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Piet-Hein Zijl: How I Became an Oxfordian

My name is Piet-Hein Zijl, living in Zaanstad, a town just north of Amsterdam, Holland. My age is 69, I worked as a teacher and artist (made pen drawings, etchings), am a reader of poetry in public and as a concert pianist (romantic classical music: Chopin, Schubert, Grieg, Debussy, Federico Mompou).

Piet-Hein Zijlm is a retired teacher and artist in the Netherlands.

Piet-Hein Zijl is a retired teacher and artist in the Netherlands.

In 1969 (22 years old) I visited South-England with a friend. ‘Going to Stratford?’ I suggested. ‘Not me,’ my friend said, ‘It’s not at all sure he is the author of the famous plays and poems.’

Ten years ago I read the newly published book of my countryman Pieter N. Helsloot, “Edward de Vere, onvermijdelijk Shakespeare” (‘onvermijdelijk’ is Dutch for ‘inevitable’), some years later the Swedish book “Täcknamn Shakespeare” (‘Täcknamn’ means ‘Alias’), written by Gösta Friberg & Helena Friberg Brodin. Later on I interviewed them and ‘penned’ their portraits. As a teenager I had seen some movies in black and white (Orson Welles’ were unforgettable) and later in full colour concerning the subject. I had intensively read Hamlet, visited Elsinore/Helsingör in Denmark on my way to my Swedish girlfriend (50 years later still my wife). I identified myself with Shakespeare in the sense of feeling disturbance in growing up as a child and as a teenager/adolescent especially, looking nervously for ‘who am I?’ and getting self-confidence, and warmth and trust from almost all people around me.

I wrote a horror story at twelve. Often wondered whywhywhy. Wanted to kill my dad. Myself. Afraid of my own shadows I kept making arts — I am a more than average good maker of pen drawings and etchings — at a safe distance. Do not want to end up as a Rothko (suicide) or a Pollock (alcohol-fueled car crash). Or an Edward de Vere.

Drawing of Chipping Camden, not far from Stratford-on-Avon, by Piet-Hein Zijl

Drawing of Chipping Camden, not far from Stratford-on-Avon, by Piet-Hein Zijl

The more I read and re-read — from Diana Price, J. Thomas Looney, Mark Anderson, Paul Roe, Noemi Magri, Malim, Gilvary, Moore, Fox and Beauclerk to the German scholar Walter Klier (“Der Fall Shakespeare”), and the more I saw on TV (the film “Anonymous” in the first place) and enjoyed lectures on YouTube (by for example the inspiring Hank Wittemore, “The Shake-Speare Treason”) — I got more convinced that Edward de Vere is the one-and-only Shakespeare.

To put it in one almost final sentence: from whatever direction the light is put on De Vere, the reflection is all the same comparable bright: dazzling and breathtaking. These authors, whether they are members of The De Vere Society or The Oxford Society (or neither, a possibility too of course), they make the great poet-playwright to a three-dimensional, living person. And I expect there is forthcoming only more — whereas the Stratford-man, defenseless, is being put in a darker darkness than ever before, and eventually has to fade into oblivion.

When I meet Stratfordians and gladly tell them the good news about ‘Oxford’, they react however, disturbed, say or wave “nonsense” and walk away, stare at me threatening with an attacked boar-look, as if going to penetrate a deadly tusk into my vulnerable heart. Or they just look down, hurt, quiet — discussion not even started. Pity for them.

— Piet-Hein Zijl

“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.”)

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About Erik Eisenman