Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship http://shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org Research and Discussion of the Shakespeare Authorship Question Thu, 28 Apr 2016 23:00:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Brief Chronicles Publishes Special First Folio Edition http://shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/brief-chronicles-publishes-special-first-folio-edition/ Thu, 28 Apr 2016 23:00:43 +0000 http://shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/?p=8188 BC FF Cover.border

Brief Chronicles Special Edition on the First Folio

In response to the many activities marking the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakspere of Stratford, and particularly in response to the Folger Shakespeare Library’s decision to exhibit copies of the First Folio in every state in the United States this year, Brief Chronicles general editor Roger Stritmatter has assembled The 1623 Shakespeare First Folio: A Minority Report (2016), A Special Issue of Brief Chronicles. This entire issue is now freely available to the general public in PDF form on the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship website. For those of you who wish to have a printed copy of this 140-page volume, you may purchase it from Amazon.com for $8.99, plus shipping charges.*

This special volume contains twelve articles – some previously published and others newly written – on the problems, contradictions, ambiguities and unanswered conundrums posed by the First Folio, the most significant piece of evidence for the Stratford theory. As Professor Stritmatter noted:

This volume gathers in one place several highlights from the rich scholarly tradition of post-Stratfordian thinking on the 1623 First Folio. This tradition identifies the Shakespeare First Folio as the key artifact in the concealment of the real author, behind the mask of the Droeshout portrait. Whatever their differences, real or imagined, all of these contributors share a common rejection of the Stratford myth. They show, moreover, how impossible it is in the end to reconcile the contents and symbolic design of the Folio with Stratfordian belief.

First Folio displayed at Frost Museum in Miami as Part of the Folger Tour

First Folio displayed at the Frost Museum in Miami as Part of the Folger Tour

Of particular note is a new article, “Branding the Author: Feigned Neutrality and the Folger Folio Tour,” by Shelly Maycock, an instructor at Virginia Tech, who criticizes the Folger Library’s First Folio Tour for foisting a particular view of the authorship question on the public:

Unfortunately, nothing in the pre-tour documents or the original application packet completed by the awarded venues indicates that Folger-approved experts will be informed about, or prepared to respond neutrally to, questions about Shakespeare’s authorship that often arise in relation to any study of the Folio’s historical and cultural context, creation and design. The Folger, consequently, seems poised to perpetuate its own longstanding policy of branding its iconic author’s works as forever unquestionably those of the inscrutable William Shakspere of Stratford-upon-Avon . . . .

The articles that appear in this special Brief Chronicles issue may be accessed by clicking on the links below:

What’s Past is Prologue by Roger Stritmatter;

Branding the Author: Feigned Neutrality and the Folger Folio Tour by Shelly Maycock;

Shakespeare’s Impossible Doublet by John M. Rollett;

“Look Not on this Picture”: Ambiguity in the First Folio by Richard Whalen;

From Ben Jonson and Shakespeare (1921) by Sir George Greenwood;

First Folio Fraud by Katherine Chiljan;

“Bestow, When and How You List”: The de Veres and the 1623 Folio by Roger Stritmatter;

Shakespeare’s Son on Death Row by William Boyle;

Puzzling Shakesperotics by Roger Stritmatter;

“Publish We This Peace” by Roger Stritmatter;

Literary Criticism and the Authorship Question by James A. Warren;

Looking Not on His Picture, but His Books, A Review Essay by Michael Dudley.

Our next regular issue of Brief Chronicles, which will be volume 7 of the series, will be published very soon. Keep an eye on the SOF website for updates.

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* The 1623 Shakespeare First Folio: A Minority Report (2016), A Special Issue of Brief Chronicles is expected to be available from Amazon in Canada, the UK, and Europe in the near future.

[posted April 28, 2016] ]]>
Report on Toronto Anti-Stratfordians’ Rebuttal to the 400th Anniversary http://shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/report-on-toronto-anti-stratfordians-rebuttal-to-the-400th-anniversary/ Thu, 28 Apr 2016 13:00:28 +0000 http://shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/?p=8157 Chris Pannell holding the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt

Chris Pannell holding the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt

A two-hour look into William Shakespeare’s “unorthodox” biography took place at the Canadian Stage Company’s Berkeley Street Theatre on April 24th from 4 to 6 p.m. The event, produced by Professor Don Rubin and sponsored by the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition and the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship (SOF), was free and open to the public. Advance publicity included an article in Hamilton’s Spectator newspaper about ten days before, which profiled the host of the event, Chris Pannell, who edits the SOF journal, The Oxfordian.

Diana Price

Diana Price

The keynote speaker for the event was American scholar Diana Price, author of the critically-acclaimed volume Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Biography with the sub-title: New Evidence of An Authorship Problem. This book was originally published in 2001 by Greenwood Press and re-released in 2012 with significant additions. It was her first time lecturing in Canada. Price introduced many of the key problems in Shakespeare authorship studies and put forward some solutions she has found in her study of literary paper trails for 24 Elizabethan writers. She noted the complete absence of similar evidence to show Shakspere of Stratford was a professional writer.

Price agrees that William Shakspere was certainly a real person; he can be verified as a canny businessman, a land speculator, and he undeniably was involved with theatre and the acting profession. She also allowed that he could well have been paid to be a front-man for another, possibly a member of the nobility who wished to hide his connection to the Shakespeare canon. Her focus on comparing the evidence of literary activity for both well-known and obscure Elizabethan writers was compelling. In the Q&A session which concluded the event, several in the audience reported they had found themselves moving into the ‘doubter’ camp. Her presentation seemed to catch many in the audience by surprise.

Keir Cutler

Keir Cutler

Price’s presentation was preceded by Keir Cutler, who drew on his various comedic works on the Shakespeare Authorship Question, many of which ask: How come those of us who studied theatre in high school and university were not told that there even was an authorship question? Cutler’s presentation was well-received too, as he referred to the manner in which discussion of the authorship problem is belittled and its adherents derided not only in established, major newspapers, but who are pursued online and via social media like Facebook as well. He cited an instance of one of his friends being censured by a well-known Toronto theatre critic, for even mentioning this event on his social media feed, where many could see it. Included in Cutler’s talk were selections from his publication The Shakespeare Authorship Question: A Crackpot’s View. A dramatic version of this essay is scheduled for this summer’s Toronto Fringe Festival. Cutler made plain that being called a ‘crackpot,’ among other insults, has merely strengthened his resolve to continue addressing the question of the authorship.

Audience members were encouraged to investigate the SAQ on their own and to sign the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt once they had satisfied themselves on the points made by Price and Cutler.

[posted April 28, 2016] ]]>
Jan Scheffer: How I Became an Oxfordian http://shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/jan-scheffer-how-i-became-an-oxfordian/ Tue, 26 Apr 2016 16:00:32 +0000 http://shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/?p=8113 Jan Scheffer was trained as a psychiatrist and neurologist at Utrecht University and subsequently as a psychoanalyst. He lives with his family and practices in Utrecht in the Netherlands.

Jan Scheffer was trained as a psychiatrist and neurologist at Utrecht University and subsequently as a psychoanalyst. He lives with his family and practices in Utrecht in the Netherlands.

It was in third form of grammar school in 1964 when my English (Language and Literature) teacher, Joost de Lange announced: “Now we have to talk about Shakespeare”. He began: “there are various theories about the author, that he was an Earl, that it was a group of writers.” He left it at that, he did not mention the name of Shaksper from Stratford, a town that I visited in 1975. I was unimpressed. In 1994, over the dishes, in Speldhurst (Kent), Elizabeth Imlay told me about Ogburn’s Mysterious Willam Shakespeare, which she had read and in about twenty minutes she convinced me of the authorship of Edward deVere. Subsequently I started buying books, to begin with Ogburn and Ruth Lloyd Miller’s annotated Looney, and a “Hundreth Sundrie Flowres.” I joined the DeVere Society in 1995 and organized four Dutch Authorship Conferences 2004-7. I consider myself lucky to have met and befriended so many esteemed, original and knowledgeable colleagues.

— Jan Scheffer

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

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

 

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Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance Reaffirm Support for Doubting the Stratford Theory http://shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/derek-jacobi-and-mark-rylance-reaffirm-support-for-doubting-the-stratford-theory/ Mon, 25 Apr 2016 16:42:48 +0000 http://shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/?p=8140 In response to the many recent commemorations of the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare, two great Shakespearean actors, Sir Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance, went on National Public Radio and on YouTube to reaffirm their adherence to the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt, which questions the Stratfordian authorship theory. You can see the 30-minute YouTube video here:

Sir Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance discuss The Declaration of Reasonable Doubt

In the video, Jacobi and Rylance, sitting in a casual living room setting surrounded by books, explained their reasons for doubting that grain merchant William Shakspere of Stratford was the author of the works that have been attributed to him. Both actors stressed the need for an extended, civilized dialogue about the authorship question. They noted that they had been subjected to cruel ad hominen attacks because of their open-mindedness about the traditional authorship theory. Jacobi and Rylance helped to launch the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt, a project of the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition, in 2007.

Sir Derek and Mark also appeared in a 7-minute interview this morning, “Two Shakespearean Actors Revive Debate Over The Bard’s Identity,” on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition with Renee Montagne.

Sir Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance are both Honorary Lifetime Trustees of the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship.

 

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Joella Werlin: How I Became an Oxfordian http://shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/joella-werlin-how-i-became-an-oxfordian/ Tue, 19 Apr 2016 16:00:24 +0000 http://shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/?p=8104 A few years back, I was a guest at a duo-piano recital in the elegant Portland home of a prominent arts patron, Mary Tooze. Her name, now her memory, is significant because—then unbeknownst to me—Mary was an early, generous supporter of the Shakespeare Oxford Society. She observed my puzzled look as I scanned a brochure announcing an “authorship” conference at Concordia University and tried to encourage my interest. I didn’t say so, but I couldn’t imagine why I should care. While I appreciated Shakespeare, engaging in an authorship debate seemed a schoolyard pastime for quibblesome academics or others daftly disengaged from real world concerns.

Joella Werlin now lives in Seattle and is mostly retired from her business as a “personal historian” (Business name: Familore), helping individual and professional clients record their memoirs.

Joella Werlin now lives in Seattle and is mostly retired from her business as a “personal historian” (Business name: Familore), helping individual and professional clients record their memoirs.

Weeks later, browsing audiobook shelves in my branch library ahead of a five-hour drive to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, one title caught my attention: “Shakespeare by Another Name—The Life of Edward De Vere,” (abridged) by Mark Anderson. It flashed at me that de Vere was the guy Mary spoke about. One CD into the audiobook, I was spellbound! A totally different Shakespeare emerged from behind the masked image and nom-de-plume—an outcast nobleman who satirized and savaged with the power of his pen, and was punished by losing not his mortal head but the immortality of his name and identity. The real Elizabethan stage of that troublesome genius lit up with High Renaissance erudition. This was not the path from Stratford’s tipsy timbered cottages to London’s noisy taverns and raucous theatres.

Without question, Anderson’s compelling narrative threw the Oxford hook at me, but it was baited with the pitch-perfect voice of British recording artist Simon Prebble. I have since listened to the audiobook countless times. It is like a great opera, featuring Edward de Vere, a more tragic protagonist than any librettist but himself could imagine. Returning from Ashland, I made a beeline to Powell’s for Anderson’s published book (scrupulously researched!), plus orthodox Shakespeare biographies. But I was a convert; there was no return. Soon after, Mary invited me to meet her friend Earl Showerman. The charms of “Earl of Ashland,” as Oxfordians know, are irresistible. He fueled my enthusiasm with more Oxfordian insights and resources. I was a ready acolyte.

The common theme that Shakespeare weaves through every drama is “deception.” We may never fully know what drove those in power at the turn of the 17th century to, figuratively speaking, behead Edward de Vere, and to dress dismembered parts in an impostor’s costume. But 400 years later, the Folger and the “Stratford academy” practice deception with dishonor. Given historic British class snobbery and stratification, it is absurd to perpetuate the pretense that an unlettered commoner was mankind’s greatest literary genius.

Doubtless, in my mind, Ben Jonson and the “Noble Brethren”—the Earls of Pembroke and Montgomery, brother-in-law and husband of Susan Vere, youngest of Oxford’s three daughters—chortled at the authorial deception they contrived in the introductory pages of the First Folio, thereby saving their own necks from political retribution while rescuing works destined to be repressed forever.

–Joella Werlin

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

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

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Spreading the Shakespeare Authorship Message in South Florida http://shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/spreading-the-shakespeare-authorship-message-in-south-florida/ Wed, 13 Apr 2016 14:00:45 +0000 http://shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/?p=8087 Tom Regnier has recently appeared on television and in person promoting the Shakespeare Authorship Question in South Florida (Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties).

"Spotlight on the Arts" - Tom Regnier (center) is interviewed by (l. to r.) theatre critic Bill Hirschman, actress Karen Stephens, actress/producer Iris Acker, playwright/actor Michael McKeever.

“Spotlight on the Arts” – Tom Regnier (center) is interviewed by (l. to r.) theatre critic Bill Hirschman, actress Karen Stephens, actress/producer Iris Acker, playwright/actor Michael McKeever.

On March 25, 2016, Tom’s TV interview on Spotlight on the Arts was aired in South Florida for the first time. Spotlight on the Arts is a long-running show featuring interviews with people involved in the performing arts. The regular interviewers on the show are celebrities in the very active South Florida theatre community: Bill Hirschman is a theatre critic and the founder of Florida Theater On Stage. Karen Stephens is an award-winning actress. Iris Acker is an iconic actress and producer. Michael McKeever is an award-winning playwright and actor. Tom’s appearance on Spotlight on the Arts produced a lively 28-minute discussion on the subject “Did Shakespeare Really Write Shakespeare?” The program may now be viewed online.

On February 11, 2016, Tom Regnier gave a presentation at the North Palm Beach Public Library on the topic, “Did Shakespeare Really Write Shakespeare? Or Did Someone Else?” The speaking engagement was arranged by Margaret Robson, a resident of the area and a longtime Oxfordian. An audience of 40 people – several times the usual attendance for public presentations at the Library – attended. The audience listened attentively to the nearly hour-long presentation with PowerPoint and asked questions for over half an hour afterwards. An audio recording is available on the SOF YouTube Channel. SOF webmaster Jennifer Newton added images to the recording so that listeners may get a taste of the PowerPoint that the live audience saw.

Margaret Robson has since followed up with two discussion groups at the North Palm Beach Library, which were well attended and enthusiastically received. Attendees at the last meeting were clamoring for Margaret to schedule the next meeting.

Tom also presented on “Did Shakespeare Really Write Shakespeare? Or Did Someone Else?” at GableStage, one of the most highly regarded theatre companies in South Florida, on April 11, 2016. About a hundred people attended. Tom said it was one of the most gratifying experiences of his life. The presentation was videotaped and will be available online in the near future.

The SOF’s recently formed Speakers Bureau seeks to find people who are willing to give introductory presentations on the Shakespeare Authorship Question in their local communities. The Speakers Bureau can help you put together an introductory talk. If you are interested, contact info@shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org.

[posted April 13, 2016] ]]>
Craig Smith: How I Became an Oxfordian http://shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/craig-smith-how-i-became-an-oxfordian/ Tue, 12 Apr 2016 16:00:04 +0000 http://shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/?p=8080 It was the first showing of PBS Frontline; “The Shakespeare Mystery” in 1989. I was living in Santa Cruz, California, it was just after the 1989 Earthquake and this was like an ‘earthquake’ in my mind! I felt immediately and completely convinced . . . little did I know then, what an important part of my life Oxford would become.

Craig Edward Smith is a tour guide who has created over 50 unique tours in San Francisco and the Bay Area.

Craig Edward Smith is a tour guide who has created over 50 unique tours in San Francisco and the Bay Area.

I joined the Horatio Society in San Francisco in 1992. I’ve become friends with Katherine Chiljan, Charles Beauclerk and other leaders of the movement.

I read Charlton Ogburn’s The Mysterious William Shakespeare and the book by Dorothy and Charlton Ogburn, This Star of England . . . and almost every book since then.

I’ve always been interested in the works; but since knowing the truth, everything has changed and the world is a more just and enlightened one.

–Craig Smith

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

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

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Non-Stratfordians Respond to 400th Anniversary of Shakspere’s Death http://shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/non-stratfordians-respond-to-400th-anniversary-of-shaksperes-death/ Fri, 08 Apr 2016 15:00:59 +0000 http://shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/?p=8063 William ShakespeareApril 8, 2016

This month, as Stratfordians commemorate the 400th anniversary of the death of the Stratford grain merchant who is widely credited with writing plays under the name “William Shakespeare,” John Shahan of the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition reports that “groups of authorship doubters in cities all over the world have decided to reaffirm support for the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt to make the point that we are celebrating the wrong man.” Shahan says:

If the phenomenon of doubt about Shakespeare’s authorship is, in fact, a “psychological aberration,” as the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon long claimed, then perhaps someone should alert the World Health Organization to this strange and terrible epidemic of doubt, since it seems to be spreading fast. One vector for this disease has been identified in the form of a 1-page flyer that is quite easily disseminated.

Thanks to the SAC and Mr. Shahan for the following list of events that are scheduled to take place this month. If you know of other non-Stratfordian events taking place in April, please contact us at info@shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org.

April 11, 2016

South Florida

Florida appeals attorney Tom Regnier, President of the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship, will appear live at GableStage, presenting “Did Shakespeare Really Write Shakespeare? Or Did Someone Else?” on Monday, April 11th, at 7:30 p.m. GableStage is located at the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Avenue in Coral Gables, Florida (Miami area). Admission is free. No reservation is necessary. A question and answer session follows.

April 23, 2016

London, UK

The De Vere Society will hold its Annual General Meeting at the Amba Hotel (formerly the Thistle Hotel), Marble Arch, Oxford Street, London, on Saturday, 23 April, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. It will include a debate between Alexander Waugh and Ros Barber (of the Marlowe Society) on possible roles of the Stratford man and other issues, and reaffirmation of support for the Declaration. We appreciate the continued support of the DVS. Rumor has it that DVS member Derek Jacobi may attend and also comment on the Declaration.

April 2016

Sydney, Australia, celebrates Shakespeare Authorship Awareness Month!

Graham Jones and Jepke Goudsmit, of Kinetic Energy Theatre Company fame, have declared the month of April to be “Shakespeare Authorship Awareness Month.” They chose this over a one-off event on April 24 because Australian doubters are so widely dispersed. A Declaration poster will be part of a display in their lobby, and everyone who attends any of their plays will get a Declaration flyer. This will reach people who know little about the issue. They have already announced Shakespeare Authorship Awareness Month on their website and Facebook page. This is a very creative response, as one would expect from this dynamic duo, and I think that we should all consider following their example and institutionalizing SAAM in future.

April 24, 2016

Bochum, Germany

The Neue Shake-speare Gesellschaft holds its Annual General Meeting on April 24 in the theatre town of Bochum, Germany, at the Freies Bildungswerk, a conference center directly across from Schauspielhaus, the famous theatre where the orthodox German Shakespeare society meets and attends Shakespeare plays. The NSG has always been a strong supporter of the SAC and the Declaration, and we greatly appreciate that they rescheduled their AGM to this date so they could join in reaffirming their support for the Declaration.

Oslo, Norway

Independent scholar Petter Amundsen and author Geir Uthang have teamed up to co-host an event titled “The Shakespeare Enigma: Exploring the Authorship Question” in a ninety-seat theater at the prestigious House of Literature in Oslo, Norway, on April 24th, from 2:00 – 7:00 p.m. The event will include a showing of Amundsen’s documentary film, Shakespeare’s Codes; lectures by author, poet and critic Gösta Friberg, and by his wife, actress Helena Brodin Friberg; a debate among representatives of alternative candidates; and a reading and signing of the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt.

Toronto, Canada

Professors Don Rubin of York University and Sky Gilbert of the University of Guelph, plus actor Keir Cutler, poet Chris Pannell and Diana Price, author of Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Biography, will team up to present “Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Biography: A Celebration,” April 24, 4 – 6 p.m., at the Berkeley Street Theatre (Rehearsal Hall) in Toronto. The event is free, but seating is limited. Tickets are limited to four per person. Dr. Keir Cutler will perform a medley of comedic creations, including his hilarious “Shakespeare Crackpot;” Diana Price will talk about all the growing doubts about Shakspere, followed by a roundtable discussion and a Declaration signing. Event organizer Don Rubin will be away. For tickets or information, email: shakespearedoubt@gmail.com.

Flint, Michigan

The Michigan-based Oberon Shakespeare Study Group will host an event titled “Reasonable Doubt about Shakespeare” on April 24, starting at 2:00 p.m., at the University of Michigan-Flint Campus, in the “Happenings Room” of the University Center Building, 303 E. Kearsley Street, Flint. The event will be hosted by UM-Flint Professor Matthew Wyneken, Ph.D., and moderated by Richard Joyrich, M.D., Chair of the Oberon Group. A map and directions are on the UM-Flint website. The group will hold a discussion of the Authorship Question and of the SAC’s Declaration of Reasonable Doubt.

Los Angeles, California

The Shakespeare Authorship Coalition and the Shakespeare Authorship Roundtable will co-host an event titled “Beyond Reasonable Doubt” at the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles on April 24, 2:00  – 5:00 p.m. SAC patron Michael York will introduce the documentary film “Last Will. & Testament.” (Only the first thirty minutes, on reasons to doubt the case for Shakspere of Stratford, will be shown.) Other speakers include SAR Secretary Sylvia Holmes and SAC Chairman John Shahan. Shahan will talk about new evidence and arguments turned up since 2007, to be published in a sequel to the SAC’s Declaration of Reasonable Doubt, titled “Beyond Reasonable Doubt.” The event is free, but ticketed. For more information, see a copy of the invitation here.

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George Anderson: How I Became an Oxfordian http://shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/george-anderson-how-i-became-an-oxfordian/ Tue, 29 Mar 2016 16:00:00 +0000 http://shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/?p=7981 Shakespeare mocks Appearance to the glory of Truth,
except in fact Being the author’s imprinted Name. 

Shakespeare’s soaring text

I came to deeply admire the works of Shakespeare during my college years (1950’s).  For his economy of words expressing eloquent thought, for the range of his characters’ social latitude, for his philosophical bent toward virtues (of truth, beauty, justice), they all seemed to descend on the son of a Warwickshire grain dealer, born in the out-of-the-way town of Stratford-upon-Avon. I felt this center of English renaissance was not to be missed.

Romance dashed at Stratford

George Anderson

George Anderson Ph.D., is a retired Physical Chemist

Visiting Stratford in 1968 with my family (wife, Diane, and son Mark, age 2), we came upon a seemingly harmless enterprise; the town’s tour guides were merchants of conjecture. “Baby William most likely was born in this house in an upstairs room with bed . . . .”  “Shakespeare’s grammar school was public and rigorous, teaching English and Latin . . . .” “But we have no enrollment records surviving.”  It took me some time to realize that I was being duped.  While staging a few facts so as to make the entire town look biographical, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust had little authentic memorabilia on display a tourist could trust.

Edward de Vere’s Geneva Bible

By 1993, my son was a graduate student in astronomy at the University of Massachusetts. He called one day to ask, “Who wrote Shakespeare?” Mark went on to say that he met Roger Stritmatter, a graduate student in Comparative Literature (earning his Ph.D. in 2001). Roger was studying underlined verses and handwritten notes in margins of a Geneva Bible (1570), currently held at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington DC. First owned by Edward de Vere, the 17th earl of Oxford, the marginalia bore meaning when compared to certain words and phrases of Shakespeare text. The ink handwriting compared in detail to Oxford’s letters. Could this be the study Bible used by the author of Shakespeare?

A Contending Author

Oxford’s biography reveals two Shakespeare-like essentials, his erudition and his being.

(1) His erudition, his knowledge of people/ literature/ science, are a match to Shakespeare’s narratives. Oxford wrote in a confidential letter (1573) to his father-in-law, William Cecil (Lord Burghley), “The world is so cunning as of a shadow they can make a substance, and of a likelihood a truth.”

(2) His “being” an Earl of Oxford placed him on a historic pedestal, tracing back to William the Conqueror (1066) and King John’s Magna Charta (1215). His family motto provided agency, VERO NIHIL VERUS  [Nothing is truer than truth].  But his name was “wounded” (as Hamlet). It provided no political cover for poetic allusions to court behavior revealed in “Shakespeare’s” plays and sonnets.

Credits

I would like to recognize Mark Anderson for introducing me to the Oxford-Shakespeare authorship question.  In 2005, he published a lucid biography of Edward de Vere, Shakespeare by Another Name. Thanks to all who have “spilled ink” this past century (starting with J.T. Looney) in the cause of historical truth, of moral justice so derived from the text, so revealing wisdom for the “contending kings’” of our future.

George Anderson was chair of the committee that hosted our 1996 conference in Minneapolis. Pictured at the conference (l. to r.) are Charles Burford, Roger Stritmatter, and Mark Anderson.

George Anderson was chair of the committee that hosted our 1996 conference in Minneapolis. Pictured at the conference (l. to r.) are Charles Burford, Roger Stritmatter, and Mark Anderson.

By George Anderson

Ph.D. Physical Chemist

Saint Paul, Minnesota

You can learn more about Oxford’s Geneva Bible at the SOF website.

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

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

 

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Rhoda Messner: How I Became an Oxfordian http://shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/rhoda-messner-how-i-became-an-oxfordian/ Tue, 22 Mar 2016 16:00:30 +0000 http://shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/?p=7973 With this reprint from our archives, the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship begins the occasional publication of classic “How I Became an Oxfordian” articles. Same title, different decades. This first one comes from the SOF files and was published in our newsletter in Spring 1983. Next week, we will resume publication of stories of contemporary Oxfordians, but occasionally we will feature classics from our archives, such as this. 

SaturdayRev-1937may01

Saturday Review, May 1, 1937

The article recalls an incident in 1937 when the author, Rhoda Messner, was working at the Cleveland Public Library and saw an article in the Saturday Review. The article described the findings of the Oxfordian, Charles Wisner Barrell. Wanting to draw attention to her cause and the issue, in 1975 she wrote a novel and published it herself called “Absent Thee From Felicity: The Story of Edward De Vere Seventeenth Earl of Oxford” (Corinthian Press, Shaker Heights, Ohio). 

————

I confess that I love mysteries, including everything from “What really happened to John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln’s assassin?” to “Are flying saucers real?” And, of course, I enjoy mystery action, although for me it must be well written, well plotted, and filled with believable characters.

However, none of these intriguing mysteries captured and held me through the years like the Shakespeare-Oxford Authorship Mystery. I found it—or it found me— about forty-five years ago: it was a quiet hour in the Cleveland Public Library Reference Division; I was stationed at the Main Desk, leafing through some numbers of the Saturday Review of Literature, to find books and subjects for a woman’s club program, one of our chores in those days.

“ELIZABETHAN MYSTERY MAN”, the black headline read; and, below, the Editor explained, “The theory that the Earl of Oxford wrote the plays usually attributed to William Shakespeare has for many years had an increasing vogue. The Saturday Review believes that the movement has gained enough momentum to interest its subscribers and publishes Mr. Barrell’s summary of the theory for the literary record.” (Saturday Review of Literature, May 1, 1937).

I was hooked! The reading and re-reading (and re-reading) of J. Thomas Looney’s “Shakespeare” Identified led me from the road of fascination up to the final peak of conviction.

Meanwhile, I was reading everything old and new that advanced the anti-Stratfordian and the Oxfordian theories: Greenwood, Ward, Rendall, Eva Turner Clark, the Ogburns, the American Bar Association’s Shakespeare Cross-Examination (which I understand has lured so many into the Shakespeare problem) and the Millers’ great new editions which encompass much that has been published in bulletins and periodicals.

Inevitably, I was talking, talking, to polite but uninterested people about this exciting new discovery of mine, writing letters and articles about Oxford versus Shakspere of Stratford, that were never published, giving talks to women’s groups and school classes, which seemed to stimulate interest and questions but somehow stopped dead there.

I read the Plays again and again, in the light thrown on them by Mr. Looney’s book. Some of them, like Troilus and Cressida and Measure for Measure, believe it or not, at first filled me with aversion; then, they too became part of the picture of Edward de Vere’s life story.

Unable to make a dent on the minds of the general public, I decided to write a novel based on Oxford’s life. At least, I thought, they should know something about this man whose life and personality had been buried and maligned in the Cecil-dominated records of the period. Absent From Felicity, self-published, was well-reviewed and even cherished by a few, but was too “esoteric” apparently to reach the public I wanted. It hadn’t really tried to propagandize for the Oxfordian theory of Shakespearean authorship, just suggest it between the lines. Perhaps this was cowardly but the basic idea, mistaken or not, was to reach a wider public.

Actually, there is no mystery now about the Shakespeare authorship. The only mystery left is why the whole world does not abandon the Stratford man, illiterate and commonplace as he was, and accept for all time the tragic, brilliant Renaissance man, Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford.

However, when you think of the “vested interests” involved in Stratford-on-Avon and in the academic world, and when you consider mankind’s angry reluctance to give up its “hallowed myths” (like the perpetual controversy over Creation and Evolution)—then perhaps the answer is obvious.

In conclusion, I have some questions to submit: What happened to the Saturday Review’s “increasing vogue” and “momentum” of interest in Oxford back in April, 1937? And why haven’t our lawyers and legislators been introducing acts requiring that alternative theories of Shakespeare authorship be taught in our public schools? The old improbable “Stratford Will” stories have been around too long. What do you think?

— Rhoda Messner

Charles Wisner Barrell’s “Elizabethan Mystery Man” is available at the Saturday Review website.

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

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

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Price, Barber, and Leahy Counter Stratfordian Myths in Mainstream Journal http://shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/price-barber-and-leahy-counter-stratfordian-myths-in-mainstream-journal/ Mon, 21 Mar 2016 15:14:09 +0000 http://shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/?p=7951 Journal of Early Modern Studies

Journal of Early Modern Studies

Non-Stratfordians Diana Price, Rosalind Barber, and William Leahy have written formidable critiques of various aspects of Stratfordian lore in the latest issue of the Journal of Early Modern Studies, which is described on its website as “an open access peer-reviewed international journal that promotes interdisciplinary research and discussion on issues concerning all aspects of early modern European culture. It provides a platform for international scholarly debate through the publication of outstanding work over a wide disciplinary spectrum: literature, language, art, history, politics, sociology, religion and cultural studies.” It is published by the Firenze (Florence, Italy) University Press.

Ironically, the 2016 issue also contains an article by Stratfordian professor Gary Taylor, who stirred up some controversy in 2014 when he withdrew an offer of publication by the Italian journal Memoria di Shakespeare to Oxfordian Dr. Richard Waugaman. In doing so, Taylor compared anti-Stratfordians to holocaust deniers. Stratfordian Andrew Hadfield, a contributor to Shakespeare Beyond Doubt, is also represented in the 2016 issue of the Journal of Early Modern Studies, so the Journal is clearly willing to give a platform to partisans of differing views on the authorship question.

Price on Hand D in Sir Thomas More

Diana Price

Diana Price

Detail of Sir Thomas More manuscript written by Hand D

Detail of Sir Thomas More manuscript written by Hand D

Diana Price, author of the seminal anti-Stratfordian book Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Biography, takes on the often-asserted premise that “Hand D” in the Elizabethan manuscript of The Book of Sir Thomas More represents the handwriting of William Shakspere of Stratford. Price’s article, “Hand D and Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Literary Paper Trail,” relentlessly deconstructs the Stratfordian case for Hand D. The Stratfordians, Price argues, have broken all the rules about identifying handwriting when it comes to claiming that Hand D is Shakspere’s handwriting.

Signatures of the Stratford man

Signatures of the Stratford man

First, they start with too small a sample, since all they have to compare Hand D to are the six accepted signatures of the Stratford man and the words “By me” on his will. Taken together, these samples do not provide exemplars for even half of the letters of the alphabet. Second, many of the signatures look so different from each other that it suggests that some signatures, or parts of them, may have been written on Shakspere’s behalf by others. Price quotes one expert as stating that if the signature on the Blackfriars purchase had been the only one to survive, Shakspere’s handwriting would appear to be “that of an imperfectly educated man of inferior rank.” Furthermore,the signatures are very difficult to read, and experts disagree among themselves as to exactly which letters are inscribed in individual signatures. Finally, there may well be a gap of a decade or more between the time that the Thomas More manuscript was written and the times that the Shakspere signatures were created. Because a person’s handwriting changes over time, careful handwriting experts would not venture to compare samples that are made so many years apart. Yet in order to reach the desired conclusion, Stratfordians bend the rules so that what is really a very shaky proposition becomes an accepted fact.

As Price states in her conclusion, “In the years since 1923, many scholars, editors, and critics have claimed Hand D as Shakespeare’s, and the mere repetition of that claim has bestowed on it a misplaced legitimacy. David Hackett Fischer identifies the logical fallacy as ‘proof by repetition’ . . . . Yet despite deficient evidence and faulty arguments, the case for Hand D not only has survived, as of 2015, it is thriving . . . .”

There is much more to Price’s fascinating argument, and readers are encouraged to download and read the entire article.

[Note: Readers who wish to explore further the mystery of The Book of Sir Thomas More and Hand D may want to read Fran Gidley’s excellent article in The Oxfordian Volume 6, “Shakespeare in Composition: Evidence for Oxford’s Authorship of The Book of Sir Thomas More,” in which Gidley notes that the majority of the handwriting in the Thomas More manuscript is that of Anthony Munday, Oxford’s secretary, and argues that Oxford dictated most of the play to Munday.]

 

Barber on Shakespeare’s “Warwickshire Dialect” 

Ros Barber, author of Shakespeare: The Evidence

Ros Barber, author of Shakespeare: The Evidence

In “Shakespeare and Warwickshire Dialect,” Rosalind Barber, who teaches at Goldsmiths, University of London, and spoke at the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship conference in Ashland, Oregon in 2015, investigates whether Shakespeare used the dialect of Warwickshire and surrounding areas. Since Stratford is located in Warwickshire, an abundance of words and phrases that are peculiar to that area would support the Stratfordian theory of authorship. Barber focuses on the sources of recent claims by Bate, Kathman and Wood, most of which derive from early dialect dictionaries compiled by 18th and 19th century antiquarians.

Barber determines that all of these claims—frequently used as a defense of the Stratfordian theory—fall into four categories: those based on errors of fact, well-known or widely-used words, poetic inventions, and those derived through circular reasoning. Barber identifies two problems. Firstly, the source texts on which these dialect claims rest were written two to three hundred years after the plays, by which time language use would not only have evolved, but would have been influenced by Shakespeare. Secondly, the continuing academic taboo surrounding the authorship question has meant that these claims, though easily refuted by searching the Oxford English Dictionary and the digitized texts of Early English Books Online, have gone unchallenged in academia. Barber demonstrates that querying the validity of arguments derived from an assumed biography can lead to a better understanding of the way Shakespeare actually used language, and the meanings he intended.

Leahy on Shakespearean Biography

William Leahy

William Leahy

William Leahy, a Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Brunel University in London, has contributed “‘the dreamscape of nostalgia’: Shakespearean Biography: Too Much Information (but not about Shakespeare)” to the 2016 issue of the Journal of Early Modern Studies. Leahy notes that a new Shakespearean biography is published at least once a year. Yet, the records are hardly full of details of his life and are indeed almost non-existent with regard to his writing life. If this is the case, wonders Leahy, then what are these various biographies made up of? What are they constituted by given that, it seems, their basic foundations are absent? Leahy’s essay considers these questions in the context of what he considers the most important intervention in the field of Shakespearean biography in recent years, Brian Cummings’ essay ‘Shakespeare, Biography and Anti-Biography.’ The conclusion he reaches is that the entire sub-genre can be regarded as ‘the dreamscape of nostalgia,’ constituted by works of fictional narcissism.

The Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship salutes the Journal of Early Modern Studies for providing an open forum for alternative viewpoints on the Shakespeare authorship question.

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Randall Sherman: How I Became an Oxfordian http://shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/randall-sherman-how-i-became-an-oxfordian/ Tue, 15 Mar 2016 16:00:09 +0000 http://shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/?p=7919 I first became aware of the authorship question back in 1974, when my father, who was an attorney, sent me a copy of the Harvard Review, which contained an article written by Charlton Ogburn. At the time, I was taking a Shakespeare class at the University of Colorado, and he thought it would be helpful and interesting for me to read.

Randall Sherman is a consultant, marketing & strategy professional, writer, and researcher in the Sacramento, California area.

Randall Sherman is a consultant, marketing & strategy professional, writer, and researcher in the Sacramento, California area.

I was immediately electrified by what I read and kept going over the article and re-reading it, astounded by how much sense it all made. I took the article into my professor and asked him if he had heard anything about it, and would he review it. At my next class, I was disappointed to see that he was not impressed and merely smiled and handed it back to me. I could not understand why anyone in his position could not appreciate the reasoning of this article, which was a summary of The Mysterious William Shakespeare. To me it was like a religious conversion and for years afterwards I would engage people in conversations about it, despite the fact that hardly anybody knew anything about it.

At one point, I lent my precious article to someone who wanted to read it, and of course he promptly lost it. I was furious and went to the San Francisco library to try and recover it, and as fate would have it, nothing could be found for the Harvard Review and an article on Shakespeare. But there were other books, and one called, Talks with Elizabethans, told of psychic interviews with the spirits of Shaksper, Oxford, Bacon and others. It laid out a plausible conspiracy although at times the book went too far and the writer, Percy Allen, later went insane.

There had to be other people interested in this subject. Although I can’t remember how, but around 1994, I discovered the Shakespeare-Oxford Society and knew that I had found my home at last. I bought a copy of every book they had on sale and spent the winter reading and reading everything. I attended my first conference and never had so much fun talking about my favorite subject with so many people.

I’ve seen the society go through many changes over the years, especially with the split in interpretation between the so-called PT (Prince Tudor) theorists and the bisexual theorists (of which I am one). Oxfordians tend to be pretty smart people but can sometimes be vicious and nasty in defending their points of view. I was president of the SOS at one time and it became clear from the PT faction that they did not like to see a spokesman of the society supporting the bisexual view.

Time has healed much of the rancor over the dispute and I am impressed with the quality of research coming out of the society over the years and the effort and energy still being invested by so many talented Oxfordians. I’m not sure that the paradigm shift will ever take place in our lifetime unless we educate and indoctrinate teachers of the next generation. Still, I have to say that I think progress is being made and there is no lack of dedication and enthusiasm among our growing membership.

— Randall Sherman

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

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

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