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Shakespeare And History

May 30, 2012 by  

A few months ago, a public library rejected my free talk about William Shakespeare. The talk was based on my newly published book, Shakespeare Suppressed: The Uncensored Truth About Shakespeare and His Works (2011). It is a history book, filled with contemporary facts about Shakespeare with more than 600 footnotes.

Was my talk rejected because people are no longer interested in a man who wrote plays more than 400 years ago? No, that can’t be the case because people continue to attend Shakespeare festivals all over the United States. And new Shakespeare biographies are published every year and people are buying them. And Stratford-upon-Avon, the supposed birthplace of Shakespeare, is still the second or third most popular town visited by tourists in England. No, Shakespeare is as popular as he ever was.

So why would this public library reject my free historical talk, complete with slides? A library representative told me over the phone that my talk would offend a staff member at the nearby Shakespeare theater. I wasn’t allowed to know this person’s name. I was also denied the simple courtesy of getting this in writing, after making several requests.

How odd that a theater company’s staff member could block a public library event! Why should his or her opinion about a Shakespeare history book matter?

But, alas, this is not an unusual reaction. Theater personnel and English professors often get testy whenever the Shakespeare authorship question is brought up, which is the theme of my book. They routinely ridicule those who justly declare that there is no evidence that the Stratford Man was a writer during his lifetime.

Apparently, it doesn’t bother them that only scant posthumous evidence connects the Stratford Man with the great author. They also don’t seem to care that the Stratford Man never claimed he was the great author, and that his family and descendants didn’t either. And when he died in 1616, no one noted it, even though the Shakespeare plays and poems were highly regarded and extremely popular.

What are the facts about Shakespeare’s literary career? Two hundred years of scholarship has turned up nothing. Did Shakespeare leave behind one letter or anything in his handwriting? No, yet letters from many now obscure Elizabethan writers do survive.

My simple explanation for these blanks is that “William Shakespeare” was someone’s pen name. I say this because many contemporaries implied, in print, that the name was an alias and that the great author was a nobleman. These are the documented facts that I lay out in my book. And the great author openly described himself as a highly ranked courtier in his sonnets and in his little-known poem “A Lover’s Complaint.”

Furthermore, the Shakespeare plays reveal someone who was super-educated in rhetoric, classical languages, history, medicine, music, plants, the aristocracy and more. He knew warfare and sea fare, and he certainly traveled throughout Italy. But there is no accounting of how he acquired any of this knowledge or experience.

Mark Twain found the Stratford Man’s case for authorship impossible. What convinced him was Shakespeare’s in-depth knowledge of the law. How could someone who supposedly never attended law school know obscure legal terms? Several former and current Supreme Court justices also doubt the Stratford Man was the great author.

Despite this, the public is mostly unaware that there is an authorship controversy, thanks to biased gatekeepers in universities and theaters. They also don’t know that most Shakespeare biographies are comprised of 95 percent fiction due to this lack of relevant documentary information. Evidently, the so-called Shakespeare experts prefer to maintain the status quo rather than be bothered by the truth.

–Katherine Chiljan

Special To Personal Liberty

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  • Arlene B. Heed

    I saw the movie Anonymous which claims that Edward De Vere, an Earl, was the real author of Shakespeare’s works; before that, people used to say it was Sir Francis Bacon.

  • Paulb

    To assume that a consummate writer couldn’t speak confidentally and knowledgeably about any topic they chose to write about might well indicate one’s own lacking as a writer. That said: I have no desire to read your book…a work that I’m sure sets out to prove a pre-established premise. And, by that, one that is automatically flawed.

    • Thor

      So much for objectivity. Ignorance is a natural state of not knowing; stupidity is self-imposed. Perhaps the book is a little about Shakespeare and a lot about historic bias…something one who has not read it would not know. Choosing not to read it but to comment about its content and character anyway…is that ignorance or the latter?

    • DRobert Burroughs

      So, Paulb, you are going to discount entirely a book that you have not read nor intend to read. Wow, there is academic honesty in action. What a laugh.
      Maybe some one should let you know the Earth is not the center of the heavens as well. Your intentional ignorance is abhorant to me.
      Apparantly for you a lie or incomplete story told long enough becomes doctrine and unquestionable. That is intelectual laziness. Read the book and then talk about it.

  • Thebelldiver

    I agree; the same holds true for many other subjects regarded as otherwise conspiracy theories here in America.

    When in fact the evidence produced removes the term Theory to FACT.

    Like; Please checkbout LFED and LFCRIED the directed energy technology that destroyed the WTC buildings. If you believe the other crap including the NIST report, well; have at it!

    Be advised; LFED is the very technology that also killed the birds, fish, range animals and dolphins and a few Humans too.

  • Polski

    History is full of BS. So how important is a book about Shakespeare? You could write books about all the prominent people in history. About all the prominent events in history. Were the books about history written by people who were alive at the time the history took place? And even if they were, did they have an axe to grind? For example, 26 years ago I read a “history” which said an American invented the safety pin 150 years prior to that time. But when I was in Bulgaria a month later, in Sofia, their capitol, in a museum, I saw a gold safety pin that was 6,000 years old. Their really is very little, if any, proof of the “histories” we have available.

    It’s hard to get excited about a rehash of another “false” history.

    • Thor

      “The fibula, a form of a brooch, was invented by the Myceaneans on the Greek Peloponnesus between the 13th and 14 BC, and is considered an early precursor to a safety pin since they were used in a similar manner. However, it had major flaws. It had no clasp or spring at the end to help put it in place. Over the centuries, the fibula became forgotten.

      American mechanic Walter Hunt is regarded as the inventor of the safety pin that bears resemblance to those used today. The safety pin included a clasp that covered the point and kept it from opening, and a circular twist at the bend to act as a spring and hold it in place. The clasp at one end, was devised in order to shield the sharp edge from the user. After being issued U.S. patent #6,281 on April 10, 1849, Hunt sold the patent to W. R. Grace and Company.” ( ).

      This historic fact is a far cry from any claim that Hunt ‘invented’ the basic concept of ‘safety pin.’ He merely added features and sold a patent. No one has claimed differently.

      And the book is more about the Bowdlerization of history, the thespian romance of myth and scholastic conclusionist criticism than conspiracy.

  • Thor

    I was a fan of the Christopher Marlowe theory until I became acquainted with biography of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford and the so-called Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare authorship. Do you have a favorite, or do you ascribe the ‘consortium’ or ‘group theory’?

    The practical circumstances of Shakespeare’s experience in life—what we can confirm of it—does not seem to lend itself to the intimate knowledge of court the author of many of the works attributed to him must have had. One might attribute to a consummate autodidact the knowledge of other things—medicine, the law, mercurial concerns, military knowledge—after all the printing press had been around for nearly two centuries; but, self-teaching cannot produce or reproduce the kind of intimacy at court that the plays themselves purported and to which it is well documented that courtiers and the royalty often took offense.

    Another detail not often mentioned by what Shaw termed ‘practitioners of ‘bardolatry’ is the fact that, after Shakespeare, Ben Jonson and Christopher Marlowe, it became commonplace for those in royalty and government to hide court gossip behind fiction and a nom de plume or a tell all, thinly veiled in romance—a trend that left the pen name behind with Disraeli and continues today. These days few are fooled by faux reality fiction in which it is obvious which party and President is being depicted by fictional characters doing familiar things.

    My suspicion is that in Shakespeare’s time, in spite of popular conspiracy theories among the hoi poloi, royals were well-aware of whose knowledge was at work in spite of authorship and it may well have been that fictional insulation that kept him out of the tower.

    Well done, Ms. Chiljan, and welcome to the world of revisionism and academic bias—with a sprinkle of thespian protectionism.

  • loboviejo

    Okay, here goes. Bill Shakespeare, as cowboys referred to him, went to a grammer school in Stratford and was competent in Latin. The course content of such schools included grammar, rhetoric, logic, numbers, geometry, astronomy and music. Recall that the stories in Shakespeare’s plays were fairly well known.
    The biggest argument in Devere’s favor that the plays set in Italy described the Italy Devere knew and bragged about on a regular basis when he got some of the water of life. And the actor Shakespeare probably did much observation in establishments that served such nectar. Understanding of legal terms did not require “law school” for cases were discussed with abandon by defendants and observers and disgruntled plaintiffs. Barristers were not educated in the law but rather in advocacy.
    The argument against Devere is fairly simple. My father–a scholar of Elizabethan literature as well as a practicing member of the sect of Thespis–asked me to read some of Devere’s works. He had done a New Testament translation and had written some masques which are the theatrical equivalent to chamber music. But these were not the down and dirty fare that competed with bear-baiting.
    Further, there is one play that Devere would not have written–that is the Scottish play that libels Macbeth McFinlay who left Duncan the Wicked wound to die after the latter had invaded Moray. No, Macbeth is a played pandering to the new King James and the parallel between his character Macbeth and Elizabeth of England is ham-handed. Devere was deceased at the time.
    I have no objection to Ms Chiljian making her presentation. But we need to remember that the plays are the product of the theatre and not the court,

  • Dominic Hughes

    I can understand why a library might not be too eager to give a platform to someone who proclaims that she is one of “those who justly declare that there is no evidence that the Stratford Man was a writer during his lifetime,” as such a pronouncement exhibits a profound misunderstanding as to what qualifies as evidence, such as would cause any logical person to question the declarant’s grasp on rationality. Likewise, to suggest that Shakespeare’s family never claimed he was an author appears to willfully overlook a rather substantial monument in his hometown to “all that he hath writ.” It is one thing to argue the authenticity of such evidence, or question the weight to be given to it, but it is altogether ridiculous to claim that such evidence doesn’t even exist.

    Finally, the author of this piece reveals her basic failure to understand the notion of evidence when she asserts that her interpretations of contemporary works,which according to her reveal “implied” meanings, are “documented facts”.

    All of that being said, the author should have been allowed to speak — although the audience would be better served if someone were present to deliver a rebuttal of her nonsensical claims [such as her contention that Gullio in the 'Parnassus' play is a representation of Shakespeare].

    • JBianchi

      The “substantial monument” you describe no longer looks the same as the one that was in place after William Shakspere the wool merchant and former actor died. His grave monument was altered sometime after the mid-17th century, as Sir William Dugdale’s sketched from 1634 and his 1656 engraving of the original monument clearly portray a man with a large sack and with different facial features than the present monument. The prolific antiquarian Dugdale sketched the monument during a visit to Stratford on July 4, 1634, eighteen years after the death of William Shakspere (a period when many residents of Stratford would have had living memories of their neighbors, the Shaksperes. Dugdale’s sketch, found among his papers, shows a man of dour visage, with arms akimbo, holding a large sack of wool to his midsection in nowhere near a writing position. . . No pillow, no paper, no pen.

      • Dominic Hughes

        First, I’d suggest that you read M. H. Spielmann’s detailed discussion of the monument, and his demonstrations of the many errors and inconsistencies to be found in seventeenth-century engravings. It may found at: Here is just a sample:
        “In 1656 Sir William Dugdale published his great Warwickshire, which was declared to be his masterpiece (up to that time) and to stand at the head of all our county histories; and Dr. Whitaker reminded his readers that Dugdale’s “scrupulous accuracy ranked as legal evidence.”

        Personally, on many points on which I have consulted Dugdale, both text and illustrations — I have found him inaccurate on simple matters of fact. Not only does he assert that Combe’s monument, close by, is of alabaster whereas it is of sandstone, but, among other things, he transcribes inaccurately as to spelling the inscriptions on Shakespeare’s monument and gravestone, and on the gravestones of the Shakespeare family in the chancel of the church.

        Dr. William Thomas edited the second edition of the Warwickshire in 1730, and complained that he found to his “great surprise (when his own work was finished) that the account which Sir William Dugdale had given [of certain parishes] was very imperfect” — that a register was confused, another wholly omitted, others reversed, also epitaphs and coats-of-arms in churches passed over; but he excuses Dugdale by saying that they were done by persons he hired “who took them down as they pleased themselves to spare their own pains.” That is to say, Dugdale was at the mercy of his assistants. And in 1730 a vitriolic book of 250 pages was published by Charles Hornby violently attacking Dugdale’s very numerous mistakes in his Baronage of England (1675-6, 3 volumes).”

        So much for Dugdale.

      • Dominic Hughes

        Second, if you mean to question the authenticity of the Stratford Monument, it is incumbent upon you to show why the 17th century references to it don’t mean what they explicitly say. For instance:

        One of the First Folios in the Folger Shakespeare Library (no. 26 according to the Folger numbering) contains three handwritten poems on the last end page of the volume, written in a secretary hand dating from approximately the 1620s. The first of these is the poem from Shakespeare’s monument in the Stratford church (“Stay passenger why go’st thou by so fast”). The second is not recorded elsewhere, and goes as follows:

        Heere Shakespeare lyes whome none but Death could Shake
        and heere shall ly till judgement all awake;
        when the last trumpet doth unclose his eyes
        the wittiest poet in the world shall rise.
        [Shakespeare Quarterly 39 (1988):60]
        The third poem is the one on Shakespeare’s tombstone, also in the Stratford church (“Good ffriend for Jesus sake forbeare”). Apparently, somebody went to Stratford and transcribed the poems off the monument and the tombstone, then transcribed them into a copy of the First Folio along with another epitaph. This writer seems not only to have believed that the man buried in Stratford was the author of the First Folio, but that he was “the wittiest poet in the world.”

        In 1630 an anonymous volume was published, entitled A Banquet of Jeasts or Change of Cheare. Jest no. 259 in this volume is as follows:

        One travelling through Stratford upon Avon, a Towne most
        remarkeable for the birth of famous William Shakespeare,
        and walking in the Church to doe his devotion, espyed a
        thing there worthy observation, which was a tombestone laid
        more that three hundred years agoe, on which was ingraven
        an Epitaph to this purpose, I Thomas such a one, and Elizabeth
        my wife here under lye buried, and know Reader I. R. C. and
        I. Chrystoph. Q. are alive at this houre to witnesse it.
        [Shakspere Allusion-Book, I, 347]
        This jest implies that the writer had been in the Stratford church, and that he believed that the William Shakespeare born there was “famous”; indeed, not yet 15 years after Shakespeare’s death, he was apparently the town’s main claim to fame. True, the writer does not explicitly say that Shakespeare was famous as a poet, but it is difficult to see why a grain dealer would bring such fame to his home town.

        In 1631, a year before his death, John Weever published the massive Ancient Funerall Monuments, which recorded many inscriptions from monuments around England, particularly in Canterbury, Rochester, London, and Norwich. Shakespeare’s monument does not appear in the published book, but two of Weever’s notebooks, containing his drafts for most of the book as well as many unpublished notes, survive as Society of Antiquaries MSS. 127 and 128. In one of these notebooks, under the heading “Stratford upon Avon,” Weever recorded the poems from Shakespeare’s monument and his gravestone, as follows:

        Iudcio Pilum, Genio Socratem, Arte Maronem
        Terra tegit, populus maeret, Olympus habet.
        Stay Passenger, why goest thou by so fast
        Read if your canst whome envious death hath plac’d
        Within this monument Shakespeare with whome
        Quick Nature dy’d whose name doth deck his Tombe
        far more then cost, sith all yt hee hath writt
        Leaves living Art but page to serve his witt.
        ob Ano doi 1616 AEtat. 53. 24 die April

        Good frend for Iesus sake forbeare
        To digg the dust enclosed heare
        Blest bee ye man that spares these stones
        And curst bee hee that moves my bones.
        In the margin opposite the heading “Stratford upon Avon”, Weever wrote “Willm Shakespeare the famous poet”, and opposite the last two lines of the epitaph he wrote “vpo[n] the grave stone”. Although Weever, like Dugdale (see below), was not 100% accurate in the details of his transcription, it is obvious that the inscriptions on both the monument and the gravestone were substantially the same in 1631 as they are today. Furthermore, Weever apparently knew Shakespeare personally — his 1598 Epigrammes includes the first full poem in honor of Shakespeare ever printed, a sonnet entitled “Ad Gulielmum Shakespear” in which he praises Venus and Adonis, Lucrece, and Romeo and Juliet. This entry in his private notebook shows that he knew that the poet he had praised in print more than 30 years earlier was the same person buried in Stratford upon Avon.

        In 1634 a military company of Norwich was travelling through the English countryside. One Lieutenant Hammond of the company kept a diary of what he encountered during his travels, and on or about September 9 he made the following entry:

        In that dayes travell we came by Stratford upon Avon, where
        in the Church in that Towne there are some Monuments which
        Church was built by Archbishop Stratford; Those worth observing
        and of which wee tooke notice were these…. A neat Monument
        of that famous English Poet, Mr. William Shakespeere; who
        was borne heere. And one of an old Gentleman a Batchelor,
        Mr. Combe, upon whose name, the sayd Poet, did merrily fann
        up some witty, and facetious verses, which time would nott
        give us leave to sacke up.
        [Chambers, William Shakespeare, II, 242]
        Hammond, writing 11 years after the First Folio and 12-18 years after the erection of the monument, explicitly says that the monument is for “that famous English Poet, Mr. William Shakespeere, who was borne heere.”

        Next to the infamous engraving in Dugdale’s Antiquities of Warwickshire, Dugdale transcribed both the Latin and English verses from Shakespeare’s tomb, along with the verse from the gravestone. Except for minor spelling differences (entirely typical of Dugdale), these verses are the same as those seen today. The Latin reads:

        Ivdicio Pylivm, genio Socratem, arte Maronem,
        Terra tegit, popvlvs maeret, Olympvs habet
        which may be translated thus:

        In judgment a Nestor, in wit a Socrates, in art a Virgil;
        the earth buries [him], the people mourn [him], Olympus possesses [him]

        On the page facing the engraving of the monument, Dugdale writes the following in his account of Stratford:

        One thing more, in reference to this antient town is observable, that it
        gave birth and sepulture to our late famous Poet Will. Shakespeare,
        whose Monument I have inserted in my discourse of the Church.
        [Shakspere Allusion-Book, II, 62]

        Dugdale, like Lt. Hammond before him, explicitly says that the monument is for “our late famous Poet Will. Shakespeare.”

        In 1658, two years after the publication of Dugdale’s Antiquities of Warwickshire, Sir Aston Cokain’s collection Small Poems of Divers Sorts contained a poem to Dugdale. It was entitled “To my worthy, and learned Friend Mr. William Dugdale, upon his Warwickshire Illustrated,” and it goes as follows:

        Now Stratford upon Avon, we would choose
        Thy gentle and ingenious Shakespeare Muse,
        (Were he among the living yet) to raise
        T’ our Antiquaries merit some just praise:
        And sweet-tongu’d Drayton (that hath given renown
        Unto a poor (before) and obscure town,
        Harsull) were he not fal’n into his tombe,
        Would crown this work with an Encomium.
        Our Warwick-shire the Heart of England is,
        As you most evidently have proved by this;
        Having it with more spirit dignifi’d,
        Then all our English Counties are beside.
        [Shakspere Allusion Book, II, 71]
        Cokain does not specifically refer to the monument, but he has apparently read Dugdale’s book and thus seen the engraving. It does not seem to have crossed his mind that the monument might depict a grain dealer; he explicitly links “gentle and ingenious Shakespeare['s] Muse” both with Stratford upon Avon and with Shakespeare’s fellow countryman and poet Michael Drayton.

        In 1693, a Mr. Dowdall visited Stratford and wrote down some of his observations in a letter. He wrote,

        The 1st Remarkable place in this County that I visitted was
        Stratford super avon, where I saw the Effigies of our English
        tragedian, mr. Shakspeare.
        [Shakspere Allusion Book, II, 391]
        Dowdall then goes on to give the inscriptions from the monument and the gravestone, along with some stories about Shakespeare that the 80 year old parish clerk had told him.

        To sum up, all the seventeenth-century evidence is consistent: it indicates that the monument to Shakespeare was always seen as a monument to a poet/playwright, and that from a very early time Stratford was famous as Shakespeare’s birthplace. The engraving in Dugdale’s book is the only possible anomaly among all this evidence, but Dugdale explicitly says that the monument is for the poet Shakespeare, and two years later Cokain implicitly says the same thing. Given Dugdale’s and Hollar’s demonstrable inaccuracy in their other engravings, the general seventeenth-century indifference to pictorial detail, and the mass of documentary evidence just reviewed, there is absolutely no reason to believe that the monument was ever substantially different from the way it appears today, and no reason to believe that it was ever thought to depict a “dealer in bagged commodities.”

        All of the above is from:

        So, tell me if you would, why we shouldn’t believe what any of these people, closer in time to the events of Shakespeare’s life, who made these references to the Stratford Monument have quite clearly stated.

  • Dominic Hughes

    Mr. Carl Hagan: You came, you saw, and you ran somewhere else to make derogatory comments. Why not join in and explain why the Monument should be discounted as evidence which tends to prove the proposition that Stratford Will wrote the works attributed to Shakespeare. Instead of retreating to an echo chamber, why don’t we discuss the Monument, or Thomas Heywood and the 1612 Passionate Pilgrim, or the Parnassus plays and how they relate to this issue [as I stated before, Ms. Chiljan is badly mistaken when she claims that Gullio is a caricature of Shakespeare], or a host of other pieces of evidence from the historical record. Why not stay and see how many more eggs there actually are in my basket instead of claiming that I have only this one. I’ll be more than happy to have the discussion with you. I can assure you that there are many more, and the Stratford Monument, although monumental in some regards [and still unaddressed by you], is only one of the eggs. Oxfordians are always complaining that Stratfordians don’t have an open mind when it comes to this question…why not show that you do have an open mind and can participate in the debate?

  • Maxam

    I appear to be the only one here who has actually read Katherine Chiljan’s book, otherwise the comments would be quite different. I began a reading project years ago, originally to defend my prejudice in favor of the traditional Shakespeare, and worked through a bookshelf worth of material from all sides of the authorship issue. In recent years the subject has attracted more and better scholarship, none more significant than Ms Chiljan’s. Be assured, her book is resolutely founded on evidence, tireless research, and conclusions guided by logic. Her experience at the library is familiar example of uninformed orthodoxy in the face of serious challenge. The biographers and proponents of the man from Stratford have no evidence he ever attended any school, ever traveled, ever owned a book, ever wrote a letter, or anything else other than six painful signatures. If you withhold assumptions not reciprocated by their man’s biography there is almost nothing there. What little is left is of a piece, a piece which Ms Chiljan’s Shakespeare Suppressed deeply researched, and offers a uniquely visionary set of conclusions to explain the subversion of history. Anyone who visits needs to be very circumspect about what they find. Investigation by orthodox partisans who begin with the conclusion, inevitably leads to the twisting and hammering of evidence.

    • Dominic Hughes

      The Stratfordian cased is founded on documentary evidence from the historical record that identifies Mr. William Shakespeare, Gent., as the author of the works attributed to Shakespeare, as well as identifying him as an actor in the Chamberlain’s/King’s Men [the acting companies that performed the plays] and as a shareholder in the theatres where the plays were performed. Interpretations of literary works of the period which attempt to identify Shakespeare as a caricatured character in such works [such as Ms. Chiljan's mistaken claim that Gullio = Shakespeare in the 'Return from Parnassus'] do not qualify as historical facts, unlike the physical, documentary that make up the case for Stratford Will. As for the website I’ve cited, and which you have denigrated, I’d be interested to see one fact taken from

      that can be considered to be twisted or hammered [whatever that might mean]. Bare accusations of bias and circular reasoning are easy for you to make, but, apparently, they are much more difficult to demonstrate. You can take Ms. Chiljan and her elusive, allusive search for purported references; I’ll take Heywood, Heminge, Condell, Buc, Basse, Jonson, Davies, etc.

      • Maxam


        Just the one? Okay, here’s one.

        Writing for the, Terry Ross deals with a phrase in the dedication of the narrative poem “Venus and Adonis,” the first work published under the name William Shakespeare. The poet refers to the piece as “the first heir of my invention.” A simple statement, one with two poetic words. I think everyone agrees “heir” refers to this beautifully mature, transcendent poem. However, there is an issue over what the poet meant by “invention.” Ross tells us the word meant “inventiveness” in the early 1590s, disputing those who have suggested the the word could signify “a thing invented.” The “thing” being the Shakespeare persona.

        Not having the poet to tell us, then this remains the question for Ross to address: could the word have possibly meant “a thing invented” in 1593 English? Ross brings considerable references to the discussion, so therefore is surely aware etymologists found “invention,” used to mean “a thing invented,” present in the English language by the 1510s, but that is not in the article. So the question is answered, yes, the word had potential to carry either or both meanings to the mind of contemporary English readers.

        Apparently aware of that, Ross strives shows that “inventiveness” was typically the sense for which the Bard used “invention,” and so therefore has to be what he meant. Are there no other examples where Shakespeare used a word in contravention of his typical use of it? Poets, and especially this one in particular, delighted in double meanings. So often with Shakespeare, the secondary, less typical usage, was the meaning which stimulated his interest. Inventing and reinventing words was a hallmark of Shakespeare. His English was fluid and mutable, so it’s not out of the question he could have meant one or the other, or both meanings at once.

        I say all this as someone who once trusted, right before I began reading Honan, Shoenbaum, Greenblatt, et al., and found the issue looming over this topic. How can the man of Stratford-upon-Avon, from a mostly illiterate family in a mostly illiterate village, have gained the massive education and vast experience necessary to have written the myriad of very specific things known to Shakespeare, and then left no actual evidence of such a life? He’s a literary Sasquatch. And then for your colleagues to claim since we can’t prove he didn’t know or do something, therefore he could have, and therefore he did, is beyond absurd. What is not absurd is to understand he was someone else, who was broadly educated and experienced, and his use of “invention” in this case cleverly hinted at the introduction of his Shakespeare persona.

        I denigrated Is it denigration if it’s true?

  • William Ray

    I agree with Ms Chiljan that bias, by some somebody that somebody knew, unjustly kept her research from being heard in a public library before fellow citizens–who no doubt would have learned much they had been conditioned since childhood not to think about. “Shakespeare” has been portrayed to us as more a secular Saint than a person about whom we could study like all other mortals. A story of rags-to-riches all-of-a-sudden literary-greatness-wow was substituted for logical thinking.

    As the saying goes, when Error sets up housekeeping, Truth is a most unwelcome guest.

    Thanks to Ms Chiljan’s book, which I read with great respect, we know one thing for certain, that Gulielmus Shakspere was not “Shakespeare”. He couldn’t write, as is obvious from his entire literary output, six attempted signatures. And for Mr. Hughes’s benefit, Gullio (meaning gull or fool) is a play on Shakspere’s Latin name, Gulielmus. The students had a good laugh at his expense.

    I would recommend the interested person read Richard F. Whalen’s “The Stratford Bust: A monumental fraud” in The Oxfordian/8, 2005. He or she will then never refer to that wretched artifice as proof of anything but a brazen ruse. The fact that erroneous word got around England that the Stratford cenotaph equalled “Shakespeare the Famous Poet” only increases the veracity of Ms Chiljan’s argument. People were fooled early by not seeking the facts, and they are still getting fooled today for the same reason.

    A close reading of Mr. Hughes’s authorities–Heywood, Heminge, Condell, Buc, Basse, Jonson, Davies–confirms Oxford as the author and Shakspere as the posthumous prop. The writers all understood the use of ambiguity to tell the truth wrapped in a flowery fabric of words. Heywood chided the author of Venus and Adonis for “hiding himself in a corner of the work-house”–meaning pseudonymity. Buc knew Oxford well and used the epithet Shakespeare in reference to him so as to protect his reputation. Heminge and Condell had nothing to do with the writing of the introductory matter of the First Folio–that was all Jonson. They were used as part of the literary ruse. Davies’s reference to “Terence” in his tribute gave away he knew Shakspere was an imposter, for Terence was for Scipio. Basse’s tribute was disingenuous, since he was a retainer to Oxford’s daughter Bridget. It was a rigged game and it worked.

    As far as Edward de Vere being the actual great mind and pseudonymous author “Shakespeare”, Ms Chiljan does not take that as her first issue. She was satisfied to close the case that the bald-headed dude whom the educational establishment worships on a pedestal every week did not pass scrutiny.

    I hope we can all agree that the de facto censorship of the public library official showed ignorant and inappropriate prejudice on an historical topic of great interest. A healthy culture will not permit honor due its core literary talent to be falsely attributed for centuries. But this is exactly what has occurred over time, generation to generation, by means of an inherited bootstrap fable, invented to make sense of an identity ruse. One error begets another and eventually we have priests of nonsense telling us sacred lies.

  • Dominic Hughes

    For Mr. Ray’s Benefit, Gullio is simply an Italianate reading of the word “gull” [someone who is easily fooled]. For his further benefit, there are numerous correlations, found in the text of the Parnassus play itself, in which the description of the character of Gullio and his activities, match quite specifically with the actual events, character attributes and historical situations from the life of Henry Wriothesley, the 3rd Earl of Southampton. Just to give one sample of the many parallels, the character of Ingenioso, who is widely considered to be a representation of Thomas Nashe, relates that he has written an erotic, if not pornographic, poem in seeking patronage from Gullio. In fact, Thomas Nashe did write just such a poem dedicated to Southampton. Nashe certainly never wrote such a poem to Shakespeare.

    I’ll be more than happy to provide additional correspondences for Mr. Ray’s benefit if he so desires. Suffice it to say, the connection of Gullio with Southampton is right there in the text [imo, providing much more of a fingerprint than any pirate episode in Hamlet]. Who was the dedicatee of two of Shakespeare’s works, who was known to be enamored of Shakespeare, who stiffed Nashe as a patron, who had porno written for him by Nashe, who was recently returned from service in Ireland at the time of the writing of the Parnassus play, who was depicted as having engaged in a homosexual dalliance while there, etc.? Southampton fits all of these references and satiric barbs from the play…Shakespeare fits none of them. These are real-life, historical correspondences between Southampton and the character of Gullio in the Parnassus play. There are also real-life, historical correspondences which match the relationship of Gullio and Ingenioso to that which existed between Southampton and Nashe. There are no such parallels to Will Shakespeare, and there is no indication that the audience for the play, the students of St. John’s College, would have had any reason to identify Gullio as Shakespeare. If all that is used to justify Ms. Chiljan’s opinion that Gullio is a caricature of Shakespeare is the name, then it is obvious that she has failed to read this particular literary work with anything approaching a full understanding. Much more can be derived from the plays if they are subjected to serious study, but I suppose it is far easier to read the name “Gullio” and stop right there.

    I find Mr. Ray’s reference to the authorities I’ve cited to be quite interesting, as it quite aptly describes the anti-Stratfordian method which admits that all documents which appear to support the attribution to Stratford Will must be read as if they were ambiguous, as the opposite of what they explicitly state on their face. If that cannot be done, then the anti-Startfordian must resort to fantastic speculations as to the intent of the author of the evidence or to idiosyncratic readings of literary tetxs.

    Heywood referred to the author William Shakespeare, in the present tense, in 1612. Lord Oxford was long in his grave at that point. In fact, Heywood stated at the time that he knew that Shakespeare was upset with William Jaggard for including two works by Heywood, without attribution, in “The Passionate Pilgrim” by William Shakespeare. Heywood also stated that he knew that Shakespeare said he had not known in advance that Jaggard was going to do such a thing. This is the same Thomas Heywood who wrote about Shakespeare in his 1635 ‘Hierarchy of the Blessed Angels’, including him in a list of contemporary authors from his younger days, as follows:

    Mellifluous Shakespeare, whose enchanting quill
    Commanded mirth or passion, was but Will;
    And famous Jonson, though his learned pen
    Be dipped in Castaly, is still but Ben.
    Fletcher and Webster, of that learned pack
    None of the meanest, was but Jack;
    Dekker but Tom, nor May, nor Middleton,
    And he’s but now Jack Ford that once was John.

    What would possibly have compelled Heywood to continue the alleged subterfuge at such a late date, and how would Lord Oxford possibly be “but Will” in this list? I’m sure there is some Oxfordian speculation that can be offered as an excuse.

    As for Buc, he refers to meeting Shakespeare and asking him about the provenance of an anonymous play. Mr. Ray channels the spirit of George Buc to divine why he did what he did in writing that he had met with Shakespeare. I shouldn’t have to point out how such speculation is logically invalid.

    While Heminge and Condell probably did not write the introductory material in the First Folio that is credited to them, it is a reach, devoid of evidence, to state as fact that they were “used” in any “literary ruse”. This is especially true in light of the fact that material concerning Heminge and Condell, and their relationship with Shakespeare, is echoed quite specifically in Jonson’s much later writings in ‘Timber’, a commonplace book that Jonson had no expectation would ever see the light of day and which was published posthumously. The same sentiments are further echoed and confirmed in Jonson’s conversations with Drummond.

    As for Davies, Mr. Ray confines himself to the title of one poem, ignoring the rest of it, and ignoring two other poems written by Davies which also refer to Shakespeare, the actor on the public stage. Terence was identified in Elizabethan literature as an author in his own right, and a revered one at that.

    As for Basse, he was once a retainer to Bridget de Vere’s husband and may have served her on occasion. Mr. Ray once again invokes the dues ex machine of his grand conspiracy to swoop in and explain away evidence which would otherwise refute his contentions.

    Isn’t it interesting that the theories of Mr. Ray and Ms. Chiljan depend on the notion that other people have been fools for four hundred years, but that they are initiates in the real truth.

  • William Ray

    It is helpful in this important correction of a confused history not to become a bottom-feeder in the morass about who really was or wasn’t “Shakespeare”. The name was a pseudonym, an expedient, suspected as such by writers of the time, e.g., Marston, Harvey, Thomas Edwards, Joseph Hall, virtually as soon as Venus and Adonis came out in 1593, attributed to “William Shakespeare”.

    Those who covertly, almost reverently, commented on the personage behind it did not, which would be consistent with the Stratfordian mythology, extol him as a newcomer, whose meteoric rise from nothing out of the shire of nowhere stunned London with awe. By contrast, they never alluded to Shakspere of Stratford (four times in the Shakespeare canon itself) except with the most contemptuous mirth.

    If Mr. Hughes is right, those contemporary authors, like those of us who have studied the identity issue from a perspective free of the myth, were fools before their time. Given the historical fact that the author of Venus and Adonis was called a Labeo (concealed author), the secret author to have used Shakespeare/Shake-Speare as a cover for the real name Shakspere might have been ridiculously self-defeating.

    The Stratford Shakespeare argument kind of dies there.

    In any case, the author of ‘Shakespeare Suppressed’ deserves a wide reading and hearing. It is a sign of foolishness that an educated person such as the librarian discussed above would shy from rational albeit novel investigation. There is no more prejudiced soul than mis-educated souls, who nevertheless claim the truth as though by right.

    In a fair debate, Chiljan or I could beat the entire Shakespeare establishment with one hand tied behind our backs. “For truth is truth though never so old and time cannot make that false which was once true.” No, not Isabella in Measure for Measure–Lord Oxford, the year before the play came out.

  • John Hamill

    Reading this discussion is fascinating. It demonstrates the interest in Shakespeare to this day. This is exactly why Katherine Chiljan should have been allowed to present her argument on the Shakespeare Authorship polemic. As Chiljan presents in her book, the authorship issue began while Shakespeare was alive! Knowledge is refined by dialogue and exchange of ideas. Chiljan’s book is very well researched and if there are any errors identified, it will be to the benefit of the truth to challenge and correct them. Chiljan presents a serious and well documented book that needs to be read and discussed. The library should review its policy of accepting speakers. It is an outrage that a public library would impose such censorship. The main point now is how to have the library correct its policy and promote a free exchange of ideas. What should be the next step? The library should arrange a debate on this issue.

  • s c

    Based on my experience, my advanced years on this planet and what typically occurs in Amerika’s Fourth-Rate Whore House [ Washington], I’m tempted to say that those who avoid Shakespeare have good reason to fear common sense and accountability. Queen Nancy Pelosi comes to mind – among a host of others.
    It’s apparent that most “people” we send to Washington HATE to read ANYTHING – let alone the legislation they dare to pass in our name. Harry ‘I’m for sale’ Reid comes to mind. Henry ‘I’m moving to China’ Waxman comes to mind. Al “D U H” Gore comes to mind. Yes, there’s a big list of ‘Republicans’ on that same list. So who’s in power NOW, boys and girls?
    If you haven’t yet become familiar with s o m e of Shakespeare’s works, it’s YOUR fault. You DON’T have to be a Shakespeare scholar, folks. However, if you read and begin to UNDERSTAND Shakespeare, it will help you THINK and you might begin to see why it’s so IMPORTANT to sort and sift politicians and political ideas.
    Give it a try. You might even begin to compensate for the FAILED public education you no doubt have. Prove to yourself, your family and your friends that you serve a purpose and that you have more than smelly, rotting peanut butter between your ears. READ, and ENJOY.

  • Dominic Hughes

    To Maxam:

    It is denigration when it still isn’t true – especially when it avoids addressing the actual argument that I made. You claimed that the authors of the website that I cited were guilty of “twisting and hammering” the EVIDENCE. I asked you to pick one of the facts, one of the pieces of evidence from the documentary record, furnished at ,

    and show how it was twisted or hammered. I provided you with this link specifically because it set forth evidence in the documentary record, as opposed to mere opinion.

    Rather than actually seeking to answer the question that I asked, you chose instead to address what is clearly marked as an essay, which quite obviously sets forth an opinion held by Mr. Ross – an essay that is not included in the section setting forth the EVIDENCE which supports the attribution of the works to William Shakespeare of Stratford. Perhaps you misread my request.

    I wholeheartedly agree with you as to the fact that opinion may be twisted to support foregone conclusions – just like Ms. Chiljan stating that Gullio is a caricature of Shakespeare because the name of the character resembles Gulielmus, Latin for William. I will be more than happy to provide a number of textual references from the plays to show that her opinion is way wide of the mark. Or take her opinion that Shakespeare is also Crispinus in ‘The Poetaster’, Crispinus denoting “curly” in Latin, which Chiljan connects to Shakespeare because of his wool-broker background [a fine example of “investigation” by a partisan who begins with the conclusion]. These are opinions, just as Mr. Ross is expressing his opinion as to “first heir of my invention”. This is similar to the distinction between an editorial and a hard news piece.

    The point here is that opinions are not evidence and they are not facts, and it is illogical to treat such subjective opinions as if they are EVIDENCE, especially when they are interpretations of literary works and are speculative interpretations that do not actually derive from a comprehensive analysis of the text itself. Far from doing any in-depth analysis [bottom-feeding, if you will] of ‘The Parnassus Plays’ it is apparent that Ms. Chiljan has only skimmed the surface and has no clue as to what lies below that surface. That is one of the many problems involved in treating opinions as if they were facts – opinions, being subjective and idiosyncratic, are notoriously unreliable. One of the unfortunate issues in the Shakespeare authorship discussion is that there are many people, on both sides, who do not understand the distinction between opinion and hard evidence. You are one who does appear to get the distinction, but I wonder why you seem unwilling to apply it to your Oxfordian cohorts as well as to adherents of the Stratfordian claim.

    At this point you still haven’t provided even one instance of where the facts have been twisted or hammered at . On the whole, I find that the treatment of the evidence at this particular site is fair and straightforward. That being said, it may even be that there is a piece of evidence at the link provided that has been subjected to some spin that contradicts the obvious meaning of the document [as found within the four corners of the document itself], but, so far, you haven’t shown that to be the case.
    One other distinction is important to keep in mind in this matter, and that is that we are discussing evidence, not prove. I have not claimed that the evidence proves that William Shakespeare of Stratford is the author of the works attributed to William Shakespeare. I would say that the evidence establishes a prima facie case for that attribution [a prima facie case provides a rebuttable presumption for the proposition asserted]. I look forward to the day that an Oxfordian introduces evidence in rebuttal of the historic, documentary record rather than addressing gaps in the evidence or ignoring it altogether [e.g., as with the three poems by Davies cited earlier in this thread]. At such a time, I will be more than happy to admit the error of my ways once convincing evidence has been submitted in rebuttal of the prima facie case. I wonder if Ms. Chiljan would be willing to admit that she is wrong about Gullio? So far, though, what you and all Oxfordians have been unable to produce is any evidence [not speculative opinion] in support of Lord Oxford, or in rebuttal of the Stratfordian case, which is of the same quality or nature as the evidence which supports the claim of William Shakespeare of Stratford. The case for Oxford and the negative case against Shakespeare are built entirely on opinion, as opposed to physical evidence from the historical, documentary record. What is ironic to me is that Oxfordians complain bitterly that Stratfordians are not open to entertaining doubt when they themselves stubbornly insist that their opinion qualifies as the only truth.

  • williamjosephray

    I would take issue with Mr. Hughes description of the nature of the conflict between the Oxfordian persuasion and the conventional view about the authorship of the Shakespeare canon.

    He appeals to actual historical evidence supporting a Stratfordian-born genius eventually acclaimed as “Shakespeare”. But there is no historical evidence supporting that view. The names on title-pages, claims about his acting career, etc. are not definitive evidence in any way, for the simple reason that the title-page evidence supports pseudonymous use of the name Shakespeare. If the “Shakespeare” moniker is to be explained without contradiction by reference to historical circumstances corroborated by considerable reference to use of pseudonymity, then the prima facie case claimed in Mr. Hughes’s argumentation fails. The Stratfordian presumption is not only rebuttable but disproven. In a full debate, I would have to adduce numerous contemporary references to the Shakespeare works as those of a shadowed author and also describe a London theater history that featured far more anonymous and pseudonymous works than otherwise. This made hidden authorship the context and the rule, not the unbelievable claim of kooks who want to destroy “Shakespeare”. Subsequent tributes to “Shakespeare” invariably contain unmistakable puns

    In short, the Stratfordian presumption is that the money-lender Shakspere was one and the same with an obvious pseudonym, at least to the eyes of many, given that a third of the time Shake-speare was the epithet, not Shakespeare and certainly not Shakspere. The hyphenated name was a usage Shakspere or anyone else in reference to him never used.

    This presumption of synonymity between Shakspere and Shakespeare is a crucial downfall of the conventional view. It does not meet the standards of ordinary logic and historical knowledge, much less legal standards of probity. But it frequently, as here, gets referred to as primary evidence. This is a logical mistake, over-run in the course of traditional acceptance, that has become doctrinal truth and is defended as though it were the Virgin Mary–or let us say, the Virgin Queen.

    Thus, I cannot agree with the statement, “The case for Oxford and the negative case against Shakespeare are built entirely on opinion, as opposed to physical evidence from the historical, documentary record.” As I have sketched here, the sentence adequately describes the case for a Stratfordian phenom. It is based on misunderstood or defective knowledge that became perpetuated over time and holds the same authority as though it were factual.

    A similar rebuttal of proffered Stratfordian evidence could be made regarding the First Folio introductory materials. Stratfordians say undeniable truth. Oxfordian say hoax and can make it stick. Likewise, the validity of the Stratford Monument, which has been exploded not only by Ms Chiljan in the richest detail yet in print, but by Richard F. Whalen and David L. Roper, each with different emphases. With these fallacies exposed, there can be no basis for believing the myth any more. But institutions and entrenched interests live longer than the human life span, and it is plain that denial is the chosen means of response.

    I do not know who the audience for these remarks is or how interested in the seemingly politically irrelevant Shakespeare subject matter. I would just suggest to possible questioners that the Big Lie was in use in the early English nation-state, working from the familiar principle, if we say it’s true, it’s true, so shut up. After Oxford and Shakspere were dead, one was snuffed as being trouble, the other became his convenient counterfeit to be worshipped as pure gold. The Author was lost, but the Works were saved at least. We have seen the Big Lie lately in use. A third-rate, essentially indefensible country was cited as being so sufficiently threatening to world peace to justify our invading it, after it had been already bombed and poisoned for ten years into sub-civilized conditions–all in the glorious name of justice and goodness. Reason?–be damned. Foresight?–be damned. Economic and moral viability?–be damned. People are gullible. They don’t want trouble and fear to make trouble with the powerful. Like horses and cattle, they are easily stampeded, and if down the line illogically based circumstances look like a winner to somebody,(here the Shakespeare establishment), they will keep the stampede going, fooling themselves in the process if the misdirected hooves that went before are still visible. The best course is to seek the truth and unmask falsehood.

    • Dominic Hughes

      I didn’t really expect Mr. Ray to agree with me, but I wish he hadn’t misrepresented my views. I do not believe that my reliance on “actual historical evidence” supports “a Stratfordian-born genius eventually acclaimed as ‘Shakespeare’.” It actually supports the proposition that William Shakespeare of Stratford was the actor/shareholder/author specifically identified in the documents that comprise the historical record, and there is no consideration of the issues of genius or developing acclaim. Those questions have absolutely nothing to do with the evidence that makes up the Stratfordian claim.

      Ignoring, for the moment, a wealth of other evidence which specifically distinguishes the actor/shareholder/author as Mr. William Shakespeare, Gent. [those particular terms, “Mr.” and “Gent.” themselves serving as identifiers that directly connect Stratford Will to the works attributed to him, by reason of the grant of the coat of arms which permitted their use], let’s examine Mr. Ray’s claim that the title pages themselves show the presence of a pseudonymous author. Mr. Ray is incorrect when he states that “title-page evidence supports pseudonymous use of the name Shakespeare.” In and of itself, a title page that identifies William Shakespeare as the author does absolutely nothing to support the proposition that the name is a pseudonym. When we come across a title page stating that ‘Every Man Out of His Humour’ is written by Ben Jonson, there is nothing intrinsic to that title page that suggests, much less supports, the existence of a pseudonymous author. The title page is clear evidence for the proposition that Ben Jonson wrote EMOHH. Likewise with Shakespeare and the title pages, [and other records such as Stationers’ Register entries, contemporaneous literary works, court records, etc.] which identify Shakespeare as the author. There is nothing in the title pages themselves which serves to rebut the prima facie case for William Shakespeare of Stratford as the author identified on title pages that claim the author is William Shakespeare [however that may have been spelled]. There is nothing in the title pages themselves that contradicts the presumption established in the prima facie case.

      The case of Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens is illustrative. A title page which identifies the author of ‘Huck Finn’ as Mark Twain would qualify as evidence that the author of the work was, in fact, an individual named Mark Twain. It is only by resort to evidence extraneous to the title page itself that we can show that the author was actually Sam Clemens. Mr. Ray’s claim that the title pages themselves rebut the prima facie case is a non-starter; he needs to provide actual evidence to support his claims. If Mr. Ray wishes to offer up “contemporary references to the Shakespeare works as those of a shadowed author”, I’ll be more than happy to engage in that discussion elsewhere as I state below. In fact, I’d suggest that we start with the Parnassus plays, since, unlike works such as Jonson’s poem ‘Poetatster’ and other works which are open to subjective interpretation, those plays make specific reference to “sweet Mr. Shakespeare”.

      Mr. Ray sets up other strawmen that deserve to be blown over by a slight breeze. Contrary to his assertion, there is no “Stratfordian presumption” that “the money-lender Shakspere was one and the same with an obvious pseudonym.” There is some evidence that Mr. William Shakespeare of Stratford may have made a couple of loans during his lifetime, which was not at all unusual for the time and place in which he lived. Mr. Ray complains about the So-called “meager” evidence that Shakespeare was an actor/shareholder/author, even though such evidence is quite clear, and yet he is more than willing to take the paucity of records concerning some small financial transactions and magnify them to the point that Shakespeare becomes a commercial lender. I’d be more than happy to present the evidence which shows this claim of Mr. Ray’s to be false as well, if he really wants to have that discussion in the interest of seeking the truth and unmasking falsehood.

      I have no idea what Mr. Ray is trying to say when he states that the evidence [physical, documentary evidence from the historical record] which identifies William Shakespeare as an actor in the company that performed the plays, as a shareholder in the theatre and company that performed the plays, and as the author of the plays and poems attributed to Shakespeare, should not be considered to be direct evidence that does not “meet legal standards of probity.” I’d ask him to attempt to explain himself. Evidence is “any species of proof, or probative matter, presented through the medium of witnesses, records, documents, exhibits, concrete objects, etc.” which tend to support the existence or nonexistence of a fact, or the truth or falsity of a proposition. “Direct evidence” is that evidence which, if believed, proves the existence of a fact in issue without inference or presumption; it shows the existence of that fact without the intervention of the proof of any other fact; it is evidence which immediately points to a question at issue, such as the testimony of witnesses who can testify that they saw the acts done or heard the words spoken which constituted the precise fact to be proved. To cite just one example, I would ask Mr. Ray why the recorded testimony of the witnesses in the Ostler lawsuit, to the effect that Shakespeare was a shareholder in the syndicate that owned the Globe theater should not be considered to be direct evidence that Shakespeare was a shareholder in that syndicate. I’d ask Mr. Ray to show how such direct evidence “does not meet the standards of ordinary logic and historical knowledge, much less legal standards of probity.” If Mr. Ray does not consider the testimony of these witnesses to be evidence then I would question where he acquired his legal expertise.

      Finally, I’d be open to discuss the First Folio, the Stratford Monument, or any other questions concerning this issue, but this is not the appropriate forum for such a discussion. If Mr. Ray would care to carry the debate forward, might I suggest that he, or any of his like-minded partisans, may meet me in the newsgroup at humanities.lit.authors.shakespeare [you can find it in google groups…it could use some new Oxfordian blood as most of the former Oxfordian residents have been exsanguinated]. In closing, I’d merely state that I am happy to see that Mr. Ray has confirmed my earlier assessment that he believes most people to be gullible fools, “like horses and cattle,” unlike, of course, Mr. Ray and his fellow initiates in the mysteries of their Lord.

      • williamjosephray

        Not wishing to devote myself to lengthy analysis of Mr. Hughes’s mistaken assumption [i.e., Shakspere of Stratford equals William Shakespeare, the name attached to highly regarded works of literature], I will substitute a few ordinary questions on the matter. Does the name Shakespeare on two theater records, one in 1595 and the other in 1603, prove that William Shakspere of Stratford was a noted, even famous, actor, and was further venerated throughout England because he was considered England’s greatest playwright and poet? I say it does not, considering the first notation was for picking up payment from the Queen’s disbursor and the second was a plenary and pro forma dispensation of cloth for a memorial ceremony. Considering these are the only two records interpretable as an actor about Shakspere in connection with the Lord Chamberlain’s Men in his lifetime, they prove instead the likely connection of stock-holder, or the general category “player”, meaning his occupation was involved with the theater. I say this is insufficent evidence for the proposition that the Stratford man was behind the Shakespeare canon. Some may think it is more than sufficient and therefore jump from the limited historical facts to a shaky but desirable conclusion.

        The two noted “actor” instances above constitute the entire thespian career of William Shakspere, but tradition has expanded them into legendary status and has offered as a crucial pillar to support their notion that the actor-playwright-poet William Shakespeare and the stock-holder Shakspere were synonymous.

        Ben Jonson did refer to William Shakespeare as an actor in his 1616 collected works. But he did not refer to him at all in the cast listings of the original plays. There weren’t any cast listings then. This suggests that his ‘documentation’ was post facto. When documentation is post facto, we are entitled to wonder if there were a motive to state additional information so long after the fact. The answer may well be that Jonson, on orders, was constructing a fictional actor-playwright-poet named William Shakespeare, an individual who had not ever existed in reality. Historical reality tends to support that conclusion, because no one who knew Shakspere of Stratford ever spoke or wrote of him as any kind of writer, not his family, friends, neighbors, associates, superiors, inferiors, or any other poet or playwright in England. He was portrayed however in certain Shakespeare and Jonson plays as an imposter and buffoon. These may accurately reflect Shakspere’s dubious reputation among the theater community.

        So I am afraid I must disagree with Mr. Hughes that there is sufficient or any historical evidence at all supporting the “actor” claim in Stratford narrative. The evidence leads elsewhere instead.

        He also believes that because Ben Jonson’s name and Mark Twain’s name were on books attributed to them, the title pages constituted evidence they wrote the books that followed. One did, Jonson. If he had written Jon-son, we might suspect a pseudonym contrived by a pseudonymous author. The other author didn’t subscribe his name but instead used a pseudonym attributing “Mark Twain’s” books to a fictional author. Mark Twain was the fiction. So was Shakespeare. It is manifestly false that “Mark Twain would qualify as evidence that the author of the work was, in fact, an individual named Mark Twain.” There was no such individual. There is no such fact. Nor was “William Shakespeare” an individual, on precisely parallel grounds.

        If historical evidence means anything, Oxford was referred to from early childhood as cultural kin to Pallas Athena, who was invisible, allied with the arts, and who shook a spear. He was also the recipient of an encomium that stated his countenance “shakes a spear at Ignorance”. He was satirized by Philip Sidney, as “shaking his Staffe”. These were long before 1593 when a complete unknown but courtly experienced and classically skilled author presented the first “heir of my invention.”

        These instances amply indicate a relationship between Oxford and the term “Shakespeare”. They are historical facts. They are not part of a mythology and cannot serve mythology. The Stratford narrative has the on-faith magical quality characteristic of mythology. All the close reasoning in the world comes to nothing if one’s first assumptions are mythological in character. Such is the state of Shakespeare studies today and we have been presented a good example. Questioners of this unfortunate state of affairs are not necessarily “initiates in the mysteries of their Lord”. (This figure is after all an ad hominem substituting for a reasoned argument.) The Oxfordian questioners are more likely dissatisfied with mythology as a basis for understanding history and literature, when the truth is more just, appropriate, wholesome, and available.

  • Dominic Hughes

    Mr. Ray does not wish to respond to my points, and I agree that this is not the proper forum. I’ve suggested a much better site to carry on this debate but it appears he would rather not do so.

    It does appear that carrying on any kind of further discussion with Mr. Ray would be futile, as he denies the existence of all of the evidence in the historical record which logically tends to prove the proposition that Shakespeare was an actor. Contrary to Mr. Ray’s assertion, there are far more than only a few such pieces of evidence. Here is a list of some of the evidence:

    1. The court payment in 1595 to “William Kempe William Shakespeare & Richard Burbage servantes to the Lord Chamberlain”. On 15 March 1595,the Treasurer of the Queen’s Chamber paid “William Kempe William Shakespeare & Richarde Burbage servants to the Lord Chamberleyne” for their performances at court in Greenwich on 26th and 27th December 1594. Mr. Ray acknowledges the existence of this record but complains that it is not sufficient. There is nothing at all insufficient about this evidence in itself, and even less “insufficiency” when it is considered as a part of the totality of other evidence which serves to show that Shakespeare was an actor.

    2. The 1599 listing of the Globe Theater as being occupied by “Willielmo Shakespeare et aliorum”. Mr. Ray doesn’t mention this piece of evidence but he now seems to at least acknowledge that Shakespeare was a shareholder in the theatre.

    3. The three contemporary legal documents (two from 1601 and one from 1608) which list the primary tenants of the Globe theater as “William Shakespeare and Richard Burbage, gentlemen.” This document is not mentioned by Mr. Ray.

    4. The Return from Parnassus Part 2, in which the actor “Kemp” refers to “our fellow Shakespeare”:

    Around 1599 or 1600, students in Cambridge put on a play called The Second Part of the Return from Parnassus, the third in a series of plays that satirized the London literary scene. In this play, two characters named “Kempe” and “Burbage” appear, representing the actors Will Kempe and Richard Burbage of the Chamberlain’s Men. At one point Kempe says,
    “Few of the university [men] 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 known to the audience to be a fellow actor of Kempe and Burbage. It also contrasts him with the University-educated playwrights, and establishes him as an authorial rival of Ben Jonson. Mr. Ray has studiously avoided dealing with the ‘Parnassus’ plays, except to follow Ms. Chiljan in asserting [mistakenly] that Gullio is a caricature of Shakespeare.

    5. The license for the creation of the King’s Men in 1603, in which “William Shakespeare” appears second. The Lord Chamberlain’s Men were licensed as the King’s Men on 19 May 1603. The document lists “Lawrence Fletcher, William Shakespeare, Richard Burbage, Augustyne Phillippes, Iohn Heninges, Henrie Condell, William Sly, Robert Armyn, Richard Cowly” as members of the troupe. Shakespeare’s prominence is indicated by the fact that he appears second on the list, behind only Lawrence Fletcher, who had acted for King James in Scotland, and who was the king’s favorite actor.

    6. The account of red cloth distributed to the King’s Men for James’s procession into London in 1604; they are prominently identified as “Players,” and William Shakespeare appears first on the list. On 15 March 1604 King James, Queen Anne, and Prince Henry rode through the City of London in a royal entry postponed from the previous summer because of the plague. An account by Sir George Home, who was Master of the Great Wardrobe, lists the names of “Players” who were each given four yards of red cloth apiece for the investiture of King James in London on 15 March 1604. The actors who were named were “William Shakespeare, Augustine Phillipps, Lawrence Fletcher, John Hemminges, Richard Burbidge, William Slye, Robert Armyn, Henry Cundell, and Richard Cowley.” Mr. Ray does acknowledge this evidence but merely asserts that it is insufficient without explanation as to why he deems it so.

    7. The will of Augustine Phillips, member of the King’s Men, which leaves money to “my fellow William Shakespeare” as well as to seven other members of the King’s Men. The will of Augustine Phillips, executed 5 May 1605, proved 16 May 1605, bequeaths, “to my Fellowe William Shakespeare a thirty shillings peece in gould, To my Fellowe Henry Condell one other thirty shillinge peece in gould . . . To my Fellowe Lawrence Fletcher twenty shillings in gould, To my Fellowe Robert Armyne twenty shillings in gould . . . .” All of the people who Phillips calls his “fellows” were actors in the King’s Men. Augustine Phillips’s bequest of 30 shillings to his “Fellowe” Shakespeare was written 11 months after the Earl of Oxford’s death. If Oxford were Shakespeare, Phillips would have known that he was dead.

    8. The record of Shakespeare ye Player in the Heralds Office.

    In or around 1568, John Shakespeare applied to the Heralds’ College for a coat of arms, but he fell on hard times and let the application lapse. In October of 1596, following the success of his son, John Shakespeare of Stratford upon Avon applied again for a coat of arms, which was granted sometime before 1599. Thereafter he and his sons were entitled to put “gentleman” after their name, and it often appears when William Shakespeare’s name is recorded in legal documents after 1599. This title was reserved for those of the gentility who were below knights but who had been granted the right to bear arms. That John’s son, William, initiated the application is probable. Shakespeare was a product of the Elizabethan era, and he accepted the social order as it was and was ambitious to rise.

    In 1602, Peter Brooke, the York Herald, accused Sir William Dethick, the Garter King-of-Arms, of elevating base persons to the gentry. Brooke drew up a list of 23 persons whom he claimed were not entitled to bear arms. Number four on the list was Shakespeare. Brooke included a sketch of the Shakespeare arms, captioned “Shakespear ye Player by Garter.” Unless one is prepared to argue that John Shakespeare was an actor, or that William Shakespeare’s brother Edmund initiated the arms application when he was 16 and was a known player by the time he was 22, “Shakespear ye Player” can only be the Shakespeare identified in other documents as an actor, William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon, gentleman. This is the same coat-of-arms that appears on the poet’s tomb in Stratford.

    9. The cast lists included in Jonson’s Folio. The 1616 Folio of Ben Jonson’s Works contained cast lists for his plays. The cast list for Jonson’s Every Man in His Humor, which was performed in 1598, includes “Will Shakespeare, Aug. Philips, Hen. Condel, Will. Slye, Will. Kempe, Ric. Burbadge, Ioh. Hemings, Tho. Pope, Chr. Beeston, and Ioh. Duke.”. The cast list for Jonson’s Sejanus, performed in 1603, includes “Ric. Burbadge, Aug. Philips, Will. Sly, Ioh. Lowin, Will. Shake-Speare, Ioh. Hemings, Hen. Condel, and Alex. Cooke.” Mr. Ray acknowledges that these records exists but complains that they are “post facto”, and that, as such, they are immediately under suspicion. I can see no logical necessity that would support such a contention, and Mr. Ray’s wonderings as to Jonson’s possible motives and his speculative interpretations of other literary works do nothing to deprive these cast lists of their nature as relevant, probative evidence supporting the proposition that Shakespeare was an actor.

    10. In his will, William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon left a bequest “to my ffellowes John Hemynge Richard Burbage & Henry Cundell xxvj s viij d A peece to buy them Ringes.” Heminges, Burbage, and Condell had been fellow actors in the King’s Men with William Shakespeare (see the many records in above), and Heminges and Condell later assisted in compiling the plays for the First Folio, in which they attributed thirty-six plays to their “friend and fellow” William Shakespeare.

    11. The poem by Ben Jonson in the First Folio makes allusion to the fact that Shakespeare was an actor.
    From thence to honour thee, I would not seeke
    For names; but call forth thund’ring Æschilus,
    Euripides, and Sophocles to us,
    Paccuvius, Accius, him of Cordova dead,
    To life againe, to heare thy Buskin tread,
    And shake a stage : Or, when thy sockes were on,
    Leave thee alone, for the comparison
    Of all, that insolent Greece, or haughtie Rome
    Sent forth, or since did from their ashes come.

    12. Three poems by John Davies allude to the fact that Shakespeare was an actor.
    To our English Terence, Mr. Will. Shake-speare.
    Some say (good Will) which I, in sport, do sing,
    Had’st thou not plaid some Kingly parts in sport,
    Thou hadst bin a companion for a King;
    And, beene a King among the meaner sort.
    Some others raile; but, raile as they thinke fit,
    Thou hast no railing, but a raigning Wit:
    And honesty thou sow’st, which they do reape;
    So, to increase their Stocke which they do keepe.

    Davies’s references to “playing” parts “in sport” refer to acting, and his repeated references to “kings” is a play on the name of the King’s Men; the only other poems in the volume that similarly play on “king” are those to Robert Armin and William Ostler, also members of the King’s Men, and the poem to Armin also refers to playing “in sport.” Incidentally, this poem is demonstrably not addressed to the Earl of Oxford in any kind of disguise, since it is addressed in the present tense to a living person, and Oxford had been dead for six years. I’ll leave the other two Davies poems for a later discussion.

    13. On 13 March 1602, John Manningham of the Middle Temple recorded in his diary a racy anecdote about Richard Burbage and William Shakespeare:
    Upon a time when Burbidge played Richard III there was a citizen grew so far in liking with him, that before she went from the play she appointed him to come to her that night unto her by the name of Richard III. Shakespeare, overhearing their conclusion, went before, was entertained and at his game ere Burbage came. Then message being brought that Richard III was at the door, Shakespeare caused return to be made that William the Conqueror was before Richard III. Shakespeare’s name William.

    The anecdote does not explicitly call Shakespeare an actor, but it places him at the theater with Burbage, the leading actor of the Chamberlain’s Men. Manningham was a friend of William Shakespeare’s friend and “cousin” Thomas Greene, who was then finishing up his studies at the Middle Temple and would move to Stratford the following year. [-- from How We Know That Shakespeare Wrote Shakespeare: The Historical Facts, by Tom Reedy and David Kathman

    14. Greene’s Groats-worth of Wit. Too involved for discussion here, but I’ll be more than willing to address it elsewhere.

    15. Willobie, His Avisa. Same as Groats-worth.

    16. Sir Richard Baker, a contemporary of Shakespeare and a friend of John Donne, published Chronicle of the Kings of England in 1643. Sir Richard was an avid fan of the theater, also writing Theatrum Redivium, or the Theatre Vindicated. In the Chronicle, for Elizabeth's reign he notes statesmen, seamen, and soldiers, and literary figures who are mostly theologians with the exception of Sidney. In conclusion he says,

    “After such men, it might be thought ridiculous to speak of Stage-players; but seeing excellency in the meanest things deserves remembering . . . For writers of Playes, and such as had been Players themselves, William Shakespeare and Benjamin Jonson, have specially left their Names recommended to Posterity.”

    For some reason that defies logic Mr. Ray believes that these records, physical evidence from the historical record, are part of a “mythology”, as opposed to his “historical reality”. At the same time, he puts his faith in his Oxfordian interpretations of the evidence. But then Mr. Ray exhibits a quite idiosyncratic, and mistaken, opinion as to what constitutes evidence. In discussing the title pages as evidence, Mr. Ray’s own words confirm that title pages may be considered to be evidence, at least when it comes to Ben Jonson’s works. By engaging in an argument about the use of a hyphen, Mr. Ray shows that he must resort to lawyerly spin to try to explain away the Shakespeare title pages [even though there is no evidence that a hyphen in a name on a title page indicated the usage of a pseudonym in Elizabethan publishing – in fact, the opposite can be shown].

    Finally, Mr. Ray accuses me of making ad hominem arguments when I referred to Oxfordians as “initiates in the mysteries of their Lord,” but he is wrong once again. Mr. Ray’s own words confirm that the phrase is an accurate description of Oxfordianism. He has demonstrated, through his own words and theories expressed in this thread, that he sincerely believes that the documents in the historical record must not be taken at face value but must be read in such a way as to divine their hidden meaning. They are mysteries to be deciphered, and, Mr. Ray believes, he and his fellow Oxfordians possess the secret knowledge that unlocks these hidden meanings. In fact, he argues that they are better able to solve these mysteries than the audience of gullible fools for whom the works were originally written.

    I apologize for the length of this post. I am sorry that Mr. Ray has chosen to ignore my invitation to take this debate to a more appropriate forum.

    • williamjosephray

      I am impressed by the conscientiousness with which Mr. Hughes has presented all possible evidence that might support a contention that Shakspere–being presumptively identical with “Shakespeare”–was both actor and therefore playwright. My reservations have to do with the paucity of evidence even that Shakspere acted, was paid for acting, was known for acting, and is recorded as an actor. This evidence should be as forthcoming as it is for other Elizabethan actors, if he were that actor. The crucial omission may be explained without contradiction from the point of view that the organizing premise of Shakspere as actor-playwright is in error.

      Henslowe’s journals are a major evidentiary source of both who acted and wrote for the Elizabethan theater. He does not mention Shakspere once. When the Lord Chamberlain’s Men went on tour, they were listed and recorded as paid. Shakspere was never included. When a reprise of Shakespeare plays occurred in December 1604, Shakspere was not recorded as acting or attending. But Susan Vere Herbert and family were honored guests. When the King sponsored again a series of Shakespeare plays in 1612, Shakspere not only did not act but was not in attendance. But the family of Elizabeth Trentham Vere were honored guests. Oxford died in 1604. Elizabeth Vere died in 1612.

      One can insist, if inclined, that “player” or “fellow” always meant “actor”, which would strengthen the assertion that Shakspere were an actor, and thus keep a toe in the inference door that he was also a playwright. But given that financiers were listed first in the play companies as an honorary gesture, this assertion fails as conclusive evidence. (Conversely, Mr. Hughes’s insistence that Jonson’s not listing Shakspere/Shakespeare or anyone else in his original play-lists means nothing is about as tenuous. If the great dramatist of the age were acting in one’s play, it seems curious to omit including him in the published version.)

      Whatever the debate about Shakspere as actor might be, it is unfortunately academic for the Stratfordian follower, because it proves nothing factual about the more significant contention that he (being a participant in owning and financing theaters and companies and perhaps also an actor) meant he was a writer of anything. There is absolutely no evidence for it in any form. Having no such evidence constitutes an enormous hole in the reasoning chain–that ridiculing the other side’s objections as “secret knowledge” cannot fill.

      But this is what happens when a pre-determined conclusion has clouded one’s reasoning process. Going into these things in great detail properly might benefit from a more capacious and appropriate forum. Here we have completely lost sight of the content and value of Ms Chiljan’s study in a diverting discussion of assumptions. However, the forum Mr. Hughes mentions, Humanities, is I believe the one that Tom Reedy is or was the attack-man for, and it is very likely not above board on this issue. Reedy and his clique corrupted the Wikipedia page for the Shakespeare authorship issue beyond repair, by systematically excluding all non-traditional scholarship, driving away interested participants in disgust.

      Even if the traditional scholarship is demonstrably in error, by their interpretation of Wikipedia rule, it still has precedence on the Wikipedia page, because contrary scholarship has not issued from university presses. In short, cheating, or a doctrinally rigged game, to maintain the status quo. Reedy, whose working profession is spin-meister for a sheriff’s department, is clever and knowledgable, but his objectivity and motives are clearly questionable. The Shakespeare authorship site he participated in maintains the a priori assumption that Shakspere=Shakespeare, the very view retailed here by Mr. Hughes. If one is wrong about his premises, he cannot produce correct conclusions. The Shakespeare authorship debate would not exist if the Stratfordian argument made logical sense.

  • Dominic Hughes

    I’m glad that Mr. Ray is impressed with all of the pieces of evidence listed [btw, I did not contend that it is a comprehensive list], but Mr. Ray has, once again, misrepresented my argument. Nowhere have I contended that this is all of the “possible evidence that might support a contention that Shakspere [sic]–being presumptively identical with “Shakespeare”–was both actor and therefore playwright.” I have not even begun to argue the case for Shakespeare as the playwright of the works attributed to him, as I thought it best to first address Mr. Ray’s denial that the Stratford man was an actor/shareholder in the acting company/theatre connected to the plays.

    The question at issue was whether or not Shakespeare was an actor, a contention that Mr. Ray apparently still denies in spite of the documentary evidence I have listed. Without even attempting to address the various items from the historical record that do tend to prove that Shakespeare was an actor, Mr. Ray still continues to assert that there is a “paucity of evidence even that Shakspere [sic] acted.” Instead of dealing with the historical record Mr. Ray continues to complain that there is no evidence:

    1) that Shakespeare even acted, summarily dismissing the entire list of evidence without the least bit of thought or explanation;
    2) that there are no records that Shakespeare “was paid for acting,” ignoring the document showing the court payment in 1595 to “William Kempe William Shakespeare & Richard Burbage servantes to the Lord Chamberlain”;
    3) “was known for acting,” ignoring the ‘Parnassus’ play, the grant of red cloth, the notation as to “Shakespeare ye player” in the Herald’s Office, the Manningham anecdote, the testimony of Sir Richard Baker, the Davies poems, the Jonson poem, etc.; and, finally
    4) was “recorded as acting,” Mr. Ray once more ignoring the entire list of physical, documentary evidence, including the Jonson cast lists and the reference from a contemporaneous authority and writer on the theatre, Sir Richard Baker.

    Without addressing a single piece of the evidence Mr. Ray asserts that it is somehow deficient when compared to that which exists for other Elizabethan actors, but, of course, he supplies no evidence to support his bare assertion. Would Mr. Ray be so kind as to provide records of other Elizabethan actors in the categories he requires of Shakespeare in order to demonstrate that the record for Shakespeare is insufficient?

    Instead of actually dealing with the evidence that does exist for Shakespeare as an actor, Mr. Ray attempts to seek support in what he perceives, mistakenly, to be gaps in the record. He mentions Henslowe’s Diary, and states that the Diaries “are a major evidentiary source of both who acted and wrote for the Elizabethan theater.” In this Mr. Ray is wrong and somewhat right. The diaries are not concerned with the subject of “who acted” in the Elizabethan theatre. For example, Burbage, Heminges, and Condell do not appear in the Diary, because they were Chamberlain’s Men. In addition, although the Diary begins recording Henslowe’s theatrical activities in 1592, Henslowe did not start recording payments to specific authors until much later, in the period from 1597 to 1603, for the plays performed by the Admiral’s Men, the resident company of Henslowe’s Rose Theatre [and later at the Fortune]. For that reason, even though Henslowe put on the plays of Marlowe and Greene, their names do not appear in the Diary – for the simple fact hat the plays were bought and performed before Henslowe began to record authorship data. By the time Henslowe did start recording such information, in 1597, the evidence demonstrates that Shakespeare was a member/shareholder in the Chamberlain’s Men, the acting company that was the chief rival of the Admiral’s Men. So, while Mr. Ray wishes to make something of this alleged gap in the record, there is no logical reason that Shakespeare’s name should have appeared in the Henslowe Diary. These are facts; if Mr. Ray cares to dispute the facts I wish he would do so, but engaging in mere assertion or speculation does nothing to refute the facts.

    I would be interested in viewing the specific records for the other gaps that Mr. Ray alleges to exist:
    1) Would he be so kind as to supply any records he may have showing that a particular actor in the Chamberlain’s Men was paid for touring performances?
    2) Also, would he please supply the records showing what actors were recorded as having performed or attended the court performances in 1604?
    3) I look forward to seeing the evidence which records the actors who acted and attended the series of Shakespeare plays performed in 1612, and also the record which confirms that Shakespeare was not in attendance.
    4) I will be excited to see documentary evidence for Mr. Ray’s assertion that “financiers were listed first in the play companies as an honorary gesture” [an assertion that is contradicted by the license for the creation of the King's Men granted by King James in 1603].
    5) I especially would ask Mr. Ray to furnish references to the cast lists which he contends omit Shakespeare from the list of actors who performed in the plays in which he is later listed as having acted. Contrary to Mr. Ray’s misrepresentation of my argument, I contend that there can be no inference of mystery in the Jonson Folio cast lists due to the fact that the Jonson Folio contained the first cast lists ever published in the recorded history of Elizabethan theatre. No cast lists of actors were ever recorded prior to the publishing of Jonson’s Folio, so there could be no “original cast lists” as mistakenly asserted by Mr. Ray, and Shakespeare was not omitted from any such cast lists.

    As for the words “fellow” and “player”, and their association with actors in the acting companies, I have provided the context for the particular usages provided in the list of evidence.

    The physical evidence shows that the actor William Shakespeare was the same man who was identified as the author of the works attributed to William Shakespeare. In fact, some of the pieces of evidence already supplied in this very thread demonstrate that association. I would be more than happy to supply additional evidence from the historical record that confirms the association, but my experience here with Mr. Ray, and his utter failure to actually enagage with the documentary record, doesn’t encourage me to do so. If anyone else is continuing to read this exchange and would be interested in seeing more of the physical, documentary evidence that Mr. Ray is unable to handle, I will do so. Otherwise, I am merely wasting my time and effort on Mr. Ray. He can’t even bring himself to admit that there is evidence showing that Shakespeare of Stratford was an actor. But this is what happens when a pre-determined conclusion has clouded one’s reasoning process. If one is wrong about his premises, he cannot produce correct conclusions.

    As for the forum I suggested, it is not operated by Mr. Reedy or any Stratfordian, and is in actuality an un-moderated forum. Anyone is invited to participate, and it is far better than confining oneself to the usual echo chambers. As for logical sense, let’s examine the arguments made here over the last few days. On one side, we have straightforward, objective evidence in the form of historical documentary records. On the other side, we have subjective, speculative interpretations of 400 year old literary works. On one side, we have detailed examination of the documents. On the other side, the documents are ignored. I’ll leave it to the sagacity of the general reader to decide which argument is based on logical sense. With that, I believe I may be done here and doubt I will respond further to any of Mr. Ray’s future posts at this site. As I’ve said, this forum is not conducive to a full and comprehensive airing of the issues involved. Once again, I invite Mr. Ray, or any other interested parties, to reconvene at the newsgroup humanities.lit.authors.shakespeare.

  • williamjosephray

    One wishes that, in a controversial issue, that there were common means by which to include, exclude, and grade levels of evidence. Mr. Hughes sees everything right (after selecting plausible support for his contention and ignoring logical and factual anomalies). I see much wrong, in that this case of identity confusion seems to get stronger, the further that the investigation proceeds.

    While I have no motive to expect anyone to take on faith my point of view in the Shakespeare authorship question, I also feel when you have a good thing, you want others to know about it. In pointing out irreconcilable contradictions in the Shakespeare mythology, I am content to note they exist and to expect others to sense their veracity. I prefer not to resort, in order to gain acceptance of a point, to Jonson’s original play-lists–when as I said before, he did not have any original player-lists to begin with. That was the point, their original absence. The subsequent player-lists were post facto. My question there would be, was Jonson in 1616, setting up a postdated record, as “Shakespeare” being an actor in a Jonson play, for extoling someone he had always clearly detested and lampooned in his plays? This is contradictory. One wonders whether his motive might have been to create a fictional “Shakespeare” persona in 1616, based on a real person (now deceased) whom he could have cared less about in 1602. In short, the Big Lie. Jonson worked for Oxford’s in-law William Herbert, who produced the First Folio. My interlocutor merely opines there is “no logical reason” to suspect anything amiss regarding this re-writing of theater history. That’s that. Dismiss the witness. Of course, this is highly suspect and intentional ignorance of both facts and motive. It is a little parable of selecting evidence in order to maintain a belief and condemn contrary inquiry.

    I also prefer not to hunt down cast payments for out of London tours, when from what I have read, they do exist although the records are incomplete after centuries, and that they omit Shakspere’s name. There is the high likelihood that if there were not unassailable proof in the form of a complete record of all cast members in all plays that toured from 1590-1616, every one of which had Shakspere’s name omitted, my interlocutor would cry foul. That the Shakspere omissions in those available therefore meant nothing and the extant lists’ omissions prove nothing about his uncannily absentive life, while also somehow supporting that he was the illustrious actor-playwright of his and all future ages. I would be expected to provide information that the opposing view draws contrary conclusions from without having to do the same, if he does not ignore the point altogether. This is known as a double-standard in the acceptance or denial of logical inquiry and evidence. You do the impossible and then I might say uncle.

    While little real-person information about an aristocratic pseudonymous “Shakespeare” is understandable, the proof that “Shakespeare” were indeed no more than Stratford Shakspere, ordinarily would turn up something very substantial in support, justifying the enormous claims for so modest and artistically aberrant a life. Nothing Mr. Hughes presented is substantial toward describing a supreme artist and, strung together, the insubstantial bits do not make a strong chain that Shakspere was anything more than a theater stock-holder and financial supporter. The really telling documentary proof–the money for rings for “fellows” in theater–was interlineated, we don’t know when or by whom. Again, this evidence provides substantial reason to doubt the veracity of the given story.

    In answer to the particular question, would I supply the names of actors who performed in the memorial tribute to Oxford consisting of eight “Shakespeare” plays, the answer is the members of the King’s Men. Shakspere, were he the playwright, all things being equal, would have attended. Shakspere’s records show that he was visiting in London earlier that year to testify concerning his landlord’s Belott-Mountjoy dispute. He also notably sued the local apothecary in July 1604 for failure to repay a minor loan and won. Such comparisons are persuasive that these two men–one honored by King James I after his death with his family attending the Court tribute, a gesture repeated after his wife’s death in 1612, and the other pursuing mundane and life-long habits–were two distinct and distinguishable individuals.

    With Mr. Hughes, “I’ll leave it to the sagacity of the general reader to decide which argument is based on logical sense.”

    William Ray

    • Dominic Hughes

      After a week’s vacation in New England, I have returned to find even more speculation from Mr. Ray. So, just one more post and then I really am done here. Mr. Ray’s reliance on naked speculation and magical thinking, flying in the face of physical evidence which contradicts his position, is inimical to logic. As I stated before, one characteristic that many anti-Stratfordians share is their ironic and stubborn refusal to keep an open mind when discussing evidence. Mr. Ray, for all his talk about how the proponents of the Stratfordian position are close-minded is himself so hidebound in his Oxfordian mentality that he can’t even admit that there is evidence tending to show that Shakespeare was an actor. Further debate with him is futile until such time as he actually points out any “logical and factual anomalies”, whatever Mr. Ray may mean by those terms. It appears he is intent on making a god of the gaps. It is evident that Mr. Ray is unable to exclude any of the evidence cited so far. I believe that is the reason he is confused as to identity the further his investigation proceeds.

      I must admit that I was somewhat confused as to Mr. Ray’s attempted point on the Jonson cast lists as he appeared to be saying two different and contradictory things. He did state the following: “Ben Jonson did refer to William Shakespeare as an actor in his 1616 collected works. But he did not refer to him at all in the cast listings of the original plays. There weren’t any cast listings then.” But he then stated as follows: “Conversely, Mr. Hughes’s insistence that Jonson’s not listing Shakspere/Shakespeare or anyone else in his original play-lists means nothing is about as tenuous. If the great dramatist of the age were acting in one’s play, it seems curious to omit including him in the published version,” indicating that there were original cast lists in published versions of Jonson’s plays and that Shakespeare’s name was omitted from them. The only thing contradictory here is Mr. Ray’s own confused treatment of the cast lists.

      Now that he has tried to clarify his position, his argument is still illogical. Mr. Ray argues as follows:

      1. Ben Jonson did not include cast lists in the quarto editions of his plays;

      2. Jonson did include cast lists in his Folio of plays, published in 1616 [actually, as I’ve already stated, this was the first known use of cast lists in all of Elizabethan/Jacobean literature; if the point is the “original absence” of play lists then there really is no point at all];

      3. Therefore, what Jonson did in 1616 was probably part of a conspiracy to fob William Shakespeare off as a front for Oxford, even though anyone paying any attention to the wonder of the ages should have known that the investor Shakespeare was a ridiculous buffoon and couldn’t possibly be the author since a hyphen in the name was such an obvious signifier that a pseudonym was being used. Talk about your contradictory mythology.

      There is no logic in that. There is only wishful thinking. Mr. Ray goes on to use his own subjective speculations as to purported caricatures in Jonson’s work in an attempt to bolster his speculations as to the cast lists. You can pile speculation atop subjective interpretation atop speculation but that will never amount to evidence.

      But then Mr. Ray don’t need no stinkin’ evidence. He can’t be bothered to produce even one instance of a record showing a payment to a particular actor for a performance by a touring company. Likewise, there is no evidence that Oxford’s son-in-law “produced the First Folio” and Mr. Ray can produce no evidence that such was the case. In fact, the colophon [evidence] to the Folio itself [evidence] shows that it was produced by a consortium involving W. Jaggard, Ed. Blount, I. Smithweeke, and W. Aspley. There is no evidence to show that Oxford’s son-in-law was anything more than one of two individuals to whom the work was dedicated. Of course, this is highly suspect and intentional ignorance of facts. It is a little parable of inventing “evidence” in order to maintain a belief and condemn contrary inquiry.

      As for dismissing witnesses, it is Mr. Ray who specializes in doing so. What Ben Jonson explicitly states is summarily dismissed [‘Timber’], just as documentary evidence is discounted without reason [A royal license creating and sponsoring the King’s Men is described, without any justification whatsoever, as an “insubstantial bit”]. What I was doing, and what I have done again here, is to show the illogic behind Mr. Ray’s treatment of the witnesses and the physical evidence [see the silly syllogism set out above]. Mr. Ray simply can’t be bothered to marshal any actual facts in support of his assertions. Mr. Ray also enjoys creating strawmen to argue against; I have not demanded “a complete record of all cast members in all plays that toured from 1590-1616, every one of which had Shakspere’s name omitted.” I’d be satisfied with two or three or even one at this point. The fact is that there probably are no such records, and Mr. Ray is simply attempting to bluster his way through his own absence of evidence. There is no double standard unless it is in Mr. Ray’s denial of the existence of the documentary evidence for Shakespeare while simultaneously claiming that he is producing evidence for Oxford [all the time providing only speculation and unsupported assertion].

      Mr. Ray’s discussion of Shakespeare’s Last Will is a perfect illustration of his need to posit some vague conspiracy to explain away evidence. Mr. Ray contends that the interlineations as to gifts to Heminge, Condell and Burbage are not just evidence in support of his conspiracy theory – they actually qualify as “really telling documentary proof”. Mr. Ray’s method is to take each individual piece of evidence and to refuse to look at all of the surrounding circumstances or considering it in context with all of the other corroborating evidence.

      He won’t even do a decent job of analyzing the individual piece of evidence he is criticizing. For instance, if he actually examined Shakespeare’s Last Will, and the circumstances surrounding its probate, he would find that “there are many interlineations in the Will, all in the same hand. If someone forged the bequest to Burbage, Heminges, and Condell, they must have also forged all these other bequests, including the infamous ‘second-best bed’. Why on earth would his supposed conspirators do such a thing? What possible purpose would it serve? Who would be the intended target of such a hoax – “if they were trying to forge evidence, why would they do it in a Will, which would be almost immediately buried in a record office (as Shakespeare’s was for the next 150 years)? What purpose would that serve? Why not forge some public document? This imaginary forger would have had to go to a lot of work for virtually no gain. It doesn’t make a bit of sense, except as a rationalization for a preconceived notion that William Shakespeare of Stratford was not an actor.” Mr. Ray treats his suspicions as if they were facts – so much for “legal standards of probity”.

      In addition, “the probate court had to determine whether the Will was authentic, and they determined that it was, interlineations and all. John Hall, Shakespeare’s son-in-law, took it to London in June 1616 to have it proved. Wouldn’t he have noticed if there were all kinds of strange interlineations giving bequests to people his father-in-law didn’t know? Wouldn’t he have said something? Yet he didn’t, and the probate court accepted the entire Will as authentic and made a fair copy, interlineations and all. This is very solid evidence that the Will, including the bequest to the actors, was authentic.” On one side we have actual evidence. On the other side we have suspicion that is transmuted into “really telling documentary proof”. All of the other documentary evidence is intentionally ignored or denied.

      Mr. Ray, feel free to have the last word here. I’ll certainly understand if you do not want to carry on at a more appropriate forum, but, if you do choose to participate at the HLAS newsgroup I’ll be more than happy to welcome you there. And you should know that there are many others there who will take pleasure in discussing your notions.

      • William Ray

        I happened to check back at the Personal Liberty blog and found that Mr. Hughes had returned from vacation and like some raccoons I have known resumed chasing his tail around a tree trunk, looking for that dang critter running just ahead of him.

        If everything I have said is self-fulfilling confirmation of a bias and mere speculation in pursuit of a pet idea, then all is well. There should be no reason to doubt the enormity of talent of the gent from Stratford, talent culminating in a series of plays and poems that seemed to rise from the most learned and rhetorically brilliant literary mind in recorded history.

        However, there appears to be reason, in the minds of some, that actually this was not the case. What actually was the case is being worked out presently in scholarly fashion by a number of investigators who seem to be able to produce more and more evidence and reasoning that the entire traditional (i.e., Stratfordian) explanation is false.

        So perhaps–I say perhaps–I am not after all a single isolated nit-wit embarrassing himself with preposterous examinations and conclusions. There are quite a few others, now and in past history, with the same skeptical conclusions. Each and every one of them, from Emerson to Whitman to Chaplin to Bismarck to Freud to some of the supreme thinkers of Western civilization, has faced the type of answer presented by Mr. Hughes.

        But unlike Mr. Hughes, skeptical students of the Shakespeare authorship question do not unqualifiedly accept that Gulielmus Shakspere, for example, was an actor. There ARE two references to him as a player, i.e., involved in the theater, and as a financier of shows, he was listed at times first among the company. But this is minute support for thinking Shakspere acted from 1590 to 1604–when he disappeared from London. One expects word of a farewell performance by the great Shakespeare/Shakspere, duly noted with pomp and fanfare. One expects a reprise of his great roles in Stratford-upon-Avon, instead of the burg paying play-companies to pass by. But none of this actor-worship came to pass. No tributes dated 1604. No special play series commemorating the eminent actor and playwright as he faded into the countryside to occupy himself suing the local druggist.. A reasonable man asks why so much is missing. But Mr. Hughes does not ask.

        Likewise, with the Stratford will, which satisfied probity in Mr. Hughes’s evaluation, because it was registered in London. Indeed there was nothing remarkable in a businessman having interlineations in a will of three, different sized, pages, that seemed to have been originally written some time before and was revised. No one in the registry office would care, unless maybe the signator were someone of legendary fame.

        In this will, it was of particular note that the alleged author of the greatest speeches and roles for women, all aristocratic or servants of aristocrats, should literally write his wife out of his will. This was done very simply, by bequeathing a bed and furniture, which satisfied the rule to offer one’s wife something, or else fall victim to the default requirement of a third of the estate going to the wife–the widow’s third. It appears to some of us that this was not the work of the great Shakespeare. But it certainly suited the will (in both senses) of a man who tried to get out of marrying Anne Hathaway in the first place after he got her pregnant, then periodically spent much of his life away from her, and who had not one word in the document to say towards her, or education towards their grand-child–unlike exactly comparable Stratford wills of his generation, which are moving in their affection. Thus some of us are not as sanguine as Mr. Hughes that the same hand that wrote a million brilliant words for posterity treated his own wife so shabbily and scrawled signatures that look nothing like literate script.

        Arguing the various other points must endure the same gap of understanding. So I affably leave it to the reader(s) whether the issue deserves further examination, and invite Mr. Hughes to look in an idle moment at the First Folio portrait of his hero, and discern the EO monogram on the gent’s left collar, with four bars in the E, because vier both means four in German and is a pun on the name Vere. There is no corresponding pattern on the other collar, but no matter. It can always be ignored.

  • Dominic Hughes

    This made me laugh. The only thing I was chasing here was Mr. Ray, in a vain attempt to get him to continue the discussion at a more appropriate forum where his notions could better be tested — but Mr. Ray has chosen to turn tail and ignore the opportunity. He is like the mole who digs ever deeper into the earth in order to avoid the sunlight. He plows ahead in his tunnel, unable even to see that which is directly in front of him.

    As I said before, there really isn’t much to be gained by engaging with Mr. Ray. He makes pronouncements and refuses to supply any evidence to support them when questioned, as has been more than ably demonstrated in this particular thread [for instance, I'd like to see the first bit of evidence tending to prove that being listed first in a list of actors indicates that such individual was merely a "finacier of shows" -- and, oh by the way, in one of the Jonson cast lists, Shakespeare was listed second] . In addition, Mr. Ray simply chooses to ignore the existing evidence which contradicts his assumptions, such that a list of fifteen or more references to Shakespeare as an actor becomes “two references to him as a player, i.e., involved in the theater, and as a financier of shows.”

    So I’ll leave Mr. Ray for good now — he can continue to make a god of gaps without further risk of exposure to the light.

    • William Ray

      Now I do not take offense to Mr. Hughes’s disparagements and avoidances. And my wife does not take offense. And my children do not take offense. But Gwendolyn our mole and her brood DO take offense. Because when I trapped and killed a few members of the clan in the communal garden across the road, she and the remainder did not bore more deeply into the earth, as Mr. Hughes implies is the habit of moledom. The empirical evidence differed. They crossed the road and took up occupancy in our property. Which is no problem, since we only have a small penthouse garden–on the garage roof. Therefore, on behalf of our moles now and for generations to come, I shall not have molish legend broadcast far and wide, across continents and seas, loosely retailed as the truth. Moles know when to up and leave uninhabitable terrain and seek out the better for the good of the race. I know. I have seen the evidence. If only our Stradfordian cousins had the deep insight of Gwendolyn, the East Side Road mole, to pack up and leave losing ground.

      • Dominic Hughes

        This is even more amusing. Mr. Ray’s speculative fantasy stories about anthropomorphic animals [Gwendolyn] are as entertaining as those he has invented for his Lord, although much too similar in their speculative fantasy elements. Even more laughable, Mr. Ray now also claims that he has powers akin to x-ray vision that permit him to determine how deep the mole tunnels might go. Mr. Ray can’t even see [or, maybe, the better summary is that he can't allow himself to see] the evidence when it is provided to him on a platter, as was done here. Like a mole digging his hole around a root, Mr. Ray avoids dealing with the evidence that exists and avoids providing any evidence to support his own pronouncements [as he proves quite well with his latest response]. On one side of the road we have a garden full of evidence, carefully weeded and pest-free, with facts in the historical, documentary record which tend to logically prove that Shakespeare was an actor in the acting company that performed the plays and at the theatres where the plays were performed. On the other side of the road we have a yard full of mole holes, absent any evidence, with a mole stuck in one of the holes with only its rear end showing to the world.

        • William Ray

          As the saying goes, when Error sets up housekeeping, Truth is an unwelcome guest. First Mr. Hughes knew who Shakespeare was, then he propounded knowledge in mole behavior. This is an admirable advance in expertise. But there is yet more study necessary. Moles don’t dig around roots, as he avers. That’s gophers. Moles don’t dig deeper in the ground, as he avers. They excavate a home apartment some distance from the feeding zone and then fan out to dig upward for insects, worms and such, which are just below the surface. They do not root around with their butts to the “world”, as he avers, since the “world” is also below. (My interlocutor may have been thinking of ostriches burying their heads in the sand. Let’s get our anthropomorphic insults straight here.) Our “world” in comparison is said to be above ground, except what we humbly ingest as food and drink, which originate from or depend utterly upon what is below. Some think they’re above all that but find out different in the end.

          In summary, I note that Mr. Hughes betrayed ignorance on the important matter of the mole, directly leading to inaccurate metaphoric figures in pursuit of his partisan put-down. He may have been led to make his incorrect inferences through the error of ignoring available fact, perhaps beclouded by a pre-existing desire for the reassurance of being right. But this is a universal human failing easily corrected. Kenneth Grahame’s ‘The Wind in the Willows’ is a good start. We’ll get to the truth of Shakespeare in due course.

  • Dominic Hughes

    Mr. Ray is on intimate terms with error, not only as to Shakespeare, not only as to his mistaken assumptions as to what I have stated, but also as to moles and their behavior. As to Shakespeare, he will not get to the truth in due course or in any other time…he is submerged in denial, as his non-arguments as to Shakespeare the actor quite obviously demonstrate. His faith in his Lord, in his god of the gaps, is a core belief that is very strong. Mr. Ray is like many of his Oxfordian brethren. “When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.” All just as Mr. Ray has done with the evidence that tends to prove the proposition that Shakespeare was, in fact, an actor.

    As to his strawman arguments with me, I have not “propounded” any expert “knowledge in mole behavior” — even though I am currently confronted with an infestation of moles in my yard and have been able to examine some of their behavior first-hand. This is one more instance of Mr. Ray indulging in psychological projection, as it is Mr. Ray himself who professes such knowledge of mole behavior. Such projection is also exhibited in his refusal to engage with the evidence of Shakespeare’s acting career, where more than fifteen exhibits are reduced, through the process of magical thinking, to only two records [and even those must be interpreted to mean something other than what they clearly show on their face. Mr. Ray projects onto me his own proclivity for making "incorrect inferences through the error of ignoring available fact, perhaps beclouded by a pre-existing desire for the reassurance of being right." It is readily apparent that this "universal human failing" will never be "easily corrected" in Mr. Ray. I have produced evidence here. Mr. Ray has summarily dismissed such evidence or has chosen to simply ignore it. On the other hand, I have requested that Mr. Ray supply evidence to support a number of his assertions and he has failed to do so. This thread provides a historical record that proves my case in this regard.

    As to the subject of moles, Mr. Ray appears to believe that moles do not avoid tree roots but choose to tunnel through them. The fact is that, while moles do chew on tree roots, they also dig around or under those roots when involved in tunneling behavior -- they "will usually take the path of least resistance when tunneling" [see: "This is great food for thought the next time you look at a maze of mole tunnels and mounds and wonder why moles do what they do."]. This, by very definition, means that moles will dig their holes around roots [exactly as I said]. [See also: for the fact that moles do dig around roots]. They do not tunnel through roots, but dig around them. In addition, moles do dig tunnels just below the surface and also dig deeper [permanent] tunnels, as the websites cited above explain [and, also, just as I said]. Finally, I never stated anything close to what Mr. Ray says when he attributes to me the notion that moles “root around with their butts to the “world.” I said nothing of the kind, but, of course, that is just one more example of Mr. Ray’s inaccurate method of assumptive interpretation. As a matter of fact, when digging these deeper tunnels, the mole “occasionally takes the spare earth out on the surface.” This is evidence that supports my assertion that a mole may sometimes be observed in a hole showing its rear to the world. Therefore, there was no display of ignorance, at least on my part, and my extended metaphor was entirely apt.

    Finally, I wonder if Mr. Ray will ever supply the first jot of evidence to support his assertion that when an individual appeared in the first position in a list of “players” that such positioning signified that the individual so identified was a financier of plays and was not an actor. All this talk of moles is interesting, especially with my current yard situation, but it is merely providing cover for Mr. Ray to continue to avoid the evidence that does exist and the lack of evidence in support of his own claims. Mr. Ray’s assertions are as insubstantial as a wind in the willows.

    • William Ray

      I was reminded somehow, in the course of this profound exchange, of a story my Irish god-mother told me some sixty years ago. There were three moles, Daddy Mole, Mommy Mole, and Baby Mole and it was Springtime. Daddy Mole stuck his nose above ground, took in a great breath, and sighed, “Oooh, I smell Spring.” Mommy Mole stuck her nose above ground, took in a great breath, and sighed, “Oooh, I smell Spring.” Baby Mole took in a great breath and said, “Oooh–all I can smell is mole-asses.”

      Moral: if you are going to dig yourself a hole, make it big enough for the next generation to climb out of.

      Have fun.

      • KG

        I heard the same joke, but it was “syrup” that they could smell.

        • williamjosephray

          You don’t say. That reminds me of a joke.

          There was a citizen and a clown, and the clown got a telephone call and repeatedly exclaimed, “You don’t say!”. Then he hung up, and the citizen asked him who it was. “He didn’t say.”

          Well, on with the revolution, gang.


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