Shakespeare by Another Name : The Life of Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, the Man Who Was Shakespeare

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2005-08-04
  • Publisher: Gotham

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"The plays and poems of William Shakespeare have captivated the world from their first printings in the late sixteenth century. But in the centuries since the death of the man conventionally assumed to be the author of these immortal works - William Shakspere of Stratford, an actor and entrepreneur who had little education, never left England, and left behind not a single book or page from his pen - more and more questions have arisen about the true identity of their creator. Such prominent literary figures as Walt Whitman and Mark Twain have argued that the actor Shakspere was not, in fact, the author. In recent decades, increasing attention has focused on the Elizabethan court playwright Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, of whom filmmaker and acclaimed Shakespearean dramatist Orson Welles once said, "I think Oxford wrote Shakespeare. If you don't, there are some awful funny coincidences to explain away."" "Now, in this biography, journalist Mark Anderson creates an unforgettable portrait of de Vere, a prominent courtier and quintessential Renaissance man, a scholar, spendthrift, scoundrel, cosmopolitan traveler, military adventurer, artistic patron, and prolific ghostwriter. Weaving together a wealth of evidence uncovered over ten years of exhaustive research, Anderson brings to life this ingenious and sometimes reckless figure who, when cast out from Elizabeth I's court in disgrace, pled his case to his queen through her favorite art form - the theater." "Throughout this narrative, "Shakespeare" by Another Name presents a wealth of mirrors between de Vere's life and the works of the Bard. He lived in Venice during his twenties - racking up debt with the city's money-lenders (The Merchant of Venice); his notorious jealousy of his first wife spawned both self-critical works (Othello, The Winter's Tale) and self-mocking japes (The Comedy of Errors); an extramarital affair led to his courtly disgrace (Much Ado About Nothing) as well as street fighting between his supporters and rivals (Romeo and Juliet)."--BOOK JACKET.

Author Biography

Journalist Mark Anderson has devoted more than a decade to researching the life of Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, publishing articles on de Vere in Harper-'s, The Boston Globe, and on PBS.org. He has also been a contributing writer for Wired.

Table of Contents

England Map vi
Europe Map viii
Time Line x
Dramatis Personae xiii
Foreword xxiii
Sir Derek Jacobi
Introduction xxv
Usage Note xxxv
The Eye of Childhood [1550--1562]
Evermore in Subjection [1562--1569]
Treasons and Vile Instruments [1569--1572]
For Making a Man [1573--1575]
The Fable of the World [1575--1578]
In Brawl Ridiculous [1577--1582]
Fortune's Dearest Spite [1582--1585]
To Thy Rudder Tied by th' Strings [1586--1589]
Gentle Master William [1589--1593]
The Sharp Razor of a Willing Conceit [1593--1598]
Buried Be [1598--1604]
Epilogue [1604--1623] 359(22)
Appendix A: Edward de Vere's Geneva Bible and Shake-speare 381(12)
Appendix B: The Shake-speare Apocrypha 393(4)
Appendix C: ``The 1604 Question'' 397(8)
Appendix D: The ``Ashbourne Portrait'' of Shake-speare 405(6)
Author's Note 411(4)
Frequently Cited Sources 415(6)
Notes 421(158)
Acknowledgments 579(4)
Index 583


Introduction iA human being is the best plot there is.i oJohn Galsworthy Every authoris life tells a story. According to the conventional biography, William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564; he moved to London sometime in the late 1580s or early 1590s and soon enjoyed great success as an actor and playwright, authoring some 37 or more plays, 2 epic poems, 154 sonnets, and assorted other verse that have become the crowning works of the English language. He retired to his hometown sometime around 1612, and he died in 1616. Seven years after his death, the first edition of his collected plays appeared in print. Although no authenticated portrait from his lifetime exists, the 1623 folio of Shakespeareis works features the above image on its opening page. Yet this image and this conventional story have confounded many great minds over the years. The novelist Henry James remarked in a 1903 letter to a friend that he was ihaunted by the conviction that the divine William is the biggest and most successful fraud ever practiced on a patient world.i In Sigmund Freudis 1927 essay iAn Autobiographical Study,i the founding father of modern psychology stated, iI no longer believe that William Shakespeare the actor from Stratford was the author of the works that have been ascribed to him.i Mark Twain published an entire book in 1909oIs Shakespeare Dead?othat tore the conventional Shakespeare biography to tatters. Walt Whitman told a confidant in 1888: iIt is my final belief that the Shakespearean plays were written by another hand than Shaksperis [sic]. . . . I do not seem to have any patience with the Shaksper argument: it is all gone for meoup the spout. The Shaksper case is about closed.i Doubts about the Shakespeare story emerged less than a century after the first conventional biography appeared. In 1709 the dramatist Nicholas Rowe first sketched out iSome Account of the Life, &c. of Mr. William Shakespear [sic].i In 1747, the antiquarian Joseph Greene came across a copy of Shakespeareis will and was singularly unimpressed, calling the document iso absolutely void of the least particle of that spirit which animated our great poet.i In 1767, the theatrical impresario David Garrick launched the Shakespeare industry in Stratford-upon-Avon with a three-day jubilee that transformed the backwater Warwickshire town into the literary tourist mecca that Stratford has remained to this day. During the same year, Garrickis friend, the physician Herbert Lawrence, wrote an allegory, The Life and Adventures of Common Sense, accusing iShakespeari of stealing other peopleis works. In 1786, the American statesman John Adams, upon visiting Stratford, echoed a growing skepticism of the validity of the Shakespeare story. iThere is nothing preserved of this great genius which is worth knowing,i Adams recorded in his personal travelogue. iNothing which might inform us what education, what company, what accident, turned his mind to letters and the drama.i Early in the next century, the novelist Washington Irving continued the thread of doubt with his own semiautobiographical account of a visit to Stratford. iThe long interval during which Shakespeareis writings lay in comparative neglect has spread its shadow over his history,i Irving wrote in his 1820 Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. iAnd it is his good or evil lot that scarcely anything remains to his biographers but a scanty handful of conjectures.i Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, and Henry James had joined a chorus of doubters who all expressed the same grave reservation: The conventional biography of Shakespeare is simply wrong; the ghost of another man haunts the canon. In 1920, this ghost materialized in a revolutionary work of investigative scholarship by the British educator J. Thomas Looney. Looneyis iShakespearei Identified in Edward de Vere, seve

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