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 [<I>J.</I>] 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 before?

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 deduced?

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 century.

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 biography.

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.

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Solitary NationApril 22nd