The year 2000 marked the 450th anniversary of the author of the Shakespeare
works, Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, who was born in April 1550.
On the one hand, the academic Shakespeare scholars hotly deny Oxford’s
authorship. On the other hand, they have no answer to the mounting
evidence for Oxford.
A few years ago an independent scholar named Roger Stritmatter found
that Oxford’s personal copy of the Bible is heavily marked, and
that hundreds of verses Oxford marked correspond to verses cited in
the Shakespeare plays. For example, Oxford underlined the verse in
which the shaft of Goliath’s spear is compared to “a weaver’s
beam.” In The Merry Wives of Windsor, Sir John Falstaff boasts: “I
fear not Goliath with a weaver’s beam.” Coincidence? If
so, there are a hundred such coincidences pointing to Oxford.
In my 1997 book Alias Shakespeare I showed that the Shakespeare Sonnets
likewise describe Oxford, not William of Stratford. The poet twice
mentions that he is “lame,” for example; we have no indication
that William was ever lame, but several of Oxford’s letters refer
to his lameness, and one jokes about his being “a lame man.”
The scholars who attacked my book had no real answer to this. Some
suggested that the Sonnets are fictional; others suggested that if
we had more information about William, we might find that he too matches
the poet’s self-portrait. But such answers tacitly concede that
the information we already have matches Oxford.
But why does it matter who “Shakespeare” was, as long
as we have the plays? Well, it matters tremendously, of course. As
a simple matter of justice, we want to honor the right man for giving
us these tremendous works. Besides, biographers and scholars need to
know who the author was for purposes of understanding the relation
between his life and his work.
And there is a further reason. Oxford became “Shakespeare” fairly
late in his life, in 1593, when he was already 43 and had only 11 years
to live. I believe he had already written many other works under other
aliases, and we should make every effort to discover the full canon
of his works. I have already claimed the 1595 sonnet cycle Emaricdulfe
for him; it contains 200 verbal parallels with the Shakespeare works,
which the orthodox scholars have completely failed to notice.
How could the experts overlook evidence which has been lying in plain
sight for four centuries? It’s easy. The “experts” assume
they already know everything there is to know about Shakespeare, so
instead of looking for new data they keep plowing old ground and repeating
themselves. Shakespeare “scholarship” is largely an echo-chamber
of mutual quotation. The pity is that the “experts” are
actually hostile to new discoveries, especially if those discoveries
are made by outsiders and amateurs.
I am convinced that Oxford was consciously following in the footsteps
of his uncle, Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, another great poet and
pioneer of the English sonnet, who had been beheaded by Henry VIII
in 1547. I recently found a previously unobserved link between Surrey
In the play Sir Thomas More, now generally agreed to be at least
partly Shakespearean, Surrey appears as a major character; his distinction
as a poet is mentioned. But in fact, the real Surrey was still in his
teens when the historical More was beheaded in 1535; he had yet to
make his name as a poet.
So “Shakespeare” had to take liberties with the facts
to insert Surrey into the play. If “Shakespeare” was Oxford,
the reason seems obvious: he wanted to honor his famous uncle by associating
him with another great man of letters, More, who was also killed by
order of Henry VIII.
Oxford may have hidden his authorship, but he left many such personal
marks on his works — literary fingerprints, as it were, by which
we may detect his hand.
In the future, I will try to show what the academic scholars have
missed: the real life and career of the greatest English poet, with
dozens of works never before ascribed to “Shakespeare.” As
for William of Stratford, he probably never even read the works he
is supposed to have written.
Copyright © 2011 by the Fitzgerald
Griffin Foundation. All rights reserved. This column was published originally
by Griffin Internet Syndicate on February 24, 2000.
Joe Sobran's book, Alias Shakespeare: Solving
the Greatest Literary Mystery of All Time (The Free Press (a
division of Simon and Schuster, 1997, 320 pages), is out-of-print
but copies can usually be found at Alibris.com and
Joe Sobran was an author and a syndicated columnist. See bio
and archives of some of his columns.
Watch Sobran's last TV appearance on YouTube.
Learn how to get a tape of his last speech
during the FGF Tribute to Joe Sobran in December 2009.
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