Shakespeare Authorship Controversy.   The “Millennium Man”?

© Rae West 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2011         To Home Page of Rae West's website

Hedingham Castle interior. Click for brief account
Interior of Hedingham Castle, showing the Great Hall and Norman arch. Home of the young Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford.
Photo: M. Fowler. (Click pic for account of castle)
Read through, or click:   De Vere News
Introduction & Overview of Case for de Vere
David Roper on the Stratford Monument
Coded Sonnets Dedication? Dr. John Rollett et al.
Derran Charlton: biog notes, and his reply to Kathman
Charles Burford: Importance of This Issue
Anglo-Spanish War   |   J I M Stewart
Arthur Maltby, Christopher Dams, Eddi Jolly
Win a Small Prize!   |   School Exams
Tourism   |   Rogues Gallery
Other Internet Sites, Other Candidates, Other Theories
De Vere Society   AGM Apr 2000   Sep 2000   Jan 2001   AGM Apr 2001

1994 talk     2011 'Anonymous' - the film     Later: Civil War, Great Fire

Edward de Vere is by far the most plausible candidate for the authorship of the ‘Shakespeare’ canon. Find out why and investigate the sad mire in which the academic world has been stuck for several centuries.

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Can You Overthrow the Argument from Academic Self-Interest? Win a small prize!

A common type of argument in favour of Shaxper runs like this: “You don’t understand how the academic system works! Anyone who comes up with a new theory and proves it will establish a reputation and make his/her academic fortune, and be famous for the rest of his/her life, and beyond. There are many ambitious young (and not-so-young) academics who’d love this. But it hasn't happened with the de Vere authorship theory, so the theory must obviously be wrong.”

Social pressures on ideas The diagram shows some of the social forces at work in producing opinions. I've used 'expert community' to mean those people who have, or think they have, expertise in the subject; everyone else is assumed outside the set outlined in black. The 'costs' and 'gains' sets are supposed to be some sort of objective assessment of pluses and minuses if the new idea becomes accepted.

For example, set X lists people of conventional view who would both derive some benefit and also some loss from the new idea; in the Shaxper case one would expect there to be few, because they'd have been shown to be incompetent, and moreover have no special skill in de Vere studies for their future.
    The set Y represents de Vereans who only stand to gain, if the idea were accepted. Z represents the set of people who hadn't any intellectual interest in the idea, but turn out to have financial interests—here, tourist operators in de Vere territory are an example. The outer shaded area represents people who aren't affected one way or the other, and the other seven sets are to be interpreted along similar lines.

This is a highly simplified diagram of the real world. In practice, the probability of being right has to be taken into account; also the probability that the idea is accepted when proven, which isn't the same thing, since there must be some probability of failing even if right. The whole future costs and gains have to be assessed; so do the costs and gains of revising expert performance in the past, and the costs of being isolated. There is more uncertainty with a new idea than an established one. Economic changes, such as retirement, or the closing of a department, may affect peoples' willingness to speak out. And so on.

The challenge is to incorporate the approach of this diagram—that is, trying to assess the resultant of everyone's attitudes—into a slogan or phrase or argument which counters the 'Argument from Self-Interest' that unaccepted new ideas must be wrong.
    Can someone do this? Let me give three examples:
  1. Harold Smith's Law: The bigger the crime, the less likely it is that the perpetrators will admit to it.
  2. Rae's remark: If an unofficial case is unanswerable, the official experts will not answer.
  3. An American Senator: "If you subsidize anything, you get more of it."
    I can't find a snappy way of presenting my diagram, though I've experimented with puns on 'interest' and 'disinterest', assets and liabilities, funds of both goodwill and money, and 'value' in several senses; maybe someone out there is able to provide a tidy answer to the 'Argument from Self-Interest'? If so, e-mail me and I'll add it with your name to my list (well.. I said it was a small prize..)

The best entry so far in my opinion is:
      Thomas Hunter (of Michigan): The greater the investment in an old idea, the less likely a new idea will be considered, much less accepted.

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School Examination Corner

This space is for comments on 'Shakespeare' plays, aimed at young people (or for that matter older people) trying to study English literature.
HEALTH WARNING! You may find your teachers object to Oxfordian material. In some cases, your marks, and therefore your overall grades, and hence entire future life, may be affected. No responsibility is accepted.

  1. Shakespeare's effect on society. Hello, This doesn't have anything to do with what you said, but I wanted to ask you something, since you seem to know a lot. I have this report that I can do it about anything. And I want to do it on Shakespeare. I was thinking of Shakespeare's Effects on Society. I thought you might have seen something about it and if you could you might send me a link or anything. That would be great. Thank you!
    You could make these points:
    [1] At the time they were new, these plays probably had some effect in stimulating the war with Spain. If you read Capt Ward's piece on my site, you'll see there was a bitter war, similar to the first world war, between England and Spain. So the propaganda effect might have been important. (NB one of the characters, the old soldier, reminiscing, may have been important in the comic sense).
    [2] Tudor England was replaced by Puritans, then by Charles I, so for a long time the plays can have had little effect, since they weren't performed!
    [3] From the language point of view, it can be argued than 'Shakespeare' had a psychological effect a bit like the growth of empire, including in poetically-attractive ways a whole reference book of phrases and expressions, most of them still recognisable today. I don't think any other language had a single person who gave it such a jolt.
    [4] There's a lot of 'Shakespeare' which didn't anticipate important things; it's pre-Newton, pre-Darwin and pretty much pre-science, so it can't be said to have had much effect there.
          It also is rather unreliable about its own present, and past! For instance, the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII is hardly mentioned, although it was important at the time. The truth is that 'Shakespeare' is rather self-absorbed and backward-regarding, and its history is fantasy rather than fact.
    [5] In modern times, say from the mid-19th century, these plays were important in giving British people a fake sense of their past; many people still regard Elizabethan England as a golden age, despite piracy, starvation, wars etc. You could argue that they were important in keeping an element of un-realism in England.
    No doubt there's plenty more!
    Good luck with your piece
    Rae West
  2. I'm told The Tempest is due to figure in GCSEs. What follows is from a recent archaeology journal:—
    • British Archaeology (June 2000) published a not-very-clear piece by Réginald Auger, 'Frobisher the Fraud', claiming that Martin Frobisher or perhaps his assayer(s) may have attempted to defraud Queen Elizabeth, and other sources of finance, to pay for his three 1576, 1577, 1578 north-west passage trips—these financial backers including, though the piece doesn't say so, de Vere. Auger claims that on return from Frobisher's first trip, to Baffin Island, and Frobisher's bay which went no further west, a rock was found by accident (.. the wife of one of the investors.. threw them into a fire. When.. quenched in vinegar, they turned.. golden..') to contain silver and gold. So a return journey was arranged, which recovered 200 tons of rock. Without this being tested a third expedition, intended to establish a colony of miners, carpenters, soldiers, and mariners, braved the seas, but, losing their building materials, returned (most of therm) to London with 1,200 tons of ore.
          (The archaeology comes in here—400 years later, barrels of 'meale, pease, griste, and sundrie other good things' were discovered in the permafrost in one of the two mines in Countess of Warwick Island, where the men, abandoning their colony-to-be, had buried them. Or so the article says; the accompanying photos don't look very convincing).
          Frobisher 'was told his rocks were worthless amphibole' on his return in September 1578. However, Auger thinks Frobisher may not have genuinely believed the rocks contained gold, which is the usual story. Auger states five men had been lost, either (according to the journals) after rowing ashore in 1576, or (according to Auger) possibly deliberately marooned in 1578, because they may have 'simply known too much.'
    • These sea voyages are an important differentiator between Oxfordians and Stratford-man-ians, since the latter believe the references to shipwrecks must be dated later, because of a reference to Bermuda. Oxfordians are more interested in Frobisher because of their earlier dating and because of the people on board ship with Frobisher—John Dee, usually referred to as a 'magician' or 'alchemist', being one of them. I'd advise schoolkids not to take the usual supercilious position on alchemy, viz. that it was a ridiculous collection of superstitions. In fact, since chemistry wasn't understood, it's difficult to see what else the people of the time could do, than examine different types of material (mercury, sulphur, sulphuric acid and so on) and try to draw conclusions from their observations. What else could they have done?
    • Don't forget to mention that Caliban looks very like an anagram of cannibal.

E-mail me with details of syllabuses—play, date of exam, level of exam—and I'll see what I can do.

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Note on tourism, money, and England:—

Shakespeare's House? Photo Rae West a phone call to Stratford-upon-Avon's Information Centre disclosed that their most up-to-date report, 1977, on sustainable tourism, said 3.8 million visitors generated £135M revenue for the area (including Warwick Castle, towns and villages—not only the 'Birthplace Trust' and 'Shakespeare' generally). I queried the small-seeming £35 per head but was assured this was correct. In comparison with some other frauds, therefore, this is a tiddler.
    However, from the English perspective it's interesting to consider the political side, worded well by Burford: "Shakespeare has been kept under the equivalent of the Official Secrets Act in this country for four hundred years because he told the true story of Queen Elizabeth and the royal court. .. The plays of Shakespeare are social and political dynamite. In play after play he satirises not only Queen Elizabeth but all her cronies, the Earl of Leicester, Sir Philip Sidney, Sir Christopher Hatton, William Cecil, and Robert Cecil. .. If the Earl of Oxford had his name on the plays, then the veil would be rent, and suddenly people would see, that Polonius in Hamlet is William Cecil, that Gertrude is Queen Elizabeth, the Court of Elsinore is the court at Windsor, that Hamlet is the Earl of Oxford, and all these characters come alive—that Claudius is the Earl of Leicester, and so on, and these portraits become real; Horatio is Horatio Vere, Oxford's best friend and cousin. If, on the other hand, the political power brokers of the day—who wanted to preserve Shakespeare's achievement, but not his identity—if they could foist the works on someone else, someone completely unconnected with the court, namely William Shaksper, then the plays become de-politicized, and that's how they're taught in our schools today. ..."

World Heritage Site? I gather (Sept 2000) that there are plans to bestow this honour on Stratford-upon-Avon. Let's hope this absurdity fails. [Back to start]

Rogues Gallery

(Not intended, rather obviously, to be an exhaustive list! E-mail me with your suggestion!)

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Other Websites, Other Candidates, Other Theories:-

[Note added in 2012 - large numbers of these links must have changed or been superseded RW]

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The De Vere Society (NB this is not an 'official' site; as yet, there isn't one)

Christopher Dams , is still Hon Secretary of the De Vere Society (England), but the newsletter editor is now Daphne Pearson. Subscription currently £25 per annum (with various arrangements for groups of people).

It would be misleading to present The de Vere Society as a large organisation. It has 177 members. 56 are in the US, and a dozen or so in other countries. At least this has the advantage that many members know each other and can fit into the same room.

De Vere Society Website is planned; if it's in a reasonable state, I'll provide a link. (So far it's either had little content, or hasn't worked at all).

Several people, including Christopher Dams, have told me they have correspondence in which academics refuse to debate and otherwise evade this issue, a common phenomenon, of course, in controversies. Disappointingly, I've so far been unable to prise these documents from their possessors—it might be amusing to put some onto Internet.

AGM Saturday April 8th 2000 at Hedingham House, which is built next to Hedingham Castle (itself near the village of Castle Hedingham).
    This proved a highly successful event, and included a rousing speech by Brian Hicks, an account of the dating project by Arthur Maltby, a conducted tour of the castle remains by Charles Bird, a visit to Bures chapel to see de Vere family effigies, and a viewing of a video of Michael Peer's The Shakespeare Conspiracy. Sir Ian McGeoch (author of an Oxfordian booklet which he now feels too cautious) was there, as was Burford.
    A few points: Charles Bird (who noticed that the 'Caley greyhound' heraldic figure, on de Vere tombs, is also on the first folio) conducted us around the remains of Hedingham Castle .
    During the First World War, a fire caused by a careless watcher, left on his own, destroyed much of the castle; many Oxfordian documents were destroyed. "The flames were visible in three counties". (Some camouflage paint from this period is still visible on the adjacent Hedingham House.) The castle was "built with money from the Jews in London". It was "open to the weather for many hundreds of years". The de Vere name is Danish, not pre-Conquest—I'm sure someone has noted the obvious possible link here with a Prince of Denmark.
    The 'Great Hall of Audience' is the main space in this building. It is symmetrical, apart from a spiral staircase and some other features. It may be square—I haven't checked the dimensions. It has a gallery with four pairs of arched windows looking onto the hall. There's a fireplace at one end, the Norman arch being perpendicular to it, bisecting the room. (See photo, taken from over the fireplace). The tops of the walls have six protruding bosses which once supported the roof. Charles Bird claims, though there's dispute about this, that there would have been an impressive hammer-beam roof above the arch. If he's right, the space above this room, currently shown to tourists as roofed-in with alcove rooms for women and children, would in fact have been outside. There is a rebate in the stonework which Bird interprets as support for the edge of the roof; there's a slope down towards a corner gutter.
    Bird claims, if I've understood him properly, that the building was designed for magnificence, and to impress people and carry out business. Slightly like a company headquarters, or a cathedral, the people involved probably lived somewhere else.
    As regards documents, the position of the muniment room is not known. In fact, there may not have been one—there are descriptions somewhere of documents lying around all over the place.
    At any rate, this may be the building where, aged about ten, the young Oxford watched plays. Fascinating to think that this was "where the bug bit", as someone put it. And the rediscovered documents of Greece (during the Renaissance) must have suggested the idea of permanence in written work, writing which would exist for centuries.

Charles Bird took a coach party to Bures chapel , though the connection with de Vere is a bit tenuous. "Edmund was crowned king of East Anglia" in the 900s (I think) in it, and more recently it was used a barn. Medieval de Vere effigies were moved there for safe keeping when it was restored, in the 1920s or 1930s. Most have been destroyed, though I'm not sure fragments don't still exist: the story is that the de Vere title was created in 1137, and was 'eliminated' in 1702: in about 1730, most of the de Vere monuments were used to make fireplaces in Colne Priory. So perhaps pieces still exist. The effigy of the 13th Earl includes the caley greyhound. The five-pointed 'star', in fact spur rowel, occurs on the shoulder of one of these figures. They are incidentally oddly epicene in shape; is it possible the sculptors economised by starting with standardised stone blanks? Many animal heads have been knocked off. These include a boar mounted on a helmet—the Oxfordian jousting helmet. A large sculpture of a boar, which hung, I think, in a local church, has been bought and is on display in Florence. Generally these monuments must be pale shadows of their former selves.
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De Vere Society Meeting
At Stratford-on-Avon, in the Wolfson Hall at the Shakespeare Centre, on Sunday 17th September, 10 am to 6 pm.
      My review...
      ... About 60 people, not a bad proportion of the total membership, turned up, despite fears over fuel shortages. Stratford is near the end of its season; nevertheless there were quite a few of the deluded wandering about, buying postcards, photographing buildings, looking at the power-station-like theatre.
      Brian Hicks and Burford were absent, as was David Roper. Christopher Dams, dapper and shrewd-looking, was there with his wife. Derran Charlton, the world's most implausible ex-miner, was his usual amiable self, with his folders of reproductions of paintings and documents, their importance to be revealed in some US meeting. De Verean authors included the rather silent Rollett, Arthur Maltby with his Baconian interests, Iris Krass the ex-GP, and Eddi Jolly who teaches A-level English at a sixth form college and discreetly introduces de Verean topics in the hope of making her pupils think for themselves. There were contingents from north London and other places, including several US persons and a woman from Normandy. Jan Scheffer, forensic psychologist, was there (he told me he hated Big Brother , despite its Dutch connections). I had the impression that the average age was higher than usual for these meetings. There were a few new faces, including Kirk Jones, who heard the Oxfordian hypothesis for the first time only a few weeks ago; an ex-agony aunt journalist, called Angela (I forget her surname) who had composed the lyrics for a musical on John Dee; and Prof D Braben, an ex-physicist who figures on Internet as a research innovator once distributing money from BP, burrowing into unlikely hypotheses (I wonder if he found Harold Hillman?).
      The first of two papers, on wardship, was read by Daphne Pearson, who'd managed to write a dissertation on this subject apparently by explicitly stating that she wasn't considering the authorship issue. According to an accountant friend, her talk was fascinating, but I have to confess that as far as I could see wardship only played a small part in the plot; her talk mainly dealt with de Vere's finances. Oxford, at 21, had to 'sue his livery', which seems to mean pay a hefty sum for his coat of arms and legal right to get his lands and other assets—in effect something resembling death duties to the Crown. Because the sums of money sound ludicrously small today, there's a credibility problem which Pearson in my view didn't quite solve—in fact the question-and-answer session seemed to show she had little grasp of the real value of the pound in those days. At any rate, Oxford died with virtually nothing, despite massive infusions of money. Was he effectively ruined at the age of 21? I was left uncertain. There are interesting sidelights on arranged marriages, knight service, peers' immunity to legal process. This talk will be printed in the Newsletter.
      Noemi Magri's grandiosely-entitled talk The Influence of Italian Renaissance Art on Shakespeare's Works: Titian—the Pictorial Source of Venus & Adonis examined Titian's many versions of Venus and Adonis and selected one of them which she felt must have been described by 'Shakespeare'. It's the version in which Adonis wears a hat—not unlike an Alpen hat of the sort often worn with a feather in it. Its provenance (painted as a wedding present for Philip of Spain in 1553, delivered from Venice in September 1554) was consistent with the known movements of Oxford in Italy. A similar hypothesis, though presumably omitting the authorship element, is in Panofsky, and others—not surprisingly. Again this talk is to be published in the Newsletter.
      The post-lunch question-and-answer session was chaired by Christopher Dams, and the panel consisted of John Rollett (in place of Brian Hicks), Eddi Jolly, Daphne Pearson, and Gerrit Quealy (an American actress). Most of the audience sat near the back (why do people do this?). Dams explained that the object was to find answers to the sort of questions asked by the man in the street—or, at least, the man in the street interested in the issue. It has to be said they weren't very successful. To the obvious question that the experts all disagree with Oxfordians, who must therefore be wrong, they could only say in effect that these people were afraid to differ, which, I think, is entirely unconvincing. Elizabeth Imlay made a good point: the Globe reconstruction shows that Shakespeare's theatrical work could not have been performed there. It's impossible to hear properly! A pony-tailed American made several points, not very clearly; a good one was that Oxfordians assume, without evidence, that a brawl with Knyvet in which Oxford was (supposedly?) injured must have involved swords, because this is consistent with an Oxfordian interpretation of several Shakespeare scenes; but there's no mention of swords or other weapons in the descriptions of the brawl. Braben said that de Vere is censored out of history books of the last 50-100 years, and there was some altercation over the meaning of 'held office' (Great Chamberlain?), and whether there was actual censorship by these historians, or whether they were justified in omitting the second-most-prominent Noble of that time. Dams said, as he has before, that he favoured the 'open secret' idea. Alan Robinson, the society's accountant, would have pointed out that there's a danger of genuinely historical Shakespeares and Shakspers getting mixed up or conflated, except that he was seated near the back. The attractions of the 'common man' theory (you too could be a genius!) were aired. I'm afraid I asked a few questions: as regards missing events in Shakespeare, isn't it odd that the Reformation, and also the 500th anniversary of the Norman Conquest, should be so under-represented? Some of the audience seemed to think these topics would be censored. Another question suddenly occurred to me as Daphne Pearson announced that the theatres of the time "were commercial". Many media (TV, films, newspapers) are and have been subsidised, directly or secretly; why shouldn't these theatres, which were certainly in part propaganda vehicles, have been partly subsidised? Alas, Daphne Pearson could produce no evidence for her statement. Finally, I was interested to hear confirmation from Ms Quealy, from what might be described as the extreme light of the panel, that expositors of the plays omit the tricky material, preferring to gloss only the simpler words and phrases. I'd assumed this must be true, but hadn't attempted to verify it. The panel, I was disappointed to find, were universally ignorant of David Roper's work on the Stratford monument inscription (just a mile or so away). Internet has a long way to go.
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Saturday Jan 27th 2001: De Vere Society Winter Meeting
To show what the de Vere Society gets up to, I retain this notice of a recent meeting; a printed version will appear in their newsletter. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend.
  • 10.30 Coffee/ Registration
  • 11.00 Richard Malim : Shakespeare—Actor and Pseudonym
  • 12.00 David Roper : The Stratford Monument Decoded: Proof or Probability? (This was the first time known to me that David lectured; I looked forward to this talk, but, owing to a reduced fund situation, wasn't able to attend-RW)
  • 1.15 Lunch (in The Globe's restaurant)
  • 2.30 Brian Hicks : Edward de Vere—Facts, Myths, and Probabilities
  • 3.30 Michael Peer : Synopsis of his projected film Alias Shakespeare (read in his absence)
  • 4.15 Tea/ Socialising
  • 5.30 Close
Nancy Knowles Lecture Theatre, New Globe Walk, Southwark. £5/head contribution to costs. (Lunch £14.50 each). E-mail Christopher Dams .
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April 28th 2001: De Vere Society ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
  • 10.30 Coffee/ Registration
  • 11.00 Dr Daphne Pearson: Edward de Vere in his historical context
  • 12.00 Wayne Shore: Solving literary mysteries with numbers
  • 1.15 Lunch
  • 2.30 A.G.M.
  • 3.30 Brian Hicks: Other Committee Projects
  • 4.15 Tea/ Socialising
  • 5.30 Close
Nancy Knowles Lecture Theatre, New Globe Walk, Southwark. £5/head contribution to costs. (Lunch £14.00 each). E-mail Christopher Dams .
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90 mins brilliant 1994 talk on Shakespeare, on Youtube. With Q/A. Opens in a new window.

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2011 Anonymous - the film.
So far as I know, this is the first film to treat de Vere as 'Shakespeare' - certainly the first with full scale VFX - despite the disclaimer that it's 'entirely a work of fiction...', maybe reinforced by Sony's make.believe tag. Derek Jacobi (modern day theatre orator, shown linking to the past) and Mark Rylance (plays an Elizabethan leading actor) are known to me as Oxfordians. I don't know about the Redgrave mother and daughter (both playing Elizabeth), or Rhys Ifans (only known to me as the underpants-clad sidekick in a Hugh Grant film) as de Vere, though presumably they have some sympathy with the idea. Trevor Howard, more than half a century ago, was an Oxfordian, but, as with a mention in a Galsworthy novel, his interest barely showed in his films.
      'Anonymous' presents some known aspects of de Vere's life, and weaves a plot from them, though much of the detail is conjectural. For example, de Vere was known to have killed a man lurking behind the arras - this film uses the incident to force a marriage on de Vere. Another example is a final scene showing Ben Jonson (played by Sebastian Armesto) recovering leather-bound parchment MSs from a metal trunk after they survived the fire of 1613 that burned down The Globe. There is little real evidence (as far as I know) for either joint event, but in each case two puzzles are combined in one filmic solution.
      Burford, the modern writer and speaker now self-renamed Beauclerk, is an advocate of the Elizabeth/ de Vere incest theory - a theory which has caused a serious rift in the Oxfordian movement. I won't give the detail here. John Orloff is credited with the script, but I don't remember any historical or literary advisors in the credit list. He adopts the incest idea.
      Since 54 years of de Vere's life have to be encompassed, the casting people picked two actors of different ages for several of the parts. I'm tempted to say the sets of halves didn't look very similar - but then, perhaps many people don't resemble their younger selves very closely. William Cecil (I think I'm right in saying) is shown as so old that the make up and prosthetic people only needed to work on one actor.

      'Anonymous' is worth watching for its technical skill, not just because it's pathbreaking as a piece of 'revisionism'. But it has many limitations. I'll just comment on a few aspects---

      ** The Spanish Armada, part of the Spanish War, occurred when de Vere was about 38. This war had an impoverishing effect on Britain (and no doubt Spain). Many parts of Britain had famine. If de Vere wrote the plays, there was a good deal of patriotic material aimed against Spain. There's a very good essay by Capt. Ward on this subject, which the 'merrie England' types seem not to know of. When the Armada failed, these propagandist plays ceased.
      ** De Vere is believed to have been paid by Elizabeth, essentially as a propagandist; two plays per year being required. At least this story was reported by one of the early writers on Shakespeare as being current in the writer's time.
      ** The name 'William Shakespeare' is attributed to a Warwickshire travelling player type, just as in the traditional version. In the film, he's shown as unable to write, and to spontaneously giving his name as author of Henry V, since Ben Jonson was unwilling to come forward. The usual Oxfordian view is that the name was made up, both 'Will' and 'Shakespeare' being in some sense synonymous with poetry. Under this version, Shaxper, who lived in Stratford-on-Avon, and was helpfully illiterate, was located as a substitute for de Vere, who lived in Stratford, East London. Earls were not supposed to stoop to writing. And Christopher Sly was de Vere's commentary.
      ** It would not surprise me if Shaxper was some sort of war profiteer in food; hence the sack of grain and his expensive monument. Maybe. It's easy to imagine a grain dealer asked to visit London to help relieve famine, and being taken up as the hard-to-contact author when the multiple coincidence of his name and place and visits to London were noted.
      ** The film is constricted - these events occurred when the entire world was opening up. Columbus's 1493 return was fifty years before de Vere's birth. Colonisation of the USA was beginning. Several empires were established - Spanish and Portuguese, and several starting - British, and Russia's land empire. The Italian Renaissance was long established. There were wars throughout Europe; with more to follow. China was felt to be known, through Marco Polo's doubtless faked adventures. De Vere's education (his tutors are faithfully listed in the film) included what are now called 'the classics'. He visited Italy. Not much of this is really shown or implied in the film - Cecil is never shown with his maps and information about ships and their timetables and cargoes; Walsingham isn't shown with his spies. De Vere's sporting prowess is hinted at only through fencing, and real tennis, not with jousting. Nor is de Vere shown at Cambridge, or with lawyers, or at war with the Dutch, or with his companies of actors. London is represented mostly as a present-day small German town, with green screen support; it's too small! But of course many of these things are difficult to film. The mental expansion of the period doesn't begin to be addressed: Machiavelli and Erasmus were new writers, Bruno was a contemporary, Galileo was young but active. Scaliger (the elder) was reconstructing remote history.
      ** Many events which were recent at the time of 'Shakespeare' aren't put into the film - possibly there simply wasn't time. Henry VIII gets a few mentions as Elizabeth's father, but his wives aren't mentioned. Nor is Henry VII, against whom de Vere had a special animus. There's no mention of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, an event more or less within living memory, which must have had shattering complications, somewhat analogous to what might happen if Jewish power in our own day were to be removed.
      ** De Vere's wealth, and its disappearance, is part of the de Vere life and legend. Much seems to have vanished during his minority, and much when he was touring Europe. I've never seen a convincing explanation of the underlying economic forces which one assumes underpinned the transfer of wealth - mostly (I think) ownership of land and property, but also some Tudor monopolies (as per the 'tin letters'). It's possible the introduction of interest, made legal by Henry VIII, had something to do with it.
      ** Financing: the list of implied 'angels' of this film does NOT include the BBC. The BBC gets a guaranteed few billion a year from the British public, and likes to use this financial muscle in assorted ways never intended by the founders. Perhaps it's unnecessary to say that a project like this - and in fact all the plays need a serious revisionist treatment - received no BBC funding; only propaganda and low-grade material gets their money.
      ** Interesting revisionist case-study in groups of 'experts' who will not debate. Obviously many people have noticed this sort of thing - 'knowledge islands', 'editors as gatekeepers' illustrate the sort of thing. The Shakespeare case is important because it removes the present-day element almost entirely. Hardly anyone now alive has a vested interest in the plays or the people or the properties. We're talking of events 450 years ago. And yet the impulse of 'experts' to keep the topic in-house is almost irresistible.
      ** Interesting anti-intellectual links: A Jewish movement, as documented by Kevin MacDonald, is anti-white racism, and one of the facets of that movement is the denial of the importance of intelligence and creativity. All the main opponents of IQ/race links are Jewish. Thus the idea that an uneducated man from a remote country area could intuit knowledge, even of arcane subjects such as law, is pretended to be credible. And this 'PC' attitude helps underpin the 'Shaxper' myth. In its turn, this helps deprive English-speaking people of insights into the plays, which are more or less incomprehensible without some idea of the background. This deprivation is both personal, the life of de Vere, and literary and cultural. It has to be said women usually go along with this: there are innumerable mediocre teachers of English who assert, apparently sincerely, that anyone can understand the plays, which are just exercises in oratory. Obviously they can't be expected to take any interest in serious work on the plays. The screenplay writer of Anonymous in effect compares himself with Shakespeare (see the DVD extras) and seems to have no idea of the powerful effects of new knowledge and the spread of ideas. De Vere is shown as watching a play, intoxicated by the POWER of words, in a narrow, advertiser- or news-broadcaster sense. The film-makers don't seem to realise edited, alternative versions of the plays were common.
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Keywords and key phrases: Bacon Francis, Bacon, Bodleian Library, Charles Burford, Challinor, ciphers, codes, creativity, criticism, Dams, Derran Charlton, David Roper, de Vere, De Vere Society, Edward de Vere, Martin Droeshout, Elizabeth, Elizabethan age, feudalism, genealogy, genius, Hathaway, Hedingham Castle, Henry VII, Henry VIII, Brian Hicks, imagination, Eddi Jolly, first folio, Jonson, Maltby, millennium man, 'millennium man', myths, Nestor, originality, Oxford, Oxfordian, Plato, John Rollett, Rowe, Shakespeare, Shakespeare authorship, Shaxper, Socrates, Southwark, Spain, Spenser, J I M Stewart, Stratford, Stratford-on-Avon, text, Mark Twain, Marlowe, Peter Farey, Vergil, Virgil, Warwickshire, Wentworth Woodhouse, Will, William Shakespeare, wordplay, Wriothesley

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Transcriptions, pix, tapes, HTML Rae West. All rights reserved. First uploaded 98-01-30. Ward added 99-02-10. SOS added 99-08-10. Internal links 99-12-26. Roper link 2000-02-10. AGM and other notes 2000-04-19, 26, 05-14, 09-15. Shakespeare's House 2000-04-30. September de Vere Society meeting 2000-09-17. Attempt at helpful e-mail 2000-10-27. Shakespeare and academic self-interest prize 2000-10-30. Notice of Jan 27 2001 meeting 2001-01-06. Maltby note 2000-02-12. AGM note 2001-03-29. Anonymous 2012. Question-and-Answer session rediscovered 2014-02-02. Dawkins on Lady Jane Grey added 2014-05-04. Civil War, Great Fire link added 2015-08-26