Independent Oxfordian researcher John Shahan has agreed to allow SOS to publish his letter to the Telegraph regarding their August 9, 2009 article on the possible opening of Fulke Greville’s tomb.
Re: David Harrison’s article, “Tomb Search Could End Riddle of Shakespeare’s Identity,” in the Sunday Telegraph, August 8, 2009
The proposed tomb search of Fulke Greville’s tomb at St. Mary’s church depends on the credibility of historian AWL Saunders, and there’s reason to doubt his credibility. On the first page of the preface (ix) of The Master of Shakespeare (MoS Publishing, 2007), the book in which Saunders puts forth Greville as the author of Shakespeare’s works, he places great emphasis on the stylometric results of Professors Ward E. Y. Elliott and Robert Valenza at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California. He also calls special attention to “Elliott and Valenza’s Results” at his website: http://www.masterofshakespeare.com/elliott_valenza.htm (Note that he gives no results.)
The problem is that Elliott and Valenza themselves disagree! This undermines Saunders’ entire case, since he chose to place such emphasis on it, and it is totally false. Saunders’ claims are based on an early report of Elliott and Valenza’s results back in 1990, but shortly afterward they reported more definitive results eliminating Greville. Ever since the early 1990s, Elliott and Valenza have consistently said that their stylometric results have ruled out all alternative authorship candidates, including Greville.
As a Claremont resident myself, and being familiar with E&V’s work (having written three articles on it), I emailed Ward Elliott in 2007 to ask if he agreed that his results support Greville, and whether Saunders had consulted him and Valenza before going public with his claims. Elliott replied that, “Greville’s Caelica was a Shakespeare ‘could be’ on one test in 1990, but it was later rejected on several other [tests], and is not a likely Shakespeare work.” He said that Saunders had not consulted them.
It was at least irresponsible for Saunders to give Elliott and Valenza’s work so much prominence, claiming it as the basis of their discovery of Greville as Shakespeare, and suggesting in 2007 that these seventeen-year-old results still stood, without ever consulting E&V, and ignoring all of the contrary findings in their subsequent work. How can a so-called scholar who is so careless about checking his claims (and this is not a minor claim on some peripheral point) be trusted to get it right elsewhere? I’m frankly amazed that Saunders is still being taken seriously two years after he published his book. It makes one wonder whether anyone ever checks facts anymore.
I believe that this should be brought to the attention of your readers, and also to those at St. Mary’s church who will be making the decision about the proposed search.