Friday, September 7, 2007

Reviewer takes Bate

It appears that Stratfordian Prof. Jonathan Bate (see letter to the Guardian below) has been caught in a display of ignorance. Chances are my letter will never see print in the Guardian, but we need to answer the obvious gaffes of the traditional camp to get the discussion out into the open -- sooner or later it will happen. Tom Hunter

To the Editor of the Guardian:

In his review of Mark Rylance’s new play, The BIG Secret Live - I Am Shakespeare - Webcam Daytime Chat-room Show at the Chichester Festival Theatre, Michael Billington (Guardian, Sept. 3, 2007 ) quotes scholar Jonathan Bate: "It is a striking fact that no major actor has ever been attracted to anti-Stratfordianism," the notion, Billington explains, that someone other than Shakespeare wrote the plays attributed to him. Says Billington, “Now Mark Rylance proves Bate wrong.”

The problem is that Bate is as accurate in this statement as he is about the authorship question in general, about which he displays only a woeful ignorance.

Mark Rylance is only one of many major actors to prove Bate wrong. How about Sir John Gielgud, Leslie Howard, and Orson Welles for starters? How about we add Jeremy Irons, Michael York and Sir Derek Jacoby? All have stated reasonable doubt, some outright disbelief, about the authorship of poems and plays attributed to William Shake-speare, later spelled Shakespeare.

Add to that list the author Mark Twain, who recorded his reasons for opposing Shakespeare as the author of the works in a long essay, Is Shakespeare Dead?

Twain himself is a good example of the issue. Professor Bate would insist that Mark Twain wrote Mark Twain's works, wouldn't he? Nothing could be more obvious. Twain's name is all over them, isn't it? It would be looney to think Twain's works might have been written by somebody named Samuel L. Clemens.

R. Thomas Hunter, Ph.D.
Independent Shakespeare Scholar

Additional reviews of Rylance play

Shakespeare Fellowship's Skeptics Hall of Fame

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