The May 1, 2013 seminar was held to celebrate the launch of the Trust’s refinement of the Stratfordian viewpoint, Shakespeare Beyond Doubt, that will be published by Cambridge University Press this month. The book is part of the trust’s ongoing response to Roland Emmerich’s 2010 anti-Stratfordian film, Anonymous – a response that began with their online “Sixty Minutes with Shakespeare” one-minute refutations of various complaints against the attribution of Shakespeare’s works to the man from Stratford.
At the online seminar, Barber appeared to astound Wells and Edmondson with her articulate defense of the anti-Stratfordian position. Although she authored The Marlowe Papers -- due out May 24 by Sceptre -- a fictional work proposing Christopher Marlowe as the author of the pseudononymous Shakespeare works; and wrote her doctoral thesis defending Marlowe’s candidacy, they seemed genuinely flummoxed by her willingness to defend the anti-Stratfordian heresy. From the transcript of the seminar:
Edmondson: But all of this argument, really, is, you’re wanting to gainsay these references to Shakespeare in his lifetime, to say that he’s not the William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon, and why, why do you want to do that? Why don’t you want it to be Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon?
Barber: This is an interesting thing about your approach, and I know James Shapiro’s as well, that’s you’re ‘why don’t you want it to be’ and what is it about my psychology, or even, my pathology, that makes me doubt Shakespeare, you’re always looking at that. I mean there’s two chapters devoted to Delia Bacon in your book, and looking at the psychology of Delia Bacon, and why does she doubt, because I’m pretty sure this is something you don’t understand. But I have to tell you, the answer is, that the evidence isn’t sufficient, that the evidence doesn’t add up, that there isn’t the evidence for Shakespeare as a writer, Shakespeare of Stratford as a writer, that there is for other writers of the period -
Wells: There is, for example, the, there is the fact that people visited Stratford soon after Shakespeare died, to look at his monument, because they knew he was a writer. There is the manuscript on William Basse’s elegy on William Shakespeare, which is headed ‘William Shakespeare died in Stratford-upon-Avon, the time of his birth, 1616’, and that is an elegy that refers specifically to Shakespeare as a great tragedian, it uses the word tragedian, which might mean either an actor or a writer -
Edmondson: So you see the alternative scenario is that all of the evidence, and we’ve only just touched on a little bit of it, the mostly likely outcome of that evidence is that the plays were written by Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon. Now if, if, if you want to rewrite history, if you want to rewrite evidence, if you want to pitch in and say actually let’s look again, let’s tell a different story, that is something you can do, but please don’t expect people who are interested in truth of history, and what the past tells us through documentation, to go along with it.
Barber: Well actually I have to say the people that you call anti-Shakespeareans, who are actually non-Stratfordians in my book, they’re very interested in the truth, they’re very interested in the evidence, and it’s not about rewriting the evidence, it’s about looking at it in a different perspective.A full-text of “Proving Shakespeare” web-based seminar held May 1, 2013 is available at http://rosbarber.com/proving-shakespeare-webinar-transcript/
In one of the exchanges during the seminar, Barber referenced work by Diana Price in her Shakespeare's Unorthodox Biography (Greenwood Press, 2001):
Barber: Why, why can’t we account for extraordinary – and it is extraordinary, Price has shown that – extraordinary lack of evidence? She compares 24 other writers of the period who all do have a literary paper trail, and he – he has none.
Edmondson: Well Shakespeare does actually, and Diana Price is wrong.
Barber: On which points?
Edmondson: And Stanley can we, I’m sorry, can we hear from Stanley Wells, co-editor of the book, . . . (changes subject)On May 8, Stanley Wells responded to Barber's question by posting an article "An unorthodox and non-definitive biography" on the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust's web-log wherein Wells describes the "fatal weaknesses" in Price's argument. Price responded with her signature clarity in a long comment appended to the post by Price's husband Pat Dooley. She said, in part:
In his review on Blogging Shakespeare (May 8, 2013), Prof. Wells takes issue with any number of details in my book, but he does not directly confront the single strongest argument I offer: the comparative analysis of documentary evidence supporting the biographies of Shakespeare and two dozen of his contemporaries. That analysis demonstrates that the literary activities of the two dozen other writers are documented in varying degrees. However, none of the evidence that survives for Shakespeare can support the statement that he was a writer by vocation.Price's comments are also available on her website at: http://shakespeare-authorship.com/Reviews/reviews.asp#OnlinePeerReviews. On May 13, 2013, Wells responded to Price's comments in a post on the SBT site titled "Beyond Doubt for All Time". Diana Price's Shakespeare's Unorthodox Biography is now available in a paperback edition with corrections and additions, published this year by Shakespeare-Authorship.com and available on Amazon.
On May 8, 2013, Roz Barber posted her review of the SBT compendium, Shakespeare Beyond Doubt, titled “Scholarship orpropaganda?” of Shakespeare Beyond Doubt on the comments page of The Guardian’s book review where she iterates her concerns about the book’s usefulness and closes with this comment:
Throughout the volume [Shakespeare Beyond Doubt], and despite significant developments in non-Stratfordian research in the last fifteen years, only arguments advanced prior to 1960 are acknowledged. Paul Edmondson claims that those he perceives as his ‘antagonists’ ignore evidence, yet himself presides over a volume of essays that demolishes straw men while skilfully eliding the more challenging work of contemporary researchers. Weighing this approach against the accepted principles of academic argument, one must ask whether Shakespeare Beyond Doubt is genuinely a work of scholarship, or simply a skilful piece of propaganda.Another version of Barber's review is available on her website at: http://rosbarber.com/review-shakespeare-beyond-doubt/