On Monday, Shakespeare Authorship Coalition chairperson John Shahan released a 14-minute video deconstructing the “ridiculous clothes” worn by Shakespeare in the First Folio portrait. Shahan and Malcolm Blackmoor of England’s De Vere Society produced a video professionally narrated by actress Debbie Radcliffe on the topic of “Shakespeare’s Impossible Doublet.”
They based their video on work done by authorship researcher John Rollett, who passed away October 31, 2015 in Ipswich, England.
“I was shocked and saddened to learn that John Rollett died shortly after the impossible-doublet video was finished,” Shahan said. “John was a prolific researcher who made many outstanding contributions to the authorship debate for which he will be remembered — and this is one of the most important.”
Shahan explained how the video was created.
John Rollett’s analysis was first published in Brief Chronicles, Volume 2 (2010), with the title “Shakespeare’s Impossible Doublet: Droeshout’s Engraving Anatomized.”
John and I were friends, and he had shared [the article] with me, asked me to comment on it, and asked where he might be able to get it published. I immediately recognized its importance and recommended that he try to publish it in one of the two Oxfordian scholarly journals, which he did.
Then, in 2013, [Rollett] contributed a revised version that appears as “Chapter 10: Shakespeare’s Impossible Doublet” in the book Shakespeare Beyond Doubt? — Exposing an Industry in Denial co-edited by me and Alexander Waugh. That chapter is a revised version of the original article, but largely the same.
Then in April of this year Rollett published his book William Stanley as Shakespeare: Evidence of Authorship by the Sixth Earl of Derby (McFarland, 2015). Chapters two and three present much the same version as in Shakespeare Beyond Doubt?.
I ended up writing the script, working from Rollett’s description of the analysis. I thought it could be simplified and improved and that its implications for the authorship controversy should be spelled out.
John provided the images used in the video, and I simplified the captions to make them easier to read. John and I collaborated on all of this, so it was very much a joint effort. He approved everything.
When asked why he decided to take the step of committing the research to video, Shahan said the content demanded a graphic presentation.
The way the video came about is I was working on a document describing breakthroughs in our understanding of the First Folio, and it included a description of [Rollett’s] “Impossible Doublet” analysis. The problem is that, unlike some of the other [arguments], one must visualize it to understand it.
We were planning to do videos as part of the project anyway, so it occurred to me that we might try doing a separate one on the “Impossible Doublet.” John contacted Malcolm Blackmoor of the DeVere Society, and he agreed to help. Malcolm has TV and film contacts, so he organized the production. All of the people he involved did an excellent job. We couldn’t have done it without Malcolm.
I must admit that I wasn’t at all sure we would end up with anything useable, but they exceeded my expectations.
For more information:
In 2013 William Niederkorn reviewed John Rollett’s precursor to this year’s William Stanley . . . — Rollett’s 2011 monograph, Shakespeare Lost and Found. Niederkorn’s review was published in the Feb. 5, 2013 edition of The Brooklyn Rail under the title, “Shake-Speare Fission”.