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No turkey for Oberon

Oberon’s November meeting last week definitely was no turkey. As promised, Tom Townsend delivered a feast of evidence about Hamlet’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern that knocks the stuffing out of Stratfordian pretensions that their boy Will Shaksper ever could have put pen to paper and produced anything like Hamlet. Of course, de Vere received his just desserts as Tom doled out one course after another of evidence including the following:

  • De Vere’s brother in law Lord Willoughby led a diplomatic mission to Denmark in 1582 and returned with information about the Danish court that shows up in Hamlet. A state reception was held for Willoughby which only Danish nobility attended. A Rosencrantz and two Guildensterns were on the list of attendees.
  • The dating of Hamlet, traditionally put at 1595-1600, could be the early to mid-1580s. A Guildenstern from Sweden visited Hedingham when de Vere was 12-years-old. By the way, de Vere was 12 when his father, the 16th Earl, died. Is there a connection?
  • Frederick Rosencrantz and Krud Guildenstern, similar in age to the characters in Hamlet and both of whom attended Wittenberg, visited England in 1592. They were sure to have met the top nobility there, as was the custom, including de Vere as among the highest rank of English nobles.
  • Shakespeare demonstrates familiarity with Thomas Digges’ heliocentric theories in imagery throughout the play. Diggs was a Copernican whom de Vere would likely have meet at court, so that de Vere would have personally known the English source of a cosmology which antedated Galileo by 40 years and which appears abundantly in Hamlet.
  • Ophelia means “the moon.” Op = opposite. Helio = the sun.
  • Leonard Diggs, Jr., who wrote the lines in the front matter to the First Folio which refer to “thy Stratford moniment” and which the Strats hold out as documentary evidence for their man Shaksper, was employed by the Earl of Montgomery, de Vere’s son-in-law who was married to his daughter Susan and one of the publishers of the First Folio

This last bit of information was the icing on the cake, the pumpkin in the pie, leading us to more evidence of indirection and purposeful ambiguity in the front matter to the First Folio, complementing the purpose of Jonson’s poem.

The rest was of Tom’s talk was, of course, just gravy. We are encouraging him to publish a condensed version of it on our blog, so please check it out in the coming weeks.

Circle Thursday, January 17 on your calendar for our next Oberon meeting. Our guest will be Charles Kelly of Ann Arbor who has just published his study of the quarto and folio editions of Hamlet. This could be another worthy contribution to our Hamlet project, so please plan to be at the Farmington Library, Room B, that evening. 2008 is already shaping up as another promising and fruitful year.

In the mean time, we wish you and your loved ones the best of holidays. There is, in this harsh world, much to be thankful for and much to celebrate, including each other.

Bless you all and warmest regards for this season and throughout the year,

Tom Hunter
Oberon Chair


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