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Justin Borrow: How I Became an Oxfordian


I came to discover the Shakespearean Authorship Question when I was in grade 9. For me, the most enticing thing about it was the drama. Having been a Shakespeare enthusiast since being first introduced to the works in high school, my love for the plays, poems and author has continued growing ever since. I decided to do some light reading on the topic but found the subject matter a bit overbearing for a 14-year old and so I let it sit dormant for the next seven years.

Justin Borrow is a Toronto-based actor and theatre critic for the Theatre Reader. He serves on several SOF committees and monitors and operates the SOF’s Instagram page

Justin Borrow is a Toronto-based actor and theatre critic for the Theatre Reader. He serves on several SOF committees and monitors and operates the SOF’s Instagram page

When I reached York University, in my 4th and final year, I took a course titled, “The Shakespeare Authorship Question” taught by the SOF’s very own Don Rubin. Now, at this point not having a definitive stance on the author, I decided to approach it differently. Like many, I came to this course with the intention of proving the man from Stratford’s legitimacy and disproving the other theories as conspiracy. However, as the course went on, I started to quickly realize that there is hardly any evidence to support the Stratford man’s claim to the authorship.

Having read at this point both Shakespeare Beyond Doubt and the SAC’s response Shakespeare Beyond Doubt? I made the decision that Shaksper of Stratford was not the man, but if not, then who was?

For my final assignment I was given Oxford as a candidate and had to fight for his claim. It was at this point that I began digging through his life and works and the pieces of this very difficult puzzle began to come together. It just made sense…Oxford was Shakespeare.

From such evidence as the biographical parallels in Hamlet to George Puttenham’s reference to him in The Arte of English Poesie. Then to look at the evidence of Oxford in Italy and the similarities between the 10 precepts of William Cecil and the 10 precepts of Polonius.

As the evidence continued to pile up it dawned on me that Oxford was the most logical choice. Academia is about facts, it’s about what you can prove with the information that you have and the evidence you can present. With that in mind, Oxford’s claim to the authorship is so much more substantial. I found it hard to believe that this was still such a contested subject.

Having now been out of University for 2 years and read a plethora of more material on the subject, including Mark Anderson’s wonderful biography on de Vere’s life, my belief in Oxford’s authorship has never been stronger. Edward de Vere’s family motto sums this entire subject up quite beautifully, Vero Nihil Verius . . . Nothing is truer than truth.

— Justin Borrow

“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.”).

You may join the SOF or renew your membership for 2016 at our membership page.

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