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Shakespeare Authorship


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A webinar by Stanley Wells and Paul Edmondson.

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Shakespeare Authorship

  1. 1. Not at all anonymous: Shakespeare Bites Back! co-presented by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells Reg. Charity No. 209302 b rought to by
  2. 2. Why are we interested? Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is the custodian of Shakespeare’s material and literary legacy . Questions about Shakespeare’s authorship of the work are asked by visitors in the Shakespeare Houses, by visiting students, and on our travels. There is a forthcoming film Anonymous being released in September.
  3. 3. The film Anonymous <ul><li>Directed by Roland Emmerich. </li></ul>Films include: The Patriot The Day After Tomorrow Godzilla Film Stars: Vanessa Redgrave as Elizabeth I Mark Rylance Joely Richardson Derek Jacobi (the narrator) A related documentary features Stanley Wells and Jonathan Bate.
  4. 5. NO!
  5. 6. S.B.T well placed to respond: <ul><li>International focus & hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. </li></ul><ul><li>We deliver education to all levels. </li></ul><ul><li>Seen as ‘cradle’ of Shakespearian matters. </li></ul><ul><li>Impact of emerging digital platforms. </li></ul><ul><li>We can help bridge academia & popular opinion. </li></ul>
  6. 7. Where did it all start? Interested in showing that Shakespeare’s plays were written by a committee. She visits England and attracts high-profile attention from Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorn American Delia Bacon gives talks in 1840s about Francis Bacon and Shakespeare.
  7. 8. Delia Bacon <ul><li>She persuades the vicar to let her try to open Shakespeare’s grave. </li></ul><ul><li>But she gets scared and fails to do so. </li></ul><ul><li>She starts to publish her work in 1856. </li></ul><ul><li>An English and American Bacon Society founded. </li></ul><ul><li>Later, she goes mad. </li></ul>
  8. 9. The effect of the controversy? <ul><li>1884: there were 255 items published. </li></ul><ul><li>1949: this has risen to 4,500 items. </li></ul><ul><li>2011: Heavy on-line presence, numerous societies, publications and university courses. </li></ul><ul><li>At least alternative 77 candidates have been suggested. </li></ul>
  9. 10. Who else? <ul><li>Roger Manners, 5 th Earl of Rutland </li></ul><ul><li>Queen Elizabeth I </li></ul>Christopher Marlowe Edward De Vere, 17 th Earl of Oxford Sir Walter Raleigh Lady Mary Sidney William Stanley, 6 th Earl of Derby Sir Henry Neville Daniel Defoe
  10. 11. Who are some of the main contenders?
  11. 12. Sir Francis Bacon? <ul><li>1561-1626 </li></ul><ul><li>Philosopher, statesman, scientist, lawyer. </li></ul><ul><li>A great man and writer, but of a very different mind to Shakespeare. He wrote bad plays which are ignored and forgotten about today. </li></ul><ul><li>1893-5: Authorship encrypted in Shakespeare’s works, which also shows that Bacon was the illegitimate son of Queen Elizabeth I. </li></ul>
  12. 13. Christopher Marlowe? <ul><li>1564-1593 </li></ul><ul><li>Murdered in a tavern brawl; the coroner’s report survives with 16 impartial witnesses. </li></ul><ul><li>First suggested in 1895 </li></ul><ul><li>Taken up prominently by Calvin Hoffman in 1955 </li></ul><ul><li>So, Marlowe didn’t really die and used Shakespeare as a ‘front man’. </li></ul><ul><li>Westminster Abbey has a question mark after the date of his death in Poets’ Corner. </li></ul>
  13. 14. Edward de Vere, 17 th Earl of Oxford <ul><li>1550-1604 </li></ul><ul><li>Theory started in 1920 by a schoolmaster, J. Thomas Looney. </li></ul><ul><li>Taken up by Sigmund Freud. </li></ul><ul><li>Oxford secretly married to Elizabeth I and Earl of Southampton (Shakespeare’s patron) was their son… </li></ul>
  14. 15. What sort of arguments are put forward against Shakespeare’s authorship? Didn’t experience life needed to write the plays. Not educated enough. Books not mentioned in will. Small town background. Absence of evidence about certain areas of his life. Parents and children illiterate. Not aristocratic. Not travelled.
  15. 16. The Shakespeare Authorship Conspiracy Theories…
  16. 17. Anti-Shakespearian responses… <ul><li>‘ A Declaration of Reasonable Doubt’, April 2007; 2090 signatures so far; 373 ‘academics’; 25 ‘notables’, including: Sir Derek Jacobi, Jeremy Irons, Mark Rylance, Michael York, & Roland Emmerich (2007) </li></ul>
  17. 18. No intellectual justification? <ul><li>M.A. in Shakespeare Authorship Studies at Brunel University </li></ul><ul><li>Concordia University: S.A.R.C. (Oregon) </li></ul>
  18. 19. <ul><li>Evidence for Shakespeare: publications, theatrical knowledge, references, memorial and posthumous evidence. </li></ul><ul><li>Not even an issue until 1858 (11 years after Shakespeare’s Birthplace became a formally recognised national and international icon.) </li></ul><ul><li>Assumes that hundreds of people colluded with a ‘cover-up’ in Shakespeare’s lifetime. </li></ul><ul><li>No ‘debate’ to be had; rather it’s a discussion of a cultural, intellectual, and psychological phenomenon. </li></ul>
  19. 20. A new term to think about <ul><li>- ‘Anti-Shakespearian’ rather than ‘Anti-Stratfordian’ </li></ul><ul><li>Michelangelo without Florence or Rome? Mozart without Salzburg? Dickens without London? </li></ul><ul><li>Stratford made Shakespeare possible; to be ‘anti-Stratfordian’ is to be ‘anti-Shakespearian’. </li></ul><ul><li>‘ The Stratford Man’, ‘the actor from Stratford’, ‘the small town boy’ – insidious rhetoric. </li></ul><ul><li>To deny the creator is like vandalising the work. </li></ul>
  20. 21. Objections to anti-Shakespearian theories: <ul><li>Denial of factual evidence – immoral approach to history. </li></ul><ul><li>Insidiously casts ‘seeds of doubt’. </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Trump-card’ methodology. </li></ul><ul><li>No actual evidence for alternative nominees. </li></ul><ul><li>A kind of intellectual theft. </li></ul>
  21. 22. Further Objections to anti-Shakespearian theories: <ul><li>Too much rests on biographical readings. </li></ul><ul><li>The methodology is parasitic because it starts always from contradiction, never from positive evidence. </li></ul><ul><li>Tries always to prove the negative case: e.g. gaps in the record prove that Shakespeare didn’t do such and such. </li></ul><ul><li>Denies the power of the human imagination. </li></ul>
  22. 23. What is S.B.T doing? <ul><li>60 minutes with William Shakespeare main access to case for Shakespeare: www. </li></ul><ul><li>Event at English-Speaking Union (6 June) </li></ul><ul><li>Blog series, social media activity, audiences asked to become involved. </li></ul><ul><li>E-book, Shakespeare Bites Back (October) </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Getting to Know Shakespeare’ (October) </li></ul><ul><li>Book from Cambridge University Press (spring 2013) </li></ul>
  23. 24. Questions