The Shakespeare industry is built upon a vast fictitious fantasy. Many people directly profit from this industry so therefore imagination is not free and conjecture is not cheap.
Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (12 April 1550 – 24 June 1604) was an English peer and courtier of the Elizabethan era. Oxford was heir to the second oldest earldom in the kingdom, a court favourite for a time, a sought-after patron of the arts, and noted by his contemporaries as a lyric poet and court playwright, but his volatile temperament precluded him from attaining any courtly or governmental responsibility and contributed to the dissipation of his estate. Since the 1920s, he has been among the most prominent alternative candidates proposed for the authorship of Shakespeare’s works.
In a 1578 Latin oration, Gabriel Harvey said of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (1550–1604), “vultus tela vibrat,” which may be translated as “thy countenance shakes spears.” This may have been an inspiration for the later use of “Shakespeare” as a pen name. Pseudonyms were so common in the Elizabethan Era (called a “Golden Age” of pseudonyms), that almost every writer used one at one time or another. “Shakespeare,” as a pen name, could be a reference to Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom who came to be viewed during the Renaissance as a patron of the arts and learning. She is often depicted shaking a spear. Pseudonyms were used because writings that offended the authorities could subject an author to punishment. Also, where the nobility were concerned, it was considered beneath their dignity to publish poetry, which was deemed frivolous, or plays for the public theatres, which were scandalous places where thievery, prostitution, and gambling occurred.
When I read the poems and plays through the lens of Stratford, I get much insight and greatness but only from the plays themselves. Shakespeare the man leaves no mark on the plays as far as I can access. This violates my experience of almost every other great artist I know of.
Mark Andre Alexander
“This brilliant, powerful book is a major event for everyone who cares about Shakespeare. The scholarship is surpassing – brave, original, full of surprise – and in the hands of so gifted a writer it fairly lights up the sky. Anyone who considers the Shakespeare controversy silly or a lot of old stuff is in for a particular surprise. This is scholarly detective work at its most absorbing. More, it is close analysis by a writer with a rare sense of humanity. The strange, difficult, contradictory man who emerges as the real Shakespeare, Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, is not just plausible but fascinating and wholly believable. It is hard to imagine anyone who reads the book with an open mind ever seeing Shakespeare or his works in the same way again.”
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough in his Foreword to Charlton Ogburn’s The Mysterious William Shakespeare.
And thou, no less deserving than the other two, in some things rarer, in nothing inferior, driven (as myself) to extreme shifts, a little have I to say to thee, and were it not an idolatrous oath, I would swear by sweet St. George thou art unworthy better hap sith thou dependest on so mean a stay. Base-minded men, all three of you, if by my misery you be not warned, for unto none of you (like me) sought those burrs to cleave, those puppets (I mean) that spake from our mouths, those antics garnished in our colours. Is it not strange, that I, to whom they all have been beholding, is it not like that you, to whom they all have been beholding, shall (were ye in that case as I am now) be both at once of them forsaken? Yes, trust them not, for there is an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his tiger’s heart wrapped in a player’s hide supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you, and being an absolute Johannes factotum is in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in a country.
O that I might entreat your rare wits to be employed in more profitable courses, and let those apes imitate your past excellence and nevermore acquaint them with your admired inventions. I know the best husband of you all will never prove an usurer, and the kindest of them all will never prove a kind nurse; yet, whilst you may, seek you better masters, for it is pity men of such rare wits should be subject to the pleasure of such rude grooms. In this I might insert two more that both have writ against these buckram gentlemen, but let their own works serve to witness against their own wickedness if they persevere to maintain any more such peasants. For other newcomers, I leave them to the mercy of these painted monsters who (I doubt not) will drive the best-minded to despise them. For the rest, it skills not though they make a jest at them.
As an Italian writer of aphorisms, literature lover, English teacher, trader and Internet publisher I don’t think Florio was Shakespeare, for different reasons, first of all because I believe that the Shakespearean macrotext is not the miracle of just a single person, what’s more a work of art is not by an author and neither is life, as Carmelo Bene once affirmed; finally as our Juliet would say: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.”; and last but not least Florio had all the possibilities to publish all the plays he wanted with his name, so why using a pen name, but nonetheless the matter remains a real mistery, as the life of the great national bard of England.
Anyway Florio was a great scholar, linguist, lexicographer, translator, and what’s more he almost died a poor man, so we have a lot of things in common. What we can’t absolutely deny is the enormous influence that his literary works had on the English language, culture and intertextuality of the writers of the period, included the superb Shakespeare’s production and consequently our appreciation of it. All this said, as in the market we can’t be sure of anything, the hypothesis being fascinating and what’s more even Shakespeare through Iago once said: “I am not what I am.” while Matthew Gwinne, a doctor whose pen name was “Il Candido” in a sonnet devoted to his dearly esteemed friend and fellow wrote: “I am, all that I am, Florio, thy debter.”
Carl William Brown
Oxford himself was a patron of the arts who loved theatre and poetry and commissioned various books and translations. Twenty-eight books were dedicated to him during his life. Oxford sponsored two theatre troupes: a men’s troupe and a boys’ troupe. He leased the Blackfriars Theatre in the 1580s for his boys’ troupe.
Ovid’s Metamorphoses, which is recognized as one of Shakespeare’s most influential sources, second only to the Bible, was translated into English by Arthur Golding, Oxford’s uncle. Oxford and Golding were living in the same household when the translation was being completed.
The famous “To be or not to be” soliloquy in Hamlet echoes Gerolamo Cardano’s Comforte (De Consolatione), written in 1542: “What should we account of death to be resembled to anything better than a sleep… We are assured not only to sleep, but also to die.” Oxford commissioned an English translation of Cardano’s Comforte by Thomas Bedingfield (1573) for which Oxford wrote the preface.
Henry Wriothesley, the Third Earl of Southampton, was a beautiful young nobleman to whom Shakespeare expressly dedicated the two narrative poems Venus and Adonis and Rape of Lucrece. Many scholars believe that Southampton was also the “Fair Youth” of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Around the time that the Sonnets are thought to have been written, Lord Burghley was trying to persuade a reluctant Southampton to marry Oxford’s daughter Elizabeth, who was also, of course, Burghley’s granddaughter. In the first 17 sonnets, the poet encourages the Fair Youth to marry and procreate. It would have been entirely presumptuous for William Shakspere, a commoner, to write sonnets offering marital advice to a young nobleman. The Sonnets make much more sense if they are seen as coming from an older nobleman to a younger one whom the older nobleman hopes will become his son-in-law.
Oxford’s handwritten notations in his personal copy of the Geneva Bible, which now resides in the Folger Shakespeare Library, show a strong correlation to Biblical references in Shakespeare’s works, as Dr. Roger Stritmatter demonstrated in his Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Massachusetts. The more often a Biblical passage is referenced in Shakespeare’s works, the more likely it is to have been marked in Oxford’s Geneva Bible.
Oxford had three daughters, just as King Lear did. And just as Lear divided his kingdom among his daughters while he still lived, Oxford placed his family lands in trust for the benefit of his daughters while he lived.
Shakespeare’s Sonnets were first published in 1609. There are indications on the dedication page that the author was no longer living at that time. First, the dedication is signed by the publisher, Thomas Thorpe, not by the author, suggesting that the author was not alive to write the dedication. More significantly, the dedication refers to the author as “ever-living.” This is a phrase that was used metaphorically to refer to a person who was no longer alive, but who would live on through his works in our minds and hearts. The Earl of Oxford was no longer living in 1609, while the man from Stratford, who is usually credited with writing the works of Shakespeare, would live on for another seven years. Stratfordian scholars have never been able to explain why the phrase “ever-living” would have been applied to a living person.