I have a very good friend who's an Oxfordian. I've had the pleasure of experiencing a few Oxfordian events. Most convincing was a piece I saw that interpreted the Sonnets as letters from Oxford to his son the Earl of Southhampton, as he rot in jail for trying to dethrone the queen. (or something like that, my brain is mush)
I read a book called "Who Wrote Shakespeare?" And was convinced it was Bacon while on the Bacon chapter, convinced it was Marlow on his chapter...etc, etc...
Do I have the answer? No...but I know for sure I wasn't the one to write it!
I know it wasn't Bacon or Marlowe, because both of them left a body of work that can be compared to Shakespeare's, and the style of neither is susceptible of becoming his. (Jonson's disqualified for the same reason, though in terms of merit he comes nearer the mark.) Oxford and de Vere might both be candidates so long as they haven't left behind a body of other work that differs too radically in style. But most of the arguments I've read against Shakespeare turn on snobbery and class prejudice, and none of the great writers of the Elizabethan and Jacobean era were high born. Surprisingly few great writers in any era have been.
The Earl of Oxford and Edward de Vere are one and the same.
The book I'm referring to is called "Who Wrote Shakespeare?" by John Michell. I have another book called "The Mysterious William Shakespeare" by Charlton Ogburn. It weighs more than I do and I'm pretty sure I'll never read the whole thing...but I paid the 50 bucks for it's dust collecting skills.
I brought my Oxfordian friend to a post-show party once when I did As You Like It...seeing him in action, arguing the case for Oxford as Shakespeare, coming up with proof and facts left and right, setting the "purists" right (or whatever you call them)...it was thrilling. I wished to have a brilliant mind like his...
What upsets people most, it seems, is the idea that Shakespeare wasn't a commoner, like the rest of us. They see it as an insult, a put down. The fact that he couldn't write his own name...they let that slide :)
So my Shakespearean friend who goes with the Edward de Vere theory , sent me this email today and gave responses from the experts on Shakespeare
"Mr. Cobbe’s ID of his painting as Shakespeare hangs on two flimsy threads.
Thread #1 is that the painting resembles the Folger’s Janssen painting, and, apparently, several other similar copies. Calling his version the “prime copy” or the only “from-life” original is pure opinion. Both the Cobbe (visibly) and the Janssen (by x-ray) show a full head of hair. Cobbe’s lame explanation is that at age 46 (1610) Shakespeare- Stratford still had a full, bushy head of hair, but that within six years he developed a chrome dome. Thus, in his scenario, one copy – based on the “original” – was painted over in the mid-17th century so it would look like the Droeshout. That became the Janssen. Yet, he also claims that Droeshout was working from the unaltered Cobbe! Why did Droeshout make the Bard bald for all eternity? Further, the Janssen has been recognized as an altered portrait of Sir Thomas Overbury. Alec Cobbe nervously rejects this and deflects criticism by finding some irrelevant flaw in art-historian David
Piper’s rationale. Cobbe does not address the striking visual similarity because he says provenance is more important than appearance. (as Matt quoted: "trust me, not your lying eyes.")
Thread #2 is Cobbe’s contention of direct provenance and inheritance. Some Wriothesley descendant married into the Nortons, who descended into the Cobbes. Thus, the fey picture of Southampton was labeled grandma Norton. Cobbe then makes his big jump --- since Southampton “knew” Shakespeare, it’s not surprising that a Shakespeare portrait would be among the inherited paintings.
What Cobbe does NOT tell is that Overbury and the 3rd Earl of Southampton are strongly linked. Overbury, Neville, and Wriothesly were all caught up in the Essex “coup.” It is much more likely that Southampton had an Overbury portrait. After Overbury died as a prisoner in the Tower of London in 1613 (jailed for an insult to James) his reputation was dubious…. Then, when it was discovered he had been murdered, the subsequent investigation and trial became the “Trial of the Century”. After a time Overbury became celebrated, but in the interim, his paintings may heve been repurposed.
#3 The legend on the painting –- principum amicitias -- which suggests, “to the best of friends,” is actually a truncated quote from Horace’s Odes, Book two, where the missing word is found. “Gravisque principum amicitias” is the full phrase, meaning: Disaster from relations with Princes…. or, Grave results from friendship with men of power. This fits Overbury’s experience rather well.
#4 Overbury looks EXACTLY like the Cobbe man. See attached composite"
Last edited on Thu Mar 12th, 2009 01:17 am by Potabasil
What's puzzling is that Shakespeare, alone among the great playwrights of the Elizabethan and Jacobean era, should have been a noble rather than a commoner. (By birth: he acquired a knighthood, and other playwrights and actors acquired small titles.) The nobles of that time who wrote wrote poetry, because it was considered less common. It does make sense that if Oxford wrote plays he'd have wanted to fob them off on someone else, since it would have been disreputable, but I have to wonder if he'd have arranged to have the secret buried with him so thoroughly rather than discreetly revealed in time--you'd think he'd feel the achievement a little, and want a little posthumous fame once he could no longer be hindered in public life by the notoriety.
The later Shakespeare shows a much deteriorated hand from the manuscripts of the plays, but he certainly still could write his own name. The likeliest explanation for the deterioration of his hand and his retirement from playwriting is carpal's tunnel syndrome (on the supposition that he, not de Vere or some other candidate, did retire from playwriting then). (I assume Shakespeare's to be credited with being able to read, since he was an actor; and I can't think of many instances of people who learned to read but not write.)
Oxford must have left official writings behind; what do they read like? They might differ in style from the plays (as Jonson's lyric poems differ from the plays and satirical poems and the masques differ again), but they'd have to show some of the same grammatical constructions, word choices, characteristic ways of ordering the matter of a sentence. Writers have moods and varying methods depending on context, and for up to five lines, say, one writer might sound like another (perhaps a little longer by deliberate imitation) but if de Vere's official and private correspondences frequently seem to echo Shakespeare, not as if by quotation or allusion but in marrow and sinew, that would add strongly to his case. Do they? I'm assuming he could write his name, though there were certainly lords of that era who couldn't.
Last edited on Fri Mar 13th, 2009 02:23 am by Martin H
I mention "Bingo"
though it's about an imagined Shakespeare and from a very Marxist imagination at that- it does provide a credible portrait of Shakespeare the man.
Some of incidents are allegedly based on fact
Shakespeare is in retirement at his fine house in Stratford upon Avon anxious about his status and his wealth.
He says little during the play and when he does speak he measures his words carefully not giving anything away.
Around him swirl political and social problems which eventually will break out in civil war but he stands aloof from all this.
By contrast there's Ben Jonson exubriant, earthy, indscreet, proudly displaying the F brand he bears-for convicted felon and gleefully tells Shakespeare of his narrow escape from the gallows.
I guess Shakespeare is a blank canvas (no pun intended) upon which one may sketch whatever one pleases.