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Home :: Archive :: 2009 :: October ::
Textual Evidence Regarding Shakespeare's Fair Friend
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0505  Wednesday, 14 October 2009

From:       Roy Winnick <
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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.

Roy Winnick

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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 
uncontrollability."

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 
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 ) received 
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:
Rebecca Wray
Oxford Journals
+44 (0) 1865 354924 (from the US, 011-44-1865-354924)

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