Shakespeare And History

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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

Personal Liberty

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