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
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.
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.
By George Anderson
Ph.D. Physical Chemist
Saint Paul, Minnesota
You can learn more about Oxford’s Geneva Bible at the SOF website.
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