The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0505 Wednesday, 14 October 2009
From: Roy Winnick <
Date: Monday, 5 Oct 2009 07:49:03 -0400
Subject: Textual Evidence Regarding Shakespeare's Fair Friend
I'm pleased to send you, a news release from Oxford Journals announcing
the publication of my essay, "'Loe, here in one line is his name twice
writ': Anagrams, Shakespeare's Sonnets, and the Identity of the Fair
Friend," in the Fall 2009 issue of the journal Literary Imagination.
As the release indicates, the paper presents new textual evidence that
may solve one of the enduring mysteries of English literature: the
identity of the young man for or about whom William Shakespeare wrote
some of the world's most familiar and best-loved poems-gathered together
in Shakespeare's Sonnets, a volume published exactly four hundred years
ago this year.
Also attached below is a pdf file containing the paper itself, which has
just been posted on the Literary Imagination website (by special
arrangement, without password protection, hence accessible by
subscribers and non-subscribers alike) and which will be published in
hard-copy format in November.
I would be happy to discuss the essay with you or with one of your
colleagues, at your/their convenience. Please feel free to contact me by
return email and I'd be delighted to give you or them a call.
New textual evidence may solve mystery of Shakespeare's "Fair Friend"
BOSTON, MASS., October 5, 2009-A new study of Shakespeare's Sonnets may
solve one of the enduring mysteries of English literature: the identity
of the young man for or about whom Shakespeare wrote some of the world's
most familiar and best-loved poems.
It has long been widely believed that the "Fair Friend" of the
Sonnets-first published four centuries ago, in 1609, in a quarto volume
today commonly known as Q-was Henry Wriothesley, the third Earl of
Southampton, to whom Shakespeare dedicated his first two published
works, the narrative poems Venus and Adonis (1593) and Lucrece (1594).
Until now, however, the evidence pointing to Wriothesley as Q's Fair
Friend has been inconclusive-largely consisting, along with the
dedications, of parallels between known facts of Wriothesley's life and
implied facts of the Fair Friend's, including the father's death in his
son's youth, a strikingly androgynous beauty, an early refusal to marry,
and a later period of imprisonment.
The new study, written by critic and biographer R. H. Winnick (1) and
just published in the Fall 2009 issue of Literary Imagination (2),
provides newly discovered textual evidence that Wriothesley was, in
fact, the Fair Friend.
Winnick argues that, in addition to the anagrammatic wordplay noted in
recent years by other scholars, more than a dozen lines in Shakespeare's
Sonnets contain previously unremarked instances in which short,
semantically discrete phrases "spell" Wriothesley's name, and do so in
ways that suggest authorial intent.
One example occurs in sonnet 17, which promises that by fathering a son
the Friend (in Q's spelling) "should liue twise in it, and in my rime."
"Two of the sonnet's lines," Winnick says, "uniquely in Q and
unduplicated in a control group of nearly four hundred other sonnets,
each contain all twenty-two letters needed to form the name
Wriothesley-twise." One of the two lines reads: "Which hides your life,
and shewes not halfe your parts."
Another example is the four-word, fourteen-character phrase "Be where
you list" in sonnet 58, a phrase that, Winnick says, "contains all the
letters needed to form Be U Wriothesley without a single letter left
over; and, as such, seems wittily to demonstrate that Shakespeare may
(as the poem puts it) 'in thought controule' the Fair Friend even as his
poet-persona, in the same poem-and phrase-abjectly bemoans the Friend's
Notes to editors
(1) "'Loe, here in one line is his name twice writ': Anagrams,
Shakespeare's Sonnets, and the Identity of the Fair Friend". The full
text of Winnick's study can be electronically accessed by going to
http://litimag.oxfordjournals.org and clicking "Advance Access."
Winnick (who may be reached directly at
his Ph.D. in English from Princeton University in 1976 and was a
Guggenheim Fellow in 1979. On behalf of the late Lawrance Thompson, he
co-authored the third, final volume of Thompson's "official" biography
of the American poet Robert Frost, published by Holt, Rinehart & Winston
in 1977. Winnick's edition of the letters of the American
poet-playwright Archibald MacLeish was published by Houghton Mifflin in
1983, and he has since published critical studies on Chaucer,
Shakespeare and Melville in, respectively, The Chaucer Review, Notes and
Queries, and Nineteenth-Century Literature. An independent scholar,
Winnick lives in Princeton, New Jersey.
(2) Literary Imagination-published three times a year by Oxford
Journals, a Division of Oxford University Press, on behalf of the
Association of Literary Scholars and Critics-is a forum for those
interested in the distinctive nature, uses, and pleasures of literature,
from ancient to modern, in all languages.
Founded in 1994 and based in Boston, Mass., the Association of Literary
Scholars and Critics promotes excellence in literary criticism and
scholarship, and works to ensure that literature thrives in both
scholarly and creative environments. The Association encourages the
reading and writing of literature, criticism, and scholarship, as well
as wide-ranging discussions among those committed to the reading and
study of literary works.
For more information, please contact:
+44 (0) 1865 354924 (from the US, 011-44-1865-354924)
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