EDMUND SHAKESPEARE, THE EARL OF OXFORD, FALSTAFF AND THE HOLLOW CROWN

Wonderful to see the BBC series of plays, and actor’s commentaries, in The Hollow Crown. To see Simon Russel Beale talking about that empty word ‘honour’, or Falstaff, though honour was very important to Shakespeare and the time, in a sense beyond the Knighted meaning, that might evoke Calvino’s The Ancestors. To see Jeremy Irons rowing The Thames, recalling those events James Shapiro describes so powerfully in 1599, when the Burbages and Shakespeare, perhaps his youngest brother Edmund, a player too, carried the wood from The Theatre across to river to Southwark, to build The Globe. They took their theatre, their craft and their vision on their backs, and Phoenix believe in very conscious opposition with the likes of impressario and landlord Philip Henslowe, as Will Kemp, an original Globe sharer, split away, although any good story needs its baddy and Henslowe is quite a complex character.

If the experimental blog on Edmund Shakespeare here, Shakespeare’s Brother, is of any value, it has turned up some startling and unknown facts about Southwark and a London district we think completely underestimated in understanding a period and those plays. One of those insights is Jeremy Irons’ reporting that Falstaff was based on the Lollard soldier Sir John Oldcastle. An ancestor of the temporary Master of the Revels, Lord Cobham, whose wife lived on London Bridge and owned Southwark property, Oldcastle may have been an inspiration, though one chorus actually denied it on stage, mentioning Oldcastle, out of the little controversy, and saying ‘this is not the man.’

But another candidate is the real Sir John Fastolf. If you believe in the literal translation of authors, out of people or events, he seems an obvious candidate. Perhaps the point is that the Fastolfs actually owned a Southwark Tavern called The Boar’s Head. The sight was excavated by the Museum of London, though nothing found. Then there is that very famous Boar’s Head of Henry IV and East Cheap. There was a Boar’s Head in the walled City too, and perhaps two in Southwark, with its hundreds of taverns, but again it has been slightly translated. For those who have been following the little spat about the Edward Devere, Earl of Oxford, authorship theory though, it brings up the subject of how writers actually work, moving between facts and fictions, drawing from many ideas and sources, and translating their realities, as Bottom is translated in his fairy dream, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Perhaps then Will was thinking of Oldcastle, but a local tavern owning family too, the Fastolfs, and their cowardly ancestor Sir John Fastolf, soon to be made a False Staff, with a rival tavern in Southwark actually in the frame. Was he taking revenge for some local goings on, as he got caught up in that battle over the Soer house? He might simultaneously have been firing a purposeful shot at the walled City. But perhaps the point, if we are seeking Shakespeare’s ‘identity’, out of the nonsense Devere theory (that’s a friendly shot at William Ray) is the difficulty of biography and the real value being the realised vision on the page.

But what is really thrilling, with unknown Edmund Shakespeare in the frame too in Southwark, now linked to a tavern called the Vine, owned by the Hunt family, probably bought under Henry VI, by a local fraternity called The Brotherhood of Our Lady of Assumption, Edmund being the missing player if you like, is building up the localised picture, however faint, however filled with semi-fictive imaginings, of a real place and very interconnected people. There is a great deal more to come.

Phoenix Ark

44 Comments

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44 responses to “EDMUND SHAKESPEARE, THE EARL OF OXFORD, FALSTAFF AND THE HOLLOW CROWN

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  4. williamjosephray

    “But celestial events that occurred after 1604–the retrograde Mars, the invention of the astronomical telescope, the phases of Venus, the moons of Jupiter, the supernova in Cassiopeia–are NOT mentioned in the Shakespeare works.” Correction on this sentence in the previous post.

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  6. With friends like this, when will I have time for my enemies? Just consider that Jeremy Irons considers that the Shakespeare canon was written by Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. Another non-senser with your humble servant. And Oldcastle was revised out of the Henry cycle when the Cobhams complained to the Queen and the Queen asked the author (de Vere?) to change the name. He did. That wasn’t the protocol with a commoner playwright. He would get his ears cut or branded as a mild hint. de Vere also diplomatically changed the name of the meddling Secretary in Hamlet–from Corambis, meaning two-hearted–a direct pun on Lord Burghley’s motto (One heart one way)–to the present character-name Polonius, a variation on Giordano Bruno’s satirically-portrayed Poliinnio in De la Causa. Like Polonius and Burghley himself, Poliinnio was a meddling pedant.

    de Vere also paid tribute to Bruno’s concept of the universe in Hamlet: “Doubt thou the stars are fire?/ Doubt that the sun doth move?…” Bruno surrendered his life by fire for such revolutionary cosmology, and de Vere memorialized him in admiration. Shakspere of Stratford meanwhile was occupied in a law-suit about his buying up the Stratford commons, when a version of Hamlet opened in 1597. His heart was in the right place, with his money.

    A last point. Although the timbers of the Curtain or Theater were said to have been transported overnight for the Globe across the Thames, Robert Armin the comic star of As You Like It recorded his visit to serve “my Lord in Hackney”, in preparation for the part. The only “Lord” in Hackney was Lord Oxford, inspirer and supporter of the English Renaissance. He had sponsored actors, writers, and play companies for a couple of decades there, right aorund the corner from the theaters. Why did not this rude comedian acknowledge “Shakespeare”/Shakspere instead? What cheek.

    I humbly welcome further opportunities to assist your education in the authorship of the Shakespeare canon. I believe Phoenix will rise from the ashes into new splendor.

    • Dear Sir William Ray,

      one must indeed hold a clear eye to ones friends and one’s enemies too, though Phoenix Ark is no friend of the fatuous de Vere ‘theory’, veering from the truth! You take grains of sand and construct absurd worlds, but remember the imaginations of lunatic, lover and poet.With respect, and assured admiration for your passion.

      You seem obsessed though that our poor, magnificent poet should dare to have an interest in money, survival, New Place, even a Coat of Arms. Much like those wits and pecksniff snobs of the time. Essex got his scent of the Queens real disfavour when she recinded his licence to sell sweet wine, worth $50,000 a year. Kindly do not tell me the nobility were not obsessed with money and power, though Will died only moderately wealthy, and far deeper visions drove him too.

      So what about some Lord in Hackney, I never said Oxford may not have been a patron, even a deep theatre enthusiast? The wood was not dismantled overnight, it took three days, the landlords looking on, and was stored in a wharf, for fairer weather transport.

      As for the Oxford/Stratford camp, the divide runs through the acting fraternity, a chance for a little camp punning indeed, though are you sure Sir Jeremy sides with Sir Derek? Still, what do actors know?! Only actor-poet-playwrights know, most especially our brilliant Stratford lad, singing of Arden forests, on his most triumphant journey, filled with new cosmologies, through dangerous, fertile, muderous London. As your Earl of Oxford wrote and published bad poetry and shall remain eminently forgettable.

      As for you kind thoughts, Phoenix will never truly rise in splendour unless we get support for further work and original research, not filled with the continuation of mistake, heresay and error, into oh so fascinating Southwark and the lost story of one Edmund Shakespeare too. But are the times even interested?!

      PA PRESS

      • Good question–are the times interested, i.e., do people really care who wrote the Shakespeare canon? What does it matter? What does it matter who wrote Dante, Sophocles, Tolstoy, Dostoievksy, Rabelais, Goldsmith,Melville, Faulkner, Pasternak? What does it matter who wrote anything? We have the books and hell with the painstakingly skilled, learned, and suffering souls who wrought them? First, it is rock-bottom truth that someone rather than someone else created art and the “brief chronicles of his time” and place. Second, it is justice to honor the creator for the achievement. Third, we turn art and knowledge into consumable commodity when we separate art and artist, alike to deluding ourselves that that the meat on our plates was not a living creature sacrificed for our sustenance. But governments lie, institutions lie, scholars conditionally tolerated in their shadows lie–to themselves, in conformity with the prevailing convention of customary “truth”. We have already witnessed, in the last ten years, the pwer-elite Big Lie, the Necessary Bamboozle, through which three skyscrapers disappeared–from 750-degree F heat? When steel distorts only at 2,500 degrees F and then sags? Such assderted falsehood was the nature of the political arrangement in 1623, when a conveniently named commoner, Shakspere, suddenly became (through de Vere’s son-in-laws) the Colossus who had written works of aristocratic knowledge and insight, strangely paralleling the life and style of an authentic literary and rhetorical genius. A commoner never known to write anything, whose signature attested his illiteracy.

        If this is fatuous, then truth never was or will be. And de Vere knew it would come to pass that political necessity would snuff him as too troublesome to its mystique to be remembered. The works would be excised from the maker. Hence the tragic Sonnet 81: “Or I shall live your epitaph to make [when Southampton was still in prison]/ Or you survive when I in earth am rotten;/ From hence your memory death cannot take,/ Although in me each part will be forgotten./ Your name from hence immortal life shall have,/ Though I once gone to all the world must die;/ The earth can yield me but a common grave,/ When you entombed in men’s eyes shall lie./ You monument shall be my gentle verse,/ Which eyes not yet created shall o’er read;/ And tongues to be your being shall rehearse,/ When all the breathers of this world are dead;/ You still shall live,–such virtue hath my pen,–/ Where breath most breathes,–even in the mouths of men.”

        • If you don’t believe we think it matters here, you would not understand why we fought a mad, sad battle in New York, against author as ‘mere commodity’, and lost all, in an increasingly ruthless and cynical publishing world. It is hard, when you do not want to over trumpet yourself, without some modesty, but also want to earn and succeed, but crucially expect the right working conditions and respect for the writer’s mystery. The truth is art has always been part commodity though, as Shakespeare knew so well, in putting bums on seats and appealing to the crowd, though he went far, far beyond that, in plays and poetry, even if England is now owned by Tescos! Why perhaps he fought the likes of play owning Philip Henslowe, before authors in England, especially playwrights, had exactly been invented as contemporary cultural giants, on the cusp of an age, at a critical linguistic moment. That is far more heroic or important than some nonsense notion of the ‘aristocratic’ somehow against the ‘common man’, though Stratford was probably more uncommon than recognised. Shakespeare was very aware of the ‘rude mechanical, the crude one too, but you sense he had a natural ease with everyone, high to low, though thought many villains. cowards or fools. His ultimate humanity is impossible without it.

          If a book on Oxford was presented with no flourish, with no rhetoric out of Will himself, and the rigour and actually imaginative elegance of the likes of Schoenbaum, which in the forensic scholar probably sets out to disprove, before ever prove, it might be worth arguing the entire ‘evidence’, and stopping to check it. As it is, it is prejudice, in the face of so much, proved in those ‘aristocratic terms’ you use, that reveal motive. Shakespeare perhaps had an aristocratic soul, was certainly not ‘against’ nobility, despite any Hollow Crowns, capable of spitting Corialanus’s scorn at their ‘voices’, hating the mob, as much as lauding a republicanly minded revolt against tyranny, but then he was interested in great spirits, and the great drama that resulted. But he is absolutely grounded in the countryman too, lusty life bringer, even half villain, certainly over Puritan, and the restoring power of nature.

          Ackroyd makes a very telling statement though when he talks of it being impossible for a writer to disguise the intrinsic happiness of his (country) childhood, learning and living, without some serious psychic disturbance on the surface. But there is none in his pastoral plays, the disturbance happens in plays like Lear or Macbeth, when he had travelled through so much, and in London. When he touched something about the psychic realities of the Self, remember the porter, and turned away from the darker dabblings of Kit Marlowe. So Prospero would appear, the magician of art and the psyche itself, but Will had to inhabit everyone.

          As for Conspiracy theory, of course people lie, governments lie, horrors happen, we know of the Reichstag fire, Stalin, Mao, though we would suggest other things about why Iraq happened, we know of constant themes in Shakespeare of truth too, that speaks like truth itself, and of justice, as well as strange, eventful histories, and the magic and mystery of great art and the play, and play within play. But people also tell the truth too, stand up, fight, and sometimes die for it. But not for a moment does it add up to your Edward De Vere theory.

          If we thought it true, we would defend it too, precisely on your eloquent grounds, although TS Eliot said that the true artist must separate himself from the suffering man. Just as we so foolishly did not here, to great harm, but Will ‘Stratford’ Shakespeare always did, instinctively. Because of politics perhaps. though he moved in circles constantly crossing the authorities, falling foul of them, but surviving too. But he did not want to trumpet himself like Ben Jonson, to live in celebrity, to be in the crowd, he wanted to work, to write, with power and meaning, with intense beauty, and with words and plays for all time. He also moved among very noble patrons. A fairly modest journey to money and recognition yes, absolutely necessary in his theatrical battles, and a coming ‘gentleman’s’ right, but absolutely enormous in artistic ambition and vision, with something sacred to be hidden and protected, right at the centre.

          As actors know the magical centre of a theatre, where identity dissolves and returns, and meanings are discovered, and in fact a kind of ‘holy’ secular place. Where that strange and brave brotherhood of artists, those actors of Hamlet establishing good or bad reports, catching the consciences of Kings, also thrived and found their courage. Education may be important, but more so is the genius’s instinctive love of and also consumption of magical language. He set out to live through and Master language, and did like no other. It bubbles out like a magic spring and it is partly about being free of ‘authority’ too. Also with an innate understanding of the nature of storytelling itself, and that mysterious interplay between ‘truth’ and ‘fiction’, that makes poetry, or brings madness.

          As for the sonnets, they repeat customary, rhetorical forms, in the argument with life, and time, loss and dissolution. In the attempt to make the spirit last and have meaning. That mercurial, reinventing spirit, that cannot be trapped without realm harm. In a cowslips bell I lie. It is only Shakespeare’s astonishing confidence and voice that makes them soar. You might quote wits from the Mermaid Tavern though, young men ‘making legs to knights’, to capture real people, growing through time, or John Donne at the metaphysical edge of his most extraordinary age – “Death, thou shalt die.” But the wonder of Shakespeare is the wonder of a whole life, and body of work, its own ‘journey’, often self reflexive, out of Stratford, at an astonishing time in the history of a Country. It is so much truer, more resonant, more moving, than some great mystery about nobby Oxford. Reading The Lodger right now, comes yet more evidence of so many connections, London reports of the author, and that Will from Stratford too, specifically written into the Bellot-Mountjoy court case. Not to mention John Aubrey finding first and second hand reports. Though in the end, the difficult or tentative biography of artists, who deal in fictions themselves, does not ultimately matter so much, (except to say it was not Oxford and that Anonymous is fun but bilge), in the way that the poems and plays last and matter. Perhaps too, in the vision of the entire Self, Shakespeares, Rabelais’s, Tolstoys, even minor Oxfords, are indeed all one, though Shakespeare the most fulfilled Self of all! Why did Tolstoy hate him?! With respect, you argue with the right passion, for the wrong ‘cause’, though all might listen for any ‘truth’ and interest in a remarkable period, only Shakespeare made utterly modern; God bless your honours!

          PA PRESS

          • Well, I hope you paid the violins union scale. Embedded in all that was a pretty fair description of the true Shakespeare. As You Like It, the classic pastoral play, [see Alastair Fowler’s essay on it] does show love of the countryside and of the spirit of Nature. Oxford had an estate near Rugby, Bilton, whose succeeding owner Joseph Addison referred to an apartment there as “The Shakespeare Room”, where As You Like It was said to have been written. Local gossip, just ignore it. Rugby is upstream on the Avon from Stratford. Oxford was both praised and ridiculed for his preference for countryman ways over court life. Hence his nickname Willy, meaning idle shepherd poet. Put Will I am together with his championship lancer deeds and you get–O no, not THAT… And, you’re right, Oxford did have a lordly appreciation for the lower orders–although one must note that he kept the tenets of his class which resulted in stereotyped commoners when portrayed in the canon. A who’s who of Shakespeare features Mistress Cobbler, Nick Bottom, Bum Pompey, Mistress Overdone, Peter Bullcalf, Bushy, Dogberry, Anthony Dull, Froth, Sly, Nym (filcher), Hugh Oakcake, George Seacoal, Potpan, Mother Prat, Mistress Quickly, Snare, Fang, Snout, Tinker, Snug (joiner), and Sugarsop. And you’re telling me he had the common touch about his humble peers? Touched true, in somebody’s head. On the contrary, the great speeches are all by and about aristocrats, the only individuals his class considered worthy to represent heroic values. There are a few bits in Henry V saying even the lowliest are capable of noble deeds, but they are conspicuous for their rarity. The Historieswere used to generate national feeling prior to the Spanish Armada threat. Keep dreaming your imaginary biography of good Will in Stratford town, learning five languages and the Classical curricula between court suits for shillings. When Hamlet was first staged in 1587 (remarked two years later by Thomas Nashe), Shakspere hadn’t even gotten to London, much less commanded a learned Classical education and intimate familiarity with court, crown, and Denmark personages. But Oxford’s brother in law Peregrine Bertie wrote home about Rosenkrantz and Guilderstern–and Oxford had visited Sturmius the great scholar of the era at Wittenburg and corresponded with the Danish astronomer Brahe. Don’t think about it too much. Just bring up the string section volume again.

            • Dear Sir Will,

              your grasp of the arts of compassion made us laugh out loud, though perhaps you should go work with those lying Henslowes of the printed word, Abrams New Yoirk City inc, those ‘owners’ of authors, and truly defend the authority of the artist! Though you are right, self pity is an awful traight, and violins, viols, vials and vile should stay inside the play.

              Talking of inside plays, Quickleys, Tearsheets, Bottoms, Elbows and the rest are comic creations, to please yer ‘common man’ and yer noble too. To please a writer as well, constantly at work inside a theatre. Have you worked in the theatre, and do you call yourself a writer? There may be truth in what you say about Will’s feelings, his distances, yet watch Simon Russell Beale’s triumph last night as Falstaff, and even you will see the depth Will reached beyond the clothes, and his profound humanity. High to low, Falstaff to Poor Tom. It is their reality, beyond the play, that so moves and astounds, all with their flaws. You make simple statements about anti invasion propoganda, but though that has a truth, it is not nearly enough. Henry V is literally about the forging of a language of power, yes, but a lot else besides.

              Shakespeare’s country inspiration goes far beyond As You Like It, indeed he is made of nature. Try The Winters Tale, try the sonnets, try the language that breathes everywhere. But those histories, much of London, speak of a man who lived and inhabited it all, in Southwark, much as Will Shakepseare was not ‘debauched’, and the poet of marriage, as Germaine Greer says, but my simplistic Stratford dream? Not at all. Deeply complex, and rather tough too, though what he reached in the plays, does not make the actual man in ‘real life’.

              As for your ‘five languages’, how the hell do you know? You forget this classical age offered a classical education first, at Grammar School level, Latin and Greek. One up for the Free School movement. An anglo French country breathed French in London, though that French has a slight presence in the plays. As for Italian, Lombard Merchants crowded the city and this was the Renaissance. But like Will’s love of Ovid, reading of Montaigne, use of Holinshed, copying of Plutarch, it suggests his opportunism as a reader, his constant stealing, but his transformations into his own wonders. His fleuncy was English, even in helping to remake a language.

              Your ‘Willy’ De Vere sounds rather nice, if a bad published poet, but yet again you forget what you agreed with about genius coming from anywhere. Perhaps that should be tempered with the ‘education’ he was given, the love of his childhood, the thrill of the theatre, that everywhere speaks of a working player. As for the rest, you just ignore so much, and your theory is prejudiced twaddle, Sir. Write a book, and we’ll review it!

              yours ‘umbly, PA Press

              • Call my thoughts “prejudiced twaddle”. Call them anything you want. But first refute the descriptions, connections, continuities between the “Shakespeare” works and Oxford’s life, his theatrical commitment, and his vast classical training. Of course I know the Shakespeare canon shows easy familiarity with French, Spanish, Italian, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and some German and Russian. Bullough and Muir confirm.

                It is dubious to equate the Edward VI grammar school with that cumulative background and command of Greek rhetorical figures, some studied exclusively in the last two years of University. (Sister Miriam Joseph’s Shakespeare’s Uses of the Arts of Language. I am afraid that line of argument is very loose and very weak. You will find a good precis of Shakspere’s level of erudition in Merry Wives of Windsor, when “William’s” tutor Hugh Evans drills him on simple Latin. William garbles the simplest declensions from the book in universal use for study, Lyly’s Latin text, whose first sentence is “My name is Edwardus.” Just a little bit of humor for the insiders at court and theater about whether William Shakspere, who pretended to be a poet and a gentleman, was genius or fool. All the other “William’s” in the canon are posers, thieves, and knaves. How came that to be? Was the author making a blunt point?

                The further we go in this exchange, the more detail I am able to provide for my claims and the more rhetorical grow your responses. There is a reason for that. More facts and connections are available for the proposition that Oxford wrote the works than that Shakspere–wrote anything. His signature, so-called, is that of an illiterate and was so judged by the keeper of the Stratford will in British records.

                Taking up your (dismissive?) challenge, I did co-write a book on the subject called Shakespeare Identified and you are welcome to purchase it from my wjray.net website and then review it. My essays there alternate with the studies of Michael A’Dair, who later wrote Four Essays on the Shakespeare Authorship Question, which has gone through three editions.

                I am not bluffing about this issue. It is worth serious and devoted attention. A healthy culture should not let its most outstanding works of classical wisdom and literary refinement be attributed to an expedient cipher, convenient in the Jacobean reign for defraying political repercussions certain to ensue from a controversial and rebellious nobleman’s entire works posthumously appearing in print. But such is the state of affairs in English literature, English political history, and not least England’s on-going tourist economy. It is fine to celebrate Elizabethan theater and customs and peek into the past. But so many logical contradictions and sordid frauds abound in the pathetic re-attribution of the Shakespeare canon, that cumulatively it amounts to a perpetuated cultural Big Lie, akin to slavery as a godly and eternal institution, the earth as the center of the universe, and the planet being held up in space by a large turtle. Let us celebrate the Shakespeare canon and have fun. But also honor the truth of its genesis and authorial occlusion.

                A last thought about your claim that Oxford was a “bad published poet”. The readers of the time including Queen Elizabeth didn’t think so. Harvey, Puttenham, Barnfield, Marston, Chapman, Peacham, Nashe, all made unmistakable statements that not only was he the greatest poet (the English Ovid) of the era, its theatrical master (the English Seneca), but its greatest Mind (Minerva) as well. He devised your “Shakespearean Sonnet” well before Shakspere was even old enough to write, if he ever did write. His uncle, Surrey, had adapted the Petrarchian sonnet to English. Bear in mind Oxford did not publish any poetry under his given name after adolescence. His proxies were Brooke, Golding, Mundy, Lyly, Watson, Turberville, Kyd (the latter five all secretaries) and a slew of pseudonyms, of which the last you know very well, Shakespeare/Shake-Speare.

                • Dear William,

                  a more sobre interchange and fair game. Can you possibly explain, more briefly, WHY?! There is no Shakespeare play that really attacked the contemporary crown, with that exception of the staging of Richard II. Hence the notable absence of a HENRY VII, perhaps because he was a Tudor, and no collaboration on Henry VIII until Elizabeth was dead. I am not being rhetorical. Apart from that, we now that players were to an extent protected, by a monarchy needing and wanting a sounding bell to public opinion. My understanding of what facts there are, from a man closer to the subject than any of us, John Aubrey, but above all the creation of those plays inside working theatre companies, makes the Oxford ‘theory’ absurd. Tiny little supposed codes, you can ‘find’ all over the place for any number of other people too. Like finding Jesus in a piece of toast or Kennedy in a rock. As for puns on William, where there’s a Will there’s a way, and he was self depracating enough, viz his humour over his coat of arms, to play those puns. But they are irrelvant to his vision and visions.

                  PA

                  • Taking the last points first, 1) your deprecation of codes in the Elizabethan era and 2) the supposed humorous self-deprecation of the character-name William in the canon.

                    The Cardano Grille was the primary diplomatic code system in Europe of the time. (Oxford had Cardan’s major work, Cardanus Comforte, translated, wrote a far-sighted introduction for it, and Hamlet later replicates whole sections of its philosophy.) You will find simple versions of the Cardano Grille [which is turning all the characters of a message into a rectangular grid and reading up or down instead of laterally] in the Troilus and Cressida epistle, the Sonnets dedication, the Shakespeare Monument, and the First Folio introductory poem. Contrary to your assertion, it isn’t reading Jesus in corn flakes but specific identifying syntactical messaging in English. All simply communicate Vere as the author, fully in accord with Cardano Grille protocols. Under a tyrannical regime, they used such secretive messaging concealed with a contrived message on the surface. You will find more detailed discussions by David Roper and Jonathan Bond, though I don’t endorse each and every conclusion they draw, just the accuracy of the decryptions, which anyone with a pencil, paper, and ruler can test. People don’t want to accept evidence so simple and credible because it gives the lie to the officially sanctioned narrative that the counterfeit, Shakspere, was Shakespeare, the moniker of the author. That the ruthless operatives of Elizabethan/Jacobean times would deceive? O shame, where is thy blush to think such a thing?

                    Your explanation that all four “William’s” being portrayed as knaves in Shakespeare is just self-aimed humor is understandable but must be seen, given what follows, as a rationalization. If we pose the simple obvious inference that the author looked upon a certain character-type with lordly contempt and consistently (all four times) named him “William”, it appears to indicate he the author felt that way about someone, easily identifiable to some in his audience/readership. The knaves’ characters are distinguished by posing as a gentleman, by criminal theft and plagiarism, or in the case of the MWW character, by laughable inadequacy as a literate person. But once we admit “William” in Shakespeare is bad news, we must doubt therefore that the author and the “William” were one and the same person. Serious artists do not place themselves, contradictorily, in their art as despicable villains and buffoons. And we find that the author’s motives, while not transparent, are clearly in the direction that these dishonest, buffoonish characters are not admirable. By contrast there is a classic ‘Fool’ in Lear. But he has tragic dignity, and the “William’s” are granted none.

                    Your serious question: why was there no Shakespearean play that ever questioned or attacked the Crown? You have hit upon a prime identifying element in the authorship of the Shakespeare canon. Oxford, whatever his satirical intent toward Burghley (Hamlet), Hatton (Twelfth Night), Leicester and Cecil (Julius Caesar) and others, was a completely loyal monarchist, a vassal to the Crown and Lord Chief Chamberlain. That was his orientation personally, traditionally, and classically. He believed in the Great Chain of Being, in which the King or Queen were divinely placed, superior to any lower order human, even the aristocracy. Hence, as a member of the Tribunal, he did not want Mary Queen of Scots executed. She had been Queen. She was touched by holiness. This gesture ironically worked to his later favor, when Mary’s son James VI made his first English royal order to release Southampton, possibly Oxford’s son, from the Tower. (There is a correspondence between a certain “40” and James (“30”) prior to this command decision. The quid pro quo of the release, only inferred, was that neither Oxford nor Southampton would assert the latter’s blood-line rights to the Kingship, and Southampton would go free, restored as an aristocrat. Oxford was known as “40”: four in German meaning vier, the homonym of Vere; and O was his title initial, resembling the 0 in 40. James had written an admiring poem to Oxford when he was only eighteen. He later called him “Great Oxford”. When Oxford died, James sponsored a Shakespeare festival to which Oxford’s wife and daughters were honored guests.)

                    According to the Oxfordian theory, since Southampton was Oxford’s son by Elizabeth I, he too was royally divine. The Sonnets carry out this sense of high eminence: the Fair/Vere Youth being the author’s lord and liege, eternally royal, though never to be recognized as such in earthly sight. (see Sonnet 126, the last of the Fair Youth sonnets) Instead he was to be “rendered” in accordance with Mother Nature’s judgment, i.e., sacrificed, in History’s terms. That is what happened, though Southampton was far more beloved than James, right up to the time he and his son, the last of the Tudors, were poisoned and the line done away with. But the surviving Sonnets constituted a Monument to his eternal royalty and they say so several times.

                    The Lord Chamberlain’s play company had some royal protection, as you say. But all writers did not, as shown by the torture, maiming, and death of some for the most minor infractions. Only Oxford did, and here a passage from Hamlet is instructive: Polonius/Burghley says, Your majesty hath protected him from much heat. Oxford not only had carte blanche from Queen Elizabeth; he got a thousand pounds a year through her for his playwriting, right up until his death. Thus when RII was played many times just prior to the Essex Rebellion, neither the players nor the writer were fined or even investigated. This would have been completely atypical in the censoring system of the tyrannous time if the author were common-born. In fact what happened was the players were reimbursed for neglected wages. They were pawns in the game, doing what they were told.

                    • You are assuming we said Shakespeare didn’t ‘believe’ in Kingship. An age did, until the Civil War, and he wrote through his age and for it. But he has a great many ambivalences about Kingship. It is also very likely he was very close to his patron, Southampton, and other prominent Catholics. But Devere’s role in a release, or whatever, of Southampton, proves nothing about any Oxford authorship. Yes, it is likely Shakespeare’s company came to be protected like no other, but then both Henslowe and Shakespeare came to be Grooms of the Chamber, as acting companies, with new permanent playhouses, gained new prominence, and political importance. Ackroyd argues that was about the critical reforming of The Lord Chamberlain’s men after the plague in 1594, and a meeting of young nobles at dinner in Oxford. Still proves nothing at all about Devere, except your absurd assumption that only an ‘aristocrat’ could produce such work, and EVERYTHING about those plays speaks of players and inside the working theatre too. With such high friends, when the plays were not attacking the current dynasty, why would authorship have to be disguised, presumably in your theory following the Anonymous line, that there was a real Stratford Shakespeare in London, who was also a London player and involved in the Globe!

                    • Correction: Your original question was: “Can you possibly explain, more briefly, WHY?! There is no Shakespeare play that really attacked the contemporary crown, with that exception of the staging of Richard II.” Now you are asserting that by my answer I somehow was “assuming we [you] said Shakespeare didn’t ‘believe’ in Kingship.” No, sir. I wrote nothing about Shakspere of Stratford and kingship, a moot point since from all information at hand, he only came into play with the Shakespeare canon posthumously, when Jonson made vague references to “Sweet Swan of Avon”, and Digges, in the same (contrived) document, made reference to “thy Stratford Monument” being dissolved in time. Since the introductory poem contradicts any assumption of Stratford Shakspere’s authorship, once it is read as a Cardano Grille message, it is illogical to then ignore it and take the planted teaser hints as incontrovertible fact. Shakspere himself never claimed to be Shakespeare the great poet and playwright, nor did his family, associates in London or Stratford, countrymen, his son-in-law Hall, a literate doctor, or anyone else on record. Only after both Oxford and Shakspere were dead did these curious statements arise, seven years after, far too long after for a simple eulogistic motive. There may have been earlier preliminary moves to the intentional author name-switch, like Jonson saying, again posthumously in 1616 in a post facto collected edition of the plays, that “Shakespeare” had played in EMIHH, and Basse–a retainer of Bridget Vere–disingenuously suggesting (~1622) “Shakespeare” be buried in the Poets Corner. But this seems to reflect a manipulation, since that eulogy wasn’t published in the First Folio and Jonson wrote just the opposite, that “Thou art a moniment without a tomb”. Basse had referred to a “carved marble tomb”, nothing like what commemorates the remains of Shakspere at Stratford.

                      On the speculation that Shakspere WAS the writer but was not literarily rebellious as a Catholic to the monarchy, first you must establish he was the writer or the proof doesn’t make any sense. Then you are in a position to wonder how remarkably compliant he was with the present and past regimes. That is a serious defect in the Stratford argument. It merely presumes he was a writer, without evidence.

                      I agree with you basically that Shakspere was a recussant Catholic as was his father. It is on record that at one time he had a stack of prayer books, Catholic in content, probably held for a meeting. It is on record his father was fined for not attending (Protestant) church. It is on record he owned the Blackfriars Gatehouse, a notorious gathering place for Catholic meetings, one of which ended in a fire where a couple hundred were killed. But tying Shakspere to Catholicism in regard to what is written in the Shakespeare canon about kingship has no factual support. Towit whoever wrote the Shakespeare canon was utterly familiar with the Geneva Bible and the Sternhold and Hopkins Psalms translation, not Catholic texts. This sourcing is widely accepted by textual scholars who take no position on authorship. Both books are known as primary sources to Shakespeare. That points to Oxford, who used both extensively, underlined and marginated extensively, marking just those references that crop up as ideas in the Shakespeare corpus of writing. Oxford’s Bible and Psalms are bound in one volume. The script in both is the same hand. Their percentage of marginalia reference to Shakespeare canon matter exceeds five times random occurrence.

                      Shakspere does not figure into any referential play or sonnet material, since he had no books, papers, manuscripts, drafts, letters, or anything in paper or furniture related to writing. He was not a writer. No sentence of his writing exists. His signatures are examples of illiteracy. The assumption he was, despite this, Shakespeare is the first and fatal step to imaginary belief. Correct that single assumption and you are well on the way to piecing together the true sequence of authorship events. But it is easier said than done, because we are dealing with a long-conditioned emotional belief, not just a neutral chain of facts easily righted by disinterested minds.

                      As far as the notion that Shakspere was close to Southampton in any way, there is no evidence whatsoever for that. (C.C. Stopes spent her life trying to find any.) Southampton was not a recussant for instance. He was an enemy of Spanish Catholicism. And commoners could not presume equal relations with noblemen. That sense of class familiarity runs throughout the Sonnets. Put the shoe on the other foot, that Oxford knew his own son, once he discovered him, and the Sonnets make sense as a reflection upon their connection with historical events referred to previously.

                      I have no “absurd assumption that only an aristocrat could have written” the Shakespeare canon. It is a deduction from the content of the plays, the philosophy behind them, their easy familiarity with aristocratic sport and custom, the interpretation of kingship, the automatic identification with aristocracies in history, and due to the locales of the plays, always specifically in aristocratic and royal settings. It is your predisposition that anybody in Elizabethan times had all this learning, background, and knowledge and one guy up and wrote it out of nowhere, that constitutes an absurd assumption. In other words, you bought the story. I am not a snob. Talent is universal. If Shakspere were a sui generis writer, more, much more, power to him if he wrote of his own nearly enslaved lower orders, beset with poverty and plagued with early death. But all this is completely blank in the Shakespeare canon. That oeuvre assumes everything is as it should be, with the aristocracy on top and worthily so, and the rest there to remember their places but of no other moment. Not the philosophical stance of a butcher’s son–who knocked up a woman eight years older and then absconded for years after. As Chaplin put it, “Whoever wrote the plays had an aristocratic attitude.” He went on to say no one born in poverty (as he was) could avoid reference to his upbringing. This was a genius in another art-form, but close in temperament to the true Shakespeare, and who instinctively knew what was or wasn’t the artisitic type. He thought the Stratford story stunk of falsehood. This anyone now with a little reading and thought can readily suspect as well, if not in the grip of illogical or uninformed thinking.

                    • Dear William,

                      I’m afraid I’m beginning to get that sinking feeling when you reply, and please keep it short, it is after all ‘our’ blog, and anyone reading can come to your site too. No, I did not say Shakespeare was ‘Catholic’, I said it is likely his sympathies were among many who were, who suffered under Elizabeth, but it was a Catholic country turning Protestant and forging new identities. It is you doing exactly what you accuse others of though. I, in one sense, do not absolutely care, because I care more about the plays and their meaning, but that is meant as room to suspend absolutes rather not being interested. You completely ignore everything else said too though. The fact of the Globe and playhouses, the facts about ffelowe players, the fact his youngest brother was a player, the fact he became a Groom of the Chamber and was given a coat of arms, all the facts about the plays coming out of that environment and Edmund on the stage too. The vast majority of textual writing and scholarship. You say nothing of the why Devere should need to hide an identity when, as you say, no plays directly attack the powers that be. It was obviously foolish to, but Shakespeare can very well attack kingship, as much as anything else, and though very interested in power, and its plays, was very interested in taking away its stings and horrors. But first he is interested in effects within a theatre, as player first, then playwright.

                      There is ample evidence Shakespeare published in his life time, complained about plagarism and why his colleagues got together to produce the First Folio to defend his well known, great works from opportunist publishers. There is also that inscription in the book owned by the Stratford Richard Hunt and a lot else besides. You turn the famous Greene attack and the Will Kempe one, out of his Nine Days Wonder, to it referring to Oxford. Yours is the Universe built on a grain of sand, clearly immovable in the firmament though, and the wrong universe. But it is your being so categorical that makes us begin to lose respect for the argument and suspect the motive too. If you want to blog it again, because we know you believe Shakespeare was Oxford, why not break it down to the strongest ‘evidence’, which in terms of the last reply might be how the dedication in the First Folio comes up decoded as Edward de Vere. Thanks.

                      PA

                    • Certainly if the totality of circumstantial, primary, and textual evidence destroying the Stratford contention and favoring the Oxfordian one is too much to absorb or too distasteful, I will be happy to offer a simple proof at your request, that Jonson’s introductory verse to the First Folio is a Cardano Grille style covert communication. He was a skilled encryptor. That is shown by the Stratford Monument encryption, also a Cardano Grille, concealed in a highly odd ungrammatical dedication to a great author. You can decode Jonson’s introductory verse yourself. Simply put the message into a grid or graph, determined by its multiples of 286 letters and characters, and you will reach a rectangular graph 22 characters wide and 13 high. The Equidistant Lettering Sequencing thus provides vertical messaging and vertical messaging combined with some horizontal letters, but in a completely different purpose than the surface messaging reads. Jumping to the results of this simple decryption system, you will find in file seven the legend “E Vere” at the top of the file, and “Vere E” in reverse word-order at the bottom of the file. It has been determined that such a message is atronomically against a chance occurrence. The message is confirmed by the top “E Vere” being surrounded by four “HE’s” At the lower far right is another set of “HE’s”, four more of them. The message they surround is “THIS IS HIS VEIL”. Although the covert message is truncated, it does succeed while also providing some kind of barely syntactical consistency in the surface message.

                      Your accusations that I am hogging-the-blogging are manifestly inappropriate, since you challenged me with skeptical (but legitimate) questions and now, maybe from exhaustion, characterize my responses as excessive. This is a complex subject matter, which is not studied for reasons of preferred avoidance, in my view, and it does take some time and space to clarify the heretofore disregarded set of sources which contradict the loosely reasoned narrative. It seems you put a lot of stock in the centrality of theater as an explanation how Shakspere had to have written the canon, -Shakspere not ever a spelling on a title page incidentally. My responses, that Oxford galvanized Elizabethan theater and was active in all aspects of it over twenty five years time, the exact time of the English Renaissance and that he was revered for having done so, did not seem to get through your resistances. Ronsard predicted that he would revolutionize English and the English literary arts, and this is exactly what happened.

                      Concerning your remonstration that you didn’t say Shakspere was Catholic, just that he was in touch with those who were, (“It is also very likely he was very close to his patron, Southampton, and other prominent Catholics.”) Southampton was not Catholic, so far as we know from any source. From the relevant sources about Shakspere, one thing is clear, he and his family from his father to one daughter anyway, were Catholic recussants. So you didn’t have to go to the trouble of avoiding saying he was Catholic in sympathy and background. The facts do that. Oxford by the way converted to Catholicism, then apostated, and never lost his essential loyalty to the Queen, who represented the Church of England, an anti-Catholic religion.

                      Why Oxford had to play the game of pseudonyms, so prevalent in his time? Aristocrats and this aristocrat in particular were tabooed from embarrassing his class by openly writing for the vulgate, mixing with the low-life theater class, and peddling his positions as an ex officio critic of his own father-in-law’s and brother-in-law’s governments. He was in a position to do serious damage and as soon as Elizabeth lost her competence, Robert Cecil torpedoed his effectiveness and future for good. But you apparently see no problem, from a ruthless vindictive tyrant whom no one mourned at his death, for a rebellious artist ahead of his time. This could be characterized as avoiding the obvious. Oxford most certainly did attack the “powers that be”, just not his monarch, female or male. The Shakespeare canon remains the archetypal work on the (self) destructiveness of tyrannies. Only by his relations and followers sneaking the oeuvre into publication as the work of a non-entity did it ever survive.

                    • You pick one element you want to attack, and build everything around it, ignoring the rest, as you pluck out convenient elements, when you might finish lines.

                      Thou art a Moniment, without a tombe,
                      And art alive still, while thy Booke doth live,
                      And we have wits to read, and praise to give.

                      And art alive still, while thy Booke doth live… Mr Shakespeare. I was correcting you about what I was supposed to have said about who or what Shakespeare was. And as for hogging the blogging, we were suggesting you make points and ‘evidence shorter’ and punchier, because you have your own blog to bring out your arguments. But fair enough, though I am not sure how many are reading it. No time yet to peer through hazy Grilles either, trying to get a book out, but will return to it.

                    • It is quite unfair to assert I have fixed on a single element, to the exclusion of the rest of the Jonson eulogy, when discussing it in reference to Basse saying something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT about the same issue, the proper burial place for Shakespeare. Unfortunately for the Stratford argument, that eulogy is loaded with such curious hints pointing to Oxford rather than anyone else. Is it not ambiguous to say someone is a moniment without a tombe, and note the spelling that uses an “i”, since in Italian the pronoun “I” is IO, pronounced EE’O? That statement is near to incomprehensible. But the Stratford Monument, written by the same man, states the near opposite: “Envious death hath plast, within this monument, Shakspeare…whose name doth deck ys [this] TOMBE”. Obviously there is no tomb either in the plaque or the cenotaph on the wall. Jonson, writing both, since both follow his dedication style, sends the reader in two different directions, offering no truthful information. Shakspere’s bones were supposedly under the unmarked marble slab, no monument there, and the sexton who saw that exhumed said there was nothing there either.

                      So it is not I who is misleading but the original writer of the introductory verse, the eulogy that follows, and the Stratford plaque, the venerable Jonson. Honest Ben. He worked for Wiliiam Herbert, Oxford’s in-law, who master-minded and paid for the First Folio with his brother and Derby, and who received the tell-tale dedication for doing so.

                      Ask yourself at leisure why Jonson’s same eulogy to the great Shakespeare contained seventeen words in the title, “To the memory of my beloued, The AVTHOR Mr. VVilliam Shakespeare”? Why does he mention ENVY right away, a word Spenser specifically used in praise of Oxford in a dedication? Why does he not start his panegyric proper until the seventeenth line? “I therefore will begin. Soule of the Age”. Why does he list from there a total of seventeen authors, Shakespeare twice? Does all that by chance have anything to do with hinting the 17th Earl of Oxford had the nickname Shake-speare, since the oration in which Gabriel Harvey praised him as such in 1578? And why does Jonson quote Harvey’s 1578 language nearly verbatim: “he seemes to shake a Lance,/ As brandish’t at the eyes of Ignorance”. Harvey wrote: “Thy countenance shakes a speare at Ignorance”.

                      I’m afraid you have chosen a losing game if you think I cherry-pick the literary record and leave out relevant information. What you, and Stratfordians generally, are missing ARE such relevant parts of the extant record. Sweet swan of Avon? Oxford’s estate was near one tributary of the Avon, so was Wilton House of the Penbroke-Herberts-Sidneys whose insignia was Cassiopeia the swan. Starre of Poets? Oxford’s crest was quartered with a huge star. These non sequiturs weren’t flowery flourishes. They were skillful covert signals to the knowing, ambiguous enough to fool the rest, and vague enough to escape accountablility with the authorities who weren’t about to have Oxford deified as ‘Shakespeare’.

                    • HIM SO TEST, HE I VOW IS E. DE VERE AS HE, SHAKSPEARE: NAME I. B.

                      It is so strained as to be absurd and does not actually read e de Vere either, while the Shakespeare written in the inscription is suddenly popped in. But a Cardan grille was a preset template, with arbitary spacing, so you needed the template. Your so called proof via a 17 line theory is so flimsy, and I bet you can get many other better sentences out of supposed grilles. Try.

                      But then there is so much else. Oxford died in 1604, so now you are going to wipe out other plays in the First Folio, including the Tempest? You come out with the absurd statement that it was taboo for artistos to be mingling with the ‘low’ theatre lot. Rubbish. From Strange’s involvment, to all the other patrons, to Essex wining and dining writers, to the close monitoring of the Chamberlains, the opposite is true. But in the explosive atmosphere of the Reformation, with new theatres being built, but players also being controlled, debate moved most dramatically, popularly and with aristocratic interest and concern into the medium of drama, beyond the Court. Devere, we REPEAT, published poetry under his name and also wrote plays, so where’s the big bloody taboo? He may have had an interesting life, but is the opposite of the gentle Shakepseare Jonson lauds. You also contractic yourself by suggesting Shakespeare bowed to the regime, and then saying he attacked.

                      You also go on and on about the low born, but Shakespeare’s family was not especially low born and not born into poverty either. I am much of the theory Shakespeare’s drive came out of his father’s personal and finanical crisis, but he was an alderman, ale taster and fairly prominent locally. I bet you must have rehearsed many of these arguments with Alan Nelson, since I see there is a lot posted on the net. But noise does not make the quality of an argument, nor does constant repetition of slight ‘evidence’ ignoring all the rest.

                      As for tyranny, there seems a tyranny in your desperate desire to prove an Oxford case. Elizabeth was no tyrant, and shy of puting that window into men’s souls, until she aged, a British spy network crowded in, and an age and regime became decrpit.

                    • I am afraid your rhetoric is getting away with you now. Give these things more thought. You seem to be speaking of the Stratford Monument code, and I was describing Jonson’s other encryption, on the First Folio introductory poem page. There IS a template on the Stratford Monument plaque since you raise its absence as proof of the encryption’s fraudulence. The clue there instructs what the relevant subject must be to the Equidistant Lettering Sequence’s decryption. That clue tells in other words which specific word-sequence and subject-matter is indicated as important by its creator. Ergo, if there are any other unrelated, they are false leads. The correct lead is shown by the otherwise inexplicable indent in the second Latin line. The line then makes up thirty-four characters, a multiple of 17. So the message that counts, whatever other meaningful patterns you might seek out (and no one has found even one), is the one relating to the 17th Earl of Oxford. It has been estimated that the chances against random occurrence is over a billion to one, virtual certainty in a word sequence code. Put it together with the similar encryption in the First Folio, the encryption in the Troilus and Cressida headline, and the encryption that John Rollett discovered in the Sonnets dedication, and you have redundant evidence, all pieces referring to Vere as author of the respective works. Sad information maybe, but correct according to the Cardano Grille system.

                      You did not try for yourself the First Folio equivalent grille as I suggested. Do so and you will get a similar unequivocal result relating to Vere.

                      As far as the taboo on aristocrats taking part in theater, you seem to be twisting my statements to win a debating point. I did not say that Oxford bowed to the regime. He did the opposite in the withheld plays, and in the Henry-Richard plays he made it clear the results of tyranny–the Cecilian torture-surveillance-regime style of tyranny, not Elizabeth’s. She had a nervous breakdown practically when she had to execute Mary. You can say he “attacked” the government with his allegorical warnings, if you choose to be flamboyant, but he was actually warning his Majesty of the danger of their actions, from his study of parallel Greek and Roman actions. And to return to the theater writing taboo, which may be a sore point for some reason, Lord Strange sponsored a company. He did not write for any. Nor did Essex. Oxford sponsored, financed, wrote for, dovetailed parts according to his actors, and legend has it played parts himself. This was beyond condemnation for his class, and he was virtually declasse because of it–and his bankrupting himself to make the plays go and also support the University Wits and other writers in the Renaissance effort. No nobleman did that and maintained feudal honor.

                      No I did not rehearse any arguments with Alan Nelson, who nullified years of research writing a bilious and biased study of Oxford. ‘Monstrous Adversary’ is not quoted or taken seriously by any scholar, Stratfordian or Oxfordian. That is how shameful the book is.

                      I would recommend finishing your own book and then in time studying the Oxfordian-discovered sources and events. Otherwise you are guaranteed to continue uninformed and unable to rebut such information as I sketched out in these exchanges. When the paradigm shifts, you can bet that all the scholars who scoffed for decades will thunder over each other to find material that the Oxfordians have studied for years.

                    • Dear William,

                      are you American, it’s just your spelling of theater? How dare you insult my use of rhetoric though! I have not been rhetorical and you have overblown everything into your certain ‘proof’! If I am going to be rude, and never begin an argument but in jest, I do find your use of language a little odd. Besides, how can I apply any grille to Jonson’s dedication when they were arbitarilly spaced templates? Ok, I’ll look more into the grille thing, in time, but the book trying to be finished is not about Shakespeare, Will, Edmund or otherwise, it’s for kids and set in the French Revolution. Based around the absurdly aristoratic stories of The Scarlet Pimpernel! So, there’s one in the eye for peasants. Oxford, who was not Will Shakespeare, sounds vaguely interesting, especially being scandaloso, but never build your whole life around one point of ‘truth’, you’ll fall into a black hole singularity and emerge at the other side of the Universe, in the shape of some very distraught spaghetti. Did you know there are some lovely comments about food from the priests at the English College in Rome, a much under studied area, reporting back to Walsingham?! One was caught up in the Babbington plot, and found in Paris in bed with a lady of th night and a man servant of Essex’s. Yes, of course you are right about Elizabeth’s anguish over Mary, so if I misheard who was the supposed tyrant, I stand corrected.

                      For now though, turn on The Hollow Crown, or go sit in a theatre and enjoy the show. Better still, write a play, or a story about Oxford, and you will enter the wonderful world of fact, art and fiction.

                      best, PA Press

                    • ps Just reread you and doh, now I get it! The supposed template in the Monument inscription, I mean. Well, no time right now. Any one else can step in and comment on these supposed facts, by the way…

                    • I do not follow the charges here, but I sense that without further common familiarity with the materials I have mentioned, we cannot discuss much more on the topic. The FF introductory verse Cardano Grile is straightforward, an unambiguous grid you can construct yourself. Then you will be able to see there is a message, mainly the Vere name, in it. In the Jonson eulogy the main thrust is number and verbal punning. In the Stratford Monument, the structure is also straightforward, starting with the first letter in the upper left square. You will get a comprehensible message, intended by the creator. If you reason that all these are false and arbitrary, you defy ordinary logic, as that has been calculated to occur so infintessimally infrequently that we can say chance is impossible. But I have found that people are unable to even admit that it is a cryptological exercise embedded in such an historically important set of sources. That however is the point. While seeking to dupe the mass of readers, the truth of Vere’s authorship was meant to be unequivocally preserved right in the duping medium. That was the function of a Cardano Grille and of the word-games of the Elizabethan adepts.

                      with good luck on your own creative work,

                      William Ray
                      wjray.net

                    • Dear William, thank you for your good lucks, but for us idiots here, and for the idiotic reading public, could you do just a four or five line reply, with no attached comments, about how to construct the grille and what to lay it over. IE THE IDIOTS GUIDE TO DISCOVERING EDWARD DEVERE. Like, draw a simple grid of (no.) ? lines and ? boxes, then cut out the holes in boxes ?-?, and lay it over so and so….voila.

                      It would help the reading public to listen to any debate and everyone can try it for themselves.

                      best, PA

                    • Since you appear to be interested in this system of subterranean means of communication, maybe the best and easiest course for you is to look at the grids we have been discussing. They are shown in an essay I wrote some time back, which you can find by this link: http://www.wjray.net/shakespeare_papers/tabooing-de-vere.htm
                      It is not necessary to read the whole essay, though it helps one understand them to simultaneously read the captions underneath. They are towards the end of the essay. The First Folio decryption is mine. The Sonnets dedication is John Rollett’s, with an additional Cardano Grille discovered by David Roper. You can find my “Forth T” graph, which goes over the same basic Sonnets dedication decryption, but displays all aspects on one page. My ultra-simple decoded Troilus and Cressida headline is also in the essay Rollett in Reverse. For a decryption of the Stratford Monument plaque material, David Roper’s website or his books have the best display.

                      I want to point out these are very simple codes. I am an amateur and made major discoveries, just because they are there to break down into a grid. The absurdity of the message indicates that the purpose of the message is two-fold, an innocent looking surface message, concealing the important sub-message, invisible without the decryption.

                      William Ray
                      wjray.net

                    • I am not so interested, in what you call this ‘subterranean means’, but your whole arguement is pinned to such coding and so it at least needs to be stood up or knocked down. Thanks, with a bit of time, we’ll hhave some thoughts.

                    • Not at all; the encryptions, puns, and number cues–that were practically parlor games to the Elizabethan literari–are the least dimensions of proof about the Shakespeare authorship issue. I could knock the tar out of any Stratfordian proponent’s positions without mentioning them at all. But they have the virtue of not relying on textual arguments, which are immediately disparaged as “subjective”, or on primary discoveries (like the Geneva Bible and S & H Psalms references tracable in the canon), which are minimized simply by excluding them from academic discussion.

                      A serous inquiry into these matters would include Roper’s Proving Shakespeare in Ben Jonson’s Own Words and To Be or Not To Be?; Roger Stritmatter’s revelations about the Geneva Bible and the Tempest pre-1604 sources; Katherine Chiljan’s Shakespeare Suppressed; and editor Kevin Gilvary’s Dating Shakespeare’s Plays.

                      Two critical Stratfordian or neutral texts on the conditions of pseudonymity and anonymity in Elizabethan theater: Marcy North’s The Anonymous Renaissance, and John Mullan’s Anonymity, a Secret History of English Literature. The prevalence of these concealment conditions in that era has been assiduously ignored by academic scholarship. Shake-speare was a clear-cut pseudonym and research on that single point would pull the legs out from under the Stratfordian contention.

                    • This is getting daft. You have not proved anything, and repetition makes nothing true. Shakespeare was not a pseudonym, but William of Stratford, son of John Shakespeare, eldest brother of Edmund Shakespeare, London player, and of Richard and Gilbert. Shall we stop for now and maybe resume over this grille business, when there’s time?!

                    • Certainly, any time. Check my review of Contested Will by the conventional view’s poster child, James Shapiro, in Brief Chronicles III, for the reverse evaluation, of the logically and morally empty Stratford assertion.

                      best of luck,
                      William Ray

                    • Nice try William, in that struggle to be the authority, but what on earth does ‘morally empty Stratford assertion” mean?! You can’t approach truth and history out of some supposedly moral assertion of anything, hence the fact the Oxford case is constructed out of pure prejudice. But best of luck to you too.

                    • “Morally empty” in this case means simply that, lacking a factual ground and development, the assertion of fact about the Shakespeare authorship is morally empty. It goes nowhere close the truth and becomes corrupted by its compounded self-contradictions and falsities. This is a most unfortunate quandry for English literature studies and education generally. It is not good to institutionally propound what is false. For an explicit analysis of an example of how James Shapiro’s ‘Contested Will’ demonstrates this moral vacuum, I suggest reading “Two Years After ‘Contested Will'”, which I would attach here if there were a means to do so. (Shakespeare Matters, Fall 2011, pp. 24-30)

                    • Well, since Will holds such a mirror up to nature everywhere, I think that’s exactly what you are doing and it is nonsense, lacks depth and humility, and is couched in absurdly rhetorical language too, but there’s room for some debate, or attempts to ‘prove’ a different authorship. Let’s leave it there for now.

                    • As I said before, any time. But I don’t passively accept your sign-off style. You comment rather archly that “It [i.e., William Ray’s objection to the Stratford narrative] “is nonsense, lacks depth and humility, and is couched in absurdly rhetorical language too,” Do you imagine that anyone with a command of the facts and background that I have is anything but sincere and determined in search of the truth, or that my commitment happened by personal defect gone awry? Apparently so and will not be lost on your readers.

                      It is only by my patience and the belief that reasonable people once informed will change their views that I have tolerated these silly and intemperate remarks, mainly defensive and belligerent in nature, and thus symptomatic that the speaker senses fundamental weakness in a too pat story.

                      “Time will tell who has fell and who’s been left behind, when you go your way and I go mine.”

                      If you have the guts you will re-visit this important topic, whether or not I am involved. But it won’t be possible with the present misinformation and illusions–and arrogant manner–that inhabit the Stratford paradigm like a coil of self-contented snakes. Which is why I wished you, and wish anyone so situated, the best of luck. Don’t disappoint me with another embarrassing display of reflexive vituperation. Resolve to know more, and this effort on my part will be redeemed.

                    • I’ve be very tolerant with you, your language and your ‘kawaski slaps’, for the sake of the argument. I don’t doubt your sincerity at all, I just doubt all the rest. Others can read you here, and go to your pages too, but you might have more respect for the time others give you, and for the sincerity of their own work. There was nothing arch or subteranean about my reply, I said baldly I think William Ray’s argument ‘is nonsense, lacks depth and humility, and is couched in absurdly rhetorical language too’. You seem to think you are the only one who has heard the Oxford ‘theory’ or thought about and investigated it. But, actually, I did not sign off, since I need to investigate codes more, I said let’s leave it for now. So let’s leave it for now!

                  • “THY TEST IS HAM!” PA Press

                    First to apologise to William Ray for having taking so long to get to this and to recommend that readers interested in a Shakespeare authorship question read his article http://www.wjray.net/shakespeare_papers/tabooing-de-vere.htm.

                    It is not only highly stimulating, and perhaps startling in certain aspects, but in brilliantly quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson, and in Ray noting “Rebellion can be fatal to iconoclasts”, it appeals not only to intrinsic instincts here, but vivid experience too of what happened to an author who dared to shake the publishing system, however shabby, shamed or tortured his spirit became at times, and one filled with a knowledge of and passion for Shakespeare’s visions and search for lasting truth. Some of the arguments we had you can find in the comments under two Phoenix articles, DEREK JACOBI, RICHARD II AND THE EARL OF OXFORD ‘THEORY’ and EDMUND SHAKESPEARE, EDWARD DEVERE, FALSTAFF AND THE HOLLOW CROWN.

                    Ray’s take offers a moving truth about the real world then, a warning about it and people, and especially their tribal instinct to buy into or reveal vested interests in that world, for whatever reasons. Take Oberon Waugh’s savage “A Handful of Dust” and what happens to truth, and establishment protections of human lies there. That quite stands on its own, but also demands some respect for claims about Devere, and certainly a fascination with the period. But although Emerson, and many authors tasting the possible bitterness of the world, may be right about life or society, as Shakespeare wrote it all over his plays, it still does not prove the case.

                    Two things struck here. The first is William Ray’s observation, unless someone else wants to refute it, that ‘Twenty years after De Vere died, Richard Brathwaite wrote, “Let me tell you: London never saw writers more gifted than the ones I saw during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. And never were there more delightful plays than the ones performed by youth whose author wrote under a borrowed name.”‘

                    Then there is, more startlingly, Henry Peacham’s 1612 Minerva Britanna, with a drawing of an arm and hand holding a pen, thrusting out from behind a theatre curtain, with a scroll:”Mente Videbori,” or “By the mind I will be seen,” which also produces the anogram “Tibi Nom De Vere” or “Thy name is Devere.”

                    But from there the argument descends, in the view on this side of the Atlantic, into something so strained it can only be described as “Shakepeare by Sudoku”. Namely the arguments about Cardan Grilles, or codes to somehow reinterpret Jonson’s dedication to the First Folio, or the inscription below the bust in Stratford.

                    Firstly, language itself is a kind of code, even game, that all authors and especially Shakespeare are engaged in, as Ray says almost reinventing or I would say inventing a language, to try and recreate or approach truth via fictional work, and find the door to vision and poetry, naturally inspired but not necessarily defined by ‘real’ events. But more important is my understanding that a Cardan Grille was really a template for coding where holes were cut arbitrarily in a piece of paper, and a message written in the spaces, then the paper removed and a message built around the text on the second paper. So that could only be read with the original grille and the unique second paper, where the letter, inscription, poem or whatever now lay. Perhaps I’m wrong.

                    The alternative, especially for printed, mass produced text, is a “grille” reformatting the order of the printed text, then picking out letters to give your supposed secret message. The one D.L Roper and by extension William Ray has chosen for the bust inscription is seven vertical boxes, by 34 horizontal boxes, attributing some huge significance to the horizontal number, because 34 is 17 x 2, and Devere was the 17th Earl of Oxford. It seems very feeble, and more so because of the strained nature of the message that appears to appear, namely HIM SO TEST, HE I VOW IS E. DE VERE AS HE, SHAKSPEARE: NAME I. B. IB, standing for Ionson, Ben.

                    But the “Shakespeare” and the “Name” are plucked not from a vertical but horizontal reading of the letters, and actually a significance might stand without them. On the other hand, reading vertically from the same supposed grille I quickly plucked out the sentence “THY TEST IS EVER HAM”! (I added the gratuitous exclamation mark.)

                    As for the First Folio dedication, that Sir Arthur Geenwood, as if that proves anything, suggested was either code or written not by Ben Jonson, but a “a leering hydrocephalic idiot”, with not much compassion for rabies victims, the idiocy seems repeated in the straining for codes with some 6-2-2 pattern. The text is punning and playful, perhaps not even very good, but it demands no dismissal.

                    Apart from all that, and it sells books to produce supposed prophecy from a claimed “Bible Code” too, because any long work will do it if you rejumble letters or sentence orders, (thus a clear and provable pattern must be established first), the Oxfordians are again forgetting that if Devere did somehow suffer from the tyranny of his age, or indeed an artist’s desire to protect the well springs of the Self, why could a Stratford Shakespeare not too? Hence answering many questions about not pushing himself forward, and not especially defending his printed work, especially in an age where the printed word and rights in that were being invented. Such an author also finds meaning, pride and power in the success and effects of their living work, and for many reasons finds it harder to stand up and be that “author”. It can be an invasive thing, art or fame, and then was a very dangerous one.

                    That returns you to a debate that was fully underway in its time, namely that a scruff from the provinces could not have possibly have written such astonishing work. Hence it being perfectly possible that the Devere claim was generated even back in 1612, and with coded “hints” too.

                    But it’s a fascinating debate, and we’ll leave the “Oxford camp” with a resounding question, that in the many obfuscations, forced links and the Sudoku play of it they always fail to answer. The Earl of Oxford was dead by 1604, so what have they to say of all the other Shakespeare plays? We’d love to hear.

                    DCD

                    PA PRESS

                    • williamjosephray

                      In response to the closing question of the previous post: \”The Earl of Oxford was dead by 1604, so what have they to say of all the other Shakespeare plays? We’d love to hear.\”

                      No Shakespeare play refers to topical or celestial events after the year 1604. The Shakespeare canon is characterized by reference to unusual heavenly occurrences. Hamlet for instance makes reference to the Giordano Bruno theory that stars are fire (\”Doubt thou stars are fire?\”). This discussion occurred years prior to 1604. But celestial events that occurred after 1604–the retrograde Mars, the invention of the astronomical telescope, the phases of Venus, the moons of Jupiter, the supernova in Cassiopeia–are mentioned in the Shakespeare works. This glaring absence is of course aproof by omission. When a pattern is followed in prior plays does not occur in later ones, we ask whether the supposed dates of composition of those \”later\” plays are incorrect This absence of post-1604 celestial references throws doubt on the assertion that several plays were written after Oxford died.

                      Then, the \”late plays\”, such as Macbeth and The Tempest, do not contain any references, nor do they rely on any sources that came into existence after 1604. In particular, Kositsky and Stritmatter wrote a seminal essay, \’Shakespeare and the Visitors Revisited\’ in Review of English Studies (2007) that shows all shipwreck references in The Tempest existed before 1603. Contrary to the usual assumptions, Macbeth did not refer to the Gunpowder plot. Its use of the word \’equivocation\’ in Macbeth preceded that 1605 incident by over twenty years, gong back to the early 1580\’s. The reference in Macbeth to the haircut of the Brownists of the late 1570\’s also indicates a much earlier composition date. In fact, Oxford wrote a rudimentary Macbeth when just a teenager: A Tragedie of the Kinge of Scottes (1568).

                      It is true that there is a difference between the Cardano \”Grille\” and the equidistant lettering sequence which characterizes the Sonnets dedication, the First Folio introductory poem and the Stratford Monument plaque. The general means of reference for the system is to Cardano, since Jerome Cardan designed both variations, the grille and the equidistant letter sequence. It was so cumbersome, so hard to create, that it fell out of use as a diplomatic concealment device. This short-lived trick however was in use just when the Sonnets and the First Folio were being published, and the Sonnets dedication, Stratford Monument, and the First Folio introductory poem made use of it. In answer to the skepticism about the Stratford Monument\’s contrived message, the 13 x 22 grid is telegraphed by the second Latin line above it. It has 34 characters, a signal that 2 x 17 (17th Earl of Oxford) means a reference to de Vere is coming in the English text. All other interpretations would then be ignored. The decoder simply had to count the total characters in that English message, get a set of multipliers and read the cross-word puzzle. It remains an artifact of Elizabethan experimentation in using literacy for power and secrecy. The Cardano Grille failed in diplomacy and remains largely ignored as a literary usage of the diplomatic device.

                      Thanks for the kind words about my essay. It was written years ago. I have mainly left that area of studying codes and moved on to more linguistic-related themes in the Shakespeare Papers section of the wjray.net website.

                    • Also posted in main blog

                      Dear William,

                      I’ve posted your response in EDMUND SHAKESPEARE, THE EARL OF OXFORD, FALSTAFF AND THE HOLLOW CROWN comments. Please understand though, despite admiring a spirit in your article, I do think “THY TEST IS HAM” and that what ensues from trying to prove what you think self-evident is hugely distortive of so much other evidence, and pointless arguing with too, because the holes in it are so enormous. Despite some arguments about the datings of both The Tempest and Winter’s Tale, there is no doubt they were written well after Oxford’s death in 1604. Are you seriously arguing those were not by the “Shakespeare” of the cannon?

                      That, and so many other things, including work on Edmund Shakespeare and Southwark here, just make it rather silly, I’m afraid, though everyone is tantalised by possibilities, and leaves some space for them too, like those Latin signatures in the visitors book in The English College in Rome. Sure, Sacred Cows get handed down the generations, hence constant re-inventings and re-interpretations of Shakespeare, as history itself is dialogue between past and present, or assumptions over-write very valuable arguments about who anyone really is, even what consciousness is, especially with such an artist. That’s the difficult nature of any biography supposedly telling it as it was. I would argue Shakespeare far more complex than the “sweet” or “gentle” image, though as a man in life I think he was, but as an artist during the business of writing, he was indeed Everyman, hero, villain, or real human being, as Bloom argues he “invented the Human”. It is why it is so essential not to invade or judge artists during the process of their work, because then they are engaged in archetypal processes that summon everyone’s consciousness and experience.

                      But reinterpretation itself is natural, as we all rediscover the world from birth to grave, especially from an age only coming into official records. Is it wrong to observe that you argue it so strongly because Shakespeare’s spirit and plays support your or Emerson’s observations about the nasty world, or what might have happened in some regard to Oxford, but that Will can still be what the evidence proves, the boy then man from Stratford? I also strongly suggest any search demands not highly speculative textual clues at all, but only a hunt in archival records for missing letters, facts and a potential confusion of dates. There any real proof would lie, and it is not there at the moment, very clearly highlighted by, though not dependent on, Oxford’s death in 1604. Just a year after Elizabeth had died and James ascended, who, with his interest in witchcraft, Macbeth seems written to profoundly appeal to. While King Lear very possibly writes a brother, Edmund, certainly the strife of families, in years that saw John Shakespeare die in Stratford, then Mary Arden, all over its pages. Edmund Shakespeare, a player, died in Southwark in 1607 and his burial at 20 shillings suggests the payment by his now succesful playwright sibling. I’ve stared and stared at the original documents and records. Then there is Charles Nichols on Shakespeare’s time on Silver Street, also after 1604, and his appearance in court in the Bellot Mountjoy case, that has a theatrical milieu written all over it too. I kindly suggest you admire Oxford for who he was, but give up the rest as a bad lot, though it’s been stimulating, and would be more so if there were real evidence.

                      best wishes, DCD

                    • “Just a year after Elizabeth had died and James ascended, who, with his interest in witchcraft, Macbeth seems written to profoundly appeal to.”

                      If this is your proof of Macbeth being written after 1604, you haven’t got a leg to stand on. James I was terrified of witches, his mother Queen Mary was executed, and her companion Lord Darnley was murdered with a knife, like the King in Macbeth. Therefore, how is Macbeth supposed to appeal to her son, someone personally paranoid with a phobia about witches? The first version of Macbeth was “A Tragedie of the Kinge of Scottes”, which Oxford wrote when he was seventeen, after meeting Lady Lennox, Darnley’s mother. The medieval Scottish chronicle about the historical Macbeth was in his warder’s (Burghley’s) library, and Oxford’s tutor Laurence Nowell, translated it while they were working together. These are relevant facts and events. But you are not able to credit them. Therefore you feel everything stated here is “interpretation”. Such a position defies ordinary logic. I could make a similar rebuttal about The Tempest being written before 1603. All the sources for that play existed prior to 1603, well prior, Hakluyt and Erasmus mainly. Oxford’s own ship survived a shipwreck and his captain reported the crisis in detail. Strachey’s Letter about a shipwreck was not necessary or even published to read before 1625. And he was known as a notorious plagiarer. Kositsky and Stritmatter demonstrated that there is textual evidence Stratchey even borrowed from The Tempest. The mysterious island with yellow sand has been found to be Vulcano, off the Sicilian coast. it had nothing to do with a shipwreck near Burmuda, which Stratchey survived in 1609.

                      Your criticisms do not stand up to examination.

                    • Oh rot, William. So, by your calculations The Tempest, manifestly a swan song to the theatre, was written but not performed for seven years, at a time of an absolutely astounding turn over of plays? And The Winter’s Tale, Lear, Pericles, all the others? Yes, James was terrified of witches, persecuted them in Scotland and England too and wrote his Demonologie. But Macbeth may feed into the times dramatically, but is hardly “pro” witches and also supports the Stuart claim. Why were both Henslowe and Shakespeare made Grooms of the Chamber after 1603? As for what real island The Tempest is set on, some have even mentioned Corfu, but it is not a real island anyway, but an island of the mind. All my “claims” stand up and none of yours do, claimed as some absolute fact, with less humility than I try to show to possibilities. I’ll also return to your claims Greene was referring to Oxford in his talk of an “upstart crowe, beautified with our feathers”, but what kind of upstart was your good Earl? Presumably none. It makes no sense and has no basis in real fact. QED.

                    • williamjosephray

                      The Winter’s Tale was first performed at court in 1594 under the title ‘Winter Night’s Pastime’. Lear was performed in 1594 as ‘History of King Leir’. ‘Pericles’ was an early Oxford play, to which Thomas Wright’s book of psychology alluded in 1601. I have already presented the cases for Macbeth and The Tempest being written in some form before 1603, which you cannot accept. There are no yellow sands on the island of Corfu. Of course the island in The Tempest is fictional, but it is described with just such characteristics (owned by Spain, barren, with yellow sand) that matches Vulcano. Oxford visited that island. The Tempest was incomplete at Oxford’s death, but from some of its characters matching those in one of Jonson’s plays, it was Jonson who completed it for performance in 1611.

                      I never said Oxford was the “upstart crow” in Greene’s complaint. I said Edward Alleyn was. He had all the characteristics Greene described, including having played the part in Henry IV, part 1 which Greene parodies as “a tiger’s heart in an actor’s hide”.

                    • Fair enough about Alleyn, though wrong, as Kempe’s great walk also pointed to resentment at a “Shake-rags”, himself an original Globe sharer and then probably pushed out. You say these plays were performed, but they are all earlier versions or different plays, in a tradition of many different plays and stories being borrowed, which is exactly why Ackroyd and many others argue for Shakespeare’s authorship, sometimes, as in the “Ur” Hamlet. Though just out of interest I would love to see what was actually performed in “A Winter’s Night Pastime” in 1594, and if there is any evidence but a record of a play called that.

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