Home / News / Happy Birthday William Shakespeare? This April 23rd … Toast But Verify!

Happy Birthday William Shakespeare? This April 23rd … Toast But Verify!

Media Contact:
Matthew Cossolotto

Vice President, Communications and Outreach

Shakespeare Oxford Society
914-245-9721
Matthew.Cossolotto@gmail.com

Pointing to the scheduled Sony Pictures release this September of Anonymous, a major motion picture that challenges the traditional Shakespeare authorship theory, the Shakespeare Oxford Society says orthodox scholars have been “Barding up the wrong tree” in Stratford-upon-Avon and calls for creation of an unbiased Shakespeare Authorship Commission to resolve the authorship mystery

YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, NY – April 21, 2011 – 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 447th birthday this April 23rd, consider this:  You just might be paying tribute to the wrong person.

That’s the main premise of the forthcoming Sony Pictures film, Anonymous, directed by Roland Emmerich and featuring a cast of Shakespearean thespian luminaries such as Vanessa Redgrave, David Thewlis, Joely Richardson, Rhys Ifans, and Sir Derek Jacobi.

A recently released trailer promoting Anonymous begins with this intriguing question:  “What if I told you Shakespeare never wrote a single word?”  Later in the trailer a male voice says:  “Promise me you’ll keep our secret safe.”  An older woman’s voice, presumably that of Queen Elizabeth played by Vanessa Redgrave, says ominously:  “None of your poems or your plays will ever carry your name.”

The tantalizing trailer ends with a clever tagline — “We’ve All Been Played” — followed by a stage filled with actors taking their bows and the audience applauding wildly.

Here’s the link to the trailer.  www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBmnkk0QW3Q&feature=channel_video_title

In light of the scheduled release of this major motion picture – the first-ever that explicitly challenges the traditional authorship theory – 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 Ronald Reagan’s “Trust but Verify” dictum.

“We call it ‘Toast but Verify,’ says Shakespeare Oxford Society spokesman Matthew Cossolotto.  “We should all toast the peerless works but also attempt to verify the author’s true identity.”

Indeed, 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.

Needed: A Shakespeare Authorship Commission
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. They should declare going in that they have open minds on this subject and are willing to follow the evidence wherever it leads – using internationally recognized evidentiary standards employed by leading historians and biographers.

The Society is proposing that an unbiased educational institute, think tank, foundation, or individual should take the lead in sponsoring the proposed commission.

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.”  Visit www.shakespeare-oxford.com and www.shakespeareoxfordsociety.wordpress.com for more information.


About Matthew Cossolotto

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