[The following transcript was taken from the videotape of the "trial" and FRONTLINE is not responsible for any errors or mischaracterizations in this transcript.]
A Mock Trial to Determine
the Authorship of Shakespeare's Works, Nov. 12, 1993
Reprinted by permission of Edgar Bellafontaine, Executive Director of the Social Law Library.
William F. Looney: On behalf of the Senior Lawyers Section of the Boston Bar
Association, I'd like to welcome everyone here this evening for what should be
a very interesting time. My name is Bill Looney. I am chairman of the Senior
Lawyers' Section, and in this little play, I represent the petitioner.
Now tonight's proceeding, as you know, is in the form of a mock trial to
determine the true authorship of the Shakespearean body of work. Although it's
a mock trial, it's important to bear in mind that the judge is a real federal
judge, the witnesses are really expert witnesses, and counsel are experienced
senior trial lawyers.
The question is a fascinating one and all of the participants have asked me to
inform you that as far as they are concerned, you all are in a court room.
You're watching a trial and you're expected to follow proper court room decorum
Now, as I said, I represent the petitioner seeking instructions from the
court. Now when the trial begins, I'll briefly address the court. Now let me
take a moment to tell you the names of the participants here.
The judge is U.S. District Court Judge Edward F. Harrington, the Court Officer
is William F. O'Neil, a lawyer with the Recall Management Corporation. The
Court Clerk is Thomas Looney of the law firm of Kay, Fielco, Richmond &
Rothstein. The counsel for the Oxfordians is Allan van Gestel of the law firm
of Goodwin, Proctor & Hoar. For the man from Stratford's position, Philip
Cronin, of the law firm of Peabody & Arnold.
Now we have a jury. The jury is composed of some very distinguished people
and I want to tell you who they are. Edgar Bellafontaine, the Executive
Director of the Social Law Library, Michael Contompasis, the headmaster of
Boston Latin School, Arthur Curley, the Director of the Boston Public Library,
Martha Davidson, the Associate Director of the Simmons College Library, Thomas
R. Holland, a partner at Kazer & Edwards in Boston, Dr. David M. Holmes, a
psychiatrist with the Veterans Administration, the Honorable Rudolph Cass, a
member of the Massachusetts Appeals Court, Ms. Elizabeth Kealy, an Assistant
District attorney in Suffolk County, Christopher Lydon, a former commentator
on WGBH and late politician. (laughter)
The foreman is Paul F. Markham, the former United States attorney for the
District of Massachusetts. The other jurors include Francis S. Moran, the
Executive Director of the Boston Bar Association and a retired military judge,
Guido Perera, Jr., a securities analyst and professional trustee with the
Boston firm of Welch & Forbes, Martin Slobodkin, a former business owner
and publisher, and Ms. Maria Galvagna, an associate in my law firm, Looney
& Grossman, a former Assistant Attorney General of the Commonwealth of
So, having said that, let's begin.
Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye, please rise. All persons having anything to do
before the Honorable, the justices of this court draw near, give your attention
and you shall be heard.
God save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and this honorable court. Court is
open. You may be seated. Call the first case.
William O'Neil: ... (inaudible) will of D.D. Warden, ... (inaudible) 93-1102.
William F. Looney: Bring in the jury.
WO: All rise for the jury. Please be seated.
JUDGE: The petitioner may proceed.
WFL: Thank you, your Honor. William F. Looney, Jr., for the petitioner. As
your Honor knows, this a petition for instructions brought by Austin Wakeman,
III, a successor trustee under the will of D.D. Warden, deceased. The trustee
seeks certain instructions from the court with respect to disposition of
property received by him in his predecessor trustees under the 25th Article of
the will of the descendent.
I'm not going to recite all of the statements made in the petition, your
Honor, because I'm aware of the fact that the court is familiar with them. But
I will say that --
__: ... (inaudible) with the case already.
WFL: Yes, sir. The will states in part that it is well known that the
decedent had been a worshipper of William Shakespeare since his earliest school
days. He was not unmindful, he, the descendent, was not unmindful of the fact
that the question of the authorship of the Shakespearean body of work may never
be satisfactorily resolved.
However, said he, I do believe that an excellent way to shed further light on
the issue is to combine the discipline of the law with expert historical
scholarship. And further, to the will the trustee brought these petitions for
instructions and, in accordance with the suggestion made in the will and an
order of the court entered October 15, 1993, the court appointed Philip
Cronin, Esquire of Boston, to represent the Stratfordian position, and Allan
van Gestel, Esquire of Boston, to represent the Oxfordian position.
The petitioner, Your Honor, has no particular stake in the matter. We will do
what the court instructs us to do with respect to the property in the
possession of the trustee. Thank you, Your Honor.
Members of the jury, are you prepared to judge this case solely on the
Is anyone prejudiced so that they are unable to sit on this case?
I know the negative. At this time, I'll appoint Paul Malcolm, foreman of
this jury. The Stratfordians may proceed. Call your witness.
Please raise your right hand. Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you
are about to give will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth,
so help you God? ... (inaudible)
Prior to the taking of the testimony, we'll have a brief opening statement.
WFL: May it please the court and members of the jury, I represent the true
Shakespeare and I have tonight for you an expert witness from Evanston,
Illinois, a professor of Shakespeare, indeed, a Shakespeare scholar for 63
years. Mr. Louis Marder will be my expert.
The parties have stipulated and agreed that both of the experts are fully
qualified, but I will ask my expert a few questions of his background and then
proceed with his opinions.
JUDGE: You have one half-hour on direct testimony and a 15-minute
cross-examination of each witness. You may proceed.
WFL: Is this working? Good. Could you tell the court and jury your name,
Louis Marder: Louis Marder, M-A-R-D-E-R.
WFL: And speak into the microphone, please. Mr. Marder, have you been a
professor of Shakespeare for a number of years?
LM: A long number, since 1946.
WFL: Until the present time?
LM: Well, I retired from teaching in 1982, with a ... (inaudible)
WFL: You want to speak into the mike, please.
LM: ... (inaudible) harder.
WFL: And for 15 years, were you a professor of Shakespeare at the University
of Illinois in Evanston?
LM: I was.
WFL: Have you been the author of The Shakespeare Newsletter for a number of
LM: I have been.
WFL: And could you explain very briefly what The Shakespeare Newsletter is?
LM: Advertisement. The Shakespeare Newsletter was founded by me in 1951. I
was teaching. I had 25 students in my class. As of [now], I've been studying
Shakespeare all my life until that time, and I had 25 students to give it to.
I said I want more, and I founded The Shakespeare Newsletter.
WFL: Good. Are you also the author of a book on Shakespeare entitled His
Exits and His Entrances: The Story of Shakespeare?
LM: Affirmative. I have copies to sell.
WFL: And do you have extra copies of that tonight?
WFL: Excuse me. Now, Mr. Marder, I'd like to go to the merits of the
controversy and first ask you whether or not, in your opinion, you can prove to
this jury that William Shakespeare of Stratford-on-Avon was the Shakespeare of
London who wrote the plays attributed to him?
LM: One can answer the question, Can I? Yes, I can.
WFL: And would you describe briefly in that connection the evidence that
shows first that William Shakespeare of Stratford-on-Avon, who became William
Shakespeare of London, was born and raised and was a living being in
LM: We know that Shakespeare was born in 1564 in Stratford. The records
prove this. Shakespeare went to school, he got married, he went to London to
seek his fortune, he wrote the various plays and poems which have his name on
the title page, which you cannot take off -- they are there.
Shakespeare's name was spelled variously in different places. And therefore,
the opposition will tell you that they are not one and the same man. But they
were the same man.
You have all kinds of documents which give both names, even with the same
time, Shake-speare and Shakespeare, the same man writes one line Shakespeare
with a hyphen, the next line is written Shakespeare without the hyphen.
WFL: Now before we go into some of the details, I'd also like to address the
issue as to whether or not, in all likelihood, William Shakespeare received an
education in Stratford before he went to London.
LM: The custom in those days, well, they had Latin grammar schools. Before
you went to a Latin grammar school, you had to have studied with a dame of dame
school, a lady who's educated, or you went to a penny school. And there you
learned to read and write English, because the day you arrived in the grammar
school, and this was true in Stratford, you began your studies in German, in
Latin and translated them into English. If you didn't know English, you
couldn't do it.
Now, the point is, well, you asked the question and I'll answer it.
WFL: At some point, did the William Shakespeare that we know leave Stratford
and go to London?
LM: Yes, he did.
WFL: And approximately when, from your research, was that?
LM: About 1587.
WFL: And could you describe to the jury the dramatic background, what was
going on in the theater and grammar in London at the time that William
Shakespeare went to London?
LM: Well, let's put it this way. In 1564, when Shakespeare was born, there
was no professional theater in England. The first professional theater in
England was built in 1576, when Shakespeare was 12 years old.
Shakespeare later on went to London. He most likely, you would have to say
that because he began to write plays, got into a company somewhere. He may
have rewritten plays first. He acted in the plays, he became the principal
dramatist for the company, writing for them two plays every year for about 20
years. And he had the background to do it.
WFL: And could you describe to the jury Shakespeare's reputation in London in
the period 1580-1590 until 1600?
LM: Well, he wrote plays. In those days, it wasn't the custom to put a name
on the title page. Sometimes they did, sometimes they didn't. But the plays,
many of them, were entered into the stationer's register, which was the
copyright office of the time.
Even though his name is listed in the registry as having written a play, the
play was published later without his name on the title page. They didn't care
much. And I'm going to ask you, what was your favorite program and who writes
it? You know who acts in it, but you won't know who's written it. It was so
in Shakespeare's time.
But eventually, all the plays were collected and printed under Shakespeare's
WFL: Before we get to that, in the time that Shakespeare was in London before
he returned to Stratford, were there some contemporary documents that were
published in London that listed Shakespeare or indeed listed both Shakespeare
and de Vere.
LM: Well, there were documents. I don't really quite get the question.
WFL: During the time that William Shakespeare was in London, were there
documents published that listed or named William Shakespeare?
LM: Yes. Poems.
WFL: Could you describe those documents?
LM: Well, the first real thing that he published was the tale of his
invention, was Aebeaes & Adonis. He dedicated this to the Earl of
The next year he wrote The Rape of Lucrece, which he dedicated to the
Earl of Southhampton. In 1594, he acted before the queen, and we know that
because in 1595, his company was paid for this performance. And Shakespeare's
name was mentioned as one of the chief actors in the company.
WFL: And at some point at or about that time, was there a list prepared by
one Francis Meres, that listed various playwrights in London at the time?
LM: Well, the most important documents that we have is a book by Francis
Meres, M-E-R-E-S, called Palladis Tamia, or Writ's Treasury. This man listed
12 plays written by Shakespeare. The best were comedy and tragedy, better than
all the authors, or at least as good as all the authors of Greece and Rome,
Shakespeare excelled them all. He mentioned 12 plays, six comedies and six
WFL: Did the publication by Mr. Meres also name Edward de Vere?
LM: Edward de Vere is also mentioned there, yes.
WFL: And what is he mentioned for?
LM: He is represented as a writer of comedy. There is not one single
reference anywhere in the world that the Earl of Oxford wrote a tragedy.
WFL: Now, do we know when Edward de Vere died?
WFL: And after 1604, well, when did Shakespeare die?
WFL: Now after, 1604, after DeVere died, were Shakespeare plays written and
LM: Well, yes, there were. There were 12 plays written after the Earl of
Oxford died. I could give you a list of them, but, take my word for it that
there are 12, and they are the greatest plays -- MacBeth,King Lear, Othello.
What else? Anthony & Cleopatra, Timon of Athens...no, Hamlet was written
before, in 1601.
That's a good question, really, because the proper edition of the play was
printed in 1604. And who wrote the play, up and finished it up? They say that
the poor Earl, having nothing to do, spent the last years of his life revising
his plays that he had written before that time. But we don't know anything
about that, it's a pure surmise made out of the whole cloth.
WFL: Now, after Shakespeare's death, have scholars made efforts or have they
determined the dating of various plays that you've described as having taken
place subsequent to 1604?
LM: One of the great reasons why the Oxfordian position folds --
WFL: Before we get to that, who are the scholars that have determined that
Shakespeare's plays were -- some of them were written after 1604?
LM: Edmund Malone, in the 18th century, wrote three additional Shakespeare,
published three additional Shakespeare, and he wanted to find out the order of
the writing. And by reading them and evaluating them, he made a list of what
he thought was the proper order.
Now scholars have been doing this for years and years and years since that
time. So that by 1930, when E.K. Chambers, the greatest scholar of all, edited
Shakespeare and wrote the life of Shakespeare and the history of the stage in
four volumes, he did it again and counted the lines that Shakespeare wrote,
measured the verse structure, the blank verse, the weak endings, light endings,
the use of rhyme.
And Shakespeare, being a practicing, dynamic dramatist, always improved his
writing of blank verse so that, let us say, there are, say, 20 lines of blank
verse in the early plays, which the lines stop at the end, end-stop lines. Now
at the end of his career would [repeat] this, was the other way around. About
95% of the lines were end-stop.
The rhyme decreased constantly. The weak endings, the light endings, which
meant that you didn't stop at the end of the line but kept on going, run-on
lines, kept increasing.=
Now if you take a play, say from Anthony & Cleopatra, say, 1609, and say
that Shakespeare wrote this in 1583, it won't work. That style didn't exist at
that time. No one else or hardly but Shakespeare wrote in this fine,
blank-verse style. Shakespeare was, I must say, and people object, but he was a
genius. I've been reading Shakespeare for, well --
WFL: Whoa. In 1623 was there a publication also of some significance that
related to Shakespeare?
LM: In 1623 they listed in the stationer's register 16 plays which had not
been ever published before. Some of them had been listed to be stayed, in
other words, we knew if he wrote the play, that the company ordered it to be
stayed so no one else could come in and take that play and publish it.
Now, these 16 plays, added to the other plays, made a total of 36 different
plays which Shakespeare wrote. Now if these other plays never appeared with
Shakespeare's name on the title page, then they did appear in the first folio
edited by his personal friends and colleagues of 20 years, John Heminge and
The eulogy, actually five eulogies, the chief one written by Ben Jonson,
saying that these are the works of a swan of England. Stratford is on the Avon
river. And acknowledge essentially Shakespeare has the authorship of all the
Well, up until 1623, there were published about 45 different editions of the
plays, say six of Richard III, the IV, Hamlet and so on. And whether they had
the name on the title page or not, there are hereby given to Shakespeare in his
complete comedies, histories and tragedies. And you can't take those away from
LM: These were personal friends of his, with whom he acted, who knew him well
and selected all the plays which had been published and had not been published.
And for the first time they published them to keep the memory of so worthy a
friend, as was Shakespeare, alive.
WLF: Right. Now, when, for the first time to your knowledge, was there ever
a suggestion made that Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, was the author of the
LM: A long time later. 1920.
WLF: And who made that suggestion?
LM: Thomas Looney.
WLF: I'd like to briefly address some of the arguments raised by the Earl of
Oxford's supporters. The first relates to the use by the Earl of Oxford of a
pseudonym, that Shakespeare is, in fact, a pseudonym for the Earl of Oxford.
What is your view of that?
LM: I will say, categorically, under oath, that Oxford never is known to have
taken the name William Shakespeare. It's all fabrication. Thomas Looney
needed somebody to replace Shakespeare and he selected this man, the 17th Earl
of Oxford, and said he's the only man who could have written the poetry that
Shakespeare wrote later on.
I have read most of the works of the Earl of Oxford. He's a good poet, but he
stands nowhere near Shakespeare. And that's not my opinion, I'm not a great
literary critic. But all the critics who have read these plays say the poetry
is... some of them use the same verse structure that Shakespeare
used, but they are not of the caliber of William Shakespeare himself.
WFL: Now you earlier mentioned that Francis Meres wrote a listing of
playwrights and named both de Vere and Shakespeare. Is there any indication
that Edward de Vere wrote tragedies during the course of his lifetime?
LM: Well, I think I said that before. There were two references, and this is
the whole theory of the Oxfordians, that Oxford was busy penning comedies. And
I think one of these references is an outgrowth of the other. This man didn't
know himself, but he took the other author's, George Pitman's work, and he also
said Oxford is busy penning comedies.
If he wrote anything, he had a company of born actors, he may have written
interludes, he may have written some kind of comedies for the company. He had
a company called Paul's Boys.
But he never wrote, according to anything I've ever read, and I defy the
opposition to say anything, that Oxford ever wrote a single tragedy. That they
take the comedies as gospel, that he wrote comedies, then they must take as
gospel also the fact that they never mention Oxford as having written a
WFL: Have you reviewed the letters and writings of the Earl of Oxford to
determine if there's any mention or any indication in any of his contemporary
writings that he, in fact, was Shakespeare or using a pseudonym?
LM: No. There's a collection of letters published about six or seven years
ago by a man named Fowler in New Hampshire, I think he is, a thick, fat
book almost as fat as Ogburn's book, of the letters of Oxford. And he
points out that Oxford says I love you and Shakespeare says I love you.
Therefore, that means that the man who wrote the letters also wrote the
They're not as simple as that, they're not as simple as that. But there are a
great many references which are alike. And I will say to you, if I say to this
gentleman here, well, write an essay on the war in Vietnam, and I write an
essay on the war in Vietnam, 75% of it would be the same. We watch the same
TV, we read the same newspaper, look at the same magazines, and the content has
to be the same.
These men were contemporaries, living in the same London that we have now.
Not the same London, but maybe 250,000 people then, and the language wasn't
what it is now. You know, it's more extended.
So that they could have repeated themselves and that doesn't mean that they...that the two men are the same person. It was just not
possible. The mind doesn't work that way.
WFL: There's also a suggestion, Professor Marder, that Shakespeare was
illiterate and hence could not have written the plays. What is your opinion of
LM: I don't want to use the word, but I will. It is ridiculous. I have a
doctoral degree from Columbia University. And I have studied Elizabethan
handwriting on my own, so I could read the original documents, and the
handwriting that Shakespeare wrote is known as Elizabethan Secretary Script.
It is like German writing today. It looks like, say, chicken scratching but
that was the language in which they wrote.
And that's the language of -- the handwriting that Shakespeare used. His
handwriting in the will is that way, but that's another subject. And the
italic script which is used today was just about coming into use. To call
Shakespeare's writing illiterate scribbles is absolutely untenable.
WLF: I'm running short of time, so I just have one more question. The
argument also advanced here is that Shakespeare could not have written the
plays because he didn't have the education and he was not of the nobility. Do
you have a view as to Shakespeare being a genius and have the ability to write
the plays with the vast vocabulary that is shown in the plays?
LM: Well, the grammar school, we don't have the curriculum of the Stratford
grammar school, but the masters in the school in Stratford were dons from
Oxford. They were paid exactly twice the salaries of teachers in other
schools, maybe they didn't have a house or something, so they were paid twice
And they taught the curriculum which they had in other schools. They didn't
have any Dick and Jane books in those days. They read eight years of Latin.
Now if you take eight years of Latin, and it wasn't baby sop(?), they wrote
some things, Manchuanis(?), which was written for young people.
He got a fine education. His brain was well trained and I think, too, I can
say that the because he knew he wasn't like the university wits, those people
who had graduated from the university, Oxford or Cambridge, who wrote plays, he
had to do a lot of it on his own.
So he must have read widely. He had a brain like a sponge. And he used more
words than anybody in the Elizabethan times.
WFL: Could you tell the jury approximately how many words were in
Shakespeare's vocabulary, as you have determined them from your own analysis?
LM: I haven't counted myself, but every one that accepts the count at 17,677
words. This was done back in 1934. If you add -- that includes sing as one
word. That if you take sing, sang, singing and sung, that's four words. So
Shakespeare then had a vocabulary of over 25,000 different words.
There's only one man in all of England at the time who had more words in his
vocabulary -- Philemon Holland, whose life's work was translating books
from the Latin and Greek. And he had to invent words and took Latin words and
Greek words and made them into English. Well, he had a large vocabulary.
But Shakespeare had...As I said before, a brain
like a sponge. Anything he read or did or saw, he knew. In the play King
Lear, the women there are like tigers. He calls them tigers. He uses, I
think, 67 different animals -- vipers, snakes, tigers, bears, vultures -- to
characterize his characters.
When it comes to a subject like food, I had to do something for a company
recently, there are over 350 kinds of words relating to food in Shakespeare.
Another thing is law --
WFL: Well, I think my time is about out, so -- could you describe also, with reference to legal issues --
LM: Let me finish the last one first.
LM: The first book on Shakespeare's specialized knowledge was the insects in
Shakespeare. And they went on from there: hunting and fishing, botany, flora
in Shakespeare, animals in Shakespeare, Shakespeare as a soldier. They say
because he has so many references to the military, he must have been a
But law is very, very important. I wrote a paper, 1946, on aspects of law in
Shakespeare. And I read a great deal of material. I was supposed to include
it in my dissertation, but my professor says you have enough on your head, so I
just dealt with Shakespeare's music.
Another subject on which Shakespeare was very, very efficient, and as
Fordings(?) will tell you, about how could Shakespeare have known so much
about music? Well, Shakespeare has around 500 references to music in his
plays. Coming to Mall(?), I didn't do this one myself, I just used the
scholarship that was available, but two men named Clockson(?) and Warren(?),
wrote a book, a very, very fine book, one of the best written by lawyers, The
Law of Property and, I'm plugging for points, and --
WFL: This isn't a criminal case.
LM: If I keep it up, it will be! But they wrote on the law of property. But
these men were good scholars. Lawyers, if they're good, they're good.
And these two men read all the works of practically every major dramatist of
the time completely and catalogued all the legal references and allusions in
the plays. And they say categorically that Shakespeare uses the same amount of
law or even less law than most of his contemporaries.
That the idea say of, to quote Mark Twain, Mark Twain said, in the book called
Is Shakespeare Dead?, that if you can prove to me that Shakespeare knew all
this law, he would give up the idea that Francis Bacon wrote the plays.
We have it, it's now available. But we're never told this by some people in
WFL: One final question on Shakespeare and the law. In any of Shakespeare's
plays, is there any trial that takes place in a court? Is there any trial
LM: For me to be questioned, you know that. In spite of the fact that in my
article, which was later on published in part, every single play of
Shakespeare's depends on some legal principle. The Merchant of Venice: ...(inaudible) seal off this bond or you cannot do it, you must earn your 3,000
Or the fault lies over a daughter. Over a girl's life, to refuse a man her
virginity in order to save her brother's life. Shakespeare sets up a legal
principle at the beginning, which the entire audience immediately says that's
true, it's the law. And therefore, they can watch the play to see how this
legal thing results.
But there are trials in Shakespeare's plays, that before dukes, before lords,
before dungeons in Venice, in Othello, that there's never a single trial that
takes place in a court room.
And I was told by a lawyer today that the fact that a man is a lawyer and who
knew this much law wouldn't put a trial scene in the court in the play seems
ridiculous. He would have had some legal trials. But Shakespeare doesn't.
It's all staged law.
WFL: Mr. Marder, the other side has some questions for you, so if you could
be patient and stay there.
That concludes the direct examination. The Oxfordians can cross-examine
for 15 minutes.
Q: Thank you, Your Honor. Professor Marder, I assume you make a lot of
money on those books that are based upon the fact that --
LM: You may be a scholar, but you're not a literary scholar.
Q: I see.
LM: A man writes a book these days to get a raise, not to make money.
Q: You mention Mark Twain. Incidentally, did Mark Twain write Huckleberry
Q: I thought it was Samuel Clemens.
LM: Everyone knew it was Clemens. Someone told me today --
Q: Well, Professor, not about what someone told you. I have another
question for you here.
JUDGE: You asked a question. Let him answer it.
Q: Well, I think he did answer, Your Honor, with all due respect.
LM: I answered, but there was no...
Q: Did George Eliot write Silas Marner?
Q: George Eliot.
Q: What about Marianne Evans? Have you heard of her?
LM: Yeah. ... (inaudible) Silas Marner, too.
Q: Is she related to George Eliot in some way?
LM: Well, people did take pseudonyms.
Q: Oh, did they really, did they really? How about Voltaire? Did Voltaire
LM: Well, yes. He wrote --
Q: Now what you've told us, I gather, what you've learned in this marvelous
number of years of study, is what you've learned from reading the plays. Is
LM: Yes. And scholarship.
Q: And counting the words in the plays and doing all those marvelous things.
And seeing that the plays themselves have matters relating to the law in them?
Is that right?
Q: And matters relating to the royal courts?
Q: Is that right? And matters relating to Italy and Denmark and France and
LM: Now what's the question?
Q: Are all of those things in the play?
LM: They're in the plays, but you're not going to force me to say that Shakespeare had to have travelled --
Q: No, no, no, sir. Let's now talk about this fellow from Stratford. I
gather he was christened, at least that's what the Church says, as Gulielmus
Shackspere. That's correct, is it not?
LM: That's true.
Q: And his father was illiterate. Is that right?
LM: Um, yes, his father was illiterate.
Q: And his daughters were illiterate?
LM: Suzanna could sign her name.
Q: She could sign her name. Could she do any more than sign her name?
Q: Neither could his wife.
Q: So all of these people -- father, wife, daughters -- were all illiterate
in the family of this man who was the greatest writer in the English-speaking
LM: What can I say? In English life -- the wife probably came from
Austria-Hungary. She was practically illiterate in English. But he knew his
own language very well.
Q: Answer the question.
LM: OK. I'll give you an analogy.
Q: Now, you can't demote the marvelous grammar school they had in Stratford.
Do you have any evidence whatsoever that this fellow Shackspere ever went to
LM: There is no evidence for anyone having gone to that school. There were--
Q: And do you have any evidence --
LM: No records exist! For anybody.
Q: In the 375 years since his death and all, the investigation nobody found
any indication that Shackspere or anybody else went to the grammar school. Is
LM: They went to school. They had boys in town who wrote their fathers'
letters in Latin. Richard Field went on to become a noted printer in
Q: But I'm not asking you about Richard Field. I'm asking you about Gulielmus
LM: But both are graduates of the same school.
Q: But you have no evidence that he graduated from that school, do you? or
even that he went there?
LM: His father held practically every office in town. The school was a
pre-grammar school and especially to people, you know, of John Shakespeare's
... (inaudible). The idea of not sending his son to that school is utterly
ridiculous. Because he had no education, he would positively, I think, have
sent his son to that school
Q: I see. Do you know if this fellow Shackspere ever studied at a
LM: Ever what?
Q: Ever studied at a university?
LM: Never did.
Q: Never did. Do you know if he ever travelled to Italy?
LM: Shakespeare never travelled to Europe.
Q: Did he ever travel to France?
LM: No, not to France.
Q: Could he speak or read Greek?
Q: Greek. Could he speak or read Greek?
LM: He ... (inaudible) had small Latin and less Greek.
Q: Small Latin and less Greek. How about Italian, sir?
LM: No Italian.
Q: Is it not true that in many of the plays there are references to books
written only in Italian and only in Greek that were not translated?
LM: Someone must have had a translation somewhere which wasn't yet
Q: I see.
LM: You have to assume that, because Shakespeare wrote 10 plays which are set
in Italy. Shakespeare wrote only one play besides the histories which are set
in England, The Merry Wives of Windsor. People weren't so -- the stories were
far away and long ago and Italian intrigue and so forth --
Q: ... (inaudible) And the author knew Italian, did he not?
LM: Did he what?
Q: The author knew Italian, the author of these plays.
LM: He must have known a little bit.
Q: Yes, and he must have known a little Greek, also, sir. Right?
Q: He must have known a little Greek, also?
LM: I will say no.
Q: Is it true that this fellow Shake-spere was not a member of the royal
Q: Is it true that he never lived in the royal court?
Q: Is it true that when he died there were no eulogies at the time of his
LM: Um, maybe I can say maybe, because eulogies may have been written --
Q: Well, is it true or not, sir? Your Honor, I have a limited time and
JUDGE: We're here to listen to the witness, not the attorney.
_: Three cheers for the judge. I was defending my liberty in this case --
_: Yes, yes, please.
LM: Shakespeare lived in the house of Christopher Mountjoy in London on
Silver and Monkwell Street, if you want to be specific and look it up. And
these people were French.
They made tires. Tires for the head. He made a tire for a wig worth a
Q: The witness is not being responsive. The question was whether there were
any eulogies of this man from Stratford at the time of his death?
LM: I will say yes.
Q: And who gave the eulogies? Who?
LM: Ben Jonson.
Q: Ben Jonson gave the eulogy in the first folio, did he not?
LM: That's right.
Q: That was in 1623, was it not, sir?
LM: If they're going to insist on their points I'm going to insist that he
wrote it in 1616, that the folio wasn't published until 1623 --
Q: I see.
LM: And the eulogies written --
Q: And he --
LM: The eulogy's written close to the heart. It doesn't seem that this is
something that somebody died seven years ago -- it's a great feeling.
Q: Seven years later they decided that these bones in the ground should be
eulogized, is that what you're telling me?
LM: Not seven years; he was only buried in 1616. But they published the
folio in 1616, 1623.
Q: And that's the first time you saw a eulogy to the greatest writer in the
LM: I wouldn't swear that they were written in 1616. I don't think so.
Q: And can you tell me whether anyone in the town went into mourning, other
than his close family?
LM: We don't know that; they didn't have newspapers.
Q: Well, you know an actor named Burbage, don't you?
Q: And he died three years after Shakespeare, isn't that correct?
Q: And he acted in Shakespearean plays, did he not?
Q: And when he died, all of London went into mourning, did it not?
LM: He was in London, Shakespeare was in Stratford, which is 90 miles
northwest of London. They may not have heard of it for two weeks.
Q: Do you think --
LM: And at that time, he was laid down in the ground, some people say
seventeen feet deep.
Q: Yes. Is it true that the plays, to a great extent, satirize and make fun
of people in the royal court?
LM: That is not true. That's not true.
Q: So there's no satirization in these plays of people in the royal court?
LM: There's one character, Lord Burghley, who may have been satirized as
Polonius in Hamlet.
Q: I see. You believe that Polonius in Hamlet was a satirization of
William Cecil, Lord Burghley. Is that correct?
LM: I don't believe that.
Q: Who does? You offered that to me, a moment ago.
LM: Well, some people say anything. But every time I see that play, and
they make Polonius into a blathering idiot, it's ridiculous. It nauseates
Polonius was an advisor, the chancellor for the senior Hamlet. He is now a
chancellor for Claudius. But why would they keep a jackass, you know, all over
Q: I know.
LM: He gives very fine advice. It's the finest advice --
LM: ... (inaudible) to begin. I don't know why they have to laugh at it.
Except that they want, in every tragedy, Shakespeare like to put some comedy
in for the lowlifes in the audience.
Q: We're not talking about anyone here.
LM: Right. Present audience excepted.
Q: Am I correct in understanding that in those days people who satirized the
royal court could be rather severely punished, including being beheaded?
Q: Is there some reason why, if this fellow from Stratford was the man who
was satirizing Lord Burghley as Polonius, that he wasn't beheaded?
LM: How come if Oxford wrote the plays, he wasn't beheaded?
Q: If nobody he wrote the plays, wouldn't that be a good reason, sir?
LM: No. The story that is wisest one is that when Oxford was writing when he
was young, his masks and comedies, he was writing for a courtly audience who
got a kick out of, they say, characterizing of the characters in court in the
But that is not true. Because later on, when Shakespeare did it, it was
permitted, because now this is for the commoner audience. They would never
know that Oxford's father had died and his mother had married again very
quickly. And therefore, Hamlet was able to be written because Hamlet senior
died and his mother quickly married Claudius. These things happen in all
And the fact that this happened in Oxford's family doesn't prove that
Shakespeare could not have written Hamlet without his mother having gotten a
new husband very quickly. She was a passionate woman. She wanted a man.
Q: Professor, the judge has advised me that I have the opportunity for one
final question. And, in posing that question, it may require two questions.
I have an exhibit, Your Honor. I have made copies of the exhibits, which I
have, I believe, enough copies for all of the jurors.
They have been authenticated by the fact that they've been around for
years, which I gather is enough here in this court room.
Exhibit Number One, received in evidence. What I have given to the court and
jury, and I'm sorry, I'll give for the professor, is a series of exhibits. But
I'm only going to use one of them, Your Honor.
I'm referring to Exhibit Number Three.
LM: Do you have one picture on there or two?
Q: What I have shown the audience, professor, is one picture, which is the
picture that appears on the left side of Exhibit Number Three. Am I correct in
saying that that is the monument that was erected by Shakespeare's family and
friends at this grave, at least in its original form?
LM: That is not true. That is not true.
Q: When was that monument erected?
LM: What's his name? Dugdale wrote a book called The Antiquities of
Warwickshire. He went around to all the churches with people who drew
sketches, drew monuments and then gave them to his engraver to engrave for the
I don't know what Dugdale's sketch was given to the engraver in this
particular case, but this is not the monument that is over the grave.
Q: I understand it's not the monument that's over the grave today, sir. The
question is whether this was a monument that was over the grave early now.
Now in addition to Dugdale, a fellow named Rowe also has a picture quite
similar to this?
LM: Yes, Nicholas Rowe.
LM: Nicholas Rowe, he thought this wasn't Dugdale, he thought it was the
Q: And it depicts the greatest writer in the English-speaking world, holding
a bag of grain, does it not?
LM: That's what it looks like, yes.
Q: And the man named Shackspeare from Stratford was a grain merchant, was he
Q: And then some 132 years later -- One hundred thirty-two
years later, that monument was changed, was it not? And it now is at it appears on the right side?
LM: If this is the last question, I'm going to take a half-hour to answer it.
In 1740 --
Q: Answer the question.
LM: The monument was not changed because I have read the actual letters
between the Stratford authorities and the people who repaired the monument.
They want it repaired exactly as it was before --
Q: And they --?
LM: That was done in 1748. A friend of mine has a picture of them in 1734 of
the monument, and it looks like the one on the right.
Q: So it is a -- I just need to finish this one thought, Your Honor. It is
your contention, then, that the original monument did not show the man with the
bag of grain and the 132 years later they put a quill pen in his hand because
it helped the economy in Stratford? Thank you.
LM: If that were the case, it would be so. But let me tell you, I have it in
my newsletter, I answered that question in 1963. And the letter --
Q: Be brief, be brief.
LM: I'll try. The monument was repaired and it was made exactly the way it
was here. But if you look at Dugdale, he also drew other monuments in the
church. Sir Thomas Carew is lying there in effigy next to his wife. Carew
is on the outside, the wife is on the inside. You go to Stratford ...
(inaudible) what do you see? The wife is on the outside and the husband's on
the inside. Maybe she got tired, went to the bathroom, came back and got on
the wrong side of the bed.
They made mistakes. You have the picture of King Charles --
Q: OK. We've got a time limit, Jacob. Finish your answer.
LM: King Charles' picture in Dugdale on his horse with his right foot up.
If you now see the monument, the left foot is up. The horse changed.
The man did not know how to ... (inaudible) or draw and something, and he's
done this in other parts of the same book. You cannot say that this monument
Q: All right. Very well.There you go. Thank you.
JUDGE: The Oxfordians may proceed.
LM: That's only one-tenth of what I have to say.
Q: Thank you, Your Honor.
JUDGE: Call your witness.
Q: I call to the stand Charles Francis Topham de Vere Beauclerk, the Earl
Do you wish to make an opening statement?
CB: Our opening statement will be carried basically by the witness, but I
think when the evidence is heard, the audience, and particularly the jury, will
conclude that there is no way that Gulielmus Shackspere, the father of the
illegitimate daughters, the untravelled man, could conceivably have written
these beautiful plays and that the only man who appropriately fits is Edward
de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford.
Q: And with that, Lord Burford, I would ask you if you would just very briefly
JUDGE: I just want to say opening statements are not evidence.
Q: Thank you, Your Honor. Lord Burford, would you briefly identify yourself
for the jury and His Honor and the audience, so that they will know who you are
and why it is you know about the subject you are going to address?
CB: Yes. I'm a graduate of Oxford University, where, in addition to studying
modern languages, I set up the de Vere Society for research into the Elizabethan
and Jacobean eras. And into Elizabethan and Jacobean history and literature.
For the last two years, I have been lecturing around the United States on the
subject of the Shakespeare authorship.
Q: Very good. Thank you. Briefly, before we get into the major part of the
subject, we just had a little discussion with Professor Marder about the
monuments. And I'd like to have you clarify the issue with regard to the
monuments. The exhibit is now before the court, and the jurors have it as
CB: The monument was most definitely changed. We have to make a distinction
between the sketches that Dugdale did himself and the sketches which he gave
to his employees to do.
Dugdale's own sketches are very accurate, indeed. In fact, this one is his
own sketch. It was still in Warwickshire, Merivale Hall in Atheston,
which is where it was found. And it can be seen by the public today.
Even if Dugdale was a bad engraver, here he was, standing in the Stratford
church, in front of the monument to the greatest writer of all time, and he
doesn't even notice that the man has a pen in his hand and has a writing
surface underneath. Instead, he substitutes a sack of grain. This is hardly
Q: Thank you. Is it your contention that the friends and family of the man
from Stratford, had he been indeed the greatest writer in the English-speaking
world, would not have shown him holding a sack of grain, but would have, more
appropriately depicted him?
CB: Absolutely. He would have been recognized by his fellow townsmen of
Stratford, which he never was.
Q: Would you, shifting away from Gulielmus Shackspere the fellow from
Stratford, would you tell us something about the background of the Earl of
Oxford, the 17th Earl, Edward de Vere?
CB: Edward de Vere was born with theater and literature coursing through his
veins. Not only did his father and his grandfather have acting companies under
their patronage, but three of his uncles were famous writers: Lord
Sheffield, the Earl of Surrey, and Arthur Golding.
In fact, both Golding and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, influenced
Shakespeare in a big way. No scholar denies this. For instance, Henry Howard,
the Earl of Surrey, was the first man in England to write in the Shakespearean
sonnet form. He also pioneered blank verse in English in his translation of
certain book of Virgil's Aeneid. Shakespeare, of course, made blank verse his
own. And of course, wrote 154 sonnets in this form.
As for Golding, not only Oxford's uncle but also his tutor, Golding
translated, made the famous translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses, which many
scholars have described as Shakespeare's favorite book. And he did this
translation while working with his young ward, Edward deVere.
So we have these direct links between Edward deVere and the cultural and
intellectual background of Shakespeare.
Edward de Vere was a prodigy. He matriculated at Cambridge University at the
age of 8, which was early, even for those years. Bacon was in his teens, so
was John Donne, when he attended.
Now even while he was at Cambridge, works of literature were being dedicated
to him. Some writers said in their dedications, for instance, that his infancy
from the beginning had been ever sacred to the muses.
So, not only were Oxford's tutors involved with books, which influenced
Shakespeare, but Oxford himself, very early on, became a patron of literature
and showed himself interested in the theatrical world.
His father died when he was 12, and he would have inherited his acting
Now, he earned his degree from Cambridge at the age of --
JUDGE: What is the question?
Q: The question is to tell us something about Oxford's background and
education, which this seems to be quite responsive to, Your Honor.
JUDGE: It's a long answer.
Q: I appreciate that. It's an extensive background that the man has.
CB: Having received his degree at age 14 from Cambridge, he went on to Gray's
Inn, where he studied the law for three years. Of course, Gray's Inn was a
hotbed of theatrical activity of the time. Many of the students wrote plays
there and had them performed. Of course, there was no public theater at that
Then after that, he became one of the leading lights at the court of
Elizabeth. He had been at the court since the age of 12. When his father
died, he became a royal ward of the crown.
Q: And who was it who took care of him at the court? Who became his effect
CB: It was William Cecil, Lord Burghley, who was his guardian and later his
father-in-law. And the queen very much became a sort of... a mother figure to him. He was very close to the queen at this time and is described as her favorite, that she delighted in his person, his valiantness and his intellect more than in any other.
Q: Very briefly, Lord Burford, can you tell us about some of his travels?
CB: Yes. IN 1575, at the age of 25, he made an extensive tour of the
continent -- France, Italy, Germany, the Low Countries, and even Sicily. And
he was travelling for 16 months. He visited all those towns, and we have
records of this, in northern Italy in which Shakespeare sets his Italian
Q: Thank you. Is there any study that's been done of Oxford's poetry and
letters that offers any evidence that he was, indeed, the author of the
CB: Absolutely. This is some of the most compelling --
Q: Would you tell us about them, please?
CB: These are some of the most compelling evidence that we have. In fact, we
have about 30 poems which have survived with Oxford's initials or name on them.
And these were contributed to those anthologies of the time. In fact, he was
a much more prolific poet than that Gabrielle Harvey, in an address to Oxford
in 1578, mentions his prolific verses in both Latin and English. And Oxford
wrote under many poses, like Ignoto, Meritum Petere Grave, Ever & Never, as did many of the noblemen writers of that time.
But even among those works which are specifically and unequivocally attributed
to Oxford, we immediately see the parallels between him and Shakespeare -- the
self-expression, the diction, the self-dramatization. Oxford's early poems are
remarkable because the are, in fact, soliloquies.
This young man comes to the front of the stage. Some of them are written as
early as when he was 13. And he dramatizes his own --
One of the major concerns is this theme of the loss of his good name.
His legitimacy was challenged by his half-sister when he was 13 and he wrote
this series of poems. Of course, loss of good name is a preoccupation of the
author of the sonnets.
And there's this one poem he wrote called Fame, Would I Sing But Fury Makes Me
Fret, which is a perfect seed of one of Hamlet's soliloquies. He's raging
throughout the first three stanzas of this poem.
And then in the last stanza, he says, "My heart shall fail and hand shall lose
his force, for some device shall pay despite his due. And fury shall consume
my careful course or raise the ground whereon my sorrow grew. Know thus in
rage of ruthful mind refuse. I rest revenge, by whom I am abused."
Therefore, he dissipates his feelings of revenge through verbalizing his
emotions, just as Hamlet accuses himself of unpacking his heart with words like
"whore" or falling and cursing like a very drab(?).
So we have this remarkable similarity between these two, from a very early
age. And Louis Marder says, Well, he's examined Oxford's poetry and it doesn't
match up to Shakespeare. Well, of course, what he doesn't allow for is the
development of the artist.
If you compare Timon of Athens or The Comedy of Errors with Hamlet, they don't
really seem to measure up. In fact, computer-aided statistics, which were done
in California, brought this out. They said that certain works of Shakespeare
were not by the same person, because you have that development. The English
language was just being formed at that time, so it was very fluent and fluid.
Q: Lord Burford, I want to interrupt every now and then to keep this moving
because we're on a bit of a time constraint.
And if you could shift over, and I apologize for interrupting, but does the
study of Oxford's life yield any compelling parallels in the plays and the
CB: Yes, indeed, it does.
Q: Would you please explain, relatively briefly?
CB: Well, if we start with the sonnets, which are very revealing, and, in
fact, you can use the sonnets in Hamlet together to demonstrate that Hamlet was
a self-portrait of the author. But I don't think any scholar would disagree
that Hamlet is the author's fullest self-portrait. The persona of the author
of the sonnets is identical to the persona of Hamlet. Again, their method of
self-presentation, self-dramatization is identical.
Now, one of the preoccupations of the author of the sonnets, and this is a
very sore point for the Stratfordians, is this: On the one hand, he recognizes
his poetry is imperishable. Nor marble nor the gilded monuments of princes
shall outlive this powerful line.
On the other hand, he is equally sure that his own name and reputation will
die to the world. In addressing the fair youth in sonnet 81, he says, "Or I
shall live your epitaph to make or you survive when I in earth am rotten. Your
memory from hence, 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 author is telling us, in the plainest terms, that he will die to the
world. And this is exactly what happened to Edward deVere until he was
excavated by Thomas Looney by 1920, he was eradicated from the records by the
politicians of the time, a sort of pre-meditated oblivion.
And Shakespeare's contemporaries recognized this. Marston, in a passage
which scholars say refers to Shakespeare, refers to his "silent name, which one
And the author of Wit's Recreation, in 1640, says, "Shakespeare, we must
be silent in thy praise, cause our encomiums can but blast thy bays. Praise can
but ruin your reputation, which envy could not, that thou didst so well. Let
thy histories prove thy chronicle."
I.e., the author's story is told in his works. And that's exactly Ben Jonson
says in his verses opposite the Droeshout graving, when he says, "Don't look
at this ridiculous mock-up picture. If you want to know about Shakespeare,
read his book, because that's where his self-portrait is."
Now, I must make a few points about the sonnets --
Q: We've got to get -- we'll make time.
CB: I'm answering his question. He asked me about parallels and I'm
JUDGE: Next question.
Q: All right. I think the judge is giving me a signal he'd like us to move
on, Lord Burford. And I would like to shift a little and have you answer a
question that I think everyone has in their mind. And that is the question of
why did Oxford's authorship have to remain a secret?
CB: The reason is very simple. And that is that Oxford, in his plays, was
satirizing court grandees, like William Cecil, Lord Burghley. Even Professor
Marder conceded that that would be a treasonable offense in the times.
And it's a very selective analogy just to say that, oh, he's just lampooning
Lord Burghley in Hamlet. But if Polonius is Lord Burghley, then Oxford, his
son-in-law, is Hamlet. Gertrude is the queen, Claudius is the Earl of
Lancaster and contemporaries at court would have recognized this. You don't
just take one figure in a play like that and satirize them.
So, Oxford, then, had to hide his identity or it was hidden for him by the
politicians and the privy council of the time in order to protect the
reputations of people like William Cecil, Lord Burghley .
It was all right for the intimate court circle to laugh at this sort of
characterization. These were court dramas written by court dramatists. But if
these plays were to be put on the public stage, some mechanism was needed to
de-politicize and that's why the Stratford man comes in.
So that's what the basic issue is, it's protecting the reputations of people
in high places at the time and ensuring that official political propaganda of
the time was not subverted by Oxford.
The classic example was that of the virgin queen. Oxford has a number of
portrayals of Elizabeth in the plays, as Cressida, as Cleopatra, as Gertrude,
in which he portrays her private side, which was very much not as the virgin
queen at all, as her courtiers knew.
That's fine, among the club, among the elite. But in the public theaters, in
the world at large, the official propaganda must stand.
And Professor Marder, he's not a Stratfordian, he's a Sicilian. He's accepted
the official political propaganda of men like William Cecil, Lord Burghley.
Q: Now, we're running quite short on time. I have --
CB: We're not even half-way through.
Q: I understand.
CB: Who's the judge?
Q: I would like to show a couple of additional exhibits to the jury. And
what I am going to now show the jury and the audience is what is Exhibit Five.
And while I am putting Exhibit Five up for the rest of the audience, I'd
appreciate it if you would explain to the jury and the judge what Exhibit Five
CB: Yes. These are two portraits. On the left is a Welbeck portrait of
Edward de Vere and on the right is what is known as the Ashbou rne portrait of
Shakespeare. Of the twelve authenticated Renaissance portraits of
Shakespeare, eight of them depict him in nobleman's dress. And again, in the
Ashbourne portrait, he is in nobleman's dress. There was considerable
over-painting on this portrait to make it more like the Droeshout engraving
that appeared in the edition of the first folio.
But you can see clearly that these are the same men, Edward de Vere and
Shakespeare. He's wearing a nobleman's dress. X-ray work was done on this in
which the man shown in the Ashbourne portrait has Oxford's crest on his ring, on
the thumb there.
And not only is he wearing nobleman's dress, but his wife's coat-of-arms was
depicted in the top right-hand corner of the picture. So, not only do we have
this evidence that the x-ray yielded, but we have the family connection.
Because Oxford's second wife, Elizabeth Trenton, her niece, Anne, married
Thomas Cockayne of Ashborne Hall in Darbyshire.
When the family underwent some financial trouble, it would seem natural that
the Ashborne portrait was moved from Ashborne Hall to the Ashborne School,
where it was found in the nineteenth century.
Q: All right. Thank you. I next am going to show the jury and the
audience Exhibit Two. One moment, please. Exhibit Two, I believe, am I not correct, are the correct works of Shackspear?
CB: That's right, absolutely. This is all we have in this man's handwriting.
And it's extraordinary.
The one thing that I would notice immediately about these signatures is that
they are written with such difficulty, they are labored. And actually,
individual letters are formed differently in the different signatures.
Q: Now, do I understand that in each of these six signatures, the man from
Stratford spelled his name differently each time?
CB: That is correct.
Q: Do I understand that they didn't have word processors in the 16th
CB: That is correct.
Q: Or typewriters?
CB: That's correct.
Q: Or even ballpoint pens?
CB: ... (inaudible)
Q: But we are asked to believe that the author of 36 or 37 plays had a hand
such as this?
CB: Well, how on earth were the plays ever printed if they were working from
this sort of handwriting?
Q: The last exhibit I'd like to show -- we have another 15 minutes. This
will be Exhibit Six, which I'd like to exhibit to the audience.
Would you explain, Lord Burford, what Exhibit Six represents?
CB: This is the Bulbeck crest of Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of
Q: And what does it depict?
CB: It depicts a lion shaking a broken spear. This is his personal
difference in the motto, I mean, in the crest. Because the normal crest of the
Earls of Oxford was a lion holding up a bleeding paw. So he actually
introduced this. Draw on the significance of it.
Q: All right. What is -- that is the significance of it?
CB: Yes, of course, a visual pun on the name of Shakespeare. An important
point here is the Pallas Athena, the patron goddess of Athens, the
birthplace of the theater, was known as Hasti-Vibrans, or the spear-shaker.
It would be an extraordinary coincidence if the greatest playwright of all time
just happened to be born with the nickname of the patron goddess of the
If this is a writer who is having to conceal his identity, assuming a pen
name, then what better name than Shakespeare, or the spear shaker?
Q: The next question I'd like to ask is whether there has been any important
discovery of recent years that offers evidence of Oxford's authorship?
CB: Yes, certainly. There is a discovery made about two years ago.
Q: And what is that, sir?
CB: Is it of the Earl of Oxford's Geneva bible of 1570. We actually have a
record of him ordering this bible
Q: And can you tell us about this discovery?
CB: He has marked and annotated this bible in a thousand different places.
And a scholar, Roger Stritmatter from the University of Massachusetts at
Amherst, has done an extensive study of this bible.
And using this bible as a sort of golden key, he's been able to unlock many of
the passages in Shakespeare, which are engendered by the bible but which have
not been recognized by scholars in the past.
He sent his work to Naseeb Shaheen, professor of English at Memphis State
University, who is the leading scholar on Shakespeare and the bible in the
world. I was down in Memphis at the time, speaking at the University, and
Shaheen said the examples he had been sent knocked him off his seat.
Let me give you one example, because it's very important. In The Merchant of
Venice, in the final act, and indeed, there is an example of a trial scene in
Shakespeare, Portia says, "How far that little candle throws his beams. So
shines a good deed in a naughty world."
All commentators said, Oh, that is inspired by Matthew, 5:16: "Let your light
so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father,
which is in Heaven."
But Roger Stritmatter, using the Earl of Oxford's bible and the marked
passages, discovered it wasn't from Matthew at all but from Philippians
2:15, in which the two words "naughty" and "world" are juxtaposed: "That ye
may be blameless and pure and the sons of God without rebuke in the midst of a
naughty and crooked nation among whom you shine as lights in the world."
Roger Stritmatter is not a biblical scholar, but he has been able to make
these discoveries by using that golden source book, a book owned by
Q: Lord Burford --
CB: If I might answer the question you asked me before --
Q: Yes, I want to do that in my final question because I confess to not
being as erudite in the subject as you. And I'd like to give you an
opportunity to say a final couple of words, but make it relatively brief.
CB: Right. We do, in fact, have 12 minutes.
Q: And if you feel it necessary, you may consume the 12, but --
JUDGE: We will give you 13, if you need it.
CB: You cut me short when I got onto Oxford's letters. We have about 60
surviving letters of Oxford's. This is some of the most important evidence
that he was Shakespeare, if you look at the verbal correspondences between
these letters and the works of Shakespeare.
Just take one letter, Oxford's prefatory letter to Cardanaus' work,
De Consolatione, the translation by Bartholomew Clark. In that one letter
alone, Oxford coins 25 new words in the English language, words which the
Oxford-English dictionary says Shakespeare coined 20 years later. Words like
aptly, connection, elaborate, fluent, facetious, redundant - they all sound
familiar, but they were coined by Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, in the
And this is a very important point. And he coins words like insevill,
which Shakespeare never uses. And that's what you'd expect, because
Shakespeare is someone who uses more words, only once and never again, than I
used in the whole of the King James version of the bible. So he was a great
wordsmith. So was Oxford.
Secondly, does this phrase, in sonnet 121, you will remember it, in which
Shakespeare is complaining that baser born men have been set as spies upon him,
and of course, spying is one of the obsessions of Hamlet, who is spied on by
Polonius. And the oath of the sonnet says, "Of all my frailties, why are
frailer spies, within their wills, think bad what I count good? No, I am that I
am. And he that levels at my abuses reckons up his own."
Now, there is only one other use in the Elizabethan age, as far as I know, of
this phrase, which God used to Moses in the Book of Exodus, of I am that I am.
And that is by the Earl of Oxford in one of his letters, in an identical
He is complaining to Lord Burghley, who has set spies on him in his own
household, that this practice must stop. And he says, "But ... (inaudible), my
Lord, I pray, leave that course," meaning espionage, "for I mean not to be a
ward nor your child. I serve her majesty and I am that I am."
So these are the sort of remarkable parallels you get in the letters of the
Earl of Oxford and the accredited works of Shakespeare.
And there's an important point here. The works, the political works, that
appeared under Oxford's name stop when he is 26. Now, the opposite is true
with Shackspeare, is he is the author of Shakespeare, or Shakespeare, whoever he
Here you have a man who suddenly in 1590 wrote these incredible plays, out of
nowhere -- no literary apprenticeship, nothing. No sketches, no juvenilia.
Somebody starts writing these mature plays.
Oxford is the opposite. All that we have under his name, although we know he
continued writing at the 80s and 90s and to his death, are these early poems,
signed EO, or the Earl of Oxford.
If you put those poems together with the mature works of Shakespeare, you
begin to get the whole portrait of work. So there are two great mysteries
of Elizabethan literature. One, is Shakespeare, the other is Edward de Vere.
They explain each other.
Q: Thank you very much. If Oxford died in 1604, who wrote the plays subsequent thereto?
CB: Right. This is a point I wanted to tackle. This is where the
Stratfordian case really falls down because Oxford died in 1604. A pirated
edition of the sonnets appears in 1609, in which we are told, in no uncertain
terms, that the author is dead, even though the Stratford man has seven years
Now the Stratford man provided the dedication to all his other poetical works.
He dedicated them to the Earl of Southampton. The sonnets are his most
personal poetry, but he neglects to dedicate them. The printer, Thomas
Thorpe, dedicates them to a Mr. W.H., and in the dedication, he refers to
Shakespeare as "our ever living poet." "Ever living" is a term that has never
been used in the English language if someone is still alive. It means
immortal, hence dead. Shakespeare uses it in his plays many times, always of
So what happened when Oxford died in 1604, all the plays weren't fully written
out for publication. Some were left as sketches or free acts and they would
have been completed by a different hand. Stratfordians admit that.
They say that plays like Pericles, like Timon of Athens, like Cymbeline,
are collaborations. They're not collaborations. It's an absurdity to believe
that having written this triumph of Hamlet, at the height of his powers in his
late 30s, that Shakespeare would then collaborate with second-rate artists over
second-rate works of art.
And of course Cymbeline, Timon, they're nothing compared to Lear and Hamlet
and other works. It's much better explained if you posit an author who dies in
1604 without all the work prepared for publication. That makes sense of the
JUDGE: Thank you very much. That concludes the taking of testimony. At this
time, we'll have closing arguments -- I'm sorry.
Q: I just have a few questions, Your Honor.
JUDGE: You can have your 15 seconds. I didn't want to rush you.
Q: Mr. Burford, I gather from your presentation that there is a fundamental
premise to what you're saying and that is, that your view is that one has to
be, or was, at that time, a member of the nobility in order to be a genius. Is
CB: I never actually said that, I never even implied that. I would not agree
Q: All right. You would agree with me, however, that scholars have
interpreted Robert Greene's Groat's Worth of Wit, published in 1592, when
Shakespeare was 28, as having a reference directly to Shakespeare both as an
actor and as a playwright.
CB: Absolutely not.
Q: No, my question is not whether you agree with it, but scholars have
determined, have they not, certain scholars, that there is a reference in
Groat's Worth of Wit which makes a reference to Shakespeare as both an actor
and a playwright.
EB: Certain scholars say so.
__: All right. And the reference in Groat's Worth of Wit is a criticism, is
it not, according to some scholars, by using the word Shake-scene, that
Shakespeare was an actor who was becoming a playwright and Groat's Worth was
criticizing Shakespeare. Isn't that the view of some scholars?
CB: It is the desperate view of some scholars.
Q: All right. And, as a matter of fact, after the publication of Groat's
Worth, you would agree that Henry Chettle published an apology to
Shakespeare, did he not?
CB: He certainly did not. Could I put you straight on that? Well, no, he
didn't. You're wrong.
Q: All right. But there was an apology published by Henry Chettle
subsequent to the publication of Groat's Worth, was there not?
CB: There was.
Q: Now, in 1593, you would agree with me that Venus and Adonis was
published, a love poem, and it was signed by William Shakespeare, was it not?
CB: Whoever he was, yes.
Q: And in 1598, there really wasn't too much controversy as to who the two
were because in 1598 Francis Meers published A Wit's Treasury, did he
CB: He did.
Q: And in A Wit's Treasury a published manual of various playwrights.
Francis Meers lists William Shakespeare as a playwright, does he not?
CB: He does.
Q: And not only does he list William Shakespeare as a playwright, he also
lists Edward de Vere as a playwright.
Q: And he says that William Shakespeare was famous and excellent because of
his comedies and tragedies, does he not?
Q: And Mr. Meers says that Edward de Vere was known for his comedy, is that
Q: Now, following that there are several indications, are there not, that
William Shakespeare appeared in plays before Queen Elizabeth. Isn't that
right. There are contemporary documents on that.
CB: There are absolutely no documents at all for that. That is absolutely
wrong. Even Marder could not produce one.
Q: In 1594 there are documents showing that Shakespeare performed in Gray's
Inn and played Comedy of Errors, isn't that right?
CB: There is one recorded payment to William Shakespeare, which is
contradicted by another record of payment three months later in March, '95.
Q: In 1598, Ben Jonson had a cast list of his play, "Every Man and His
Humor," and he listed William Shakespeare as one of the actors, isn't that
CB: Yes, Shake-speare, whoever he was.
Q: Now, you don't mean to suggest, do you, that the William Shakespeare that
we know was illiterate at this time.
CB: I do.
Q: And you suggest that an actor who has to read plays and perform plays
was, in fact, illiterate.
CB: Most actors were at that time. They had their past(?) dictated to
Q: Now, in 1598 there's no question that Shakespeare was a very successful,
theatrical entrepreneur, isn't that right?
CB: There's no evidence that he was at all.
Q: Oh, he was an investor, was he not, in the Globe Theater.
CB: That's more like it. He was a commercial man; he was an administer.
Q: And he was a very successful investor, was he not?
CB: This was his met...
Q: And it's unlikely, is it not, that an illiterate man would be such a
successful investor in a theater in London, isn't that right?
CB: No, it is not unlikely at all. There were many very successful
illiterate businessmen at the time.
Q: Now, the court has asked you about the death of Edward de Vere in 1604.
There is no question, is there, that certain scholars who have done a lot of
research in this, have dated plays attributable to Shakespeare subsequent to
Q: And the two primary people who have dated the plays are Malone and E.K. Chambers, isn't that right?
Q: And they have dated at least 12 plays as having been written subsequent
Q: And one indication of these plays are events that took place subsequent
to 1604 which are reflected in those plays. Isn't that right?
CB: Well, you have to twist things.
Q: Alright. And one of the plays that is referenced by Chambers is Tempest, based on according to Chambers, a shipwreck in Bermuda in 1610.
And he says that based on the shipwreck occurring in 1610, the play was based
on that, based on an account, and therefore he dated that in 1611. Isn't that
CB: Now, you said we haven't come to hear the lawyers. I haven't got a word
__: This is cross-examination.
__: This is what's known as American cross-examination.
CB: It's known as a soliloquy.
__: This is the way American trials take place. (laughter)
__: He doesn't like the process. Next question.
__: Alright. And in 1623--
__: Nobody likes cross-examination, nobody does.
Q: In 1623, you agree with me, that friends of Shakespeare put together the
first folio containing at least 37, or 36 of his plays?
Q: And there was a eulogy in the first folio by Ben Jonson to Shakespeare
as the author of those plays, was it not?
CB: Shakespeare, whoever he was, yes.
Q: Now, as of the death of Edward de Vere in 1604, and up to the time of the
death of William Shakespeare in 1616, neither Edward de Vere's widow nor any of
his surviving children ever once suggested, did they, that Edward de Vere was
the author of Shakespeare's plays.
CB: No, why would they want to.
Q: And indeed your theory is that Edward de Vere was using a pseudonym.
Q: And the pseudonym that he was using, unlike Mark Twain, unlike Voltaire,
or unlike George Eliot, was the name of a living person, isn't that right?
CB: Yes, there was a front man, William Shakespeare. And indeed, the
connection is made by John Davies of Heriford in 1610 who refers to Shakespeare
... (inaudible) "English Terrence." And Terrence, of course, was an African
slave who was used as a front for two nobleman authors, ... (inaudible) and
Q: And don't you think it most remarkable that Edward de Vere would use,
without his consent, without any known consent, the name of a living person as
CB: Well, I believe there was absolute concern that the man was paid off and
packed back to Stratford.
Q: Now, you have also made reference to Shakespeare's signatures. In fact,
three of the six signatures were the signatures on his will, are they not?
Q: And those were signatures done in 1616 shortly before Shakespeare died.
Q: All of the signatures were made in his later years, were they not, when
the evidence was that Shakespeare was ill.
CB: There was no evidence that he was ill at all?
Q: And at the time that--
CB: In fact, ... (inaudible) the country.
Q: At that time Shakespeare made those signatures, the script is not what we
know today, that is italic script, it was secretary script, was it not?
CB: Yes. And as much secretary script which is legible, his is absolutely
Q: You suggest that Shakespeare, not being a noble man, not being well
educated, not having gone abroad, could not possibly have described events or
plays or written plays taken place in such places as Italy. Isn't that
CB: But, he couldn't have used specific knowledge which wasn't available in
__: Now, the thesis is that not having been to Italy, and not have seen
Italy, Shakespeare could not have written a play like "Much Ado About Nothing."
Isn't that right?
CB: That is putting words into my mouth. I'm saying where you have a passage
in a play which demonstrates a specific knowledge of Italian customs and
culture, and there were no Italian guidebooks at the time, one posits that the
author must have been there. I think that's the reasonable assumption to
Q: And so I ask you finally, how did Dante Alighieri write The Inferno? (laughter/applause)
CB: In exactly the same way that Edward de Vere wrote the plays of
Shakespeare, because The Divine Comedy, on many levels, is a satire on
his contemporaries, and on contemporary Florentine politics. So, he was doing
exactly what Edward de Vere was, satirizing the leading figures of the day.
Q: That concludes the taking of testimony. At this time we'll have brief
Judge Harrington, Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, we the lawyers will
attempt something hard for us. That is to be brief in our closings.
I want to say just a few words, but I trust they will make the point. None of
us in this room can deny that the plays and the sonnets that comprise the
Shakespearean canon are indeed the most extraordinary expression of literary
brilliance in the English language. So, we must then test that brilliance
against who could have been the author.
I won't talk to you about Huckleberry Finn and the others. But, let's talk
first as we attempted to do, about ... (inaudible) Shakespeare, the man from
Stratford. I don't think people have put on a very strong case that this was
as literary man. There's some sort of maddening, circular argument that he
must have gone to grammar school or else how could he write so well. But, of
course, that really proves very little.
I think it remarkable, if this fellow was a young, up and coming man of the
theater with the skills that he had that he kept his light under the bushel.
What is the reason why Shakespeare didn't want anyone to know that he was
writing these plays.
And if people did know that he was writing these plays, how can it be that
when this man died, there was essentially utter silence. Oh, I gather there
was a squeak of a eulogy seven years later. But, why wasn't all of England in
mourning as it was for Burbage the actor who merely acted in the plays
written by Shakespeare.
How could a man who never travelled to Italy write so many plays, with such
incredible accuracy about the Italian countryside and what was going on in the
Italian cities? How could a man who really didn't speak Greek and Italian deal
in his plays with books that were not even translated at the time he was
writing them? Indeed, how could a man who could scarcely write, write the plays
as was necessary?
I think the questions that abound about Shakespeare, the man from Stratford,
are enormous. And they are even more enormous when you put them into the
context of the fact that for 375 years or more since his death, hundreds,
thousands of scholars have poured over everything there is to find out about
this man. And when you see what little they have produced, it must cause you
pause to say why couldn't this great writer have left more around? Why
couldn't he leave any books in his will? Why weren't there any plays lying
around his house? Why didn't someone in the family say, "The great playwright
The question why is huge. And I don't think it's been answered here tonight.
But, if not the man from Stratford, then who? And who better than Edward
de Vere. He did have the classical education. Both Cambridge and Oxford, he
studied at Grays Inn. He travelled to Italy. He grew up in the Royal Court.
Indeed his stepfather, if you will, or surrogate, was William Cecil Burghley. He
had an involvement with the queen. He had all of the availability to know what
was going on. He had all the availability to satirize and know what was going
on internally in the court. He had the training and skill to do it. He indeed
was a writer himself. He was in the theater, as you heard Lord Burford tell
us, "the theater was in his family."
And why did he want to keep it a secret? Is that such an extraordinary thing
to do? I mean in recent years we can think much more quickly of someone like
Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Why didn't he rush his books to print in the Soviet
Union? Because it would have been very dangerous. And it would have been
equally very dangerous for Edward de Vere to have revealed himself at that time,
or even to have allowed his family that survived him to be discovered as the
family of the man who satirized Lord Burghley and others.
So, I think, we have here two things. I think we have questions that cannot
be answered, that have not been answered, that raise enormous doubt about
Shakespeare as to whether he could ever have done this brilliant work. And we
have an answer for you in a man who could, and I think you will conclude did do
it, Edward de Vere, the Seventeenth Earl of Oxford. I thank you. (applause)
WFL: Members of the jury, you ought to make your verdict on the basis of the
testimony, and not closing arguments, which are not evidence.
May I please the court and members of the jury. There is very direct and
very clear evidence that William Shakespeare lived. There are contemporary
documents that clearly refer to William Shakespeare. I have made reference to
Groat's Worth of ... (inaudible), a publication in the 1590's that refers, and
is recognized as referring to Shakespeare as an actor and as a playwright.
And perhaps most important, and totally unanswerable a list and publication of
Francis Meres which lists both Edward de Vere as a writer of comedy, and
Shakespeare as a writing of tragedy and comedy. There can't be any ambiguity
as to who these two men were at that time. There is clear evidence that
William Shakespeare lived in London, that he was an actor, that he appeared in
Ben Jonson's plays, and that he was an investor and a substantial businessman.
He owned a portion of the Globe Theater, and later Black Friars. And so there
is a clear chain and evidence here of Shakespeare.
Indeed, we also have the 37 plays that show that Shakespeare was writing these
plays over this period of time. As Mr. Marder pointed out, Shakespeare's name
appears on many of these plays.
In 1604, Edward de Vere died. Scholars who have looked at Shakespeare's plays
and have dated Shakespeare's plays, have concluded unequivocally that there are
at least 12 plays that were written subsequent to 1604, between 1604 and 1616.
And then finally, you have the first folio, a collection of all of
Shakespeare's plays with the exception of one. Put together by close friends
of Shakespeare, and particularly by Ben Jonson. And there is contained in the
first folio a eulogy to the man, William Shakespeare.
Now against this very clear evidence is the assumption that Edward de Vere was
using pseudonym. But, for that there is no evidence; there is no evidence
whatsoever that Edward de Vere was using a pseudonym.
And why, why would he be using the name of a living person as a pseudonym
during this period of time? I suggest to you that that is totally implausible.
In addition, we have a situation where no one during Shakespeare's life, no one
immediately after Shakespeare's life, has in any way suggested that there was a
pseudonym or a conspiracy of silence. And indeed, with all of the leaks at any
time in society, even today in government, one knows that you cannot ask all
actors, stage hands, people involved in the theater, to keep silent and keep
secret the fact that Edward de Vere was using Shakespeare's name without his
consent as a pseudonym.
Four hundred years have gone by before somebody came up with a thesis in 1920
that maybe Shakespeare wasn't Shakespeare because only a person of nobility
could have done those plays. And I suggest to you that history has shown that
there is no correlation whatsoever between nobility and genius.
JUDGE: Again, all arguments are not evidence. You're going to base your
verdict on the testimony from the stand. At this time, I will briefly give an
instruction on the law and in the tenor and spirit of the evening, I will try
it in iambic pentameter.
I'm not John Gaylgood, so I'm passing it out to the jury so they'll understand
it. Charge to the jury. The issue is who is the ... (inaudible), Oxford or
Will? The evidence you've just have heard. The charges on the law must now be
given. And must by you be strictly followed. And to the facts as found, this
law applied. Do not, to either side by favor sway for law permits no bias nor
But, only evidence must be considered and verdict reached regardless of what
follows. This case is to be viewed as cause between men of same standing and
position. For law makes no distinction as to rank. As player and noble, have
but equal roles in courts of law.
Judges of facts you are and weighers of the truth of witness words. Upon the
evidence alone a verdict rests. So close examine them, the sworned speech of
scholars, verse in drama's obscure law, and in the poetry of an antique age.
Give to their learned ruminations such weight as they may well deserve.
But, if not based on solid ground sufficient, their airy musings utterly
rebuke. Now to your duty with all good speed. Be not procrastinating like the
dane and slow to act. (laughter) But, like the comely judge from Venice fair.
Render a judgement nice according to the law. And give to each his pound of
flesh exact. No more, no less.
Jurors, to thy no self be true. (laughter/applause) Thou cants not then be
false to any man. (laughter/applause) You may depart to deliberate.
JUDGE: They will be given 15 minutes to talk this whole
situation over. And then each one will cast a ballot. And then they'll come
back here. And when they do the foreman will announce the vote. It's not going
to be a unanimous decision. The jurors wanted to know whether they could
decide unanimously, but we'd have to put them up at the Parker House for about
Judge Harrington thought it was a good idea, but the Boston Bar Association
said, "Oh, no, no."
So, while the jury is out deliberating, there are a couple of things I would like to do. First of all, I think since you're on your feet, the judge, the lawyers, the witnesses, and the court officers and the clerk and everybody else deserves a standing round of applause. [applause]
Now, if you'll be seated for a moment. There are a lot of guests who are here. There are a lot of members of the Boston Bar Association who are here as well. But, for the benefit of the guests, I'd like to make a 30 second pitch for the Boston Bar Association.
JUDGE: Mr. Foreman, Ladies and Gentelmen of the jury, have you reached a verdict?
JURY: Yes we have.
JUDGE: Announce it to the court and to the assemblage.
JURY: The Jury finds as follows. For the Earl of Oxford, four ballots; for William Shakespeare, ten ballots. [applause]
JUDGE: So say you, Mr. Foreman; so say you all, members of the Jury. The evrdict is made a record of this case. These proceedings are concluded. [applause]