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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: November ::
Authorship
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0882.  Thursday, 3 November 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Todd M. Lidh <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 1 Nov 1994 10:47:53 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0875 Authorship
 
(2)     From:   David Joseph Kathman <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 1 Nov 94 22:37:46 CST
        Subj:   Authorship
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Todd M. Lidh <
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Date:           Tuesday, 1 Nov 1994 10:47:53 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 5.0875 Authorship
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0875 Authorship
 
I will willingly acknowledge my own sparse background in the field of
authorship, but, as an up-and-coming (would-be) Shakesperian scholar, I feel I
have to express my own feelings in this area.
 
All of the evidence I have seen and heard which supports Oxford (or others) has
been substantially insubstantial.  No direct evidence exists which points to
the Earl, nor will there be any.  Conjectures based on supposition based on
wishful thinking has led to a pretty argument but one which lacks any force of
proof.
 
Shakespearians, on the other hand, have direct evidence.  Pat Buckridge
acknowledges that their is a will of William Shakespeare of Stratford which
links him with the William Shakespere of London.  Hey, that sounds like
evidence to me!  Why do supporters of Oxford claim that Shakesperians must
provide a wealth of direct evidence when they themselves can produce none at
all?
 
Also, one cannot dismiss title pages and such because they are (gasp!) direct
evidence also -- tangible, extant evidence which states that William
Shakespeare wrote these plays.
 
Where is the evidence of an Elizabethan conspiracy?  Where is the evidence of
Oxford's sudden maturing as a writer?  Where is the evidence?
 
Plainly, there is none.  And, until there is, I believe that any burden of
proof (which must contain direct evidence) is on the shoulders of the
Oxfordians.  Personally, I study these plays without much thought as to who
wrote them, but I also cannot dismiss the author from some of my assumptions.
I have no room for Oxford in this analysis because I have no good, logical
reason nor proof to accept (or even consider) him the author.
 
Please, citing direct evidence, change my mind.
 
Todd M. Lidh
UNC-Chapel Hill
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Joseph Kathman <
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Date:           Tuesday, 1 Nov 94 22:37:46 CST
Subject:        Authorship
 
Arrgh.  I see that David Evett's posting, reasonable as it was, has unleashed
the expected responses from Oxfordians.  Let me first respond to Pat Buckridge,
then to Charles Boyle.
 
1) Phlogiston, Pat?  Come on.  If you want to play that game, I could compare
Oxfordians to other historical revisionist movements whose members have much
more sinister motivations than you do.  "But I won't, since that would be
stupid and unfair to you.  Let's just stick to the subject at hand."
 
2) As for more substantive claims: Pat implies that the occasional hyphenation
of Shakespeare's name on the title pages of the quartos is grounds for
believing that this was a pseudonym.  This common Oxfordian belief (usually
just asserted with no evidence whatsoever) bears no relation to reality, and
Irvin Matus in *Shakespeare, In Fact* shows it to be the baseless distortion it
is.  There are plenty of other instances where non-pseudonymous proper names
were hyphenated in Elizabethan times, and the pattern seems to be that if a
name can be divided into two parts, one or both of which is an English word,
the name was occasionally hyphenated in print --- e.g. Shake-speare,
Old-castle, etc.  IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH PSEUDONYMS, and anyone who says
that hyphenation commonly indicated a pseudonym in Elizabethan times is simply
making a false statement.
 
3) Pat claims that there are 'remarkably few' contemporary allusions to
Shakespeare, when there are about as many as we should expect for a playwright
of his stature.  There are fewer contemporary allusions to Thomas Dekker and
John Webster among others, and they wrote plays longer than Shakespeare did.
He also claims that these allusions are inconclusive in that they do not
specify "William Shakespeare the glover's son from Stratford-upon-Avon"; aside
from the fact that some of these allusions imply that Shakespeare was an actor,
this criterion would invalidate probably 99 percent of Elizabethan allusions.
 
4) The claim that the only evidence directly linking Shakespeare of Stratford
with the actor/sharer of London is the bequest to Heminges, Condell, and
Burbage in Shakespeare's will is not quite accurate --- there's also the
document in the College of Heralds with a drawing of Shakespeare's coat of arms
and the disparaging notation "Shakspere, the player".  This is the same coat of
arms which appears on Shakespeare's grave and monument in Stratford --- oh, I
forgot, those were erected by the conspirators after Shakespeare's death to
fool posterity.  There are also, of course, numerous other documents (Augustine
Phillips' will, the Royal patent for the King's Men, etc. etc.) indicating that
a real person named William Shakespeare (virtually always with that spelling in
the documents in question) was an actor and sharer in the Chamberlain's /
King's Men.  What, are you suggesting that this was a different man than the
guy who left rings to Heminges and Condell in his will?  If so, who was it?
 
5) Now on to Charles Boyle.  Mr. Boyle uses Ward Elliot's refreshing modesty
("ours is not the last word on the subject, much less the only word") as an
excuse to dismiss Elliot's entire study.  What, because Ward Elliot refuses to
proclaim his study the be-all and end-all of stylometric authorship studies,
that means we can just toss it out without a second glance?  Please.  Why don't
you try telling us specifically what's wrong with Elliot's study, rather than
proclaiming it "flawed" and acting like that's the end of the discussion?
 
6) Boyle also, like Pat Buckridge, disparages the amount of evidence linking
the Stratford man to the plays.  I'll say it one more time:  the parallel
evidence for other Elizabethan playwrights is just as tenuous by 20th century
standards, in most cases more tenuous.  Take Christopher Marlowe.  We know that
there was a real person with this name, a shoemaker's son from Canterbury, but
if you want to have some fun on a rainy Sunday afternoon, try proving that this
person ever wrote a play in his life. You can't do it, using Oxfordian
standards.  Consider: we have no letters or other documents in his hand, just a
single signature as a witness to a will in 1583, spelled "Christofer Marley"
(we're pretty sure this is the right guy because his father was a witness to
the same will).  During his lifetime, the only play we now attribute to him
which was published was *Tamburlaine Part 2*, published anonymously in 1590,
and the grounds for attributing this play to Marlowe in any case are very
meager, consisting mainly of a highly ambiguous reference by Robert Greene.
Marlowe's name was *never* directly associated with any plays during his
lifetime; this first happened in 1594, the year after his death, when the name
"Christopher Marlowe" (a spelling almost never used while the shoemaker's son
was alive) appeared on the title page of *Dido, Queen of Carthage*.  During the
rest of the decade some plays appeared with "Ch. Mar." or "C. Marl." or the
like; it wasn't until well into the 17th century that the name "Christopher
Marlowe" was regularly associated in print with plays.  And in any case,
references made after the man's death don't count, as the Oxfordians always
tell us in the case of Shakespeare.  The literary allusions to Marlowe are of
the same type as the allusions to Shakespeare, and could easily be dismissed on
the same grounds the Oxfordians use.  Yet despite all this --- the fact that he
spelled his name "Marley" while the quartos after his death say "Marlowe", the
fact that nothing during his lifetime directly links him to any play, and the
posthumous evidence is almost nonexistent until a decade or more after his
death --- despite all this, people seem to have no trouble believing that
Christopher Marlowe of Caterbury wrote *The Jew of Malta*, *Dr. Faustus*,
*Tamburlaine*, and *Edward II*, and there are people who believe that he also
wrote Shakespeare's plays as well.  Anyone who accepts that Christopher Marlowe
of Canterbury wrote plays but refuses to accept that William Shakespeare of
Stratford did is applying a double standard of the most blatant and monumental
order.
 
Good night.
 
Dave Kathman

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