Friday, October 17, 2014

Newton and Delahoyde offer School of Night


SOF webmaster and media consultant Jennifer Newton sent information about an online class lead by Michael Delahoyde to those who follow her The Shakespeare Underground website. Oberon chair Richard Joyrich said, "This 3-part online lecture series will be very good. For those who haven't yet seen him, Professor Delahoyde is an extremely entertaining and knowledgeable speaker. I have already registered for this course. It is completely free. All you have to do is provide your email address so you can get the details on how to access the webcasts."

Newton said:
I want to let you know of an upcoming event, School of Night -- an interactive, online Shakespeare authorship course featuring Professor Michael Delahoyde, hosted by The Shakespeare Underground. This three-part series will take place Thursday evenings in November: 11/6, 11/13, and 11/20. 
The Shakespeare Hoax
November 6
9:00pm EST / 6:00 pm PST

“This well-painted piece”: Renaissance Art in The Rape of Lucrece
November 13
9:00pm EST / 6:00 pm PST

The Winter’s Tale: a Tudor Redemption Story
November 20
9:00pm EST / 6:00 pm PST

These live video webcasts will feature real-time discussion via chat and a Q&A session in which participants with webcams can appear onscreen and converse with Dr. Delahoyde and the group. 

The course is free and open to all. Registration and details are here: http://www.theshakespeareunderground.com/school-of-night/. Technical information about how to access the class and participate interactively will be sent to registrants.

The School of Night course is experimental -- a further exploration of online possibilities for communicating about the Shakespeare authorship question. If it goes well and receives a good response, we may make it an ongoing program. It would be wonderful to see you there, and I'd appreciate any feedback and suggestions you have about the experience. Please join us in November for the classes, and please spread the word!

Ever,
Jennifer Newton
The Shakespeare Underground

Monday, October 6, 2014

Oberons attend "Authorship Appeal" in Stratford

by Linda Theil

Matt Wyneken enjoyed breakfast at Features restaurant on Ontario St. in downtown Stratford before 10:30 a.m. "Authorship Appeal" moot court.

A contingent of Oberons hit the road again this weekend to attend the "Authorship Appeal" moot court sponsored by the Stratford Festival in Ontario as part of its annual Forum series.

Ron Halstead stands outside the Festival Theater in Stratford, Ontario before attending the October 4, 2014 "Authorship Appeal" moot court.

Matt Wyneken, Ron Halstead and I attended the event held in the Festival Theatre on October 4 where we watched litigator Guy Pratte contend against the Stratfordian attribution of the Shakespeare canon before the Right Honorable Madam Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin of the Supreme Court of Canada.

We met-up with old friends Lynne and Michael Kositsky. Lynne Kositsky shared the news that she has two new young adult books out: With Fearful Bravery and The Plagues of Kondar. York University professor Don Rubin -- who organized the SOS/SF conference last year in Toronto -- had assisted Guy Pratte with his case against Stratford and attended the Forum event with his wife, Patricia Keeney.

Don Rubin and Lynne and Michael Kositsky greet friends in the lobby of the Festival Theatre, Stratford, Ontario before "Authorship Appeal" moot court.

After the moot court, Matt and I had lunch with Don Rubin, Patricia Keeney, the Kositsky's, Priscilla Costello, Sky Gilbert, Justin BorrowAnn Zakelj, Matthew Wynekin, Ted Alexander and Chris Pannell at Demetre's in Stratford. Ron Halstead had a ticket to see the King Lear matinee, and skipped lunch. We dined in the small private room where we Oberons have gathered during Stratford visits in the past.

Around table at Demetre's in Stratford, October 4, 2014: Priscilla Costello, Sky Gilbert, Lynne Kositsky, Michael Kositsky, Justin Borrow, Ann Zakelj, Patricia Keeney, Matt Wyneken, and Ted Alexander.

The entire "Authorship Appeal" event was streamed live over the Internet and is available on video produced by the Shakespeare Festival of Ontario, Canada.



Click on arrow above to watch "Authorship Appeal" Stratford Festival Forum event held Oct 4, 2014.

Listen to Guy Pratte's discussion of the Shakespeare authorship on the October 3, 2014 CBC radio show Ontario Morning. Podcast at http://podcast.cbc.ca/mp3/podcasts/ontariomorning_20141003_28162.mp3 
Guy Pratte’s interview begins at mark 33:15.

Read more of my report on the "Authorship Appeal" moot court on the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship news page under the title "Rubin pleased by Stratford moot court".

Friday, October 3, 2014

Stanley Wells on Shakespeare's Love of Books

by Richard Joyrich

As a member of the Folio Society (an organization that prints and sells very beautiful, although expensive, editions of classic works of literature, history, fiction, science, and just about everything else) I get a free subscription to their semiannual magazine, which is simply called folio. This magazine contains very short articles about literary matters of all kinds.

I just received the September 2014 edition and it has a short article by Professor Stanley Wells, titled “Shakespeare: A Lover of Books”.

In this article Professor Wells discusses briefly how Shakespeare (by whom he of course means William Shakspere of Stratford) loved and read many books and used them as inspiration for his plays.

Wells mentions many books that Shakespeare must have read and says that many of them were published before Shakespeare began writing his plays. These include Arthur Brooke’s Romeus and Juliet (1562), Arthur Golding’s translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses (1567) and Sir Thomas North’s 1579 translation of Plutarch’s Lives

I note that all of these books would have been “old” by the time the traditional William Shakespeare would have begun writing plays (early 1590s), but are just about right for the young Edward de Vere to have read at a time when he could very well have been writing his first plays. [Some Oxfordians even ascribe the writing of the first two of these books to de Vere himself.]

In his list of books that Shakespeare read (which of course is not intended by Professor Wells as being inclusive, just “interesting” to the readers of folio) there are none published after 1604 (when Edward de Vere is supposed to have died).

Professor Wells also mentions that William Shakespeare and John Fletcher collaborated on The Two Noble Kinsmen [a “fact” I have grave doubts about], which is based on works of Chaucer, and speculates that “they probably used an edition of Chaucer published in 1598”. I don’t know how Professor Wells came to this conclusion, but I will note here that Edward de Vere is known to have purchased a copy of Chaucer in 1569.

Professor Wells has some other speculations in his article that I have doubts about. One is that Shakespeare (i.e. William of Stratford) “forgave” Robert Greene for writing about him in Groatsworth of Wit (as an "upstart crow") and then used Robert Greene’s 1588 Pandosto as a source for The Winter’s Tale, one of Shakespeare’s “late masterpieces” [according to Professor Wells].

But, where would William of Stratford get hold of any of these books? Ah, good question. Here is the speculation of Professor Wells.

He notes that, at school [this is of course assuming that he actually attended the Grammar School in Stratford], “Shakespeare would have known his townsfellow Richard Field, three years his senior, who, like him, was to go from Stratford to pursue a successful career in London.”

Professor Wells explains that Richard Field was a publisher and his publications included the first four editions of Venus and Adonis and the first edition of The Rape of Lucrece, as well as the volume that contains Shakespeare’s The Phoenix and the Turtle. So much is actually true, but I am not sure of the significance of this. But Professor Wells has an answer:

“Shakespeare may well have used Field’s publishing shop as a kind of library where he could read, and perhaps borrow—or even buy—some of the books which inspired his plays.”

Well, this explanation of how William of Stratford got hold of the books he needed in order to be able to write all those plays serves as well as any other that traditional scholars have been able to come up with. Never mind that there is no actual evidence that William of Stratford EVEN KNEW Richard Field, or that Richard Field is not known to have published any of the books that Professor Wells mentions in his article, or that no books are mentioned in the will of William Shaksper of Stratford.

Now, I’d like to comment on this passage from Professor Well’s article:

“…books played a massively important part in Shakespeare’s life from his schooldays onwards. In what is surely the most autobiographical scene in his plays, Act 4 Scene 1 of The Merry Wives of Windsor, he portrays a schoolboy named William being put through his paces in Latin grammar, quoting directly from William Lily’s Short Introduction to Grammar. It is easy to imagine this as a scene from Shakespeare’s own boyhood. Lily’s book, prescribed by royal proclamation for use in all the grammar schools of the nation, continued in use until well into the nineteenth century. From it Shakespeare himself would have received his grounding in the language at the King’s New School in Stratford-upon-Avon.”

First of all, I thought that reading the plays autobiographically was taboo in the case of Shakespeare (as opposed to the case for virtually EVERY OTHER author) according to the teachings of the “orthodox” Shakespeare scholars. Apparently it isn’t prohibited when you can come up (or "imagine" as Professor Wells puts it in the above quotation from his article) with some SMALL autobiographical link to the life (or actually the imagined life, since there is no direct evidence either way that William of Stratford even attended the Grammar School at Stratford) of the “man from Stratford”.

Second, Professor Wells makes a big deal that Shakespeare quotes from, and also parodies, this particular book (although the author’s name is almost always given as William Lyly, not Lily as Professor Well’s has it, but no matter), which was used in the Grammar Schools, thereby “proving” that Shakespeare went to a Grammar School. However, Professor Wells fails to note that this book on Grammar was ALSO the prescribed text for the teaching of the nobility by their tutors, and that a copy was present in the library of Sir Thomas Smith, the tutor of young Edward de Vere, as well as in the library of Sir William Cecil, in whose house de Vere was brought up after the death of his father.

Third (and perhaps least important), William Lyly was the grandfather of John Lyly, who was, for a time, the “secretary” of Edward de Vere, and who was also the author of various works that were direct inspirations for “Shakespeare”.

So, here we once again have Professor Wells struggling, as do all traditional scholars, with trying to reconcile the immense “book-learning” of William Shakespeare with the known life of one William Shakspere of Stratford.

I wish him gook luck in this endeavor.


The September issue of folio is not yet on the Folio Society web page for this publication (www.foliosociety.com/pages/folio_magazine), which still has the March 2014 edition, but I hope it becomes available on this website in the near future so it can be more widely read by those interested in Shakespeare's use of books.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Oberons attend SOF conference in Madison

by Linda Theil
Richard Joyrich at American Players Theatre, Spring Green, WI, Sept. 13, 2014

Richard Joyrich, Ron Halstead, and I attended the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship conference in Madison, Wisconsin September 11-14. Richard is secretary to the SOF board and served on the conference committee; Ron presented on the topic of "What's Hecuba to Him? Connecting Life and Drama in Hamlet"; and I gave a speech on mobile-media basics.

Oberon member Ron Halstead presented Sept. 14, 2014 at SOF conference in Madison, WI.

It was a lot of fun! And I'm hoping Joyrich will post his notes on the entire event.
Chef Jeremy Lynch of Enos Farms, Spring Green WI

On Saturday night we all went to the American Players' Theatre in Spring Green where we had a great picnic prepared by chef Jeremy Lynch of Enos Farms. We had tickets to the APT production of Much Ado, with David Daniel -- who entertained us with theatrical insight during dinner -- as Benedick. 

But as the night got darker, the world got colder and I cravenly retreated to the bus during the second half of the performance. Richard, however -- nothing daunted -- enjoyed every word.

The conference was held in the Overture Center which was absolutely gorgeous. 
Lobby, from second-floor balcony, Overture Center, Madison WI

Madison, WI from Overture Center mezzanine where we had lunch Sept. 12, 2014

Our event coordinator from the center was Janet Knoeller, who did a wonderful job of making sure everything went perfectly during the conference. She told me she became a convert to the post-Stratfordian point-of-view after listening to the presentations. "This is the most interesting conference I've ever coordinated," Knoeller said. "I told my husband about it and he said, 'They've been talking about that for ten years.' I told him, 'They've been talking about it for over a hundred years!'"

Overture Center Event Services Coordinator Janet Knoeller, new Oxfordian!

SOF webmaster Jennifer Newton and I shared duties blogging, and tweeting, and posting to Facebook at the conference, but we took a break to enjoy the sunshine on on the streets of Madison during Saturday farmers' market.

SOF webmaster Jennifer Newton enjoys lunchtime stroll in Madison farmers' market, Sept 13, 2014

Monday, September 15, 2014

Wember reports on authorship book published in Sweden

Hanno Wember, board member of The New Shakespeare Society in Hamburg, Germany
at the 2014 SOF conference in Madison, WI
by Linda Theil

Once again our Hamburg correspondent, Hanno Wember of Neue Shake-speareGesellschaft (New Shakespeare Society) brings word of post-Stratfordian thought in northern Europe with his report on a new book by Swedish author Martin Tegen published by Themis of Stockholm.

The book is titled Vem var Shakespeare? Sonetternas gåta, which translates: Who Was Shakespeare? The Riddle (or enigma) of the Sonnets.


Wember says that part of Tegen's thesis is that the author of Shakespeare's works was a musician and he links de Vere to the works through de Vere's own musicianship.

Wember provides the following information translated from the publisher's website: 
Who is hiding behind the name of the author Shakespeare? The first time the name of the author William Shakespeare emerges is the verse epic story of Venus and Adonis 1593. Many saw in it an allegory about the Queen and her "virginity". Is it - wonder the same queen who also appears in Shakepeare's sonnets as the dark lady? Martin Tegen's first book to publishers Themis was his interpretation of Shakespeare's sonnets and verse narratives for which he received the Society of the Nine översättarpris in 2007.
Martin Tegen, born April 28, 1919 in Uppsala, Sweden, is a Swedish music researchers, university teachers and translators. Martin Tegen became PhD in 1955, and then served as Assistant Professor (1956-1969) and Associate Professor (1964-1984) in music research and musicology at Stockholm University. Martin Tegen is an expert on 1800s Swedish music and musical life. He is a member of the Royal Academy of Music and was rewarded in 2004 with a scholarship from Hilding Rosenberg Fund for Swedish musicology. After his retirement Tegen has launched a second career as a translator of classical literature, including William Shakespeare and Rainer Maria Rilke.


Resources:

Stratfordians have nowhere to squat

Alexander Waugh, presented two papers at the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship 2014 conference in Madison, WI; Photo Linda Theil

by Linda Theil

Ron Halsted, Richard Joyrich and I attended the 2014 Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship conference in Madison, WI Sept 11-14. Alexander Waugh flew in from England to present two papers: one on the bogus nature of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust site, and the second on Ben Jonson's "Sweet Swan of Avon" reference in the First Folio that appears to place the author of Shakespeare's works on the banks of Stratford on Avon.

Waugh's essay on the topic of Shakespeare's birthplace appears in his just-published Kindle Single ebook titled, Shakespeare in Court, and is available from Amazon for $1.99 at http://amazon.com/Shakespeare-Court-Kindle-Single-Alexander-ebook/dp/B00NFFP3OU. A Kindle reader is available at no cost from the site. Preview available here.

Waugh's essay on Jonson's "swan of avon" is published in the latest editon of the SOF journal, The Oxfordian, that is available to SOF members -- information at http://www.shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/the-oxfordian/.

Waugh says in The Oxfordian, Vol. 16 (2014) p. 100: 
So it would appear that Hampton Court was anciently known as “Avon”. Camden’s source was Leland’s Genethliacon of 1643, but this was by no means his only reference to the Royal palace as “Avon”. In his Cygnea Cantio (1545) Leland explained that Hampton Court was called “Avon” as a shortening of the Celtic-Roman name “avondumun” meaning a fortified place (dunum) by a river (avon), which “the common people by corruption called Hampton.” This etymology was supported by Raphael Hollinshed, who wrote in this Chronicles (1586) that “we now pronounce Hamton for Avondune.
 Edward de Vere’s tutor, the antiquarian Laurence Nowell, also knew of this connection because he transcribed, by hand, the complete “Syllabus” from Leland’s Genethliacon, which contains the  entry: “Avondunum, Aglice Hamtoncourte.” Historian William Lambarde, in his Topgraphical and Historical Dictionary of England, written in the 16902, includes an entry for Hampton Court, which, he writes, is “corruptly called Hampton for Avondun or Avon, and usual Names for many Waters within Ingland.”
So, one of the three shaky legs (i.e. title pages attributing work to Shakespeare, the Stratford monument, and Jonson's reference to the swan of Avon in the First Folio) of the Stratfordian attribution is sawn off by a British iconoclast who revels in challenging the status quo.

Since the title pages are meaningless, the monument is fraudulent, and now the First Folio leads to the site where Shakespeare's plays were originally offered to the court, the Stratfordian stool is legless. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Cutler releases Shakespeare's Mulberry Tree as free ebook








Keir Cutler's 3,000-word monograph titled, "Shakespeare's Mulberry Tree" is now available as a free ebook on Smashwords. The publisher says:
The true story of "Shakespeare's Mulberry Tree" of Stratford-upon-Avon is not generally known, even though it was seminal to the development of William Shakespeare as the cultural icon he is today. Keir Cutler, who possesses a PhD in theater, tells the fascinating real life account in this short and revealing essay.
Beginning with Shakespeare’s death in 1616, Cutler succinctly takes the reader on a historical journey that provides food for thought for the open-minded thinker. If William of Stratford was the writer of the famous plays and poems, why was nothing ever found in his hometown connecting this man to the great works? Why are there no plays, poems or even any letters in Shakespeare’s own hand? And most significantly, why would the mulberry tree in back of his former home in Stratford become “one of the most valuable assets of the town?”
“Shakespeare’s Mulberry Tree” is a true story few professors ever tell their students because it is difficult to maintain the strict orthodoxy that there is no Shakespeare Authorship Question once this important piece of history is known.
"Shakespeare's Mulberry Tree is available in epub, mobi, pdf formats and also available to read online from the Smashwords site at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/466896. Cutler also has a performance on this topic available on YouTube under the title "Shakespeare Authorship: The Mulberry Tree".

Stratfordians are still fascinated by arboreal relics; the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in the person of head of research and knowledge, Paul Edmondson, has just completed a summer-long tour of Shakespeare festivals in the US -- handing out pieces of a cedar tree from Stratford-on-Avon. See: "Shakespeare Birthplace Trust hands out relics of the True Cedar Tree in USA".

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pirè and Valentini reply to Oberon

by Linda Theil

I received this email today from deposed Memoria di Shakespeare editors, Luciana Pirè and Maria Valentini:
Dear Ms Theil, thank you for your concern. We will not be appearing as editors of the tenth issue of Memoria di Shakespeare; the Editorial Board has decided on a particular line and rather than having been replaced we have chosen to step down from the editorship of this particular issue. We must however add that all papers had been only temporarily accepted rather than definitively and were due to be read by the Board as a whole and then go through peer review. We believe there is not much more we can add. Yours sincerely, Luciana Pirè and Maria Valentini
I asked the two Italian scholars for their response to the new Memoria di Shakespeare editor, Gary Taylor's having accused them both of " . . . a breach of faith . . ." in choosing Shakespeare-authorship researcher Richard Waugaman, MD, for a place in the tenth edition of Memoria -- an edition dedicated to the topic of Shakespearean biography, due to be published in 2015.

Taylor told Waugaman that getting rid of Waugaman's article had been a condition of Taylor's acceptance of the Memoria editorship. For background on this story, see the August 23, 2014 Oberon article "Gary Taylor sez Waugaman is as unconvincing as holocaust deniers".

The text of my query to Luciana Pirè and Maria Valentini is posted below:
Da: Linda Theil
Inviato: giovedì 21 agosto 2014 13:34
A: pire; (valentini)
Oggetto: Gary Taylor's remarks
Ms Pire and Ms Valentini,
I am preparing a post about Richard Waugaman's article being dropped from Memoria 10 for the blog: Oberon Shakespeare Studies Group at http://oberonshakespearestudygroup.blogspot.com/ and I hoped that you would wish to comment on the following Gary Taylor comment made in an August 19, 2014 letter to Richard Waugaman. Gary Taylor said:
" . . . I understand that you are chargrined about the change of policy at the journal. But the previous co-editors, who contacted you, were themselves guilty of a breach of good faith, in committing the journal to positions conflicted with the intentions and desires of the journal's founders. . . ."
Do you think Taylor's comment is correct? Could you comment on the issue?
Can you tell me if you will appear as editors of the tenth issue of Memoria and are you still working on the project? Taylor gives the impression that you have been replaced and I wondered if that was accurate.
Dr. Waugaman says that Taylor (and by extension, the Memoria board) is guilty of a breach of academic freedom by censoring Waugaman's paper after it had been accepted by the board's chosen editors.
Do you think the board's actions are a breach of academic freedom?
Thank you very much for your time and attention,
Linda Theil

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Gary Taylor sez Waugaman is as unconvincing as holocaust deniers

by Linda Theil

Early modern literary scholar Gary Taylor, PhD, told Shakespeare authorship researcher Richard Waugaman, MD that he finds Waugaman's arguments unconvincing. In an August 19, 2014 email to Waugaman, Taylor said: "I simply find your reasoning, and your evidence, as unconvincing as those of Holocaust deniers, and other conspiracy theorists."

Waugaman told this Oberon reporter:
I’m delighted that a prominent Stratfordian has taken dead aim at us and has then shot himself in the foot. There’s now no doubt that for diehard Stratfordians like Gary Taylor, academic freedom means the freedom for them to silence dissent. We will no longer tolerate this.
Waugaman's article "The Psychology of Shakespeare Biography: An Update" had been accepted in January 2014 by the editors of the 2015 edition of the English and Italian journal Memoria di Shakespeare: a Journal of Shakespearean Studies, an edition that would be dedicated to the topic of Shakespeare biography. (See: Waugaman contributes to Italian journal)

But on August 18, 2014, Waugaman was told by Memoria di Shakespeare general editor Rosy Colombo Smith that the experienced co-editors who had enthusiastically accepted his article -- Lucianna Pire and Maria Valentini -- had "stepped down", that she and Gary Taylor were the new co-editors of the 2015 edition of the journal, and that they would not be publishing his article.

When Waugaman protested against the unfairness of dropping him from the edition, he received the message from Taylor quoted above, comparing Waugaman's reasoning to the odious arguments of Holocaust deniers -- a malicious comparison not unfamiliar to Waugaman and other authorship researchers. (See: Greenblatt sez sorry to Oxfordians)

 Taylor replied to Waugaman's protest in no uncertain terms:
This change is due to my own involvement in the volume. The editorial board was concerned about some of the contributions invited by the previous co-editors. I agreed to help by stepping in, with Professor Colombo, as new co-editor. But my acceptance was conditional on rejection of certain contributions, like yours, which seem to me profoundly unscholarly, and which would have the effect of undermining the credibility and status of other contributions to the volume.
Taylor, further, denounced Pire and Valentini: 
I understand that you are chargrined about the change of policy at the journal. But the previous co-editors, who contacted you, were themselves guilty of a breach of good faith, in committing the journal to positions conflicted with the intentions and desires of the journal's founders.
In a subsequent email, Waugaman told Taylor:
It has been only four months since both Stephen Greenblatt and Jonathan Bate apologized to me for having compared post-Stratfordians to Holocaust deniers. And now you make that repulsive comparison yourself. I can only assume your emotions have over-ridden your common decency. I know one fellow Oxfordian who lost more than 70 relatives in the Holocaust, and he finds that comparison especially disgusting.
Stratfordian David Ellis, author of The Truth About William Shakespeare: Fact, Fiction and Modern Biographies (Edinburgh University, 2012), (see: "UK professor says Shakespeare biographies are bunk") is also scheduled to appear in the 2015 Memoria di Shakespeare, but despite his criticism of Shakespeare biographers, has yet to feel the bite of Taylor's axe. Will Ellis' denial of alternate candidates for the production of Shakespeare's works protect Ellis from censorship? 

Versions of Waugaman's article have been published in the first edition of the post-Stratfordian journal Brief Chronicles 1 (2009) and in The Oxfordian (2012). The version accepted by Pire and Valentini for Memoria di Shakespeare 2015 can be read on the web at "The Psychology of Shakespearean Biography: An Update". Waugaman has added an afterword to the document describing his experience with Memoria di Shakespeare. A copy of Waugaman's afterword including the correspondence documenting this sad saga follows below.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Show me the data!

by Linda Theil

We Shakespeare lovers would be better served if supporters of the status quo would attempt to eliminate a distorting Stratfordian lens from their view of all things Shakespeare. Too often, information is presented as if the Stratfordian view were confirmed, when the truth is much more complex and much more interesting.

The Folger Shakespeare Library recently published on their webpage a promo of a talk on heraldry titled "Shakespeare's Coat of Arms . . . " by Kathryn Will. They said:
In 1596, Shakespeare secured a coat of arms for his father, thus earning himself the title "gentleman." But the herald who granted the coat faced attacks from his own colleagues for elevating a mere playwright to gentle status. How did Shakespeare, early modern heraldry officials, and their contemporaries view the relationship between heraldry and gentility? And have heraldry's meanings changed over the past few centuries? 
In this talk, scholar Kathryn Will explores the fascinating and volatile history of England's royal College of Arms, shedding light on quests for arms from the Bard through Kate Middleton. Read more about Kathryn's work at her website
The phrase “But the herald who granted the coat faced attacks from his own colleagues for elevating a mere playwright to gentle status.” caught my attention. To me, that statement indicates that the author of the statement has citations for documents showing that more than one of the herald’s colleagues made more than one attack on the herald for raising the “mere” playwright William Shakespeare to be a gentleman. Since I had never heard of these documents, I wrote to Folger public relations officer Garland Scott on July 18, 2014:
Since the grant [of arms] was made to John Shakespeare, I don’t know why any reference would have been made to being a playwright. If there is any contemporary documentation indicating the attacks were based on William Shakespeare being a “mere playwright” as you say, could you provide the quotes and sources?
Garland referred my query to Kathryn Will. When I didn’t hear from Will, I asked Scott if the statement had been fact-checked and if not, would the Folger be willing to repudiate the statement. Scott consulted further with Folger staff and replied in an email dated July 28, 2014:
. . . I followed up with Heather Wolfe and Nigel Ramsey, co-curators of our Symbols of Honor: Heraldry and Family History in Shakespeare’s England exhibition, with your questions about the short blurb for scholar Kathryn Will’s related lecture. The attack mentioned in the blurb happened after the death of John Shakespeare at which point the arms had passed to William Shakespeare as the eldest son. The attack was based not only on the fact that Brooke considered William to be a player, but also on the fact that John Shakespeare’s arms were too similar to other arms and he was not of a gentle enough background, so that it never should have been granted in the first place. Sources would be the Bodleian manuscript, the College of Arms manuscript with the colored arms, and the later version of the Brooke account at the Folger. Nigel Ramsay wrote a blog post on the topic:http://collation.folger.edu/2014/07/william-dethick-and-the-shakespeare-grants-of-arms/
There’s also information online at:http://www.folger.edu/Content/Whats-On/Folger-Exhibitions/Symbols-of-Honor-Heraldry-and-Family-History-/The-controversy-over-Shakespeares-grant-of-arms.cfm
So there was one colleague named Brooke and one attack, not multiples of either as one would assume from reading the original blurb where the plural for both was used. But where are the quotes and citations? I turned to Ros Barber, PhD, author of The Marlowe Papers and Shakespeare: The Evidence for advice. Barber replied in July 28 and July 29, 2014 emails:
What they're referring to, no doubt, is the note 'Shakespear ye player' on the copy of a page of the complaint document. As it says in Shakespeare: The Evidence, this is not an original document but a copy made 100 years later and even then the phrase is written in a different ink and a hand to the rest of the page. . . . 
Elisabeth Leedham-Green,  a handwriting expert from Cambridge University confirmed that in her view the hand was 'modern'. Folger manuscript curator, Heather Wolfe [whom I consulted for my book] said it was at least questionable. Your point is well made. The grant of arms was to the father not the son. I think it likely that 'Shakespear ye player' was an antiquarian's note.
. . .
 I can see that Garland is trying to be helpful and is giving a fairly full general purpose account, rather than academic (citations, etc.) Friendly and considered. It’s certainly the way most Strats read this evidence. For me it misses the main problem regarding the evidence as I raise in Shakespeare: The Evidence. The ONLY basis for the ‘player’ idea is that single phrase on a copy made 100 years later which we cannot tell is a true copy -- and the phrase itself may have been added later. The rest of the points made are just general points raised by Brooke re ALL the arms grants he was complaining about. Read Price and Matus for different takes on it.
I followed up with Diana Price’s Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Biography and Irvin Matus’ Shakespeare, In Fact and other sources and discovered that in 1602 one herald named Ralph Brooke accused the Garter King of Arms, Sir William Dethick of previously elevating 23 people to the gentry who should not have been elevated because their arms were too similar to existing coats of arms and/or because they were of low birth.

John Shakespeare, whose arms had been bestowed in 1596, was on Brooke’s list of 23 people. Brooke says nothing about William Shakespeare and nothing about playwrights. The sketched document that purportedly links William Shakespeare to the Brooke complaint never mentions playwrights, either.

This document, is described in Barber's Shakespeare: The Evidence, under the title "Shakespear ye player by garter (Appendix #A-030):
1602/c.1700 **Heraldic document**  Associated with Brooke’s complaint is a separate sheet entitled 'A Note of Some Coats & Crests’ which includes, on the top left corner, a drawing of the Shakspere arms, underneath which is written ‘Shakespear ye Player by Garter.’ It is *not* the original document, but is believed to have been copied from the original some hundred years later by Peter Le Neve, an officer of the College of Arms. (Folger Shakespeare Library, MS. V.a.350).
The document shows the Shakespeare arms sketched in the upper left corner of the paper with a notation underneath saying “Shakespear ye player” and on a second line “by Garter”. As Barber says in her email, “The ONLY basis for the ‘player’ idea is that single phrase on a copy made 100 years later which we cannot tell is a true copy -- and the phrase itself may have been added later.”

So, the Folger statement “But the herald who granted the coat faced attacks from his own colleagues for elevating a mere playwright to gentle status.” is inaccurate in the number of colleagues, the number of attacks and the reason for the attacks – which has nothing to do with writing plays. And the document linking "Shakespear ye player" to the Brooke complaint is questionable, based on testimony of the Folger's own expert.

Many published references to William Shakespeare are similarly misleading. Most readers assume that assertions about the Stratfordian attribution are backed by supporting documentation, documentation that often doesn’t exist. A recent playbill from a University of Michigan production confidently stated that Shakespeare attended grammar school in Stratford, a statement for which there is no documentation whatsoever.

Stratfordians should know that sloppy scholarship doesn't enhance the Stratfordian attribution of Shakespeare's work.