Sunday, July 24, 2011

Tom Hunter invites you to Oberon meeting next Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dear Oberon,
Can it be that our next meeting--in one week on Thursday July 28--is almost upon us?
The drama will continue!
We will hear from our own Gang of Four, also known as the Oberon Executive Committee, about our developing plans for the blockbuster Oxfordian movie directed by Roland Emmerich which will be out this fall.
We will continue to explore the amazing details of The Merchant of Venice.
And we will be hearing as usual about the exploits, discoveries and accomplishments of our members as well as the latest news from the world of Shakespeare especially as it relates to authorship.
Looking forward, as always, to seeing all of you there.
Your faithful Chair,

Oberon meets on the fourth Thursday of the month at 6:45 p.m. in meeting room A, upstairs at the at the Farmington Community Library, 32737 W. 12 Mile Road, Farmington Hills, MI 48334. Future meetings: July 28, August 25, Sept. 22, Oct. 27.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Nothing truer than truth?

Shakespeare Authorship Research Centre , headed by Director Dan Wright, PhD, announced this week  that Anonymous director Roland Emmerich will receive the center's Vero Nihil Verius Award of Artistic Excellence at its annual conference September 6-9, 2011. Emmerich's film will be shown Sept. 7, 2011 in downtown Portland, Oregon as part of the conference activities. An a la carte fee structure is available for the conference. Anonymous is currently scheduled for general release in the USA on October 28, 2011. 

Emmerich's award may appear ironic since Edward de Vere's Latin motto, vero nihil verius, can be translated, "nothing truer than truth", and Emmerich does not claim his film purports to be the truth. Emmerich and Anonymous screenwriter John Orloff are quoted in a 2010 interview for
. . . 'Anonymous’ posits the idea that Oxford was not only the author known as William Shakespeare but the illegitimate son of Elizabeth. Moreover, the pair had an incestuous relationship that produced a son, the Earl of Southampton (Xavier Samuel). ‘When Shakespeare wrote “Henry V”, he made things up and we’re making things up too,’ says Emmerich.  Orloff was, at first, taken aback by his director’s suggestion, though admits it makes for great drama. ‘I have done a lot of non-fiction-based movies and there is a point where you have to go with the emotional truth, not the literal truth, because the drama is the primary concern.’
The press release distributed by center director Dan Wright, itself, says that the film ". . . offers one possible answer" to the Shakespeare authorship question in a press release distributed this week:

PORTLAND, Ore. – July 20, 2011 – Prominent Hollywood director and producer Roland Emmerich will headline Concordia University’s Shakespeare Authorship Research Centre’s Fall Conference Sept. 6-9 in Portland, Ore.  Emmerich’s new film, Anonymous, speculates on a centuries-old question – did William Shakespeare really write the works attributed to him? – and offers one possible answer.

At the conference, Emmerich will receive the Vero Nihil Verius Award of Artistic Excellence, bestowed annually at the conference.  In addition, a posthumous award of Distinguished Scholarship will be conferred on the late Richard Paul Roe, author of the forthcoming book The Shakespeare Guide to Italy: Retracing the Bard’s Unknown Travels.  The book’s introduction is written by Concordia professor and conference director Daniel Wright.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tom Hunter remembers Borders birth in A2 in 1971

Oberon chair R. Thomas Hunter, PhD recalled Borders Books 1971 birth in Ann Arbor in the wake of today's news of liquidation of the entire bookstore chain. Hunter's essay appeared earlier today in Nina Green's Phaeton email list, and is reproduced here with Hunter's permission:
Although we had received our degrees, my wife, Rosey, and I were still very much involved in Ann Arbor when Borders opened its first store. It boggles my mind how that very informal attempt at creating a store became the builder of hundreds of stores and the employer of many thousands. As I recall, it was nothing exceptional. Bookstores aplenty already populated the Ann Arbor landscape. My favorite was on South University because of its exceptional selection of used books which always seemed to have the book I needed at a very reasonable price. That store, of course, is long gone. I do recall what I especially liked about the Borders stores. It was a simple idea: seating scattered randomly throughout the store so that one could sit down with a book and become familiar with it before deciding to buy. Because of that simple idea, I probably bought many more books from Borders than I otherwise would have. Rosey and I also recall that our daughter Lisa introduced most of her five CDs at Borders stores in the area. They carried her CDs. We still have those that didn't sell with the Borders label on them. I suppose that I have contributed to Borders' demise by using online services (NOT Amazon!) for most of the Shakespeare books in my library. How can it be resisted? I have bought amazing Shakespeare books -- including the Stationers Register -- from England, Australia, and New Zealand without doing more than clicking my computer a few times and waiting for the book to show up in my mailbox five to 10 days later.  Still, I will miss the occasional visits I have continued to make to Borders. I will miss the smell of the books and the random nooks where you can sit and enjoy them. I will miss the special sales on great books at giveaway prices. I will miss all the bookstores I have ever known as places to go to get away and think.  Another sad day. I suppose that is, as they say, progress.
Tom Hunter

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Goldstein resigns in protest against SF caving to PT pressure

Gary Goldstein resigned from the Shakespeare Fellowship board of directors and from the fellowship in protest against the board's decision to rescind their June 15, 2011 statement titled, "The Shakespeare Fellowship commends Roland Emmerich for directing the film,Anonymous, but stresses that this production's 'Prince Tudor' narratives are not essential to the theory that the Earl of Oxford was the writer 'Shakespeare'" 

Shakespeare Fellowship President Earl Showerman said yesterday about the board's action, "While a number of trustees still support the language on the posted statement, the board moved unanimously to withhold the statement on Anonymous and to remove it from the Fellowship website until a later date when members of the board have actually seen a preview of the film." 

In a letter submitted yesterday to Nina Green's Phaeton email list, Goldstein reported his objection to Showerman's characterization of the board action as unanimous, and announced that he had resigned from the SF board and organization.

Goldstein gave Oberon permission to publish his remarks:
One fact needs to be amended to that communication. I did not participate in the vote as a member of the SF Board in protest at the appeasement of the minority PT faction of the Fellowship, who demanded the Board immediately reconsider the motion, which was critical of the PT hypothesis. The president acquiesced to this demand and, furthermore, supported their other demand to have the statement retracted in its entirety.

The Board of Trustees took two months to debate a proposed statement on PT and the movie Anonmyous before voting to approve it in June; it also went through half-a-dozen revisions before being submitted to a Board vote. That statement has now been rescinded by all but one member of the Board (myself). For this reason, I am resigning as a member of the SF Board of Trustees and as a member of the Fellowship, effective immediately. I find the Board's abdication of their intellectual responsibility to both members of the Fellowship and the larger Oxfordian community to be reprehensible.

Update July 18, 2011:
Gary Goldstein will remain as managing editor of the Shakespeare Fellowship online journal, Brief Chronicles, through the current 2011 issue. Goldstein said, "I notified the Shakespeare Fellowship president that I will resign with the upcoming issue of Brief Chronicles; in turn, he asked me to reconsider. I informed him I will take the summer to do so."

Shakespeare Fellowship board members include: Earl Showerman, Alex McNeil, Ted Story, Tom Regnier, Sam Saunders, Bonner Cutting, Ian Haste, Pat Urqhart, Gary Goldstein (installed 2008, resigned July 2011)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fellowship shoves genie back in bottle

Showerman said today:
The trustees of the Shakespeare Fellowship met last evening to reconsider the motion passed last month concerning the  statement posted on the Fellowship website regarding Roland Emmerich’s upcoming film, Anonymous.  While a number of trustees still support the language on the posted statement, the board moved unanimously to withhold the statement on Anonymous and to remove it from the Fellowship website until a later date when members of the board have actually seen a preview of the film. Several board members have offered amendments to the statement which are under consideration, but no further action on this issue will be taken until we are certain of the content of the film.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Interlochen Surprise: The Merchant of Venice

A most pleasant surprise awaited Rosey and me under the Interlochen pine trees this Sunday afternoon (July 10) at the Harvey Theater: the academy’s production of The Merchant of Venice. The concept of the presentation, the superb acting, and the informed—or instinctive—directing made this production more satisfying in recent memory than those we had seen at Stratford, Ontario, and at Ashland, Oregon, which have both come to be recognized among the top rank of Shakespeare houses.

The day didn’t start off so sweetly, as the promotional material got it all wrong, wrong enough for me to consider not to bother driving the 40 miles to see it.

First of all, the blurb for the play in the "2011 Summer Arts Festival" brochure states that the loan contract was “steeped in prejudice and demanding an infamous ‘pound of flesh.’" This is totally wrong in every detail, since the loan was offered by Shylock to Antonio without interest as between friends and countrymen. Shylock was ridiculed by Antonio for this perhaps naive attempt at peacemaking. Since every bond required a penalty, the two settled on the pound of flesh as a joke, neither expecting that it would ever come into play.

But even more offensive: recent consensus on The Merchant of Venice has been to portray a more human, sympathetic Shylock in an attempt to steer away from the hundreds of years of anti-Semitism which have plagued this play. Years of research by this writer have confirmed that this is the appropriate decision to make, since the play itself is clearly a humanistic attempt to overcome the prejudices and hatreds abundant in England and all of Europe at the time. There is no question that the play however came to be used to feed the voracious appetite for anti-Semitism which would have put butts in the seats of Elizabethan theaters. Marlowe’s Jew of Malta, for example, beginning with its very concept is clearly an attempt to exploit the anti-Semitism which would have sold tickets. Shakespeare’s play, on the other hand, as demonstrated in a full length study of the play, is clearly an allegorical attempt to dramatize the evils of public hatred, including racial and religious prejudices.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Peter McIntosh -- Who Wrote Shakespeare's Sonnets?

Author Peter McIntosh, University of Tasmania professor of history Michael Bennett and Rodney Croome at Hobart Bookshop launch of McIntosh's Who Wrote Shakespeare's Sonnets? May 26, 2011 in Hobart, Tasmania.
Photo credit: Martin Fieldhouse, Madhouse Photography

Tasmanian Peter McIntosh, PhD, who spoke at the Shakespeare Authorship Conference at Concordia College in 2009 recently launched his book Who Wrote Shakespeare's Sonnets? published by Ginninderra Press, Port Adelaide, Australia. McIntosh's new book develops the ideas first presented in a 2003 book on the topic of Elizabeth I as author of Shakespeare's Sonnets titled Shakespeare’s Sonnets – An Elizabethan Love Story (Otakou Press). Speaking of his approach to this study, McIntosh said:
Like many people I was introduced to Shakespeare’s works at school, but became interested in the Sonnets much later after noting that although they are almost certainly biographical they bear no relationship at all to the known facts about Shakespeare’s life. From this starting point it is a logical step to speculate that the Sonnets may have been written by someone other than Shakespeare. To investigate this hypothesis I adopted the scientific approach of seeing whether it was possible to correlate the personal events and ‘happenings’ mentioned in the Sonnets with real-life events as documented in the lives of prominent Elizabethans. This correlation approach seemed to work, and I think it reveals the identity of the subject of Shakespeare’s poems, as well as telling us more about the author of the Sonnets. I wrote the book to let people know the results of my research.
At the May 26, 2011 launch party at The Hobart Book Shop in Hobart, Tasmania, social activist Rodney Croome praised McIntosh for his courage in a moving speech titled "On doubt and science . . . " posted in its entirety on the Walleah Press blog. Croome opens his speech with these words: 

Shakespeare is a god.
He is praised not only as the greatest writer in English but as “the greatest man who ever lived” by Lytton Strachey and as “the most influential man in history” by one of his contemporary biographers. For Thomas Carlyle Shakespeare was a “Saint of poetry”, for Henry Melville “a kind of deity”.
And like all gods, there is very little direct evidence that Shakespeare created the glittering works attributed to him. What we know of him is scant and inauspicious. His contemporaries hardly mention him. His acclaim was almost entirely posthumous.
This dearth of information about Shakespeare the man and author has opened the door to doubters and infidels of every stripe. Among Shakespeare’s defenders, nagging doubts about the Bard’s authorship have also generated a kind of fundamentalism, as doubt often does, that admits no inquiry into the issue and damns the inquirer.
Among the former group, the doubters of Shakespeare and believers in other gods like Bacon, Marlow or Oxford, we can count Henry James, Mark Twain, Sigmund Freud, Orson Welles, Derek Jacobi and many others.
Among the latter group, the fundamentalists, we can count many of experts who feel the issue is resolved and who wouldn’t be seen dead at an event like this.
I probably fall in between these two groups. Like other Shakespeare agnostics, weary of the debate, I have been known to ask “what does it matter who wrote Shakespeare?”.
Into this ever-bitter war of faith against doubt, heresy and know-nothingness strides Peter McIntosh.
In his new book on the authorship of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, Peter makes the point that his approach is about looking directly at the evidence without preconceptions, in line with his training and temperament as a scientist.
Professor Michael Bennett of the School of History and Classics at the University of Tasmania also spoke at the launch in support of McIntosh's work. Bennett has said, “McIntosh presents his startling case in a clearheaded, engaging and lively style. The book will delight, tease and provoke the many people who remain fascinated by the Shakespeare phenomenon.”

Who Wrote Shakespeare's Sonnets? by Peter McIntosh is available for purchase online from Ginninderra Press for $18.50 Australian minus the GST tax, plus $13 Australian for overseas shipping. For more information, contact

An excerpt from "Chapter One -- The Sonnets Enigma" is reproduced below with the permission of the author:

One of the most curious enigmas of literary history is how little Shakespeare’s contemporaries have told us about the great English writer.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Barbara Burris responds to Shakespeare Fellowship re: Prince Tudor

Authorship researcher and Oberon founding member Barbara Burris sent the following open letter to the Shakespeare Fellowship Board on June 23, 2011. In this letter Burris responds to the board's June 14, 2011 statement titled: "SF board re: Prince Tudor: The Shakespeare Fellowship commends Roland Emmerich for directing the film, Anonymous, but stresses that this production’s 'Prince Tudor' narratives are not essential to the theory that the Earl of Oxford was the writer 'Shakespeare.'" We reprint Burris' letter below with her permission:

Open Letter to the Shakespeare Fellowship Board
It should be of great concern to all fair-minded members of the Shakespeare Fellowship that the board of the SF has followed in the footsteps of the De Vere Society board’s proclamation of true faith and dogma regarding the Prince Tudor theory in all its forms.
Many reasonable and influential persons from the earliest beginnings of the Oxford movement have given credence to evidence for the Prince Tudor issues.
The one-sided pontifical statement from the SF board that documents do not support the Prince Tudor theories is akin to Stratfordian claims that documents, such as the 1623 Folio, do not support Oxford’s authorship. The authenticity of these Stratfordian documents and evidence for the Stratford man’s authorship have been challenged by Oxfordians and so too have the documents and evidence concerning Edward de Vere’s background been challenged by numerous Oxfordians, who maintain that there is not only a problem about the authorship of Shakespeare but about the identity of the true author as well, which they link up with his suppression and total erasure from Elizabethan history.
The SF board’s venture into propounding a dogma on the evidence concerning these contentious issues within the Oxford movement is a dangerous precedent, and one the board has no business getting into. The weighing of evidence is each member’s prerogative. It is not the SF board’s place to lay down pontifical one-sided statements about documentation and evidence on this or any other issue.
The Prince Tudor theories are an intensely debated issue among Oxfordians with members taking different sides in the debate. It is an extremely emotional issue for some people in the Fellowship and in the Oxfordian movement that has led to much rancor and nastiness. If we are to avoid the intolerant and dogmatic “One True Church” approach of the de Vere Society in England we must maintain an open and free debate on this and other issues in contention between Oxfordians.
It is true that Oxford’s authorship is not dependent on whether or not one is a proponent or opponent of the Prince Tudor theories, but rather than imposing a dogma that represents only one view of the Price Tudor evidence—which has no place in a group formed to openly question the entire authorship issue—the board would have better served its members and the cause of open discussion and truth seeking if it had stated that this is an issue like many others that is open to debate.
Sincerely,Barbara Burris

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Waugaman's review of newly published compendium, Anonymity in Early Modern England

Richard M. Waugaman, MD, previewed his upcoming review of Anonymity in Early Modern England by J.W. Starner and B.H. Traister this week on The entire review will appear in upcoming editions of the interdisciplinary journal of authorship studies, Brief Chronicles, and the Shakespeare Fellowship newsletter, Shakespeare Matters.

Waugaman's five-star review on, "The Beginning of the End for the Stratfordian Legend", focuses on the chapter written by Bruce Danner, PhD titled, "The Anonymous Shakespeare: Heresy, Authorship, and the Anxiety of Orthodoxy". Danner is an English professor whose upcoming book, Edmund Spencer's War on Lord Burghley, will be published September 27, 2011 by McMillan. An abstract and first chapter of Danner's book may be read on his weblog.

Waugaman surmises in his review that Danner may be on the road to his own intellectual emancipation from Stratfordian dogma. Waugaman will post the entire review on his website, The Oxfreudian, after publication. (Update: review posted 09/01/11)

The fascinating preview is published below with Waugaman's permission:
This intriguing and provocative book originated in a 2004 Shakespeare Society of America seminar. It joins several other recent works that are enlarging our understanding of the crucial role that anonymous authorship played in early modern England. The implications for the Shakespeare authorship question are immense. Orthodox Stratfordian scholars have such unshakable preconceptions that they often seem blind to the subversive implications of their own discoveries. Most early modern English literature was anonymous, but scholars have nevertheless gravitated toward attributed texts, making them less conversant with the conventions of anonymous authorship.
It is the final section of the book, The Consequences of Anonymity and Attribution, that I found most interesting-- specifically, Bruce Danner's chapter, `The Anonymous Shakespeare: Heresy, Authorship, and the Anxiety of Orthodoxy.' Danner, of St. Lawrence University, is a widely published mainstream Shakespeare scholar. He claims anonymity for the plays attributed to Shakespeare because he views `the construction of Shakespeare as a vague, colossal abstraction so capacious as to become undefineable' (p. 215).
Like an Old Testament prophet, Danner is eloquent in rebuking his fellow Stratfordians for their evil ways: `the Shakespearean profession itself is the author of anti-Stratfordianism. In its vision of Shakespeare as author, professional scholars can neither portray nor theorize the figure beyond the sphere of anonymity' (p. 156). And Danner has an explanation of why orthodox scholars persist in their irrational attitudes toward the author--`perhaps because resisting [`the eulogistic construction of Shakespeare'] would imperil the status that we currently enjoy' (p. 156).
One of Danner's first lines of attack is against the foundation stone of orthodoxy, the 1623 First Folio. Without it, the orthodox case collapses. Danner admits that `the First Folio falsifies a number of key facts' (p. 144); its `omissions, errors, and outright lies have long been common knowledge' (p. 147). He singles out Stephen Greenblatt for scathing criticism of Greenblatt's specious and contradictory discussion of other literary evidence. He says Greenblatt `ventures into novel avenues of myth-making that undermine his position in creative new ways' (p. 155) and that `Greenblatt's views look less like theories than desperate overreaching' (p. 156). But Danner then clarifies that Greenblatt is just the tip of the Stratfordian iceberg: `In their efforts to discover a Shakespearean presence in resistant or inconclusive evidence, orthodox scholars have fashioned theories that resemble their own worst caricatures of anti-Stratfordianism' (p. 156).
Danner lists some of the central problems with the legendary author: Stratfordians have not established the chronology of the plays; they are ignorant as to the author's political, religious, and cultural opinions; they cannot establish the authorial text for the plays. `Such facts provide the foundations of literary study... and yet these are just such definitive issues that the Shakespearean profession cannot resolve' (p. 152).
It is difficult to ponder the full implications of Danner's attack on Shakespearean orthodoxy without surmising that he is on the journey toward intellectual freedom himself. If so, his chapter might offer a rare view of a paradigm change in statu nascendi. It is an inspiring sight. An `anonymous' Shakespeare may be a necessary transition that will one day allow Stratfordians to discard their discredited theory.
UPDATE September 1, 2011
Waugaman's entire review is now available online: 
Review of Janet Wright Starner and Barbara Howard Traister (eds.), Anonymity in Early Modern England: “What’s in a Name?” (Ashgate, 2011) by Richard M. Waugaman, MD used by permission of Shakespeare Matters (in press)