TO WILLIAM RAY
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 EVER 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