the acting company. In the petition, Cuthbert names the investors in the Globe, referring to “Shakspere,” and “Shakspeare,” as one of several “deserving men” and as one of several “men players.” These terms do not suggest that Cuthbert thought of him as the author Shakespeare, just another member of the acting company.

By 1635, after the publication of the first two Folios, the name “Shakespeare” was very well known, and it would always have been spelled that way in print. Further, the man to whom Cuthbert was writing – Philip Herbert – was a dedicatee, with his brother William, of the two published Folios. If Cuthbert knew that the “deserving man” and “man player” was also their playwright, he would have (1) spelled his name “Shakespeare,” and (2) mentioned that this Shakespeare was the author immortalized in the first and second Folios. This would have greatly strengthened his petition. The fact that he did not do this suggests that he knew his fellow actor-sharer was not the author Shakespeare.

So here we have virtually “smoking gun” evidence that Mr. Shakspere was not the author William Shakespeare, and Wells omits it! And he did it after saying he meant to include all such references. How could a leading scholar like Stanley Wells make such a mistake just by accident? And as I said, this is just one example. Do let me know if you would like to see more.

So here we see the real reason why Wells refuses to participate in Mr. Waugh’s mock trial. He knows he would be exposed under cross-examination for misrepresenting evidence. Rather than collecting 40,000 pounds for winning, Wells & Co. would lose.

What do you make of this, Dr. Siebert? How do you feel about falsifying the record?

[posted February 21, 2015] ]]> 0
Part three: Norwood reviews PBS series Shakespeare Uncovered Mon, 16 Feb 2015 00:23:30 +0000 James Norwood, PhD says PBS series “Shakespeare Uncovered” inadvertently reveals inadequacies of Stratfordian attribution of Shake-speare’s plays. In part three of his review, Norwood examines episodes on Antony and Cleopatra, and Romeo and Juliet. See“Shakespeare Uncovered” for more information.

Part three of review of Shakespeare Uncovered:
Antony and Cleopatra and Romeo and Juliet
by James Norwood, PhD

Maurice Charney is a retired English professor from Rutgers University and the author of the book Shakespeare On Love & Lust (Columbia University, 2000). The dust jacket features a photograph of actors Joseph Fiennes and Gwyneth Paltrow in the 1998 film comedy Shakespeare in Love.

Charney’s thesis is that Shakespeare’s treatment of love is more erotic than the idealized neoplatonic philosophy of such Italian Renaissance theorists as Marsilio Ficino. But English Renaissance playwrights were not engaged primarily in abstract neoplatonic thinking. They were developing moment-to-moment human realities in intense character interactions to be presented on the stage. The idea that the author of Shakespeare’s works could be drawing upon his own life experience to write about love never seems to occur to Charney, who asserts that the author remains “curiously hidden”.

In 1984, Charney appeared with Charlton Ogburn, Jr. on the television program Firing Line, with William F. Buckley, Jr. serving as moderator. The goal of the program was to debate the Shakespeare authorship question. Charney represented the Stratfordian position, and Ogburn argued for the Oxfordian side. But rather than discuss the issues raised by Ogburn, Charney would consistently derail the conversation by categorically rejecting as preposterous any idea contrary to his Stratfordian position. Gordon Cyr, PhD, reviewed the program under the title “Firing Line Debate”  in the Shakespeare Oxford Society Newsletter, Vol. 20, No. 3 in 1984.

In Antony and Cleopatra and Romeo and Juliet, the author Shakespeare wrote two of the world’s most enduring tragedies of love. But after four hundred years, the conventional biographers have failed to uncover evidence from the author’s life to inform our understanding of how he wrote so profoundly about love in the plays, sonnets, and narrative poems. In this final episode of the second season of the PBS series Shakespeare Uncovered, will the two programs offer new insights about the playwright, or will the author continue to remain “curiously hidden”?

Antony and Cleopatra (full episode link)

In 1937, a production of Antony and Cleopatra starring Tallulah Bankhead was roasted by New York critic John Mason Brown as follows:  “Tallulah Bankhead barged down the Nile last night as Cleopatra – and sank.”

Antony and Cleopatra is nearly impossible to produce successfully. Through no fault of their own, notable performers have failed to engage audiences in productions of this play — a reality that is lost on the producers of this segment of Shakespeare Uncovered.

Apparently building on her career-defining role as Samantha Jones in the TV series Sex and the City, actress Kim Cattrall played Cleopatra in two British productions in 2010 and 2012, receiving mixed notices on both occasions. Invariably, the polite reviewers described the productions as flawed. For the 2010 production, critic Charles Spencer wrote of Cattrall’s interpretation: “. . . she often misses the pulse of the verse, and she has a tendency to shout stridently.”

The critic Jane Shilling wrote of Cattrall’s 2012 Cleopatra that she was in strained voice.  Unwittingly, the critics were realizing the worst nightmare expressed by the character herself in Shakespeare’s play that after her death, “some squeaking Cleopatra” would impersonate her greatness on the stage.

The Shakespeare Uncovered program tap dances around the troubled stage history of Antony and Cleopatra.  Professor Jonathan Bate describes the play as a tragedy with powerful elements of comedy.  But he does not acknowledge the play’s unusual combination of four acts of comedy and one act of tragedy.

The first four acts are The Taming of the Shrew redux, and the final act has the somber tone of Shakespeare’s narrative poem The Rape of Lucrece. Cattrall refers to the play’s structure as cinematic. But the play has never made a successful transition to either the big or small screen.  Despite Janet Suzman’s dynamic 1974 performance, the televised version failed to compel audiences.

Perhaps the Irish scholar Edward Dowden summarized Antony and Cleopatra best when he wrote over a century ago that, “Shakespeare’s tragedy fills the imagination better than the stage.”

As a playwright, the author known as Shakespeare was a master craftsman who was in complete control of his stage in terms of building scenes rhythmically and devising well-motivated entrances and exits.  But until the final act of Antony and Cleopatra, the dramatist is not controlling the mood and the pace. Nor is he building drama into the scenes. The fragmentary fifteen scenes of act four suggest that this was an early draft, as opposed to a final script.

To uncover the truth about this unique play, it is essential to understand the nature of Elizabethan satire — a term that is never mentioned in this program. Elizabethan satirical writing was social, political, and religious criticism to be interpreted on multiple levels through the use of allegory. In a previous Shakespeare Uncovered program, allegory was raised in a discussion of the character Titania from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the title character from Spenser’s lengthy poem, The Faerie Queene — both of whom may be interpreted as allegorical representations of Elizabeth I.

But there is only one moment in this program when the comparison of Elizabeth and Cleopatra is implied, and there is no indication that the writer’s chief purpose was satire. Professor Bate barely touches on this subject when he says, “I think audiences would have seen some resemblances. Elizabeth was famous for using her sexuality as a political tool. She was famous for her temper and for her wit. And all these things, of course, Cleopatra has absolutely in spades.”

But Bate sidesteps the issue of explicit satire of the queen when he equivocates as follows:  “I’m not saying Cleopatra was a direct representation of Elizabeth.”

Through the Middle Ages and into the Tudor era, people were conditioned to think by analogy. The representation of the Egyptian queen Cleopatra as Elizabeth would have been understood instantly by readers or theatergoers, leading to the inescapable conclusion that her treatment in the play was a direct representation of the English queen.

By focusing on the pattern of allegory, it becomes apparent that the author was writing a biting satire of the queen and her male consort, as apparent in the tempestuous relationship of Antony and Cleopatra depicted in acts one through four. The most logical candidate as the model for Antony is Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. The famous speech of Enobarbus describing Cleopatra’s alleged first meeting with Antony on her barge at Cydnus is mentioned in the Shakespeare Uncovered program. But if we place the speech in the historical context of those occasions when Elizabeth rode on her own barge on the River Thames accompanied by Dudley, the speech resonates with an entirely new meaning:

One soft April evening when the silvery Thames rippled invitingly between its banks, Elizabeth with her retinue entered the gilded State barge manned by liveried oarsmen, and rowed up towards the city….Lord Robert Dudley, master of the horse, handed out the Queen, whilst less privileged courtiers offered eager assistance to the Maids of Honour.  The girls gathered their wraps round them as they walked through the Palace garden, where the scene of pale spring flowers hung in the air, and the earth seemed throbbing with the insistent vitality that pulsates through the nights of early spring.

  Violet A. Wilson, Queen Elizabeth’s Maids of Honour and Ladies of the Privy Chamber, London:  John Lane The Bodley Head Limited, 1922, 11.

In Shakespeare Uncovered, Enobarbus’s speech is compared to the original text of Plutarch. But scholar Violet Wilson offers an allegorical assessment of Enobarbus’s description of the barge, concluding that, “Shakespeare, when writing this description of a State barge, doubtless had in mind the one used by Queen Elizabeth.”

If the author wanted to write a satire of the relationship of Robert Dudley and Elizabeth I, the first four acts of Antony and Cleopatra could not have been a more devastating lampoon. Antony is depicted as incompetent in all of his actions, including his own botched suicide attempt. Much of the action is pure farce, such as the hilarious scene when Cleopatra berates and physically assaults the messenger delivering the news of Antony’s marriage to Octavia. Actress Vanessa Redgrave suggests that the self-centered Antony does not even love Cleopatra. And for four acts, Cleopatra is portrayed as a whiny brat with notoriously bad taste in men.

The nuances of this kind of satire could only have been registered by a court insider — not a journeyman actor who at best made casual appearances at court and would not have been privy to the courtly shenanigans that are skewered in this play.

In contrast to the comedic thrust of acts one through four, the playwright’s unparalleled mastery of verse and dramatic character are put on display in act five. Here, the transcendent Cleopatra appears spontaneously following the death of Antony. Well into three hours of the play, Cleopatra finally asserts herself with heroic grandeur, as she intones:

My resolution’s placed, and I have nothing
Of woman in me.  Now from head to foot
I am marble-constant; now the fleeting moon
No planet is of mine. 5.2.38-41

In this moment, Cleopatra begins to transform herself from a human into a goddess.  In these lines, can there be any doubt that Shakespeare was writing about the stoic and indomitable side of Elizabeth?

Romeo and Juliet (full episode link)
The narrator of this program, Joseph Fiennes, played the role of William Shakespeare in the fanciful film Shakespeare In Love (1998). The movie was inspired by an equally inventive novel, Anthony Burgess’s Nothing in the Sun — A Story of Shakespeare’s Love Life (1964). Professor Harold Bloom writes that “I always recommend to my students, in preference to all biographies of Shakespeare, the late Anthony Burgess’s Nothing Like the Sun.”

Over all of the standard biographies, Bloom recommends to his students a work of fiction. Yet the Yale professor dismisses the Shakespeare authorship debate as lunacy.

This Shakespeare Uncovered program is framed by contemporary real-life cases of young lovers who opted for a double suicide. Indeed, the play has the feeling of a case study of the tragic suicide of two young people. Clearly, the author of Romeo and Juliet exposes a gritty authenticity in the depiction of brutal street violence, yet making credible Juliet’s marriage to the murderer of one of her own family members.The dueling sequence that culminates in the deaths of Mercutio and Tybalt was depicted in gruesome detail in Franco Zeffirelli’s brilliant 1968 film.

The climactic suicide of the young couple is part and parcel of a violent world recreated by the author. The heightened language, the integration of sonnets, the presence of a chorus, and the first overt example in theater history of a stage kiss are contrasted with the realism of detail in the stage violence.

The opening scene of the play is startling in the representation of armed servants fighting on behalf of the two feuding families. One of the program’s commentators, composer Stephen Sondheim, describes how it was the family warfare theme — not the love story — that guided the artistic team in the concept for the musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s play that became West Side Story.

In late-sixteenth-century England, an example of this kind of street warfare may be seen in an actual blood feud involving two fiery members of the nobility — Edward de Vere and Thomas Knyvet. And in the strife that occurred over a period of years, the source of contention was a love affair within the two clans!

But Shakespeare Uncovered chooses to avoid searching for actual historical examples among the English nobility for the characters and situations portrayed in the play. Describing the playwright’s treatment of Juliet, commentator Germaine Greer asserts out of the blue and with no scholarly support that “. . . only a nobody from Warwick could have done this. I mean, anyone from the courtier class just wouldn’t have had the imaginative freedom to give this child this passion of power.”

There was no shortage of imaginative freedom for Greer in her highly conjectural book Shakespeare’s Wife (2007), wherein she suggested that Anne Hathaway became a successful malster who paid for the publication of her late husband’s plays in the 1623 First Folio. According to her fellow Stratfordian, James Shapiro, Greer writes out of wishful thinking, as opposed to careful scholarship. Another useful term to describe Greer’s methodology is fantasy. (Shapiro reviewed  Shakespeare’s Wife, under the title “Visible Woman” in the Sept. 2007 edition of the London Review of Books.)

Yet neither Greer nor any of the commentators are able to explain how a Warwickshire author from the middling order could write with trenchant naturalism about members of the nobility. In the sixteenth century, marriages arranged for wealth and title were just as prevalent among the English aristocracy as in Italy, and those are the precise relationships depicted by the author of Romeo and Juliet.

Like other Stratfordians, Greer is working from the false assumption that the author was writing exclusively from imagination. If the dramatist was drawing on his own experience for the situations and characters of his plays, including the luminous portrayal of Juliet, then it is clear that he was merely transmuting his personal environment to the world of the stage.

The program takes a brief look at Shakespeare’s source for Romeo and Juliet, which was a lengthy poem entitled The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet, published in 1562. This earlier version was composed in the verse form of poulters measure, which alternates twelve- and fourteen-syllable lines and utilizes rhyming couplets throughout the poem, ending with this pair of lines as a tribute to the young lovers:

There is no monument more worthy of the sight,
Then [sic] is the tombe of Juliet, and Romeus her knight.

With greater simplicity in the play version, Shakespeare abbreviates this couplet into the beautiful iambic pentameter (ten-syllable) verse lines that end the tragedy:

For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.

A lengthy note to the reader was printed prior to the beginning of the Romeus and Juliet poem, indicating that the forthcoming story is intended as a moral lesson. In the note, it is made clear that the two young lovers are guilty of concupiscence and an abhorrent betrayal of their parents. The note recommends the poem as a cautionary tale of “ . . . a coople of unfortunate lovers, thrilling themselves to unhonest desire, neglecting the authoritie and advise of parents and frendes . . .” by leading an “. . . unhonest life, hastnyng to most unhappy death.”

The Shakespeare Uncovered program offers the misleading impression that the author’s address serves as a chorus or narrator within the poem.  To the contrary, there is no chorus and the moral admonition is part of the separate and self-contained note to the reader before the poem begins. Based on the prefatory note, Professor Jonathan Bate asserts that the author was writing a morality play, which is not borne out in a close reading of the poem itself.

By the end of the long Romeus and Juliet poem, it is clear that contrary to the message of the prefatory note, the author has great compassion for the young lovers. There is no rebuke or homily, and one of the closing passages stresses the importance of keeping alive for posterity “. . . the memory of so perfect, sound, and so approved love.”

The two young lovers will be memorialized by removing their bodies from the vault and displaying them “. . . in stately tombe, on pillers great”, where they will rest in perpetuity on public display. The pitfalls of fortune, accident, and coincidence haunt the star-crossed lovers —not the moral shortcomings of the two youths.

While the name of Arthur Brooke was attached to the address to the reader, a completely different voice emanates from the poem itself. In This Star of England (1952), Dorothy and Charlton Ogburn, Sr. were the first scholars to argue that Romeus and Juliet was the work of young Edward de Vere. In this view, the youthful literary work resembles an educational exercise of a child prodigy, which was later adapted for the stage by the mature author, who was writing court spectacles.

By exploring how an early source may have been reworked by the author, a new awareness of the creative process of Shakespeare begins to emerge. Instead of the unsubstantiated hypothesis of the author as a writer in the London public theaters, another model suggests the creative evolution of a writer who begins as a court poet, then comes to learn the craft of the theater, adapting his early poems into plays.

It is enormously convenient for Stratfordians like Maurice Charney to assert that the author of Shakespeare’s works remains, as Charney says, curiously hidden. This position permits him and the numerous commentators for Shakespeare Uncovered to draw almost any conceivable conclusion about the author of the great literary works. This series demonstrates that without an understanding of the true identity of the author, the result is a surface-level and flawed understanding of the plays. Conjecture and hypothesis lead to shallow, unsupported conclusions, based primarily upon the author’s magical powers of imagination.

These programs serve in romanticizing the authorship of the great literary works exactly like the film Shakespeare in Love. Rather than challenging audiences to probe deeper into the evidence about Shakespeare’s life and world, they recycle the same clichés about imagination, genius, and a man of the theater.

But by shifting our focus to the world of the court, a new perspective appears based on the author’s background, education, and creative process as a literary artist. That is how we uncover Shakespeare.

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Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship Announces Research Grant Program for 2015 Sun, 15 Feb 2015 23:03:39 +0000 The Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship is pleased to announce that the Research Grant Program will continue in 2015. The RGP hopes to raise up to $20,000 and to distribute the funds among two to four worthy projects in grants of $2,000 or more. If you are interested in applying for a grant, please review the revised RGP guidelines. The application deadline has been extended through July 31, 2015. Former SOF President John Hamill remains as Chair of the Selection Committee, which also includes Katherine Chiljan, Bonner Cutting, Ramon Jiménez, and Don Rubin.ItalianArchives

Last year, the SOF instituted the Research Grant Program to encourage research projects that may uncover evidence relevant to the Shakespeare authorship question. As then-President Hamill said when he announced the program: “One of our primary objectives as an Oxfordian organization is furthering research that will ultimately provide clear evidence that Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, was the author of the works published under the pseudonym ‘William Shakespeare.’ That is our ultimate goal. Each new piece of evidence is valuable to the resolution of the authorship issue.”

The first research grants awarded by the SOF were announced in November 2014. Mr. Hamill stated that the committee was pleased to be able to fund three proposals, each of which, he said, promises “the possibility of exciting new finds to help solve the authorship mystery.” One award was made to Professor Roger Stritmatter, Ph.D., general editor of the SOF journal Brief Chronicles, for research into a recently discovered book that may have been annotated by Edward de Vere. Another award was made to Professor Michael Delahoyde, Ph.D., managing editor of Brief Chronicles, for research to be conducted in a few northern Italian archives. A third award was made to a recipient who requested anonymity for the time being. Further details on the awards will appear on the SOF website and in future issues of our newsletter.

We ask you to help fund the Research Grant Program, which you can do by credit card on our website or by sending a check to Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship, P.O. Box 66083, Auburndale, MA 02466. (Whether paying online or by check, please indicate that your contribution is earmarked for the Research Grant Program.) Even if you don’t apply for a grant, you can help us promote further research by becoming a member of the SOF or donating to the RGP. We hope that members, friends and foundations will be motivated by the continuation of this new program. Your financial contribution will help make it succeed.

Tom Regnier, President, Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship

[post updated June 3, 2015]


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Part two: Norwood reviews PBS series Shakespeare Uncovered Sun, 08 Feb 2015 21:01:28 +0000 James Norwood, PhD says PBS series “Shakespeare Uncovered” inadvertently reveals inadequacies of Stratfordian attribution of Shake-speare’s plays. In Part Two of  his review, Norwood examines episodes on Shrew and Othello; “Shakespeare Uncovered” episodes on A&C, and R&J will be shown on PBS next week. See“Shakespeare Uncovered” for more information.

Part two of Review of Shakespeare UncoveredThe Taming of the Shrew and Othello
by James Norwood, PhD

When I was a graduate student at Berkeley, my first course was an intensive, three-part seminar in Shakespeare. At the end of the academic year, the professor informed us that he would be taking a sabbatical and that his next research project would be simply to walk from Stratford-upon-Avon to London, carefully recording his impressions along the route that the author had trod so many times during his career as a playwright and man of the theater. The professor believed that if he could retrace the footsteps of the author, then he would surely discover some of the clues to unlocking Shakespeare’s creative genius in the literary works. What was the result of this endeavor? Nothing.

The professor subsequently abandoned his Shakespeare project and spent the remainder of his life in studies of the American playwright Eugene O’Neill, becoming the foremost O’Neill scholar of the twentieth century.  Upon his retirement, he became the steward of the National Historic Site of the Tao House in Danville, California, where O’Neill had written his masterpiece, Long Day’s Journey Into Night. But the professor was never able to navigate his way to a similar base of experiential evidence for the life of William Shakespeare. The problem was that he never uncovered the true author of Shakespeare’s works.

The PBS series Shakespeare Uncovered would like us to think that its programs are getting at the truth of the genius of Shakespeare. But at the point where the rubber meets the road in the life’s journey of the author, the two programs on The Taming of the Shrew and Othello never once raise the question of how the playwright came to know the world of Renaissance Italy as depicted in those two plays. Other Elizabethan and Jacobean playwrights set their plays in Italy. But works like Ben Jonson’s Volpone or John Webster’s The White Devil ultimately fail to provide any significant details about the plays’ settings in Italian Renaissance cities. The key to unlocking the secrets of Shakespeare’s genius lies in the details, and these two Shakespeare Uncovered programs fail to probe some of the most obvious and important details in the plays.

The Taming of the Shrew (full episode link)
The program’s host, Morgan Freeman, played Petruchio opposite Tracy Ullman’s Katherina in the hilarious 1990 Wild West production of The Taming of the Shrew at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park in New York City. At the start of this documentary, Freeman gazes over the landscape of contemporary Los Angeles and informs us that the modern film industry was made possible by the efforts of “a country boy” named Will, who “started at the bottom.” With no attempt to compare the conventions of the Elizabethan public theaters with today’s movies, the program merely starts on the premise that the Elizabethan stage was the Hollywood of its day in the late sixteenth-century. Freeman invokes the iconic anecdote of the young Shakespeare’s first job in London, holding horses outside of the London theaters like a “valet parking boy.”

Morgan Freeman and Tracey Ullman, stars of 1990 Taming of the Shrew

Morgan Freeman and Tracey Ullman, stars of 1990 Taming of the Shrew

The program informs its audience that Shakespeare arrived in London around the year 1590, and narrator Freeman asserts that “Will was no reclusive poet. Of course, he was working in the theater with actors.” Professor Jonathan Bate suggests that The Taming of the Shrew is “possibly the very first” play written by Shakespeare. This raises major questions about how the man from Stratford could have honed his craft to produce such a polished play at this early date.

The program never mentions that two versions of this play exist—one set in Greece and a longer version set in Italy. The two plays were even given different titles. The Taming of A Shrew was published in quarto and listed in Henslowe’s famous theater diary in 1594. But the play we know as The Taming of the Shrew was not published until the First Folio was issued in 1623. Geoffrey Bullough, one of the foremost scholars of Shakespeare’s sources, sums up the dating problem with great understatement when he writes that “the date of this play is in doubt.”

The play’s framing device is an “induction” set in an alehouse in the native Warwickshire of the presumed author William Shakespeare. Professor Bate identifies the character of Christopher Sly as “a kind of representation of Shakespeare himself.” In the induction, the Lord and his entourage convince Sly that he has lived for the past fifteen years in a dream as the rogue Christopher Sly and that he is in fact a lord, who will now be pampered by servants and treated to the performance of a play. In extremely revealing lines about the scholarly qualifications of the Stratford man, Christopher Sly remarks, “the Slys are no rogues.  Look in the Chronicles, we came in with Richard Conqueror.” (Induction 1, 4-5).

The contempt that the author shows for Sly is apparent at the outset, as Sly confuses William the Conqueror for Richard the Lionheart. For Professor Bate, the author was using self-deprecating humor as a witty commentary on his lack of a university education. But the professor misses the point that as the audience, we are laughing at Sly, rather than with him. In this part of the program, a clip is shown of the induction scene with the actor playing Sly relieving himself, then falling into a drunken stupor, prior to becoming victim of the hoax. In the text, it is explicitly stated that Sly is the “fool” in the play.  Yet Professor Bate’s astonishing conclusion is that the Christopher Sly character was an instance of the author “celebrating” his provincial background!

While the program offers a good sampling of clips from film and stage productions of Shrew, a glaring omission was the 1976 production directed by William Ball at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco and subsequently archived in a DVD recording in the Broadway Theatre Archives series. Ball’s production concept was to infuse the play with the popular style of Italian Renaissance commedia dell’arte. While not altering Shakespeare’s text, the production seamlessly incorporated the stock characters and the comic business (lazzi) of the commedia dell’arte. The broad physical style and the unique comic effects of this production inadvertently demonstrate the author’s knowledge of the commedia style and the influence it exerted on his comedies. There were no commedia troupes performing in England; the author could only have experienced this style first-hand in Italy.

Here is one of the show-stopping scenes with Marc Singer and Fredi Olster as Petruchio and Kate from this landmark 1976 production available on YouTube.

A valid issue raised in Shakespeare Uncovered is the author’s consciousness of writing about the “outsider” in Shrew. The specific outsider was the woman in the Elizabethan age. As the program unfolds, it becomes clear that Katherina was not a stereotype, but a full-blooded individual, who, according to Freeman, eventually discovers equality in her relationship with Petruchio. But the role of women in Tudor society is unexplored in the program. Time and again, the commentators offer generalizations about gender issues in our own world, while ignoring the actual roles of men and women in Elizabethan England.

It is unfortunate that the program’s producers never touch on the Elizabethan court in an attempt to understand the significant role played by individual women, not the least of whom was the Queen herself. In a cocoon-like environment, a labyrinth of layers protected the Queen to ensure her privacy. But the protection was not from a praetorian guard of males. Rather, specially designated women served as buffers for the select few who were permitted entrance to the inner sanctum of Elizabeth. According to scholar Tracy Borman in her book Elizabeth’s Women, “Elizabeth was hardly ever alone.  She herself admitted that she was ‘always surrounded by my Ladies of the Bedchamber and maids of honour.'”

Shakespeare Uncovered misses the point about how some of the female “outsiders” played significant roles in the inner world of the court. One of the fascinating studies by Borman is her detailed appraisal of Helena Snakenborg, an impoverished, Swedish-born outsider, who rose to unprecedented prominence as Elizabeth’s Maid of Honour. In her life story, Snakenborg appears to be the very incarnation of Shakespeare’s Helena in All’s Well That Ends Well. A deeper study of this world might uncover the real-life model for the role of Katherina and her relationship to the author himself — perhaps his half-sister, who went by the name of Katherine.

Othello (full episode link)
Actor David Harewood trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and was the first black performer to play the role of Othello at the famed National Theatre of Great Britain. He is familiar to American audiences for his role as CIA Director David Estes in the Showtime series Homeland. In his compelling narration of this program, the theme of the “outsider” is explored once again, in this instance from the perspective of race.

The film provides a good overview of celebrated productions of Othello, including those of the nineteenth-century African-American actor Ira Aldridge, who left America because he had no opportunities to perform and was subsequently shunned in Great Britain, prior to developing a wide following on the European continent and in Russia. The famous production of American athlete-singer-actor-activist Paul Robeson, as directed by Margaret Webster in 1943, is briefly mentioned. Harewood delivers an uncanny imitation of Laurence Olivier’s vocal characterization of Othello from a virtually unwatchable film version of the 1965 stage production.

In one of the most intriguing moments of this program, Professor Jerry Brotton of The University of London identifies Mohammad al Ah-nou-ri, who paid a visit to the Elizabethan court as an ambassador from Barbary (contemporary Morocco) in the year 1600. The professor believes that al Ah-nou-ri may have served as the model for Othello. Professor Brotton even suggests that Shakespeare personally met this ambassador at the time he was writing Othello! Yet no evidence for the dating of the play or this extraordinary “meeting” is provided in the film.

Much of the program explores the motivation of Iago in “ensnaring the soul” of Othello, and it is a struggle for the commentators to articulate a clear motivation. Actor Simon Russell Beale speaks tentatively, stating that Iago “just wants to mess Othello up.” Paraphrasing one of Iago’s lines, Gail Kern Paster blandly asserts that “the reality is that he [Iago] hates him [Othello].” Yet Stephen Greenblatt underscores the remarkable realism achieved by Shakespeare in depicting the complete and sudden transformation of Othello through the machinations of Iago. In the end, the program fails to examine the Elizabethan world in order to come to terms with the unique depiction of the evil nature of Iago, and the most glaring omission is an analysis of the environment of the court.

Is it conceivable that in the Elizabethan court there could have been a schemer like Iago? The answer is an unqualified yes. The insidious attempt to drive a wedge between husband and wife was part of the dark side of the Tudor aristocracy. One of the legacies of Tudor England is our popular fascination in those piratical and nefarious creatures who would stop at nothing in their quest for power. One of the means to their ascent was by ruining the reputation of rivals.

Through multiple generations, the male members of the Dudley family had the kind of vaulting ambition that is depicted over and over in characters from the Shakespearean canon. The greatest success story of the Dudley clan was Robert, who became the favorite of Queen Elizabeth and was elevated to the title of Earl of Leicester. In alleging criminal misconduct of the highest order against the Earl of Leicester, Charles Arundell asserted that Leicester attempted “to sow and nourish debate and contention between the great lords of England and their wives . . . . The same he attempted between the earl of Oxford and his lady, daughter of the lord treasurer of England, and all for an old grudge he bare to her father the said Lord Treasurer.”

The result was a scandalous and nearly irreparable marriage similar to the Othello-Desdemona relationship unfolded by the author Shakespeare. For both critics and theater practitioners, one of the greatest challenges of interpreting Othello is in identifying the motivation of Iago. The careful placement of the play in the world of the Elizabethan court sheds light on the specific intent of Iago that is left ambiguous in the play.

The theme of jealousy runs through the plays, the sonnets, and the narrative poems of Shakespeare. An ancillary topic, as explored in Othello, is the loss of reputation, and it is expressed most profoundly by Cassio: “Reputation, reputation, reputation!  O, I have lost my reputation!  I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial.  My reputation, Iago, my reputation!”  (2.3.255-58)

Charlton Ogburn, Jr. has identified how passages like this one simply leap off the page as examples of the author’s personal revelation. For Ogburn, the author had:

. . . the capacity to stand apart from his emotions and observe them with detachment, plotting their dramatization and contriving the verbal alchemy with which he would capture, reshape, and refine reality, milling human lives, most notably his own, to artistic ends with no more compunction than Iago in manipulating his victims to his inscrutable purposes. (The Mysterious William Shakespeare, Dodd, Mead & Company, 1984, 571)

Unfortunately, there is no curiosity on the part of the filmmakers of Shakespeare Uncovered to explore authorial self-expression in Othello. In the final analysis, the producers of this series begin with the premise of an author writing principally as a man of the theater. But to truly uncover the creative process of the author of The Taming of the Shrew and Othello, it is essential to acknowledge that the playwright was writing his masterworks not from perspectives gleaned from a life on the stage, but by exposing his personal experience from the stage of life.

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