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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: January ::
Re: Literacy with Editor's Note
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0169  Thursday, 25 January 2001

[1]     From:   Stephanie Hughes <
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        Date:   Tue, 23 Jan 2001 15:44:59 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0137 Re: Literacy with Editor's Note

[2]     From:   Franklin J. Hildy <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 24 Jan 2001 13:44:41 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0127 Re: Literacy with Editor's Note

[3]     From:   David Kathman <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 24 Jan 2001 23:56:38 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0153 Re: Literacy with Editor's Note


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephanie Hughes <
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Date:           Tue, 23 Jan 2001 15:44:59 +0000
Subject: 12.0137 Re: Literacy with Editor's Note
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0137 Re: Literacy with Editor's Note


>Not wishing to let the question as to Marlowe's notoriety and the idea
>of 'poets' in S's time get lost in the question of Shakespeare's
>education, does anyone know more about the connection between
>'established' Elizabethan playwrights and scurrilous pamphleteers . . .
>or recommend reading on the subject?

I'm not sure what you mean by "established" playwrights, but we know
that Robert Greene, the most prolific pamphleteer of the time (Greene
could hardly be called "scurrilous"), wrote at least two popular plays,
and some think more. Thomas Nashe, the second most important
pamphleteer, wrote at least one, though it was probably not performed
for the public. Scholars of Nashe and Greene have identified two of the
anonymous "scurrilous" anti-Marprelate pamphleteers as these two. No one
has successfully identified Martin Marprelate himself (or herself).
Thomas Lodge, who wrote the romance pamphlet on which Shakespeare based
"As You Like It" may have written one or more of the anonymous plays of
the period. He also wrote the anti-Gosson pamphlet defending plays.
Stephen Gosson, who wrote the pamphlet against plays that Lodge
responded to, also wrote a play earlier. Others may have more to add.

However, the point is, really, that if anyone concerned about their
reputations wished to sound off about something or satirize someone or
some group, he would publish a pamphlet under a false name or no name,
so it isn't likely we'd know about it even if they did.

If by "established" you mean respectable, there was no such thing at
that time as a respectable playwright, any more than there was such a
thing as a respectable rock band in the sixties.

Biographies of Lyly (Warwick Bond), Greene (Charles Crupi), Nashe
(Charles Nicholl), Peele (Horne), Lodge and Marlowe go into detail about
their work.  All have been given thorough treatment by excellent
scholars. For anyone interested in the milieu in which Shakespeare
wrote, these books fill in the background in a way that no other writing
can.

Stephanie Hughes

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Franklin J. Hildy <
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Date:           Wednesday, 24 Jan 2001 13:44:41 -0500
Subject: 12.0127 Re: Literacy with Editor's Note
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0127 Re: Literacy with Editor's Note

I am sorry this debate on the level of education Shakespeare may or may
not have had will be going away. I had hoped someone would tell me why
this is of any significance. A very large number of the greatest minds
in literature. linguistics, business and science were self taught
weren't they? George Bernard Shaw, as I recall, had minimal formal
education, yet no one has argued that he could not, therefore, have
written the plays that are now attributed to him. Both Shaw and
Shakespeare were clearly among the most brilliant minds of their day.
They were both very well educated -- there is just no reason to think
they got very much of that education in a school. It seems odd to me
that anyone should suggest that a university education is a prerequisite
to great playwriting because I can't think of any period in history
where that has been true.

Prof. Franklin J. Hildy, Chair
Department of Theatre           <<http://www.umd.edu/thet>>
University of Maryland

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Kathman <
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Date:           Wednesday, 24 Jan 2001 23:56:38 -0600
Subject: 12.0153 Re: Literacy with Editor's Note
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0153 Re: Literacy with Editor's Note

I know Hardy said he was pulling the plug on this discussion, but I hope
he will permit me a few brief parting comments, given that I didn't have
a chance to respond to the first batch.  These comments are more
directed to lurkers than to Diana Price herself.

Diana Price wrote:

>William Sutton wrote
>
>| I counted to ten, ate something and counted again. I agree, Diana,
>that
>| the documentary evidence is not there. However as seen in previous
>posts
>| it isn't there for a number of his contemporaries either.
>
>Shakespeare is one of the odd men out. There is documentary evidence of
>educational training, books, or access to books for Jonson, Nashe,
>Massinger, Harvey, Spenser, Daniel, Peele, Chapman, Drummond, Marston,
>Middleton, Lyly, Lodge, Greene, Watson, Marlowe, Beaumont, and Kyd
>(among others).

Ms. Price's list here is heavy in the university-educated playwrights,
for whom we understandably do have documentary evidence of education.
She neglects to mention numerous prolific writers for whom we lack the
type of evidence she seeks, such as John Webster, Thomas Dekker, Henry
Chettle, Michael Drayton, and many others.  And for some of the people
on the list above, the evidence we do have is slim.  For example, we
have no documentary record of George Chapman's education, and indeed no
documentary record of him at all before he was 30 years old; but we do
have a book that he inscribed, much later, in which he mentions that he
had spent time in his youth in the service of Sir Ralph Sadler, and I
assume that this is what Ms. Price is thinking of for him.  I deal with
the education issue in some detail in the article "Why I'm Not An
Oxfordian", available on the Shakespeare Authorship site at:

http://www.clark.net/tross/ws/whynot.html

In that article I discuss the radical double standard used by Oxfordian
curmudgeon Charlton Ogburn on this issue.  I also discuss the education
issue in less detail in "The Stratford Grammar School", available at:

http://www.clark.net/tross/ws/school.html

>| Diana seems to
>| be suggesting some kind of conspiracy by Orthodox authorities while
>| subtly (?!) defending (I presume) he who must not be named.
>
>Although I am anti-Stratfordian, I am not an Oxfordian and I do not
>propose any conspiracies. I am proposing that the types of documentary
>evidence generally used to support the genre of literary biography --
>including records of education and training -- are missing from
>Shakespeare's.

I would dispute this claim rather forcefully.  The evidence for
Shakespeare's authorship of the works generally attributed to him is
quite ample, and is stronger than the comparable evidence for some of
the writers Ms. Price mentioned in her first answer above.  For an
overview of the evidence that William Shakespeare of Stratford wrote the
works of William Shakespeare, see "How We Know That Shakespeare Wrote
Shakespeare: The Historical Evidence", at:

http://www.clark.net/tross/ws/howdowe.html

To brush aside all this evidence, and focus instead on the education
issue, seems to me a rather myopic and unscholarly way of considering
the facts.  I also discuss these issues in "Why I'm Not an Oxfordian",
cited above, and in "Biographical Information: Shakespeare vs. His
Contemporaries", at:

http://www.clark.net/tross/ws/ox3.html

>Sean Lawrence wrote:
>
>| Diana Price's logic escapes me.  If there is no record of
>Shakespeare's
>| attending a grammar school, then surely this makes it *less* likely,
>not
>| *more*, that he attended a university, since he'd also lack the
>| prerequisites.
>
>Yes, but that misses my point. It is one thing to acknowledge that there
>are no records to account for Shakespeare's education. It is another to
>claim he did not need an advanced education in the first place. Such a
>claim seems to me to be an attempt to justify the absence of
>documentation or to deflect unwelcome questions.

No, the claim that Shakespeare did not need an advanced education is
based on the lack of signs of extensive learning in Shakespeare's plays
and poems.  He certainly read a lot, but not in the way a university
graduate would have; he read books that were freely available and used
by many other playwrights.

If this message does make it to the list, I thank Hardy for indulging me
this one time before pulling the plug on the dreaded "A" word. For much
more on why anti-Stratfordian and/or Oxfordian claims are mistaken,
readers may consult the Shakespeare Authorship web page at

http://www.clark.net/tross/

Dave Kathman

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