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Why Smart People Question Shakespeare

April 12, 2013

Who Dares Doubt?

I always thought Who wrote Shakespeare? was run-of-the-mill nonsense. Queen Elizabeth wrote Shakespeare . . . Francis Bacon wrote Shakespeare . . . it’s all a secret code . . . etc., ad nauseam. For years I paid no attention. At some point, I found out Mark Twain believed the Shakespeare byline to be a weakly-executed hoax that no one should have fallen for. I re-evaluated my position.

Three Supreme Court Justices — Brennan, Blackmun, and Stevens — conducted a mock trial on September 25, 1987 in which one side argued for William Shakespeare and the other argued for Edward de Vere, the leading alternative candidate. Even though Blackmun and Stevens believe Shakespeare did not write the plays, all three Justices agreed that, legally speaking, the burden of proof lay with the de Vere advocates who had not proven their man’s authorship beyond a reasonable doubt. Shakespeare won the case.

Justices Powell, Blackmun, O’Connor, Scalia, and Stevens all doubt Shakespeare despite his strong legal claim. Charles Dickens, Henry James, Walt Whitman, and Ralph Waldo Emerson also put their doubts in writing. So did Sigmund Freud. Throw in modern Shakespearean actors Sir Derek Jacobi, Mark Rylance, and Michael York, a growing number of college and university professors, and amateur bozos like me, and by golly you’ve got yourself an interesting little mystery.

Quotes from famous Shakespeare doubters may be found at the declaration of reasonable doubt.

The real reason some smart people doubt Shakespeare wrote the plays is commonly explained by mainstream scholars as follows: Shakespeare was a rural guy whose parents were illiterate, whose wife was illiterate, and whose children grew up illiterate and some people simply can’t believe a man of such humble origins would be as well-read as Shakespeare was and know as many languages as Shakespeare did. The authorship issue thus boils down to a kind of subtle snobbery that causes even some smart people to embrace the ridiculous proposition that Shakespeare might not be Shakespeare. That’s the official story: whole books have been written about the snobbery theory.

Going Down the Rabbit Hole

To tell you the truth, I’m not sure there is much of a question here. Shakespeare left us a series of 126 sonnets that are apparently personal letters written to the Earl of Southampton and they are rather revealing.

The sonnets follow the young earl’s life for a period spanning about thirteen years from age 17, when he obstinately rejected an arranged marriage, until age 30, when he was released from the Tower of London following the death of Queen Elizabeth. The 126 achingly beautiful works of art are a monument to a young nobleman, guiding, admonishing, forgiving, loving, and celebrating the 3rd Earl of Southampton’s tumultuous life as a young adult. The author, whoever he was, expresses a deep and powerful identification with his young friend whom he calls “my lovely boy.”

The sonnets are the only personal writings we have of Shakespeare’s.

If you are not a traditional Shakespeare scholar, you are free to assume the sonnets are what they appear to be — Shakespeare’s personal letters. Make this assumption and suddenly everything fits together so well that you quickly become stuck, lost down the rabbit hole. You can never go back. But look on the bright side, Mark Twain is down there and he’s pretty good company.

I offer you a guided trip into the rabbit hole. We will assume the sonnets are indeed the personal letters of William Shakespeare, written to his young friend, the “fair youth,” the “lovely boy,” the third Earl of Southampton, Henry Wriothesley, that rebellious teenager who refused the highly-placed bride chosen for him by his guardian, that foolhardy young man who was arrested for treason in 1601 and sentenced to death, the rash youth who watched his comrades executed one by one, whose death sentence was mysteriously commuted to life in prison, and who was miraculously released in 1603 when Queen Elizabeth died prompting the beautiful and ebullient sonnet 107.

Come with me, but I caution you, it is a one-way trip.


We know the sonnets were private writings. For at least a decade, Shakespeare’s “sugar’d sonnets” were known to be circulating only among the author’s “private friends” (Meres, 1598). Selected people were reading them, ordinary people knew of their existence, but they were not published. At the same time, Shakespeare’s two epic poems had been published with resounding success in multiple editions. But not the sonnets, not yet.

We know Shakespeare intended the sonnets to be published eventually:

When you entombed in men’s eyes shall lie/Your monument shall be my gentle verse/Which eyes not yet created shall o’er-read . . . When all the breathers of this world are dead/You still shall live, such virtue hath my pen.

Shakespeare, supremely confident in the everlasting beauty of what he was creating, returns frequently to this “monument” theme:

And thou in this shalt find thy monument/When tyrants’ crests and tombs of brass are spent.

Can words really outlast brass tombs? Apparently, yes. Is it bragging if you’re right?

I Wouldn’t Marry Her If She Were the Last Girl on Earth!

“From fairest creatures we desire increase . . .” It was 1590 and Southampton was under heavy pressure to marry a particular girl chosen for him by his guardian. We don’t know who the “we” in Shakespeare’s first sonnet is, but whoever they were, they wanted Southampton to marry and produce an heir. The young earl resisted.

In this first sonnet, Shakespeare, whoever he was, spoke sternly to the obstinate young earl: Don’t be your own enemy, don’t waste your beauty, don’t be churlish, the world deserves an heir from you, you have a responsibility to us, to the world, and to yourself; don’t let us down.

Note about the first sonnet: In the original, the word ‘rose’ was capitalized and italicized. No one knows why.

From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty’s Rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decease,
His tender heir might bear his memory:
But thou contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Feed’st thy light’s flame with self-substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thy self thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel:
Thou that art now the world’s fresh ornament,
And only herald to the gaudy spring,
Within thine own bud buriest thy content,
And, tender churl, mak’st waste in niggarding:
Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
To eat the world’s due, by the grave and thee.

The tone is reproving and loving but not entirely respectful: the earl is a churl.

Right away, in the first sonnet, it seems obvious that the writer is a peer of Southampton, probably an older peer. Throughout the 126 sonnets, the case for the young commoner businessman from Stratford who has the right name but everything else wrong continues to unravel.

The second sonnet begins as follows: When forty winters shall besiege thy brow/And dig deep trenches in thy beauty’s field/Thy youth’s proud livery so gazed on now/Will be a totter’d weed of small worth held . . . The author is warning his young friend about the ravages of aging and the inevitable fate that awaits the earl’s beauty.

Southampton’s self-appointed mentor continues, promising the boy that if only he would make a successor, the aging process would be far more bearable: . . . proving his beauty by succession thine/This were to be new made when thou art old/And see thy blood warm when thou feel’st it cold.

Here is the second sonnet in its entirety.

When forty winters shall besiege thy brow,
And dig deep trenches in thy beauty’s field,
Thy youth’s proud livery so gazed on now,
Will be a totter’d weed of small worth held: 
Then being asked, where all thy beauty lies,
Where all the treasure of thy lusty days; 
To say, within thine own deep sunken eyes,
Were an all-eating shame, and thriftless praise.
How much more praise deserv’d thy beauty’s use,
If thou couldst answer ‘This fair child of mine
Shall sum my count, and make my old excuse,’
Proving his beauty by succession thine!
This were to be new made when thou art old,
And see thy blood warm when thou feel’st it cold.

Mr. Shakespeare of Stratford, having recently arrived in London (circa 1590), was in his late twenties when the sonnet above was written.

In the third sonnet, Shakespeare lets us in on an important personal detail: he knew Southampton’s mother. Indeed, the sight of the boy makes the poet nostalgic for old times: Thou art thy mother’s glass and she in thee/Calls back the lovely April of her prime/So thou through windows of thine age shalt see/Despite of wrinkles, this thy golden time.

Here is the complete third sonnet.

Look in thy glass and tell the face thou viewest
Now is the time that face should form another;
Whose fresh repair if now thou not renewest,
Thou dost beguile the world, unbless some mother.
For where is she so fair whose uneared womb
Disdains the tillage of thy husbandry?
Or who is he so fond will be the tomb
Of his self-love, to stop posterity? 
Thou art thy mother’s glass and she in thee
Calls back the lovely April of her prime;
So thou through windows of thine age shalt see,
Despite of wrinkles, this thy golden time.
But if thou live, remembered not to be,
Die single and thine image dies with thee.

This sonnet, taken at face value, is very bad news for the traditional Mr.  Shakespeare who was 9 years older than Southampton, first journeyed to London when Southampton was a teenager, and had little opportunity to know the boy’s mother in the lovely April of her prime or at any other time.

There is more of course and reading the rest of the sonnets is well worthwhile. However, at this point, I am pretty much convinced that Twain, Dickens, Freud, Powell, and others are right: Shakespeare was a nobleman who was quite close to Southampton, though a generation older.

The only other possibility is that the sonnets were commissioned and that Shakespeare spent 10 years or more writing a series of private masterpieces expressing someone else’s love for Southampton. The theory that the sonnets were commissioned is the best orthodox scholarship has to offer; I don’t buy it. However, I can’t prove it wrong.

Here are some “quickies” from the 14 other marriage sonnets.

When nature calls thee to be gone . . . thy unus’d beauty must be tombed with thee. A child is the only way to defeat death.

Never resting time leads summer on to hideous winter and confounds him there. . . You’ll age as surely as the seasons change.

Thou art much to fair to be death’s conquest and make worms thine heir. An evocative image to be sure.

So thou, thyself outgoing in thy noon, unlooked on diest unless thou get a son. No one cares about an old man with no children.

Music to hear, why hearest thou music sadly. The idea of a harmonious family life (like a musical harmony) unaccountably holds no interest for you, why?

No love toward others in that bosom sits that on himself such murd’rous shame commits. Not having a child is like murdering yourself and is shamefully selfish.

Thou art so possessed of murderous hate. How dare you not have a child!

Make thee another self for love of me. I know you love me, and I love you and you must produce an heir.

If all were minded so, the times should cease and threescore year would make the world away. If everyone thought the way you did, the world would surely come to an end.

She carved thee for her seal, and meant thereby thou shouldst print more, not let thy copy die. Nature gave you more than most with the expectation that your line would continue.

“And nothing ‘gainst time’s scythe can make defense, save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence.” When death takes you, the only comfort you can have is if you have left part of yourself in a child.

Against this coming end you should prepare and your sweet semblance to some other give . . . Who lets so fair a house fall to decay . . . O none but unthrifts . . . You had a father: let your son say so. You are high-born; it is terribly wasteful to let your lineage come to an end.

Thy end is truth and beauty’s doom and date. The good of the world is in you and if you die without issue, the good will die too.

When I consider every thing that grows holds in perfection but a little moment . . . As he takes from you, I engraft you new. Youth is perfect, but oh-so-fleeting and though time will take away your life, here, in my poetry, you will be forever young.

Many maiden gardens yet unset with virtuous wish would bear you living flowers. Clear enough.

You true rights [will] be termed a poet’s rage . . . But were some child of yours alive at that time, you would live twice, in it and in my rhyme. My poetry will sing your praises forever, but if there’s no progeny, people won’t know how wonderful you truly were and won’t believe what they read.

Seventeen passionate sonnets did not convince the young earl to marry the girl who had been chosen for him. He refused his guardian who happened to be the powerful Lord Burghley and the young man suffered a huge fine of 5000 pounds levied against his estate. In the eighteenth sonnet, Shakespeare has given up and contents himself that the boy he loves will live forever in his poetry: Thy eternal summer shall not fade . . . So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, so long lives this and this gives life to thee.

Two other sonnets speak especially revealingly about Shakespeare’s close identification with the young earl and about their relative ages.

Sonnet 22: My glass shall not persuade me I am old so long as youth and thou are of one date.

Sonnet 73: That time of year thou may’st in me behold/When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang/Upon those boughs which shake against the cold/Bare ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang.

So who is Shakespeare? Is it the businessman commoner from Stratford who turned 26 in 1590 and who may never even have met Southampton? Or is it Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, a generation removed from Southampton, an elder peer who turned 40 in 1590, who grew up in the same household as Southampton 23 years earlier also as a royal ward, and whose daughter just happened to be the person Southampton was supposed to marry?

Before you make your ruling, let’s look at a few more sonnets.

I Know! I’ll Try to Control the Royal Succession!

In 1601, Southampton and his buddy, the Earl of Essex, and a bunch of other morons, decided they would outfox the brilliant Lord Burghley (Elizabeth’s closest advisor and the most powerful man in England) and try to control the royal succession. Needless to say, it didn’t work.

Elizabeth would be dead within a couple of years and, since she never married, there was no heir. The Virgin Queen had had sex with Edward de Vere (there is hard evidence from a contemporary witness) and undoubtedly others as well and she may even have had unacknowledged children to boot. But none of these bastard children would have been eligible for the throne. The succession was up for grabs.

Southampton and company apparently felt they could help the Queen make the “right” decision. We don’t know who they thought they would place on the throne, but they planned to push Burghley aside by force and convince Elizabeth to see things their way. Their little plot failed comically. Burghley let them begin their ride toward the palace and then rounded them all up, put them on trial for treason, and began chopping people’s heads off (actually, if that’s all that happened to you, you could consider yourself lucky). The Earl of Essex himself was executed.

But not Southampton. He, with Essex, had been convicted of treason and sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted to life in prison, and, once the Queen died in 1603 and James I peacefully ascended the throne, the ridiculously lucky Southampton was set free. Southampton’s exploits are chronicled in the sonnets.

Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
The dear repose for limbs with travel tired;
But then begins a journey in my head
To work my mind, when body’s work’s expired: 
For then my thoughts–from far where I abide–
Intend a zealous pilgrimage to thee,
And keep my drooping eyelids open wide,
Looking on darkness which the blind do see:
Save that my soul’s imaginary sight
Presents thy shadow to my sightless view,
Which, like a jewel hung in ghastly night,
Makes black night beauteous, and her old face new.
Lo! thus, by day my limbs, by night my mind,
For thee, and for myself, no quiet find.

This is sonnet 27. Shakespeare has apparently visited Southampton in prison but can’t sleep after returning home because he can’t forget the image of Southampton, languishing in the Tower of London and likely to be executed.

How can I then return in happy plight,
That am debarred the benefit of rest?
When day’s oppression is not eas’d by night,
But day by night and night by day oppressed,
And each, though enemies to either’s reign,
Do in consent shake hands to torture me,
The one by toil, the other to complain
How far I toil, still farther off from thee. 
I tell the day, to please him thou art bright,
And dost him grace when clouds do blot the heaven:
So flatter I the swart-complexion’d night,
When sparkling stars twire not thou gild’st the even.
But day doth daily draw my sorrows longer,
And night doth nightly make grief’s length seem stronger.

In sonnet 28 above, he still can’t sleep.

No more be grieved at that which thou hast done:
Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud:
Clouds and eclipses stain both moon and sun,
And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud.
All men make faults, and even I in this,
Authorizing thy trespass with compare,
Myself corrupting, salving thy amiss,
Excusing thy sins more than thy sins are;
For to thy sensual fault I bring in sense,
Thy adverse party is thy advocate,
And ‘gainst myself a lawful plea commence:
Such civil war is in my love and hate,
That I an accessary needs must be,
To that sweet thief which sourly robs from me.

Sonnet 35 is quite interesting. The poet seems to be forgiving Southampton for what he has done and is apparently advocating for him behind the scenes. Edward de Vere, as the ranking earl in England, was one of the judges that condemned Southampton to death (per the Queen’s order; the trial had a predetermined outcome) but was also in a position to push privately for life in prison in lieu of death (thy adverse party is thy advocate). If these sonnets are being interpreted correctly here, then de Vere is probably the only person in England who could have written them.

Farewell! thou art too dear for my possessing,
And like enough thou know’st thy estimate,
The charter of thy worth gives thee releasing;
My bonds in thee are all determinate.
For how do I hold thee but by thy granting?
And for that riches where is my deserving?
The cause of this fair gift in me is wanting,
And so my patent back again is swerving.
Thy self thou gavest, thy own worth then not knowing,
Or me to whom thou gav’st it else mistaking;
So thy great gift, upon misprision growing,
Comes home again, on better judgement making.
Thus have I had thee, as a dream doth flatter,
In sleep a king, but waking no such matter.

Sonnet 87 is also quite interesting. The charter of thy worth gives thee releasing seems to imply there was something about Southampton that prevented his being killed. So thy great gift, on misprision growing/Comes home again, on better judgement making is straightforward to interpret: Misprision is a lesser form of treason in which the accused has not actually committed treason but has neglected to report the treason of others.

We don’t know if this was the “better judgement” that saved Southampton’s life nor do we know what the “charter of thy worth” was (Essex’s rank didn’t save him) but again, if we are interpreting these sonnets correctly, only someone very high up with an unusual amount of insider knowledge could have written them.

Although Sonnets 27, 28, 35, and 87 are not nearly as easy to interpret as the marriage sonnets, there is no doubt at all about the meaning of the celebratory sonnet 107.

Not mine own fears, nor the prophetic soul
Of the wide world dreaming on things to come,
Can yet the lease of my true love control, 
Supposed as forfeit to a confined doom.
The mortal moon hath her eclipse endured,
And the sad augurs mock their own presage;
Incertainties now crown themselves assured,
And peace proclaims olives of endless age.
Now with the drops of this most balmy time,
My love looks fresh, and Death to me subscribes,
Since, spite of him, I’ll live in this poor rhyme,
While he insults o’er dull and speechless tribes:
And thou in this shalt find thy monument,
When tyrants’ crests and tombs of brass are spent.

Queen Elizabeth (the mortal moon) had died, and Southampton, “supposed as forfeit to a confined doom,” has been miraculously released while the royal succession, so frightening in its uncertainty, has proceeded peacefully and James I is securely on the throne. Shakespeare the author is overflowing with joy at the release of his great love, Southampton, and exults in the knowledge that his poetry will allow him to give Death itself a run for its money.

Shakespeare of Stratford, the commoner businessman whose wife and children were illiterate (maybe he didn’t have time to teach his two daughters to read), that amazing man who died without ever having written a letter and without ever having received a letter (maybe they were simply lost), that man of two worlds whose long detailed will did not mention a single book (maybe his library was taken care of separately) CANNOT, no matter how many “maybes” one employs, have been in a position to visit Southampton in prison, to forgive him for committing treason, to lobby behind the scenes on his behalf, or to have any knowledge whatsoever of the secret judgment that saved his life.

Unfortunately, even today we don’t know what led to the commutation of Southampton’s death sentence. It could have been a new judgment of misprision of treason or simply an order from the Queen: “don’t kill him.” We’ll probably never know. Shakespeare’s sonnets are as close as we’ll ever get to the truth and we’re lucky to have them. After they were published in 1609, they disappeared only to resurface decades later. They were not included in the famous First Folio of 1623 in which 36 Shakespeare plays were compiled (including 18 that had never been published) and they could easily have been lost permanently.

What About Hard Evidence?

If Shakespeare didn’t write Shakespeare, it means that James I would have had to order a hoax. Hints had to be dropped when the First Folio was published in 1623 and Shakespeare’s gravesite had to be altered to make it appear he was an author rather than the semi-literate, lawsuit-happy, grain hoarder we know from the paper trail that seems so at odds with the bylines on the plays and poems that began to be published in London in the early 1590’s.

I think the sonnets were written from a place of passion that could not possibly have been simulated by a writer who had been handed a bag of gold by some nobleman: “write me some sonnets for my kid.” Even a genius like Shakespeare couldn’t have done it. Great poetry comes from the heart — it always has and it always will. And I don’t buy the official, “Well, technically, we don’t know for sure that Southampton is the subject of the sonnets.” Of course he’s the subject: only a fool or someone with an axe to grind would think otherwise.

But these are just opinions. Even if you read the sonnets for yourself and ultimately agree with me, that makes two people who don’t have any hard evidence for their beliefs. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Fortunately, there is some. We have Thomas Thorpe. He was there, after all. He held the original sonnet manuscript in his trembling hands, that priceless sheaf of Shakespeare’s handwriting, now lost. Until then, only Shakespeare’s “private friends” had seen the sonnets. But now they would be published and Mr. Thorpe would be immortalized.

Thorpe wished “Mr. W. H.”  — could be Henry Wriothesley, I suppose — “all happiness and that eternitie promised by our ever-living poet.” The “ever-living” comment is straight out of Shakespeare. It’s from the eulogy in Henry the VI: “. . . our scarce-cold conqueror/That ever-living man of memory/Henry the Fifth.”

So Thorpe quoted Shakespeare in the dedication and eulogized him as “our ever-living poet.” All the maybes and it’s possibles and we don’t really knows in the world can’t change a simple, hard fact: the author of the sonnets was dead when they were published in 1609. Thorpe said so and he was there.

If you were alive in 1609, you didn’t write the sonnets. Shakespeare had the right name but he had the wrong life and, more to the point, he had the wrong death. William Shakespeare, the businessman from Stratford, died in 1616, seven years too late to be considered as a possible author of the sonnets.

There’s one more piece of hard evidence: the 18 plays that lay unpublished for ten plus years until they were finally, suddenly published in 1623 when the First Folio was compiled. Macbeth, Taming of the Shrew and 16 other works of art were not published while the businessman named Shakespeare lived. Why weren’t they published for 10 years or more? Who had held the manuscripts for all those years?

Edward de Vere died in 1604, Mr. Shakespeare in 1616. Seven years later, 18 manuscripts miraculously turned up and were compiled with 18 other plays to form the famous First Folio. The First Folio just happened to be dedicated to de Vere’s son-in-law, the Earl of Montgomery and also to Montgomery’s brother, the “incomparable brethren” who had undoubtedly bankrolled the project.

Commoners in England in 1610 don’t hold onto original Shakespeare manuscripts for 10 years or more and elect not to have them published because they don’t need the money right now and maybe in 10 years it will be a good time to publish.  This theory, the official, orthodox theory, is absurd. Shakespeare plays were extremely famous and lucrative the moment they were performed. Only nobility would hold the manuscripts for a decade or more. The Countess of Montgomery, Edward de Vere’s daughter, Susan, apparently had inherited the manuscripts and eventually arranged for their publication to preserve her late father’s art.

From Beauty’s Rose to a Never-Ending Mystery

There is no single, definitive argument (although “our ever-living poet” comes close), but the totality of the evidence makes the hoax seem rather lame to my eyes. From the first two lines of the first sonnet, “From fairest creatures we desire increase/That thereby beauty’s Rose might never die” to the publication of the First Folio by de Vere’s relatives, we have clear indications that all of Shakespeare’s work, especially the sonnets, was too sensitive for the true author to allow his name to be bandied about publicly.

We know de Vere slept with the Queen, we know he was given by the Queen an unusually large stipend of 1000 pounds a year, we know his daughter was the chosen wife for Southampton, we know Southampton refused to marry Elizabeth Vere and later committed treason and was spared while his comrades were executed, we know “Shakespeare” tried to convince Southampton to marry and later exulted at his release from prison, and we know the Tudor Rose dynasty ended when Queen Elizabeth died in 1603.

Shakespeare’s “sugar’d sonnets” that circulated only among his “private friends” until 1609 may have simply been too hot to handle.

Even the plays are full of inside baseball. Hamlet famously makes fun of the powerful Lord Burghley who is mercilessly lampooned as Polonius. Characters in other plays such as Malvolio in Twelfth Night are also obvious caricatures of Court figures. Either Shakespeare was the most well-connected commoner in England AND the most brilliant father of illiterate children anyone could possibly imagine AND the only thirty-year-old in history to ever complain about “bare ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang” OR he wasn’t the real author.

Whoever Shakespeare was, he and Henry Wriothesley, the 3rd Earl of Southampton, were about as close as it is possible for two people to be. We can only guess about the exact nature of their relationship: but it was very, very close. A commoner from Stratford nine years older than H. W.? Really?

You decide, your honor.

From → Shakespeare

  1. I stumbled upon this blog somewhat by accident while conducting image searches for 16th -century signatures. This response applies to your two Shakespeare posts.

    Experts say that it takes a lot of time to write high-quality plays, informing us that two plays per year would be about par, and this point of view seems credible. Thus, one would need 18 years to write the Shakespearean canon of 36 plays. From 1593 (first play) to 1604 (death of de Vere), no more than 24 plays could have been written. It follows that de Vere cannot be Shakespeare and this why Shakespeare won the Supreme Court mock trial.

    You made many excellent points about the real Shakespeare:

    1) the real Shakespeare had a vast education second to none (there should historical records of this)
    2) the real Shakespeare was the master of many languages (there should be abundant evidence of this external to the plays)
    3) the real Shakespeare lived for some years with the Earl of Southampton (it is safe to assume that he requested the sparing of Southampton’s life for committing treason)
    4) the real Shakespeare had insider knowledge of court life in Denmark (it is safe to assume that he had regular contact with Anne, queen of Denmark married to James I)
    5) the real Shakespeare lived for a time in the household of William Cecil (there should be a historical note on this too)

    So, what’s your problem? Too lazy to do some elementary research? There is a person who meets ALL five of your own specifications, but he is definitely not de Vere.

    Though it is easy to find the real Shakespeare, I am not optimistic that William of Stratford will ever be overthrown. Only a fool would believe that Elizabeth, William Cecil, and Robert Cecil would give their full backing to such a conspiracy merely to save some noble from embarrassment. The Shakespeare conspiracy hides a hornet’s nest of religious warfare that no one is going to want to unleash.

    • Great comment and very interesting. I think most de Vere partisans assume many plays were written in the 1580’s or even earlier and performed but not published and eventually extensively revised.

      I am certainly willing to consider the other contenders as I don’t think the evidence for de Vere is as strong as the evidence against WS.

      I must also admit to some terrible laziness or perhaps merely a tendency to be distracted. Perhaps you could put in a plug for the real Shakespeare here if you have time. I’m aware of a number of non-de Vere alternatives to the traditional nonsense. Just not sure which one you mean.

      Also have you read the book about de Vere’s travels in Italy? Seemed pretty interesting. The Shakespeare Guide to Italy by Roe.

      Sent from my iPhone

  2. I finally found my way back to this blog. Sorry for the delay. You can find a plug for the real Shakespeare on the following pages:

    Best regards,

    Morten St. George

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