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: