“To be, or not to be: that is the question.”
Hamlet (Act III, Scene I)
William Shakespeare is universally acclaimed as the world’s greatest writer. But today, many Shakespearian scholars believe that the man we know as Shakespeare never wrote a single word—let alone, any play, poem, or sonnet. Many scholars now contend that the historical figure we know as Shakespeare was in fact a crisis actor—secretly hired by an anonymous nobleman.
This actor, William Shakespeare, would play the role of a playwright—and pretend he was the author of plays—which in fact were written by the nobleman—who wished to remain anonymous in order to protect his aristocratic name because, back in the 16th century, it was highly inappropriate for noblemen to publish subversive plays that mocked and poked fun at the nobility.
The historical figure we know as William Shakespeare was the most famous writer who ever lived—the most performed playwright of all-time. The author of 37 plays, 154 sonnets, and several epic poems, Shakespeare’s words are the definitive expression of humanity in the English language—indeed, in any language.
A more prolific writer never lived. But curiously, not a single manuscript in Shakespeare’s hand has ever been known to exist. In over four centuries, nobody has ever seen even one document written in Shakespeare’s hand. Not one letter to his wife, not one note to a colleague, not one correspondence to his publishers—has ever been found.
By comparison, there are many surviving music manuscripts written by Elizabethan musicians—e.g., William Byrd, John Dowland, Orlando Gibbons, Thomas Tallis, etc.—however, there are no surviving manuscripts by Shakespeare. How can this be?
Curiously, Shakespeare’s last will and testament makes no mention of “who” gets the ownership rights to his plays. Here, the fact that Shakespeare’s will is silent as to his plays—which were so monetarily successful—tends to prove that the man we know as Shakespeare was not the true author of Hamlet and Macbeth.
“Double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn, and caldron bubble.”
Macbeth (Act IV, Scene I)
WHO was WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE?
The son of a glove-maker, William Shakespeare was a commoner, born in the provincial town of Stratford-upon-Avon, approx. 100 miles northwest of London. There is no record of him having attended grammar school, nor university—nor is there record of him ever having left England. And yet, according to legend, Shakespeare left home in his early 20s, and traveled down to London where he became an actor, and later, a playwright.
The man from Stratford-up-Avon did not call himself “Shakespeare.” He signed his name “SHAKSPER,” or alternatively, “SHAXPER.” But his signature was crude and coarse—as if he infrequently put quill to parchment—and this tends to show that the man from Stratford was not a full-time writer. In addition, during Elizabethan times, one’s signature was an expression of one’s self. Folks took pride in having a beautiful signature—flamboyant, exuberant, and overflowing with panache and style—but not so with Shakespeare!
Most scholars agree that Shakespeare could read well enough—after all, as an actor, he had to learn his lines, but apparently, he never learned to form the letters of the alphabet.
Shakespeare’s father was illiterate—he signed his name with an “X.” But what’s puzzling is that Shakespeare’s daughters were also illiterate and they too signed their names with an “X.” But this is truly baffling. Having made a tidy fortune from his plays, Shakespeare was a very wealthy man—so why did he not educate his daughters? Surely, he must have wanted his daughters to read his poetry, right?
The true author of Shakespeare’s plays was fluent in both Greek and Latin, and well-versed in the history of ancient Rome. The true author was also fluent in both French and Italian—and presumably spent a great deal of time in Italy because at least a dozen Shakespeare plays are set in Italy, including Romeo and Juliet, Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Merchant of Venice, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello, The Tempest, etc. However, the man from Stratford spoke no language other than English, and furthermore, there is no evidence that he ever travelled to the continent—and both of these important facts tend to prove that the man from Stratford could not have been the true author.
Shakespeare’s plays provide vivid accounts of aristocratic pastimes such as royal tennis and the sport of kings—falconry. But how could Shakespeare, a commoner, have possessed such detailed knowledge of these royal pursuits?—by watching reruns of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous?
Shakespeare’s plays discuss academic disciplines such as medicine, law, astronomy, philosophy, art, music, and military strategy. Even if it could be established that the man from Stratford had attended grammar school, these academic disciplines were not part of the provincial grammar school curriculum in 16th century England.
Shakespeare’s plays demonstrate intimate knowledge of French and English court life and aristocratic manners and etiquette, and one must therefore conclude that the author of King Lear, Julius Caesar, and Richard III must have been a nobleman—who would have been highly educated, a seasoned traveler, and well-acquainted with courtly life and customs. And, being fluent in legalese, the true author, in all likelihood, must’ve been a lawyer.
“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”
Henry VI (Part II, Act IV, Scene II)
Okay, so who, during Elizabethan times, possessed all the aforementioned stately and aristocratic attributes? Many Shakespearian scholars now believe the true author was in fact a nobleman, Edward de Vere—the 17th Earl of Oxford.
EDWARD de VERE—the 17th EARL of OXFORD
Edward de Vere was a prominent figure in the Court of Queen Elizabeth. Contemporary critics praised him as a prestigious poet and playwright. De Vere was known as the most excellent of Elizabeth’s courtier poets, and it’s worth noting that many of his poems have a distinctive Shakespearian flavor. However, for his more daring political works, many believe that de Vere was compelled to write under a pseudonym—and hire a crisis actor to play the role of author—in order to protect his noble reputation—because it would have been simply unacceptable for a nobleman to write works that satirize the aristocracy.
According to Shakespearian scholar, T. Matthew Phillips, “On the authorship issue, Edward de Vere is the leading candidate chiefly because he was a nobleman, he was well-educated, spoke many languages, and he traveled widely throughout France and he also spent at least two years living in Italy.”
At his birth, Edward de Vere—the 17th Earl of Oxford—was one of the wealthiest earls ever to breathe English air. Indeed, his earldom was one of the oldest in the kingdom. His ancestors bravely fought at the battles of Agincourt, Crécy, and Bosworth Field. Notably, Edward de Vere was a lawyer, a champion jouster, and patron of the arts. He provided financial support to many artists and entertainers, including actors, writers, musicians, jugglers, acrobats, etc., which caused him to squander his considerable fortune to the point of near bankruptcy. Personality-wise, Edward de Vere was quarrelsome, hot-tempered, and immodest, and these traits precluded him from participating in many affairs of state.
Not long after Edward de Vere’s death, William Shakespeare retired from theatre life and returned home to Stratford—and never wrote another play, poem, or sonnet! Instead, he became a grain merchant—and many see this as proof positive that the man from Stratford could not have been the true author. “All great artists do their craft right up to the moment of their death,” adds T. Matthew Phillips, “for example, Mozart wrote his Requiem Mass while on his deathbed, horribly ill, vomiting, with fever, chills, and swollen hands and feet!”
So why is all this important?—because it serves as yet another example of how almost everything we are taught by mainstream media is wrong. Just another reminder of how easily mainstream media can brainwash folks! Even when presented with rock solid historical fact, many scholars stubbornly refuse to accept that anyone but the man from Stratford could have been the true author!
Will we ever know the truth about the authorship issue? Does the author’s true identity even matter? Regardless of who actually authored all those plays, poems, and sonnets, the works of William Shakespeare provide keen insight into the culture and society of Elizabethan times—as well as our own modern culture and society—because Shakespeare’s works distill the essential qualities of what it means to be “human.”
And, what if we never learn the author’s true identity—would it even matter?
“What’s in a name? A rose by any name would smell as sweet.”
Romeo and Juliet (Act II, Scene II)
Written, Produced, and Directed by TMP’s Midnight Minions
in association with Chapter Eleven Productions,
Fly-By-Night Management Services, and
Neurotica Entertainment Group
“If fools did not go to market, cracked pots and false wares would not be sold.”