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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: March ::
Re: Willobie His Avisa
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0597  Thursday, 27 March 2003

From:           Roger Nyle Parisious <
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Date:           Monday, 24 Mar 2003 16:26:16 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 13.2346 Willobie His Avisa
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2346 Willobie His Avisa

>> From:           Laurie Warner <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
>> Date:           Monday, 25 Nov 2002 19:19:18 -0800
>> Subject:        Willobie His Avisa
>>
>> Has any information emerged in recent years
>relating
>> to Henry
>> Willoughby, the alleged author of "Willobie his
>> Avisa", either being a
>> real person or, if not a real person, as to whom
>> could have written the
>> book?

I have had this on my machine for many months hoping that someone could
supply something a bit more comprehensive than my own efforts. As no one
has as yet replied, perhaps my summary of some very old news may, with
luck, stir my hypothetical informants to act

The last Stratfordian treatment appears to be B.N.

DeLuna,"The Queen Declined:An Interpretation of  'Willobie His
Avisa'"(Oxford,l970).Prior to this publication it had been generally
accepted that the initials  "W.S"  for the "old actor" were an
inevitable hit at William  Shakespeare. H.W. would then with equal
inevitability be Henry Southampton (not an obscure Oxford college boy
who was only, perhaps, drug in for the embarrassment which the use of
his initials would occasion to the actual targets). This rather
self-evident interpretation is supported by the fact that this
publication contains both the first allusion to
Shakespeare's "Lucrece"("and Shake-speare paints poor Lucrece rape") and
the first use of the hyphenated form.

Under these circumstances, if the author were Henry Willobie, he must
have been aware that his use of the ,at least, ambiguous double initials
"H.W." and "W.S." could cause him  (and Will) no end of possible social,
not to mention political, difficulties.

Officially the work was being edited for publication by "Willobie's"
room mate "Hadrian Dorrell" who "found" it while his friend was on
Continental tour.Hadrian hopes that his buddy won't mind that he has
rushed off with the purloined manuscript to an undercover publisher,so
struck is HD with the literary genius exhibited by the work.Needless to
say no evidence of the existence of an Oxford student named Hadrian
Dorrell has ever surfaced.To make things even more obvious,an
pseudonymous sequel published two years later,"Penelope"s
Complaint",announces that Henry is dead(he actually had an approximate
twenty years of life ahead of him) but, don't break down folks, his
brother Thomas Willobie will be taking his place as commentator on the
still accelerating scandal.All this smacks of blatant and malicious
fraud  over every nook and cranny ;and the Will Shakspere we all (except
the most rigid neo-Oxfordians) agree was the old actor seems to have
been a prime target for the satire,whatever its now obscure overall
intention may have been.

Miss DeLuna(whom I dubbed a neo-Stratfordian in my articles in the
Elizabethan Review,l998) changed all this with her claim that Willobie's
Avisa was really Elizabeth Tudor(not an Oxford bar maid whom H.W. and
W.S. had on the make).She ,however,amiably conceded that W.S. might well
be our Will but ,in any event, his friend "H.W." was really a split
personality concealing both Robert Dudley and his stepson Robert,Earl of
Essex.T his thesis received a number of sympathetic--and/or straight
faced--reviews.

God help Charlton Ogburn Jr. if he had pulled a stunt like that!
Actually he did pull a stunt like that and incorporated Miss DeLuna
thesis into his magnum opus, but he at least was conservative enough not
to view H.W. as a Doppelganger.

So, at least from the vantage point of a remote Appalachian village, the
subject rested until recently. I found a mere six  contemporary internet
references to Miss DeLuna's once rather widely discussed work, and
nothing more recent on the subject, including Ogburn's somewhat confused
contribution.

Actually, though it has been scarcely noticed, David Kathman in response
to a sequence of insistent questionings by Diana Price and Pat Dooley
back in 2001 announced (July 29th,to be exact) on HLAS that he had
enough historical parallels to satisfy him that Henry Willobie was the
author of "Avisa" and that, while he had no evidence of the existence of
Hadrian Dorrell, he had found that Henry had a good friend of the same
surname, one Thomas. The question of whether Thomas D. was an Oxford
student or not  was left hanging besides the pennant," Semper Eadem" on
Avisa's tavern.

David was coming back to that the next day. It has been nearly two years
now. Please enlighten us, David. This is an absolutely key issue in
Shaksperian biography, one which serious biographers (except for, after
a fashion, DeLuna and Ogburn) have virtually ignored since the early
l940's.

In anticipation of your reply, I will ask a couple of questions. Have
you discovered any evidence of the existence of Henry's smarter older
brother Thomas?(I do not recollect that Hotson found any traces of him
in "By Me William Shakespeare")And ,if so, do you believe Thomas went
along with the hoax about his brother's death, and really is the author
of the TW material in "Penelope's Complaint"?

If the answer is no, would not the parallel use of a non-existent
Hadrian(with a real last name) be just another example of how far the
pseudonymous satirist was willing to go in his efforts to harass Will
and his friends?

Roger Nyle Parisious


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