Skip to content

Scipio Who?

August 29, 2017

Once upon a time there lived a businessman named William Shakspere. He made a lot of money in a number of commercial ventures in both his hometown of Stratford and London. At the same time, “William Shakespeare” was the most famous writer in England.

If you look at the seventy or so documents that tell the tale of Shakspere’s life, one thing seems likely: he wasn’t a writer. He never even wrote a letter, could barely even write his  name, and didn’t have a single book in his enormous house.

On the other hand, he invested heavily in the London theater scene: he owned shares in London’s leading acting company as well as an interest in two theater properties. When he died, he left cash bequests to local friends and to three of this London theater colleagues.

Seven years after he died, Shakspere the businessman was unambiguously identified as Shakespeare the writer. The preface in that miraculous first compilation of Shakespeare plays — called by scholars “the First Folio” — contains two references to the author’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon. Also, two people Shakspere definitely knew personally, acting-company shareholders, refer to Shakespeare in the preface as their “Friend & Fellow.”

So Shakspere was Shakespeare. There’s only one way Shakspere wasn’t Shakespeare: a conspiracy and not just any conspiracy but, if you believe it, the greatest and most successsful cover-up of all time.

We know a great deal about William Shakspere of Stratford. He built a veritable empire during his fifty-two years on earth: he owned five houses and over one hundred acres of land in addition to his theater investments. He also invested in agriculture, dealt in commercial quantities of grain and malt, and loaned money.

The acting company in which he was a shareholder was London’s leading troupe: they put on many Shakespeare plays. The company may have owned the plays, though, oddly, no one ever claimed ownership of any of Shakespeare’s works. Nor did anyone take legal action even when unauthorized, badly mangled versions were published.

Shakspere was occasionally in court, but only to collect modest debts owed him in connection with his agricultural businesses. Missing legal action is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to questions about Shakspere’s documented life.

For every other Elizabethan writer, roughly half the documents the person left behind had to do with writing. This is dramatically not the case for Shakspere who was, according to the documentary record, a businessman first and a writer fourth or fifth or sixth.

Alone amongst Elizabethan writers Shakspere was not referred to by his friends as a writer until after he died. As the great biographer Schoenbaum put it, “They probably troubled their heads little enough about the plays and poems. Business was another matter; they saw Shakespeare as a man shrewd in practical affairs.”

As far as the documentary record is concerned, Shakspere, again alone among Elizabethan writers, owned no books, wrote no letters, received no letters, was never paid for a piece of writing, and died without notice outside of his family and close friends. Shakspere was not buried in Westminster Abbey like Jonson, Beaumont, and Spenser; no mention was made in the year that he died of the loss of the greatest writer England had ever seen.

There are writers who are poorly documented, but even in the worst cases, there’s always something to hang your hat on: a letter, a book, a payment record, commentary about your writing by your friends, notice at death, something. For Shakspere, there’s nothing.

But wait. It is reasonable to assume Shakspere wrote plays for the London acting company. This would have benefitted him financially as a shareholder. There are no records to prove this but he was, theoretically at least, paid to write. His death was eventually commemorated by the First Folio and so he was, in this sense, noted as a writer at death.

So let’s not get carried away with the conspiracy theories.

Again, obviously, Shakespeare owned books and wrote and received letters. He must have. The books and letters have simply been lost. A letter was actually written to him by a Stratford neighbor to request a loan, but it was never sent and was found in the petitioner’s possession after he died. Another letter to Shakspere discussing pasture enclosures was referred to in a letter written to someone else, but the first letter hasn’t been found.

Whether or not Shakspere’s neighbors knew of his literary talents is, unfortunately, an open question for biographers.

It is likewise unfortunate for biographers that none of his books survived. Given the circumstances of his life, one could be forgiven for hoping for a book that Shakespeare held in his hand. In the case of Ben Jonson, more than two hundred of his books still exist in museums and private collections.

Shakspere owned a big house, a mansion, really, of twelve thousand square feet. Many years after his death, the magnificent house was still occupied by his daughter. One day, a man entered and spoke to her about a manuscript in her possession.

This manuscript is now in a museum. It wasn’t a play. It wasn’t a poem. It wasn’t written by Shakspere. The famous author’s son-in-law had a medical practice and kept records. The man who purchased the manuscript was a doctor who had known Shakspere’s son-in-law. This doctor noted that Shakspere’s daughter (Susanna) was unable to recognize her husband’s handwriting. He said he was pleased to acquire the manuscript which he knew to be in the hand of his professional colleague.

It’s too bad the manuscript-hunting doctor wasn’t interested in literature.

Shakespeare was one of the most erudite people in England. At the time, personal libraries of five hundred books were common. As a wealthy and famous writer, he might have owned a thousand books. All we got is the medical log.

Shakspere did leave a three-page will disbursing his major assets. Ninety percent of the will was, unfortunately, devoted to describing how his property would be divided amongst potential heirs that might possibly “issue from the bodies” of his daughters. A few specific items are mentioned, but there’s nothing about books or ink wells or book shelves or writing desks.

Of course, the fact that books aren’t mentioned in the will and the fact that Shakspere’s library went missing doesn’t prove the nonexistence of books or the nonexistence of a library. Conspiracy theorists regard the level of bad luck in the case of Shakspere as suspicious, but they can’t prove anything. Randomness is nothing if not random!

Fortunately, six Shakespeare signatures survive. Unfortunately, none are spelled “Shakespeare.” All six signatures were written in the last four years of his life which may or may not mean anything.

You will not be surprised, at this point, to learn that the six signatures don’t look anything like the signatures of other Elizabethan writers. You can make your own comparison (see below). I’ll provide a personal description: As a kindergartner, I was a competent fingerpainter, but the value of my work has not appreciated over the years in the sector of the art market that does not include my mother. Shakspere’s signatures are to the signatures of Elizabethan writers as my fingerpainting is to a Rembrandt. But that’s just my opinion.

Note that the signatures are troubling even to mainstream scholars.

Two of the six Shakspere signatures are written on two documents that were part of the same property transaction; they do not resemble one another. There are two other signatories: their signatures are consistent.

Another signature written on a court document is a scrawl.

The three signatures on Shakspere’s will, one on each page, are consistent with one another. Of course, they don’t resemble — even distantly — any of the first three signatures. The first two signatures on the will take me back to my fingerpainting. The final signature on the last page of the will contains a smooth, flowing “By me William” written with obvious skill. It is followed by a shaky, slanted, broken “Shakspere.”

Conspiracy theorists ask why, if Shakspere was the greatest writer in history, he appears to have been unable to write his name. Mainstream scholars posit bad handwriting, illness, writers cramp, excessive creativity, etc. Sometimes they pretend the signatures are not troubling. Shakespeare had a line for this: The professors doth protest too much, methinks.

Finally, the spelling “issue” deserves a look.

On his baptismal certificate, he was called “Shakspere.” He got married as “Shagspere.” He made “Shakspere” babies. His burial record reads “Shakspere.” Shortly after he died, his grandson got the first name “Shaksper.” On legal documents, however, the businessman-writer was called “Shakespeare” on a number of occasions. The “Shakespeare” spelling was used consistently by publishers.

Most biographers deal with this “issue” by simply spelling his name “Shakespeare” to avoid confusion. Conspiracy theorists regard this as a deceptive practice.

About the only thing we can take with certainty from “spelling-gate” is that it’s too bad the grandson didn’t get the “Shakespeare” name. The poor child only lived six months and the famous spelling would have added some balance to the ledger of a short life. One might wonder what the great author’s daughter was thinking. The greatest writer in England, William Shakespeare, has recently died leaving no male children. HIs daughter Judith gives birth. She names her son after his famous grandfather. And she calls him “Shaksper.” Why?

It’s not such a mystery after all. Judith signed her own name with a mark, so she wasn’t going to get persnickety about the spelling of her son’s name any more than she was going to read King Lear.

Screen Shot 2018-03-02 at 5.20.47 PM

“Signum Judith Shackespeare” and Judith’s mark in the center. The words were written by a clerk to indicate whose mark it was. The document is a property record. Judith was 26 years old at the time.

So Shakespeare’s grandson Shaksper Quiney died very young without the honor of the famous spelling (the infant was called “Shakspere” on the burial record) and seven years passed. That’s when the miracle happened.

A couple of earls, a couple of publishers, and a couple of actors got their collective hands on a couple of dozen unpublished or poorly published Shakespeare plays and tripled the Shakespeare canon at a stroke: they published the monumental compilation of all thirty-six plays.

The two actors were mentioned in Shakspere’s will. As you know, they were shareholders with Shakspere in the London acting company. Presumably, the acting company was the source of the trove of manuscripts.

The Taming of the Shrew in its present form appeared in print for the first time. The bootlegged version was, as usual, a disaster — it barely resembled the actual play. Macbeth appeared in print for the first time. It had been performed but not published. It was almost lost. Roughly two-thirds of the Shakespeare canon was rescued from oblivion. The manuscripts are gone, unfortunately.

The all-important preface to the thirty-six-play compilation either clearly identifies the author or is a cover-up of epochal proportions. Experts regard the cover-up theory as nonsense. Conspiracy theorists point out that literacy is required for someone to be a reasonable authorship candidate.

It is agreed by all that Shakspere didn’t leave behind anything like the avalanche of literary documents left by the second-most-famous writer of the period — Ben Jonson. It is further agreed that the documentary record, at least in terms of Shakespeare’s literary life, is surprisingly sparse.

One of Shakespeare’s more famous biographers put it this way, “Shakespeare seeems to have flourished with a certain annihilation of the sense of himself.”

Another, even more famous, biographer said, “There is an inverse ratio, a little beyond our analytical skills, between Shakespeare’s virtual colorlessness and his preternatural dramatic powers.”

The mainstream doesn’t worry that Shakespeare seems to have “annihilated” himself or that he was so “colorless” that he was practically invisible as a writer. There is no direct evidence of a hoax and that’s that.

Mainstream scholars are 100% sure Shakspere wrote Shakespeare.

They seem a trifle nutty about it for whatever reason. I guess it would be embarrassing for them if it turned out that Shakspere was an illiterate businessman with a convenient name and that Shakespeare was actually someone else entirely and that there really are conspiracies.

In physics, the mainstream’s certainty about Shakespeare is a little bit like the old idea that the speed of light in a vacuum cannot possibly vary over astronomical time scales. The speed of light has been strictly constant for 13.7 billion years and don’t you dare say otherwise. Why? Because we say so! Mainstream physicists, until quite recently, claimed to be 100% sure of this even though they actually had no idea either way.

It took more than ten years for one or two thoughtful physicists to convince the mainstream to accept what was then an odd-sounding idea: maybe the speed of light isn’t constant. Today, the theory — called VSL — is an important area of funded research. The story of this is told in a book called Faster Than the Speed of Light, written by a physicist who was part of the mainstream until he came up with an interesting idea.

In the Shakespeare case, the mainstream shows no signs of admitting even the remote possibility that an odd-sounding idea might be correct. More centuries may pass before the mainstream gives in, if it ever does. “Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare,” they say. A mainstream scholar might say, “Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare” a thousand times or so before switching to “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

It’s enough to give you nightmares.

In 2001, Roger Stritmatter earned a Ph.D. questioning the conventional wisdom (actually, he was questioning the sanity of conventional thinkers even if he didn’t state it in such stark terms). Stritmatter believes the weight of evidence overwhelmingly supports the conclusion that Shakespeare was a pseudonym used by a member of the Elizabethan nobility and that the dead businessman with the similar name was used to conceal the identity of an aristocratic author in a rather thin hoax that would have fooled no one who knew anything at all about Shakespeare.

The “Shakespeareans” — that is actually what mainstreamers call themselves — were not happy to see a respected institution backing heresy. Normally, anyone who even mentions the “authorship question” is promptly tarred and feathered. But Stritmatter got his doctorate and is teaching college.

If the automatic rejection of anything that sounds the least bit odd by those who supposedly devote their lives to truth-seeking seems baffling to you, get thee to a library and read Thomas Kuhn’s book — The Structure of Scientific Revolutions — and do it quickly too. Kuhn’s is the classic treatise on scholarly stupor. On the other hand, it is not easy reading, so perhaps you would rather journey with me to one of the great islands in the sea of Kuhnian irrationality — the Shakespeare authorship question.

It will be fun trip, I assure you.


Massachusetts: Where the lawless bloody book of forg’d rebellion was sealed.

A Kuhnian World

It’s a simple question really: How do you know a person was a writer as opposed to someone whose name (or a close approximation thereof) appeared on title pages? We know the man born “Benjamin Johnson” was also the author “Ben Jonson” because he wrote letters about writing, received letters about writing, gave inscribed books as gifts, went to jail for writing, was paid for writing, visited patrons who were supporting his writing, left behind dozens of pages of handwritten manuscripts, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. When he died, he was buried in Westminster Abbey next to Beaumont, Spenser, and Chaucer.

Jonson also owned books.

Ben Jonson’s Library

In 1974, David McPherson — a heroic figure in the annals of famous private libraries — published the still-definitive “Ben Jonson’s Library.” Some interesting excerpts follow:

Although the books once owned and annotated by Ben Jonson are scattered all over Western Europe and America, his habit of inscribing his name and motto has enabled scholars to reconstruct his library. 

In 1614, Jonson’s library was called “well-furnisht” by the great scholar John Selden, who would not use the term lightly. Because only 206 extant books can be safely placed on the genuine list at present, it seems likely that many of his books were destroyed in the fire of 1623 which he immortalized in the poem “Execration Upon Vulcan.”

Jonson’s habit of selling his books explains why they are so widely scattered today.

He owned so many anthologies that it has been impractical to insert cross references to individual authors contained therein. It is safe to assume, however, that Jonson owned works of every single Greek and Latin Poet of any importance whatsoever.  

Personal libraries of about five hundred books seem to have been fairly common in the first half of the seventeenth century. 

We suspect the man born William Shakspere was NOT the author William Shakespeare because Shakspere was a businessman, not a writer. Shakspere was deeply involved with the theater — as an investor.

If Shakspere was really the most famous writer in England, it is more than a little odd to find document after document concerning the business transactions of Shakspere of Stratford, whilst simultaneously finding nothing at all about writing activities, about the process of writing, and about living as a writer except for the end results: printed books, performances, and public reactions to books and performances.

Yes, the results are overwhelmingly evident. But where is the writer?

It took generations for a major university to countenance a discussion. Stritmatter, now Dr. Stritmatter, can thank Samuel Clemens, Walt Whitman, Henry James, Nobel laureate John Galsworthy, Sir John Gielgud, Sir Derek Jacobi, Mark Rylance, Jeremy Irons, Louis Powell, Harry Blackmun, Antonin Scalia, John Paul Stevens, and Sandra Day O’Connor — a diverse group of not-exactly-crackpots.

Famous heretics aided and abeted by ungrateful students have been slapping the mainstream’s face for at least one hundred years. Clemens (aka Mark Twain) called the mainstream’s certainty a “fetish.” Justice Blackmun, author of Roe v. Wade, called the doubters’ case “almost fully convincing.” Dr. Stritmatter scolds his colleagues: “Ignoring something won’t make it go away.”

Clemens, Blackmun, and Stritmatter were and are aware that the man who died rich in Stratford in 1616 had a version of his name on the title pages of what eventually became the Shakespeare canon. They also knew and know all about what happened seven years after the businessman left his extensive cash and real estate holdings to his two daughters: he was identified, for the first time, NOT as a grain dealer, moneylender, landowner, and theater investor, but as the author William Shakespeare!

They knew and know, but weren’t and aren’t buying it. Yes, the successful investor from Stratford-upon-Avon owned part of two London theaters and was a shareholder in a London acting company. His name was even sometimes spelled “Shakespeare.” But he wrote nothing at all, not even letters.

He certified number of legal documents using a signature, but only just barely. His signature is so different from those of known Elizabethan writers, that he might as well have signed with a mark. Mainstream biographers have no idea what it was that caused Shakspere’s signatures to come out so badly and so inconsistently, but they are well aware of the problem and have posited many theories whose level of desperation you can judge for yourself.

If the signatures were the only problem with Shakspere’s biography, Stritmatter would have had to find another topic for his dissertation. But the signatures are not the real problem: mainstream biographers themselves have repeatedly identified the real problem. Every mainstream biographer faces same question: how do you write a three-hundred-page biography of Shakspere as a writer when there isn’t a single event from his lifetime that identifies him as a writer?

Commonplace evidence for Jonson . . .

When his “Poetaster” was published, he sent Camden a gift copy with the inscription: “Alumnus offin, acternum amicus” — “a pupil once, now a friend forever.” Another copy went to an equally important recipient in another way, his patron the Countess of Bedford. For this copy, Jonson had a special dedication printed and bound in with the text: “Go little book, go little fable unto the bright and amiable Lucy of Bedford; she that bounty appropriates still unto that County . . . But with a kiss (if thou canst dare it) of her white hand; or she can spare it.” — Rosalind Miles

. . . would give a Shakespeare biographer heart palpitations.

One erudite mainstreamer, Park Honan, late of Brown University and University of Leeds, author of Shakspeare: A Life, found Shakspere’s literary record so barren he invented a new psychopathology:  “Shakespeare seems to have fluorished with a certain annihilation of the sense of himself.

That’s one way to tackle the problem.

Now you know why why so many people live their whole lives assuming Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare, but change their minds after reading a mainstream biography of a man whose life was utterly disconnected from the writing, poetry, art, and music, not to mention falconry and Italy, that would have to have been of overwhelming importance to whoever the real writer was.

But no matter what the documentary record says, Shakspere must have been the author anyway because the posthumous evidence tells us so. The posthumous evidence is the magical seed. From it, scholars have grown their Jack-and-the-Beanstalk biography.

The beanstalk regularly winds its way into the surreal — annihilating one’s sense of oneself is just the beginning. We soon find out that the greatest writer in English history outright plagiarized from an inferior hack because he must have. Not only that, he was the Cheshire Cat of writers: The people closest to him had no idea he was a writer at all. Now you see him, now you don’t!

This is all according to mainstream biographers. Let’s have a look at what the mainstream says.

William turned sixteen in 1580 and everyone agrees the young man did not produce some of his more mature works during this particular decade. Unfortunately, biographers found a lot of Shakespeare that appears to date from the 1580’s.

A 1588 novel called Pandosto and Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale are exactly the same story. Literary echoes of Love’s Labours Lost appear in 1590. Thomas Nashe quipped about “whole Hamlets of tragical speeches” in 1589. Is there a problem here?

Not at all.

Frank Kermode, late of Cambridge University, editor of The Arden Shakesepeare, analyzed The Winter’s Tale and Pandosto. Obviously, 1585 was way too early for the 21-year-old Shakspere to write one of his more mature plays. Therefore, “the picture is inescapable of a Shakespeare [who was a plagiarist.]

Kermode theorizes that sometime after 1600, Shakespeare copied The Winter’s Tale, “sometimes almost verbatim,” from a well-known plagiarist. Other biographers explain that what might be echoes in 1590 of Love’s Labours Lost are actually sources for Love’s Labours Lost. Nashe is likewise disposed of and logic be damned: Nashe must have been writing about the “ur-Hamlet,” a repeatedly surmised, entirely hypothetical play from the 1580’s, now lost unfortunately. In defense of the mainstream, it is true that many plays were written at the time and lost so their theory is not quite as absurd as it sounds; it’s just suspiciously convenient.

Question: Would anything in the documentary record cause a mainstream scholar to question the premise?

Let’s ask Samuel Schoenbaum, the late, great, classic Shakespeare biographer.

“What did fellow townsmen make of the distinguished playwright of the Chamberlain’s company and admired poet of love’s languishment who sojourned each year in their midst? They probably troubled their heads little enough about the plays and poems. Business was another matter; they saw Shakespeare as a man shrewd in practical affairs.”

Answer: No, nothing in the documentary record, not even the fact that his neighbors apparently didn’t know who he was, would cause a mainstream scholar to question the premise.

One can read and re-read Kuhn and still be amazed.

It’s as if sap from the magical beanstalk flowed into every nook and cranny of mainstream thought and hardened to amber, utterly permanent, dogma. Shakespeare annihilated himself, plagiarized plagiarists, and was the greatest writer in England without anyone knowing it.

Once upon a time, a hard-nosed businessman hoarded grain during a famine; he made a fortune and eventually died. Four hundred years later, history repeats itself. Publication opportunities and grant funding are hoarded by the mainstream. Few professionals not named Stritmatter dare to have the wrong opinion.

The Shakespeare story, now elevated to Truth, is safer than Shakspere’s grain ever was.

But you can escape the tyranny of certainty. Come with me. I offer you the belly of a sheep and a waiting ship. The occasional rock may splash off the gunwale; pay it no mind.

We shall persist in our inquiry. What’s more, we shall not ourselves fall into the trap of dogmatism.

Screen Shot 2017-11-08 at 7.09.14 PM

Will Shakespeare, aka Will to boot and Will in over-plus (Sonnet 135), may have been the grain-hoarding poet of love’s languishment.

The genius dramatist and the greedy money-man might, for all we know, be all one ever the same (Sonnet 76) despite lingering questions.

What are the odds? It’s up to you.

The present account admittedly favors single digit percentages for Shakspere wrote Shakespeare. But these ten thousand words shall provide you with the means to disagree. All of the crucial facts are here. Yes, they are tarnished by author’s bias. However, polished with a moment’s thought, each fact will gleam for you like gold — raw material for your keen insight.

If you don’t trust me (and you should not), you can see for yourself by reading the two finest modern authors on the topic — Diana Price, mistress of rationality, and James Shapiro, master of plutonic rock. You will not be disappointed.

Regular Person Diana Price’s book is packed with information, scholarship, analysis, and discussion pertaining to Shakspere-Shakespeare’s shaky biography. Columbia Professor James Shapiro’s book is a brilliant, erudite-but-never-dull, must-read overview of the whole history of a seemingly compelling question that, he argues with power and grace, is ultimately silly.

A shameless plug for “Contested Will” by James Shapiro

It is your privilege to read and censure. Do so. But buy it first. Indulge your six-pence-worth and your wisdom. But, whatever you do, buy.

Shapiro’s delicious takedown of Mark Twain, his spirited attack on Roger Stritmatter’s dissertation, and his stinging dismissal of Diana Price and “her followers” are not to be missed.

James Shapiro’s great work, a fortress of certainty built in the swamp of reality, is a monument to Thomas Kuhn, our ever-living philosopher.

Read it sooner rather than later.


We are the reasoning race, and when we find a vague file of chipmunk tracks stringing through the dust of Stratford village, we know by our reasoning powers that Hercules has been along there. I feel our fetish is safe for three centuries yet. — Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain 1909

The Mythical Writer

Shakspere — that’s his family name, the name he was baptized with, the name of his seven siblings, the name of his three children, the name on his burial record, and the (first) name of his grandchild — couldn’t write his own name.

Of six extant alleged signatures, one is a blotted scrawl. Shakspere’s next two “signatures” appear on two copies of a real estate document, but they don’t match one another — not even distantly (!) — and neither matches any of his other signatures!! Shakspere’s final attempts to write his name, on his will, are deeply unconvincing. See for yourself below.

Of course, none of the signatures is spelled “Shakespeare.”

Eminent Shakespeareans brush off the signature question: the four wildly different extant versions of his signature either look fine, are indicators of failing health, or are proof of his irrepressible creativity.

And Shakspere really was “Shakespeare,” after all. There are London documents in which his name was spelled “Shakespeare” or even “Shakespeare of Stratford.” Spelling in general was fluid in those days: when Shakspere got married, his name was spelled Shagspere and Shaxpere on two documents. So anything goes, including “Shakespeare.”

Besides, most of the title pages spell his name “Shakespeare.”

The posthumous evidence clearly identifies the Stratford businessman as the great author. No one denies that title pages from the period overflow with printed Shakespeares. These title pages therefore constitute “overwhelming evidence” (Shapiro, page 225; yes, really) that his name was Shakespeare, that he could write his name, that he could write complete sentences, and that he was the greatest author in England.

WARNING: You are entering a place of imagination, a dimension of mind where logic and reason are bit part actors in a universe where Euclid never existed. It is a place we call the “Title Pages Zone.”


Enter the Title Pages Zone.

In the Title Pages Zone, the businessman from Stratford must have been a writer. He went to London around 1592 where his name was spelled Shakespeare and where he became a shareholder in the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. This acting company, later called the King’s Men, put on Shakespeare plays (among others). The businessman must have been writing for this company.

It is March 1616. The writer Francis Beaumont has died. He is buried in Westminster Abbey. March passes. April comes. William Shakspere dies in Stratford. The astute businessman’s illiterate wife and two illiterate daughters and their husbands hear the will. Shakspere’s eldest daughter (Susanna) and her husband are named executors. The great investor has left his heirs all that they could wish for: boatloads of cash; five houses; zero books.

Even in the Title Pages Zone, professional writers didn’t own more houses than books. Could this be a problem?

Shakspere’s bookless mansion must be explained. We know the plays and poems come from a place of unparalleled learning and extraordinary understanding. Scholars say so many books “echo through” Shakespeare’s works that even the Queen’s own library would not have been sufficient to satisfy the needs of the great author.

But don’t worry.

The money-man was far richer than Ben Jonson, richer, in fact, than any ten Elizabethan writers put together.

Stay calm now!

The famous writer, the greatest England had ever seen, must have had a magnificent library (a thousand books?) in his twelve-thousand-square-foot house. He simply didn’t mention it in his will.

Whew! That was close.

Of course, no McPherson will heroically catalog Shakespeare’s books as they have all, unfortunately, been lost.

But his signatures are still with us. Also still with us are the signatures of Ben Jonson, Edmund Spenser, George Peele, and Christopher Marlowe. Fortunately, we have signature examples from virtually all Elizabethan writers. They have one thing in common: they are impressive.

Actually, signatures of Elizabethan writers have two things in common: they are impressive and consistent. That is, signatures of Elizabethan writers are impressive and consistent with one exception: Shakespeare.

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 10.09.06 AM

Blotted scrawl, court document.

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 10.15.08 AM

This is a decent signature on a document certifying a real estate transaction.

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 10.12.42 AM

This is a second decent signature on another document certifying the same real estate transaction. The second document is a transcribed copy of the first, but the second signature looks nothing like the first signature. It was obviously written by a different person.

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 10.20.13 AM

The signature on the first page of Shakspere’s will has deteriorated. It looks something like the scrawl above which appears on the second page of his will.

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 10.23.56 AM

This assisted signature appears on the third and final page of Shakspere’s will. The last name is consistent with the last name on the previous pages but not with any of the three previous signatures.

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 10.23.20 AM

Shakspere obviously did not write this part of the signature on the last page of his will. These three words were written by someone who had some skill with the quill.

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 10.23.43 AM

As far as the mainstream is concerned, this was the last thing the greatest writer in England ever wrote. He could have spelled his name K-U-H-N, but that would not have altered the scholarly consensus at all.

Screen Shot 2017-07-16 at 5.54.03 PM

Ben Jonson. Consistent.


Edmund Spenser. Flowing.

Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 2.09.47 PM

George Peele. Clear.


Chrisopher Marlowe. Skillful.

Screen Shot 2017-05-31 at 2.16.03 PM

Thomas Nashe. Beautiful. However, this is an inscription and not technically a signature.


There was a book in Shakspere’s house after all! In 1642, the divine William had been dead for 26 years and James Cooke walked into the grand residence now occupied by the great man’s eldest daughter and son-in-law. Cooke was pleased to acquire a handwritten manuscript from the hands of Susanna Shakspere Hall herself. Unfortunately, Susanna didn’t recognize her late husband’s handwriting, but that didn’t matter. Cooke knew what he had found. He translated and published Dr. John Hall’s medical records. The original manuscript detailing Dr. Hall’s practice eventually found its way from Shakspere’s enormous house to the British Museum where it resides today in its priceless splendor.

Scipio Who?

The signatures can be explained. The will, with its plethora of bookless detail — cash, real estate, a sword, a bowl, and a bed — might read the way it reads and detail what it details by happenstance: other book owners left bookless wills. The daughters’ illiteracy may be ascribed to any number of versions of fatherly neglect. The lost library was, well, lost.

But what of the letters? Regarding the missing letters, the mainstream offers its usual incisive analysis: “So what?”

Yes, really. Andrew Hadfield of the University of Sussex, writing for the collection of essays called Shakespeare Beyond Doubt, tells us that “Personal letters did not survive in an age when paper was scarce and expensive, and so was invariably re-used for a host of purposes.”

We humbly ask how many Elizabethan writers besides Jonson can be proven to have written letters: Nashe, Daniel, Spenser, Massinger, Peele, Harvey, Drayton, Chapman, Drummond, Marston, . . . STOP! I think that’s enough. We don’t want to hold things up too much.

The mainstream will object at this point that not every Elizabethan writer wrote letters that survived. Sustained.

Scott McCrae is a professor at SUNY Purchase and wrote a book called “The Case for Shakespeare: The End of the Authorship Question” in which he argues for the businessman passionately and well.

Either he didn’t sign his name very often and thus his autograph never developed a consistent pattern, or he was a man so creative he never let it become static, or both. The autographs are curious, and it’s easy to see how one might question them. But they don’t prove the man who signed them wasn’t a writer. Their oddness might just as easily reveal their maker’s teeming imagination.

. . . other factors — like unsharpened quills, arthritis, ill health, or writer’s cramp — may have contributed to the imperfect state of his autograph . . . none of the extant signatures was penned before 1612; they may all post-date his writing career. 

If he were the only writer of the time with few biographical traces, then we would have cause to be suspicious . . . we know less about Marlowe, Kyd, Dekker, Heywood, Fletcher, or Webster — to name just a few. 

In the interests of completeness we must include the following: Three weeks after Marlowe’s death, George Peele wrote a tribute to him praising his verse. Kyd wrote a letter noting his experience writing with Marlowe. A letter written by Dekker to Edward Alleyn survives as do numerous records of payments to Dekker for writing. Heywood’s “The Escapes of Jupiter” still exists in its original manuscript. Fletcher and Webster were repeatedly paid for writing and the payments were documented.

If we assume Shakspere was writing for the King’s Men, then, as a shareholder, his writing would have benefitted him financially. Professor Shapiro speculates that Shakspere’s share would have been “a disproportionate one.” 

No doubt he spent the money on books.

The mainstream readily agrees Shakespeare’s literary biography is rather thin. Our betters remind us that the current absence of books, of letters, of manuscripts, of inscriptions, and of anything approaching the signature of a professional writer, is NOT, logically speaking, evidence of absence of these items then.

We bow to the mainstream’s experience, knowledge, and impeccable logic and concede this point. But there’s a problem. People living, working, and writing in Elizabethan England knew the theater big shot wasn’t the author of similar name.

And they said so.

The mainstream has gone to fantastic lengths — twisting itself into complex rhetorical knots and even gouging its own eyes out when necessary — in its battle to force the contemporary references to conform to tradition. The brave Shakespeareans may take their place amongst the fiercest fighters in all fields in the neverending battle against dangerous heresy.

The bloodiest battlefield in the Shakespeare authorship world is called, ironically, The Scourge of Folly, by John Davies.

John Davies of Hereford was a teacher, specifically a writing master — he wrote The Writing Schoole-Master, a popular manual that saw its 16th edition in 1636. In 1611, he published a series of 292 epigrams about various timely topics and numerous real people, including Shakespeare whom he called “Shake-speare.”

Screen Shot 2017-09-22 at 1.12.33 PM

Screen Shot 2017-09-22 at 1.18.10 PM

Screen Shot 2017-09-22 at 1.18.21 PM

Screen Shot 2017-09-22 at 1.18.31 PM

The List of Davies’s Friends

Fifty-five of the 292 epigrams in The Scourge of Folly addressed by name or by initials individuals that Davies either knew or knew of. The addressees were earls, knights, fellow writers, friends, students, and the author’s wife.

Thirty-six salutations included one of the following words: “friend,” “deere,” “beloved,” “loving,” “wife,” and “pupill.” These thirty-six people were named by Davies as follows: Alexander, Ashfield, Boughton, Brooke, Butler, Cheyny, Daniell, Mistress M.D. (Davies’s wife), Gough, Gwin, Mr. H.H., Hackwell, Holcroft, Johnson, Jones, Locky, Lucy, Marbery, Maynwarring, Murray, Murray (brother of the first Murray), Norton, Panton, Parrham, Poynes, Sanderson, Seager, Sharpe, Sherley, Simonds, Smith, Speed, Towne, Tracy, Twiddy, and Welsh.

Davies also addressed nineteen epigrams without including anything personal in the salutation. Nineteen people were named as follows: Bond, Carre, Chapperline, Coningesby, Constable, Dun, Fletcher, Hayes, Hall, Harrington, Herbert, Marston, Marten, Mountgomerie, Northumberland, Ormond, Percy, S.I.H., and Smith.

That’s almost all of the named addressees. If we include the three epigrams addressed to Shake-speare, No-body (all on one line in the original publication), and Some-body, then Davies wrote a total of fifty-eight epigrams to various individuals, known and un-known, named and un-named.

The mainstream frequently mentions Epigram 159: “To our English Terence Mr. Will: Shake-speare.” Epigram 159 most certainly solidifies the traditional authorship attribution. Terence was an ancient Roman comic playwright, well-known and popular throughout the renaissance; the investor from Stratford was a shareholder in the King’s Men; the second line of Epigram 159 reads “Had’st thou not played some Kingly parts in sport.”

There you are! The tables have been turned.

Davies is obviously saying Shake-speare the actor and Shake-speare the author are the same person. Shake-speare was a “Terence” AND he “played some Kingly parts.” Only one person fits this author-actor description and that is Shakspere-Shakespeare, the investor, the acting company member, AND, we now know with reasonable certainty, the great writer.

So all the worry about who wrote Shake-speare is, finally, Much Ado About Nothing. Biographers are simply unlucky the names don’t match perfectly and they are unlucky none of his early (beautiful!) signatures survive and they are unlucky all of his correspondence was lost and they are unlucky he didn’t mention his library in his will and it is most unfortunate that all of his books were lost along with all the manuscripts we know he must have had in his house.

So we are well and truly done. Davies was a contemporary observer in a position to know. There is no reason whatsoever to doubt his testimony. The content of Epigram 159 is somewhat cryptic, but the salutation tells all: Shake-speare was a “Terence.”

Thus, Samuel Clemens, the Supreme Court Justices, the other writers besides Clemens (even the Nobel Prize winner) and the Shakespearean actors (even the knighted ones) are all wrong and they will or would, if they have or had any semblance of rationality, admit as much once confronted with Davies.

All of the doubters, and especially reputable magazine editors who insist on covering this silly topic in their magazines — Harper’s fell for it in 1999 — should read about Davies. The whole Shakespeare didn’t write Shakespeare thing was getting really, really old anyway, so it’s nice to have it finally over.


Except for one thing.



A book by Roger Ascham has extremely bad news about Terence. Ascham, like Davies, was a highly regarded teacher — he was one of Queen Elizabeth’s tutors. Ascham’s book, The Scholemaster, was published in three editions in 1570, 1579, and 1589.

It is well known by good record of learning, and that by Cicero’s own witness, that some Comedies bearing Terence’s name were written by wise Scipio and worthy Laelius. — Roger Ascham, in “The Scholemaster.”


If you are still reading, dear mainstreamer, please, you must STOP now for the news goes from extremely bad to even worse. Montaigne’s Essays, published in French in the 1580’s and translated in 1603 into English by John Florio also tells the story of Terence, Scipio, and Laelius.

For, to prove this labor [the Comedies with the Terence byline] to be theirs, the exquisite eloquence and excellent invention thereof doth sufficiently declare it: and Terence himself doth avouch it. — Montaigne, in “Essays” (John Florio translation).

Montaigne provided a detailed explanation: Scipio and Laelius were “great personages” for whom “the perfection of well-speaking” would not bring them appropriate “glory.” Thus, they “resigned the honor of their Comedies” to Terence.

So calling Shakespeare “our English Terence” is a synecdoche, like saying Warren Buffet is “our American Croesus.” Croesus was a specific fabulously rich man from history who now stands, in general, for all rich men. Terence was a rare (!) instance from history of a front-man, rather than a simple pseudonym, serving to protect the identity of a writer.

The academy may now open its eyes.

Scipio is so refreshing after the theater n’est-ce pas?


Who is Scipio? No one. Scipio is refreshing after the theater.

The Upstart Crow

It is not altogether surprising that Shakspere didn’t write the plays and poems. He was a shareholder in the King’s Men, part-owner of the Globe Theater, part-owner of the Blackfriars Theater, and a major Stratford real-estate and agricultural investor with over 100 acres, multiple buildings, and an interest in corn, grain, hay, and wool as well as a seller of commercial quantities of malt and grain.

Shakspere, we may infer, tended to do especially well during famines — he was cited for hoarding grain when many people, law-abiding citizens for example, would not hoard anything.

Suffice it to say he was a busy man. Ernst Honigmann, late of the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, a mainstream biographer who discussed Shakspere’s business activities in detail in William Shakespeare: Businessman, wrote, “If one lists all of these various activities in chronological order . . . one wonders how the dramatist found time to go on writing plays.

There is a simple answer to Honigmann’s question: Professor Honigmann, Shakspere was a businessman and only a businessman and not a writer at all just as your research and the research of every other mainstream biographer has convincingly shown.

Not surprisingly, when Shakspere’s Stratford-area acquaintances, Abraham Sturley, Thomas Greene, and Richard Quiney, wrote letters about him, they wrote exclusively about pasture enclosures, road improvements, and moneylending. They would have been rather surprised indeed to learn that Shakspere was a great writer. And they might well have laughed in your face if you suggested such a thing to them.

Writers and students in London knew Shakspere-Shakespeare as a theater magnate who purchased the works of others, but most certainly did not write his own. He had the name, the money, and a big mouth, but no talent and no ability.

Davies’s synecdochical salutation says Shake-speare was a Terence — a front-man. Epigram 159 and the No-body and Some-body repartee that follow don’t provide details, but they are clear enough. Others (notably Robert Greene and Ben Jonson) provided detailed and often fervid accounts of Shakspere-Shakespeare the literary thief.

The mainstream story is that Shakespeare actually was a thief — an “accomplished parasite” and even a plagiarist — and that we should interpret Greene’s and Jonson’s commentary as applying to a brilliant dramatist who was not above borrowing.

Judge for yourself.

Robert Greene wrote a deathbed story about an impoverished writer called “Roberto” who meets a rich “gentleman.” The gentleman is a “player” (i.e., an actor). The gentleman player owns clothes worth 200 pounds, spouts doggerel, and offers to buy “Roberto’s” work. Next, Robert/Roberto warns his writer friends about a dangerous man called “Shake-scene.” Shake-scene is a “player.” Shake-scene has been “beautified with our feathers.” Shake-scene takes advantage of writers. Shake-scene must not be trusted.

Greene’s Groatsworth of Wit is the first personal reference to Shakespeare. Even mainstream biographers do not fail to make the connection between Shake-scene and the idiotic gentleman player.

Robert Greene’s Dying Words

Greene famously called the theater owner an “upstart Crow” who was “in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in a country.” He’s also a “Usurer” and an “Ape” who can do nothing but “speak from our mouths.”

Greene’s friends (usually identified as Peele, Marlowe, and Nashe) should “seek better Masters.” They must not allow their “admired inventions” to fall into the hands of this Ape who by rights should be left with nothing but the ability to “imitate your past excellence.”

“Base-minded men all three of you, if by my misery you be not warned.”

Greene’s moneyed monster had a “Tiger’s heart wrapped in a Player’s hide.” Shakespeare’s remorseless Queen Margaret had a “Tiger’s heart wrapped in a woman’s hide.”

Aesop’s crow dressed in the feathers of colorful birds. This wealthy play broker appropriates the words of needy scholars.

On the other hand, one could claim that Greene, the notorious plagiarist who wrote “Pandosto,” was complaining about an up-and-coming writer who was himself a plagiarist.

Ben Jonson’s epigram, “On Poet-Ape,” assuming it refers to Shakspere-Shakespeare, is clearer than Greene’s complaint. Poet-Ape is an egregious phony who, Jonson says, “would be thought our chief.” This man is “so bold a thief” that he “makes each man’s wit his own.”

Jonson describes the history of the wealthy play broker in some detail: “Having grown to a little wealth and credit in the scene,” this hack can now commit his “crimes” with impunity. Jonson points out that no one has been fooled except maybe the criminal himself if he thinks anyone living actually believes his nonsense. Presciently, Jonson worries in the epigram that posterity might indeed be fooled.

On Poet-Ape uses the Shakespearean sonnet abab-cdcd-efef-gg rhyme scheme.

Here is Jonson’s description of a brazen thief who can’t write his way out of a paper bag. Here is an interpretation by a crazy rebel. Note: Frippery is from the French freperie, discarded clothing.

Screen Shot 2017-09-02 at 9.06.30 AM

London students wrote and performed a trilogy known as the Parnassus plays. In one of them, an actor (Kempe), portrayed by a student, gives the audience a rip-roaring speech in which he explains idiotically how his “fellow Shakespeare” is a wonderful writer, better than “that writer Ovid” and better than “that writer Metamorphosis.” Ha-ha, Metamorphosis is not a writer.

A Whiff of Ovid

The deeply misinformed Kempe character falls all over himself with appreciation for his “fellow Shakespeare” who doesn’t “smell too much” of Ovid.

Of course, the audience knows Shakespeare as a poet oozing Ovid from every pore of his body and every stroke of his pen — Venus and Adonis, the epic poem that made the name “Shakespeare” famous virtually overnight in 1593, is a rewrite of an Ovidian story.

Kempe, after complaining about the “smell” of Ovid: “Why here’s our fellow Shakespeare puts them all down.” ROFL.

Calvin and Hobbes ROFL

Elizabethan audiences appreciated the classical roots of Shakespeare’s work. Meanwhile, actors were commonly regarded as lower forms of life.

Scholarly Schizophrenia

Schoenbaum understood the problem: “Perhaps we should despair of ever bridging the vertiginous expanse between the sublimity of the subject and the mundane inconsequence of the documentary record.” But he couldn’t answer his own question.

Harold Bloom, 87, the MacArthur fellow now at Yale, author of Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, says, “There is an inverse ratio, a little beyond our analytical skills, between Shakespeare’s virtual colorlessness and his preternatural dramatic powers.”

Amazingly, this is a man who believes the authorship question is arrant nonsense.

Modern scholars such as Shapiro, David Kathman (a linguistics Ph.D.), and Scott McCrae (a professor at SUNY Purchase) follow in the footsteps of Schoenbaum, Bloom, and Honan.

Scholarly Schizophrenia

Davies’s identification of Shake-speare as “our English Terence” is an obvious reference to one of the few people in history thought to have been a front-man for an aristocratic writer. However, it’s best if Scipio doesn’t exist.

Terence was an ancient Roman playwright who came from humble origins, just like Shakespeare. Kathman.

Although this epigram is cryptic, two things are certain: Davies thinks Shakespeare is a poet and a player and thinks he’s still alive. McCrae.


Greene’s Ape-Usurer-upstart Crow called Shake-scene and his gentleman player who spouts doggerel, owns clothes worth 200 pounds, and buys the works of writers are obviously the same person. However, one can willfully misinterpret if one must.

[Shakespeare] doesn’t need Greene, in other words, because he can do the writing himself. McCrae.

A lot is packed into the attack, a good deal more than we can understand four hundred years later. But we are left with the impression of a veteran writer shrewdly taking the measure of an upstart he doesn’t much like. Shapiro.


Jonson’s Poet-Ape sonnet quite clearly speaks of a phony “who would be thought our chief.” There is only one person Ben Jonson could possibly have regarded as his chief and that is Shakespeare. But we must misread the epigram.

This mocking sonnet’s subject is being accused of plagiarizing from Jonson and from other writers, not of concealing someone else. Many scholars think that Jonson’s Poet-Ape is Shakespeare, who indeed stole lines and ideas from Marlowe and from old plays like “The Famous Victories of Henry V.” McCrae.


We’ve seen the Kempe character and his wildly idiotic speech in the third Parnassus play. In order to have the character calling his acting company “fellow” a great writer, you have to willfully not get the joke.

Kempe: “Few of the university pen plays well, they smell too much of that writer Ovid, and that writer Metamorphosis, and talk too much of Proserpina and Jupiter. Why, here’s our fellow Shakespeare puts them all down, aye and Ben Jonson too. O that Ben Jonson is a pestilent fellow, he brought up Horace giving the poets a pill, but our fellow Shakespeare hath given him a purge that made him bewray his credit.”

This passage establishes that the playwright Shakespeare was a fellow actor of Kempe. Kathman.

Kempe is made to seem ignorant here, like his stage characters, which is why he thinks “Metamorphosis” is a poet instead of a poem. Since the Author’s plays are also redolent of Ovid and speak of Porserpina and Jupiter, the joke may be that Kempe doesn’t realize his “fellow” writes like the scholarly graduates. But Shakespeare and Jonson are clearly contrasted with the university men. McCrae.


A moron called Gullio (a gull is an idiot in Elizabethan slang) was a character in the second Parnassus play who liked to quote Shakespeare and who, like Greene’s gentleman player, purchased the words of scholars and wore clothes that cost 200 pounds.

Gullio: “We shall have nothing but pure Shakespeare . . . I’ll have his picture in my study at the court . . . Let this duncified world esteem Spenser and Chaucer, I’ll worship sweet Mr. Shakespeare.”

For these Cambridge undergraduates, Shakespeare was a living, breathing presence, one whose poetry they knew by heart and a copy of whose portrait they could imagine displaying in their rooms. Shapiro.


He’s a better writer than Metamorphosis!

A Euclidean Debacle

Another problem for the businessman-who-was-obviously-not-a-writer is that he apparently never met the Earl of Southampton, the beloved dedicatee of Shakespeare’s two epic poems. The first 126 sonnets also address a young nobleman with deep affection and familiarity.

The young nobleman in the sonnets is obviously Southampton.

The subject of the sonnets — whom Shakespeare referred to as his “lovely boy” — was first identified as Southampton in 1817 by Nathan Drake. Even modern scholars, despite their terror of the authorship question, will admit Southampton is the most likely candidate. That’s assuming they are willing to admit the sonnets exist at all.

Shakespeare, whoever he was, clearly loved (and was close to) the young earl.

“The love I dedicate to your Lordship is without end . . .” (Lucrece, dedication);
“From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty’s Rose might never die” (Sonnet 1);
“Make thee another self for love of me” (Sonnet 10);
“thou art all the better part of me” (Sonnet 39);
“Your name from hence immortal life shall have” (Sonnet 81);
“O thou my lovely boy . . .” (Sonnet 126).

Of course, no link between the businessman and the earl has ever been found despite centuries of searching. Unless we really are living in the “Title Pages Zone,” it is overwhelmingly likely no link will ever be found.

But we must not exclude the real-estate tycoon “on semantic grounds.” So says the ivy-league professor, scolding us. Yes, he says, it is true that there is no independent evidence of a connection between the businessman from Stratford and a teenaged earl. But Shakespeare “directly addressed a patron, the Earl of Southampton” when he wrote his epic poems.

Therefore, the businessman is the author.

Yes, an ivy league professor really wrote a wonderful book containing this “argument” that is supposedly in favor of Shakspere being the author but ends up doing nothing more than accentuating the desperation of the mainstream. It’s almost as if Shapiro knows Shakspere didn’t write Shakespeare but is required to argue the opposite like a defense attorney who knows his client is guilty.

Here is (the very smart) Shapiro’s “reasoning” in all its glory.

Shapiro’s Words of Kuhnian Beauty

Price and her followers define authorship in such a way that Shakespeare is always narrowly excluded, if need be on semantic grounds. According to [them], there’s no evidence of Shakespeare having had a “direct relationship” with a patron, though he wore the livery of the Lord Chamberlain, served King James both as a King’s Man and as a Groom of the Chamber, and directly addressed a patron, the Earl of Southampton, in the letters prefacing both [epic poems] “Venus and Adonis” and “The Rape of Lucrece.” 

Shapiro says the actor wore livery and was a Groomsman (TRUE) and “directly addressed a patron” (FALSE). The author addressed a patron. For this Columbia University Professor, the conclusion (actor = author) supports the conclusion.

Two thousand years ago, Euclid built what is still the outstanding example of a complete deductive structure and changed the world forever. Today, no matter what field you’re in, if you don’t use Euclidean logic, you go nowhere.


If professors abandon Euclid, the ivy will wither and die.

Conspiracy Theory

So far the mainstream looks shockingly stupid. Thank goodness they make one valid point. It’s just the one piece of evidence, but it is the mainstream’s “ace in the hole” and it is a powerful card.

In fact, the mainstream’s longstanding assumption, now dogma, might be correct. It is possible to be stubborn, bullheaded, willfully blind, embarrassingly illogical, and right.

In 1623, seven years after the wealthy businessman from Stratford died, twelve plays that had been published accurately during his lifetime and twenty-four plays that had either not been published at all or that had been hacked and mangled were rescued and published properly in the monumental “First Folio” which contains prefatory material saying that the businessman had, in fact, been the great author.

The prefatory material includes letters signed by two members of the King’s Men whom Shakspere certainly knew — Heminge and Condell — specifically identifying the author of the works in the First Folio as their acting company “fellow” Shakespeare.

The First Folio is bolstered by a stone monument erected at the gravesite of “Shakspeare” which (oddly) calls him a combination of Nestor, Virgil, and Socrates while making no reference to anything Shakespearean. Still, the monument implies he was more than a businessman. The construction date and the name of the builder of the monument are unknown. The monument is referred to in the First Folio, so it was certainly extant by 1623.

Shakspere’s Will in a New Light

Shakspere’s will, at first sight, is not especially helpful to the mainstream as it does not mention books, manuscripts, poetry, plays, literature, art, music, education, desks, papers, or even incidental items like inkhorns.

Here’s the deeply disappointing will in a nutshell: The potential “issue” of Shakspere’s daughters’ “bodies” are mentioned TWENTY times evidently to prevent future misunderstandings amongst yet-to-be-born heirs.

There are also cash bequests to people Shakspere knew: Russell, Collins, Sadler, Raynoldes, Walker, Nashe, Nashe, Hemynge, Burbage, and Cundell.

It’s a businessman’s will.

The First Folio changes everything: Heminge and Condell reappear and identify their fellow shareholder as the great writer Shakespeare.

Suddenly, the mainstream claim that Shakspere wrote the plays for “his” acting company doesn’t look quite so silly. Maybe Shakespeare was a stage name. Maybe he actually could write his name. Maybe his books, manuscripts, and letters really were all lost. Maybe his daughters’ illiteracy was an oversight.

The mainstream’s absurdly forced interpretations of “our English Terence,” the “Poor Poet-Ape,” the “gentleman player,” the “upstart Crow,” and “that writer” who doesn’t “smell too much of Ovid” are, suddenly, not quite so nonsensical.

Do we re-interpret the documentary record so that it fits the prefatory material in the First Folio? Or do we accept the documentary record for what it appears to be and regard the prefatory material in the First Folio and the monument in Stratford as a hoax/conspiracy?

Conspiracy theories are justifiably looked down upon. That said, there was a very real Elizabethan conspiracy relevant to the present discussion. It is called the Essex Rebellion and was aimed at the crown itself. To say Shakespeare’s dedicatee, his beloved Earl of Southampton, the probable “lovely boy” of the sonnets, was neck-deep in it would be something of an understatement.

One conspiracy doesn’t necessarily lead to another. However, you should know about the Essex Rebellion before you make your final decision. (You can also read Shapiro, McCrae, and Kathman, but the most important points in favor of the mainstream theory have all been made here already.)


The Earl of Southampton

Note: We do not wish to impose too much upon the reader’s credulity, but we shall assume in what follows that the dedicatee of Shakespeare’s epic poetry was indeed also the “lovely boy” of the sonnets.

Outrageous Fortune

In 1601, the Earl of Southampton, the Earl of Essex, and four extraordinarily unfortunate knights were arrested and charged with high treason. Southampton, Essex, and the four commoners were swiftly convicted on all charges and sentenced to gruesome deaths. At the same time, scattered sympathizers among the nobility got away with fines.

Queen Elizabeth had been ailing and the succession was in doubt: no one except Lord Burghley and perhaps Elizabeth herself knew who would be the next monarch. Essex and Southampton evidently had ideas of their own. They planned an assault on the palace. They didn’t get far.

The first Lord Burghley, William Cecil, had created a vast network of spies still in operation in 1601. Burghley’s son, Robert Cecil, having taken over from his father as the right-hand man of the monarch, easily outwitted the Southampton-Essex amateur hour. The two earls and their knighted friends got dates with the axeman, the hangman, a knife, and four horses — not the most fun kind of date.

In mulling the fate of the popular Earl of Essex, the ailing Queen, the last of the Tudor Rose monarchs, Cynthia the Moon Goddess herself, chose mercy. Elizabeth could not bear to see Essex hung by the neck, his intestines torn out, his arms and legs ripped from his body thence to be beheaded. He had, after all, been one of her favorites in better days.

One. Two. Three. And it was over. Three strokes of the axe severed Essex’s fool head from his body. He died (mostly) painlessly. The four knights, unfortunately, hadn’t had a close relationship with the Queen.

With his five friends worm food, Southampton languished in the Tower perhaps contemplating the “long life still lengthened with all happiness” wished for him by Shakespeare. The great writer’s wish was looking more and more forlorn. With luck and with mercy and by the grace of God, Southampton could hope it would be over quickly.

But then something happened that no one understands. The Moon Goddess chose a totally different kind of mercy for Southampton. The clouds parted to reveal a light shining in the young fool’s darkness.

Guilty of a crime worse than murder, having threatened the God-sanctioned Crown, the young nobleman would live on, and not just in Shakespeare’s poetry. Southampton’s sentence was set aside. He would remain in the Tower indefinitely.

No one knows why Southampton was not torn limb from limb.

Two years passed as Southampton languished in the Tower. Then the Queen died. King James of Scotland packed his bags. He would succeed Elizabeth just as Burghley and his son had planned for years. Not that it was a conspiracy.

Now Shakespeare wrote his ebullient Sonnet 107. The mortall Moone had endured her inevitable eclipse. The country, having feared civil war, was relieved as peace proclaimed Olives of endlesse age. Southampton’s life, no longer forfeit to a confin’d doome, glowed anew.

King James ordered Southampton released. 

By the grace of no-one-knows-what, the Earl stepped into the sunshine with his intestines comfortably curled in his body and his head firmly attached to his shoulders. But that’s not all. His Earldom was restored along with all of his privileges and all of his lands. And even that’s not the end of it.

For his next trick, Southampton accepted two promotions that summer. The new King made him Captain of the Isle of Wights and a Knight of the Garter, this last a singular honor throughout history including the present day.

History does not record so much as a hint as to why Southampton would be treated so.

But Shakespeare was an insider. He apparently knew why. He dared to write (repeatedly) of Southampton’s “worth.” He even wrote (in Sonnet 106) of wights and Knights! And yet he lacked the “tongue” to risk “singing” every verse.

Sonnets 106 and 107, interpreted as describing Southampton’s pardon and ensuing royal favors, are startling. If indeed they truly are history cautiously recorded, then Shakespeare was no commoner.

Screen Shot 2017-09-14 at 11.24.26 AM.png

Twenty years after Southampton’s stunning deliverance, the First Folio compiled all thirty-six Shakespeare plays in one magnificent volume. But something was missing — namely, all things Southampton. Two-thirds of Shakespeare’s plays were rescued from oblivion, but the two epic poems and the 154 sonnets were left to fend for themselves — they would survive Time’s scythe, or not.

In 1623, the epic poems, overtly dedicated to Southampton, had been published in several editions each and were still popular; they were relatively safe from Shakespeare’s dreaded scythe. The sonnets, however, had seen just a single edition.

In 1609, Thomas Thorpe got his hands on the sonnets and made a little book out of them. There was no author’s dedication. Thorpe wrote his own calling Shakespeare “our ever-living poet.” The great author’s most personal writings, his “sugared sonnets,” previously circulated only amongst his “private friends,” were now public.

By this time, Shakespeare was already the dominant figure in English literary history. His books were out in dozens of editions with tens of thousands of copies blanketing a city of two hundred thousand. The first Christmas of the Jacobean era had seen eleven plays performed at court, seven of them Shakespeare’s. Shakespeare’s acclaim throughout England, during his lifetime, was “staggering and unprecedented.”

But no one wanted to read the sonnets.

The first 126 sonnets, written to Shakespeare’s “lovely boy,” were an everlasting “monument” to him — such virtue hath my pen. There followed a particularly intense series of twenty-six missives addressed to a “mistress” whose eyes are raven black. Shakespeare dramatically warns her to be wise as thou art cruel.

Finally, two sonnets about a little Love-god lying once asleep as the author watches over the boy bring tears to the eye. The author’s anguish has a “cure” dependent upon his mistress’ eyes.

But readers in the England of King James were apparently above it all, hence the single edition. Really, who would want to read Shakespeare’s personal poetry? The Sonnets’ unpopularity was obviously the result of shifting literary fashion.

Let us summarize: Shakespeare dedicated the first works published under his name to Southampton; Shakespeare wrote a series of heartfelt sonnets to a “lovely boy” who was probably the young earl; Southampton committed treason; Southampton’s comrades were butchered; Queen Elizabeth died; King James ascended the throne; Southampton was released into a shower of royal favors; Shakespeare’s sonnets about Southampton and his epic poems dedicated to Southampton were excluded from the First Folio; the prefatory material in the First Folio pointed to a businessman named Shakspere and identified him as Shakespeare.

Nothing is proven. However, the sudden identification of this man — an investor who apparently neither wrote nor received letters, who died rich in 1616 with a detailed will in an apparently bookless house surrounded by two illiterate daughters, who could barely write his own name, and who was openly called “our English Terence” — as Shakespeare is not merely suspicious. It’s funny.

The Sonnets

Speaking of funny, Sonnet 87 contains the following line: “So thy great gift upon misprision growing, comes home again on better judgement making.” What could it mean?

Misprision is a legal term referring to a failure to carry out one’s duty; Shakespeare used it once in the sonnets and five times in his plays. Misprision of treason is a non-capital offense in which one does not report treasonous activity.

The mainstream hates any attempt to connect the sonnets to the Essex Rebellion or to any real-life event or to any real person. To hear the mainstream tell it, even wondering who is the subject of the sonnets is a silly “parlor game.” Don’t even mention “misprision” unless you want to witness an apoplectic fit.

A line from a sonnet can be clear as day. Still, it will be ignored: “My glass shall not persuade me I am old, so long as youth and thou are of one date” (Sonnet 22) doesn’t identify the sonnets as personal writings! Professor Shapiro suggests we “steer clear of reading these remarkable poems as autobiography.”

Rational Speculation

Shakespeare loved the Earl of Southampton to whom he dedicated his first two published works.

Shakespeare wrote 126 heartfelt sonnets to a boy whom he loved beyond measure: Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton.

Ten sonnets speak of the unkillable earl’s “worth.”

Southampton’s “worth” is “wide as the ocean is” (Sonnet 80).

Once upon a time — “thy own worth then not knowing” — Southampton himself was in the dark about this worth (Sonnet 87).

Southampton’s worth is a secret. We don’t have “skill enough your worth to sing” says the intrepid author. We bear witness to “these present days,” but we “lack toungs to praise” (Sonnet 106).

One sonnet later, the traitor strolls out of the Tower.

What was Southampton’s “worth”? Did he have a claim to the throne?

The Sonnets are not stamped TOP SECRET, but 126 personal poems, published by Thorpe in one edition, were hotter than Hell, just like the earl they immortalized.


Words Fail

An astute businessman from Stratford in his late twenties dedicated two epic poems to a teenaged earl.

The businessman from Stratford addressed a “lovely boy” in 126 sonnets. He called him “my love,” “my all-the-world,” “my Rose,” and “all the better part of me.” But it wasn’t personal.

The lovely boy was a “tender churl” and a “self-willed” young man and “thy mother’s glass.” To look at him was to see his mother’s youth: “she in thee calls back the lovely April of her prime.” But it wasn’t personal.

The lovely boy received, over the course of 126 sonnets, the author’s love, guidance, admonishment, and unconditional support. But it wasn’t personal.

It was the author’s fondest wish that his lovely boy be celebrated forever in his “monument” of “gentle verse.” But the sonnets are primarily fictional (Shapiro) or they are personal but were commissioned (Kathman) or they are a mix of the personal and the fictional and no clear interpretation is possible (McCrae).

Shakespeare was called “Our ever-living poet.” All mainstreamers agree that this does NOT mean he was dead.

Houston, Houston, Do You Copy?

Today, almost 400 years after the First Folio buried the troublesome sonnets and elevated the shrewd businessman, Lord Burghley’s heir, Michael William Cecil, the 18th Baron Burghley, is a signatory on the “Declaration of Reasonable Doubt.

The “Declaration of Reasonable Doubt” is a rational document that basically says to mainstream scholars, “Houston, we have a problem.”

James Shapiro answered by writing Contested Will, his beautiful book glorifying the mainstream viewpoint. The book is of course a Scipio-free zone. We trust the good professor did not use brooches.

Diana Price is NOT a professor. Her book, Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Biography, explains the rational viewpoint with extensive references to primary sources and to mainstream scholarship. She is NOT ten thousand times smarter than Professor Shapiro; it only seems that way.

Price is rational. That’s all.

Screen Shot 2017-11-01 at 9.27.45 PM

Lord Burghley’s descendant, Michael William Cecil, discussing Shakespeare’s apparent intimate knowledge of his ancestor.

P.S. For a fuller general discussion with details about the documentary records of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, click here. For the full story of Southampton, the sonnets, and the Essex Rebellion, click here.

P.P.S. I offer one last appeal to the 99.99 percenters.

Let us assume you are a mountain climber and that you have scrambled past the ten rocky possibilities below and have the Shakspere wrote Shakespeare peak in your sights.

It is possible six signatures were six mis-haps.
It is possible dozens of letters were lost.
It is possible Shakespeare’s magnificent library was lost.
It is possible Shakespeare’s two daughters grew up illiterate.
It is possible Davies did NOT mean Shake-speare was a front-man.
It is possible Greene did NOT mean Shake-scene was a rich idiot.
It is possible Jonson did NOT mean Chief-thief was a phony Shakespeare.
It is possible Parnassus really means Shakespeare is better than Ovid.
It is possible a man referred to as “our ever-living poet” was still alive.
It is possible a country businessman loved a powerful earl.

Congratulations. You’re almost there. After all, any life, like the deal of a random hand of playing cards, is a series of unlikely events. Shakspere must have written Shakespeare, so any sequence of possibilities upon which this depends, no matter how unlikely, must be true.

Hold on tight to that 99.99% certainty as we climb the last few meters.

What if the man who was wildly famous virtually overnight in 1593, the most successful writer in history up to that point, the man whose influence during his lifetime reset every standard ever written, the man whose popularity with Queens, Kings, Princes, and commoners alike was beyond overwhelming, the man who was a great among greats, the magical William Shakespeare — what if he wrote in his private sonnets, “I am writing under a pseudonym”?

What if he said it three times?

Would you believe it then?


furuiue = survive

Hold on tight. It’s a long way down.


P.P.P.S. It is hard to imagine a worse fate than being Professor Shapiro. Here’s hoping that definitive proof is NOT discovered during his lifetime. I would not want to bear witness to anyone’s fall from such a dizzying height.

Truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. — Max Planck, quoted by Thomas Kuhn in “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.”


  1. Could you send me the (web)source where you found the signature of George Peele you illustrated in your contribution.- I suppose it’s from the last page of the anonymous play of Edward I, (attributed to Peele) written at exactly the same time 1593 in the same city (London) when Marlowe’s Edward II was written.-

  2. [Yesterday I wrote a comment that unfortunately has disappeared today – for whatever reason … I’ll try again].
    I recently became aware of your profound blog. Congratulations! Although I am deeply impressed by your immense knowledge and your conclusions, at the same time I am a little sad , since Marlowe does not seem to play any significant role …What a pity!
    According to my research, without the Marlowe Thesis you will not be able to ever solve the unspeakable authorship problem..

    but the problem (of a multiple pseudonymity) is more complex and complicated. Before I stretch out here for a long time, you may want to check out a recent youtube post

  3. Sorry the second link was falsely the same than the first

    • I’ll check out your link soon. Thanks for the input. Nothing wrong with multiple candidates in my view. The mainstream uses the number of alternative candidates proposed as an indication that the authorship question is not worth discussing. On the contrary, it is natural to have multiple candidates given the incredibly weak case for Shakspere of Stratford.

      Thanks for reading. I don’t have much of an audience yet I’m afraid. Someday.

  4. Sorry, I am not sure , you understood me correctly, I represent exactly the opposite thesis. There were no multiple candidates of literary geniuses around in Shakespeares time … only one, but an unimaginable outstanding and exeptional one, with a multiplicity of pseudonyms or pennames ,,,,and there was not such an inflation of “teamwork and cooperation” between Shakespeare and others…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: