In July the SOF board named Jennifer Newton, Kathryn Sharpe, and me to a committee charged with coordinating a plan for celebrating the centennial of J. Thomas Looney’s Shakespeare Identified in Edward DeVere Seventeenth Earl of Oxford published by the Frederick A. Stokes Company in 1920. We held a brainstorming session at the Madison conference on September 11 where SOF members expressed enthusiasm for celebrating the Shakespeare Identified centennial.
Earl Showerman suggested a theatrical project: “In the best tradition, it would be great to have a dramatic representation by commissioning a play — a theatrical, festive, holiday, spirit of celebration.”
Bryan Wildenthal suggested a publishing project: “I’d like to see a centennial, scholarly edition about Looney – synthesis and refinement and resolve issues. That will be something that will last.”
Most conference attendees were interested the idea of celebrating the Shakespeare Identified centennial in 2020, but veteran Oxfordian researcher Paul Altrocchi warned against promoting the Looney brand. Altrocchi said, “A campaign to celebrate Looney is looney. We should be honoring Edward deVere. I don’t think the word Looney should even come up in this celebration. If we honor Looney, we will fail – and the chances of that are 99.9-percent.
Most were more optimistic, including Bryan Wildenthal who said:
I would disagree; no publicity is bad publicity. This phenomena of people ridiculing the name of this respected English schoolmaster — most people get the idea that is a weak argument. I say grasp the nettle and exploit it for whatever we can. [Paul’s comment] is a good caution, but I don’t think we should shy away or be fearful – we can turn the tables.
Eddy Nix said, “I feel we’re doing a disservice to ourselves if we don’t have some celebration of his name. We should not be afraid to embrace the name of the man who wrote Shakespeare Identified.”
Bonner Miller Cutting said that her mother, noted researcher Ruth Miller, had consulted the Looney family in England and discovered that they pronounce their name like Roosevelt — that other double-oh surname that says OH, not EW.
The SOF board hopes that by beginning now to plan a Shakespeare Identified centennial celebration we will be able to encourage a wide variety of plans and ideas. We hope you will participate by taking our on-line questionaire to express your views and join us in celebrating the Shakespeare Identified centennial.
- SI100 committee email address firstname.lastname@example.org
- Web link to the Survey Monkey questionnaire http://www.surveymoz.com/s/124026VMSFO
- Shakespeare Identified Centennial page on SOF website http://shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/shakespeare-identified-100/
- Twitter @ShakesOxFellows #2020Looney