Alex McNeil was named Oxfordian of the year at the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship conference in Madison, Wisconsin on September 14, 2014. SOF past-president John Hamill said McNeil made last year’s unification of the Shakespeare Oxford Society and the Shakespeare Fellowship possible because of his willingness to step into the breach when needed. Hamill said:
The main, specific reason Alex was awarded the Oxfordian of the Year by the SOF was because his volunteer activities for the SOF became the main financial reason we could justify unification to the memberships of the Shakespeare Oxford Society and the Shakespeare Fellowship. Alex volunteered his time to be the editor of the Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter, and the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship office manager — with its multiple duties — and has done it excellently. This saved the organization $18,000! These are funds that we can use for other things such as the printing of Brief Chronicles, and help fund the Research Grant Program. Alex is always there when we need him and as such the SOF owes much gratitude to him.
Alex McNeil said:
I was thrilled to be named Oxfordian of the Year. It’s truly an honor to receive an award that has been given to such notables as Justice John Paul Stevens. I never expected to become interested in the Shakespeare authorship question, but reading Charlton Ogburn, Jr.’s The Mysterious William Shakespeare in 1992 changed my life. I’m convinced that winning the authorship battle will take decades, but each of us needs to do whatever we can to advance the cause. For me, that means editing the quarterly newsletter and running the office for the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship. Being retired gives me the time for these tasks.
New SOF president Tom Regnier highlighted McNeil’s long service in the Oxfordian cause:
Alex was a founding board member of the Shakespeare Fellowship, and he is a past-president of the Shakespeare Fellowship who served as treasurer for the last four years of the SF lifetime. He has edited or co-edited the newsletters for the past several years and is the developer of Oxfordian Jeopardy! which has been played at a number of conferences over the years. He has written a number of articles for Shakespeare Matters as well as several chapters in A Poet’s Rage, the recently published volume edited by Bill Boyle. A highlight of his career was being chosen as one of the delegation that presented Justice John Paul Stevens with the Oxfordian of the Year award at the Supreme Court.
McNeil said that was an exciting day for him:
That was in the fall of 2009, when the Oxfordian of the Year was jointly awarded by the Shakespeare Fellowship and the Shakespeare Oxford Society. It took a lot of back and forth with his office to make the arrangements. When they finally said, “be here November 12 at 2 PM,” we didn’t negotiate. Tom Regnier and I represented the Shakespeare Fellowship. Matthew Cossolotto, who was Shakespeare Oxford Society president couldn’t make it, so Michael Pisapia and Melissa Dell’Orto represented the SOS. After giving the award to Justice Stevens, the four of us were given a private tour of the Supreme Court by an intern. That was pretty cool, too.
In addition to his work on the Shakespeare authorship question, McNeil is also passionate about pop music of the Sixties. He is host of the radio program, “Lost and Found”, broadcast every Friday on WMBR-FM/wmbr.org, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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Oxfordian of the Year background
SOF trustee Richard Joyrich, shared the following information about the history of Oxfordians of the year. These awards were given jointly by the Shakespeare Oxford Society and the Shakespeare Fellowship. This year’s award is the first given by the unified Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship.
2014 Alex McNeil
2013 Roger Stritmatter
2012 John Shahan
2011 Kevin Gilvary
2010 Richard Roe
2009 John Paul Stevens
2008 Daniel Wright
2007 Richard Whalen
2006 Lynne Kositsky
2005 Mark Anderson