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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: December ::
Authorship
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No.1005. Wednesday, 14 December 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Naomi Liebler <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Dec 94 00:08:00 EST
        Subj:   RE: SHK 5.1002  Authorship
 
(2)     From:   Dom Saliani <
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        Date:   Monday, 12 Dec 1994 14:42:52 -0700 (MST)
        Subj:   authorship
 
(3)     From:   Constance Relihan <
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        Date:   Monday, 12 Dec 1994 22:10:08 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0996 Authorship
 
(4)     From:   Dom Saliani <
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        Date:   Monday, 12 Dec 1994 22:26:54 -0700 (MST)
        Subj:   authorship
 
(5)     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Dec 1994 11:21:08 GMT
        Subj:   No Holds Bard
 
(6)     From:   Luc Borot <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Dec 1994 21:42:15 +0100
        Subj:   AUTHORSHIP: ENOUGH IS TOO MUCH!!!!
 
(7)     From:   Melissa Aaron <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Dec 1994 15:07:14 +0200
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.1002 Authorship
 
(8)     From:   Robert Teeter <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Dec 1994 15:06:27 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.1002 Authorship
 
(9)     From:   David Joseph Kathman <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Dec 94 18:23:23 CST
        Subj:   authorship
 
(10)    From:   Tom Dale Keever <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Dec 94 20:27:48 EST
        Subj:   Authorship, alas....
 
(11)    From:   Annalisa Castaldo <ANNAL@TEMPLEVM>
        Date:   Wednesday, 14 Dec 94 08:07:06 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0996  Authorship
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Naomi Liebler <
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Date:           Tuesday, 13 Dec 94 00:08:00 EST
Subject: 5.1002  Authorship
Comment:        RE: SHK 5.1002  Authorship
 
Applause to Hardy's note appended to Tom Clayton's suggestion of an
"alternative" Electronic Shakespeare Conference on the "authorship" issue, and
further blessings on whoever it was the other day who noted that the length of
these authorship postings bears some inverse relation to the strength of the
arguments. Now, no one wants to cut off discussion among those truly interested
in a topic. Therefore I would like to suggest a model currently used by another
Electronic Conference to which I subscribe. Interscripta, as it is called, is
an E. C. for medievalists and those non-specialists who are interested in
various medieval topic. Here's how it works: someone proposes a topic for
discussion in which s/he is passionately interested and to the scholarship of
which s/he is committed. The topic is announced to subscribers at least a
couple of weeks before the discussion actually begins, and is fully described
(rather like a seminar proposal). Once the discussion is launched, it goes on
freely for a set period of time, usually 4 to 6 weeks, after which the
moderator (i.e., the proposer) gathers stuff together and transmits it to
subscribers in the discussion. In some cases, summaries of discussion "to date"
are compiled by the same moderator, just to keep people clear and focused on
the discussion. The latest one then posted the full discussion and all its
divagations on the hypertext World Wide Web/Lynx system. The beauty of all this
is that only those interested in a particular topic need subscribe to it,
whether they choose to be participants and contributors or lurkers. The
moderator runs the discussion; the passionately interested participants and
patient lurkers get to play to their respective hearts' contents with the
specific topic, and nobody else gets bored to death by what is essentially a
private discussion now, on SHAKSPER, transmitted to (what is the number,
Hardy?) some 600 or so readers? [Actually the membership now numbers 850+.
--HMC]  In case someone has just returned from Mars and has missed the
moderated discussion but would like to join in, the moderator could post an
OCCASIONAL reminder to SHAKSPER about what is under discussion without
"sharing" the whole 9 yards with everyone else, and can provide information on
how interested parties might tune into the topic.
 
The Latest Interscripta discussion (just concluded) was moderated by Jeffrey J.
Cohen of Georgetown University. I daresay he might be willing to share
information on how to launch such a discussion. Then again, he might not, but
it seems to me worth an inquiry if any of the "Authorship" seminar members
wants to pursue this. Alternatively, one might inquire of Deborah Everhart
whose brainschild Interscripta was. I haven't the appropriate e-mail addresses
in front of me, but if you wish, I will dig them up.
 
For now, could we have just a little break from the authorship fanatics,
please? If you can't manage that, then how about a little brevity?
 
Peace on Internet, Naomi Liebler
 
[I have every expectation of annoucing very soon SHAKSPER's move to Bowie State
Univesity, a move which should take place sometime early next year.  When the
move occurs, I will investigate the possibility of establishing a WWW site as
well as a gopher archive.  Clearly, a WWW connection would enable other sorts
of electronic engagement such as what Naomi Liebler suggests above.  --HMC]
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dom Saliani <
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Date:           Monday, 12 Dec 1994 14:42:52 -0700 (MST)
Subject:        authorship
 
< "the only person named William Shakespeare living in London between
<  1590 and 1610" was our man from Stratford.
 
I promised in my last posting that I would provide comment on the above
statement made by David Kathman.
 
In the Summer 1994 issue of *The Shakespeare Newsletter* Winnifred Frazer
(University of Florida) addresses this issue directly in her article "'William
Shakespeare' as a Common Name in Renaissance England" (pg. 33).
 
With your indulgence, and I hope I am not breaking any copyright laws, I will
reproduce several of the more pertinent paragraphs:
 
     "Distinguished biographer Sir Sidney Lee (A Life of William
     Shakespeare 1903) testifies to the large number of Shakespeare
     families on record: 'as many as thirty-four Warwickshire towns or
     villages were inhabited by Shakespeare families in the seventeenth
     century. Among them all William was a common Christian name ...
     no less that three Richard Shakespeares of Rowington [twelve miles
     from Stratford] whose extant wills were proved respectively in
     1560, 1591, and 1614, were fathers of sons called William. At least
     one other William Shakespeare was during the period a resident of
     Rowington. As a consequence the poet has been more than once
     credited with achievements which rightly belong to one or other of
     his numerous contemporaries who were identically named' (2) In
     the face of four recorded "William Shakespeare," besides the poet
     (who married Anne Hathaway of Shottery), Lee speculates that the
     man who married Anne Whatley of Temple Grafton at about the
     same time 'was doubtless another of the numerous William
     Shakespeares who abounded in the diocese of Worchester.' (24)
 
     'Schoenbaum notes the confusion caused by the fact that besides
     William's father, another contemporaneous John Shakespeare, who
     had three children, figures in the Stratford records. He adds: '...
     Shakespeares, their names spelt with exotic variety were thick on
     the ground in Warwickshire and the adjoining counties " (12 -13).
     In fact according to Schoenbaum, as far back as 1487 a Hugh
     Sawnders of Merton College, had his name changed "from
     Shakespeare because it was reputed as commonplace." ' (13)
 
     '... Indefatigable researcher Charlotte Stopes (Shakespeare's
     Family, 1901) trying to bring genealogical order to the numerous
     Shakespeare families of Warwicshire and London, contends that the
     William Shakespeare named in the tax records as of St. Helen's
     Parish, Bishopsgate, who "tried to avoid payment on some
     grounds," may not have been "our Shakespeare at all." She notes,
     "Several of the same name lived near Bishopsgate before and after
     his death." (143)
 
I think that this is more than enough to put to rest the claim that there was
only one William Shakespeare living in London during this period.
 
I will end with Frazer's conclusion, one that I wholeheartedly agree with:
 
     "In view of the plethora of Shakespeares at the time, is it not
     expedient now to re-examine the primary sources of the biography
     of the poet of Stratford?"
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Constance Relihan <
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Date:           Monday, 12 Dec 1994 22:10:08 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 5.0996 Authorship
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0996 Authorship
 
Not only has the authorship discussion become tedious (to many of us it always
was), it has now become racist as well.
 
--Constance Relihan
 
On Fri, 9 Dec 1994, Richard J. Kennedy wrote:
...Since I can't draw him a picture, let me try another way to coax Kathman
to the understanding of a very simple thing.
>
>             "Stratford man -- big fella poet -- he die. No other
>              fella poet makem words, say goodbye, sorry Big Fella."
>
> Catch'em question, Kathman?
>
> Kennedy
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dom Saliani <
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Date:           Monday, 12 Dec 1994 22:26:54 -0700 (MST)
Subject:        authorship
 
< It takes no more esoteric knowledge than can be gleaned from the
< introductory remarks to a Signet or a Folger edition that we have every
< reason to believe the "Stratford Man" wrote the plays attributed to him.
 
I suggest that Craig Bryant take a good look at the introductory remarks in
Folger editions of the plays.
 
The introductory material intended to provide information on the author is
seven and a half pages long. However, it is not till well into the third page
that any details are given about the Stratford William. The first several pages
are filled, to repeat myself, with bitter vitriol against Anti- Shakespeareans.
Here is but a sampling of these comments:
 
     "To those acquainted with the history of the Elizabethan and
     Jacobean periods, it is incredible that anyone should be so *naive or
     ignorant* as to doubt the reality of Shakespeare as the author of the
     plays that bear his name."
 
Is this not the most blatant misuse of name calling you have ever read in a
work that is purportedly aimed at students and the general reading public?
 
We all know why people, engaged in an argument/discussion, resort to
name calling. They do so when they want us to form a judgment or
opinion without examining the evidence. Name calling is a rhetorical
device designed to stop the thinking process. It gets us to react emotionally
instead of logically by appealing to hatred and fear. Politicians do it all the
time and it ain't pretty. It is especially unattractive when "scholars" engage
in this practice. It should also be stated that debaters often resort to name
calling when they have run out of ideas or support for their position.
Can you imagine how much discussion would be shut down by a statement
such as the one quoted above? What student or member of the general
reading public would dare question the authorship and risk being lumped in
with the "naive" and the "ignorant"?
 
The name-calling continues:
 
     "Yet so much *nonsense* has been written about other "candidates"
     for the plays that it is well to remind readers that no credible
     evidence that would stand up in a court of law has ever been
     adduced to prove either that Shakespeare did not write his plays or
     that anyone else wrote them."
 
To students, teachers and the general public, the Folger Library represents
the most authoritative voice on matters dealing with Shakespeare. How
much useful inquiry and dialogue has been shut down by the Folger's
indictment of anything anti-Stratfordian as being "nonsense"?
 
To continue:
 
     "All the theories offered for the authorship of Francis Bacon, the
     Earl of Derby, the Earl of Oxford, the Earl of Hertford,
     Christopher Marlowe, and a score of other candidates are mere
     conjectures spun from the active imaginations of persons who
     confuse hypotheses and conjecture with evidence."
 
"Naive", "ignorant", "writers of nonsense", and now, confused over-
imaginative hypothesizers. Will this list ever end?
 
There is more and unfortunately there is worse:
 
     "The obvious reputation of Shakespeare as early as 1598 makes the
     effort to prove him a myth one of the most absurd in the history of
     *human perversity*."
 
How can one comment on such a statement? Is this not the ultimate in
intellectual bankruptcy? To accuse the opposition in a debate of being
absurd is one thing but perverse? Methinks the Folger doth protest too
much.
 
Yes there is more - much more:
 
     "The anti-Shakespeareans talk darkly about a plot of vested interests
     to maintain the authorship of Shakespeare. Nobody has any vested
     interest in Shakespeare, but every scholar is interested in the truth
     and in the quality of evidence advanced by special pleaders who set
     forth hypotheses in places of facts."
 
Add paranoia and lobbyism to the list of offenses charged to the Anti-
Stratfordians. Does this statement not also suggest that anti-Stratfordians
are disinterested in truth? What does this make us?
 
Is it not also notable that the opposition are referred to as being "anti-
Shakespeareans"? Would this not be read as being against Shakespeare?
That's almost as bad as being anti-apple pie and anti-mom! Let's continue
with the diatribe:
 
     "The anti-Shakespeareans base their arguments upon a few simple
     premises, all of them false. These false premises are that
     Shakespeare was an unlettered yokel without any schooling, that
     nothing is known about Shakespeare and that only a noble lord or
     the equivalent in background could have written the plays. . . Most
     anti-Shakespeareans are naive and betray an obvious snobbery. The
     author of their favourite plays, they imply, must have had a college
     diploma framed and hung on his study wall, like the one in their
     dentist's office, and obviously so great a writer must have had a
     title or some equally significant evidence of exalted social
     background. They forget that genius has a way of cropping up in
     unexpected places and that none of the great creative writers of the
     world got his inspiration in a college or university course."
 
I think that a great many authors would take great exception to the last
statement. This last excerpt adds a few more names to the invective against
anti-Stratfordians. We are poor logicians and snobbish; we also suffer from
memory loss.
 
What has been quoted above all occurs within the first three and a half
pages. The remaining four pages need no comment. They contain the usual
fare in presenting the Stratford William as the author of the Shakespeare
plays.
 
The good news is that the "New Folger Library Editions" have come out.
All of the above material has been deleted and in its place is a more
temperate statement in the concluding paragraph acknowledging that an
authorship question exists:
 
     "Perhaps in response to the disreputable Shakespeare of legend - or
     perhaps in response to the fragmentary, and for some, all-too-
     ordinary Shakespeare documented by surviving records - some
     people since the mid nineteenth century have argued that William
     Shakespeare could not have written the plays that bear his name.
     These persons have put forward some dozen names as more likely
     authors, among them Queen Elizabeth, Sir Francis Bacon, Edward
     de Veer (earl of Oxford), and Christopher Marlowe. Such attempts
     to find what for these people is a more believable author of the
     plays, is a tribute to the regard in which the plays are held."
 
I take this change as a hopeful sign of the times. Perhaps scholarship and
tolerance is not dead.
 
My advice to the simple and amused Craig Bryant is to ask himself why
any scholarly institution would resort to such anti-intellectual tactics as
outlined above. Perhaps there is more here than meets the eye.
 
As for Craig's reference to Greene's *Groats-Worth of Wit" as evidence
that a connection exists between the man from Stratford and the writing of
plays, I will respond in another posting. This one is too long as it is.
 
Dom Saliani
< 
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  >
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Tuesday, 13 Dec 1994 11:21:08 GMT
Subject:        No Holds Bard
 
Oh come on!  The authorship debate is really rather restful. At least it's a
change from the drivel which recurrent constitutional crises seem to be
generating on British TV screens. As I write, a central project,  awash with
appalling bonhomie, is calling itself 'Bard on the Box'.  Another jauntily
searches for the "Bardbrain of Britain".  I have nominated Brian Vickers.
 
Terence Hawkes
 
(6)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Luc Borot <
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Date:           Tuesday, 13 Dec 1994 21:42:15 +0100
Subject:        AUTHORSHIP: ENOUGH IS TOO MUCH!!!!
 
I second the suggestion, already seconded by Hardy, that those who wish to
discuss the authorship question move to another list of their own. It is
clogqing our mail again; luckily, Hardy resolved to group these posts under one
digest, which allows some of us to directly delete or just browse every second
appearance of that obsessive header (or every time...).
 
I chose to browse, so I discovered that others had the same reaction as me. I
browsed the rest and deleted. Now: is it not time we divorced? I am considering
soon unsubscribing from this otherwise excellent list because it is manipulated
by partisans of a marginal and ideologically and socially oriented cause.
Elizabethan Lords were better artists than Elizabethan players and scribblers,
the scholars of today know less than some certain lord of today.
 
Why would it be John Smith and not Jean Dupont or Pierre Martin, or Jules
Durand who wrote the Tempest AND the others? Pocahontas (did I get you right?
is it HER John S?) may have had nothing to do with it, you know. Perhaps
Prospero's island was the Ile de la Cit/e, and Caliban was the hunchback of
Notre Dame, who knows?! Language is no real objection, if what matters is blue
blood...
 
        From this democratic age,
        Luc
 
PS: With a toungue, a cheek, a grain of salt, and the best Christmas greetings
in advance... even to Lord de V.
 
(7)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Melissa Aaron <
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Date:           Tuesday, 13 Dec 1994 15:07:14 +0200
Subject: 5.1002 Authorship
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.1002 Authorship
 
There's been a lot of reference to "Stratford Man" and "Oxford Man" on this
thread lately.  I keep wondering--is this some kind of anthropological jargon?
Are we hoping to dig up "Stratford Man?"  If we can't, does this prove that
"Stratford Man" is "Piltdown Man"?   I mention this because--
        1) there's been in the past a big tendency for anti-Stratfordians
           to want to dig Shakespeare up
        2) just as in anthropology, the amount of evidence we have for
           "Stratford Man" is consistent with what we'd expect to find,
           given the relative elapse of time in each case
        3)  Piltdown Man seems to have been perpetrated to prove a pet
           theory, by amateur scholars, who when the facts didn't fit,
           proceeded to make up some facts.
Just a little cross-disciplinary interjection.
 
(8)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robert Teeter <
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Date:           Tuesday, 13 Dec 1994 15:06:27 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 5.1002 Authorship
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.1002 Authorship
 
Tony A. Emond  <
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 > wrote regarding the tragedies:
 
> I find the pattern somewhat odd, if one sees it in the context of the
> Stratford man writing the plays. Assuming that the philosophy of "you
> are what you are born to be" carried over into his private life, the
> Stratford man would have felt himself incapable of writing such great
> plays. Edward de Vere, OTOH, would have felt more at home.
 
Why, then, did Marlowe, Jonson, and other playwrights of similar common birth
have no such problems?  They wrote about royalty and nobility.  They inherited
the same class outlook as Shakespeare.  Or, did deVere write their plays as
well?
 
It seems to me that someone of common birth is *more* likely to have inflated
ideas about nobility.  They are more distant to the person of common birth, who
sees them only in public, when they are on their best behavior.
 
This phenomenon is manifest in the authorship debate itself, in which some
people cannot believe great literature could come from a common man.  The
majority of anti-Stratfordians -- with the obvious exception of some de Vere
descendants -- are themselves of common birth.
 
If de Vere felt so at home writing plays, why did he feel compelled to use a
pseudonym (the cardinal tenet of all anti-Stratfordian theories)?
 
        Robert Teeter
        San Jose, Calif.
 
(9)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Joseph Kathman <
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Date:           Tuesday, 13 Dec 94 18:23:23 CST
Subject:        authorship
 
Dom Saliani takes great exception to my statement that there was only one
William Shakespeare living in London between 1590 and 1610.  For the record, I
based this statement on Appendix E of E. K. Chambers' *William Shakespeare: A
Study of the Facts and Problems*, which contains a fairly complete list of all
the Shakespeares (under any spelling) known in England between the 13th and
early 17th centuries, arranged by time period and location.  For London after
1500, the closest we get is a "William Shakespert" who was buried in
Westminster on 30 April 1539.  There is a record of the burial of Jane
Shakspear, daughter of William, in 1609, but this "William" is almost certainly
an error for John Shakspear (of whom there is extensive record), a royal
bitmaker who had a daughter Jane in 1608 of whom there is no more record after
1609.  There was no shortage of John Shakespeares, and the surname was not
uncommon in general, but I stand by my statement that there was only one
William Shakespeare in London between 1590 and 1610.  I don't specifically
remember the article Mr. Saliani cites, but I'd be glad to read a summary of
it.
 
My sympathies are with those who are sick of this whole discussion.
 
Dave Kathman

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(10)---------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tom Dale Keever <
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Date:           Tuesday, 13 Dec 94 20:27:48 EST
Subject:        Authorship, alas....
 
Like others I paused before leaping into this thread.  Much of it seems a waste
of time and many think, with some justification, that the Looney-tics' claims
for Oxford, advanced with such comically passionate intensity, are best ignored
by those of us who still clinge to traditional standards of historical
accuracy, and thus seem, because we must keep open minds, to lack all
conviction.  I sympathize and recommend you keep your left pinkie poised near
your Q-key when you hit these posts.   Most of all, I sympathize with Hardy,
and urge all of us who dive into this thread to identify our posts clearly as
"Authorship," so he doesn't have to read them all the way through.
 
I refuse, however, to apologize for the length of this or any other message I
post in this thread.  Such apologies come, you will notice, exclusively from
the Stratfordian camp.  The Looney-tics have what Ralph Nader once described as
"cast iron bladders."  They will keep repeating their assertions, no matter how
nonsensical, ad nauseum and at amazing length and can sit at their terminals
longer than Strom Thurmond can filibuster.  Those who have the patience to
reply should never apologize if we must respond with lengthier answers than the
flimsiness of our opponents' arguments deserve.
 
Those of us who hesitate to oppose the forces of foolishness and respond to the
Looney-tics should look at the ascendance of Rush Limbaugh and his ilk in the
recent US elections.  By flooding the market place of ideas with distortions,
half truths and outright lies in greater volume than the better informed were
willing or able to respond the reactionary right has succeeded in putting Next
Gingrich and Jesse Helms in charge of an alarming share of my country's
policies.   Like Rush, the Looney-tics can use little nuggets of untruth like
"there is no evidence linking the man from Straford to any play" with great
effect because there are few with the will to refute them.
 
I do not make that comparison lightly.  I disagreee with those who feel we
should not critique the obvious ideological motivations of the Looney-tics and
may have more to say about that in a later posts.  I wonder, for instance, at
the silence of our esteemed colleague Terence Hawkes in this discussion.
Wasn't Looney completing his "researches" at about the same time that John
Dover Wilson was riding the train from Leeds to Sunderland and musing on the
meaning of the "The Mousetrap?"  Were not their subsequent efforts to put
Shakespeare at the center of "English" culture parallel in their aims and, in
large part, in their methods?    ( If there is anyone on this list who has NOT
read Hawkes' THAT SHAKESPEARIAN RAG, run, don't walk, to your library! )
 
For the information of anyone on this list who is surprised to learn from the
Looney-tic fringe that there is no contemporary evidence linking William
Shakespeare to the plays he is supposed to have written, I offer for
clarification this list of title-page citations.  My source is _Shakespeare's
Plays in Quarto_, edited by Michael J. B. Allen and Kenneth Muir, (U. of
California Press, Berkeley, 1981)
 
Quartos with Shakespeare's name on the title page:
 
(Title / date / text of attribution)
 
Love's Labor's Lost, 1598, "By W. Shakespere"
 
Henry IV, part 2, 1600, "Written by William Shakespeare."
 
Midsummer Night's Dream, 1600, "Written by William Shakespeare."
 
Merchant of Venice, 1600, "Written by William Shakespeare."
 
Much Ado About Nothing, 1600, "Written by William Shakespeare."
 
The Merry Wives of Windsor, 1602, "By William Shakespeare."
 
Hamlet, 1603, "By William Shakespeare."
 
King Lear, 1608, "M. William Shak-speare."  (above the title)
 
Troilus and Cressida,  1609, "Written by William Shakespeare."
 
Pericles, 1609, "By William Shakespeare."
 
After 1616:
 
Othello, 1622, "Written by William Shakespeare."
 
First Folio, 1623,  "Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories,
& Tragedies."
 
The Two Noble Kinsmen, 1634, "Written by the memorable Worthies
of their time; Mr. John Fletcher, and Mr. William Shakespeare, Gent."
(Would it be too much for us to suppose that whoever composed this
title page meant that Mr. Shakespeare was a "memorable worthie of
[his] time" not as an actor and real estate speculator, but as a
playwright?)
 
I respectfully request that one of this List's resident Looney-tics reply by
citing for the enlightenment of the ill-informed all contemporary references to
Oxford as the author of any of the above plays or of any other play
traditionally attributed to the man from Stratford.   Letters, diaries, even
hear-say reported in accounts of conversation or rumors repeated by
contemporary sources at second, third, or even fourth hand will be happily
welcomed.   I'm not picky, certainly not as picky as the typical Looney-tic is
when judging the value of all the seventeenth century references to a certain
Stratford native as a playwright of some reknown in his time.
 
I prefer to avoid sources like ouija boards or deceased spirits speaking
through psychic mediums, but I realize that the Percy Allen faction of the
Looney-tic camp considers such a restriction grossly unfair, so I won't insist
on it.  ( See Allen's 1947 opus _Talks with Elizabethans Revealing the Mystery
of "William Shakespeare"_ if you think I'm making this up! )  Unless something
has come to light in the very recent past the non-ectoplasmic evidence for
Oxford remains nil. It would be refreshing to see a Looney-tic acknowledge this
fact, but I'm not holding my breath.
 
The fact that plays before 1598 were not attributed to Shakespeare is entirely
in keeping with the practice of the time.  Few plays in the book stalls
mentioned the author.  That Shakespeare was cited AT ALL is strong evidence
that, unlike most of his contemporaries, he gained some reknown among the
afficionados who bought and read play scripts, as an author more than usually
worth reading.  That his name was put on plays most agree he didn't write only
strengthens that argument - it certainly doesn't refute it.  Of special note is
the quarto of KING LEAR in which Shakespeare's name appears ABOVE THE TITLE and
in bigger type at that.  By that time he was clearly a "superstar" among his
fellow playwrights.   His name, clearly, would make people buy books at the
stalls.  Can Looney-tics cite a similar case among his contemporaries?
 
As for the lack of recorded public literary grief on or immediately after April
23, 1616, the death of Cervantes earlier the same month was greeted with little
more notice in Madrid.  Scholars of Iberian literature, for some reason, are
not beseiged by claims that DON QUIXOTE was actually written by Lope de Vega.
 
That Jonson's death inspired a greater outpouring of published keening is
neither surprising nor relevant.  He was a literary lion in various highly
regarded forms.  Shakespeare, despite his early high brow efforts, was known
only in the ephemeral, and widely despised, arena of the popular stage, and he
had retired from that several years before he died.  Jonson respected his
talent, though not uncritically, and a few younger poets like Donne were
clearly influenced by what they heard in the playhouses, but few of the
literati were willing to welcome mere playwrights as their peers.
 
The historical record shows that Shakespeare enjoyed all the respect that could
be expected for someone in his trade, and more.  Those who seek a way to make
this point strongly with their students might try a tactic I have used when I
taught at The National Shakespeare Conservatory and elsewhere.  I cite my
friend Carmen Fenestra, an erstwhile classical actor I knew from my years at
Jean Cocteau Repertory, and ask the audience if they have ever heard of him.
None ever have.  I then ask how many watch, or watched, THE COSBY SHOW.
Generally I am the only one in the room who has never watched an entire episode
of the popular series and I then ask how none of them ever noticed that Carmen
had a hand in every script that series ever aired.  Unlike Shakespeare's
contemporaries they could not avoid having the wordsmith's name flashed in
their face when they had finished enjoying his work.  Yet the name means
nothing to them, though now they see it at the end of every episode of HOME
IMPROVEMENT.  Or ask if they can name one writer besides Bochko from HILL
STREET BLUES.  I don't expect the impact of this example to shake the faith of
a hard core Looney-tic, but it may prevent some innocents from taking their
argument seriously.
 
Tom Dale Keever

 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
 
[Because SHAKSPER is an edited list and because I am concerned with keeping
a consistent look and feel to the digests, I generally read everything that
comes to the list as I edit and format the postings for distribution.  This, of
course, takes time, and I have spent more than an hour getting this particular
digest together.  I do this work because I am dedicated to maintaining rigor
and scholarly acceptability for SHAKSPER.  Clearly, I must take pause when
a discussion such as this becomes so prominent.  The "Authorship" heading, Tom,
is provided so that others may delete freely; I, alas, must read all.  --HMC]
 
(11)---------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Annalisa Castaldo <ANNAL@TEMPLEVM>
Date:           Wednesday, 14 Dec 94 08:07:06 EST
Subject: 5.0996  Authorship
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0996  Authorship
 
I too have long ago stopped reading those mailings headed "Authorship" but I
did catch Alice's comment and I can only add "Hear hear!" Alice, don't feel the
need to apologize for a lack of degrees. As someone only working on her Ph.D.,
I think you are EXACTLY right.
                              Annalisa Castaldo
                              Temple University
 

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