Theres long been debate as to whether Shakespeare, a small-town commoner with small Latin and less Greek could have had the experience and erudition necessary to write the plays that are attributed to him.
I dont find the anti-Stratfordian arguments terribly persuasive, but Im not proposing to thrash all that out here. Rather, I was just struck by the fact that the Archbishop of Canterburys speech about the king in Shakespeares Henry V reads like an anticipatory comment on the authorship controversy:
Hear him but reason in divinity,
and, all-admiring, with an inward wish
you would desire the King were made a prelate;
hear him debate of commonwealth affairs,
you would say it hath been all in all his study;
list his discourse of war, and you shall hear
a fearful battle rendred you in music;
turn him to any cause of policy,
the Gordian knot of it he will unloose,
familiar as his garter; that, when he speaks,
the air, a charterd libertine, is still,
and the mute wonder lurketh in mens ears,
to steal his sweet and honeyd sentences;
so that the art and practiced part of life
must be the mistress to this theoric:
which is a wonder how his Grace should glean it,
since his addiction was to courses vain,
his companies unletterd, rude, and shallow,
his hours filld up with riots, banquets, sports,
and never noted in him any study,
any retirement, any sequestration
from open haunts and popularity.
That’s excellent, sir.
By the by, the definitive “Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare” site is here: http://shakespeareauthorship.com/
Personally, I find the anti-Stratfordian attitude to be rooted in class prejudice, not historical fact.
Just what do you regard as being so “definitive” about the Kathman-Ross website? I’ve studied the authorship question for about twenty years now, and the only thing less definitive than David Kathman on the authorship question is Rush Limbaugh on social philosophy.
How are you measuring “definitive”?
Herr Professor Doktor Stritmatter,
You’ve confused Bob with Alex here. You’ve confused me with Alex below.
“I find the anti-Stratfordian attitude to be rooted in class prejudice, not historical fact.”
I’ve heard that from a lot of other people. Perhaps that’s true. If you look at an essay at that site you linked (http://shakespeareauthorship.com/howdowe.html), the authors point out that:
“[Shakespeare’s] father, a glover, trader, and landowner, married Mary Arden, the daughter of an affluent landowner of Wilmcote. John Shakespeare was ambitious, and he filled many municipal offices in Stratford including that of burgess, which privileged him to educate his children without charge at the King’s New School in Stratford. He rose by election to the position of Alderman in 1565; and in 1568 he was elected Bailiff (equivalent to mayor), and in that year he made an application to the Herald’s office for a grant of arms. In his position as Bailiff he was responsible for licensing companies of actors who applied to play in the Guild Hall.”
If the anti-Stratfordian thesis is derived from prejudice against any class, it would appear to be against the ruling class, as that’s the class in which Shakespeare was raised. And if THAT’s the case, then the anti-Stratfordians are truly clueless since this could in fact SUPPORT the Shakespeare-wrote-Shakespeare argument.
I wonder if to any extent Shakespeare owed his early career as an actor to the fact that his own father was once the issuer of licenses to acting companies…?
Interestingly, my high school teachers and college theater profs never mentioned to my recollection the relatively privileged status of Shakespeare’s father. I recall that they played up The Bard as more a “working class hero” than anything else.
Roderick: I suspect that Shakespeare learned much more Latin and Greek at the King’s New School than the anti-Stratforidians realize.
Even if Shakespeare belonged to a “relatively privileged” class, I’ve certainly seen many anti-Stratfordians (not all, by any means) sneering quite explicitly at the idea that a mere uneducated commoner like Shakespeare could have written the plays. (So they have two false premises, not just one!)
That’s what I’m sayin’!
“If the anti-Stratfordian thesis is derived from prejudice against any class, it would appear to be against the ruling class, as that’s the class in which Shakespeare was raised”.
No, Shakespeare was not raised in the ruling class but in the bourgeoisie – the nobility was the ruling class at the time. That is, burgesses and such did have power, but only within a limited sphere given by others for the convenience of those others, power which could be taken away if that turned out convenient. Just under a century later, in the run up to the Civil War, those others could no longer determine that in the same way.
The latest (?) theory on who wrote Shakespeare is that it was Francis Bacon and the Rocicrucians, in collaboration with Shakespeare himself, as I understand it; a theory not supported by this Shakespeare-scholar :
If one can trust Wikipedia on this, Shakespeare did collaborate with several others on some of his plays, particularly on Henry VI.
He definitely collaborated on some of his plays — though, notably, the parts we have best evidence for being collaborative also tend to be the parts that are least impressive from a literary standpoint. For example, the most collaborative of the Henry VI plays is the first one, which is also the least interesting one.
This entire discussion seems to be primarily rooted in “in class prejudice, not historical fact.”
I wonder if any of the discussants has actually ever read a book or an article by the much maligned “Oxfordians” or “anti-Stratfordians” — or know anything about the history of the controversy, a topic of some interest in itself.
For those who would actually like to know what these people are saying, here are some places you might begin:
The real authorship question has nothing to do with collaboration- its about what biography one can attach to the plays (which everyone agrees are mostly by one individual).
Roger Stritmatter, PhD
I don’t think you should take the mere fact that people disagree with you as evidence that they must not have read anything on the subject.
Also, signing your name with a “Ph.D.” is likely to be interpreted as a cheap shot. In any case, you’re not the only person on here with a Ph.D.
Let’s get something straight here, shall we? I’ll sign may name the way I please. I spent fifteen years getting a PhD, and when I think the fact that I have one is relevant, I will sign my naming using it. If you have a PhD and want to use your authority, go right ahead.
But I notice you haven’t answered my question. What have you read on the subject, besides David Kathman (PhD)’s website?
Please enlighten us.
And I say this not because you have a different perspective from my own (which is usually a good thing), but because your posts involve such a heavy doses of projection and straw men. Here are your words:
“I’ve certainly seen many anti-Stratfordians (not all, by any means) sneering quite explicitly at the idea that a mere uneducated commoner like Shakespeare could have written the plays.”
Cite us some examples, please. Are you referring to George Greenwood? J.T. Looney? Charlton Ogburn? B.M. Ward? Kristen Linklater? Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens? These are all leading anti-Stratfordians, who have written to enlightening effect on the subject you are discoursing about. Do any of them, “sneer” in the manner you suggest?
Please do enlighten us.
I’ll sign may name the way I please.
Well, naturally you are free to do that. Of course, other people are free to draw the natural conclusion. If you’re not aware what message you’re sending, take a look through a bookstore and notice which books by Ph.D.s have “Ph.D.” after the author’s name and which books by Ph.D.’s don’t have “Ph.D.” after the author’s name, and what the differences between those two classes of books tend to be.
If you have a PhD and want to use your authority, go right ahead.
The quality of an argument is not determined by the credentials of the person propounding it.
But I notice you haven’t answered my question.
You didn’t ask me a question until now.
What have you read on the subject, besides David Kathman (PhD)’s website?
I’m not the one who mentioned Kathman’s website. I read quite a bit about the authorship issue, from both sides, a number of years ago. I don’t remember which works I read now. The point of this post wasn’t to take sides on the authorship issue anyway.
And I say this not because you have a different perspective from my own
I wasn’t talking about your differences from my perspective.
your posts involve such a heavy doses of projection and straw men
Please give an example of posts of mine involving “projection.”
As for straw men, I made just one passing comment to the effect that I’d read some anti-Stratfordian works (and no, I don’t remember which ones) that were indeed “sneering quite explicitly” at the class status of the “Stratford man.” How you’ve turned this into some major assault on your favourite authorities beats me. But whatever floats your boat, man.
Hi, Dr. Stritmatter.
I tried to visit your website to possibly learn myself to your super-genius-troll level on this subject, but unfortunately you misspelled your website.
For future reference,
.ecomis not a valid top-level generic domain name. What you want is
BTW, isn’t Joe Sobran a “leading anti-Stratfordian who’s published to enlightening effect”, since he published an Oxfordian book in 1997?
But Brandon, you’re dealing with the rules of the Matter universe. We know everything’s different in the Antimatter universe (Jimmy Carter has a beard!), so probably things are different in the Stritmatter universe too.
To my understanding, there was nothing unusual in that time so far as Shakespeare having had some collaborators on some of his work. It was a common practice for the playwrights of the time to do some “script doctoring” for one another. Most likely Shakespeare himself had done as much on works attributed to other playwrights.
I was merely sharing what modicum amount of info I had on the topic. If you’re looking for the Shakespearean Authorship Scholarship Crown, I gladly concede it to you as I am no such scholar, and I don’t think I ever gave any impression that I was or pretended to be. It’s clear to me that both you and Roderick are quite a bit more well read on the subject than myself.
My only point to Alex and Roderick is that contrary to some anti-Stratfordian claims that I’ve heard and contrary to some educators I was schooled by–based on what I have read and as was stated by the authors Alex linked–Shakespeare didn’t exactly grow up the Elizabethan equivalent of the son of a poor sharecropper, but did in fact have access to what could have been a decent formal education for that period by virtue of the fact that his father was a government office holder. (Leaving aside for the moment the human drive to educate oneself regardless of–or because of–one’s economic background.)
As to other anti-Stratfordian claims–hey, you got me, I have no quick and ready reply one way or another. Perhaps I’ll check out the sites you linked as my time allows.
Now speaking from from my own limited knowledge of Elizabethan theater history, it does seem to me that those plays were most likely written by someone who was an actor, and there is ample historic documentation of Shakespeare’s acting career, yes? I understand that Shakespeare churned out something like 7-10 plays per year, if not more, and they cranked out production of those babies like a play factory. They had little time for rehearsal, which was why each actor only received his own lines and the preceding cue line. (This also explains the use of iambic pentameter–the rhythm of the lines makes them much easier to memorize.)
It just seems to me that all that points to an author who was an experienced actor actively working in a theater company at the time the plays were written, which Shakespeare was. So far as I know Edward de Vere was essentially a producer, so I’m not sure if he had the kind of know-how of craft that the author of those plays demonstrates. I’m not sure that Francis Bacon ever had any theatrical experience. Christopher Marlowe? Maybe, but why the pen name after having already written plays under his own name?
In any case, this was all merely discussion between some people with a tangential interest in the subject. I don’t know about Alex or Roderick, but I don’t have any intention of presenting to the world some kind of “definitive” case on the Shakespeare authorship debate, so you can sleep easy tonight.
“…Shakespeare didn’t exactly grow up the Elizabethan equivalent of the son of a poor sharecropper, but did in fact have access to what could have been a decent formal education for that period by virtue of the fact that his father was a government office holder”.
Er, no, Shakespeare’s father was NOT a government office holder. You are recasting the past in terms of the present; there were far fewer offices in those days, and many of those weren’t government ones (officers of the Crown). Shakespeare’s father held offices relating to his town.
Certainly the “anti-Stratfordian” arguments I’ve read have seemed to boil down to, “a mere peasant lout could not have created such beauty! It must have been a noble!”
Like Philip IV of France, say.
Meanwhile, I don’t see how somebody else’s possession of any number of advanced degrees has any influence on what I, personally, might have read. Then again, I’m a college dropout, as well as a loutish peasant, so of course I’m ignorant of such matters.
Since it’s perfectly true we can write whatever we want to by way of signatures, I remain:
Master of Cosmic Quiddities, Emperor of the East and West, History’s Greatest Lover,
Your Humble Servant.