Friday, December 30, 2011

Goldstein resigns as BC managing editor

With the publication of the Shakespeare Fellowship online journal, Brief Chronicles Vol. 3, Managing Editor Gary Goldstein resigned, citing philosophical differences with Brief Chronicles General Editor Roger Stritmatter. Goldstein's resignation follows his resignation from the Shakespeare Fellowship board of directors in July 2011 in protest against the board's decision to rescind their statement against the Prince Tudor aspects of Roland Emmerich's Shakespeare authorship film Anonymous. Goldstein's position against the so-called Prince Tudor theory of Shakespeare authorship also played a part in his decision to leave his position with Brief Chronicles. [Content withdrawn.] Shakespeare Fellowship President Earl Showerman said the board is in the process of selecting a new managing editor and they would make an announcement when they had an agreement. He said that he hoped the announcement would be made soon.


Malim book published by McFarland

DeVere Society Secretary Richard Malim has announced the publication of his book The Earl ofOxford and the Making of “Shakespeare”: The Literary Life of Edward De Vere in Context by McFarland. The book is currently available.

McFarland said:
The identity of Shakespeare, the most important poet and dramatist in the English language, has been debated for centuries. This historical work investigates the role of Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, establishing him as most likely the author of Shakespeare’s literary oeuvre. Topics include the historical background of English literature from 1530 through 1575, major contemporary transitions in the theatre, and a linguistically rich examination of Oxford’s life and the events leading to his literary prominence. The sonnets, Oxford’s early poetry, juvenile "pre-Shakespeare" plays, and his acting career are of particular interest. An appendix examines the role of the historical William Shakespeare and how he became associated with Oxford’s work.
Note: More information, including an excerpt from his book, is available from Malim by contacting him at A substantial discount is available to DeVere Society members who contact him directly.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sony's Pascal has no regrets about Anonymous

In yesterday's article in the LA Times about why film companies have made several recent box office bombs -- Roland Emmerich's Anonymous among them -- Patrick Goldstein opines films of doubtful appeal were made on the strength of an established relationship between the artist and the corporation. While this is hardly an earthshaking notion, Goldstein gives some perspective on the issue. He said of  Sony studio co-chairman Amy Pascal:
Pascal hedged her bets financially with “Anonymous,” which was co-financed by Relativity Media. But she says she has no regrets. “I believed in what Roland wanted to do. He had something fresh and entertaining to say, which is all you can ask for from a filmmaker.”
For the full article, read "Why so many Hollywood relationship movies are box-office duds" in the LA Times' 24 Frames blog. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tempest-inspired Enchanted Island at the Met & simulcast

Metropolitan Opera's production of the new work Enchanted Island based on Shakespeare's Tempest and Midsummer Night's Dream will debut New Year's Eve and run through January 30 with a simulcast performance scheduled for 1 p.m. January 21, 2012. 

From the Met:
January 21, 2012, 12:55 pm ET
U.S. Encore: February 8, 2012 at 6:30 pm local time
Canada Encore:  March 3, 2012 at 1 pm local time
                       March 26, 2012 at 6:30 pm local time
In one extraordinary new work, lovers of Baroque opera have it all: the world’s best singers, glorious music of the Baroque masters, and a story drawn from Shakespeare. In The Enchanted Island, the lovers from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream are shipwrecked on his other-worldly island of The Tempest. Inspired by the musical pastiches and masques of the 18th century, the work showcases arias and ensembles by Handel, Vivaldi,  Rameau, and others, and a new libretto devised and written by Jeremy Sams. Eminent conductor William Christie leads an all-star cast with David Daniels (Prospero) and Joyce DiDonato (Sycorax) as the formidable foes, Plácido Domingo as Neptune, Danielle de Niese as Ariel, and Luca Pisaroni as Caliban. Lisette Oropesa and Anthony Roth Costanzo play Miranda and Ferdinand. The dazzling production is directed and designed by Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch (Satyagraha and the Met’s 125 anniversary gala).
Approximate running time: 3 hours, 35 minutes

Click HERE to find participating theaters that are showing the Jan. 21, 2012 simulcast of Enchanted Island.

This program note of Jeremy Sams describing how he wrote the libretto for The Enchanted Island was first published online and in the Met's Playbill in December 2011:
Looking back over this one it’s hard to recall which came first—the words, the music, the story, the cast…? All those factors influenced each of the others at some time or other. The one thing certain is that the original idea came from Peter Gelb. "Imagine," he said, "taking the hidden gems from a century of music, and turning them into one opera. Oh, and it has to be in English." That was the genesis, and like the best of them it culminated (for me at least) in revelations. I embarked on a very eclectic listening regime. I knew my Handel—at least I thought I did, but I now started listening to everything in growing amazement. I was reminded of what George Bernard Shaw wrote about a revelatory Beethoven performance, "I did with my ears what I do with my eyes when they stare." The operas, more than 40 of them, are stuffed with wonders. The oratorios are every bit as dramatic. Most revelatory to me was the Handel of the early Italian cantatas, and of youthful masterpieces like The Triumph of Time and The Resurrection, where we see an already fully-formed genius spreading his wings. Handel is above all a theater man to his fingertips. Even the Coronation Anthems (I allowed myself a ridiculously famous one—but Domingo’s entrance seemed to demand it) are every bit as theatrical as his magical operas.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

McIntosh proposes Sarmiento as source of Tempest

Tasmanian Peter McIntosh, PhD, has published an article titled "Storms, Shipwrecks, and South America: from Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa's Voyages to Shakespeare's The Tempest" in the journal Colonial Latin American Review, Volume 20, Issue 3, 2011. The publication was released for retrieval online Dec. 13, 2011 by the Taylor & Francis Group.

McIntosh is the author of Who Wrote Shakespeare's Sonnets (Ginninderra Press, 2011) that McIntosh says presents " . . . the evidence for Queen Elizabeth's authorship of Shakespeare's sonnets." His article for the Colonial Latin American Review proposes Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa's journals as the source material for Shakespeare's The Tempest. McIntosh provided an abstract of the article for our readers:
The parallels between Shakespeare’s storm scene in The Tempest and the 1609 Bermuda shipwreck described by Sylvester Jourdain (1610), William Strachey (1610?) and by the Council of Virginia (1610) are of the general nature expected in accounts of sailing disasters, but there is little correspondence of detail, and this lack of correspondence extends to other details in the play. Historical and literary researchers, beginning with Malone in 1808 and Luce in 1901, appear to have overstated similarities between the description of the storm and the natural features of the island in the Bermuda accounts and The Tempest. There is no evidence for the circulation of the most detailed of the Bermuda accounts (Strachey’s) before 1611 and several lines of evidence, including Strachey’s own writings in 1612, indicate that his account was not written or in circulation by this date.
When the descriptions of the storm and the island in The Tempest are compared to the text of Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa’s journals covering his voyages to the Strait of Magellan in the 1580s, numerous detailed parallels are evident; it is considered unlikely that these parallels have occurred by chance. There is also documentary evidence for Sarmiento’s account circulating in London in 1586, the year Sarmiento was captured and received at the English court.
Although McIntosh's candidate differs from the 1555 source proposed by Roger Stritmatter, PhD and Lynne Kositsky in their forthcoming book A Movable Feast: Sources, Chronology and Design of Shakespeare's Tempest, both assailants to Strachey disarm the standard chronology of the Stratfordians. 

Personal Background: Dr Peter McIntosh has a PhD in Geology from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. He has worked in publishing in Holland and New Zealand and as a geologist in New Zealand and Australia and has written over 50 peer-reviewed scientific papers. Apart from geology and Shakespeare his interests are sailing, bushwalking and social chess.


Monday, December 26, 2011

Kindle options

Shakespeare authorship researchers are beginning to embrace the publishing options available through e-publishing. Several important anti-Strat books have been recently released for Kindle and other e-readers:
Hamlet and the Scottish Succession by Lilian Winstanley ( edited by Mark Alexander
Publisher, Dec. 2011
I Come to Bury Shakespeare by Steve McClarran
Publisher Stephen Steinberg, Dec 2011
The Apocraphal William Shakespeare by Sabrina Feldman
Dog Ear Publishing, Nov. 2011 (also in paperback)
Shakespeare by Another Name, Second Edition by Mark Anderson
Publisher Untreed Reads, 2011
Wheel of Fire by G. Wilson Knight (Shakespeare interpretation - Stratfordian)
Published by Oxford University Press (1930)
FREE download for e-readers from Internet Archive

Even if you don't own a Kindle, you can read Kindle formatted books on your computer by downloading the Kindle software free from Mark Anderson recommended this Dec. 26, 2011article on the blog Open Culture: the best free cultural and educational media on the web for information about using your Kindle and other e-readers. 

Update 01/03/12: Hank Whittemore announced yesterday that a Kindle edition of The Monument, his book on the sonnets, is now available. Check his post at:

Update 01/15/12: Mark Alexander has published several out-of-print Shakespeare authorship books as well as his Shakespeare's Knowledge of Law as Kindle editions. See the list under Mark Andre Alexander's name on Amazon.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Kositsky and Stritmatter's Tempest book to be published by McFarland

In a holiday present for all anti-Strats, Lynne Kositsky announced in a Christmas Eve post on her blog: McFarland accepts our book, A Movable Feast!

Kositsky and her research partner Roger Stritmatter, PhD have found a publisher for their research on dating Shakespeare's Tempest, a work titled A Movable Feast: Sources, Chronology and Design of Shakespeare’s Tempest. Kositsky said: 
Contrary to longstanding belief, the play’s New World imagery is derived not from William Strachey’s account of a 1609 shipwreck in Bermuda, but from Richard Eden’s 1555 Decades of the New World. The book will include detailed point-by-point rebuttals to two newly published critiques of our work: one by Alden Vaughan (2008) in Shakespeare Quarterly and another by Tom Reedy (2010) in Review of English Studies, showing how their misplaced confidence in traditional authority has led to misinterpretations of the evidence of the date and influence of Strachey’s manuscript.
Grats, guys! 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

York University Shakespeare authorship conference convenes April 7, 2012 in Toronto

Professor Don Rubin of the Department of Theater, York University will convene a one-day conference on the Shakespeare authorship question from 11 a.m. - 5 p.m., April 7, 2012 at York University in downtown Toronto. The event is open to the public and the cost will be modest, according to Rubin. A preliminary list of events includes:
The Toronto conference is the culmination of a new, one-semester, three-credit, seminar for fourth-year students offered by the York University Department of Theater titled "Shakespeare: The Authorship Question". The class begins in January 2012.

When asked about his motivation for offering a class on the Shakespeare authorship, Rubin said:
As to why we are doing this, I can only say that as an academic, as a theatre critic and as an active theatre editor, I really didn't take the authorship question seriously until I read Mark Anderson's book a few years ago. I was deeply impressed by his research and his arguments. 
When I began looking into these issues on my own, I could only wonder why my own teachers never dealt with it at all. Even if one remains skeptical, the fact is that the mystery alone is certainly worthy of academic consideration. I felt that my own students deserved an opportunity to at least understand the primary positions. It took some arguing with colleagues but the course was finally approved on a one-shot basis. With a little luck, it will be offered on a regular basis in future. It will all depend on how it goes this first year. For the record, the course filled up within days of being open and I have a waiting list to get in. There's obviously interest and that's key.
For more information on the April 7, 2012 York University conference on the Shakespeare authorship question contact Professor Don Rubin at

Holderness says: All this is changing.

 In his blog entry titled "Queering Shakespeare and Sherlock Holmes" posted yesterday on the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust's Blogging Shakespeare site, University of Hertfordshire professor Graham Holderness discussed his view of biography as revealed in his new book, Nine Lives of William Shakespeare. Holderness said: 
Since there is no direct evidence that Shakespeare did in actuality enjoy and suffer a gay relationship with the Earl of Southampton, or with any other man, it seems legitimate for a fictional commentary to take the form of invention, and to operate by parallelism and contrast rather than by historical narrative. ‘The Adventure of Shakespeare’s Ring’ in Nine Lives of William Shakespeare finds Holmes and Watson, pursuing the theft of ‘Shakespeare’s ring’ from Stratford’s Birthplace Museum, drawn into the gay milieu of Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas, and thence provoked into an acknowledgement of their own homosexual attachment . . .
Holderness' Nine Lives . . . was released December 8 by Continuum Books as part of their Shakespeare Now! series of short books that "engage imaginatively and often provocatively with the possibilities of Shakespeare's plays" according to the publisher. The series is edited by Ewan Fernie of the Shakespeare Institute at the University of Birmingham and Simon Palfrey of the University of Oxford, UK.
In an October 27, 2011 post titled  "Nine Lives of William Shakespeare"  on Blogging Shakespeare, Holderness said:
It is now evident that that the supremely confident scholarship of Lee, Chambers and Schoenbaum was unconsciously shaped by a shadow: the “Shakespeare Authorship Problem” that began, from the middle of the 19th century, to question the capacity of “the Stratford Man” to produce those works, and to attribute them to Francis Bacon, or the Earl of Oxford, or a host of other Renaissance illuminati. Mainstream Shakespeare biography generally declined to engage with these initiatives, treating them as at best eccentric, and at worst insane. But these maverick amateur intellectuals were raising questions of great interest and importance, questions avoided by the biographical establishment – which is why so many great minds (Hawthorne, Emerson, Mark Twain, Henry James, Freud) were interested, or even persuaded, by the anti-Stratfordian case. What is the relationship  between art and the artist’s life? Is drama autobiographical? Why are there gaps and inconsistencies in the Shakespeare life-story? Why is it that unlike other comparable national poets, Dante or Cervantes or Goethe, Shakespeare’s life seems somehow not to fit with his works?
All this is changing. Now a “New  Biography” of Shakespeare is at last beginning to emerge, one that is prepared to address all the questions and anxieties suppressed by the mainstream biographical tradition. New evidence from archaeology is reorienting our view of Shakespeare’s Stratford life. Scholars are beginning to chart the history of Shakespeare biography, and to disclose its unconscious ideological assumptions. Since Stephen Greenblatt’s Will in the World, “conjecture” and “speculation” have acquired a new positive status. Critics are looking again at biographical fictions, and considering them as evidence alongside the facts.
Holderness is also the author of Shakespeare and Venice (Ashgate, 2009). In a September 6, 2011 post on Blogging Shakespeare titled "Shakespeare out of Venice" Holderness said:
I am convinced that Shakespeare never did visit Venice, but relied (as Lewes Lewkenor did) for his knowledge and opinion on books, pictures, maps, reports, rumours and conversations. But I too still like to believe that somewhere, in that enchanted land that lies between his Venetian plays, the inherited mythology of Venice, and the modern reader, there is a Shakespeare who somehow found his way there. A Shakespeare who lay back on the cushions of a gondola, rowed by a Saracen Moor, and trailed his hand in the water of the Grand Canal; who marvelled at the splendour of the palaces and the thronging business of the Rialto; who watched the Jews in their red and yellow hats hurrying in and out of the Ghetto, and marvelled at the beauty of the Jewish women; who followed music and laughter down dark and narrow passages in a city composed, like Calvino’s invisible cities, of desire and fear . . .
In a panel discussion on the topic of Shakespeare biography at the Nov. 28, 2009 conference on Shakespeare biography titled "Shakepeare: from Rowe to Shapiro" held at The Globe in London, Holderness said:
If you were to construct a biography which ticked all the boxes – if you were to read Shakespeare’s plays and infer a biography from it – it wouldn’t be Rowe’s, it would actually be the Earl of Oxford’s.
He clarified this statement in a public letter that appeared in Michael Prescott's Blog on March 5, 2010 under the title "Graham Holderness clarifies his position". In this letter, Holderness said:
My name is Graham Holderness, and my position on the Shakespeare Authorship Question is that I am interested in reasonable doubt, but not in alternative certainty."
Holderness also addressed the issue of Shakespeare's biography in the journal Critical Survey Vol 21, No. 3 Winter 2009 edition titled "Shakespeare and 'the personal story'" where he comments in the introductory article co-written with Katherine Scheil: 
Shakespeare scholars since Edmund Malone have tried to construct a biography based on the historical evidence, and to explore links between the man and his works. There is of course massively more information about the latter than the former, but the two are notoriously difficult to connect.
So does the fact that Holderness is offering this viewpoint on the ultra-Stratfordian Shakespeare Birthplace Trust website represent a change in the approach to the Shakespeare authorship question? I think it does. 

Oddly enough, James Shapiro, who excoriated imaginative biography in his 2010 book on the Shakespeare authorship, Contested Will, had this to say about Nine Lives . . .:
Required reading for anyone interested in Shakespeare’s life or in how literary biography gets written. There’s no better place to turn for distinguishing facts and traditions from more imaginative accounts of how Shakespeare became Shakespeare. Graham Holderness is a terrific guide and a talented writer.’
Curiouser and curiouser.

Continuum Books re Nine Lives of William Shakespeare by Graham Holderness:
We know relatively little about Shakespeare’s life, and yet it continues to fascinate us. This new biography of Shakespeare identifies and expounds the many possible ‘lives’ that can reasonably be drawn around the basic facts, traditions and literary remains of his legacy. Graham Holderness takes a hard and fresh look at the facts, the traditions, and the possible relations between a life and the works that life created. He offers nine possible short ‘lives’ of Shakespeare, each based on specific facts and traditions, drawn from the documentary record and from biographical interpretation and each supported by a body of critical and biographical work. Each section includes a critical essay detailing the biographical facts and showing how they have been interpreted, paired with a fictional narrative based on those facts. The fictional narratives use various styles, short stories, bogus historical documents, magic-realist fables. Each engages with the key facts, traditions and interpretative consensus, and creates an imaginary space in which the dry bones of historical record can be made to live.
Nine Lives . . . Table of  Contents:
Introduction \ 1. LIFE ONE: Shakespeare the Writer: Story: ‘The Shakespeare Code’\ 2. LIFE TWO: Shakespeare the Player: Memoir: ‘Master Shakespeare’s Instructions to the Actors’\ 3. LIFE THREE: Shakespeare the Businessman: Story: ‘Best for Winter’ \ 4. LIFE FOUR: Shakespeare in Love: ‘Husband, I come’: Memoir: ‘Shakespeare’s Ring: First Circle’ \ 5. LIFE FIVE: Shakespeare in Love: ‘Fair Friend’: Story: ‘The Adventure of Shakespeare’s Ring’ \ 6. LIFE SIX: Shakespeare in Love: ‘A Female Evil’: Story: ‘Full Circle’ \ 7. LIFE SEVEN: Shakespeare the Butcher Boy: Memoir: ‘Some further account of the life &c. of Mr William Shakespear’ \ 8. LIFE EIGHT: Shakespeare the Catholic: Story: ‘He dyed a papist’ \ 9. LIFE NINE: Shakespeare’s Face: Fable: ‘An Account of a Voyage to Bardolo’ \ Index
Update 12/22/11:
Read a preview of Nine Lives of William Shakespeare as described in Holderness' review of Roland Emmerich's film, Anonymous, on the Continuum Books blog December 2, 2011:
. . . [See] my chapter on 'Shakespeare the Writer', available from Continuum as a free preview, and the accompanying story 'The Shakespeare Code'. The chapter presents Shakespeare, from the historical record, as very much as an engaged, collaborative, participatory writer for the stage. He belongs to the boards and the streets, not the study. The story, which is specifically about 'stolen documents, secret codes, buried treasure', is just as fantastic as Anonymous, with no resemblance to any persons living or dead. But it suggests a very different view of Shakespeare's writing. It's a fable that explores these issues not literally but symbolically, as do Shakespeare's own plays. It hooks into real historical facts, but is also more concerned - as was Shakespeare himself - to think with and beyond them, than to regard them as restrictions on the liberty of the imagination.
Update 02/03/12: William S. Niederkorn's review of Graham Holderness' Nine Lives of Williams Shakespeare (Continuum, 2011) titled "Occupying W.S." in the Feb. 2012 issue of Brooklyn Rail magazine.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Waugh currently favors anti-Strat position

English author and composer Alexander Waugh named Tony Pointon's The Man Who Was Never Shakespeare (Parapress, 2011) as one of his favorite reads of 2011 in Waugh's reply to a Wall Street Journal article published December 17. With dry humor, Waugh said that he has vacillated in his response to the Shakespeare authorship controversy, and added:
Mr. Pointon's book sets out to prove that "William Shakspere" (an illiterate player and tradesman from Stratford) never wrote the poems and plays credited to the pseudonym "William Shakespeare." The book's strength is that it doesn't attempt to peddle any of Mr. Pointon's own theories as to who actually did write them. His evidence is clear and compelling. So I am currently on Mr. Pointon's side against the Stratfordians, enjoying my gullibility and looking forward to re-reversing my views many more times in the coming years. 
In the article titled "Twelve Months of Reading", the WSJ asked 50 luminaries to nominate their favorite reads of 2011; Waugh -- author of The House of Wittgenstein (Doubleday, 2009) -- nominated Pointon's anti-Stratfordian book along with Sophie Ratcliffe's P.G. Wodehouse: A Life in Letters and Tim Bonyhady's Good Living Street: Portrait of a Patron Family, Vienna 1900.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

McClarran's I Come to Bury Shaksper

A year ago in December 2010, when we Oberons gathered for our annual holiday feast at Tom and Rosey Hunter’s house, Tom was filled with enthusiasm for an unpublished work that he had just read, Steve McClarran’s I Come to Bury Shaksper, now available for the Kindle at Amazon.

Upon receiving McClarran’s manuscript in November 2010, Tom had told the author, with characteristic warmth and humor: “We will be getting together with the family to celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow. I have a feeling that I will be huddled up in a corner with your book. Just hope I don't get gravy all over it. Will report back as soon as I have something substantive to say or as soon as I think I have something substantive to say, whichever occurs first.”

Within days, he reported to McClarran:
“I have been waiting for the let down, and it hasn't come. The book gets better and better as it goes. The probing jabs have become body blows, and I hear air whooshing out of the Stratfordian punching bag. . . . Will try to find time to be more detailed. I just hope that this great work doesn't get put aside and benefit no one except now perhaps me . . . and anyone else to whom you have shown it.  I hope it gets published in some form soon because I want it to be there for me to refer to.”

When Tom told us about this work, we all wanted to read it, so we were delighted to hear that McClarran recently published his work as an eBook with Kindle.

“Putting the book on Amazon-Kindle is easy except for the main document upload,” McClarran said. “It's all done on the computer. You never deal with a person. Well, actually the upload is easy, it's getting the document ready for the upload that was a challenge. I spent at least 100 hours modifying the Word document so it would reformat properly to html and Kindle.”

I Come to Bury Shaksper: A Deconstruction of the Fable of the Stratfordian Shake-speare and the Supporting Scholarship by Steve McClarran was released December 9, 2011. Although our dear friend Tom Hunter is no longer with us, we have received the benefit of his encouragement of McClarran’s work.

McClarran describes I Come to Bury Shaksper:
This is the story of what is perhaps the greatest failure in the annals of scholarship, of institutionalized self-deception, vested interest, and corrupt methodology.  This book is a frontal attack on the absurd foundational assumptions and made-up facts that serve as the foundation of Shaksper’s biography ‘as Shakespeare’, in what is known as the Stratfordian Tradition, on the failure of mainstream scholars to apply the science of psychology and basic common sense to the problems of Shakespeare’s creative development and aspirations, on the myth of the dating of Shakespeare’s works, the so-called Standard Chronology, and the outrageous fiction that the Stratford grammar school was a world-class center of classical learning. This book is aimed at those who are relatively unfamiliar with Shakespeare and the Shakespeare authorship question, but it also a challenge to the defenders of the Stratfordian Tradition to deal with fundamental questions they have been avoiding for more than two centuries.
About the Author: Steve McClarran is an independent scholar who has spent more than ten years studying the Shakespeare authorship question.  His professional background is in management and organizational analysis with the US Army (Federal employee, retired).  A native of California, the author currently lives in Germany.

Note: Order I Come to Bury Shaksper to read on your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Blackberry or Android by downloading Amazon's free Kindle software. The Kindle edition is $9.99.

UPDATE 02/15/12: I Come to Bury Shaksper is now available in paperback at a cost of $22.95 at CreateSpace:

UPDATE 04/07/18
Here is the link Steve Steinburg sent of "latest edition" 

No Kindle version available at this date.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

New Podcast Series

I have just learned of a very nice new website which will, in time, be a series of podcasts on different aspects of the Shakespeare Authorship Question. The site is called The Shakespeare Underground and may be reached here:

The site is being put together by Jennifer Newton, who was at the recent SOS/SF Joint Authorship Conference in Washington, DC.

So far there are two podcasts available: Where There's a Will (Bonner Miller Cutting on the will of Shakspere of Stratford) and The Law in Hamlet (with Thomas Regnier).

The podcasts are basically interviews with these two well-spoken individuals by Jennifer Newton and are very well done. Bonner's interview is about one hour long and Thomas's interview is about 90 minutes.

I recommend these podcasts very highly and I will be periodically checking the site for updates and more podcasts. The site mentions an upcoming podcast with Earl Showerman on the French Court in Shakespeare, but does not mention when it will be available.

Who's reading Roe?

Well, somebody's been talking about Richard Roe's Shakespeare Guide to Italy (Harper Perennial, Nov. 8, 2011) because last night (Dec. 12, 2011) on Charlie Rose, Royal Shakespeare Company artistic director Michael Boyd inadvertently revealed that Roe's book was on his mind.

Boyd appeared as a guest in Rose's "Why Shakespeare?" series where he happily held forth on the nature of all things Shakespearean. During a discussion of how he chose which Shakespeare plays to direct, Rose asked Boyd if he had to be older to tackle directing King Lear and Boyd responded in the negative.

"Young people can imagine," Boyd said. "Just as an Englishman could imagine Italy in the English Renaissance."

That was it -- no other discussion of imagination or Englishmen or Italy or the Renaissance, not to mention Italian references in Shakespeare or any bedamned books about any such thing.

I cannot imagine that Boyd had read Roe's book; if he had, he might not have been so cavalier in banishing those Italian canals to the realm of pure imagination. But, it sure seemed as if he might have been talking about it.

Should you, dear reader, not be as sanguine as Boyd, you may read two new reviews of Roe's Shakespeare Guide to Italy by
William Neiderkorn in the Dec. 2011 issue of The Brooklyn Rail
John Christian Plummer in the Dec. 10 post of Mark Anderson's Shakespeare by Another Name blog
UPDATE 12/15/11: Francesca V. Mignosa in a Dec. 15, 2011 post on her eponymous blog
UPDATE 1/15/12:

And if you are so moved, order hard copy of Shakespeare Guide to Italy which is available in Kindle format from Amazon, and can also be ordered to be read on your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Blackberry or Android by downloading Amazon's free Kindle software.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Holiday fellowship

A dozen Oberon members gathered  in the garden room at Hogan's restaurant on Twelve Mile last evening for our annual holiday get-together. Richard Joyrich toasted Oberons present and absent. We spoke of beads, books, grand-babies, work, travel, Anonymous, the SAC rebuttal to SBT, and where and when we will meet in the future now that the Farmington Hills Community Library is not available to us. Rosey Hunter spoke of support by friends and family and we felt the loss of our dear friend, Tom, so very much. Tom Townsend shared that he is preparing a version of his and Tom Hunter's joint paper on Romeo and Juliet -- that he delivered at the 2011 SOS/SF conference -- for a future edition of The Oxfordian. We are grateful to Tom Townsend and Richard Joyrich for making the arrangements to allow us to share fellowship on a rainy night in Michigan and we all wish our readers the joys of conviviality this holiday season.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

SAC takes a chunk out of SBT

The Shakespeare Authorship Coalition announced today that the SAC and twelve anti-Stratfordian groups have endorsed a rebuttal to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust's "Sixty Minutes with Shakespeare" initiative launched to counter interest in the Shakespeare authorship question generated by Roland Emmerich's film, AnonymousOberon Shakespeare Study Group vice-chair and Shakespeare Oxford Society President Richard Joyrich, MD is among the anti-Stratfordian scholars who participated in the SAC project. Joyrich authored the anti-Stratfordian rebuttal to the SBT's Question 18: What was Shakespeare's social status?, originally answered for the Stratfordians by SBT Representative Trustee from the University of London, Rene Weis:
William Shakespeare was the son of a successful yeoman glover who had served a term as mayor of Stratfordupon-Avon. Through his mother Mary Arden, Shakespeare may have been related to the ancient Arden family of Park Hall. In 1596 the Shakespeares successfully applied for a coat-of-arms, which formally gentrified the family. From now on William  Shakespeare, player and London playwright, was Master Shakespeare. He was mocked for his apparent pretentiousness by his friend Ben Jonson.Shakespeare was socially ambitious, hence his purchase, a year after the coat-of-arms, of New Place, a large mansion house in Stratford. It seems that he, who was only ever a lodger in London, was keen to be lord of the manor in his home town. Throughout his life he astutely invested in land, tithes, and property; and he did not remit debts. Shakespeare’s evident concern with money and status may have its roots in his father’s long struggle with debt which confined John Shakespeare to his family home at a time when his teenage son was living there.
Doubter response by Richard Joyrich, MD:
René Weis’s assessment of “Shakespeare’s” social status (meaning the Stratford man’s) is mostly correct, except in saying he was a “London playwright.” It’s not clear he was. The problem is that the author’s social status appears very different from Shakspere’s. All but one of the plays (Merry Wives of Windsor) is set among the uppermost nobility. It’s hard to imagine how Shakspere could have understood the upper classes so well. Weis speculates about Shakspere’s father’s “long struggle with debt which confined John Shakespeare to his family home at a time when his teenage son was living there.” In fact, we do not know for sure that Shakspere and his father lived together when the former was a teen. All we have for the first 28 years of his life are a few church records. Shakspere may have been motivated by his father’s situation, but nothing supports this. If Shakspere was “socially ambitious,” and succeeded in his ambitions in London, why did he retire to Stratford at the end of his career, rather than remain in London in the company of some former social superiors who now welcomed him as their social equal? Surely that was a big come-down in status for the lead dramatist of the “King’s Men.” Why did he never own a home in London, or settle into retirement among the many high-status people who would have found it fascinating to have him as their friend? Further, why did he evidently not keep in touch with any of them, so when it came time to make out his will he remembered none of his fellow writers, or any prominent person other than his three fellow actors, not even his alleged patron the Earl of Southampton?
A complete list of rebuttals to the SBT's 60 questions can be viewed on the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition website at:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Historian Dash enters the Shakespeare fray

Historian Mike Dash made the case for "William Shakespeare, Gangster" on his weblog, A Blast from the Past, and on the Past Imperfect weblog of  November 7, 2011. Dash discussed the dearth of historical data on William Shakespeare and, with evidence described in Leslie Hotson's 1931 book  Shakespeare Versus Shallow, made a case for Shakespeare as a thug. Dash concluded:
That Will Shakespeare was somehow involved in the low-life rackets of Southwark seems, from Hotson’s evidence, reasonably certain. Whether he remained involved in them past 1597, though, it is impossible to say. He certainly combined his activities as one of Langley’s henchmen with the gentler work of writing plays, and by 1597 was able to spend £60—a large sum for the day—on purchasing the New Place, Stratford, a mansion with extensive gardens that was the second-largest house in his home town. It is tempting to speculate, however, whether the profits that paid for such an opulent residence came from Will’s writing–or from a sideline as strong-arm man to an extortionist.
Anti-Strats have long bemoaned the absence of historians from the Shakespeare authorship discussion; Dash shows in this commentary the benefits of a little non-literary light on the topic of William Shakespeare.

Anderson's SBAN now available in e-book format

Journalist Mark Anderson announced on his SBAN weblog yesterday that the e-book edition of his iconic Shakespeare by Another Name (Gotham Books/Penguin Group USA, 2005) is now available on the Internet from e-publisher Untreed Reads and other bookesellers. According to Anderson's post, the new edition includes:
  • SBAN's cover featuring a new bust of Edward de Vere supervised by Ben August and sculpted by Paula Slater (as chronicled on this blog). 
  • An introductory chapter called "The Argument" that succinctly encapsulates the case for Edward de Vere as "Shakespeare" and addresses arguments against the Oxfordian camp put forward in James Shapiro's recent bookContested Will
  • A new images section
  • A new appendix addressing the recent media frenzy over the "Cobbe Portrait of Shakespeare"
  • A new appendix concerning the movie Anonymous and the questions it raises over the "Prince Tudor" hypotheses -- i.e. concerning claims of one or more secret heirs to the throne born to Queen (or Princess) Elizabeth
  • A new appendix delving in to just a few of the many treasures published in Richard Paul Roe's new magnum opus Shakespeare's Guide to Italy
Anderson's book has become the entry point for readers newly interested in the Shakespeare authorship question because of its high interest and readability.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Waugaman reviews Anonymous

Georgetown University professor of psychology Richard Waugaman, MD, reviewed Rolland Emmerich's Shakespeare authorship film, Anonymous, for Roger Stritmatter's Shake-Speare's Bible weblog yesterday in an essay titled "Not unanimous on Anonymous". Waugaman's knowledge of the authorship issue, his insight into the forces contributing to the controversy, and his lucid writing style make reading his essay a necessary pleasure. Waugaman said:

Psychoanalysts are in a unique position to elucidate the psychology of literary anonymity and pseudonymity. The evidence suggests that keeping one’s authorship secret helps promote what Keat’s called Shakespeare’s “negative capability”—keeping his own identity in the background as he created hundreds of utterly convincing characters.. . .When I am told that Oxfordians are simply unable to admit they’re wrong, I point out that every Oxfordian I know started as a Stratfordian, until they looked into the matter more deeply. So it doesn’t look as though we’re the ones incapable of admitting we’re wrong. Oxfordians are told we do not know how to evaluate the historical evidence. In reality, all the recent evidence about the ubiquity of anonymity and pseudonymity in Elizabethan authorship is mostly getting ignored by the Shakespeare specialists.
Links to Waugaman's list of published articles on the topic of the Shakespeare authorship controversy are available on his weblog, The Oxfreudian, at

Saturday, November 12, 2011

German press responds to Emmerich's Anonymous

Hanno Wember of the Shake-speare Today website reports from Germany that major media in Germany has responded to Roland Emmerich's Shakespeare authorship film, Anonymous:
Film release was Thursday [in Germany]. All major German (Austrian / Swiss) newspapers, magazines, many broadcast and TV-stations and an uncounted number of smaller media respond to the film [Anonymous]. Among them Frankfurter Allgemeine, Suddeutsche Zeitung, Frankfurter Rundschau, Die Welt, Neue Zuricher Zeitung, Financial Times Deutschland, Berliner Zeitung, Berliner Morgenpost, Der Tagespiegel, Salzburger Nachrichten, Wiener Zeitung, Die Zeit, Der Spiegel, Focus, Stern, SWr, NDr, RTL . . . -- many with full-page articles, some even twice or thrice this week. During the last week we have posted 30 links on our webpage, but this is only one third or even less of the full number: vast majority welcomed the film, taking the authorship question seriously, only few remained critical, and very few hostile. “Der Tagespiegel” offered the headline “Fakespeare lebt” (Fakespeare lives) and “BILD”, the most popular tabloid newspaper in Germany [wrote]: Ein Historien-Thriller enträtselt das größte Geheimnis der Welt-Literatur" (A historical thriller unraveling the greatest mystery of the world literature).
Wember added that an interesting interview with Vanessa Redgrave appeared in the Frankfurter Rundschau titled “Du must große Fehler machen” (You must make great mistakes.) at,9548600,11136716.html. Here is a short quote translation from Wember:
Q: You have played many great Shakespearean roles. Does it not bother you if in a film like "Anonymous" his authorship is in question?
V.R: I find this question fascinating. Even before I learned that another person might have written these plays, I was irritated by some points in the biography of Shakespeare….
Q: You can follow this theory, then?V.R: I have not read all studies on the subject. But I have to say that the professors who insist on the authorship of William Shakespeare, are very narrow minded. And I like now even unbiased, open-minded people. A film like "Anonymous" opens up all sorts of ideas, and he also deepens our love for these pieces. So I find it very exiting…. (emphasis mine, HW.)
 Editor's note: Click on the "ENGLISH" tab on the Shake-speare Today website for a generic translation of the page.