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A Rebuttal to Thomas Reedy and David Kathman’s “How We Know that Shakespeare Wrote Shakespeare”

By Lynne Kositsky and Roger Stritmatter

In an undated internet essay by Mr. Tom Reedy and Dr. David Kathman, “How We Know that Shakespeare Wrote Shakespeare: The Historical Facts,” the authors explain why they “know” the conclusion stated in their title. Our purpose in this brief response is to outline some points of agreement with these writers and also to indicate in abbreviated form the weaknesses in use of evidence and logic which undermine their orthodox conclusion. Our General Introduction provides a quick survey of the article, noting some strengths and weaknesses of the Reedy-Kathman approach. The remainder of our essay examines, in line-by-line detail, the contents of the five sections of the Reedy-Kathman essay. We conclude that the essay’s categories, factual evidence, and logic, fail to substantiate the conclusion named in the title of the essay. Quotations from the Kathman-Reedy essay are highlighted in red. This essay was published on the Shakespeare Fellowship’s Virtual Classroom on 9/12/04. Portions of the analysis were previously posted on the Fellowship’s online forum in 1/2004.

General Introduction

Reedy and Kathman’s table of contents illustrates both the strengths and weaknesses of their essay. Three of the five points (1, 3, and 4) belabour the obvious. Anti-Stratfordians concede that the name “William Shakespeare” appears on the title pages of many of the play quartos; they concede that “William Shakespeare” was a sharer in the Lord Chamberlain’s Men; finally, they concede that this same “William Shakespeare” was the Stratford businessman immortalized in the monument in Holy Trinity Church. Such points were discussed and debated extensively by J.M. Robertson and George Greenwood in a series of books written during the first two decades of the 20th century, long before John Thomas Looney in 1920 first proposed Oxford as the real mind behind the mask of the name “Shakespeare.” They were reiterated in detailed precision by E.K. Chambers in his monumental 1930 work, as well as by Samuel Schoenbaum and other orthodox scholars of the twentieth century.

Although it is unfortunate that Reedy and Kathman make no mention of the extensive literature concerning these matters, we readily concede that these points are for all practical purposes beyond serious dispute. Thus, although we have much to comment on many of the subordinate points listed under each of these categories, in this abbreviated response we will focus only on categories 2 and 5 in Reedy and Kathman’s list.

Because of its misleading wording, category 2 is the weakest element in Reedy and Kathman’s essay. It is a classic instance of what philosophers of logic call circular reasoning. The circularity is most easily seen when we read the claim in context following category 1:

1. The name “William Shakespeare” appears on the plays and poems.
2. William Shakespeare was an actor in the company which performed the plays of William Shakespeare.

Notice that in the first item “William Shakespeare” appears within quotation marks. This claim, that the name William Shakespeare appears on the plays and poems, has never been disputed; however, in the second item, the quotation marks have vanished. This omission is significant; by removing the quotation marks around the name, Reedy and Kathman are suggesting that William Shakespeare the actor is William Shakespeare the playwright and thus indulging in what philosophers of logic call circular reasoning. Circular reasoning is an attempt to support a statement by simply repeating the statement in different or stronger terms. In circular reasoning, the reason given is nothing more than a restatement of the conclusion that poses as the reason for the conclusion. The question at issue is who wrote the plays, but the item prematurely states a conclusion to this question without offering any reasons for the reader to believe it is true and then treats this conclusion as it if were a reason for itself.

A corrected version of item 2 might read as follows:

2. William Shakespeare was an actor in the company which performed the plays of “William Shakespeare.”

We do not dispute this corrected version of the statement.

Categories 3 and 4 are as follows:

3. William Shakespeare the actor was William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon.
4. William Shakespeare the Globe-sharer was also William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon.

These statements appear to us to be beyond reasonable dispute; however, they also establish nothing directly with regard to the authorship of the canon.

Only item 5 engages the question of who actually authored the works:

5. William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon, the actor and Globe-sharer, was the playwright and poet William Shakespeare.

This item does not follow logically from any of the previous points. Instead, Reedy and Kathman propound a list of items 5a through 5n to establish the identification. We respond in detail to these points in our analysis below. For now, let us note the following general remarks:

1. Items 5a through 5c concern the literary reputation of “William Shakespeare,” yet make no mention of any connection to Stratford-upon-Avon. Since we already know that the works often appeared in quarto with “William Shakespeare” on the title page, these items are in no way probative with respect to the point at issue. They merely tell us that persons read the plays, and some of them made the not unnatural presumption that they were written by the Stratford businessman.

2. Items 5d and 5e refer to the monument erected in Holy Trinity Church at Stratford upon Avon circa 1623. As with the name on the title page (K and R category 1, items 1a-1f), the presence of the monument constitutes prima facie evidence in support of the traditional view. In our opinion, the monument can be explained in only one of two ways: either the traditional view of authorship is correct, or a concerted effort was made to perpetuate a literary hoax which concealed the real author. K and R don’t give reasons for favouring the first interpretation, and don’t even entertain the possibility of the second. They already “know,” of course, that it is incorrect!

3. Items 5f through 5h concern the 1623 Folio of the collected works and its internal links to the Stratford monument. As with the monument and the name on the title pages, the Folio constitutes prima facie evidence in support of the traditional view, but also contains numerous signs which may contradict K and R’s claims. These signs have been extensively discussed by previous anti-Stratfordians, and sometimes by Stratfordians. It is unfortunate that Reedy and Kathman were unable to supply their readers with references to this intriguing analysis; as time permits us to elaborate the present response to the Reedy/Kathman essay, we will supply this lack.

4. 5h through 5k derive from the evidence supposedly provided by the Folio and monument and in no way constitute independent evidence.

5. 5l is a fascinating example of the ambiguity of many early literary references to Shakespeare, such as Jonson’s poems in the first Folio. We find it amazing that R and K cite a poem that refers to the reader’s “mock’d Eie” without discussing what the poem may actually intend to communicate about Shakespearean authorship.

6. Item 5n, like many 17th Century references to William Shakespeare, does not constitute independent evidence of any kind, but rather reiterates the tradition already established through the name on the title pages, the Folio, and the monument.

7. With regard to item 5m, it is surprising that Reedy and Kathman want to enter this document into record. Although it includes little new information supporting their conclusion, the volume has frequently been cited by anti-Stratfordians as decisive evidence for the very early existence of the Shakespearean authorship question. More material will be forthcoming.

Conclusion of Introductory Survey

The “evidence” in support of Reedy and Kathman’s claim may be summarized thus:

A. The name appears on many early quartos now attributed to “Shakespeare.”

B. Sometime between 1616-1623 a monument, apparently to the writer “William Shakspeare” (sic) was erected in Stratford’s Holy Trinity Church.

C. The 1623 Folio attributes the works to “William Shakespeare” (and for the first time supplies an engraving which supposedly depicts the author).

D. Some early readers accepted the preceding points as evidence for the orthodox view, as Reedy and Kathman do.

Everything else in their lengthy document has little to do with authorship.

Meanwhile we invite readers to consider the following two questions:

1) Do the four items above, on closer inspection, compel the orthodox conclusion which Kathman and Reedy insist is the only viable one?

2) What are the elements of the authorship problem which Reedy and Kathman have ignored in constructing their argument? – And how do these elements affect our understanding of the answer to question #1? In our conclusion we return to this second question and offer some answers.

Analysis of Kathman-Reedy Introduction

In this and subsequent sections we will go through the Kathman-Reedy essay line-by-line, giving their remarks in red and then answering them.

William Shakespeare was born in April, 1564, the oldest son of John Shakespeare.

We accept this with the caveat that all the extant signatures of Shakespeare of Stratford are spelled with no E after the K. That is to say, they are spelled “Shakspere” or some variant. The signatures are available here, courtesy of Washington State University Professor Michael Delahoyde. For a brilliant and revealing argument that the Stratford “Shakespeare” could not even write his own name, please consider this analysis by German researcher Robert Detobel.

His father, a glover, trader, and landowner, married Mary Arden, the daughter of an affluent landowner of Wilmcote. John Shakespeare was ambitious, and he filled many municipal offices in Stratford including that of burgess, which privileged him to educate his children without charge at the King’s New School in Stratford.

This is a key problem. Although John Shakespeare may have been allowed to educate his children without charge, there is no record that he did so. Kathman and Reedy skate past this evidentiary problem as if it did not exist. Although they don’t actually say that William Shakespeare was educated at King’s New School, they imply that he was. Since it is clear that whoever wrote the works was the recipient of an excellent education, unless it can be proven that Shakespeare of Stratford attended school, the impact of the Reedy and Kathman essay is significantly diminished.

Reedy and Kathman also fail to acknowledge that Shakespeare of Stratford’s parents, wife, and at least one daughter were illiterate. It is hard to imagine that the creator of Portia, Olivia, and Beatrice would fail to educate his own daughters.

He rose by election to the position of Alderman in 1565; and in 1568 he was elected Bailiff (equivalent to mayor), and in that year he made an application to the Herald’s office for a grant of arms. In his position as Bailiff he was responsible for licensing companies of actors who applied to play in the Guild Hall.

And the point is?

William Shakespeare married Ann Hathaway in November, 1582, and six months later their daughter, Susanna, was born. Two other children were born, the twins Hamnet and Judith, in February, 1585. Sometime after this he joined a troupe of players and made his way to London.

What is the evidence that he joined a troupe of players before going to London?

As a member of London’s leading theater company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Company, he wrote plays and eventually became a sharer in the Globe theater.

Where is the evidence that he wrote plays as a member of the Lord Chamberlain’s Company? And how could he have become a sharer in the Globe Theatre before it existed? It was built in 1598 out of wood from the dismantled Theatre. Therefore Kathman and Reedy cannot make the claim below that he was so successful as a playwright and sharer in the Globe that in 1596 he successfully renewed his father’s application for a coat of arms.

He was so successful that in 1596 he successfully renewed his father’s application for a grant of arms…

Reedy and Kathman appear to be confused about chronology. See above point.

…and the following year he bought and restored New Place, the second-largest house in Stratford. He also bought other real estate in Stratford and London. Shakespeare semi-retired from London life some time around 1610.

For those impressed by real estate, this is all very lovely, but has very little, if anything, to do with the point at issue.

Moreover, we wonder if Kathman and Reedy can actually cite any evidence for Shakespeare’s continued residence in London after 1604 when King James gave him red cloth in his capacity as a member of the King’s Men. [1] According to researcher Robert Detobel, “the only documents mentioning him as resident in London [even long before 1604] are those of the tax collectors (in the falls of 1597, 1598, 1599) reporting that he was no longer living there, at least not at that address. The tax collectors could not find him in London…”

We also notice a rather loose nomenclature in the passage. What do R and K mean by “semi-retired?” Was he still acting? Was he still writing plays? Where is their evidence?

He died 23 April 1616, disposing of his large estate in his will.

It is interesting to note that Kathman and Reedy refer to “his large estate,” but fail to list the contents of the will, a document which mentions nothing of a literary or intellectual nature. You can read the Will online here.

These, in bare outline, are the facts of Shakespeare’s life.

Kathman and Reedy seem only interested in the “facts” of the biography, but have little or no interest in discussing how the life of the author “Shakespeare” informs his literary works. This is not surprising, since the primary source of anti-Stratfordian doubts over many decades has been the profound misfit between the character of the works and the life of the alleged author. [2]

Antistratfordians claim that this William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon was not the author of the plays and poems that bear his name, but actually the evidence for Shakespeare’s authorship is abundant and wide-ranging for the era in which he lived, much more abundant than the comparable evidence for most other contemporary playwrights.

Reedy and Kathman’s claim that the evidence for Shakespeare of Stratford’s authorship is “abundant and wide-ranging” and “much more abundant than the comparable evidence for most other contemporary playwrights” has been thoroughly disproved by Diana Price in her 2001 book, Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Biography.

Although Reedy and Kathman are without doubt straining credulity when they claim the evidence of his life is “more abundant than comparable evidence for most other contemporary playwrights” we agree that a substantial documentary trail does exist for the hero of their narrative. Unfortunately, almost none of this evidence has a truly probative bearing on the question at issue. Not suprisingly, Reedy and Kathman persist in presenting material that has little or no bearing on the question of authorship as if it were relevant. We have already shown that points 1-4 of this essay merely establish that William Shakespeare of Stratford was an actor for the Lord Chamberlain’s men and sharer in the Globe Theatre, not that he was the author of the Shakespearean canon. Moreover, much of the “evidence” contained in point 5 is derivative–-of the First Folio, the name on the quarto title pages, and the Stratford Monument–or it is ambiguous. Most damaging of all, much of what is known about the Stratfordian positively contradicts all rational expectation about the author as inductively determined by a sober examination of his literary work.

This evidence falls into several different categories, all mutually reinforcing. A strong, tight web of evidence shows that a real person named William Shakespeare wrote the poems and plays attributed to him.

This statement ignores the lengthy and distinguished tradition of doubt, a tradition which includes names such as Henry Hallam, Hugh Trevor-Roper, Sigmund Freud, Sir George Greenwood, Abel Lefranc, and Walt Whitman. These persons among many others did not agree with Kathman and Reedy’s evaluation of the “evidence.”

…that a real person named William Shakespeare was an actor in the company that produced the plays attributed to him.

We have already made the point that William Shakespeare of Stratford was an actor in the company that produced the plays attributed to “William Shakespeare.” In its present form Reedy and Kathman’s statement represents a case of circular reasoning.

…that the actor was the same William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon; that William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon was part-owner of the Globe Theater, where his acting company produced the plays attributed to him.

See previous point.

….and that those who knew the writer of the plays and poems knew that he was William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon.

It’s true that no one single document states categorically that William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon wrote Hamlet and King Lear, but then no such document exists for any other playwright of the time either.

There is no significant tradition of doubt regarding the attribution of the works of Ben Jonson, or any other major early modern writer. Jonson’s presence as a playwright and poet is attested to by a voluminous body of evidence including letters and manuscripts in his own hand, books from his library, several authenticated portraits, records of his table talk, and occasional poems on topical subjects. None of these items survive for William Shakespeare of Stratford, even though New Place remained in the possession of his heirs for many years. What is the explanation for this? As Ben Jonson was middle class, the discrepancy cannot be explained by recourse to an argument claiming a class bias regarding the preservation of ephemeral documents, etc.

The evidence is cumulative and interconnected, and taken as a whole it leaves no doubt that a single man was actor, author, and Stratford property owner.

As we have already pointed out, Reedy and Kathman speak only for themselves and other traditionalists when making this claim. Many scholars over the years have sensed a profound discrepancy between the life of Shakespeare of Stratford as documented in evidence such as that presented in Kathman and Reedy’s essay, and the literary work of “William Shakespeare.” One recent and authoritative expression of this discontent occurs in the second (1991) edition of Samuel Schoenbaum’s Shakespeare’s Lives: “Perhaps we should despair of ever bridging the vertiginous expanse between the sublimity of the subject and the mundane inconsequence of the documentary evidence.”
In this essay we summarize this evidence in order to illustrate the speciousness of antistratfordian claims that there is some “mystery” about the authorship of Shakespeare’s works.

Section One, Point by Point

1. The name “William Shakespeare” appears on the plays and poems.
Good evidence that William Shakespeare wrote the plays and poems bearing his name is the fact that his name appears on them as the author.

No one has ever disputed that the name William Shakespeare or William Shake-speare appears on many play quartos. Kathman and Reedy consider this to be “good evidence” for the belief that Shakespeare of Stratford was the author. We disagree. Some plays published under the name William Shakespeare were not by Shakespeare, while some plays that were by the author known as “William Shakespeare” were published anonymously. According to Taylor and Mosher in their exhaustive study of pseudonyms and anonyms, the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were the “golden age” of authorship deceptions of one kind or another. Literary deceptions flourished in early modern England, and the case of “Shakespeare” is only the most startling example of the success of such deceptions.

1a. In 1593, the narrative poem Venus and Adonis was published by Stratford native Richard Field, with a dedication to the Earl of Southampton signed “William Shakespeare.”

Actually, as George Greenwood argued in the early 1920s, Field was the printer and not the publisher of Venus and Adonis.
Greenwood’s 1916 book, Is There a Shakespeare Problem? reviews and critiques the 1914 publication, Shakespeare’s Environment, by Mrs. C.C. Stopes, the first book which tried to make the argument recently reprised by David Kathman in his website essay on Richard Field’s alleged connections to the bard Shakespeare. George Greenwood’s remarks are still pertinent to the discussion and we reprint them here:

Then as to the friends in whom Shakespeare was so fortunate, we are told that “through all he had one friend at least, during his period of toil and preparation,” and this was “his townsman, Richard Field (his senior by three years), who had been at Stratford Grammar School, and entered life on the solid lines of an apprentice to Thomas Vautrollier, the great French printer, and became his son-in-law and successor. Doubtless [my italics] Shakespeare went first to reside with him; certainly he was much with him. His shop was the poet’s university, where he read for his degree by the inclusions and exclusions of the bookshelves [whatever that may mean]…Field’s publications account for most of his learning. There he was inspired by ‘Plutarch’s Lives Englished by North,’ trained by ‘Puttenham’s Arte of English Poesie,’ in the canons of literature and a taste for blank verse. There he found books on music, philosophy, scientce, travels, medicine, language, and literature, which we know he read.”

All this is delightful for an impromptu after-dinner speech, but it is mere imagination and assumption. What are the facts as far as they are known? Richard Field, says Mrs. Stopes, “had been at Stratford Grammar School.” Where is the evidence of that? If such there is, I should be glad to see it. He left Stratford for London in 1579, some eight years before Shakspere abandoned his home. ” Doubtless Shakespeare went at first to reside with him”! Again there is not the slightest shade or scintilla of evidence to support this statement. It is really monstrous that a mere guess of this sort should be stated as an undoubted fact of Shakspere’s life. Vautrollier’s “shop was the poet’s university”! This, again, is merely post-prandial eloquence. We do not know that Shakspere ever entered Vautrollier’s shop,and, really, biographies ought to be based on ascertained facts, not on “fanciful might-have-beens.”

“There he found books on music, philosophy, science, etc. etc., which we know he read.” Yes, we know, certainly, that “Shakespeare” must have read such books as these, but there is no evidence at all to show that the player Shakspere did so, either at Vautrollier’s shop or anywhere else. There is nothing to show that he ever had a book in his possession, and, as I have already pointed out, he appears to have died without books, and without a thought of them.

But “it was Richard Field who printed and published Shakespeare’s two poems, the only works which we are sure he published and corrected himself.” As to that, however, there is something more to be said. The Stationer’s Register proves that Richard Field, on April 18, 1593, acquired the copyright in Venus and Adonis, and that on June 25, 1594, he assigned that copyright to John Harrison, Senior, and I apprehend I am absolutely correct in saying that although Field printed the poem, in his printing office at Ludgate, the real publisher therof was this John Harrison of the “White Greyhound” in St. Paul’s Churchyard, where, as the title page of the 1593 quarto informs us, the work was “to be sold.” As Mr. H.R. Tedder puts it, in the Dictionary of National Biography, Field “printed three editions of [Venus and Adonis and the first of Lucrece for John Harrison,” the publisher. The quarto of Venus and Adonis was, as the title page tells us, “imprinted by Richard Field, and are to be sold at the signe of the White Greyhound [Harrison’s shop] in Paul’s Churchyard.” The first edition of Lucrece was “printed by Richard Field, for John Harrison, and are to be sold at the signe of the White Greyhound,” etc.

I think, too, it is fair to say that if Field and the author of Venus and Adonis had been close friends we should hardly have expected to find Field parting with his copyright in the poem; rather, we should have expected to find him in possession of the copyright of Lucrece also.
Moreover, not one of the Quarto plays came from Field’s press. Actor Manager Shakespeare did not, apparently, care to employ his friend on behalf of his company. In short, when the known facts are examined, all that transpires is that Field was a Stratford man, and that he printed the two poems which were published by Harrison. Singularly little evidence, surely, for the “Stratfordian” authorship, unless imaginary and poetic details be added in the fervor of an impromptu Oration…”[3]

Mr. Reedy and Dr. Kathman appear not to have consulted George Greenwood’s remarks before assuring us of the great importance of the supposed connection between William Shakespeare of Stratford and Richard Field. And while it might be too much to expect that Reedy and Kathman would actually read a book by a distinguished anti-Stratfordian like Greenwood, is it too much to expect that they might have considered the opinion of Sir Sidney Lee, who in his orthodox biography characterizes as “fanciful” the theory “that Field found work in Vautrollier’s printing office for Shakespeare on his arrival in London”? [4]

This dedication refers to the author’s “unpolisht lines” and contains the typically fawning language of a commoner addressing a nobleman for patronage.

“Fawning” is a curious word to apply to the dedication of Venus and Adonis. “Graceful and ironically self-deprecating” might be more in order. A reprint of the preface in question is available here.

It is clear that at its most superficial level the dedication affects to be what Reedy and Kathman claim it is. While the tone is not fawning, the dedication does appropriate the language of a writer seeking patronage from a powerful noble. Reedy and Kathman, however, exhibit an unfortunate naivete when they presume that the author of the dedication actually believes the lines in question are “unpolisht.” On the contrary, this is a specimen of the author’s graceful ironic wit. Further, it is interesting to note that the dedication contains the following sexual innuendo: “eare so barren a land, for feare it yeeld me still so bad a haruest…” We find it hard to imagine that a commoner would address an earl in such terms, and wonder about the literary subtext which is being communicated through the metaphorical structures of the dedication.

As long ago as the 1930s, Charles Wisner Barrell, in an article in the Saturday Evening Post, proposed that the “invention” to which the author refers in the line “if the first heir of my invention prove deformed…” alludes to the first occurrence in print of the name William Shakespeare. [5] Reedy and Kathman, however, treat the dedication as an item of evidence without pausing to consider the problem of its interpretation.

It is manifestly not the work of one nobleman addressing another, as Oxfordians believe.

See above.

The following year, The Rape of Lucrece was published, also with a dedication to Southampton signed by William Shakespeare. Both poems went through many editions over the next half century, all with the same dedications signed by William Shakespeare.

This is correct. However, it is interesting to observe that Reedy and Kathman do not discuss the tone of the dedication to Rape of Lucrece. Perhaps they find this dedication less congenial to their theory. We also note that Venus and Adonis and Lucrece were first anthologized in 1707 in a publication titled Poems Concerning Affairs of State. We would be pleased if Reedy and Kathman would explain why they believe the poems were included in this particular volume.

1b. In 1601, the volume Loves Martyr by Robert Chester contained short poems by several well-known theatrical poets. One of these poems (untitled in the volume, but now known as “The Phoenix and the Turtle”) is signed “William Shakespeare.” This volume was printed by Richard Field, who had also printed Shakespeare’s two narrative poems.

Reedy and Kathman oversimplify the complicated early publication history of both narrative poems in order to strengthen Shakespeare’s connection to Richard Field. Actually, although Field registered the copyright of Venus and Adonis, after the first printing he transferred his legal claims to John Harrison. Although Field printed two more editions of Venus and Adonis, as well as the first edition of Lucrece, he was clearly acting as Harrison’s agent. We find the reasoning of George Greenwood, to the effect that Field was, from the beginning, acting as Harrison’s agent, entirely persuasive. Perhaps to shield Harrison from any potential legal complications involved with the publication of the first edition of a politically explosive text (see Stritmatter 2004[6] on the politics of Venus and Adonis), Field first registered the copy in his own name and printed the text for Harrison. After the first issue appeared the actual legal relationship was made clear through the explicit transfer of copyright to Harrison. It is noteworthy that Kathman and Reedy pretend such complications do not exist– their “just so” story about Field requires ignoring the larger picture of Shakespearean publication. See previous excerpt from Greenwood. We will have much more to say on this in the future.

1c. In 1609, the volume Shake-speares Sonnets was published by Thomas Thorpe. Whether one believes that the publication was authorized or not, the volume is clearly attributed to “Shakespeare.”

We believe that the question of authorization is a significant one, even though Reedy and Kathman gloss over it. It is hard to imagine that a living author would allow the contents to be made public as they contain extremely personal and scandalous, possibly blasphemous, detail. Contrary to the implication of Reedy and Kathman’s remarks, both the publication history and the contents of the sonnets are difficult to reconcile with orthodox beliefs. The dedication by T[homas] T[horpe] speaks of the author as “ever-living,” a designation which is rarely applied to a living person. Reedy and Kathman’s scenario requires us to believe either

a) that a living author approved the publication of a sonnet sequence which was intensely personal;


b) that the poetry was published without authorization, and although the material was damning, the poet failed to object.

Moreover, the contents of the sonnets seemingly have no connection to the life of Shakespeare of Stratford. For example, the poet often speaks of his own imminent demise (cf 71-73, 107, etc.), whereas Shakespeare of Stratford was still living seven years after the publication of the volume. How do Reedy and Kathman explain this discrepancy.

1d. Many plays were also attributed in print to William Shakespeare. Following is a list of the plays first published in quarto up until the publication of the First Folio, along with the dates of publication and the name of the author.
Titus Andronicus – Q1 1594, Q2 1600, Q3 1611, all with the author unnamed.
Henry VI Part 2 – Q1 1594, Q2 1600, both with the author unnamed, Q3 1619 by William Shakespeare, Gent.
Henry VI Part 3 – Q1 1595, Q2 1600, both with the author unnamed.
Romeo and Juliet – Q1 1597, Q2 1599, Q3 1609, all with the author unnamed.
Richard II – Q1 1597 with the author unnamed, Q2 1598, Q3 1598, Q4 1608, Q5 1615, all by William Shake-speare.
Richard III – Q1 1597 with the author unnamed, Q2 1598 by William Shake-speare, Q3 1602 by William Shakespeare, Q4 1605, Q5 1612, Q6 1622, all by William Shake-speare.
Love’s Labor’s Lost – Q1 1598 by W. Shakespeare.
Henry IV Part 1 – Q1 1598 with the author unnamed, Q2 1599, Q3 1604, Q4 1608, Q5 1613, all by W. Shake-speare.
Midsummer Night’s Dream – Q1 1600, Q2 1619, both by William Shakespeare.
Merchant of Venice – Q1 1600 by William Shakespeare, Q2 1619 by W. Shakespeare.
Henry IV Part 2 – Q1 1600 by William Shakespeare.
Much Ado About Nothing – Q1 1600 by William Shakespeare.
Henry V – Q1 1600, Q2 1602, Q3 1619, all with the author unnamed.
Merry Wives of Windsor – Q1 1602 by William Shakespeare, Q2 1619 by W. Shakespeare.
Hamlet – Q1 1603 by William Shake-speare, Q2 by William Shakespeare.
King Lear – Q1 1608 by M. William Shak-speare, Q2 1619 by M. William Shake-speare.
Pericles – Q1 1609, Q2 1609, Q3 1611, all by William Shakespeare, Q4 1619 by W. Shakespeare.
Troilus and Cressida – Q1 1609 by William Shakespeare.
Antistratfordians sometimes make much of the fact that the early quartos of Shakespeare’s plays did not have an author’s name on them, implying that there was some effort to keep the author’s name secret. But contemporary plays at that time were not considered literature, and most people didn’t pay much attention to their authors, at least not until after 1600.

Stratfordians can’t have it both ways. It is true, as Reedy and Kathman assert, that most people didn’t pay much attention to the authors of plays. Reedy and Kathman seem oblivious to the obvious implication that various kinds of subterfuge regarding authorship were correspondingly more likely to occur. It would have been much easier to appropriate the work of a writer, for example, and it would also have been easier for a writer who wished to avoid publicity to make use of a front man.

Only about a third of all the plays printed in the 1590s named the author on the title page, and a significant portion of these were the Shakespeare quartos late in the decade. The only playwrights to be named on any title pages from 1590-97 were Robert Greene, Thomas Lodge, Christopher Marlowe, John Lyly, and Robert Wilson. Of those, Greene and Marlowe had never been mentioned on a title page while they were alive; in fact, neither had been mentioned as a playwright at all while he was alive.

See our previous response: this is an interesting argument and we concede the point. One reason for the relative absence of authors associated with the theatrical genre may be the social stigma of the theatre. One consequence of this is that there are numerous long-standing attribution problems and many plays to this day remain without secure attribution: Thomas of Woodstock, The Famous Victories of Henry V, The Tragedy of King Leir, etc.

John Lyly had been one of the most popular playwrights of the 1580s, writing for the Children of Paul’s, yet six of his plays were published, in ten different editions over a dozen years, before his name ever appeared on a title page (in 1597, on The Woman in the Moon). In this context, there is nothing peculiar about the lack of Shakespeare’s name on the title pages of the few early quartos of his plays, as he was just becoming established.

Reedy and Kathman’s own data reveal a striking pattern on which they fail to comment. Four Shakespearean plays — Henry VI Part 3, Titus Andronicus, Romeo and Juliet, and Henry V — were published in quarto with no author attribution at all. Four more plays — Henry VI Part 2, Richard II, Richard III, and Henry IV Part 1 –appeared in anonymous quartos before the name “Shakespeare” (or some variant) was attached to them for the first time in 1598 or 1599. Before 1598 no play text appeared under the name Shakespeare, even though the two narrative poems had previously been published in 1593 and 1594 under this name. What is Reedy and Kathman’s explanation for the shift in policy in 1598?

1e. In 1598 Palladis Tamia: Wits Treasury by Francis Meres was published. Meres attributed twelve plays to Shakespeare, including four which were never published in quarto: [Two] Gentlemen of Verona, [Comedy of] Errors, Love labors wonne, and King John. In addition he identified some of the plays that were published anonymously before 1598 — Titus, Romeo and Juliet, and Henry IV — as being written by Shakespeare. Sadly for Oxfordians, he mentions Edward Earl of Oxford as being a writer of comedy in the same paragraph as he does Shakespeare.

Meres attests that Oxford, along with Richard Edwards (d. 1566), is the “best for comedy.” There is nothing sad about this. Oxfordians have frequently cited Meres as an important witness to Oxford’s reputation as a comic playwright although no plays are extant unless he is Shakespeare. In fact, Charlton Ogburn opens his 1984 book The Mysterious William Shakespeare with an extended discussion of Meres’ book, Palladis Tamia (“The Steward of Pallas Athena”).

1f. The First Folio of 1623 clearly attributes the plays in the volume to William Shakespeare. The volume is titled Mr. William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies; Heminges and Condell’s dedication says that they organized the volume “onely to keepe the memory of so worthy a Friend, & Fellow alive, as was our Shakespeare”; all four commendatory poems refer to the author as “William Shakespeare”; and the last page of the front matter calls this volume “The Workes of William Shakespeare.”

These facts have been well known for centuries and have never been denied or ignored by anti-Stratfordians. However, Kathman and Reedy’s treatment of the Folio is superficial and ignores many reasons why it should not be taken at face value. This is a very large topic and we will undertake an extended commentary on this subject, including material on the dedicatory poem of Jonson, the incomparable pair (the Earls of Pembroke and Montgomery), the alleged prefaces of Heminges and Condell, and the Droeshout engraving. [7]

Oxfordians claim that the name “William Shakespeare” was a pseudonym used by Oxford, and that there is nothing to tie the name to William Shakespeare of Stratford.

Reedy and Kathman are fond of putting words into the mouths of their critics. As we have acknowledged, there is evidence, starting with the identity or near- identity of name, and including reference to the “Stratford monument” in the 1623 folio, which ties the name “William Shakespeare” to William Shakespeare of Stratford. This however, has little or no bearing on the question of whether Oxford used the name — and possibly the man — as a cover for his literary activity.

“William Shakespeare” has none of the characteristics of a pseudonym…

This claim represents Reedy and Kathman’s argument at its most vulnerable and strained. At least since Thomas Fuller’s 1662 reflection on the name, it has been well understood that the name “Shakespeare” possesses very obvious symbolic overtones:

“William Shakespeare was born at Stratford on Avon in this County [i.e., Warwick]; in whom three eminent Poets may seem in some sort to be compounded. 1. Martial, in the warlike sound of his Surname (whence some may conjecture him of a Military extraction) HASTI-VIBRANS, or Shake-speare.” [8]

As a Stratfordian, Fuller is the best possible witness to the symbolic resonance of the name.

Moreover, the symbolism of the name “Shakespeare” is associated with Oxford long before it ever appeared on a title page. Here is B.M. Ward’s translation of Gabriel Harvey’s 1578 Latin apostrophe to Oxford:

“Courage animates thy brow, Mars lives in thy tongue, Minerva strengthens thy right hand, Bellona reigns in thy body, within thee burns the fire of Mars. Thine eyes flash fire, thy countenance shakes a spear; who would not swear that Achilles had come to life again?” [9] For a detailed discussion of this subject, including the original Latin on which the Ward translation is based, see the article “Gabriel Harvey and the Genesis of ‘William Shakespeare‘” by Andrew Hannas.

it was the real name of a person closely connected with the production of the plays, and there is no indication in the historical record that anybody ever suspected it of being a pseudonym or said that anybody other than William Shakespeare was the author.

An abundant body of evidence, previously documented in books such as The Mysterious William Shakespeare by Charlton Ogburn, contradicts this statement. We will elaborate further as time permits.

(The antistratfordian claim that the occasional hyphenation of “Shake-speare” indicated a pseudonym is completely groundless and unsupported by any evidence; see The Spelling and Pronunciation of Shakespeare’s Name.) All the historical evidence ties William Shakespeare of Stratford to the plays bearing his name, as we will now demonstrate.

Section Two, Point By Point

2. William Shakespeare was an actor in the company which performed the plays of William Shakespeare.

We have already stipulated to this statement phrased correctly–that is: William Shakespeare was an actor in the company which performed the plays of “William Shakespeare.” However, it may be helpful to examine each item in this category.

From 1594 on, the plays of William Shakespeare were performed exclusively by the acting company variously known as the Lord Chamberlain’s Men (1594-96, 1597-1603), Lord Hunsdon’s Men (1596-97), and the King’s Men (1603-42).

How do Reedy and Kathman know that the plays were performed “exclusively” by this company? What evidence do they have for asserting this?

William Shakespeare was a prominent member of this acting company, as the following evidence demonstrates.

2a. On 15 March 1595,the Treasurer of the Queen’s Chamber paid “William Kempe William Shakespeare & Richarde Burbage servants to the Lord Chamberleyne” for performances at court in Greenwich on 26 and 27 Dec of the previous year.

This statement does not address his prominence as an actor. It simply lists him as a payee of the company. K and R also fail to note that this is the only reference to Shakespeare of Stratford as a payee in the 48 year existence of the company, although he was alive for 22 years of this period. We note the obvious: that this sheds no light on William Shakespeare of Stratford as an author.

2b. On 13 March 1602, John Manningham of the Middle Temple recorded in his diary a racy anecdote about Richard Burbage and William Shakespeare:

Upon a time when Burbidge played Richard III there was a citizen grew so far in liking with him, that before she went from the play she appointed him to come to her that night unto her by the name of Richard III. Shakespeare, overhearing their conclusion, went before, was entertained and at his game ere Burbage came. Then message being brought that Richard III was at the door, Shakespeare caused return to be made that William the Conqueror was before Richard III. Shakespeare’s name William.

The anecdote does not explicitly call Shakespeare an actor, but it places him at the theater with Burbage, the leading actor of the Chamberlain’s Men. Manningham was a friend of William Shakespeare’s friend and “cousin” Thomas Greene, who was then finishing up his studies at the Middle Temple and would move to Stratford the following year.

Not only does this anecdote not “explicitly call Shakespeare an actor,” but it has nothing to do with his being a writer either. More important, it is interesting to note that although the name of the author was apparently famous by 1602, Manningham is so unfamiliar with Shakespeare of Stratford that he feels the need to leave a note to himself that “Shakespeare’s name William.”

2c. On 19 May 1603 the Lord Chamberlain’s Men were licensed as the King’s Men. The document lists “Lawrence Fletcher, William Shakespeare, Richard Burbage, Augustyne Phillippes, Iohn Heninges, Henrie Condell, William Sly, Robert Armyn, Richard Cowly” as members of the troupe. Shakespeare’s prominence is indicated by the fact that he appears second on the list, behind only Lawrence Fletcher, who had acted for King James in Scotland.

We stipulate to the fact that William Shakespeare of Stratford’s name was on the list; however, we cannot accept R and K’s statement that the placement of the name indicates his prominence in the company. What evidence do they have to assert this? And if they do have further evidence to make this assertion, does it then mean that any list on which Oxford appears first with regard to his writing attests to his prominence in the literary world?

2d. The account of Sir George Home, Master of the Great Wardrobe, lists the names of “Players” who were given four yards of red cloth apiece for the investiture of King James in London on 15 March 1604. They are “William Shakespeare, Augustine Phillipps, Lawrence Fletcher, John Hemminges, Richard Burbidge, William Slye, Robert Armyn, Henry Cundell, and Richard Cowley.” Here Shakespeare appears first among his fellows.

See above.

2e. The will of Augustine Phillips, executed 5 May 1605, proved 16 May 1605, bequeaths, “to my Fellowe William Shakespeare a thirty shillings peece in gould, To my Fellowe Henry Condell one other thirty shillinge peece in gould . . . To my Fellowe Lawrence Fletcher twenty shillings in gould, To my Fellowe Robert Armyne twenty shillings in gould . . . .” All of the people who Phillips calls his “fellows” were actors in the King’s Men. Augustine Phillips’s bequest of 30 shillings to his “Fellowe” Shakespeare was written 11 months after the Earl of Oxford’s death. If Oxford were Shakespeare, Phillips would have known that he was dead.

We stipulate to the fact that Augustine Phillips left William Shakespeare of Stratford a bequest of gold. We also acknowledge the fact that the 17th Earl of Oxford died in June 1604. However, there is no evidence that Phillips was leaving a bequest to the writer of the plays as opposed to a “fellowe” in the King’s Men. The attempted argument is strained at best and entirely without merit.

2f. The 1616 Folio of Ben Jonson’s Works contains cast lists for his plays. The cast list for Jonson’s Every Man in His Humor, performed in 1598, includes “Will Shakespeare, Aug. Philips, Hen. Condel, Will. Slye, Will. Kempe, Ric. Burbadge, Ioh. Hemings, Tho. Pope, Chr. Beeston, and Ioh. Duke.” Once again, Shakespeare is listed first among his fellows.

Again, see our response to 2c.

2g. The cast list for Jonson’s Sejanus, performed in 1603, includes “Ric. Burbadge, Aug. Philips, Will. Sly, Ioh. Lowin, Will. Shake-Speare, Ioh. Hemings, Hen. Condel, and Alex. Cooke.”

Apparently William Shakespeare of Stratford had lost some status in the five years following Every Man in his Humour.

So William Shakespeare was an actor in the company that performed the plays written under his name.

Again, William Shakespeare was an actor in the company that performed the plays of “William Shakespeare.”

But was this the same William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon? The answer, of course, is yes. We have documentary evidence of this, from a variety of sources.

We agree.

Sections Three and Four, Point by Point.

3. William Shakespeare the actor was William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon.

3a. In or around 1568, John Shakespeare applied to the Heralds’ College for a coat of arms, but he fell on hard times and let the application lapse. In October of 1596, following the success of his son, John Shakespeare of Stratford upon Avon applied again for a coat of arms, which was granted sometime before 1599.

See our comment with regard to the introduction. Reedy and Kathman have failed to identify anywhere in their essay evidence for William Shakespeare of Stratford’s success prior to 1596. Also, in their introduction they state that William renewed the application, yet here they say the application was applied for by his father John. Which statement is correct, and what bearing does it have on Shakespeare of Stratford’s presumed authorship of the canon?

Thereafter he and his sons were entitled to put “gentleman” after their name, and it often appears when William Shakespeare’s name is recorded in legal documents after 1599. This title was reserved for those of the gentility who were below knights but who had been granted the right to bear arms. That John’s son, William, initiated the application is probable. Shakespeare was a product of the Elizabethan era, and he accepted the social order as it was and was ambitious to rise.

We agree that William Shakespeare of Stratford was clearly ambitious and upwardly mobile. His ambition, and his application for the coat of arms, are apparently parodied in the episode of the Arms of Sogliardo in Ben Jonson’s Every Man Out of His Humor. Surprisingly, this idea is endorsed even by the orthodox critic E.K. Chambers, who in his commentary on the Shakespeare motto, “Not Without Right,” says this: “There is no evidence that Shakespeare or his heirs in fact used this or any other motto, unless it is to be found in the jesting allusion of Ben Jonson in Every Man Out of His Humour, 1599, where the rustic Sogliardo is charged for the purchase of arms. One of the charges is a boar’s head, and Puntarvolo says ‘let the word be, ‘not without mustard.’….”[10] Chambers, of course, would not have understood the relevance of the heraldic symbol of the boar’s head — evidently a parody on the Earl of Oxford’s heraldic charge of a rampant boar.

3b. In 1602, Peter Brooke, the York Herald, accused Sir William Dethick, the Garter King-of-Arms, of elevating base persons to the gentry. Brooke drew up a list of 23 persons whom he claimed were not entitled to bear arms. Number four on the list was Shakespeare.

It is well known that Shakespeare’s application for a coat of arms was controversial.

Ruth Loyd Miller comments on the relevance of this circumstance to the Sogliardo parody: “Considering the reputation Dethick had gained for selling of coats-of-arms, Jonson could well have created Sogliardo as a cutting satire on a fellow actor who had recently acquired a ticket into the world of the gentry.” [11]

Brooke included a sketch of the Shakespeare arms, captioned “Shakespear ye Player by Garter.”

It is interesting to note that Shakespeare is identified here as a player rather than a writer. Morevoer, as EK Chambers acknowledges, the 1596 draft application includes the words “non, sanz droit,” with a comma after the “non.” Ruth Miller again comments: “The position [of these words] on the document, and the commas after “Non” indicate that this was the herald’s denial of the draft, as though he had stamped it, ‘No, without right.’ These words do not appear in the application of 1599, supporting Chambers’ suspicion that they lacked heraldic significance” [12]

Unless one is prepared to argue that John Shakespeare was an actor, or that William Shakespeare’s brother Edmund initiated the arms application when he was 16 and was a known player by the time he was 22, “Shakespear ye Player” can only be the Shakespeare identified in other documents as an actor, William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon, gentleman. This is the same coat-of-arms that appears on the poet’s tomb in Stratford.

We are puzzled by Reedy and Kathman’s need to make an argument with regard to the Shakespeare arms. There is no reason to think that the application was made by anyone other than John or William Shakespeare and no one to our knowledge has ever argued to the contrary. On the other hand, every known detail of the application, from the designation “Shakespeare ye Player,” to the “not without right”/”Non sanz droit” motto and Jonson’s parody of the event in his play, casts doubt on the belief that the arms were granted to honor a famous playwright.

3c. In his will, William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon left a bequest “to my ffellowes John Hemynge Richard Burbage & Henry Cundell xxvj s viij d A peece to buy them Ringes.” Heminges, Burbage, and Condell had been fellow actors in the King’s Men with William Shakespeare (see the many records in (2) above), and Heminges and Condell later edited the First Folio, in which they attributed thirty-six plays to their “friend and fellow” William Shakespeare.

Heminges and Condell did nothing of the sort. If the Folio had an editor, the only person capable of performing that service was Ben Jonson. At best Heminges and Condell contributed a pair of dedicatory epistles. Even this, however, has long been questioned by orthodox authorities such as George Steveens, who in the nineteenth century argued that Jonson was the real author of substantial portions of the epistles published as the work of Heminges and Condell.

Oxfordians try to smear this record as a forgery, but it is undoubtedly genuine. (See David Kathman’s essay on Shakespeare’s Will.)

David Kathman’s essay does not really provide substantiation that the interlineation mentioned here is “undoubtedly genuine.” It may be; however, without a detailed census of the drafts of the will, at present the argument is one of assertion only. Even if the bequest is authentic, it merely substantiates a connection between William Shakespeare of Stratford and the King’s Men, to which we have already stipulated, and has no direct bearing on the question of authorship.

3d. Shakespeare bought the Blackfriar’s Gatehouse in London in 1613. On the deed dated 10 March 1613, John Hemmyng, gentleman (also spelled Hemming on the same page) acted as trustee for the buyer, “William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon.” This property is disposed of in Shakespeare’s will.

We agree. This has no bearing on authorship.

So William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon, gentleman, was the actor who performed in the plays in the company for which William Shakespeare wrote plays.

Again, we prefer the following as a more careful reconstruction of the known facts: William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon, gentleman, was the actor who performed in the plays in the company for which “William Shakespeare” wrote plays.

Shakespeare was also a sharer in the syndicate that owned the Globe theater. There were three parties to the agreement: Nicholas Brend, who owned the grounds upon which the Globe was built; Cuthbert and Richard Burbage, who were responsible for half the lease; and five members of the Chamberlain’s Men — William Shakespeare, John Heminges, Augustine Philips, Thomas Pope, and William Kempe — who were responsible for the other half of the lease. Each of these men had a 1/10 share in the profits. The share dropped to 1/12 when Henry Condell and William Sly joined in 1605-08, and dropped to 1/14 in 1611when Ostler came in.

We agree. This has no bearing on authorship but may help to explain how Shakespeare of Stratford made his money.

All the historical evidence ties William Shakespeare of Stratford to the plays bearing his name, as we will now demonstrate.

We disagree that “ALL the historical evidence ties William Shakespeare of Stratford to the plays bearing HIS name.” We will respond point by point.

It may seem like overkill to ask if William Shakespeare the Globe-sharer was the same William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon, gentleman, since all the sharers were obviously members of the acting company. That he was the same man is easily proven by legal documents.

4. William Shakespeare the Globe-sharer was also William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon.

4a. William Shakespeare, the Stratford-born actor, was entitled to append “gentleman” after his name by right of being granted a coat of arms (see 3a above).

We agree. This has no bearing on authorship.

4b. In a mortgage deed of trust dated 7 October 1601 by Nicholas Brend to John Bodley, John Collet, and Matthew Browne, in which Bodley was given control of the Globe playhouse, the Globe is described as being tenanted by “Richard Burbadge and Willm Shackspeare gent.”

We agree. This has no bearing on authorship.

4c. In a deed of trust dated 10 October 1601 by Nicholas Brend to John Bodley, legally tightening up the control of Bodley of the Globe, again the theater is described as being tenanted by “Richard Burbage and William Shakspeare gentlemen.”

We agree. This has no bearing on authorship.

4d. In a deed of sale of John Collet’s interest to John Bodley in 1608, the Globe is once more described as being tenanted by “Richard Burbadge and Willm Shakespeare, gent.”

We agree. This has no bearing on authorship.

(Notice the variation in spelling of Shakespeare’s surname between the three documents, all originating in London. For some reason variants of the name seem to be a major point in the minds of some Oxfordians, but such differences are no more significant than similar variants of Richard Burbage’s name in the same documents. See The Spelling and Pronunciation of Shakespeare’s Name.)

Contrary to Reedy and Kathman’s undocumented assertion, variant spellings of the name are not of major concern to most Oxfordians. But again, it is a historical fact that William Shakespeare of Stratford never signed his name with an E after the K. The significance of this fact remains undetermined; however, we wonder why, if the spelling on the quartos and the folio always includes a middle E, Shakespeare of Stratford never brought his signature into conformity with the printed name.

So now we’ve established that William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon was an actor in the company that performed the plays of William Shakespeare, and was also a sharer in the theater in which the plays were presented. To anyone with a logical mind, it follows that this William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon was also the writer of the plays and poems that bear his name. He is the man with the right name, at the right time, and at the right place.

So far Reedy and Kathman have asserted nothing that supports the claim of authorship. However, they continue to assert at each juncture that Shakespeare of Stratford=the player=the sharer=the playwright. This discrepancy between what has been proven and what is claimed to have been proven indicates a lack of clear thinking on the part of the writers.

In fact, what looks like an enormous amount of evidence in effect boils down to three or four points in section five.
Some of Kathman and Reedy’s arguments, viewed in less blinkered historical perspective than their own, are downright amusing. Particularly amsing is the statement that “He is the man with the right name, at the right time, and at the right place.” Consider the following account of the strategies employed by Hollywood writers to circumvent the effects of blacklisting during the McCarthy era, from Alex McNeil’s article “What’s in a Nym?” published in the Winter 2003 issue (2:2) of Shakespeare Matters:

Some used pseudonyms, some collaborated with another writer (who would get the sole on-screen credit but would presumably share the paycheck), some worked anonymously (e.g., rewriting a script submitted by a first writer, who would get sole credit), and some used “front men”–real persons who held themselves out as the ostensible authors of material written by the blacklisted writers.[13]

In a footnote, citing his source Tender Comrades: A Back Story of the Hollywood Blacklist (St. Martin’s Press, 1997), McNeil provides the following detail: “Writer Ernest Kinoy served as the ‘front’ for blacklisted writer Millard Lampell while both wrote for the 1954 TV series The Marriage. Blacklisted writer Robert Lees wrote scripts for Lassie using as a front a non-writer friend, Seymour Kern, and letting the front keep 10% of the fees. Kern backed out after a year because he ‘couldn’t take being complimented by his family and friends for work he didn’t do.’ Lees then coined a pseudonym, J. E. Selby.”[14]

If Seymour Kern’s own family believed he was the writer of scripts actually authored by Robert Lees, why is it surprising that many “eye-witnesses” in Elizabethan London were fooled into believing that Shakespeare of Stratford was the writer of plays actually authored by the Earl of Oxford? Clearly front men such as Kern could be described as having the right name, at the right time, and at the right place. In fact, it was their job to be all these things. That is what made them effective in their role as surrogate authors.

Now, it is true that there exists no play or poem attributed to “William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon.” The name on the works is “William Shakespeare.” There also exists no comparable attribution for virtually any of Shakespeare’s contemporaries, the only exceptions being some cases where some ambiguity might exist, such as “John Davies of Hereford” and “William Drummond of Hawthornden.”

The absence of such an attribution has never been the basis for the tradition of doubt regarding the attribution of the works.

But his contemporaries knew who he was, and there was never any doubt in the minds of those who knew him. Following is the most important evidence of this.

How do Kathman and Reedy know what Elizabethan persons, dead for four hundred years, “knew”?

Far from having any such definitive knowledge, Reedy and Kathman have so far presented absolutely no evidence so that could prove to a logical or legal standard of proof that William Shakespeare of Stratford was the author of the canon. The circumstantial evidence they have cited can just as easily be explained by the Oxfordian premise that their alleged author was “the right man, at the right time, in the right place,” to serve as the most effective surrogate for a concealed author who wished — as he says he does in the Sonnets — to remain anonymous.

Section Five, Point by Point

5. William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon, the actor and Globe-sharer, was the playwright and poet William Shakespeare.

5a. Around 1601, students in Cambridge put on a play called The Second Part of the Return from Parnassus, the third in a series of plays that satirized the London literary scene. In this play, two characters named “Kempe” and “Burbage” appear, representing the actors Will Kempe and Richard Burbage of the Chamberlain’s Men. At one point Kempe says,

Few of the university [men] pen plays well, they smell too much of that writer Ovid, and that writer Metamorphosis, and talk too much of Proserpina and Jupiter. Why, here’s our fellow Shakespeare puts them all down, aye and Ben Jonson too. O that Ben Jonson is a pestilent fellow, he brought up Horace giving the poets a pill, but our fellow Shakespeare hath given him a purge that made him bewray his credit.

This passage establishes that the playwright Shakespeare was a fellow actor of Kempe and Burbage, contrasts him with the University-educated playwrights, and establishes him as a rival of Ben Jonson.

The Parnassus Plays are among the most interesting and revealing documents of the Elizabethan and early Jacobean literary scene. However, unlike Reedy and Kathman, we don’t believe that this or other references to Shakespeare in these plays can be taken at face value. Among other things, the plays are an extended parody on the gullibility of theatrical audiences. Reedy and Kathman’s own witness in this passage, less than two lines before mentioning the name “Shakespeare,” refers to “that writer Metamorphosis.” His inability to distinguish between Ovid, the author and Metamorphosis (sic), that author’s work, does not inspire confidence in the writer’s misplaced belief in the transparency of the scene with regard to the question of authorship. It is also not entirely clear whether the character is speaking of Shakespeare of Stratford or Shakespeare the author, whomever he might be.

5b. In 1610, John Davies of Hereford published a volume entitled The Scourge of Folly, consisting mostly of poems to famous people and Davies’s friends. One of these poems was addressed to Shakespeare:

To our English Terence, Mr. Will. Shake-speare.
Some say (good Will) which I, in sport, do sing,
Had’st thou not plaid some Kingly parts in sport,
Thou hadst bin a companion for a King;
And, beene a King among the meaner sort.
Some others raile; but, raile as they thinke fit,
Thou hast no railing, but a raigning Wit:
And honesty thou sow’st, which they do reape;
So, to increase their Stocke which they do keepe.

 Reedy and Kathman fail to mention what many scholars regard as the most obvious reason why Davies might refer to Shakespeare as “our English Terence.” Terence was widely believed in Renaissance times to have been a front man for the aristocratic writers Laelius and Scipio. The truth of this proposition is irrelevant; most classical scholars now believe the tradition to be untrue. However, within the period authorities such as Michel de Montaigne and Roger Ascham both endorsed the belief.[15]

Terence was an ancient Roman playwright who came from humble origins, just like Shakespeare.

According To Reedy and Kathman’s previous argument, Shakespeare of Stratford did not come from humble origins. In their introduction, they state that Shakespeare’s father was a landowner and a burgess of Stratford, and his mother was the daughter of an affluent landowner of Wilmcote. Terence, on the other hand, was, like Aesop, a slave. Apparently, to Reedy and Kathman “humble” is a synonym for “non-aristocratic.” We prefer a more sociologically empirical approach.

This is a very interesting poem, not only because Davies compares Shakespeare to Terence, but also because the stanzas can easily be interpreted as simultaneously being about both Shakespeare of Stratford and the Earl of Oxford. Instead of attempting a literary analysis of the poem, Reedy and Kathman pretend the meaning is unambiguous and transparent. We disagree with this assumption. So do E. K. Chambers and Samuel Schoenbaum, who according to Richard Whalen both refer to it as “cryptic.” [16]

Davies’s references to “playing” parts “in sport” refer to acting, and his repeated references to “kings” is a play on the name of the King’s Men; the only other poems in the volume that similarly play on “king” are those to Robert Armin and William Ostler, also members of the King’s Men, and the poem to Armin also refers to playing “in sport.” Incidentally, this poem is demonstrably not addressed to the Earl of Oxford in any kind of disguise, since it is addressed in the present tense to a living person, and Oxford had been dead for six years. (See Why I’m Not an Oxfordian for details.)

See above. Also, with regard to the poem being in the present tense and therefore not applicable to Oxford, we would contend that

a) it is not clear when the poem was written, only when it was published (1610) and

b) poets often refer to the dead in the present tense. Note that Jonson’s poem, “To the memory of my beloved, The Author, Mr. William Shakespeare, and what he hath left us,” is almost entirely in the present tense although published in 1623 and clearly written after the death of the author, whoever he was.

5c. In 1615 Edmund Howes published a list of “Our moderne, and present excellent Poets” in John Stow’s Annales. He lists the poets “according to their priorities (social rank) as neere I could,” with Knights listed first, followed by gentlemen. In the middle of the 27 listed, number 13 is “M. Willi. Shakespeare gentleman.”

This is just repeating the “evidence” of the quartos.

5d. Some time between 1616 and 1623, William Basse wrote an elegy entitled “On Mr. Wm. Shakespeare,” in which he suggests that Shakespeare should have been buried in Westminster Abbey next to Chaucer, Beaumont, and Spenser:

Renowned Spenser, lie a thought more nigh
To learned Chaucer, and rare Beaumont lie
A little nearer Spenser to make room
For Shakespeare in your threefold, fourfold tomb.
To lodge all four in one bed make a shift
Until Doomsday, for hardly will a fifth
Betwixt this day and that by fate be slain
For whom your curtains may be drawn again.
If your precedency in death doth bar
A fourth place in your sacred sepulcher,
Under this carved marble of thine own
Sleep rare tragedian Shakespeare, sleep alone,
Thy unmolested peace, unshared cave,
Possess as lord not tenant of thy grave,
That unto us and others it may be
Honor hereafter to be laid by thee.

And this begs a rather important question: why wasn’t he? It is not clear from the text of the poem which “Shakespeare” Basse is referring to. There is also an interesting play on the word lie. Both Spenser and Beaumont would have to “lie nearer,” and in fact Spenser would be obliged to “lie a thought more nigh,” in order for Shakespeare to be buried in their fourfold tomb. The line “Possess as lord not tenant of thy grave” also strikes us as interesting and possibly indicative of the poet’s awareness of the prevailing tendency to attribute the works of the lord to the tenant. This is another poem which deserves closer scrutiny and literary analysis especially as there appears to be contradiction within the text (Lines 6 and 7 do not appear to agree with lines 15 and 16).

Interestingly, according to the Dictionary of National Biography, Basse had clear connections with the Earl of Oxford’s family. He was a retainer in the Norris family, headed by Francis, Lord Norris, later Earl of Berkshire, and husband of Bridget de Vere, Oxford’s second daughter. [17]

This poem circulated very widely in manuscript, and it survives today in more than two dozen copies. Several of these have the full title “On Mr. William Shakespeare, he died in April 1616,” which means they were unambiguously referring to the Stratford William Shakespeare.

We would like to see a complete census of all the copies. Unless an original in Basse’s own hand attests to this inscription, its presence on derivative copies is meaningless as evidence for Basse’s intent. If it is written in Basse’s own hand, that would indicate that the poem was written from an orthodox perspective, and would invalidate our interpretation. Jonathan Bate[18] suggests that Basse made a pilgrimage to Stratford before writing “On Mr. Wm. Shakespeare.” If true, this interpretation would seem to imply that Basse’s knowledge of the subject was derivative of the Stratford Monument.

In any case, the poem could not be referring to the Earl of Oxford. It was written no earlier than 1616 (12 years after Oxford’s death), since it refers to the death of Beaumont, which happened in March 1616, and it was certainly in existence by the time of the First Folio in 1623, since Ben Jonson’s eulogy alludes directly to Basse’s, and responds to it.

We agree that Ben Jonson’s poem alludes to Basse’s, and also that Basse’s poem was clearly written some time after 1616. We do not agree that either of these facts in itself precludes the possibility of Basse’s reference to an authorship question involving the Earl of Oxford. We have an open mind regarding the best interpretation of the poem and will study it further, together with “Lines on the Tombs in Westminster,” attributed to Basse and Beaumont.

5e. Some time before 1623, a monument was erected to William Shakespeare in Stratford, depicting him as a writer. Antistratfordians desperately try to discredit this evidence by any means possible, but their efforts are misguided and futile. (See The Stratford Monument, and 5i-k below.) From the 1620s on, the monument was consistently seen as representing William Shakespeare, the famous poet.

We have already stipulated to the monument as prima facie evidence in support of the traditional view. It is simply not true that “Antistratfordians (sic) desperately try to discredit this evidence by any means possible.” As we have already stated, the monument is clear proof of one of two scenarios: either the traditional view of authorship is correct, or a concerted effort was made during the opening decades of the Jacobean period to perpetuate a long-lasting literary hoax. For various reasons discussed elsewhere on this site and in the literature of the authorship question, we prefer the second interpretation.

5f. In the First Folio, John Heminges and Henry Condell said they published the Folio “onely to keepe the memory of so worthy a Friend, & Fellow alive, as was our Shakespeare, by humble offer of his playes.” Heminges and Condell had been fellow actors with William Shakespeare in the King’s Men for many years, and had been remembered in his will.

The question of the alleged role of Heminges and Condell in the first folio is a complicated one requiring a detailed examination which falls outside the scope of the present response.

5g. In the same volume, Ben Jonson wrote a poem “To the memory of my beloved, The Author Mr. William Shakespeare,” in which he says,

Sweet Swan of Avon! what a sight it were
To see thee in our waters yet appeare,
And make those flights upon the bankes of Thames,
That so did take Eliza, and our James!

Here not only does Jonson tie the author to William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon, but he puts him in James I’s court.

This is a terrifically strained interpretation. Reedy and Kathman are trying to force the lines of the poem to mean what they wish it to. It seems improbable that the line “And make those flights upon the bankes of Thames” literally means that William Shakespeare of Stratford was at court and was known to Elizabeth and James I. If he was, it is strange that no direct evidence to this effect survives (unlike the case for Ben Jonson and other prominent literary figures of the day). It is more likely that the plays and poetry were known to Elizabeth and James I; however, if one were to make the case that the line actually places “Shakespeare” in the court of Elizabeth and then James, it would be much more probable that Jonson was referring to Oxford, who was present at Elizabeth’s court and corresponded with James. Despite what Reedy and Kathman say below, it is our contention that “Sweet Swan of Avon” may refer to Oxford (as well as to Shakespeare of Stratford, as in Davies’ poem) because Oxford did own Bilton Hall in Warwickshire. At that time it appears that Bilton was on the banks of the Avon.

(See 2c and 2d above.) Oxfordians sometimes attempt to claim that this evidence could apply to Oxford by asserting that Oxford owned an estate on the Avon river. While it’s true that one of the many estates Oxford inherited from his father was at Bilton on the Avon river, he sold this estate in 1580 (43 years before Jonson’s poem), and there is no evidence that he was ever physically present there.

Oxford inherited Bilton Hall from his maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Trussel, who brought the property with her when she married the 15th Earl of Oxford. Reedy and Kathman cite no source for their claim that Oxford sold the estate in 1580. Actually, the records regarding of the disposition of Bilton are contradictory. The Victoria History of the County of Warwickshire, as cited by Charlton Ogburn states of the property that “in 1574, Edward, Earl of Oxford, leased it to John, Lord Darcy, and in 1580 he sold it to John Shuckburgh, who immediately leased it to Edward Cordell.” Dugdale’s Antiquities of Warwickshire, on the other hand, places the alienation “towards the latter end of Qu. Eliz. reign” — which cannot possibly be a description of 1580. If correct, Dugdale places the alienation sometime in the 1590s and would make Bilton “one of the last properties that Oxford relinquished.”[19]

Based on Dugdale’s account, and his own knowledge of Oxford’s finances, Charles Wisner Barrell speculates that the date of sale was 1592. Regardless of whether the alienation took place in 1580 or later, the assumption that Oxford’s connection with the property ended when Shuckburgh became the legal owner is not necessarily a secure one. Elizabethan property arrangements, particularly among the upper classes, were notably more fluid than they are today. Moreover, as Barrell comments in his article, to this very day the manor at Bilton appears to preserve a symbolic connection to the de Vere family: “The portico of the house bears the insignia of a single star. Later photographs of the entrance show this star design much more clearly. This is good evidence that the house was once the private residence of an Earl of Oxford, for the single silver “mullet” or star was an armorial device borne by all Vere members of the Tudor nobility.”[20] Is this the de Vere heraldic star? If so, it would indicate a close, enduring and well-known connection between the property and the de Vere family.

In any case, the date of sale is in a sense a red herring. That there was a property at one time owned by the Earl of Oxford on the Avon River makes it perfectly feasible for Jonson to have used this information, possibly in a covert fashion, in his poem.

Also, only three and a half miles from Stratford-upon-Avon, another Trussell property, Billesley Hall, preserves an oral tradition that As You Like It was written in the “Shakespeare Room.” Although it has been impossible to substantiate the theory that Billesley actually fell into Oxford’s possession, it had been by the 1580s owned for more than four hundred years by the Trussell family, according to Charlton Ogburn. [21] Is it a coincidence that Oxford has such distinct ties to Warwickshire environs associated with the Shakespeare legend? We think it unlikely to be a mere coincidence.

5h. Also in the Folio, Leonard Digges wrote an elegy “To the Memorie of the deceased Authour Maister W. Shakespeare,” in which he refers to “thy Stratford Moniment.” Digges presumably knew what he was talking about; he was the stepson of William Shakespeare’s friend Thomas Russell, and had close ties to Stratford for most of his life. The only surviving letter by him, written a few years before his death, contains gossip of the “mad relations of Stratford,” including Thomas Combe, to whom William Shakespeare had left his ceremonial sword in his will.

This fact is well known. It is unfortunate for Stratfordians, given the allegedly close association between Digges and Shakespeare of Stratford, that none of his surviving correspondence can be cited to verify the relationship.

5i. In a copy of the First Folio now at the Folger Shakespeare Library, the following poem is written in a hybrid secretary-italic hand from the 1620s:

Here Shakespeare lies whom none but Death could Shake,
And here shall lie till judgement all awake,
When the last trumpet doth unclose his eyes,
The wittiest poet in the world shall rise.

The same hand has on the same page transcribed the verses from Shakespeare’s monument (“Stay passenger why go’st thou by so fast”) and his grave (“Good friend for Jesus’ sake forbear”), so he is obviously referring to William Shakespeare of Stratford. Apparently, somebody went to Stratford and transcribed the poems off the monument and the tombstone, then transcribed them into a copy of the First Folio along with another epitaph. This writer seems not only to have believed that the man buried in Stratford was the author of the First Folio, but that he was “the wittiest poet in the world.”

The material in 5i is merely derivative of the monument (and the First Folio). As we have stated above, Shakespeare of Stratford was believed by many to be the bard, just as Seymour Kern in the 1950s was believed by many, including his own family, to be the writer of the Lassie episodes bearing his name.

5j. In 1630 an anonymous volume was published, entitled A Banquet of Jeasts or Change of Cheare. Jest no. 259 in this volume is as follows:

One travelling through Stratford upon Avon, a Towne most remarkeable for the birth of famous William Shakespeare, and walking in the Church to doe his devotion, espyed a thing there worthy observation, which was a tombestone laid more that three hundred years agoe, on which was ingraven an Epitaph to this purpose, I Thomas such a one, and Elizabeth my wife here under lye buried, and know Reader I. R. C. and I. Chrystoph. Q. are alive at this houre to witnesse it.

This jest implies that the writer had been in the Stratford church, and that he believed that the William Shakespeare born there was “famous”; indeed, not yet 15 years after Shakespeare’s death, he was apparently the town’s main claim to fame. True, the writer does not explicitly say that Shakespeare was famous as a poet, but it is difficult to see why a grain dealer would bring such fame to his home town.

See above. This writer believes what he was expected to believe, namely that William Shakespeare of Stratford was a famous author. It does not mean, however, that William Shakespeare was the author.

5k. In 1634 a military company of Norwich was travelling through the English countryside. One Lieutenant Hammond of the company kept a diary of what he encountered during his travels, and on or about September 9 he made the following entry:

In that dayes travell we came by Stratford upon Avon, where in the Church in that Towne there are some Monuments which Church was built by Archbishop Stratford; Those worth observing and of which wee tooke notice were these… A neat Monument of that famous English Poet, Mr. William Shakespeere; who was borne heere. And one of an old Gentleman a Batchelor, Mr. Combe, upon whose name, the sayd Poet, did merrily fann up some witty, and facetious verses, which time would nott give us leave to sacke up.

Hammond, writing 11 years after the First Folio and 12-18 years after the erection of the monument, explicitly says that the monument is for “that famous English Poet, Mr. William Shakespeere, who was borne heere.”

Once again this evidence merely shows that people read the prefatory materials in the First Folio and saw the monument and came to the not unnatural conclusion that William Shakespeare of Stratford was the author of the canon. Clearly this is what the architects of those two projects wanted the unwary to believe, although both contain clues supporting a contrary conclusion.

5l. In 1638, Sir William Davenant’s Madagascar contained the following poem, entitled “In Remembrance of Master William Shakespeare.”

Beware (delighted Poets!) when you sing
To welcome Nature in the early Spring;
Your num’rous Feet not tread
The Banks of Avon; for each Flowre
(As it nere knew a Sunne or Showre)
Hangs there, the pensive head.
Each Tree, whose thick, and spreading growth hath made,
Rather a Night beneath the Boughs, than Shade,
(Unwilling now to grow)
Looks like the Plume a Captain weares,
Whose rifled Falls are steept i’th teares
Which from his last rage flow.
The piteous River wept it selfe away
Long since (Alas!) to such a swift decay;
That read the Map; and looke
If you a River there can spie;
And for a River your mock’d Eie,
Will find a shallow Brooke.

In this poem, Davenant specifically associates the poet Shakespeare with the Avon river, like Jonson in his First Folio poem, and also calls him “Master,” as befitting William Shakespeare’s social position.

See our previous comment on this poem, and note that poets are warned NOT to tread the banks of the Avon. These ambiguities apparently fail to trouble Mr. Reedy and Dr. Kathman.

This testimony deserves to be taken seriously, because significant evidence indicates that William Shakespeare was a friend of the Davenant family. William (1606-1668) used to hint that he was Shakespeare’s bastard son; several independent 17th-century sources report that Shakespeare used to stay at the Davenants’ tavern in Oxford on his journeys between Stratford and London; William’s brother Robert Davenant personally told John Aubrey that “Mr. William Shakespeare here gave him a hundred kisses” during these visits.

We are not convinced that the statement above has any connection to authorship. athough the reference to the “hundred kisses” is a provocative one.

5m. The 1640 edition of Shakespeare’s poems, published by John Benson, contains a poem entitled “An Elegie on the death of that famous Writer and Actor, M. William Shakespeare.” The same volume contains William Basse’s poem from 5d above, entitled “On the death of William Shakespeare, who died in Aprill, Anno. Dom. 1616.”

Again, this material appears to be derivative of the monument and the First Folio and other previous publications. We will discuss the 1640 edition of Shakespeare’s poems as time permits.

5n. Sir Richard Baker, a contemporary of Shakespeare and a friend of John Donne, published Chronicle of the Kings of England in 1643. Sir Richard was a avid fan of the theater, also writing Theatrum Redivium, or the Theatre Vindicated. In the Chronicle, for Elizabeth’s reign he notes statesmen, seamen, and soldiers, and literary figures who are mostly theologians with the exception of Sidney. In conclusion he says,

After such men, it might be thought ridiculous to speak of Stage-players; but seeing excellency in the meanest things deserves remembering . . . For writers of Playes, and such as had been Players theselves, William Shakespeare and Benjamin Jonson, have specially left their Names recommended to Posterity.

It is interesting to note how selective R and K are in their survey of 17th century literary memoranda. A number of early literary historians such as Henry Peacham (who is the only Stuart literary historian for whom a definite connection with “Shakespeare” can be established) omit naming Shakespeare at all in their surveys. Peacham adds the Earl of Oxford.

Conclusion, Point by Point

How do we know that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare? We know because the historical record tell us so, strongly and unequivocally. The historical evidence demonstrates that one and the same man, William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon, was William Shakespeare the player, William Shakespeare the Globe-sharer, and William Shakespeare the author of the plays and poems that bear his name — and

It seems tendentious to need to point out, once again, that there is no way that Reedy and Kathman can prove the assertion that “no person of the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras ever doubted the attribution.” Indeed, the claim smacks of insecure bombast. A significant trail of literary doubts regarding the attribution can in fact be traced all the way back into the Elizabethan era, according to literary scholars such as Charlton Ogburn. [22]

No Elizabethan ever suggested that Shakespeare’s plays and poems were written by someone else, or that Shakespeare the player was not Shakespeare the author, or that Shakespeare the Globe-sharer was not Shakespeare of Stratford.

In this statement Reedy and Kathman claim to have conducted a census of every person who lived during Elizabeth’s reign. Again, there is no way that they can prove this assertion; considerable evidence from the period in fact suggests that contemporaries did doubt the ascribed authorship, but they communicated their doubts only through innuendo and symbolism.

No contemporary of Shakespeare’s ever suggested that the name used by the player, the Globe-sharer, or the author was a pseudonym; and none of the major alternative candidates — not Francis Bacon, not the Earl of Oxford, not Christopher Marlowe — had any connection with Shakespeare’s acting company or with his friends and fellow actors.

Again, there is no way that Reedy and Kathman can prove these assertions. It would be helpful if they asked Oxfordians what the evidence IS for the early existence of an authorship question, at which time we would be happy to respond to them.

Antistratfordians must rely solely upon speculation about what they think the “real” author should have been like, because they cannot produce one historical fact to bolster their refusal to accept who that author actually was. No matter how they try to ignore it or explain it away, the historical record — all of it — establishes William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon as the author of the works traditionally attributed to him.

My, my, my. Not “one historical fact”? This is over-reaching with a vengeance.

Anti-stratfordians consistently endorse the otherwise universally accepted premise that there is an intelligible connection between the life of a writer and that writer’s literary production. Reedy and Kathman have failed to confront the fundamental problem which gave rise to the anti-Stratfordian tradition: that the literary work published under the name “Shakespeare” cannot be plausibly connected with the life of William Shakespeare of Stratford. “I am one of the many,” wrote W. H. Furness, the father of W.W. Furness, the editor of the second Variorum Shakespeare, “who has never been able to bring the life of William Shakspere and the plays of Shakespeare within planetary space of each other. Are there any two things in the world more incongruous?”

Indeed, the more that is learned about the man from Stratford, the less compatible his life appears with regard to the works. For example, Reedy and Kathman make a very big deal, and justly so, out of the mercantile success of William of Stratford. Tradition identifies him as the wealthiest landowner in Statford-upon-Avon at his death in 1616. How can one possibly reconcile this fact with the record of the plays? As J. T. Looney indicated as early as 1920: “[In Shakespeare] almost every reference to money and purses is of the loosest description, and, by implication teaches an improvidence that would soon involve any man’s financial affairs in complete chaos” (98). For further discussion by Looney of this critical question, please consult the text of his book, Shakespeare Identified.

Here are some historical facts which Mr. Reedy and Dr. Kathman have failed to consider or share with readers in their essay:
Shakespeare of Stratford

1. May not have gone to school and definitely did not go to university or the Inns of Court;
2. was not demonstrably able to write more than his own name and may not have been able to do that;
3. did not educate his own children;
4. had no demonstrable source of knowledge about Italy;
5. had no demonstrable source of knowledge about the rest of continental Europe;
6. had no demonstrable source of knowledge of seafaring;
7. had no demonstrable training in the law;
8. was unlikely to have written from an aristocratic perspective;
9. was financially successful (see above);
10. apparently made no objection when the sonnets were published in 1609, even though they revealed the deepest personal secrets of the author;
11. did not have his name “buried where [his] body [was]” (sonnets 71 and 72);
12. would have been prohibited by his station in life from carrying the canopy (sonnet 125);
13. had no demonstrable association with the Earl of Southampton;
14. cannot be proven to have ever owned or had access to a book;
15. as far as we know was not lame (sonnets 37 and 89);
16. as far as we know never said of himself: “I am that I am.” (sonnet 121);
17. did not contribute or receive (in his own extended and supposedly productive literary lifetime) a single line of dedicatory verse;
18. left no letters or manuscripts in his own hand;
19. was not mentioned as a writer by his son-in-law Dr. John Hall in his diaries;
20. had no documented association with John Lyly, Anthony Munday, Christopher Marlowe, Edmund Spenser or any other literary figure of the Elizabethan or Jacobean periods, with the possible exception of Ben Jonson.

N.B. The only two “Shakespearean” extant play manuscripts of the 16th century are in the handwriting of Henry Peacham and (mostly) Anthony Munday. Neither of these two individuals can be connected in any way with Shakespeare of Stratford, while Munday was a servant of the Earl of Oxford and Peacham lists Oxford first among the writers of the Elizabethan reign (while failing to mention Shakespeare at all) in his 1622 volume The Compleat Gentleman.

[1] Chambers, E.K.. William Shakespeare: A Study of Facts and Problems. Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, 1930, 2:73.
[2] For an introduction to this problem, see Looney, “Shakespeare” Identified as Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. London: Cecil Palmer, 1920. The case has been updated, most thoroughly, by Charlton Ogburn in The Mysterious William Shakespeare: The Myth and the Reality. Maclean, VA.: EPM Publications, 1991.
[3] Greenwood, George. Is There a Shakespeare Problem? London: John Lane at the Bodley Head, 1916, 569-570.
[4] As cited by Greenwood, ibid., 569.
[5] Barrell, Charles Wisner. “Elizabethan Mystery Man,” Saturday Review of Literature, May 1, 1937.
[6] Stritmatter, Roger. “A Law Case in Verse: Venus and Adonis and the Authorship Question,” University of Tennessee Law Review. Forthcoming 9/04.
[7] On the folio as a ruse, see Ogburn, op. cit., 222-236.
[8] Thomas Fuller.
[9] Ward, B.M.. The Seventeenth Earl of Oxford From Contemporary Documents. London: John Murray, 1928, 158.
[10] Chambers, op. cit., 2:24. Earlier in his study Chambers, no doubt sensing the danger of admitting that Sogliardo is a parody of Shakespeare, backs away from this idea: “Sogliardo’s motto seems to glance at Shakspeare’s, although the coat does not resemble his, and obviously Sogliardo, described as ‘an essential clown’, who ‘comes up every tearm to learn to take Tabacco and see new Motions’, is not a ‘portrait’ of Shakespeare” (1:202). As much as we admire Chambers’ fastitidious work, to us it is by no means “obvious” that the portrait is not an intentional and brilliant satire of the man whom posterity has mistaken for a literary genius but was in fact, in Jonson’s eyes, apparently an “essential clown.”
[11] Miller, Ruth Loyd. “Shakespeare” Identified. 3rd Edition. Kennikat Press, 1976, 2:46.
[12] Miller, Ibid., 2:46.
[13] McNeil, Alex. “What’s In a Nym,” Shakespeare Matters 2:2 (Winter 2003), 16-20.
[14] McNeil, ibid., 20.
[15] See Price, Diana. Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Biography: New Evidence of an Authorship Problem. Westport, Ct.: Greenwood, 2001.
[16] Whalen, Richard SOS Newsletter Winter 2000.
[17] Miller, Ruth Loyd. op. cit. II: 31-36.
[18] “Scenes from the Birth of a Myth and the Death of a Dramatist,” in Nolen, Stephanie (ed), Shakespeare’s Face. Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 2002, 111.
[19] Ogburn, op. cit., 714.
[20] Barrell, Charles Wisner. “‘Shake-speare’s’ Unknown Home On the River Avon Discovered Edward De Vere’s Ownership of a Famous Warwickshire Literary Retreat Indicates Him As the True ‘Sweet Swan of Avon,'” originally published in the Shakespeare Fellowship Newsletter, December 1942. Cited 9/12/04 from http://www.sourcetext.com/sourcebook/library/barrell/06avon.htm.
[21] Ogburn, op. cit., 714.

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