Heather Wolfe, Folger Library Curator

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.020  Sunday, 15 January 2017

 

[1] From:        William Blanton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         January 13, 2017 at 3:53:17 PM EST

     Subj:        Heather Wolfe, Folger Library Curator

 

[2] From:        Julia Griffin <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:        January 13, 2017 at 5:49:15 PM EST

     Subj:        Re: SHAKSPER: Wolfe

 

[3] From:        Ian Steere <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:        January 14, 2017 at 10:20:56 AM EST

     Subj:        Wolfe Article

 

[4] From:        Richard A. Strier <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:        January 14, 2017 at 1:19:06 PM EST

     Subj:        RE: SHAKSPER: Wolfe

 

 

[1]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        William Blanton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         January 13, 2017 at 3:53:17 PM EST

Subject:    Heather Wolfe, Folger Library Curator

 

Re Tom Reedy's post of January 13, 2017.

 

Harry Berger’s recent post impliedly cast doubt on my identification of Lorenzo in MV as representing Shakespeare, and of Shakespeare writing himself into the play as such and acting the part.

 

One item of textual evidence that I did not include in my post is the following (from the First Folio):

 

ANTONIO:

So please my Lord the Duke, and all the Court

To quit the fine for one halfe of his goods,

I am content: so he will let me have

The other halfe in use, to render it

Upon his death, unto the Gentleman

That lately stole his daughter.

(4.1.375-381)

 

Note that Shakespeare capitalized the word “Gentleman.” That Gentleman was Lorenzo. Shakespeare was writing MV in 1596, just when he was successful in obtaining for his father (and himself) the coat of arms and the distinction of being a Gentleman (the exact date being October 20, 1596). I grant that this is not what one might call definitive proof, but it is at least some proof. Reliable evidence concerning Shakespeare’s life has mostly come in drips and drabs. This drabby evidence was written by Shakespeare himself, and is thus worthy of some consideration.

 

Respectfully

Bill

- -

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Julia Griffin <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:        January 13, 2017 at 5:49:15 PM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Wolfe

 

Thank you to Tom Reedy for clarifying this - I think.  I should perhaps make clear that I am not now and have never been a believer in any odd theory about Shakespeare, who was obviously both the Man from Stratford and the Player; but I’m not sure this new evidence is going to do much to convince those who don’t already accept that well-attested identity. The point is the name William, which connects the armigerous one with the author named in the Folio?  But we already had that connection, as Dr. Reedy points out, from the tomb monument itself.  

 

What Heather Wolfe did was discover documents that included his first name, William, therefore removing any ambiguity about who was referred to as a player, 

 

OK; but I can’t see that more proof about the player is either here or there, from an Oxfordian’s point of view.  Sorry if I’m being dense.

 

Hardy, forgive me.  I know this is nearing thin ice - and I fear Oxfordians seem to like my original post ...

 

Julia (who will shut up on this topic now)

 

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Ian Steere <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:        January 14, 2017 at 10:20:56 AM EST

Subject:    Wolfe Article

 

I think that Tom Reedy’s reply, together with his and David Kathman’s excellent essay (SHAKSPER, January 13, 2017) miss what I took to be the point of Julia Griffin’s comment: that many anti-Stratfordian theories now accept essentially all the arguments put forward, or referred to, by Tom in his post. Instead, these theories look to circumvent - with the hypothesis that the player-become-rich-gentleman-landowner from Stratford was induced to pass off, as his own, scripts written and supplied to him by someone else.

 

Of course, that hypothesis depends on a number of improbable assumptions - including, for example, that over the course of some 20 years many fellow players and professionals in the business (including some known or inferred play-writing collaborators) would remain ignorant and/or silent about the deception. However, rebuttal of the circumventing hypothesis becomes strengthened when evidence which positively conflicts with it comes into play.

 

In my previous post I noted that the form of the pen-name, “William Shakespeare”, first appeared with the dedication of Venus & Adonis (and I showed why there was nothing strange or untoward about its adoption by the player from Stratford). I also pointed out that the presence of the many puns in the dedication - too numerous and too cohesive to be dismissed as flukes - precluded disguise of the author’s identity.

 

I appreciate that Hardy will not permit debate here about Authorship (although I am not, of course, challenging this). He may, however, permit debate of the limited statements made in the last sentence of the above paragraph. In any case, I am happy, as always, to receive reasoned comments privately. 

  

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Richard A. Strier <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:        January 14, 2017 at 1:19:06 PM EST

Subject:    RE: SHAKSPER: Wolfe

 

Thanks to Tom Reedy and David Kathman for a very useful summary of the (overwhelming) evidence for Shakespeare’s authorship of the plays.  Nice job!

 

Richard Strier

Sulzberger Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus

Department of English

University of Chicago

 

 

 

Hiatus and TLS

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.019  Sunday, 15 January 2017

 

From:        Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         Sunday, January 15, 2017

Subject:    Hiatus and TLS

 

Dear SHAKSPER Subscribers,

 

Once again I will be travelling to Devon on Thursday, January 19 and returning on January 26. I will be taking my new MacBook Pro, but it is not likely I will be able to edit SHAKSPER while I am away.

 

I spent the day yesterday catching up with months of back issues of TLS. I found 20 or so articles that I am going to be posting under the “From TLS” heading. I will provide excerpts, but anyone who does not have a TLS subscription can feel free to contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. fir a complete copy of each.

 

Hardy

 

 

 

Co-Author

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.018  Friday, 13 January 2017

 

[1] From:        Pervez Rizvi <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:        January 12, 2017 at 5:20:18 PM EST

     Subj:        Re: Co-Author

 

[2] From:        Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:        January 13, 2017 at 4:26:45 AM EST

     Subj:        Re: SHAKSPER: Co-Author

 

[3] From:        John Briggs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:        January 13, 2017 at 9:29:53 AM EST

     Subj:        Re: SHAKSPER: Co-Author

 

 

[1]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Pervez Rizvi <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:        January 12, 2017 at 5:20:18 PM EST

Subject:    Re: Co-Author

 

I’m pleased that Gabriel and his team are going to continue this research. As he says, there is much to be done, and I can’t help wondering if the Authorship Companion is a few years premature, with the subject still needing more time to settle down.

 

Jim Carroll is obviously less appreciative of this work than I am but he does make some points worth thinking about. 

 

Since most of the histories were written early and most of the tragedies written late, how can we distinguish between differences in word adjacencies that are due to change of genre or to changes in style over time? 

 

Most of the collaborations are thought to be in the early plays. So if it really is the case that word adjacencies change over time then how do we go about constructing a WAN for early Shakespeare without the risk of circular arguments; in other words, if we use our prior beliefs about which plays or scenes are collaborative and exclude them from the data used to construct the WAN, how could we safely use that WAN to detect non-Shakespearean material in those same early plays? The work done so far by Gabriel’s team did not run into this problem because they made an unstated assumption that WANs do not change over time. If the assumption is false then we have a problem in the method.

 

It strikes me now that the better a playwright is, the harder it is to be sure what his WAN really is. A great playwright gives a distinctive voice to each of his main characters. By contrast, in plays by mediocre playwrights the characters sound all alike, at least when they have the same social rank. It seems quite possible that WANs constructed using speeches by kings will be materially different to ones constructed using speeches by rude mechanicals. If so, then we have another problem, since it is then necessary to take account of dramatic context rather than treating a play as just a stream of words.

 

If I were doing this work, I would be thinking of narrowing its scope at first to cover only the 20 or so Shakespeare plays in which co-authorship is not currently suspected. I would spend quite a lot of time kicking the tyres of this core set of 400,000 or so words, testing what might be called the internal consistency of the WAN method by trying to answer questions like the ones above. Only after that would I consider expanding the scope to other authors and to co-authored plays.

 

Notwithstanding all that, I am looking forward to seeing the Authorship Companion, as well as the Critical Reference Edition and (perhaps some day) the Complete Alternative Versions, though the whole lot will make quite a dent in most people’s wallets.

 

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:        January 13, 2017 at 4:26:45 AM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Co-Author

 

Dear SHAKSPERians

 

Jim Carroll’s understanding of my article in Shakespeare Quarterly about Marlowe’s writing being present in the three Henry 6 plays would be considerably enhanced by reading it. He thinks its authors are “relying on abstract word counts” but it really isn’t about word counts at all: it’s about the proximities of each function word to each other function word. Nobody has measured that before, so our results agreeing with other studies by different means is especially significant.

 

Carroll’s report on his manual counting of the frequency of a single function word, “for”, across a range of texts is entirely beside the point: that just isn’t our method. I’d be happy to help him try to replicate our method if he’s interested, but the first step would be to read the article and understand it. If he has trouble accessing it, I’ll gladly send him (or any SHAKSPERian) a copy.

 

Carroll makes it sound like he has read the article by claiming that it has “sophisticated looking statistical tests with lotsa jargon ‘n stuff”, but there are no sophisticated (or simple) statistical tests in it. There is some mathematics that will be new to most humanists, involving the notion of Entropy from information theory and the idea of storing one’s results in what is called a Markov chain. I honestly believe that these are things that it is worth trying to understand if one wants to engage with the current state of scholarship about authorship attribution. Any reader who disagrees with Pervez Rizvi that our article is good at making these ideas intelligible should, in my view, look out for a forthcoming book from Cambridge University Press by Hugh Craig and Brett Greatley-Hirsch on the computational measurement of dramatic style, which has a superb explanation of what high Entropy and low Entropy in language look like in practice.

 

I suppose Carroll means me when he wishes that “one of the people involved would stop being coy and tell exactly what sections of the H6 plays are not by Shakespeare”. The article tells the reader exactly that, so again I’m led to conclude that he hasn’t read it. I could quote just the conclusions here on SHAKSPER, but that would be to misrepresent the article, and since I’m happy to give a reprint to anyone I don’t think doing that would advance the debate.

 

I’m conscious of Hardy’s disapproval of debates that are just between two people, so unless someone other than Jim Carroll chips in on this thread I’ll shut up now.

 

Regards

Gabriel

 

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        John Briggs
 <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:        January 13, 2017 at 9:29:53 AM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Co-Author

 

Gabriel Egan wrote:
 

 

Finally, Pervez is exactly right to acknowledge that the press reporting of scholarly work is never as nuanced as the scholars would like. The caveats he is “sure Gabriel will concede” are indeed ones I concede and they are not present in the press release.

 

I’m sorry, but that’s just not good enough. Scholars may not be responsible for how the press reports their work, but they are responsible for their own press releases! There is absolutely no excuse for caveats not being present in press releases - newspapers will ignore them, of course, but that shifts the responsibility. Anyone who denies this doesn’t know how to write press releases.

 

John Briggs

 

 

 

Velz, Barton, Foakes Next of Kin

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.017  Friday, 13 January 2017

 

From:        Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:        January 12, 2017 at 4:52:24 PM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Kin

 

I am also aware that next of kin is not necessarily the executor, but the next of kin is a good place to start when trying to find the executor, don’t you think?

 

I think the best place to start is the records of the probate courts.

 

 

 

Heather Wolfe, Folger Library Curator

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.016  Friday, 13 January 2017

 

From:        Tom Reedy <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         January 12, 2017 at 8:12:05 PM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Wolfe

 

Heather Wolfe, Folger Library Curator

 

From:         Julia Griffin <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

 

The Heather Wolfe story can’t be quite like this, surely, if it’s so new?  Oxfordians, etc., have never questioned that Shakespeare the player was the man from Stratford; the point of dispute is whether this Stratfordian player is also the playwright.  Unless she has found a coat of arms that says that, I can’t see what has been proved ...

 

Julia

 

The answer to Julia Griffin’s query is quite simple. I liken it to the distributive property used in algebra, that is, If A=B, and B=C, then A=C. In other words, if William Shakespeare of Stratford was the person who had a coat of arms, and if the armiguous gentleman William Shakespeare was the author, then William Shakespare of Stratford was the author. In fact, we know that Shakespeare of Stratford was indeed the person who inherited a coat of arms and the title of “gentleman” from his father, not only because of the arms displayed upon his tomb monument but also by the title “gentleman” placed after his name in several legal documents after his father’s death. And we know that William Shakespeare the author was referred to as “Master”–the honorific reserved for gentlemen in the Elizabethan era–by several contemporaries and in official records (Stationers Registry). So the William Shakespeare of Stratford, gentleman, was the same Mr. William Shakespeare named as the author on the title page of the First Folio and elsewhere in various contemporary poems and accolades.

 

What Heather Wolfe did was discover documents that included his first name, William, therefore removing any ambiguity about who was referred to as a player, as well as the original documents naming him as a player (the one we had was an 18th century copy). The documents also strongly imply that W.S. was involved in the eventual granting of the arms in 1598-9, which has long been suspected.

 

For a more detailed summary of the copious available evidence for Shakespeare’s authorship that is routinely denied by so-called “skeptics”, see my and David Kathman’s essay, “How We Know That Shakespeare Wrote Shakespeare: The Historical Facts.” Another good overview of the evidence can be found in the Wikipedia article, Shakespeare authorship question.

 

Tom Reedy

 

 

 

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