McFarland, Inc. has announced a publication date of September 8th for Shakespeare’s Apprenticeship, Identifying the Real Playwright’s Earliest Works by Oxfordian scholar Ramon Jiménez. The book presents the evidence and makes the argument that five anonymous plays performed during Elizabeth’s reign were written by Edward de Vere, seventeenth Earl of Oxford, and belong in the Shakespeare canon.
The traditional contents of the Shakespeare canon have come into question in recent years as scholars have added plays or declared others only partially his work. Now, new literary, theatrical and historical evidence expands the canon significantly, and reveals a lengthy apprenticeship period, during which Oxford cultivated his literary skills and created his first works for the stage.
The anonymous The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth, The True Tragedy of Richard the Third, The Troublesome Reign of John, The Taming of a Shrew and King Leir are Oxford’s first versions of plays in the canon that bear nearly-identical names. Each of them is strikingly similar in terms of structure, plot and cast to its canonical counterpart. But passages and scenes have been added, and the dialogue entirely rewritten. Four of the five have strong connections to de Vere, and for all of them there is convincing evidence that they were written during the 1560s. However, virtually all scholars, critics and editors of Shakespeare have overlooked, disputed or disparaged the idea that he had anything to do with them. Nor have they been discussed or included in collections of Shakespearean apocrypha. Although they are routinely cited by some scholars as sources for canonical plays, none of them have been convincingly attributed to any other author, and some have even been labeled “piracies” or “bad quartos” of plays in the canon.
Shakespeare’s Apprenticeship also introduces a new dating scheme for the first half of the Shakespeare canon, re-dating as many as two dozen plays fifteen to twenty years earlier than the dates prescribed by orthodox scholars. Key to the new scheme is a re-dating of Henry V to 1583, the mid-point of Oxford’s writing career—based on a reinterpretation of a passage in the Act V Chorus that has been claimed, mistakenly, to refer to people and events in 1599. Other passages in the Chorus disprove the traditional venues for the play, the Globe or the Curtain, and identify not only the place, but also the audience for the play’s premiere.
This addition of five plays to the Shakespeare canon and re-dating of its contents virtually eliminates the provincial businessman promoted as the author in the Stratfordian theory. It also makes available more than ten thousand new lines of Shakespeare’s verse and prose for study and analysis. Many of them clarify and explain phrases and passages in the canon that have puzzled scholars. Shakespeare’s Apprenticeship introduces a new facet to the authorship debate, and supplies further evidence that Oxford is the real Shakespeare.
The book is fully documented, illustrated and indexed, and can now be pre-ordered from McFarland, Inc.[posted June 5, 2018]