“The ‘Post-Truth World’ of Sir Jonathan Bate,” a point-by-point rebuttal by Steven Steinburg of many of the arguments made by Sir Jonathan Bate on the Shakespeare Authorship Question in his September 21, 2017 debate with Alexander Waugh, is now available on the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship’s website.
Skeptics of the traditional Stratfordian theory who witnessed the debate were much impressed by Oxfordian Alexander Waugh’s command of the facts, his quick wit, and his ability to counter many of Jonathan Bate’s arguments. Unfortunately, the debate format did not allow enough time for anyone to respond fully to each and every argument made by Bate in his initial 15-minute opening statement and in his responses to questions. (The debate video is viewable online here.)
Thankfully, Oxfordian Steven Steinburg, author of I Come to Bury Shakspere, has taken the time to create a stinging 16,000-word dissection of the performance of Sir Jonathan Bate, who defended the traditional theory that the man from Stratford wrote the works of Shakespeare. Steinburg’s article takes Bate to task for his use of ad hominem attacks against Waugh in particular and Stratford doubters in general; for implying that doubters are closed-minded when he himself is closed-minded; and for giving lip-service to “fact-based evidence” while adducing abundant “evidence” based on non-facts.
For example, Steinburg challenges Bate’s assertions, among others, that the bequests to fellow actors in Shakspere’s will were not interlineations (or “interleavings” as Bate incorrectly calls them); that the monument in the Stratford church originally showed Shakspere with a pen and paper; that Shakspere acted in half a dozen plays of Ben Jonson; that Shakspere’s handwriting is found in the manuscript of a play on the life of Sir Thomas More; that the dedications to Venus and Adonis and Lucrece are “letters” from Shakspere; that Shakespeare’s works show a lack of knowledge of how aristocratic households operated; that Shakespeare had to be from a rural area; that Shakespeare started saying “Britain” instead of “England” in his plays to please King James; that we know Shakespeare collaborated with John Fletcher because Shakespeare said “you” and Fletcher said “ye”; that we know which scenes from Titus Andronicus were written by Shakespeare and which by George Peele because Shakespeare said “brothers” and Peele said “brethren”; that the term “linguistic fingerprints” has any intelligible meaning; that mentions of the counties of Warwickshire and Gloucestershire in the plays show that they were written by the Stratford man; that Shakspere had a Welsh schoolmaster at the Stratford Grammar School who is depicted in Merry Wives of Windsor; and that the Sonnets are mere technical exercises. Steinburg’s critique applies scathing scrutiny to each of Bate’s claims.
In summarizing, Steinburg says, “if I had to choose two words to characterize Bate’s performance, I would call it ‘sloppy’ and ‘weak’. He demonstrated that ‘professional Shakespeare scholarship’ is a myth, and not a very credible one.” He also notes: “Bate’s performance raises serious concerns about his judgment, competence, and scholarly standards. To be clear, I do not accuse Bate of willful dishonesty. I do accuse him of inadvertent dishonesty and astounding self-deception.”
But don’t take our word for it. You can read the complete article on the SOF website.