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Joan Gabrie Storms Local Library: An Oxfordian Call-to-Arms

“What burns me so is not so much the original fraud, but the continuing campaign to discredit Oxford and suppress the facts.”

Joan Gabrie

Joan Gabrie

Recently, Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship received an email from Joan Gabrie who wished to draw SOF’s attention to a kerfuffle she experienced at her local library. Gabrie’s email to SOF President Tom Regnier reads:


As it happens, my county library local branch just discarded Charlton Ogburn’s The Mysterious William Shakespeare. I had seen our library’s website advertising the tour of The First Folio in our area, checked the catalog to see if Ogburn’s book was available, couldn’t find it listed, called, was told it was just “weeded” did I want it, stormed over, chewed 2 librarians out, purchased it, stormed home and Aug 19, fired off a letter (ed. see below) to the county library’s CEO and board president. Haven’t heard back yet.

I’m a regular person, read a lot, but not learned in English lit nor overly fascinated with it. I’ve enjoyed watching the plays; especially with Kenneth Branagh; love the comedies. Years ago I saw the BBC special with Charlton Ogburn – all I remember of it is at the end, a very old man was in tears, pleading. Then I found his book. What burns me so is not so much the original fraud, but the continuing campaign to discredit Oxford and suppress the facts. As I say in my letter, we’ve been cheated by fraud, cheated of clarity and awareness and robbed of understanding the man and why he wrote.

As you’ll note in my letter, I wanted the book, couldn’t afford it so asked the library to purchase the book; which they did. If I don’t get a positive response soon, I’ll be using the library’s online page for “suggested purchases” to request it again, several times, for several branches. And that is my suggestion – Oxfordians suggest for purchase Ogburn’s book and others, videos also, at their local libraries.

Thank you greatly for your efforts and best wishes for continued success.

Joan Gabrie

Below is Joan’s letter to her branch library. Although Joan took umbrage with the library’s handling of the Ogburn text, she stated that because the library has been very good to her family, she wished that the branch and its employees not be named.

Dear [library executives],

Before me sits Charlton Ogburn’s seminal work: The Mysterious William Shakespeare, The Myth and the Reality. 892 pages of his life’s work and cornerstone of the modern controversy over who wrote the works attributed to William Shakespeare. I bought it last Wednesday night from [the library] for one dollar. It had been weeded out.

Your current online homepage touts the circulation in our region of “The First Folio, The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare.” How odd that at the same time [the library] “celebrates” Shakespeare, it eliminates a major work on the authorship question. Here is the opportunity to present the controversy to our local public, engender interest, awareness . . . increase circulation of materials, but instead our librarian chose THIS moment to discard a man’s life work through which thousands around the world have discovered that “Shaksper” was, in fact, not William Shakespeare.

A major work on “The Soul of Our Age” is discarded because no one’s taken it out in a year. I took this book out last year to reference and reread. When asked, the head librarian says he doesn’t know about the controversy and anyway he’s “not a fan of Shakespeare.” When did a librarian’s responsibility to protect knowledge and engage the public become compromised by robotic weeding and whether or not he “is a fan”?

Years ago, when I served as a “Books for the Homebound” volunteer, I made it my business to not only fulfill requests for specific romance novels, but to also search out similar novels by other authors; even though I wasn’t “a fan of romance novels.”



Gabrie’s Acquisition

I’ve wanted this book for a long time. Many years ago when I discovered its existence, but could not afford it, [the library] graciously purchased it and I have contented myself since with being able to access it from my local branch. I’m not an avid Shakespeare enthusiast; haven’t even read all his works . . . yet. But as a student years ago and like many in the last 400 years, I have been cheated, cheated by fraud, cheated of clarity and appreciation, robbed of the understanding of who this man was and why he wrote.

When I brought this book home, my intention was to have it reinstated. It should be. It’s the right thing to do. But, holding it now after so long I cannot bring myself to part with it. It’s your mistake, your responsibility, you fix it.

Very sincerely,
Joan Gabrie

Inspired by Gabrie’s call-to-arms, I contacted my local library. The librarian confirmed that a book is weeded if it doesn’t circulate over a period of time; my local library operates on a three-year cycle whereas Gabrie’s branch uses a one-year cycle. Public libraries also choose books that are relatively new and not overly scholarly.

I did a quick search on Shakespeare scholarship within my local library’s circulation. The results included the usual suspects of Orthodox writers. There were no titles on the alternative viewpoint. When I mentioned this oversight to the librarian, he said that should be corrected; the public library should be an unbiased resource of knowledge.

Thus, Oxfordians, our call-to-action is clear: contact your local libraries and ask them for Oxfordian books and keep publishing new work.

–Theresa Lauricella

About Theresa Lauricella

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