My recent Blogs about the authenticity of William Shakespeare’s works have brought a number of comments and questions. The most prevalent of these questions asks that, if Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, was the real author of most of Shakespeare’s work, was Shakespeare a fraud? Personally, I don’t think so.
The Shakespeare – Oxford Society, which is dedicated to researching and honoring the true Bard, points out that there is significant evidence of Oxford’s status as one of several anonymous and pseudonymous Court writers of the 1580’s. This was quite a common practice at the time; and, if the Earl of Oxford wanted to have his plays performed in front of the general public – a rabble of often low-class, loud, and drunken audiences – he would have been happy to ask William Shakespeare, a commoner actor/producer, to take title to these works for public performance.
On this basis, one should not accuse William Shakespeare of being a fraud. He was just entering into a business arrangement that was common at the time. We can be certain that neither he nor the Earl of Oxford would ever imagine that these literary works would receive world-wide distribution that would last four hundred years and be considered the work of a genius.
There should be a large amount of contemporary documents about the life of William Shakespeare, who would become renowned as the world’s greatest writer. There are none. Manuscripts, letters sent to him or about him between others, or printed stories or pamphlets are non-existent. There are thus, no documents to show that William Shakespeare had any connection with the plays or poems performed as his work.
Over the past couple of hundred years, many people have tried to identify the true author. Amongst the most common are Francis Bacon, Marlowe, Derby and Rutland. All of this has stirred the controversy, which incidentally never surrounded other great literary figures, such as Milton, Chaucer, Swift, Pope, etc.
The search for the real author has become the greatest manhunt in literary history. And for the past one-hundred-fifty years or so, there have been many doubters. Amongst them are, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldow Emerson, Sigmund Freud, Orson Welles, Sir John Gielgud, and even Supreme Court Justices, John Paul Stevens, and Harry Blackmun – all of whom have joined the ranks of those who give credit to the Earl of Oxford.
Some will say that it doesn’t really matter who the author is – it’s the work that counts. I would agree, but nevertheless it would be good to give credit where credit is due. Hopefully, sometime in the not too distant future, evidence will appear that will prove once and for all that the genius credited to William Shakespeare, the simple uneducated common man from Stratford, was really the acclaimed contemporary poet and author, Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford.
* Sources for the above from the Shakespeare – Oxford Society
Ellis M. Goodman, author of Bear Any Burden: www.bearanyburden.com