A transcription of the three-hour videoconference which aired on Sept. 17, 1992. Written and directed
by John Mucci, Produced by John Mucci & Gary Goldstein.
1995 GTE VisNet, Inc. All rights
For further information on how to purchase a copy of the three-hour videoconference, click here.
The following is taken from a three-hour live
videoconference on the Shakespeare Authorship Question. The views expressed in
it are not necessarily those of GTE Corporation, or GTE
TITLE: To the onlie begetter of this confluence, Mr C.O. All happiness.
NARRATOR: Shakespeare. A name that
means much more than simply the author of the famous plays and poems. A name
which is known--around the world--to represent the pinnacle of western culture
as seen through the mediums of poetry and drama. Since the author's death, at
the beginning of the 17th century, the Works have been published, read,
studied, performed and assimilated into our culture until it seems no scholarly
book on human experience or human emotions is complete without mentioning some
phrase of Shakespeare. Not only does he still entertain us, but his language
is our language. Many words we use now--were first used by
him. And many of Shakespeare's turns of phrase have become
such a part of English, we often no longer
recognize them as his.
VOICES: Neither a borrower
nor a lender be. We are such stuff as dreams are made on... Out, out,
brief candle! The lady doth protest too much, methinks... To thine own
self be true... It is the green-eyed monster... Who steals my purse, steals trash. Be just--and fear not. ...The game's
afoot! ...Words, words, words. What a piece of work is a man!
NARRATOR: It is just that fascination with
Shakespeare the writer that makes us turn to
Shakespeare the man, with some puzzlement. Who was the man who wrote the
most sublime poetry in the English language? Perhaps it is only a 20th Century curiosity in literary
biography which causes us to be so demanding about our authors. But the interest in William Shakespeare as a person
really began in the mid-1700's, when a great festival was organized by the famous actor, David Garrick. It was
called the Shakespeare Jubilee, and was held in Stratford-on-Avon, with all the pomp and festivity you'd associate
today with a World's Fair. And here also, begins a great division in the minds of those who honor Shakespeare's
Works. For on the one hand, the man from Stratford became a cult figure; and all that could be found connected with
him was given much attention. Myths and traditions about his life were mixed with documentary evidence, until
the town of Stratford-on-Avon became a kind of Mecca. Enthusiasts who enjoyed Garrick's productions of the plays
visited the monument at Holy Trinity Church, and they were hungry for more. They began to search the public
record offices for legal documents, and found few. They restored what they believed to be Shakespeare's birthplace,
and another house supposed to be that of Anne Hathaway, who became his wife. Shakespeare was the common man who
wrote about kings, who wrote for the people and wrote brilliantly of all human experience.
DAVID BEVINGTON: Certainly the 17th and 18th Century
saw Shakespeare as immortalizing common people as much as he was immortalizing the aristocracy or the middle
classes. TITLE: David Bevington is Professor of English Language and Literature at Chicago University, and editor of Shakespeare's Complete Works for Harper/Collins. People who
wrote plays--it was much like writing scripts for movies; they were not much attended to as figures. This was not an age
in which literary people even literary; people were much
lionized or had their lives taken down in any kind of detail. And people who
these scripts for dramas were not considered subjects for literary fame.
The wonder is that there is so much about
Shakespeare in these terms.
NARRATOR: On the other hand, there were Shakespeare
enthusiasts who were dissatisfied
with the story that came out of Stratford.
AMBASSADOR PAUL NITZE: What we do
know about the man from Stratford-On-Avon is his will. We
have several copies of what are purported to be his signature, but they're
totally illegible. (TITLE: Ambassador Paul Nitze is President of Paul
Nitze University in Washington, D.C.)
They look like the scribbles not done by anybody who can read or write.
Maybe he could read a little bit, but
certainly doesn't look that way from what we know of his purported
signatures. The will itself is a fantastically
DEBORAH BACON: Even more interesting to my mind is this author's
familiarity with the sport
of hawking. He's very fond if it. (TITLE: Deborah Bacon, PhD,
is an author and educator, retired from the
University of Michigan.) If an ordinary lower-class citizen was
caught out hawking all by himself in the
country, he would get a heavy fine. This was just for aristocrats.
[Not necessarily: anyone of any station in
Elizabethan life who was interested in hunting could use falcons; however,
there were certain falcons restricted to
certain classes, but Shakespeare refers frequently to the
perigrine falcon, which was not allowed to be used by
anyone with rank less than that of an Earl.] I would like
to know how a schoolboy from Stratford (which
was a muddy little town, and way off, it was way out in the country), and
he'd only had 5 years of schooling, how
he would know the terms such as eyess, baiting, jesses, stooping..." every
sport has its own particular, terminology,
jargon, how did he know that? This author does.
NARRATOR: The disparity between the great learning exhibited in
the plays and the life of the man from
Stratford seems to be an ever-widening gulf to those who call themselves
anti-Stratfordians. Many thousands of
publications have been written on the subject, all of which question
William of Stratford's authorship.
JOHN SAVAGE: I think all anti-Stratfordians agree that
it's impossible that Will
Shakespeare could have written the plays. (TITLE: John Savage is
an educator who also lectures on "The Great Shakespeare Mystery.")
Over the past 200 year some 50--I'm talking about five-zero
names have been put forth as the person who really wrote the plays. Fifty,
including, by the way, the name of Queen
Elizabeth herself--Queen Elizabeth the first. She had nothing else to do,
so she wrote 37 plays. For many years Sir
Francis Bacon was perhaps the leading horse in this particular sweepstakes.
Another great playwright of the
Shakespearean Era, Christopher Marlowe. His name is put forth. --He died
before he reached the age of 30. Most
of the plays were written after he was dead, but that does not stop
CHARLES CHAMPLIN: The fact that Shakespeare--whoever he was--had
a vocabulary twice the size of the vocabulary of
John Milton, who was an educated man and a very thoughtful and serious
poet--the argument for Shakespeare is that
he was--for Shakspere I should say, was that he was a genius. (TITLE:
Charles Champlin is Arts Editor
Emeritus at the Los Angeles Times.) Well, I
think there's a limit to what a genius can do without foundation.
Einstein was a genius with a thorough grounding in physics and mathematics.
I think that geniuses don't start with
a clean slate, they must have some sort of backing on which their genius
can flower. I think that the more you look
at the language of Shakespeare, the more it leads you away from
NARRATOR: It was in 1920 that a British schoolmaster decided to
take a scientific look at the Authorship Question. In his book, Shakespeare Identified, J. Thomas Looney agreed with the
anti-Stratfordian thesis that
William Shakspere was not educated enough to write the works known as
Shakespeare's, and set out to discover who
could have done so. He concluded that there were 17 obvious
characteristics the author of the plays and poems
displayed. Only one Elizabethan fit the pattern --and it wasn't William
Shakspere of Stratford.
MUSIC: The Earle of Oxford's March.
DEBORAH BACON: ...His name was Edward de Vere, the 17th
Earl of Oxford. As aristocratic as they
come. They were wealthy, land-owning aristocrats, 3 generations before
William the Conqueror even stepped ashore!
And their family was made an Earl because of his conspicuous performance in
the first Crusade.
DAVID BEVINGTON: Shakespeare didn't go to the
universities--but there were lots of others--Dekker and others who didn't either; but there basically were two patterns.
What's more puzzling to me is to imagine why
someone like the Earl of Oxford would become a writer. If you look at the
chronicles of wasted time about who were the great writers, there were a few people like Count Tolstoy, who both are
aristocrats and great writers, but on the
whole, aristocrats have other things to do, and very little
JOHN SAVAGE: How do they answer? How do the Oxfordians
answer the fact that Edward de Vere was
dead when some of the plays were written? Very few playwrights in the
history of the theater continued writing
plays after they died.
NARRATOR: And yet there is one thing upon which
everyone can agree on both sides of the Question: and that is the enduring value of the works themselves--the insight they
give, the enjoyment they bring. The Works of Shakespeare speak to us today.
DAVID BEVINGTON : Shakespeare does very well at hitting
some of the life-cycle-- really all of the important life-cycle moments: falling in love, marrying, career, meeting
the opposite sex, then on into jealousy, problems with aging parents, problems as an aging parent
with ungrateful children, problems of letting go.
PAUL NITZE: Many of plays of Shakespeare, of course,
deal with people of the upper echelons of the society. Deals with kings and queens and principally courtiers. It's at
that level that emotions are extremely tense and rivalries are extremely bitter, and that the important issues cut and
bite deeply into the human spirit.
CHARLES CHAMPLIN: It is an unresolved question. And
I think until it's resolved, it remains a great historical mystery, and possibly a great historical
NARRATOR : Greatest of literary all mysteries? Or more
conspiracy-seekers? A 400 year old injustice? Or a 400 year old hoax? You are invited to help us to discuss this issue
today--an issue which may mean nothing less than the re-writing of history. (MUSIC, and TITLE: UNCOVERING SHAKESPEARE: AN
we will be coming to you from the VisNet studios in Stamford, Connecticut to
discuss the Shakespeare Authorship Question. With us today is host and moderator, William F. Buckley, Jr.,
and our panel of distinguished scholars,
critics, actors, educators and authors. ...Ladies and gentlemen, Mr.
William F. Buckley, Jr.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: I'm the moderator of this
discussion because of my universal reputation for... neutrality. The only credentials I take the time to put forward are
those that I specify to my hosts, namely that I have never posed as a scholar of Shakespeare, which is different from any
suggestion that my devotion to him as the greatest poet I'm equipped to evaluate-- is anything less than
complete. I'm grateful, of course, to the scholars you will be hearing from, but also to one of you who will not have heard from yet, but whom you will hear in the not too distant future, Joseph Sobran, with his book, Outing Shakespeare. He will have a memorable impact on the questions here under discussion and I'm indebted to him for
specific illuminations which will brighten the stage. But I'll get on with the introduction of our guests. Our
first, and in a sense our primary guest, is Charles Vere, who's the Earl of Burford. He has been touring the country, advancing the cause of the Oxfordians in his capacity as a trustee of the Shakespeare
Authorship Trust. He is himself a graduate of Hartford College in Oxford, where he took a first in Languages. Mr. Tom Bethel wrote the case for Oxford as a cover story for the Atlantic Magazine in October, a year
ago, raising a huge fuss. He's a graduate of Trinity College in Oxford. He is the Washington editor of the American Spectator and a visiting scholar
at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. On my right, Professor Gary Taylor is the Chairman of the English Department of Brandeis, co-editor of the Complete Works for Oxford
University. Mr. Taylor in 1985 discovered a new poem by Shakespeare entitled, "Shall I Die? Shall I Fly?" His most recent book is
Reinventing Shakespeare, which has been published in both in
Great Britain and America. Over here, Dr. Warren Hope, author of the book, The Shakespeare Controversy, an historical survey of the
authorship question issued in 1992. He has three degrees, including a
doctorate from Temple, has published several volumes of poetry, and is editor
of Drastic Measures, a poetry review. Miss
[Rebecca] Flynn runs the Shakespeare
Birthplace Trust in Stratford-Upon-Avon where she conducts a wide range of
academic seminars and theatrical workshops, as well as classes on Shakespeare's life, work and times. As
one would expect, she is an earnest Stratfordian. And finally Felicia
Londreacute has lectured on the Shakespeare authorship question
as far away as in Beijing. She's the editor and author of seven books on the
theater, and serves as a Professor of Theater at the University of Missouri,
having received her doctorate in theater from the University of Wisconsin.
-- Now we will go back to you, Lord Burford. He has, as you will see, a great
deal on his mind.
CHARLES VERE, EARL OF BURFORD: Thank you. I want to
briefly put forward what the Oxfordian contention is, and as much as I can in
10 minutes. The Oxfordian contention basically is that Edward de Vere, the
17th Earl of Oxford, 1550-1604, published under the pseudonym William
Shakespeare: the name, which appears on the works as often as not,
hyphenated: "Shake-hyphen Speare"-- clearly denoting a pseudonym, and the act
of shaking a spear. This is in complete contradistinction to the name of the
traditional Shakespeare, William Shakspere of Stratford-On-Avon. Shakspere is the name that he used, and is
the name others used when they refer to him. So the two names are
quite distinct. Also the two identities are quite distinct--the identities of
William Shakspere of Stratford, and of William Shakespeare, the author. And we
can demonstrate this by going to the works themselves, and finding out an awful
lot about the author's education, background, and so on, and then comparing it
to what we know of the biography of William Shakspere of Stratford. And I want
to bring up two points specifically. And they are education and environment.
Now the first one, education, Shakespeare betrays himself in the works as a highly erudite, educated man. He shows his knowledge of
the ancient and modern languages, Latin, Greek, French and Italian. Of music, law, cosmography, botany, warfare,
heraldry and a whole series of other disciplines. In his knowledge of languages for instance, he makes use of
Greek and Italian manuscripts untranslated into English during his day. So he had a first hand knowledge of these.
As for his knowledge of the law, Lord Chief Justice Campbell said that Shakespeare's knowledge of the law encompasses
some of the most abstruse proceedings in English jurisprudence. The Stratford man, as far as we know, did not have
a single day's schooling in his life. Moreover, he's never on record as having known, with the exception of Ben
Jonson, any other writer, intellectual thinker or philosopher of the time, or taking part in any literary or
theatrical movement of the time or any physiological movement, or being in any sort of intellectual environment.
The second thing is environment itself, the court. Thirty-six out of the 37 plays are set in royal or noble courts.
Shakespeare is to the manner born in the court. This is his world, his milieu. He understands how the
nobles think and feels, he sympathizes with them, and shares a greater, more profound understanding of the psychology of the feudal
aristocracy than any other writer before or since. Indeed, he writes as a feudal aristocrat himself who is desperately
trying to come to terms with a very quickly changing society under Elizabeth I,
which was emerging into a meritocracy. And he underwent a great sort
of identity crisis as a result of this. This is what the plays are
basically about. They're sort of a death cry of feudalism, the emerging of a
new society and how the author himself copes with that. Now, of course, the
characters that he brings on the stage from the Stratford man's background are mere
caricatures. They are given silly names such as Bottom, Dogberry, Verges, Wart, and Bullcalf-- and they are brought on simply as the butt for
the nobility to laugh at. If the Stratford man was the author, he must have
been the most appalling snob of all time.
And this knowledge of court life is not something you can draw out
of the air, or manufacture. You either are part of it, or you are not. And Shakespeare's cultural and political
environment is as specific as, say, Jane Austin's, who wrote about what was
going on in specific drawing rooms in provincial upper middle class society, at
the end of the 18th century, beginning of the 19th century in England. His milieu is as specific as that and is not
something you can fake. Believe me, I would not write very convincing novels about
living in a black ghetto in New York City. So the only argument that the Stratfordians have to try and marry these
grotesque contradictions, is that of genius. You may not have known , ladies and gentlemen, but genius is actually
capable of intuiting knowledge. Genius does not only provide inspiration, it also provides information. So we've got a
clear choice here. Was Shakespeare a wizard in a white hat, sitting in an ivory tower, divorced from his
society, just writing plays for the hell of it, for entertainment? Or was he someone who was an active and dynamic member of
the social, political and cultural melee about which he wrote? And who had specific reasons for writing in the way
he did--i.e: his satirizations of court life. He was actually using literature as much as a political weapon as a
personal, artistic means of expression. That's the choice the people have to make between those two sorts of figures. And
I'd like to quote Sigmund Freud, an ardent Oxfordian himself for the last 20 years of his life. Who said on
this very subject, he said, "genius should not be above examination. Genius should only be used as an explanation when
all other solutions have failed." Now do we go for para-normal explanations, or do we go for commonsense ones? Did
Shakespeare have a deep, cultural and literary background in heritage, and one in the drama as well?
Was he educated, and that's the reason why he displays that in the plays? Is the reason that he shows a precise
knowledge of the topography of northern Italian towns, that he actually visited them? Or is the reason
bi-location, or extra sensory perception? Those are basic choices one is being asked to make. Now Oxford would have had to use a pseudonym anyway for social
reasons. No nobleman in Elizabethan times published under his own name. They would
contribute the odd sonnet to an anthology or what have you. But to dedicate
your life to literature, for a nobleman, that was considered utterly
unthinkable. And that taboo concerning a professional, commercial with
literature was never broken in those days. If the powers that were at the time though, wanted to insure that Oxford
remained anonymous, as the author of the plays, not only during his lifetime,
but after his death, then some sort of political policy had to be put in
place, whereby the Stratford man, William Shakspere of
Stratford becomes confused and deliberately so, with the author William Shakespeare. The reason for this is that the
plays are social and political satires. In them, Shakespeare satirizes many of the leading figures of his day. The most powerful
political people in the country, like William Cecil, Lord Burghley, the Earl of Leicester, Philip Sidney, and other men
like that. If Oxford was known as the author, then these satirizations, these
allusions, these in jokes in court become clear. But if they could point to
someone that had no knowledge of the court and came from a completely different
background, then all these allusions become submerged and they have remained
submerged until today. The plays are not taught as social and political satires. So that was an important point, that Oxford
was really taking a great risk in many senses in satirizing these people. It's certainly not a risk that the Stratford man
could have taken himself. Perhaps the greatest expose of court life is the play of Hamlet. In that play, I want to draw attention to one
specific satirization, that is of William Cecil, Lord Burghley, Elizabeth's
chief minister and the most powerful man in England, as Polonius, the buffoon of a bureaucrat in that particular play.
Now you need three things to satirize someone of that station. You need an intimate knowledge of him, because he
satirizes him in great depth; you need a motivation, you don't just slag someone off for no reason at all: this
person must be part of your life. And thirdly you need enormous daring, because censorship--literary censorship in
Elizabethan times was so stringent that playwrights were thrown in prison, had their hands cut off, one or two were
perhaps assassinated. So the Stratford man simply would not have got away with his head if he had portrayed
Elizabeth's chief minister as Polonius in Hamlet. By the way, this is an identification first
made by Stratfordians in the 1860's, this is not an Oxfordian concoction by any means. So whoever Shakespeare was, he
clearly had the patronage of the Queen and royal protection. And what the
plays are, are an insiders view of the Court. Shakespeare is actually saying
this is what is going on in the Court... Am I through?
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Lord Burford, that was quite
an ice breaker. I think I'll exclude Ms. Flynn since she's going to talk next.
But we have here is the option of hearing from other members of the panel, or
receiving a question from the people who are communicating with us via
telephone; pending rousing them, can I hear from any of you, any comments you
want to make on Lord Burford's ...inflammatory opening. How about you
PROFESSOR GARY TAYLOR: Well I don't know that I
actually have any questions, I mean it seems to me there's a whole series of
assertions in that inflammatory opening, which crumble when
you actually begin to investigate them. One of the difficulties of this whole
subject is that one can make a claim of that kind very easily, just as it's
very easy to slander someone on national television. It becomes very difficult
to disprove the slander. It takes an enormous investment of time --
BUCKLEY: We've got three hours...
TAYLOR: --to answer effectively in a documentary way,
charges that can be made very quickly. For instance the question about
hyphenation, if I'd known that the hyphenation point was going to be raised I
could have brought in actual title pages because there's a reason why in text,
names tend to get hyphenated in a printed book that don't get hyphenated in a
signature. And that has to do with the shape of the S, which in the typography
of the period very often the bottom of the S, which is formed differently from
now, it's a kind of snake shape, goes below the line of type and backward so
that it can run into a letter that precedes it. And very often the, and the K
likewise goes down and forward. So if you don't have a hyphen between those
two parts of the name, it can often happen that the bottom part of the K runs into the bottom part of the S and
it breaks the type. So that printers had a very specific reason for hyphenating a name like Shakespeare that has
to do with the particularities of the types of those two letters.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Now would you concede that
discrete point-- or is this news to you?
CHARLES VERE: It's news to me, but I'd like to hear
other specific examples of other writers who hyphenated their name.
GARY TAYLOR: But you don't have to unless you have a K
close to an S in the middle of your name.
CHARLES VERE: But you can also see that Shakespeare's
contemporaries, like Ben Jonson saw that the name was split up like that to denote the action of shaking a spear; and
in his prefatory verses in the First Folio Jonson says of Shakespeare that he seems to "shake a lance, brandished in
the eyes of ignorance." And he's not the only writer that puns on that. And, in fact, there's good reason for
this identification as Shakespeare in many ways. Pallas Athena, the patron goddess of the theater was known as
Hasti-Vibrans, or the spear shaker. But I'm simply not convinced that you know that this is purely a typographical
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Why don't we agree to take
your word for it that there has or has not been a compilation of typographical examples that show that identical
peculiarity. Is there such a compilation?
GARY TAYLOR: Yes there are. You can actually buy
photographic copies of all of these early editions, and there's a Canadian scholar, Randall McLeod, who's done a lot of work on
this particular problem of the way that typography affects spelling in this period.
CHARLES VERE: It wasn't essential because a lot of the
typographers didn't do it. Shakespeare's name is not hyphenated in many cases. And also they're done in upper case
letters so often, which absolves you from the problem at all if they're done in upper case.
GARY TAYLOR:--Can I continue?? This is an example of
the kind of problem, you see --one tiny point that he made in that peroration which leads us into a complicated discussion of typography, of punning. I mean a man with a name Shakespeare, people are going to pun on it in the
way that my name is Taylor, people pun on my name, that doesn't mean that Taylor is pseudonym for something else.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Let's defer that protracted examination and take a question from Redmond, Oregon addressed to ...anyone.
CALL-IN FROM REDMOND, OREGON: Yes, concerning the
nature of true genius, I remember a quotation from a genius of the modern period, Igor Stravinsky, who said that the mark of true genius is knowing how to steal from the best.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Don't you think that's cynical?-- He didn't mean it...
REDMOND: Well perhaps for others, but not for Mr. Stravinsky. We can discuss seriality later...
BUCKLEY: Well. We can. We don't have to...
REDMOND: That's true. There is a theory propounded by, I believe, the late A. L. Rowse among others, that some of Shakespeare's tragedies, Timon of Athens and Antony and Cleopatra and the one Shakespeare
play that could have been lost to the ages without any damage being done to
mankind, Coriolanus, was substantially lifted from some Sir Thomas North's translation of Plutarch's Lives. And I'm wondering what any of the panel would have to say about that theory.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Well let's just sort that out for a moment. As I understand the question as saying, that some of what appeared under Shakespeare's name was lifted. I don't think that has anything to do with his qualification as a genius because only a genius could have created those works that most concern us. Do most of you agree with that?
TOM BETHELL: It's an established fact that he used,
that the author, whoever he was used earlier sources, other plays and other documents from which these plays. Plutarch's Lives was used in many of the plays, and this is not a controversial point and doesn't really bear on
the authorship question I don't think.
GARY TAYLOR: Almost verbatim out of Plutarch. I think
you're right, it doesn't.
CHARLES VERE: What he was bringing up, there's an essential difference between Oxfordians and Stratfordians as A.L. Rowse says, they see Shakespeare as a magpie that stole from everyone else. Because they have him coming 20 years later than us. We say no, he was the fountainhead
of this great outpouring of Elizabethan literature. And because Oxford could read in the originals the French, Italian, Greek, he doesn't have to wait for the translations to be published in English which they did. My God, they have to keep on waiting right into the 17th century for translations to appear.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: OK, we have another telephone
call from Purdue University, also addressed to anyone. Go, go Purdue.
PURDUE UNIVERSITY: This question is addressed to anybody who perhaps can deal with this. I'll read the question as formally written here to anyone. Do you think that the written works demonstrate a familiarity with the classics, particularly the Greek classics that would have been absolutely unattainable by someone with the Stratford man's education? When were the translations of Aschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides published and widely available in England?--The second question--...
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: One at a time.
PURDUE UNIVERSITY: I had to run to the phone.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: This is addressed to Miss Flynn, is that correct?
REBECCA FLYNN: There is no debate about the influence of the classical heritage upon all people who lived in the late 16th century. And I'm about to speak a little about Shakespeare's education, which was a point that Charles raised.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: But did you want to answer that direct question, when were the works of the great Greek masters translated into English? How much before the time Shakespeare did --or didn't go to school.
REBECCA FLYNN: They were available in the late 16th century, but not, I mean they were available in Greek which I would not argue he was able to read.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: No I said in English.
REBECCA FLYNN: In English.
CHARLES VERE: They were sometimes available in Latin translation.
REBECCA FLYNN: That's right, in Latin.
GARY TAYLOR: The only one that was available in English was Chapman's translation of Homer, but things like Euripides. Chapman's translation of Homer was not actually, was not completed until after the death of de Vere. The was not completed until 1606, I believe.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: From which we conclude that Shakespeare, whoever he was, could borrow from the Latin and from the Greek on the basis of this familiarity with the original languages?
GARY TAYLOR: Well part of the question has to do with the extent of the borrowing that there exists in the plays. And this has been an argument that's been conducted by scholars completely separate from the issue of authorship, since the 18th century. That the eminent classical scholar, Dr. Richard Farmer, in the 18th century, argued that whoever the author of the plays was, he did not evidence any great knowledge of the Greek and Latin classics. That he makes lots of mistakes that would be quite embarrassing for a man of de Vere's education. For instance, he has the character of Ulysses, which is taken from Homer, quoting Aristotle who did not live until several hundred years after the events portrayed in the Iliad and after the Iliad...
BURFORD: It was a deliberate mistake...
TAYLOR: Well OK ...you dispose of any mistake by saying it was a deliberate mistake. Classicists disagree. There are classicists who say that the plays show actually very little evidence of acquaintance with the original.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: I need to interrupt you because we are told that the time has come to show a tape which presumably will illuminate this question.
TAPE: "Stratfordians about Oxford; Oxfordians about Stratford."
DAVID BEVINGTON: What's more puzzling to me is to imagine why someone like the Earl of Oxford would become a writer. He certainly was a man of interest and of great service to the world of the theater. But it's interesting that we can describe this as the role of patron rather than writer. Now, of course, that is apart again of the Oxfordian theory. And I perfectly understand that he felt, as a gentleman, as an aristocrat, fascinated by the theater but he couldn't be a writer because it would be socially inappropriate. And so he arranged this cover as it were, -- I take that it is the essential argument. And that after he died he had already written some plays which were then suitably brought forward some years later in his name with Shakespeare again as the sort of cover, plausible cover, author. Well it's a very elaborate theory that does for the most part seem to answer the question of wondering how Shakespeare could have done all this, and I have less trouble than most I think, in seeing Shakespeare as indeed--on the whole --in terms of the sociology of authorship in the Renaissance is better situated than Oxford to want to write this way and to have reason to succeed and the kind of background that would lead to this kind of success.
FATHER FRANCIS EDWARDS, SJ: It's a tricky area because many people of this country would be much more scandalized by the thought of the question as to who wrote Shakespeare than they would be, asked whether our
Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Well I think in the first place, one has
got to admit that the thing to be said, as I rather implied in the beginning,
it is very rarely that you can get 100% certainty in any of these things, certainly not in history. And of course, as E. L. Woodward pointed out in an excellent essay published in the English Historical Review in 1952, on the Writing of History, ...as he said, the trouble with history is that you arrive at the limits of the evidence sooner than in any other branch of study. In fact, putting it boldly, an historian is a man who doesn't know what he's talking about. He only knows something about what other people once talked about. And so part of his misfortune is that so much of the evidence from which history is written was left behind by people who really had no historical sense and interest in history.
JOHN SAVAGE: Have you every looked up the life of Edward de Vere? Here is a Who's Who of people back in those days, Curriculum Vitae. The facts of his life --absolutely fascinating. You never hear about these from the Oxfordians. Look them up, they're all there. Oxford, Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of, 1550-1604. Keep in mind that death date, he died of the plague in 1604. A number of the plays were written after that. was amazingly well educated. Shakespeare was not. He had masters degrees from both Cambridge and Oxford. He was an excellent musician, poet, and dancer, beginning each day with a dancing lesson at 7:00, as well as an expert jouster. He was very high up in the social scale, so naturally he knew how kings talked and acted. He knew all about that, but there's some awfully bad things about this man. He was a nasty piece of work. I'm not making this up. Go look it up. He killed a servant in an argument. He was a cook, he didn't like the way the meal was prepared, whatever. [De Vere was indeed accused of killing a servant--but it had nothing to do with the meal or its preparation. The servant was perhaps paid to spy upon him by Burghley, who was head of the Secret Service. The verdict acquitting de Vere--which is typical when an Earl would be pitted against a servant-- was that the servant had "died upon the poynte of the sworde of the Earle of Oxford." The implications of his culpability are many, nonetheless. It might be further noted that Ben Jonson also killed a fellow actor in a duel and was severely chastised for that action --ed.] He for a while was in the Queen's favor, but then he married Lord Burghley's daughter. He was the ward of Lord Burghley originally. You know, if you were a member of Queen Elizabeth the First's court, you could not marry without her permission. He just went off and married Anne Burghley [Cecil, actually] on December 15, 1571, I believe it was. He had to escape abroad. We are told he didn't want to let anybody know he wrote the greatest plays ever written because he didn't want to upset the Queen. He didn't want to upset the Queen...! --all he did was upset the Queen.
DAVID BEVINGTON: To me, the conspiratorial element of the Oxfordian or earlier the Baconian theory and so on, really raises serious questions about how this could have been possible. Ben Jonson either being hoodwinked or collaborating in a conspiracy that would have gone over a number of years. If there were some direct way of connecting Oxford's name with some of the plays, any evidence of Ben Jonson's having, for some reason or other agreed to this, or having Heminge and Condell, if there was some evidence that they had some reason, or some evidence that they did, in fact, put out a volume in somebody else's name, we are charging a lot of those people either with being dupes or liars, and so a smoking gun in that direction would have to convince me that they were other than dupes or liars. To my mind, there already is a smoking gun about the Earl of Oxford in the other direction, which is that he died in 1604. I think that by most people's
account-- there is really not a lot of debate about the canon - that there are very major plays coming after 1604, King Lear, Macbeth, Coriolanus, all the late romances probably. Certainly The Tempest
Oxford would have had to write and put away in a
drawer a perfectly major accomplishment and then sort of have it farmed out
over a period of time by people who were planning out this plot. And again I want to know what for.
DONALD RICHARDSON: Isn't it odd that Shakespeare left
not one letter to anyone during his entire
lifetime, at least, any evidence of one letter. (TITLE: Don
Richardson is Chair, Music Dept. at University of Santa Monica) Whereas composers like Mozart and Beethoven and Brahms and all of the great composers since the Renaissance period, we have a complete history of their lives in their letters. I can't say that that's true of the composers who
lived during the Renaissance-- at the same time Shakespeare lived. I don't
believe that there are many letters left, but a man who's
life is words, it seems to me would have written more letters.
CHARLES CHAMPLIN: I think that the suspicions about
Shakespeare of Stratford having written the material began a long time ago. It began really in the 18th
century, but for me, the fact is that there is virtually no evidence in his lifetime that he was identified as the
author, it's all posthumous. The fact that the statue of him in the Church of Stratford was changed much later after his
death to change him from being a grain dealer, which he was, to being an author--and they took
away a sack of grain, and put a pen in his hand which is ingenious, but it was much after the fact Stratford knew
nothing of Shakespeare as the author until an actor came to town in 1769 and put on a show and said you have this
great local man.
DAVID BEVINGTON: To me that's one of the things that
makes the thing a little suspect is that there's so many candidates and one does about as well as another. And, of course,
the adherents of the Earl of Oxford would not agree with that point, and I think there's more being done on it
now so that it is a considerable ...case.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR. : Now we will go back to you.
You were rudely interrupted. I'm talking to Miss Flynn, and you were about to
answer which question appealed to you most to want to answer.
REBECCA FLYNN: Right. Well I will be saying a bit
about many of the points that Lord Burford mentioned. But let me just remind you that I'm Director of Education at
the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford, and every day I'm teaching students from all over the world
who've come to Stratford to learn about Shakespeare's plays, his history, and his cultural context. I've studied
Shakespeare myself for quite a few years, and I'm still learning more and finding out more about him. I've always been
aware of the alternative theories of the authorship of the plays, but I must say that I've never been persuaded. I
have an open mind on most things, but on these issues, the documentary evidence supports the identity of
Shakespeare of Stratford, I think, as the author of the plays. In fact, I've recently worked on an educational television
series on Shakespeare, which aims to trace his years in Stratford and London. And they're currently available in America,
distributed by Films For the Humanities and Sciences. Well Shakespeare was born in Stratford, and he one
of three sons of John. Now he was bailiff, or mayor of the town in the 1560's. Now it's true, I've got to admit it,
there's no denying it, that there are no records of the attendance of the boys of Stratford in the grammar school for the
years of William Shakespeare's youth, but it would have been extraordinary if the sons of the mayor, one of the most
eminent and respected citizens of the town, hadn't been educated at that school. The education that was available
there was excellent--the most thorough teaching of the classical heritage was available there for every boy. So
they just studied the poems of Ovid and Virgil, for example, and the history of Plutarch, among lots of others and
they would have been studying those works in the original Latin. They were trained in rhetoric and that is the art
of speaking persuasively, of using eloquent arguments to win 'round your audience. And we're all practicing rhetoric
today , successfully or not, you will determine. But I can think of no better training for a future dramatist.
This was a shared common inheritance for all the citizens of London where the theaters were built, where they would
have seen Shakespeare's plays, and the plays of his contemporaries. And those citizens of the towns where
traveling plays toured. Of course, as a boy, Shakespeare also had many opportunities to see traveling plays performed at
Stratford, and there were plenty of
documentary records in Stratford's Town Records Office, which is in the
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust of those very
visits. Now the many classical allusions and biblical references in
Shakespeare's works were by no means beyond the reach of such a man with such a background. If these plays characterized
as they are by such allusions, were therefore inaccessible and tedious to the broad mix of Elizabethan and
Jacobean audiences, they simply not have been put on stage. Tough commercial pressures existed for the theater just as
much as they do now. We know that these plays were very popular with the merchants, the apprentices, the artisans
as well as the aristocrats and monarchs that made up the audience of Elizabethean and Jacobean London. I think it
takes a huge suspension of disbelief to undermine the recurrent, the repeated identification of Shakespeare the
actor from Stratford with the author of these plays. As a member of the Lord Chamberlain's Men, and later the King's
Men, both memberships quite correctly documented, he is praised by his contemporaries as one of the best authors
of comedies and tragedies. He's named as the author of the Quartos and of the Great Folio published after his
death. In fact, the identification is constant from his Venus and Adonis, the long non-dramatic poem
which he himself called the first heir of my invention, which was his first published work. Right up from
from that point to the epitaph above his grave back in Stratford, which has a little verse beneath the statue, and it accords
Shakespeare immortality earned as a writer surpassing the ancient classical authors. As a leading man of these
companies of actors, a player in a highly successful company, I think it would have been impossible for Shakespeare
merely to have been pretending to be the author of the plays being performed. The rapid turnover of plays required
quick professional work, and the parts were obviously written for specific actors in mind, Burbage being the great
tragedian, Kemp, and later Robert Armin as the great comedians of the troupe. Now there are several
interesting connections between Shakespeare in Stratford and Shakespeare in London. Leonard Digges is one -- I wouldn't imagine
any of you have ever heard of Leonard Digges, or if you've heard of him you might now know much about him, but he
was one of the various poets who wrote poems in praise of Shakespeare, published at the beginning of the
Folio Volume, the volume that collected all of Shakespeare's plays after his death. Now Leonard Digges was a local
Warwickshire man, and he would have known Shakespeare well. He was obviously convinced that the Stratford
Shakespeare was the same playwright in London, the same Shakespeare identified as the playwright. Another man was Richard
Field, he was another Stratfordian. He left Stratford to make his fortune in London just like Shakespeare, and
he chose as his arena the world of literature, just like Shakespeare, only he was a printer and publisher.
And it was Richard Field who printed Shakespeare's first work, first printed work I mean, not the first work
Shakespeare wrote, and that was Venus and Adonis. Again, it
seems to me this is more than coincidence, and it's natural to think that
Shakespeare would have gone to his friend from his home town for this important
enterprise. At first glance I agree, it might seem strange that there are no manuscripts surviving that relate to
Shakespeare, but once you've investigated the period a little bit, you'll find out that this is absolutely typical of the
period in general. In fact, the documents and contemporary references to Shakespeare are surprisingly substantial. Some
people find it hard to believe that a man who didn't go to a university could have written such plays, and we've
already talked a little bit about that. But there are others who managed pretty well without a university education.
Ben Jonson is the most famous of those I think. He was a bricklayer's apprentice no less, and he never finished his
childhood education; and yet everyone at the time testified that he was regarded as one of the most learned men of
his day. And he was a successful prolific poet and playwright. Like Ben Jonson, Shakespeare extended his knowledge
by omnivorous reading and by living and working in the melting pot of Elizabethan London. A thriving
cosmopolitan merchant port, and the focus of Elizabeth and later James' royal courts. And, of course, similar other
artists like Mozart, Michelangelo, Emily Dickinson, like them, Shakespeare was a genius. So although he needed to
craft and to perfect his craft and to learn all the new things that were being discovered in the world that day, he
also had innate natural talent. And that's my view.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Well, your view is very well
REBECCA FLYNN: Thank you so much.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Are there any
REBECCA FLYNN: We know there are.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Well, who would like to
address a question to Miss Flynn.
TOM BETHELL: You mentioned, for example, that his name is on
the quartos and on the plays. But the whole point is that this begs the crucial question of whether the person
identified William Shakespeare on quartos refers to the man from Stratford-On-Avon, or refers to somebody else who
was using this name as a blind. And what we need to look at, it seems to me, is there any real incontrovertible
thing that links William Shakespeare and the author of the plays to Stratford-On-Avon? Now there are, as far as I know,
really only two things. One is in the preliminary material to the first folio. Ben Jonson refers to "Sweet Swan
Of Avon " and Leonard Digges, whom you mentioned, refers to the Stratford Monument. And there is, in fact, a
monument in the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-On-Avon. And as far as I know, this is all that we have, and so
the Oxfordians admittedly do have to explain away those two points. Now the point about Oxford dying in 1604,
and there being plays written after that date, there is no decisive material in the plays post-1604 in the period
1604 to 1606, to 1616, and that you can say has to have been
written in those 12 years, which is an extraordinary thing. In 1604,
Shakspere of Stratford is only 40 years old, and we can't find anything in his
work that is certainly written after the age of 40.
REBECCA FLYNN: You made a point that there is no
external evidence to incontrovertibly prove (if I may split an
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY: And you say the burden is on
REBECCA FLYNN: I do lay the burden on him... I would
like to pick up the point about the post-1604. And The
Tempest is a late play by Shakes-- ...is a late play in this canon by
whoever it is, and it is genuinely agreed by reputable
scholars [Mr Bethell interjects yes...yes...] that in that
play there are traceable allusions to account of a shipwreck which occurred
post 1604, and the existence of the Bermudas.
TOM BETHELL: That was a big mistake Looney made in his
1920 book originally identifying de Vere as the author. He accepted the story about The Tempest and
it's true that if you look at, I think his name is Geoffrey Bullock's eight
volumes of sources of Shakespeare's plays, and you look at all of the sources,
there was only one that's post 1604, which is an extraordinary thing in itself.
[Miss Flynn protests...] But in 1609, 1610 there's an account of a shipwreck in the Bermudas, but that, if you look
at that account, you say what is in that account that is definitely in The Tempest, you can't
find anything. There are earlier references to Bermuda, there are earlier shipwrecks in Bermuda that had been published and the Earl of
Oxford himself was the owner of one of the ships that was either shipwrecked in an earlier shipwreck in
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Sorry, sorry we have to go to
a tape. Very sorry, we'll come back to you.
TAPE: The PROBLEM OF THE
NARRATOR: In 1598, a little book written by Francis
Meres reported that "the soul of Ovid lives in the mellifluous and honey-tongued Shakespeare, witness his Venus and Adonis, his Lucrece, his
sugared sonnets among his private friends and so forth." But it was not until
1609 that a small publishing house brought out Shake-Speare's
Sonnets. It did not sell very well. The second edition
wasn't printed until 31 years later. Enigmatic--lyrical--hauntingly
beautiful--meaningless. Critics are fiercely divided as to their place in
Shakespeare's work. Although Wordsworth said that they were the "key with
which Shakespeare unlocked his heart, " and Carlyle said the "sonnets testify
expressly in what deep waters he waded and swum struggling for his life," many writers of this century are at a
loss to explain them. Are they simply poetic exercises, or are they autobiography?
JOHN SAVAGE: It's all autobiography
in my opinion. Other people argue with that, but I think this is his diary. It was not supposed to be public. What you did, you know in
those days, everybody wrote poetry. Politicians, military men, sonnets were particularly popular. And you
wrote down sonnets on how you felt about life and death, and love, and who knows what all. And then you might pass them
around to your friends...
CHARLES BOYLE: Well, the sonnets are a world unto
themselves because that's when Shakespeare speaks to us directly. (TITLE: Charles Boyle is a Boston-based
actor, and director of Shakespeare's plays) And my first reading of
the sonnets, they were opaque, practically to me. It was very difficult to
understand what are they about, who's being addressed, what are the issues.
I'd look at the notes, I'd read the footnotes, I'd go back and read the
sonnets, and I could enjoy the beauty of the language, but I still couldn't get
a handle on what's at stake here. What is this man so upset about. I think
that's a very typical reaction for a lot of readers.
DAVID BEVINGTON: The sonnets really are a special case
because potentially there we are dealing with an autobiographical subject, that
this is a poet speaking as a poet. The major figure in the sonnets, the voice
we hear, is that of a poet speaking to a young patron, and this is all
plausible enough. Mr. Rowse in England has been a major figure arguing, that
in fact, we can feel quite certain that we can solve the biographical
components of this. That Shakespeare fell in love with a dark complected lady at court, and
that he was otherwise writing to the Earl of Southampton, who indeed had supported Shakespeare early on as a
EARLE HYMAN: I really believe that the sonnets are all
autobiographical. I believe that he started writing them because of the Earl of Southampton's mother and his friends,
and possibly other members of his family said, listen here, what don't you get married? You're getting old now,
although he was young. (TITLE: Earle Hyman is a world-renowned actor
who has performed in 27 Shakespeare plays) I believe that
Shakespeare got to know him really rather well. And all were impressed by his
beauty, even though we see these drawings, very famous line- drawings. Other
drawings --it would be hard for me to see any beauty in them. But he was known
to be very handsome. And after a while I thought Shakespeare really had a
kind of affair with him. Whether it was consummated
physically ...I'm not so sure. But I don't think that's important. But what
is important is that the sonnets go a little bit further than just saying, hey
little boy, get married.
DAVID BEVINGTON: There's a lot of jealousy in the
story as described in the sonnets. Now does this relate something that
happened in Shakespeare's life? A.L. Rowse is certain that this is true. It
seems to me that to look at it in literary terms one has to be more skeptical
about this because Shakespeare himself is such a wonderful dramatist in his
other works, and because the whole tradition of writing even lyric poems allows
for creating a kind of a fiction that it would be perfectly plausible that we
see Shakespeare borrowing from his own emotional experiences, his own
situations in life and so on, and fictionalizing them to some significant
CHARLES BOYLE: This is a sonnet about his poetry. And
again he's writing to the young man who I assume to be the Earl of
JOHN SAVAGE: Let's take a look at that sonnet 76 where
Edward de Vere tells us his name. That "almost every word doth tell my name." To me this is quite a reach. They
find E. Vere in "every." When you think about it, William Shakespeare wrote 37 plays, 154 sonnets, a
couple of other major works. In the many thousands of words that exist in those works, you can find almost
anybody's name. My name is in there. Both my first name and my last name. And I guarantee you, I didn't write
CHARLES BOYLE: (reading Sonnet 76) "Why is my verse so barren of new
pride? So far from variation or quick change? Why with the
time do I not glance aside To new-found methods and to compounds
strange?Why write I still all one, ever the same,* And keep invention in a noted weed, That every word
doth almost tell my name, Showing their birth, and where they did proceed? O, know, sweet love, I always write of you,
And you and love are still my argument; So all my best is
dressing old words new, Spending again what is already spent:
For as the sun is daily new and old, So is my love still telling what is told."
Queen Elizabeth I's motto was SEMPER EADEM, "Ever the
Same") Now superficially, it's a poem saying I write
in the style I write in, and I keep returning to same theme, my great love for
you, and our life situation. But there are some very interesting phrases in
here that relate to the author's identity. The first, and most obvious, is that
"every word doth almost tell my name." Now Stratfordians
will say well you see the style of his poetry reveals the author, which is a
rather vague and unpersuasive examination of the line to my mind. The funny
thing is that Oxford -- his name was Edward de Vere; Vere meaning "truth. " And there are poems by Edward de
Vere in his youth when he still signed his own name to his work. In which he
puns quite a bit on Vere meaning truth. He was very interested in the fact
that his own name had all these connotations. "Every word" is an anagram, if
you wish to look at it that way, for Edward de Vere.
GRAPHIC : "E V E R Y-- W O R D
E-- W O R D --Y --V E R = EdWARD dY VERe
NARRATOR : The idea of Oxford using the word
every to signify his name is not unusual. In his
correspondence he puns on his name in this same way. Even enlarging the V to
make it clear what he's doing. [GRAPHIC: A letter from de Vere, the
closing of which reads "eVer yours...] It is
interesting to note how many times the word ever; occurs
--prominently, in odd places, in Shakespeare. Such as in the introduction to Troilus and Cressida [GRAPHIC: dedication
page of the first edition, reading "From a Never Author to an Ever
Reader"], and in the dedication to the sonnets.
JOHN SAVAGE : They mention Sonnet 76, but they certainly
never bring up Sonnet 136. Because in
Sonnet 136, William Shakespeare tells us who wrote the plays. He tells us
his name as the writer. As you may
know, the Sonnets were written by Will Shakespeare or somebody posing as
Will Shakespeare and using his name.
And among these 154 short poems, there are a number that are dedicated to a
woman who has come to be known as
the dark lady, the dark lady of the sonnets. We don't know much about her,
we don't know why she was called
dark, whether she had dark hair, dark complexion, dark eyes, we don't
EARLE HYMAN: I'll also go so far as to say that I
think the dark lady of the sonnets was not just dark because she painted her eyebrows, or had black eyebrows, I think she
was a sister. I think she was a negress, I think she was
black. And that was kind of, not exactly, but you know, but it happened. We
know this. We knew there were many Africans living in London, some of royal
blood. Othello, for example, was this guy who came from Morocco, and ate at the Queen's table, or at least some
aristocrat's table. And the men and the women looked at him because he used a
fork. They used their hands. This gentleman from Africa was extremely
civilized. And this dark lady was extremely, ...really
something. I do believe that Shakespeare was a full--...
that he lived life to the hilt.
DEBORAH BACON: There is also, I think, scarcely any
doubt that in those last 25 sonnets or so, there are a few others that should be shoved in there with them, that the
sonneteer undoubtedly addressing a dark lady. She's definitely called dark, and also she's very obviously a lady. But
almost half of them are addressed to both a man and the dark lady, and this is obviously a triangle. Everybody is
involved with everybody. And it gets a little complicated, and just possibly it might be well to be a little discreet and
confusing and oscillating and now you see it, now you don't in the way he writes.
JOHN SAVAGE: And in Sonnet 136, let me show you how it
ends. To do this I should say that I guess everybody knows, Will Shakespeare loved the English language, he loved
puns, he was a punster, and he was constantly punning about everything. He took his name Will and used it
EARLE HYMAN: (reading Sonnet
136): "If thy soul check thee that I come
so near, Swear to thy blind soul that I was thy Will, And will, thy soul knows, is admitted
there; thus far for love my love-suit, sweet, fulfill. Will will fulfill the treasure of thy love, Ay, fill it
full with wills, and my will one. In things of great receipt
with ease we prove Among a number one is reckon'd none: Then
in the number let me pass untold, Though in thy store's account I one must be, For nothing hold me, so it please thee
hold That nothing me, a something sweet to thee. Make but my name thy love, and love that still, And
then thou lovest me, for my name is ...Will."
JOHN SAVAGE: "For my name is Will," with a capital W.
Fascinating, how do they handle it? How do Looney and Ogburn handle such a
thing, where the writer comes right out and says my name is Will? Their man's
name is Edward de Vere.
EARLE HYMAN: About Will, that sonnet about Will. How
many people are aware or know that in his playing on his name, just how many different things are being said. Most
of them pretty sexy. Will he was called, Will short for William is one. Will meant I'm really going to do this,
this I will do it. Shall in his time meant I might do it, I might not, but the chances are I won't. But Will meant
nobody or no one is going to stop me. Will meant also the sexual urge. Will also meant, could mean the sexual act and
finally, Will also meant the male organ.
NARRATOR : Perhaps the most startling line in the
Sonnets, is in Sonnet 121, when Shakespeare claims, "no I am that I am,"
echoing the words of God speaking to Moses. Critics have claimed that
Shakespeare is only author with the temerity to use such a phrase about himself.
GRAPHIC: "I am that I am" written in
EARLE HYMAN: (reading Sonnet
121): " 'Tis better to be vile than vile
esteemed, When not to be receives reproach of being, And
the just pleasure lost, which is so deemed Not by our feeling, but by
others' seeing. For why should others' false adulterate eyes & Give
salutation to my sportive blood? Or on my frailties why are
frailer spies, Which in their wills count bad what I think good?
No, I am that I am, and they that level At my abuses reckon up their own; I may be straight, though they themselves
be bevel; By their rank thoughts my deeds must not be shown, Unless this general evil they maintain:
All men are bad and in their badness reign.
NARRATOR: And yet, in one of Oxford's letters to his
guardian William Cecil, he's angry about a current state of affairs, and
VOICE OF DeVERE: "...I mean not to
be your ward, nor your child. I serve her Majesty, and I am
that I am."
GRAPHIC: "I am that I am," from DeVere's
DEBORAH BACON: Now I don't know if he confused himself
with Lord Almighty, but the phrase appears in a written letter signed, Edward,
Earl of Oxford, and it also appears in Shakespeare's Sonnet. And it doesn't
appear anywhere else ...except in the Bible.
CHARLES BOYLE: And now when I read the Sonnets, I find
them the most lucid, clear, easy to understand poetry I've ever read, and very
funny again, and very heart breaking. You could go on, and you could write
books and books about what's going on in the Sonnets. Perhaps for now what we
should just concentrate on is the desperate need of this man to be known by posterity. That he did not
enjoy being anonymous. This was a situation he had to accept for political reasons. It was not something
that he was happy about, and he laments the fact that he's going to be anonymous again and again, particularly in the
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: We've got a lot of questions
coming in, but we've got to hear from Dr. Warren Hope on this matter of the
DR. WARREN HOPE: Thank you very much. It seems to me
that the Sonnets are crucial to the reason why there is an authorship question.
It really became serious about 1850 when Emerson said "I cannot marry
the man to his verse." That was the result of a lot of research that had gone
on. As early as 1851, Delia Bacon said there are already two Shakespeare's in literature. One in the documents,
and one is the minds and writings of the critics. I think the breach widened as research continued, and about 1900
reached a crisis. And I think the crisis was a kind of identity crisis that we can see reflected in the treatment of
the Sonnets by a leading Shakespearean scholar, Sir Sidney Lee. The questions about the Sonnets are multiple.
Primarily: Who is Mr. W. H.? (and does it matter?) What was his role in
connection with the Sonnets? Are they autobiographical?
Are they literary exercises? <br>When were they written? And
why didn't the author apparently take any interest in their publication? They appeared in 1609. William Shakspere
of Stratford was alive. And if they were these private revealing documents, he
could have taken an interest in the publication. So, let's proceed with that
just briefly. The question of Mr. W. H. has led to a number of
candidates. The peculiar thing about Sir Sidney Lee, and why I say he seems to reflect the identity crisis was reached on this issue, is because
he held all three of them at different times, with equal vehemence, and without ever acknowledging that he'd had a
different point of view in the past. He first thought it was William Herbert,
Earl of Pembroke. The initials fit, the Earl was connected with the theater.
It could have been a patron. So that was his initial position. When he
switched to Henry Wriothsley the Earl of Southampton, it was without any
acknowledgment at all that he had ever had any other point of view. He
ultimately said that the poems were not written to either of these noblemen,
but instead were literary exercises, sort of generated by the
milieu, just part of a series of Elizabethan sonnets like
other people were producing. It was a kind of habit. The trouble with all
this is that other people have pointed out repeatedly that there sense of the
documents is that they are personal and vital and are connected to real life.
In fact, that's an outstanding characteristic of them, I think. In most readers experiences, that, of
course, can vary. So when the question of Oxford's death date arises,
1604, it can be on his side in effect, because personal revealing documents
appeared in 1609, after his death, no fuss was raised by the author of any
kind, and the dedicator of the volume, the printer, Thomas Thorpe, refers to him as "our ever-living poet." Now so far as I've
been able to determine, "ever-living" isn't ever applied to a living person. And so when we hear complaints that we
have 50 candidates and they're all equally good, we have to look at a thing like the 1604 death date, and see how many
people can this apply to. Not Bacon, not Darby, not Dyer, not any of the other candidates including the man from
Stratford. It seems to me that is crucial to the case, and that these personal poems as I feel they are, were
in fact addressed to people who were yet to be identified. There's a tendency to talk about autobiography
as if it's autobiography of memoir kind. These documents
are not that. Samuel Butler pointed out they're "unguarded letters in verse."
I think that's a remarkably accurate description of them. That means they're
addressed to an individual, from an individual in a private context. One of
the men on the tape I think referred to it as a diary. This is a man talking
to himself. His thou is a thou. It seems to me that work
by Oxfordian scholars such as Colonel Ward who was able, I think successfully
to identify William Hall as the source of the Sonnets. Mr. W. H. becomes not
the person they're written to at all, but the person that found them, in
Hackney at the time of Oxford's death, shortly thereafter when his widow was
clearing up the place. That people like Charles Wisner Barrell, who's been
able to identify the dark lady as Ann Vavasor, the woman by whom Oxford had an
illegitimate son, who is almost the spitting image of his mother, we have the
portraits. It seems to me the background of the poems starts to become
concrete. There's already a concrete background there reflected in the verse. What we need
is an external concrete background to mesh with it. That's what Emerson meant
by "marry a man to the verse". And I think with the Sonnets we see that
Oxfordians have made progress, and all I must say, we've been able to do with
traditional scholars is go in circles. A. L. Rowse came along after a scholar like Charlotte Stokes determines
there's no documentary evidence connecting Southampton with the man from Stratford. There's a posthumous reference to
a connection, but there's no documents, no documents-- except for the dedication of Venus and
Adonis. [Protests from the panel--] But that as
we were pointing out earlier, but only with a name, nothing personal. Now how
to apply that to the recipient of these sonnets. The other question comes up,
if as one of the men [In the tape] pointed out, I'm a
commoner looking for a patron, and I write a kind of fawning dedication, would
I also write those sonnets? I don't think so. I don't think so.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR: I've been asked to direct this question.
I think probably that Professor Taylor is best, what comes to mind is, coming
from someone from Harvard who's wants to know this. If indeed the man from
Stratford was the author, how do you account for the fact that nether he nor
any member of his family is known to have celebrated that fact?
GARY TAYLOR: It depends on what you mean by
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Well, my father wrote that
wonderful line about... in Hamlet.
GARY TAYLOR: Yes, but we don't very much, I mean, these
people didn't write memoirs about their lives, we don't have much evidence
about the lives of those people. So that, I mean, with have relatively little
evidence about most middle class people in this period anyway.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Well, Milton's daughter made
something of a fuss about her father.
GARY TAYLOR: Yes, but Milton is a rather different
situation. Milton is a man who is significant enough politically. He's
Cromwell's secretary, he's imprisoned after the restoration of the monarchy.
He is a political figure, and his daughter is central to the transmission of
his work, because he's blind, and he has to--
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: But if your father were
Shakespeare, wouldn't you say "as Dad used to say, to be is not to be?"
GARY TAYLOR: Yeah, well she might have said that, but
there were no tape recorders around. He couldn't be interviewed, so that he
would have that. She might have gone around Stratford. It's not actually true
to say, as was said at some point in the tapes or whatever. That Stratford
paid no attention, that there was no evidence of a connection. In fact, the
minister in Stratford in the 1660's collected information about William
Shakespeare because he was one of the town's most famous citizens. You may
dismiss that, but there are Stratford connections.
WARREN HOPE: I think the point was --Stratford
connection, during his life, and at the time of his death, it is peculiar in
an age of eulogies, no eulogies.
REBECCA FLYNN: But it is very well documented that the
monument that was put up in Holy Trinity Church to commemorate Shakespeare, was
not simply put up to commemorate a rich burgher, but to celebrate his writing
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: That's where they just stuck
a pen in his hand...
TOM BETHELL: I've got a thing on the monument which
may be I'll do later. or we can do it now...
WARREN HOPE: I think it's worth mentioning that the one
difficulty in this tradition is that the family of William Shakspere tended to
use crosses when called upon to write their names.
TOM BETHELL: Shakespeare's daughters could not write.
One signed her name with an X."
WARREN HOPE: Judith... Judith did that.
GARY TAYLOR: Do you want to go into that? That's
another example of that kind of claim that is made that sounds plausible but
that requires a great deal of evidence.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: I think it's very plausible
that she couldn't write. This is from Ft. Wayne, Indiana who has a question
for Lord Burford and then we'll go right back to that.
QUESTION FROM FORT WAYNE, INDIANA: Hello.
[His voice echoes] --I'm getting the same effect-- Anyway I
had a question for Mr. de Vere. I had it on his opening speech. It seems
almost moot now. Any, I wanted to ask him, he asked us whether we would accept
the para-normality of genius by William Shakespeare, but he would
have us accept the paranormality that there had been a comment made
about Mr. de Vere, (not this Mr. de Vere but the later one, the Earl of Oxford.
) He said it was said of him that his countenance would, and I quote, "shake a
spear." This is not Sir Francis Bacon, but this is another one made by a
courtier, I believe. Anyway, and so this comment has been made and then
there's this man out of nowhere named Shakspere who just coincidentally works
in London theater can serve as a front for the authorship by the Earl of
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Would you just tell us what
the actual question is?
QUESTION FROM FORT WAYNE , INDIANA: Well I was asking,
how does he explain this?
CHARLES VERE: I still don't understand what the
question is, but I don't think it's implausible at all, the name Shakspere is
actually quite a common name in Warwickshire at the time. There were several
families that had that name. And you mentioned, the Earl of Oxford was
addressed by Gabriel Harvey in 1578, he was a professor of rhetoric at
Cambridge University, and at the end of the address, Harvey said, using the
Latin phrase Voltis talor vibran, which was translated in
Elizabethan times as, "thy countenance shakes spears." It may well be that Oxford had this sobriquet of the spear shaker or Shake-Speare way
before the 1590's when he would have come across Shakspere in London. The
whole point that I was making at the beginning is that the names are not
identical at all. They are different, but they are similar enough to be confused,
and they have been confused.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR. Thank you, another question
QUESTION FROM HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Hi, this is coming
from Harvard. And the question is, why is there no legitimate record of
Shakspere as an actor in London? And this goes out to the Stratfordians on the
panel. Thank you.
REBECCA FLYNN: I'm glad of this question because I
wanted to pick up a point that Charles made in his inflammatory opening statement where he made an amazing statement I
thought, which was that there is no record of Shakespeare having any connection with an artistic enterprise or
the theater, and I really don't know maybe I misremembering, but let me put my point which is that we have
documents listing him as one of the leading of the Lord Chamberlain's company, and one of the leading men of
the King's company.
GARY TAYLOR: Whether or not this person wrote the plays
is something that we could argue about, but it seems to me that it is very difficult to make an argument that this
person was not an actor, that there was not an actual person named William Shakespeare who was an actor in the
major company in London in this period.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR. : Do you have a problem with
that Lord Burford?
CHARLES VERE: Well I have, slightly, because here we're
talking about a man recognized as the greatest dramatist of his time by Francis
Meres in 1598, and yet--
REBECCA FLYNN: One of the greatest
for comedy and tragedy.
CHARLES VERE: No, the greatest,
Shakespeare. And yet, there's only one reference to a payment to him as an actor by the Lord Chamberlain's company
in 1594, which is actually contradicted by an authentic record three months later. So the only record
we have of payment to him by the Lord Chamberlain's company is contradicted by
one three months later. The Lord Chamberlain's men were not acting at the
court at the 1590's fall record says. On the 28th of December, 1594, the Lord
Admiral's men were. The Lord Chamberlain's men were acting at Gray's Inn that
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: We have another question for
you from Fort Wayne, Indiana.
FORT WAYNE, INDIANA : Hello, OK? My question is for
the Earl. My question is, why do you feel that the Earl of Oxford would risk
his name being discovered in the works, if it would bring disgrace to the
family name after it was found?
CHARLES VERE: Well I believe that the pseudonym name,
William Shakespeare was imposed upon him by the political powers of the time,
that he wouldn't naturally have chosen to remain anonymous for posterity's
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR. : He spent his life risking his
life, didn't he?
CHARLES VERE: Well, one of the great tensions that
emerges in the Sonnets is on the one hand, the author says that he realizes his work will live on forever. On
the other hand, he knows, he says that his own name and reputation will die
after his death. So I felt that de Vere felt a great sense of personal tragedy
that his name would not live on. On the other hand, he was well aware
of the strictness of his age, the ethos of his age, which demanded that he not
be known as the author. That's not contradictory to have him on a personal
level, actually wanting to be known after his death as the true author, and
leaving those clues. There not any sort of name clues, anagrams, it's all the
plays in a way explicates some sort of episode in his life, some part of his
life. Especially of course, Hamlet, which is generally
agreed to be the most autobiographical of Shakespeare's plays.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR. Thank you, Lord Burford. We go
again to the tape.
TAPE: OXFORD'S BIBLE MARGINALIA
NARRATOR: Among the many hundreds of books which
influenced Shakespeare, the most important was the Bible. Since the King James
version of the Bible was not written until the early 1600's, it was the Geneva
Bible which was read and referred to by Shakespeare. Roger Stritmatter, PhD.
candidate at the University of Massachusetts heard that the Earl of Oxford's Geneva Bible was to be
displayed at the Folger Shakespeare Library.
ROGER STRITMATTER: I visited the Folger twice in
January of this past year, and the Bible was about to go on display. It's part of their fine bindings. It's now on
display there; it has a beautiful binding on it, maroon velvet with medallions, both on the front and back, silver
medallions engraved with the Coat of Arms of the Earls of Oxford, including the
blue boar, which is not only important as this ancestral symbol of the Earls of
Oxford, but is a personal symbol to the 17th Earl, as you can see in 1586 Gheeradts
portrait. As amazing as it may seem, we have account books from the Royal Court of Wards from 1570, which record
the purchase by the Earl of Oxford of a Geneva Bible, gilt edged as this one is, along with several other books,
paper and pen nibs for writing. So strange as it may seem, this is probably the book which we actually have this
record of the bill of sale for.
NARRATOR : Within the Bible, Stritmatter discovered
that is was annotated by the Earl of Oxford.
ROGER STRITMATTER: Well there are over 1,000 marked
passages in the Bible, probably in the Earl of Oxford's handwriting throughout the Old Testament, the New Testament, and
the Apocrypha. I realized there was a striking degree of overlap between on the one hand, Oxford's annotations,
and on the other hand, these passages which previous scholars have already noticed as having been important in
Shakespeare's use of the Bible.
NARRATOR: Careful to ensure that this overlapping of
data was not a result of two people sharing a common biblical culture, Stritmatter researched how the Bible influenced
ROGER STRITMATTER: One can look at the writings of
other Elizabethan contemporaries of Shakespeare and see if the same passages from the Bible crop up in them.
When you do that you find out that while there are a few, for example from the Book of Revelations, which do appear
to be common stock of Elizabethan knowledge, many and probably most of those passages which are common to
Oxford & Shakespeare are not found at all in other Elizabethan writers, which indicates that we're dealing with
something more than simply a generic Elizabethan knowledge of the Bible.
NARRATOR: Stritmatter found that underlined passages
tended to fall into image clusters, as though the reader was interested in cataloging different phrases about the same
idea. The most prominent cluster of images underlined in Oxford's Bible is in the Old Testament, where two related
phrases embody Shakespeare's ideology of kingship. The first is the idea of the Lord's Anointed, referring to the
idea that the King was considered to have received authority from God through a ceremony of anointment.
ROGER STRITMATTER: The related phrase which goes along
with the same one, is "his blood shall fall upon his own head. " These ideas are related because in the Old Testament,
someone who kills the King is expected to have his blood or his sin fall upon his own head. These ideas occur at
least 30 times in Shakespeare's use of the Bible. For example, in First Samuel 24:11, David has just spared the wife
of Saul. And he says, in explanation of his action, "I will not lay my hand upon the Lord's anointed," which
indicates his special interest in this injunction against regicide, against killing the King, which is so important in
Shakespeare's biblical imagination.
NARRATOR: Some underlined passages bore more than a
passing resemblance from lines from Shakespearean plays.
ROGER STRITMATTER : It's not just that we don't have any
manuscripts in Shakespeare's handwriting which could, after all, be explained away as a result of the hazards of preservation.
It's also not just that we don't have any letters in his own handwriting, although he must have been of the greatest
letter writers in the history of the English language. I suppose that also can be explained away as a result of
the devouring hand of time. What's really striking, and what Supreme Court Justice John Paul Steven's points
out in his recent article in the Pennsylvania Law Review is that we don't have any books
from Shakespeare's library. Well, in The Merry Wives of Windsor for example,
Shakespeare makes a peculiar and very innocent credit reference to the size of
Goliath's Spear: " I fear not Goliath with a weaver's beam," says Falstaff. In
Oxford's Geneva Bible, the phrase which Falstaff gets his language from is
actually underlined in Second Samuel 21:19. "...The staff of whose spear was like a
NARRATOR: One of the most striking Old Testament
parallels with the Shakespearean canon; however, was in the 16th Book of
Ezekiel. The only underlining in this chapter recalls Hamlet's line about
VOICE OF HAMLET: "Why this
is hire and salary, not revenge. He took my father grossly, full of
ROGER STRITMATTER: No reference to 16:49 Ezekiel is
found, as far as I am aware, in any contemporary of Shakespeare's. It's not in Spencer, Marlowe, Ben Jonson or
any of them. So interest in this passage, far from being a commonplace of
Elizabethean authors, is very peculiar to Shakespeare. We don't know for sure
when these annotations were made, but probably in the 1570's and 1580's, during
the first 20 years after he acquired it. Now, Hamlet, the second quarto of
Hamlet came out for the first time in 1604. So to suggest that the Earl of
Oxford saw Hamlet, or read a copy of it and then went back to his Bible, having
been inspired by it and underscore verses, such as Ezekiel 16:49 is simply not
NARRATOR: The New Testament, too, yielded many passages
which would have been of interest to Oxford.
ROGER STRITMATTER: There's a thematic cluster which
links some of the passages in Matthew to other passages which have been underlined in the Earl of Oxford's Bible.
And this theme is found in Shakespeare's use of the Bible. This has to do with the idea of giving alms. Verses
5:3, 4:2, 6:1-4, in Matthew, which are scored in the Earl of Oxford's Bible. Mark 10:21, which is the only verse
underlined in the Book of Mark reads as follows: "And Jesus beheld him and loved him, and said unto him, one thing is
lacking unto thee, go and sell all that thou
hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come
follow me and take up the cross."
NARRATOR: "Take up the cross" was a theme Shakespeare
used often in the history plays.
ROGER STRITMATTER: The really startling evidence, the
evidence that sort of lights up the sky so to speak, found in this Bible, is from the Apocrypha, the Books of
Ecclesiasticus and Second Esdras in particular. Now Ecclesiasticus has been recognized as one of the two most important books
of the Bible for Shakespeare, the other one being Job. It's very impressive, therefore, that there are over 100
passages underlined in this copy of the Geneva Bible, and perhaps as many as 20 of those exhibit a very definite influence
in the Shakespeare canon.
NARRATOR: Oxford had a very strong interest apparently
in Chapters 8 and 9 of the Second Book of Esdras. These chapters concern what was a truly grave religious question
of the period, which was the Catholic doctrine of salvation by goods works.
ROGER STRITMATTER: It's very evident from these
underlinings that Oxford was not sympathetic to the Protestant ideal of salvation through grace alone. He repeatedly
underlines passages which emphasize the importance of salvation through good works. Now the religious problem in
Hamlet is much the same as that Oxford faced, it's basically that of a lapsed Catholic aristocrat,
nostalgic for the rituals of the Church, and the ideal of salvation through great works. But his father has been killed
without hearing last rights of Catholic confession. The father's untimely death becomes a symbol, not just for the
condition of the ghost wandering in purgatory, but for the inability of the son to act. Numerous verses scored
in Oxford's Bible, indicate the concern of the annotator for salvation through good works. But the most important
ones by far come in Second Esdras.
NARRATOR: Among the many verses Stritmatter found
underlined and germane to Shakespeare's studies, there were some which has escaped prior notice by scholars.
ROGER STRITMATTER: I can now add at least 30 and
probably considerably more verses which are scored in the Earl of Oxford's Bible and exhibit a definite influence in
Shakespeare, but which have never been noticed by prior scholars of Shakespeare's Biblical knowledge. Now from a
scientific point of view, this is just quite extraordinary. It means that we can use the annotations in the Earl of
Oxford's Bible to learn things that we never knew before about Shakespeare's use of the Bible.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Lakeland Community College,
which is extremely inquisitive wants to know if there's such a thing as stylistic analysis of the works of
Shakespeare as we know them, and of the works of, or letters of de Vere.
WARREN HOPE: I'm aware of a computer study that came to
the conclusion that there was not a close match. I think there are a number of reasons for that, potentially.
There's not unanimity about Shakespeare's canon anyway, so that there are some samples that may have been the work of other
writers that were compared with the de Vere. On the other hand, de Vere's early work is of an earlier period.
That's one of the things that interest me about the authorship question is, the way Looney has drawn together a
circle of literary influences that had primarily been ignored, forming a bridge between writers like Lord Vaux and
the Earl of Surrey, and the outpouring of work around 1590, and Oxford provides the bridge. So it is early work,
and it's also not dramatic work, and the letters are obviously prose written for other purposes. So I don't think
much of that computer study, the details of which I'm not familiar with--
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: I don't think anybody claims
they can give you an absolute finger print. They dictate that William Faulkner is not e.e. cummings--
CHARLES VERE: I wouldn't even be so sure of that
because I spoke to two of the statisticians at Claremont College that were doing this and they said that certain passages
Marlowe had a better match for Shakespeare that Shakespeare did for Shakespeare.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: You can hold that a sec
because Ft. Wayne, Indiana has been on the line here for a while, so let's hear from Ft. Wayne please.
FT. WAYNE, INDIANA: Hello, this question is for pretty
much anyone who feels to answer it. Is it possible that the man from Stratford and the man from Oxford, could have
written at the same time period, and perhaps conferred with each other and this could possibly answer the
similarities between the writings?
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Who wants to
WARREN HOPE: This obviously has to be very speculative. The
idea of whether or not the people met, can't be demonstrated in a documentary way. The point we were recently on I
think is that there's no body of work to compare Shakespeare's work with outside the plays and poems, For the man
from Stratford. There's no letters, no other documents so that we can do a stylistic analysis, so it's always
saying does Shakespeare sound like Shakespeare? That's part of the problem. On the other hand, there are
traditions in Shaxper's family that when he first went to London, he was introduced to the theater by holding the
horses of gentlemen, and it's very likely the Earl of Oxford was one of those gentlemen, as least it's possible. Another
possible connection is Oxford's players appeared in the Town of Stratford in 1585, shortly before William left his
home town. It could have been there was a contact made then. But that kind of thing must be speculative, there's
just no documents to back any of it up. All we can do is guess.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: What about the question which
is extremely important to the extent that this is other than merely a sleuthing game. Would we read the plays of
Shakespeare differently if it were authenticated that they were the work of the Earl of Oxford? Would they
say things to us in a way that would be differently received?
CHARLES VERE: Well, I think it would add a whole new
dimension to our interpretation. If Oxford was put in place as the author, we're not saying that you can't have a
deconstructionist view of the plays and say they were written by someone completely disembodied, had no connection with
his historical time. It just adds an extra dimension, it's not taking other dimensions away. You're putting the
plays within their historical context. You're getting hold of a lot of the in-jokes in court at the time. There
are a lot of very specific references, Twelfth Night,Hamlet and so on,
which you can't recognize if you're a Stratfordian because they rely on knowledge which is too specific and intimate.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Except don't the Stratfordians
assume that somehow because of his quick wit, and this extraordinary school he went to,
[laughter] that he picked up all this stuff, that he picked
up court rumors and so on.
CHARLES VERE: Well it's not the sort of thing you could
pick up at a tavern over a pint of beer. For instance in Hamlet, there are so many jokes about
William Cecil, Lord Burghley. One of them is that when Polonius, Hamlet runs through behind the arras and Claudius asks Hamlet, where is
Polonius? "He says at supper my Lord, not where he eats, but where he is eaten. A convocation of politic worms
are even at him. Your worm is your only emperor for diet." Now we know that from private papers of Cecil and other
people published 200 years after the protagonist of this particular drama were dead, that Cecil was particularly
fond of telling the anecdote of how he was born during the Diet of Worms in 1520 which was a convocation called by
Emperor Charles V to discuss the Lutheran principles. Now you can mention about 15 examples like that,with
minute intimate knowledge of the man. And we also have Lord Burleigh's
letters to the Queen, in which his style is very similar to that of Polonius
addressing the Queen and Claudius. And would the Stratford man had been at a
private audience between Lord Burghley, the Queen's chief minister and the
Queen herself, in the same room? I very much doubt it. It's the sort of thing
that Edward de Vere would have done. So he's actually parodying, satirizing
him in considerable depth. It's a man he intimately knew, it's also a man to
whom he was very antagonistic, i.e., he had the motivation for satirizing
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: The contemporary annotations
of works of Shakespeare go ahead and point out these discoveries, these historical discoveries, without any reference
to saying they can only be thought authentic if the author of this play is other, [Warren Hope interjects
"sure."] -- than the Stratford man.
WARREN HOPE: I think sort of in a general way, an
experience I had as a high school student tells how the plays can be read
differently. I'm sure there aren't many teachers that do this now, but I was
taught that Polonius' lines, to thine own self be true, etc., was Shakespeare's
philosophy, including neither a borrower or a lender be, that kind of that
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: You didn't know he was being
pompous and didactic and that sort of thing.
WARREN HOPE: Right. It's not the kind of thing that
if, an author's going to put his own point of view into anyone's mouth, it will not be Polonius. It will be Hamlet.
So, and I think that kind of point can track with what the documents suggest about the Stratford man.
GARY TAYLOR: Can I just say that ... It is certainly
true that various ideas about literary history, theatrical history, would be
altered if we believe this. But I don't think it should be phrased in terms of
"we gain a whole new level of understanding." I mean we would gain a whole new
level of understanding if we we presumed that Richard Nixon was actually a
flaming homosexual, and we listened to the Watergate tapes [Buckley:
Sure. Sure.] and we'd discover all sorts of allusions in those
tapes. We would then add a new level of meaning, but that isn't necessarily a
level of meaning which we want to add.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: If this were so, does that
raise the question whether the Sonnets might be thought to have been the work of one man, and the plays not
WARREN HOPE: I don't think there's any case for
separating the Sonnets from the playwright.
CHARLES VERE: No indeed, I think the Sonnets provide
striking confirmation that Shakespeare cast himself in the role of his protagonist, that his great protagonist like
Hamlet is autobiographical. Because Hamlet is a very plausible author of the Sonnets. His persona, the persona of the
author of the Sonnets, and Hamlet's persona and their methods of self-dramatization are identical. In fact, the
Sonnets are essentially soliloquies. And the author, say in Sonnet 66, is just a list of complaints
which Hamlet has at the Court of Elsinore. So there's a very close
identification towards the language and imagery which Hamlet uses, and which
the poet of Sonnets uses. And that whole cast of thought is very, very
REBECCA FLYNN: Could I just follow along from that? I
agree that there is a great similarity between the way in which the character of Hamlet speaks, and the
vocabulary and style of the Sonnets. That's because the same man wrote them,
not because Hamlet would have written those Sonnets. In fact in the play of
Hamlet we have a poem that Hamlet wrote
to his love, and it's not much good really.
CHARLES VERE: Well, if you think it's his, a lot of
critics think it's Polonius' verse.
REBECCA FLYNN: Well that's something we might argue
about later, but there is in the play a poem given to us as written by that
protagonist. I think we've got to remember these characters are characters in
plays, they're in works, they're not people who have wandered in from real life
and been caught in snapshot and then wandered back out again. I don't really
think that's how we should approach these plays as looking constantly for keys
to people's real lives. That's not to say you can't trace influences from
external sources. But there might be some similarity between Polonius and Cecil, but your very admission that it
was a well known facet of Cecil's personality that he would regale people with the place of his birth.
CHARLES VERE: No, they were not made public until 200
years later. No, but the point I'm making is that the character of Hamlet is actually that character type
recurs again and again in the plays,whether it's Romeo, Bertram, Richard II, Jacques. All these fundamentally
"Hamlet-types" so I would draw from the conclusion from that, that this is the
author revealing himself.
REBECCA FLYNN: I would draw that the things those
characters are dealing with are of interest to the author, and they suit the talents of Richard Burbage who formed those
parts. I keep wanting to put it back into the theatrical context.
GARY TAYLOR: Surely it's possible for an author to
create a fantasy self. A kind of fantasy protagonist which may bear very little relation to the actual poor soul
who's writing the plays, but may be an idealized version of himself in some sort of way. It seems to me that one
of the recurring problems with this kind of interpretation, (and it's a kind of interpretation that's not engaged by
Oxfordians, but by other people) is this desire to find all sorts of personal and topical references in all of the works.
People who are Stratfordians can find personal references to Stratford, to people at Stratford, to people who the actor
knew in the plays. You would certainly dismiss those as not being hard and fast documentary ...
CHARLES VERE: They're not very
GARY TAYLOR: You don't think they're
convincing. I don't think these are convincing. That they're simply elaborations
of an hypothesis which assume what it is that we're all trying to prove in the
first place. They don't constitute anything approaching proof in themselves,
they only become of interest if you first have some other kind of proof that
the hypothesis is worth entertaining.
WARREN HOPE: I wonder if I could read a poem. Would
anybody mind if I read a poem? We haven't had any of Oxford's poems read yet,
and this one is brief and I think could be of interest at least.
"Fain would I sing, but fury makes me fret, And
rage is sworn to seek revenge of wrong; My maized mind in
malice so is set, As Death shall daunt my deadly dolours long;
Patience perforce is such a pinching pain, As die I will,
or suffer wrong again. I am no sot, to suffer such abuse And
doth bereave my heart of his delight; Nor will I frame myself to such
as use, With calm consent, to suffer such despite; No
quiet sleep shall once possess mine eye Till wit have wrought his
will on Injury. My heart shall fail, and hand shall lose his force, but some
device shall pay Despite his due; And Fury shall consume my careful
corse, Or raze the ground whereon my sorrow grew. Lo, thus
in rage of ruthful mind refus'd, I rest reveng'd on whom I am
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: That's a hell of a computer
that said there was no similarities.
WARREN HOPE: Well, that's the thing. I mean the famous first
line of a sonnet, "Sin of self love possesseth all mine eye." And here we have
"No quiet sleep shall once possess mine eye." To my mind - and my familiarity with the period is not
encyclopaedic -- but that is a peculiar turn of phrase, and connection
of ideas. No?
GARY TAYLOR: I don't think that the "possess mine eye"
is at all unidiomatic in the language of this period. That to a late 20th
century audience, you could read almost any piece of Elizabethean verse, and it
would seem to strike certain chords in our memory. Anyone familiar with
Shakespeare's plays, it will sound, [Buckley: Like Baroque
music.] That's right, you're talking about a period style to someone
who's only knowledge of literature is Shakespeare - as will be true of many of our
listeners, that will sound Shakespearean. But what they're really responding
to is a period idiom.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: In fact, Elizabethean would be more
proper, you think?
GARY TAYLOR: Elizabethean would be more
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Let's listen to Lesley
College, they have a question they want to ask us.
LESLEY COLLEGE: Question is, why is it that
"traditional" professors treat questions about the authorship like charges of
sexual harassment? [laughter]
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Is indignation something that
you want to cross quite generally on the part of people who defend Stratford's
WARREN HOPE: That's a good
TOM BETHELL: No, I have found, as a matter of fact, that many of
the professors in the Academy and the English departments that I've spoken to,
are really not very familiar with the subject at all. They just don't know
very much about it, they assume that the whole thing is ridiculous, that it's
not really a serious question, and that's about the extent of their knowledge.
They don't really hardly know who the Earl of Oxford is, and they assume that
the case for the Stratford man has been so well made, and is so established
that it's not worth discussing.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Well let me go to the horse's
mouth of Professor Taylor. Is there a sort of cultivated disdain in your
profession for those who are doubters in this respect?
GARY TAYLOR: The entire profession to which I belong,
and you might describe it as the other end of the horse, rather than the
horse's mouth, [laughter] is built upon skepticism. Is
built upon not believing things, questioning things. And it depends for its
continued existence, and its continued production of ideas upon constantly
entertaining new ideas which may seem very peculiar, unorthodox when they are
first formulated, but which, if they are persuasive and they begin to be
persuasive, first by convincing a small number of specialists who then
convince others, who then convince others, can become orthodoxies quite
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: But to what extent do you
treat it like the grassy knoll? About 20 years ago I gave up reading books
about who else killed Kennedy other than the guy who killed him
[laughter]. I don't feel any professional or even
avocational responsibility to come along every time when Oliver North
[i.e., Oliver Stone] -- is on the scene and say this is why,
this guy's cuckoo. But do you feel in any sense that there is evidence
mounting in respect to the authenticity of de Vere which requires extraordinary
evidence to revisit all the evidence and tie it together and cope with
GARY TAYLOR: Personally I don't. I mean I have to say
that I'm somebody who has changed my mind lots of times publicly.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: On this
GARY TAYLOR: Not on this subject,
but on other subjects to do with things that I have published. So that and other people in the profession do that. I don't
think, it makes it, if I were actually persuaded by these arguments, as I have been persuaded on other cases by
arguments directed ad hominem at me, as this isn't, I would be perfectly willing to say so. I
think that part of the reason that there is not so much a contempt, as a kind of weariness in the Academy. Because no matter
how many times someone looks at these kinds of arguments and tries to rebut them, they will just keep
coming back. There is no way that you are ever going to be able to silence these doubts. If one candidate is
decisively refuted over a period of time, another one will simply leap up. So there is that sense which is a human,
understandable sense that it's going to take me 1,200 pages to show what is wrong with this essay of 150 pages.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: And at the end what's more,
you'd have somebody else to worry
GARY TAYLOR: Right, and that when you had done it,
you'd be left back where you started with nothing, with a purely kind of negative work.
PROFESSOR LONDRE: This is one of the issues
WARREN HOPE: It is a way for people to get into the period, and
to connect the history of the period with literature, and to learn more details
about the theater. I think it can have educational value besides the debating
points, and whether or not anybody's mind is changed.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Well that's true, that's
incidental though. You were saying, Professor Londre, in your
judgment is the --
FELICIA LONDRE: This is the area I
was going to cover about in my allotted 10 minutes.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Of course. Please
FELICIA LONDRE: I wanted to say that when the
brochure went out announcing my participation on this panel, I received a lot of mail from strangers, some Oxfordians
some Stratfordians, and I think one of the Stratfordian letters is relevant. In both cases they were giving me advice
on, and one of the Stratfordians assumed that I was a Stratfordian. I wrote back to these people who wrote to me,
and thanked them for their interest and told them which side I was on, and I received a letter back again from a
Stratfordian, I will read you just a little bit of the first paragraph. "It never crossed my mind that you might not be a
Stratfordian because I couldn't see how you could then have become editor of the critical study of Love's Labour's
Lost that was mentioned in the brochure I got. I figured such a book could not be published were it to include
Oxfordian criticism. In our time I find that professing oneself to be an Oxfordian is not a career
enhancing option. I think I've gotten away with it because I am not a specialist in the Elizabethean period, I have
not published on the subject, my publications lie elsewhere. However, I do pursue it, and I think it takes a little bit
of moral fortitude to do this, publicly as I know from the attending theater conventions and being the butt of some
jokes. But I do it. For one reason I have a passionate love for the plays and I find that the plays for me are enhanced
by having a real life to put behind them. I know this has been talked about
already, but I would like to offer another analogy. It's what Mark
Twain said in Life On The Mississippi. He talked about
those who look at the Mississippi River from the viewpoint of a tourist and
they see an utterly breathtaking, beautiful pictures and they're dazzled by it.
And I think this is the way Stratfordians read the plays, they do appreciate
the beauty, it is, in their minds, enough to have the plays. But Mark Twain said once he went on and discovered the River, and learned where
the little snags were under the surface, and learned what it meant when you saw a little ripple or an eddy,
and learned the dangerous spots, you did lose something, he admitted that. There was a loss, but there was a
greater gain. You gained in depth and appreciation, and in understanding of that River that meant a lot to
him. And the second reason why I did pursue this subject despite the
difficulties is that I consider myself a theater historian, and our profession is a search for truth. And this is the
closest truth that I can see on the basis of the existing evidence; and, of
course, we all see things differently, but this is what I see. So part of my
purpose is to reach the academics and just make a reasonable plea for
openmindedness on the subject. All of us theater historians know that history
can be falsified. There are numerous incidents of falsifications of history
that have come down over centuries. And I'd like to offer one example, it's not perhaps a
particularly good example, but I offer it because it's come up at a couple of different theater conventions and this may
strike a chord with some fellow theater historians. Margaret Knapp showed at a couple of conventions a
composite drawing that was published in the London Times back when the Rose and Globe excavations were
controversial. The London Timespublished this drawing and added in all of the Elizabethean theaters from
the period which were not synchronous, that is they did not exist at the same time, and Margaret Knapp found this
indefensible in the view of a scholar's painstaking search for truth. That so many people could be misled by this
revised drawing, this historical revisionism. And she looked for perhaps some kind of political agenda
behind this, was this a Thatcherite mode of promoting a "rule Britannia" mentality to promote the building of the Globe
Center. Well, I bring that up just to show that these are some of the things we have to deal with because we
often are prone to interpreting the past in tune with our own political agenda. And I think that perhaps Stratfordians
- I'm being contentious here - tend to do that. Because nowadays elitism is not fashionable and one of the things
that Stratfordians most object to is this "preposterous" idea that the author of the plays had to have come from the
aristocracy. I would like to, and then I would like to continue with that line of thought, Lady Blessington, in her
conversations with Lord Byron recalled what Byron said about Shakespeare, "talking of Shakespeare Byron said that
he owed "one half of this popularity to his low origin, which like charity, covereth a multitude of sins with the
multitude." Somehow nowadays there is a need for a populist Shakespeare as opposed to an elitist Shakespeare.
That's part of what we as Oxfordians are up against. And especially
in the area that I'm researching now which is the Shakespeare Festival
phenomenon, there are over 130 Shakespeare festivals in the country, and it is
a populist phenomenon. We're drawing from all social classes,bringing them to
come and see Shakespeare. The whole idea of carnival is a populist notion.
And so that's one of the things we have look at in evaluating the case.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Was that distinctive to
British culture or was it so, throughout Europe that you didn't expect somebody to create a magnificent work of art who
came from the lower classes?
FELICIA LONDRE: I think that's a phenomenon
of our time, not throughout Europe. I think that
people have probably not really considered it. Most people have been
Stratfordians. There are some French Oxfordians, but I think there is a openmindedness to the
WARREN HOPE: I would say the leading doubters of the Stratford
tradition have been rabid Democrats; Walt Whitman, Charlie Chaplin, Mark
FELICIA LONDRE: I would like to say to offer
a populist view of Oxford, he was man with many personal failings with a very complex life. He spent time in prison, he
was attacked by pirates. It is a life that offers a lot to the populist, and also a further aid to help the people
accept him, I would like to say that you really don't have to have a major emotional upheaval in order to accept him. You
can still call him Shakespeare because that's was he chose to be called. Stratford-on-Avon can still have its
tourist trade because it's still a charming and interesting town, even if he wasn't born there.
REBECCA FLYNN: I'm glad to hear it.
FELICIA LONDRE: And I think in terms of the
Folio face which used to be perhaps the basic logo for Shakespeare festivals, even they are moving away from that and
redrawing the face, and I'm seeing a lot of the Chandos and Ashbourne portraits sort of becoming a composite with the First
Folio face as a logo for Shakespeare festivals. So I think that will help also. I think people say let
Shakespeare be Shakespeare. That's probably the sentence I hear most often, and I agree, let Shakespeare be the real
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Professor Taylor, why don't we
move right into yours because we are sort of running out of time. Not quite,
but we've got 45 minutes.
GARY TAYLOR: Well, this whole question is as far as I'm
concerned, both very simple and very complicated. It's very simple because
it's just a question of who did it. You have an accusation here of fraud that
something has been attributed to the wrong person. It's extraordinarily
complicated as fraud or financial malfeasance cases can often be
extraordinarily complicated because in order to understand the charge and the
probability of the charge, you have to know an awful lot of detail about what
will be for most people be very abstruse matters.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: But fraud, not necessarily in
the venal sense though.
TOM BETHELL: Deception is the word.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Deception ...
GARY TAYLOR: Yes. You were saying that a massive
misrepresentation has been perpetrated.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: It would be ... like "Iran-gate." [he
TOM BETHELL: But deliberately and with the connivance
of the person, who with Oxford's ... collusion ...
GARY TAYLOR: Yes but, that Shakespeare the person, the
actor Shakespeare or whatever has taken credit for something which did not
belong to him.
TOM BETHELL: That may have been done in collaboration
WARREN HOPE: Actually doing Oxford a
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: But go ahead with your
GARY TAYLOR: We are being told that we have been
misled. [Panel interjects "Right. Right.] We're being told
that we've been misled, and the question is to determine the truth, and to
determine the truth involves us in an extremely complicated series of questions. For me,
the essential difficulty of this whole issue has to do with the nature of conspiracy theories. As you have said, you
are assuming the existence of some sort of collaboration between the Earl and the man from Stratford, as well as a
large number of other people. It is not at all clear; this particular conspiracy should have
been perpetrated. While there is an insistence over and over again from the Oxfordians, for documentary evidence that this man
from Stratford who was also clearly an actor in London was the man who wrote the plays as the texts published say
he was, there is this overwhelming demand for documentary evidence, but of course, there is no documentary
evidence that Oxford wrote them. There is no piece of paper from the period which says these plays were actually
written by the Earl of Oxford. Nobody says that. So that in the first place you have to have a conspiracy which
involves a very large number of people. There are the actors in the company ...
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Why did they have to
GARY TAYLOR: Why did the actors in the company have to
know? That Shakespeare did not actually write the text? I would think it would be fairly obvious in rehearsal, if
you've ever been in the rehearsal of a play, there are always things that need to be changed, and to be changed on the
spot. If somebody is not a playwright or the caliber of the man who produced these texts, that's going to be obvious
in the process. And after all, Heminges and Condell were two of his fellow actors. They introduced the First Folio
and said that it's by William Shakespeare. So you have to have a number of actors involved. Maybe not
every actor, but a number of actors over a long period of time. You have to have all of these people at the top of
Elizabethean society, which allegedly told de Vere that he couldn't publish them under his own name. However many people
might be involved, there is more than one or two people involved in this conspiracy. [Buckley: "oh
sure, yes."] It's a conspiracy which involves a large number of people, and of course, the difficulty with conspiracies, is that
the more people who become involved, the more likely it is that one of them is going to spill the beans. None of
them spilled the beans. There is no--
TOM BETHELL: How could they have got it
GARY TAYLOR: There were books published in this period
without permission. There were many books published in this period without permission. There were manuscripts that
circulated in this period. You know, this could be said in a manuscript letter. There is no documentary evidence for
TOM BETHELL: But you're assuming that it's a bigger
deal for us know than it was 400 years ago. That's the big difference. They would have known, sure it's the Earl of
Oxford, but who cares. You know.
GARY TAYLOR: But again you're making assumptions.
You're making assumptions to explain away the fact that you have no documentary evidence.
WARREN HOPE: Based on documentary evidence, the works
GARY TAYLOR: Based on documentary evidence, the works
are attributed to William Shakespeare. OK. What you want to do. No, I don't agree that the name is different, but
that involves us in all of these technical issues that I raised just one element of, earlier. There are documents
that say that these texts were written by somebody called William Shakespeare. There are no documents that say these
texts were written by de Vere. That's
right. And they were performed [many interjections].
There's a whole series of documents, which say that those plays were performed by the theatrical company to which an actor named
William Shakespeare also belonged. The documentary evidence says that there's a link between these texts and
somebody named William Shakespeare. It is entirely speculation that William Shakespeare is a pseudonym, or a cover
for de Vere. There is no documentary evidence from anyone in the period, anyone in the period, either in print
or in manuscript which says that these plays were written by the Earl of Oxford. So that's the first problem with
WARREN HOPE: But there are Oxford's plays we don't have
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Would it be relevant Professor
Taylor to say if somebody presents herself as Anastasia--
GARY TAYLOR: Yes.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: ...And has no documentary
proof that she was the daughter of Nicholas II. So therefore you start looking for plausibilities.
TOM BETHELL: Circumstantial evidence.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Yes, and therefore isn't this
a search for plausibilities because we have to postulate that it's implausible, that the man from Stratford left no clue.
He was a wordy man.
GARY TAYLOR: No, no, but we can get into that later.
But the point is that the actual documents from the periods say these texts are by William Shakespeare, and there are
no documents that say they're by de Vere. We may not believe that documentary evidence. We may come forward
with reasons for doubting it, but the documentary evidence is initially. [Buckley: - a presumption.] There is a presumption that the documents are
in favor of William Shakespeare. And the absence, the silence in the
documents saying from anyone who must have known this. And you want to say that of course, lots of people knew it,
but there was no reason to write about it. That no one actually comes out and says it. Even though in letters for
instance, people talk about Burleigh's private
habits. There are all sorts of manuscripts in which matters to do with the
court and secret matters about individuals in the aristocracy have come down to us. None of that evidence says that
de Vere wrote these plays. So first of all, there's a completely successful conspiracy in the Renaissance. Secondly,
you have to assume that there is some kind of conspiracy. And we've just heard some sense of this in later
scholarship that the views of anti-Stratfordians have not been properly attended to, [Hope: That's
thoroughly documented! Reams!]or that there is a kind of a sort of establishment bias. But there very well may be an
establishment bias in the case of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. And that's been admitted. I get nothing
from Stratford. Most people studying Shakespeare in the world today, get no financial connection with Stratford.
The idea that the Shakespeare industry is against elitism seems to me ridiculous when the major
Shakespeare production company in the world is the Royal Shakespeare Company. Shakespeare has been deeply tied in .
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: But that's just a British
convention in the world. I mean, they would have "the Royal Garbage Society ..." [laughter]
WARREN HOPE: ...or the Royal Family.
GARY TAYLOR: So that you have to presume that there is
some reason why people are not willing to listen to the evidence in the 20th
century in large numbers.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Isn't that
GARY TAYLOR: Inertia? Well there's a lot inertia and
yet within the Academy, Shakespeareans have been willing to completely revise
their views about a play like King Lear in the course of 12
years. Twelve years may seem inertia by comparison with the hard sciences, but
we're talking about claims that were first put into print in the middle of the 19th century and that have been
vociferously defended since then, and a whole series of books and articles that the man from Stratford did not write
these works. And yet despite the impression that you might be given by the distribution of roles in this panel, the
overwhelming number of specialists who have devoted their lives to the study of this period, find the argument against
Stratford totally unpersuasive. To me, the Mark Twain anecdote works in the office supply. The people who know the
river, who know the Mississippi are people who spend their lives studying this period as a profession. The
tourists are the outsiders who come in and read a few books, making a particular case which may seem plausible to
them, but who simply do not know the details. And the reason this is important is that as somebody
[Galsworthy] said in an initial review of Looney's book, "this is the best detective story I ever read. " The genre of the
detective story which itself dates from about the same time as this theory that the man from Stratford didn't write the
plays, that genre depends on certain understandings about what's normal. The key clues for the detective and
the reader are always something that stands out because it's odd, it's abnormal in some way. Know when you read
a modern detective novel, about the modern world, you know what's normal in the modern world. You can judge
when something is a bit queered. But when you're looking at documents from the late 16th and early 17th century,
you don't know what's normal, unless you spend your whole life studying those documents. Let me give you an
example of signatures.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: When you say a whole life -
You don't mean the whole life, you mean a considerable amount of scholarly time.
GARY TAYLOR: I mean a considerable amount of scholarly
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: You can sort of acculturate
yourself into Elizabethean medium by harder concentration in a year, can't you?
GARY TAYLOR: But not if you want to answer specific
questions like wills and signatures. So let me get to that since I promised to. The fact that Shakespeare's father signed
with an "X". Shakespeare himself did not sign with an "X," so clearly there's a difference in the degree of the
command of the language between the father and the son. That's entirely normal in this period,when there is a rise in
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: If you said he learned to
write in that school I wouldn't believe it.
GARY TAYLOR: Yes, so that's perfectly normal that the
father did not know how to sign his name, did not write and the son did. It is
also perfectly normal that daughters did not know how to sign their names.
Because although many women were taught to read it was felt they had no reason
to know how to write, because writing was necessary for documents, for certain
kinds of work in the world that women were not expected to perform. Very, very
few women in this period, even though they might be able to read, could write.
And there's an important distinction between literacy. It was claimed that Shakespeare's
daughters were illiterate. We have no evidence that they were illiterate. We have lots of evidence--
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Freeze everything. Did
everybody in this room know that before you heard it from this scholar? Did
you know that women were not expected to know how to write? It's a very
GARY TAYLOR: Queen Elizabeth knew how to write,
obviously, but she's an exception.
TOM BETHELL: There's evidence that one of the other of
Shakespeare's daughters of whom we do have one quavery signature, that she also couldn't read in
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: No, no, I'm not asking the
particular. I'm asking the general point, cause he's made a very interesting point, namely that it takes a life long
absorption in Elizabethean culture to understand what's anomalous, and what is not anomalous. So I'm asking you all did you
WARREN HOPE: No, I've heard that explanation of the X's
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Did you know
REBECCA FLYNN: Yes.
CHARLES VERE: I've heard that before, yes, but Shakespeare is a very exceptional case.
GARY TAYLOR: Let me go on to the other point about the
signatures. [Buckley: I didn't know that, by the way.]
These wavery signatures, you know, that it indicates somebody who could not
write very well. And the same is said about Shakespeare's signatures. Now it's
very easy to get a modern forensic scientist who's used to look at modern handwriting to look at that signature and saying
this is a scribble by a man who doesn't know how to write, or by a woman who doesn't know how to write. The reason
for that is that the Renaissance represents a period in which there is a major shift in English handwriting.
From the older handwriting style, which is called Secretary, and the modern handwriting style
which is called Italian, --[or Italic -- ed.] and which leads to modern form of handwriting.
Now I can present a class of my students as I did just yesterday, with Italian style handwriting from the Renaissance, and
they can read in with very little difficulty. I show them secretary handwriting from the same period, from the same
writer, and they can't read it. Shakespeare's signature is in secretary handwriting. The signature of that
man from Stratford. To someone who is not familiar with that handwriting and has not looked at lots of documents
from that period, it looks like a very sloppy signature.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Which would be interpreted as
simply as a sign of malformation
GARY TAYLOR: No, not a malformation, just of what was
normal at the time that he was being taught.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Let say, which would be
assumed as malformation by somebody who didn't have the background that you have.
GARY TAYLOR: That's right. It could be interpreted
that way. I think you will not find any professional paleographer of the Renaissance.
TOM BETHELL: Those signatures were written by someone
who was not used to writing, I'm quite convinced of that. -[-protests--] No but they are not
dashed off in secretary hand. If it was really the man who wrote Hamlet, he would have had a fluent handwriting,
and this is painstaking, he can't even get the latter half of his name right
GARY TAYLOR: Would you say on the basis of a
prescription that no doctor in this country can write, that they're all
illiterate? No, but people have made that point about Shakespeare's signature
showing that this was somebody who could hardly even write, let alone be a
great writer. And I would say that if you asked that question of any
professional bibliographer or paleographer who has looked at hundreds or
thousand of Secretary documents from this period, they would say that's
completely wrong. All the people that I have seen making that claim are people
who are modern forensics experts, not experts of the handwriting of this
period. Now that's just a little example of the kind of detail that comes up
over and over again.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: As a matter of courtesy, we
must take the one question from Ft. Wayne, Indiana, and then I'll come right back to you.
FT. WAYNE, INDIANA: My question is for the Oxfordians.
I was wondering what explanation do you offer for the Earl's accumulation of so
many works after his death?
WARREN HOPE: Well, I think we've touched on that. The
date of publication or performances at best, an external date, obviously the
play was written before that. How much before that is anybody's guess. The
chronology of the works is speculative and it's a matter of consensus that
rearranges itself all the time. You make the point you've changed your mind,
people have changed their mind about the chronology. Only 18 of the plays
were published before the Folio. Some anonymously. There are records of some
performances, others there are no records of performances. So basically what we have is a chronology built after the
fact, after an assumptions made about authorship.
TOM BETHELL: It is a little difficult to believe that I
have to confess that had Edward de Vere had written say
Macbeth and he just had it sitting in a drawer, and then
it's not published until 15 years later or so. You'd have thought you know if
you've written something like that you really want to get it out there, and
there's no real evidence that it had even been performed.
GARY TAYLOR: ...and this issue of publication is
important too, although you could say that de Vere had a reason for not publishing during his lifetime under his own name, and
you could point to examples in the period of aristocratic figures who did not publish during their own
lifetimes. What usually happened is that immediately after their deaths, or shortly after their deaths, their works
were published with their own names attached. That John Donne for instance who becomes Dean of St. Paul's and
a very respectable figure, does not publish his satirical poems or his love
poetry during his own lifetime, but immediately after his death, it's all right
to publish them. That Sir Walter Raleigh's works are published after his death
in that way. That Sir Francis Bacon's, Lord Bacon's works are published in
that way after his death. So that the prohibition insofar as one can say that
there might have been one, against engaging in this kind of publication seems
to have terminated with death. There is no convincing pattern of normality that you can point to,
that says that this would have to have been kept a secret after de Vere's death. So that in 1605 or 1608 what we
should have had is a Folio of these plays previously printed anonymously or attributed to somebody else as The Comedies, Histories and Tragedies of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: What if his heirs been afraid
of posthumous persecution...?
CHARLES VERE: I want to answer the question from Ft.
Wayne. I think that there's an essential difference between the Oxfordian and
Stratfordian viewpoint here. We look at the records of the court revels, the
1570's and 80's, and see a whole lot of anonymous plays listed which we believe
were early versions of the Shakespeare plays, put on at court by Oxford. And
that he was revising these plays throughout his life, picking them up again. The topical allusions in Hamlet span over twenty years from
1583 to 1603. And I believe that he left a lot of plays, or 3 or 4, as sort of sketches like Cymbeline, at the
end of his life. Now for someone to postulate that Cymbeline was written after a play like Hamlet, you have to postulate the author had become senile or was in his dotage, that he could so fall in quality.
Cymbeline is certainly an early play and we date it to 1578.
And there's a play the court revels called The History Of A Cruel
Stepmother which we believe was an early version of this. And it was
topical, a very topical play at the time. So there's actually no evidence at
all that any of the plays were written after 1604. Now in some of them like Macbeth where people see a reference to The Gunpowder Plot,
topical allusions were often added to a play when they were revived. You know,
there are early versions of these plays, there's a King Leir in 1594
and so on. But there's not this cluster. If you could find a whole cluster of topical allusions, if you could find these
allusions were essential to the integrity and structure of a play, then you'd built an argument. I mean take The
Tempest argument, that old chestnut, they say well it relies on an
account of a shipwreck near the Bermudas. The Tempest has nothing to do with a
shipwreck near the Bermudas, the shipwreck occurs between North Africa and
Naples. The Bermudas is mentioned once in passing by Ariel. He says that Prospero sent him to fetch dew at midnight once. And
that's all. [Bethell: Yes, "The Bermoothes...] But you
know Sir Walter Raleigh wrote a book called The Discovery of
Guiana, in which he actually mentions being washed up on the
Bermudas, he talks about the inhabitants there and what have you. So you know
it's one man's topical allusion against another. What I think is important is
that these Stratfordians have got the plays completely out of sync.
Let me take one example, Love's Labours Lost which
Felicia was going to talk about. In that, Shakespeare parodies an elaborate
form of talking and writing known as "Euphuism" which had its hey-day in the
late 1570's, and its apotheosis when John Lyly brought out his two
novels in 1579, 1580. By 1590 when they say that this was published and written
it was a dead dog. So you've got Shakespeare whipping a dead horse by parodying something which was
completely out of vogue by then. And again and again you see that they have
the plays out of sync with their historical context. And that's one example
and I can name you several more.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: From which you conclude
therefore that the chronology isn't in -and -of-itself a dispositive argument
TOM BETHELL: The chronology actually works to the
advantage of Oxford. These plays were actually written earlier, and these
Stratfordians can't admit that because their man was born too late. Some of the
plays would have had to have been written when he was 15 or 16 years
GARY TAYLOR: You know, what we have again here is the
same phenomenon I talked about at the beginning. We have a whole series of
statements of assertions being made here that would have to take an
extraordinary amount of time to show where they're wrong. The claim for
instance that the topical allusions in Hamlet spread over a
period of 20 years. Now in order for him to document that claim, we'd have to
take time, in order for me to challenge it.
WILLIAM. F. BUCKLEY, JR.: It would take a year,
WARREN HOPE: Or a dissertation.
GARY TAYLOR: Exactly. There are very few such topical
allusions in Shakespeare ...
[Buckley: Like Watergate...] that everyone would agree
on. "Were now the general of our gracious Empress, As in good time he may, from Ireland coming, Bringing
rebellion broached on his sword..." [Henry V, Act V,
Prologue, 38-40] ...That is quite explicitly an
allusion to something that's going on at the time. But most of these so-called "topical allusions" are speculation that there is a
connection between these two things.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Courtesy time: Purdue
University, you are on.
PURDUE UNIVERSITY: Yes, I would like to direct this
question to the Professor Taylor, as far as the linguistic analysis of the
plays. How much Warwickshire dialect as in the plays that we know of for sure?
And is it not true that the primary language of the plays is the language of
the English court, the standard English of the day, and that there is much
underlying dialect from east of England--which is where de Vere grew up. What
about the Warwickshire dialect in the plays?
GARY TAYLOR: Well this is another one of those issues
where you need to be a specialist in order to know what's normal and what's
not. The analysis of linguistic forms and phonetic forms that I have seen,
there's a book published by Oxford University Press by a man named Kirkignani,
which is to my knowledge the most extensive study of this issue in the whole
period, not just with Shakespeare, does identify a number of forms as
Warwickshire dialect. So that there's some evidence of
Warwickshire dialect. I couldn't give you the exact number of words, but I
would also say that of course, Shakespeare was not writing his plays to be
performed in Warwickshire: they were meant to be performed in London. Making
use of a Warwickshire dialect in that situation is something that you want to
do if you want to characterize somebody in a play.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: It would assume the
communicability of the dialect.
GARY TAYLOR: It would assume the communicability of the
dialect. Whatever else this man from Stratford may have been like, if he was an actor on the London stage, he
would have had to be capable of speaking London English in order to make a success in front of London audiences.
[Buckley: Sure.] So the fact that the entirety of the corpus is not written in Warwickshire dialect
doesn't mean very much. The fact that there are some survivals despite the pressure to normalize suggests at least some
acquaintance with words and expressions that tend to come from that part of the country.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: I'm governed by the clock, Mr.
Bethel. You haven't made your...
TOM BETHELL: Just a few minutes. I won't take 10
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Thank you.
TOM BETHELL: I just wanted to say that I came to this
very much as an outsider, as a journalist, and I had assumed at the beginning that the case for the Stratford man had been
thoroughly established, and I agree with a lot of what Gary said. I mean the purely documentary account, you
have to sort of say maybe at the end of the day that the Stratford man wins on points. But I do think that there
is a real question here, that there is a sort of bogus certitude that has been imposed on this by the Academy that
there is a real question which is worth at least looking at, and one of the things that I wanted to just say a little
bit about was the Stratford monument, because this is one of the most important pieces of really physical
material evidence that the Stratfordians have. And the Stratford monument is in the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-on-Avon
today, and this is the picture that the Shakespeare scholar [J.] Dover Wilson referred to as
"the self-satisfied pork butcher. " The question really is when was this
monument put up? There is a reference in the First Folio published in 1623 to
Leonard Digges as you mentioned, to "thy Stratford moniment" which does suggest
that the monument was put up in the Stratford church by 1623.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: By 1623, but perhaps years
TOM BETHELL: Well, might have been. Shakespeare dies
in 1616 so there's only a seven year period and we don't know, there's no documentary proof when it was put up;
however, in 1656 Sir William Dugdale published a book called The Antiquities of Warwickshire,
in which the monument looks like this. A rather different monument in which
we see what Sam Schoenbaum has described as the decrepit elderly tailor.
[laughter. Mr. Taylor protests:]
GARY TAYLOR: ... and I wrote the plays!
TOM BETHELL: --And the cherubs are perched out on the
outer edges and it does look as though the monument was changed. And we see in
the Dugdale picture that the man in the monument as Schoenbaum put it,
is clutching a pillow to this stomach, and it appears as though it may have
been shown to represent someone who was maybe would have been understood in Stratford as the time as being some
sort of tradesman or maybe he was involved maybe in the corn trade. He is not represented as a writer. It's
only in this monument, the one that we have now, that we see him holding a pen. So it does seem as though there
was a change later, sometime in the 17th century, maybe a generation later or a hundred years later. By 1737 we
have a drawing by George Vertue which shows the current monument. So we know
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: From which how much can be
TOM BETHELL: Well, it appears that the monument might
have been changed to represent a person who was an artistic figure, whereas what had been shown was a commercial
figure. Now, but I'm going to play devil's advocate here and I'm going to just end up with asking Charles a question.
I can understand the basic argument that the Earl of Oxford and his family did not want his name to be used in
connection within writing these plays. Their position was, "you want to publish this Folio of plays, fine, go
ahead, but keep our name out of it," essentially was their position. Why, however, would they have gone to the extreme of
going all the way to Stratford-on-Avon and putting a monument up in the church. It seems to me,
I mean the Oxfordians are always saying Stratford was very much an out of the way place and so on. Who was
going to bother to go to Stratford to see whether there really was a monument there as it said in the First
Folio. I mean it seems to me that this is a real problem that the Oxfordians have.
CHARLES VERE: In for a penny, in for a pound. If
they're going to put in the Stratford policy, you're going to need a concrete piece of evidence apart from the First Folio. So
to me that is not so extraordinary as why the monument, if this man is the author, was originally put as that. So I
don't actually find anything extraordinary in that. And remember that many of the people who's
political reputations were still at stake. People that had been lampooned were either still alive or their children
were. So reputations still needed to be protected. So it's highly logical that the policy should still be in
place, and there are historical reasons why after 1623 when the Puritans started to come to power, theater were closed,
Restoration and a different sort of theater came in. But Shakespeare didn't really become popular again until the end
of the 18th century. And that's when people, you know, the biographical sketches of him started to be come
popular and the end of the 18th century. And that's exactly the time, exactly synchronous with that is questions about
the authorship. So I see nothing extraordinary about them putting up this monument at all.
GARY TAYLOR: There's a whole series of historical
errors of fact in that previous statement. I mean, which you know I won't get
into. [Vere: Please do--] But I mean the Puritans do not
start coming to power in 1623, that's 20 years later. What any of this has to
do with Shakespeare becomes popular in the theaters long before the end of the 18th century. That's he a major figure in the
theater in London throughout the 18th century, that people are starting to write biographies of him at the end of the 17th
CHARLES VERE: What? Who? Who was writing biography at
the end of the 17th century?
GARY TAYLOR: Certainly the beginning of the 18th
century. John Aubrey was making them. In 1709 there's the first published
CHARLES VERE: He made a few off-the-cuff remarks. Those
were just sketches, really--
GARY TAYLOR: All biographies in that
period were biographical sketches by the standards of a modern 3 volume
biography of Lyndon Baines Johnson. I mean, you cannot apply our standards,
again you're applying our standards of normality to the very different standards of
normality in a different period.
REBECCA FLYNN: Could I just refer to that , because I
would just ask people who are interested in that strange change, to look at other records that Dugdale made of other
antiquities and monuments and he's not always accurate. So I would ask people to... He doesn't always do it
TOM BETHELL: It's quite a big inaccuracy though
comparing a man holding a pen and writing, and just sort of holding a sack or
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Does that pretty well
punctuate the point you want to make Mr. Bethel?
TOM BETHELL: I can't remember. I seem to remember that
John Aubrey's name was mentioned, and there was one point I wanted to make about that. You know, he wrote
Brief Lives-- very unreliable and so on and he wrote was
essentially the first little biographical sketch of Shakespeare in 1681 I
think it was. And then they found these notes and one of the things that they found about Shakespeare was
"if he had written, if invited to, writ he was in paine." And the spelling and the punctuation, a little ambiguous,
but it's as though people would come up to him, the Stratford man, maybe in the theater and say did you write those
plays? He said yeah, sure. And they said write a poem, write something for me. And he's saying, sorry my arm's
hurting right now. If fits perfectly. If invited to, writ he was in pain.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Comments on that other than
CHARLES VERE: I just wanted to respond to some of the
points in Professor Taylor's main talk, if I might? Particularly on the conspiracy theory. Because to my mind it
assumes the whole Stratford, whole Stratford theory assumes a much greater conspiracy than the Oxfordian one. How did
everyone manage to keep silent, and in such a concerted manner about the Stratford man's authorship? When there
was nothing to hide. Because if he was the author, there would be no shame attached to him writing. And indeed he
expresses that shame in the Sonnets. No shame attached to him writing them, and he would be recognized by his
fellow writers and given praise and credit, and would have received payment for the works which he never did.
So for me, the Stratford theory is the one that assumes this conspiracy. This conspiracy of silence. The Oxford
theory really just posits business as usual in politics. There were reputations at stake. People very high in the
political world, and they wanted to protect those reputations. There's no great conspiracy there at all.
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: So your point is that intimacy
with Elizabethean vogues et mores makes not at all unusual, the kind of thing that from our
vantage point we think to be so eccentrically
CHARLES VERE: Exactly. I don't think there's some
modest conspiracy there. The second point I wanted to make was this whole business that in the Academy, Professor
Taylor says that it is the academics that really know the river. Well in my experience during this tour of campuses
over the last year, the academics don't know the river at all. They know the plays, and the know how to teach them
and so on, and they have critical opinions about them, but on the authorship question which is as much a
historical question as a literary one, they know next to nothing. They do not know the historical background of these
plays. I've met professors at universities in this country who do not know who the Earl of Leicester was,
who do not know who Philip Sidney was hardly. You know, don't know the historical background. Who Cecil was,
what the power struggle was, and the even what the time was. And therefore can't place the plays in their
historical context. That for me is hardly knowing the river. They rely on tradition, they don't go back and reassess
Wm F. BUCKLEY: Yes, I see your point. Miss Flynn, you
have a minute and a half.
REBECCA FLYNN: Well I find it astonishing that you can
say there is a conspiracy of silence by the authorship of Shakespeare, because he was credited with the plays, he was
paid money for them. He was praised. The Quartos, the Folio, the list of the Lord Chamberlain's men, Francis
Meres naming him as the author of Henry IV, Romeo &
CHARLES VERE: That was Shakespeare, whoever he was, not
the Stratford man. You're assuming who was Shakespeare.
REBECCA FLYNN: We'll never agree about this subject,
because it's open to... it's speculation.
CHARLES VERE: And actually there's no record of him
being paid as either an actor or a playwright. There' s only one, and as I pointed out, it's bogus, the 1594 one.
GARY TAYLOR: You say "bogus" -- in what way? You have
two conflicting documents which again if you look at court documents of this period, or any record keeping, you're
going to find contradictions between the records. What allows you to say that the one record is bogus, and the
other one is correct. [Vere tries to interrupt--] And when
you say bogus, are you talking about the money was not paid to this person, or
they got the date wrong, or somebody fabricated the document at another time.
Those are all technical questions which have to do with the paper, chemistry,
WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR.: Ladies and gentlemen, I think
we are all very grateful. I'm very grateful to you all for your eloquence and
your erudition. I think we're all grateful to GTE for sponsoring
extraordinarily illuminating, fascinating session. Thank you.
DAVID BEVINGTON: I can't help feeling that the stories
you get toward the end of Shakespeare's career, as in The Winter's Tale, of a wife whom the
husband has, in fact killed by accusing her of something she didn't do. Hermione appears to die. She turns up again at the end of the
play as a statue who comes to life, and she's aged miraculously over that period, of course, because it really is
Hermione not a statue. But the Pygmalion image is as of somehow a wife one has abandoned and destroyed, who comes
back, and there she is, older by the period of time that has passed so that she's wrinkled, but she's still
beautiful and you're able to love her. And you love her again. If that isn't glancing at a story that's connected to
Shakespeare's own experience with going back to Stratford, I would just be very surprised. This is entirely
speculative, but it makes sense. I'm inclined to take a sad view of it, and wonder if it really works, but I think Shakespeare is
there fantasizing a successful return to an aging Anne Hathaway. There's a nice connection to the life it seems to
me. Very speculative, but it's one that appeals to me.
JOHN SAVAGE: There seems to be a neurotic emotional
need on the part of many people to believe in conspiracies based on almost nothing. I read recently there is now a
second bullet theory in connection with the death of Robert Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy. They don't have
a grassy knoll yet, but that will of course be coming. And I think now it is pretty clear that Marilyn Monroe was
murdered by the Women's Christian Temperance Union. But, I'm just kidding. You have to believe in an incredible
conspiracy to believe the Oxfordian claims.
EARL HYMAN: We know so much about
Shakespeare if we could just get rid of prejudices and take him out of the academicians' hands. He was a man of the theater,
proof positive, dear Lord, let's face this. Ignore everything I've said, this we cannot ignore. He didn't do anything
about those plays in terms of heredity. Ben Jonson did. And if it hadn't have been for his two friends, Heminges
and Condell, 7 years after his death, ...1616-1623. If it hadn't have been for these gentlemen, we would have
never have known. Don't tell me that a Bacon or a de Vere, or all these other folks who come claiming that someone
else wrote those plays would have done that, and said that because it's because they wanted to hide the fact that
they had done it. They didn't want people know. Shakespeare, it didn't matter. They were
hits, they were played, they had long runs ...
DONALD RICHARDSON: They say, you know, who cares who
wrote the plays? The evidence is enough. The plays themselves are sufficient in themselves. And indeed they are,
but from my point of view, I usually tell my students when they are listening to music, that you owe it to the composer
to know a little bit about the man himself who wrote this music. It would not be here unless we had a
composer who did have the ability to write.
AMBASSADOR PAUL NITZE: To me, it's easier to really
believe in the plays and in their message, and empathize with the ideas if you have a conception that there is a man
--that you know something about --who was the author.
CHARLES CHAMPLIN: The moot court, on the question of
Shakespeare versus Oxford, held in the presence of three Supreme Court justices in 1987 was I think an
extraordinary historical even tin the whole authorship question. Although they said the case was as is said in a
Scottish court "not proved," they had not made the case for Oxford against Stratford, nevertheless, there seems to be a
concurrence among the three justices, that it was an open question. One of the justices said it's a question for
scholars not for the courts, which is absolutely true.
JOHN SAVAGE: You've got a little problem if you're the
lawyer for that plaintiff, Edward de Vere. What do you do? Well there's a
very good technique, the French call it la poudre aux yeux,
dust in the eyes. You stand in front of the jury box and you throw up dust
storms, hoping there will be enough dust that the jury will not see things
DEBORAH BACON: But he's always writing; there's an
excellent French phrase, de haut en bas. He is looking down
at them and he says "well, well, well," and he's perfectly wonderful at it,
especially when he's dealing with enlisted men, they are just marvelous. But
he isn't one of the enlisted men.
FR. FRANCIS EDWARDS: So he has the common touch, but at
the same time he's quite clearly the nobleman.
DAVID BEVINGTON: He's clearly is not an aristocrat
DEBORAH BACON: ... As aristocratic as they come
PAUL NITZE: Those plays were written by an
DAVID BEVINGTON: Shakespeare certainly became very
successful at what he did. He knew about success, he knew about frustration.
CHARLES BOYLE: He's not a condemner of mankind, he's a
condemner of evil, and he's able to draw that distinction. And that to me is the mark of not just a great artist,
but a great philosopher. And I think that's the reason why actors love to recreate his characters and why audiences
love to see his plays again and again.
FR. FRANCIS EDWARDS: And you very rarely find a villain
who's so far gone in villainies to be utterly repulsive, and of course his heroes too show their weakness,
whether Julius Caesar, Hamlet and so on.
ROGER STRITMATTER: His plays are filled with people who
are other than they seem to be.
CHARLES BOYLE: What I delight in about Shakespeare is
that even his villains are human. And he will often do that by endowing them with a great sense of humor, like
Richard III, or Edmund.
FR. FRANCIS EDWARDS: That's what makes Shakespeare so
great because his things are timeless and also because he writes up things,
things are always written in terms of varying shades of gray, which is the
color things are painted in life.
ROGER STRITMATTER: I think he felt that in a much
deeper way than many of us have had, but we learn from that, and grow through
it by realizing that he suffered also.
FR. FRANCIS EDWARDS: And of course it has to be
admitted I think that sometimes certain Oxfordians or Baconians or Marlovians perhaps for that matter, but
certainly Oxfordians have taken the thing up in the spirit of a religious
crusade which it is not or shouldn't be. But is a purely intellectual
question. And the emotions should be left out of these things as they should
ideally be left out of all attempts to solve the great problems of
DAVID BEVINGTON: Shakespeare loves the idea of theater
as dream. The Platonic illusion which of course if more real than our
ordinary life because the play goes on forever.
HAL SCOTT: "If we shadows have
offended, Think but this and all is mended; That you have
but slumbered here While these visions did appear. And
this weak and idle theme No more yielding but a dream, Gentles
do not reprehend. If you pardon, we will mend. And
if I am an honest Puck, If we have unearned luck Now
to escape the serpent's tongue We will make amends ere long,
Else the Puck a liar call. So goodnight unto you all.
Give me your hands if we be friends And Robin shall
(MUSIC and CREDITS.)
CENTER GRAPHIC: "I am that I am," In Hebrew, (Exodus
III), in the letter of Edward de Vere, and in Sonnet 121 by William
ANIMATION: of the Stratford statue breaking apart and revealing
the 17th Earl of Oxford.
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