Not long out of high school, while watching Kevin Kline’s Hamlet on PBS with the father of a school friend, he said to me: “You know, Shakespeare didn’t really write Shakespeare. It was Christopher Marlowe.” He told to me to look for Calvin Hoffman’s book on the subject, and encouraged me to reread Shakespeare with a different mindset, looking for clues.
“It’s all in the Sonnets,” he said. “They are like a series of letters between the true author, the false author, and the woman they both loved.”
That got me started.
When I had trouble finding a copy of Hoffman’s book, I stumbled upon Richard F. Whalen’s book, Shakespeare: Who Was He? and my world began to change. Of course it wasn’t the Stratford man! I already knew that. But of course it wasn’t Marlowe either. For the first time, I was introduced to Edward de Vere, and he suddenly became a haunting ghost of my psyche. I searched far and wide for Looney’s book, and finally found a bad reprint to read. I was convinced.
Years later, while serving as a cultural arts editor for a small newspaper, a chance encounter with an actress who was set to perform in a staged reading of an Oxfordian play, introduced me to the playwright, Elwood Leroy Miller. I met with Miller for a feature story I wrote for the publication I then worked for. He gave me a list of books to seek and read, including “Volume 72, Number 1 of the Tennessee Law Review.” My mind was blown by the articles contributed by Whalen, Roger Stritmatter, Diana Price, and others.
About that same time, I was in the development stages of creating the Redlands Shakespeare Festival in Redlands, California. As an artistic director/producer, stage director, and actor, I found new love and life in the Shakespearean canon through the Earl of Oxford. I felt great empathy for this troubled man whose lifetime of work had been so stripped from him and his name. I wanted to know more.
I found all I wanted when I purchased my first copy of Mark Anderson’s “Shakespeare” By Another Name. I remember being so moved by Mark’s book, I fired off an email that I still have:
October 10, 2006 – “You are a marvel and your book is magnificent……..I encourage
every producer, director, technical artist and actor to read this book before ever considering to produce, direct, design for, or perform in any work by the Bard. The deep insights that are delivered through understanding de Vere’s life bring more depth, beauty, and strength to our performances. He poured his life into his works, and it is only through knowing his biography that we can truly bring life to those works.”
I stand behind those words today.
Shakespeare By Another name is available in various formats through Amazon.Com.
“How I Became an Oxfordian” is edited by Bob Meyers. You may submit your essay on this topic (500 words or less in an editable format such as MS Word), along with a digital photo of yourself, to:email@example.com. Also include a sentence about yourself (e.g., “John J. Smith is a businessman in San Francisco.”).
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