Reporter Lauren Rogers sums up Edward de Vere's "disgraceful" life in her Dec. 17., 2010 Worchester News article, "Is this the real Bard?" announcing playwright George Dillon's one-man show about DeVere, The Man Who Was Hamlet that opens next month at the Number 8 Community Arts Center in Worchester, England. Rogers said:
Edward de Vere was a courtier, swordsman, adventurer, playwright and poet. He killed a servant, made love to Queen Elizabeth, abandoned his wife, got his mistress pregnant, was maimed in a duel, travelled in Italy, was captured by pirates, fought the Armada, was imprisoned in the Tower of London, kept two companies of players, and then disappeared from history for 15 years before dying virtually bankrupt. In youth he was hailed as the best of the secret court writers, but no plays bearing his name have survived and his poetry suddenly stopped after the first invention of 'William Shake-speare'.
Traditional Shakespeare scholar James Shapiro finds this biographical approach to solving the Shakespeare authorship mystery so alarmingly convincing that he wrote a book defending the Stratfordian viewpoint, Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?. In his book published this year, Shapiro argues that finding an artist in his work is a modern concept that can't be applied to Shakespeare's creative output because Elizabethans had no notion of biography.
This is like arguing that Elizabethans didn't have life stories because no one wrote them.
In any case, Shapiro is mistaken in thinking that DeVere's life story in Shakespeare's plays is the vital component of anti-Stratfordianism. The undeniable impetus for denying the Stratfordian candidate as author of Shakespeare's work is the Stratford man's utter lack of connection to the life of an artist: no books, no letters, no manuscripts, no travel, no study in any field, no acknowledgement of his writing by local peers, and -- based on his signatures -- his apparent illiteracy.
Other Shakespeare traditionalists besides Shapiro also seek ways to defend against encroachment on their point-of-view. Hardy Cook recently lifted his longstanding ban on any mention of the authorship question on his Shaksper Global Electronic Shakespeare Conference to open a discussion of how traditionalists should respond to Roland Emmerich's film Anonymous that features DeVere as Shakespeare and debuts September 23, 2011. Ridicule of anti-Stratfordian views was offered as a favored tactic by some correspondents, but pervasive bullying has not daunted curiosity in the past and will not stem the tide in the present. History has been imagined by the Stratfordians for too long.
Number 8 Community Arts: http://www.number8.org/What's-On/Live-&-Digital-Live-Events/721/The_Man_Who_Was_Hamlet.html
Shaksper Conference: http://www.shaksper.net/