"Short Introduction to the Shakespeare Authorship Question" as a preface for the DARK
SIDE OF SHAKESPEARE Trilogy:
In case this is the first time you've encountered "the Shakespeare Authorship
Question," here's a very short introduction (just to let you
know that there is a legitimate question about the "orthodox candidate" Mr. William Shakspere of Stratford-upon-Avon). Enjoy!
And when you're through reading below, go to the Shakespeare Fellowship's "Beyond A Doubt" Response
A Very Short Introduction to "the Shakespeare Enterprise" for those Not Familiar with the
The Dark Side of Shakespeare
W. Ron Hess (BeornsHall@earthlink.net)
For over a century, independent-thinking scholars have been investigating the possibility that
Will of Stratford was a very poor candidate for having written the works we attribute to the likely pseudonym
"William Shake-speare." Remarkably, about half the time that
works were published with the author's name on them, they were hyphenated, a sly device often used to indicate a pseudonym (or
"made-up name"). For example, the names "Pierce Penni-lesse" (1593) and "Oliver Oat-meale" (1595) were hyphenated deliberately
to show that the writers were using false names. In those two cases the works were satirical-political-religious attacks
in a larger matter known today as the "Mar-prelate Controversy," where "Mar [dash] prelate" was a pseudonym used by Puritans
to attack (that is, to "Mar") the Bishops of the Anglican Church (that is, "the Prelates"). And in many cases pseudonyms
were connected with satire or even seditious content., for which in those days punishments could be very severe (maimings,
jailings, book burnings, social disgrace, etc.). Even nobles could be held accountable for what they allowed to be put
forth under their names (e.g., the Earl of Surrey was executed on trumped-up charges of his political intent, not to
mention his many sonnets published a decade after his death, and the Marquess of Winchester never received votes for
the Garter after he published his poetry under his name, the 1587 Marquess of Winchester, His Idleness).
So, if "William Shake-speare" was being deliberately indicated on title pages and in dedicatory
verses as a "made-up name" (likely based on the epithet of "Pallas Athena," goddess of literature, "the Spear-shaker"), why
is it so clear that "Mr. William Shakspere" (pronounced "Shack-spur") of Stratford-upon-Avon was an inferior candidate for
the works of "the Bard?" This can't be completely answered here, so I've prepared the website listed above. The short answer
is that it is rather clear from available evidence that not only were all of Mr. Shakspere's family quite illiterate, signing
with their "X" whenever given the opportunity, but Mr. Shakspere himself was also most likely illiterate. My website has two
articles from Jane Cox and Robert Detobel which give expert testimony about the famous "six signatures" of Mr. Shakspere,
most of which appear to have been done by a man needing to have his hand held for him to be able to sign without his "X."
And such was the normal case for mostly-illiterate 16th century Stratford-upon-Avon.
Hence, who was the best candidate for having been author of Shake-speare's works? My website
links to the first two volumes (ISBNs 0-595-24777-6 and 0-595-29390-5) of my quintet of books. There I argue that a half dozen
other candidates for having been the Bard (such as Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe, and several noblemen) were vastly superior
in qualifications to Mr. Shakspere. But the best by far was the 17th Earl of Oxford, Edward DeVere (a
nephew of the Earl of Surrey, with his uncle's tragic-poetic example ever before him!). The main reasons for disqualifying
candidates, including Mr. Shakspere, were their educations, travels, and world view. Travel was the most important discriminator,
because when we examine the plays in detail, we see that about half of them were set in Italy, and some of those plays give
very detailed descriptions of the interiors of Italian cities (such as "Two Gentlemen's" description of the interior
of Milan, or "All's Well's" description of the streets and even acoustics of the interior of Florence). Most scholars
can't account for Shake-speare acquiring such detailed knowledge except through first-hand experience of having traveled to
those locales. And there's where Oxford's travels were so important, since he was the ONLY Shake-speare candidate known to have visited such places as Milan, Florence, Genoa, and Sicily, plus
others including Venice, Padua, Siena, Paris, and Strasbourg that were more accessible to English travelers. In other words,
whoever Shake-speare was, the travel experience he packed into his plays literally cries-out to the conclusion that "the Bard"
had traveled with Oxford's expedition to Italy in 1575 to 76, and to those locales only Oxford is known to have visited.
In conclusion, these matters deserve your further inquiry. Go out to my webpage where
I link to other literature, and through www.Amazon.com you can even search through my published books online for free.
The "Shake-speare authorship question" is an important one if we are to truly understand
and benefit from his great works. You owe it to yourselves, as well as to "the Bard," to take the time to at least study some
of the important issues involved. Because, it's all well and good to just take the Bard as your English teachers wanted you
to take him, the myth of Horatio Alger rags-to-riches, or more precisely impoverished illiterate to incomparable genius.
But if you want to have a practical, beneficial model that can influence today's youth about how to succeed in their lives,
that "fairy story" simply won't work. You need to show them that Shake-speare was one of the best-educated men of his time,
a scholar whose tutors and guardians were among the most brilliant and powerful men of that time. When you look at Oxford's
life as a brilliant child prodigy, nurtured at the seat of power and culture, and later an eccentric yet powerful man himself,
you will have no problem grasping how Shake-speare got to be so great and brilliant. Conversely, when you look at Mr.
Shakspere's abandoning of his impoverished family, his arrival in London with a thick, incomprehensible Warwickshire dialect,
and then see that only some 3 years later he was allegedly writing some of the greatest literature in world history, in a
polished upper-class London dialect, you just know that he was unqualified to have been the real author. He wasn't even likely
the author of his famous six signatures!