The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1955  Tuesday, 7 August 2001

From:           John Briggs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 6 Aug 2001 09:20:07 +0100
Subject: 12.1850 Who Was Shakespeare?
Comment:        RE: SHK 12.1850 Who Was Shakespeare?

Following Takashi Kozuka's recommendation, I purchased a copy of the
August issue of History Today and rather wish I hadn't...  I have never
been a fan of History Today and feel that its brand of popular history
leads to what is termed in the American vernacular "dumbing down" (I
apologise for this expression, which is not characteristic of my
habitual mode of locution, but employ it because it seems to pithily
encapsulate a concept, albeit at the risk of itself epitomising the
problem it seeks to identify...).

Anyway, "William Rubinstein continues his survey of topics of enduring
popular debate by examining the controversy surrounding the true
identity of England's famous bard."  The heart sinks at reading this, as
one knows exactly what to expect!  The article is riddled with
historical errors, and is best described as "tendentious".  The politest
possible term would be "journalistic".  "William D. Rubinstein is
Professor of Modern History at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth."
How he got this post is a mystery to me: my working hypothesis is that
he was the only Welsh-speaking applicant!

I also purchased the August issue of the BBC History Magazine, which
wasn't much better... Mei Trow, "teacher and 'literary detective'"
outlined his theory on the death of Christopher Marlowe.  Oxford
Historian Christopher Haigh was allowed roughly half as much space to
point out why this is particularly implausible...  The readership was
then left to decide for themselves!

John Briggs

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