The Society issues the top ten reasons to doubt the traditional Strafordian theory and the top ten reasons to consider the Earl of Oxford as the true Bard
YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, NY – April 23, 2012 – Traditional Shakespeare biographers claim the great poet and playwright, William Shakespeare, was born on April 23, 1564.
But before you raise your glass to salute the Bard’s 448th birthday this April 23rd, consider this: You just might be paying tribute to the wrong person.
The Shakespeare Oxford Society reiterates its position that traditional scholars have been “Barding up the wrong tree” in Stratford-upon-Avon. Consequently, the Society recommends that Shakespeare lovers around the world should adapt former U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s famous “Trust but Verify” dictum.
The Society calls it “Toast but Verify” and explains that we should toast the peerless works but also attempt to verify the author’s true identity.
There is a long and distinguished history of doubting the traditional “Stratfordian” attribution of the “Shakespeare” works. Noted doubters over the years include Mark Twain, Henry James, Orson Welles, Charlie Chaplin, and Sigmund Freud. More recent skeptics include U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and former Justice John Paul Stevens along with renowned Shakespearean actors Derek Jacobi, Michael York, Jeremy Irons, and Mark Rylance, former artistic director at the Globe Theatre in London.
In 1996, the great Shakespearean actor Sir John Gielgud, while serving as president of the World Shakespeare Congress, signed the following petition:
“We, the undersigned, petition the Shakespeare Association of America, in light of ongoing research, to engage actively in a comprehensive, objective and sustained investigation of the authorship of the Shakespeare Canon, particularly as it relates to the claim of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford.”
In 2007, the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition (SAC) began collecting signatures on a compelling “Declaration of Reasonable Doubt About the Identity of William Shakespeare.” Concordia University in Portland, Oregon, and Brunel University in West London have launched degree programs in Shakespeare authorship studies.
To resolve the Shakespeare authorship mystery once and for all, the Shakespeare Oxford Society has called for the creation of an independent, blue ribbon commission composed of distinguished, internationally recognized experts in relevant fields – including historians, biographers, jurists, and other esteemed writers and scholars. All members of the proposed Commission should be unbiased.
The Two Top Ten Lists
Top Ten Reasons To Doubt The Conventional Theory That
William Shakspere of Stratford Wrote the Works of “Shakespeare”
10) Illiteracy ran in William of Stratford’s family – his parents and wife seem to have been illiterate. His two daughters were either illiterate or functionally illiterate at best. Why should we believe the greatest writer in English history, perhaps the greatest writer ever, would raise two functionally illiterate daughters? Wouldn’t he want his own daughters to read his works?
9) No evidence exists that adequately explains how William of Stratford acquired the educational, linguistic and cultural background necessary to write the “Shakespeare” works. Where did his extensive knowledge of history, languages, geography, and aristocratic manners and lifestyle come from – divine intervention?
8) The Name Game. The few barely legible signatures of William of Stratford show that he did not even spell his own name “Shakespeare.” Moreover, with very few exceptions records dealing with William of Stratford’s personal and business activities (birth, wedding, taxes, court documents, and will) frequently spell his family name Shakspere, Shaksper, Shacksper, or Shaxper whereas the name on the poems and plays is almost invariably spelled Shakespeare (with an “e” after the “k”) and often hyphenated, which suggests a pseudonym.
7) William of Stratford took no legal action against the pirating of the “Shakespeare” plays or the apparently unauthorized publication of “Shake-speare’s Sonnets” in 1609.
6) The 1609 Sonnets paint a portrait of the artist as a much older man. The author of the Sonnets at times is clearly aging and seems to be anticipating his imminent death. The publisher’s dedication refers to Shakespeare as “our ever-living poet” – a term that implies the poet was already dead. William of Stratford lived until 1616.
5) With the hyphenated “Shake-speare” name on the cover, the Sonnets also suggest strongly that “Shakespeare” was a penname and that the author’s real identity was destined to remain unknown. In Sonnet 72 “Shakespeare” asks that his “name be buried where my body is.” Sonnet 81: “Though I, once gone, to all the world must die.” Sonnet 76: “Every word doth almost tell my name.”
4) Unlike other writers of the period, not a single manuscript or letter exists in Shakspere’s own handwriting. Nothing survives of a literary nature connecting William of Stratford (the man) with any of the “Shakespeare” works.
3) There is no evidence of a single payment to William of Stratford as an author. No evidence of patron-author relationship and no personal, contemporaneous evidence of a relationship with a fellow writer.
2) William of Stratford’s detailed 1616 will makes no mention of anything even vaguely literary – no books, unpublished manuscripts, library or diaries. Not even a family bible is mentioned.
1) William of Stratford’s death in 1616 was a singular “non-event,” despite the fact that “Shakespeare” the author was widely recognized at the time as one of England’s greatest writers. Why was no notice taken of his death if he was such a literary luminary? Reprints of Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece published after his death do not mention his recent passing.
Top Ten Reasons to Consider Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford,
as the author known to history as “William Shakespeare”
10) Many Shakespeare plays contain characters and details that relate directly to Oxford’s life and foreign travels, creating a strong circumstantial case for his authorship. Orson Welles said: “I think Oxford wrote Shakespeare. If you don’t, there are some awfully funny coincidences to explain away.”
9) Act II, scene 2 includes this stage direction: “Enter Hamlet reading on a book.” Hamlet’s book is widely considered by scholars to be Cardanus Comfort, translated from Italian into English and published in 1573 at the behest of Oxford. Plus, the character Polonius in Hamlet is widely regarded as a parody of William Cecil, Lord Burghley – who was Oxford’s guardian and father-in-law.
8) “Shakespeare” displayed an intimate knowledge of a wide range of subjects, including the law, Italy, foreign languages, heraldry, music, navigation, court manners and intrigues, and warfare. Oxford’s known educational background, foreign travels and life experiences match the knowledge base displayed in “Shakespeare’s” writings. In fact, the Italian cities used as settings in Shakespeare’s plays were the very cities that Oxford is known to have visited, while William of Stratford never left England.
7) Oxford was praised during his lifetime as the best of the courtier playwrights for comedy and he was known to have used a pseudonym. While a small number of Oxford’s acknowledged poems survive –probably written when he was very young — no plays exist. Were these later published under the Shakespeare name?
6) Oxford was a leading patron of the arts, widely known to support a large circle of fellow writers with money and lodgings, including Anthony Munday, John Lyly, and Robert Greene. They also worked for him as secretaries and possible collaborators. Conventional scholars have long recognized these writers as having influenced the work of “Shakespeare.”
5) Ovid’s Metamorphoses, translated into English in 1565 by Arthur Golding, had a profound influence on “Shakespeare’s” writing. Golding was Oxford’s maternal uncle, and some scholars believe Oxford translated some or all of Metamorphoses when he was still a teenager.
4) The 1623 First Folio was financed by William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke, and his brother Philip Herbert, 1st Earl of Montgomery (later 4th Earl of Pembroke). Philip Herbert was married to Oxford’s daughter, Susan Vere, and William Herbert was once engaged to another Oxford daughter, Bridget.
3) Beginning in 1586, Oxford was granted a substantial annuity £1,000 by the notoriously parsimonious Queen Elizabeth for unspecified services. It’s possible he used the money to support the production of patriotic history plays later known as Shakespeare’s.
2) The 1609 volume called Shake-Speare’s Sonnets contains numerous autobiographical details that link directly to what is known about Oxford’s life including the poet’s advancing age, his preoccupation with the ravages of time and his own imminent death, his lameness, his shame, and his “outcast state.” Another Oxford uncle, Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey, was the first to introduce what would later become known as the “Shakespeare” sonnet form.
1) The publisher’s 1609 Sonnets dedication refers to Shakespeare as “our ever-living poet” – a term that implies the poet was already dead. Oxford died in 1604 and William of Stratford lived until 1616.
About The Shakespeare Oxford Society
Founded in 1957, the Shakespeare Oxford Society is a nonprofit, educational organization dedicated to exploring the Shakespeare authorship question and researching the evidence that Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford (1550 – 1604) is the true author of the poems and plays of “William Shakespeare. The homepage of the Society also says the group is “Dedicated to Researching and Honoring the True Bard.”