On the Web is a comprehensive and extensive site; The Shakespeare Authorship Page

Dedicated to the Proposition that Shakespeare Wrote Shakespeare.

The authors of the site are clearly very intelligent and knowledgeable about their chosen subject. If de Vere is going to fail as the Poet/Dramatist Shakespeare, then surely it will be here.

To be more precise than the Dedication, what they mean is not that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare, which is self evident to everyone. They mean that the man from Stratford upon Avon (Shaxper) (and for identification we'll call him that from now on) wrote the works attributed to Shakespeare, and this is a different matter entirely. We have already found that Shaxper's own attempts at signatures on legal documents prove him to be a near-illiterate and incapable of writing one page of manuscript; certainly not over 30 plays and many poems. This is discussed in some detail in chapter 5, and all the known signatures are there provided. We can therefore dismiss as irrelevant such topics as

Images of Shaxper

Shaxper's education and social background

Shaxper's Stratford friends

Shaxper's knowledge of Italy, the Classics, and the Law.

What we need to concentrate on are these sections:

How we know that (Shaxper) wrote Shakespeare

Critically examining Oxfordian claims

(Dating the works

Barksted and Shakespeare

Dating the Tempest

This section, Dating the Works, will be discussed in a separate later chapter on dating.)

The section "Were Shakespeare's plays written by an aristocrat?" is not included for consideration because Shakespeare's sonnet 125 (chapters 19, 20) says "I bore the canopy" which means he was an aristocrat in the Queen's inner circle.

Now let's look at what the Web site has to tell us. First we should look at the Introduction. An introduction sets the tone and lays out the ground for what follows. Here are some excerpts from this one:

There exist sincere and intelligent people who believe there is strong evidence that Edward de Vere, Seventeenth Earl of Oxford, was the author of these plays and poems. Yet professional Shakespeare scholars - those whose job it is to study, write, and teach about Shakespeare - generally find Oxfordian claims to be groundless, often not even worth discussing...

Oxfordians are not taken seriously by the Shakespeare establishment because (with few exceptions) they do not follow basic standards of scholarship, and the "evidence" they present for their fantastic scenarios is either distorted, taken out of context, or flat-out false....

Oxfordian books can be deceptively convincing to a reader who is unaware of the relevant historical background and unused to the rhetorical tricks used by Oxfordians. Our aim is to provide context where needed, expose misinformation passed off by Oxfordians as fact, and in general show the non specialist reader why professional Shakespeare scholars have so little regard for Oxfordian claims.

Strangely, neither this introduction nor their dedication claim to present facts to prove that Shaxper was the poet/dramatist Shakespeare. It may be that they are well aware that there are no 'facts' to prove Shaxper was Shakespeare. If there were, there would be no controversy. But having noted this, I suggest we begin by looking at the article How we know that Shakespeare (Shaxper) wrote Shakespeare (Shakespeare's literary output): the Historical Facts:



The first paragraph gives Shaxper's date of birth, parentage, and a few sentences about John Shaxper, Williams' father. This is a very one-sided laudatory summary. There is a more accurate account in my chapter 4.

The second paragraph has 7 sentences about William Shaxper. Here's how it begins

William Shakespeare married Ann Hathaway in November, 1582, and six months later their daughter, Susanna, was born. Two other children were born, the twins Hamnet and Judith, in February 1585. Sometime after this he joined a troupe of players and made his way to London. As a member of London's leading theater company, the Lord Chamberlain's Company, he wrote plays and eventually became a sharer in the Globe theater...

To the best of my belief and knowledge 'he joined a troupe of players and made his way to London' is an incorrect statement. There is no evidence that he joined a group of players before appearing years later in London after leaving Stratford at an unknown time. In fact some Stratfordians have referred to the Lost Years in his life and there has even been conjecture that he became a soldier, which might help account for his apparent familiarity in the plays with battle scenes and modes of military engagement. To stay with facts, we don't even know whether he was still in Stratford on Avon with his wife when the twins were born in 1585. The first evidence of his being in London is the record of payment for two performances by the newly formed Lord Chamberlain's Men in March 1595; the payment was recorded as made to William Kempe, William Shakespeare & Richard Burbage. But on this web site, given as part of historical facts, we have an unsupported statement thrown in as a fact along the way to painting a convincing picture of his progress into the theatre world. This is not an encouraging beginning.

The web site continues:

1. The name "William Shakespeare" appears on the plays and poems.

Here's a summary of what this section says

1a, In 1593 the narrative poem Venus and Adonis was published... signed "William Shakespeare." The following year, The Rape of Lucrece was published, also...signed by William Shakespeare.

1b. In 1601 the volume Loves Martyr by Robert Chester contained...(untitled in the volume, but now known as "The Phoenix and the Turtle") signed "William Shakespeare." ...

1c. In 1609 the volume Shake-speares Sonnets was published... clearly attributed to "Shakespeare."

1d. Many plays were also attributed in print to William Shakespeare. Following is a list of the plays first published in quarto up until the publication of the First Folio, along with the dates of publication and the name of the author.

Titus Andronicus - Q1 1594, Q2 1600, Q3 1611, all with the author unnamed

Henry VI Part 2 - Q1 1594, Q2 1600, unnamed, Q3 1619 William Shakespeare, Gent.

Henry VI Part 3 - Q1 1595, Q2 1600, unnamed

Romeo and Juliet - Q1 1597, Q2 1599, Q3 1609, unnamed

Richard II - Q1 1597 unnamed; Q2 1598,Q3 1598, Q4 1608, Q5 1615 William Shake-speare

Richard III - Q1 1597 unnamed; Q2 1598 William Shake-speare, Q3 1602 William Shakespeare; Q4 1605, Q5 1612, Q6 1622, William Shake-speare

Love's Labor's Lost - Q1 1598 W. Shakespeare

Henry IV Part 1 - Q1 1598 unnamed; Q2 1599, Q3 1604, Q4 1608, Q5 1613, W. Shake-speare

Midsummer Night's Dream - Q1 1600, Q2 1619, William Shakespeare

Merchant of Venice - Q1 1600 William Shakespeare, Q2 1619 W.Shakespeare

Henry IV Part 2 - Q1 1600 William Shakespeare

Much Ado About Nothing - Q1 1600 William Shakespeare

Henry V - Q1 1600, Q2 1602, Q3 1619 unnamed

Merry Wives of Windsor - Q1 1602 William Shakespeare, Q2 W. Shakespeare

Hamlet - Q1 1603 William Shake-speare, Q2 William Shakespeare

King Lear - Q1 1608 M. William Shak-speare, Q2 1619 M. William Shake-speare

Pericles - Q1 1609, Q2 1609, Q 3 1611, William Shakespeare, Q4 1619 W. Shakespeare

Troilus and Cressida - Q1 1609 William Shakespeare

This play list is an excellent summary providing very useful information. Not all the plays are included, and the web site doesn't tell us why this is so, except for 4 plays mentioned in 1c below. Here are the omitted plays:

Henry 6.1

The Comedy of Errors

The Taming of the Shrew

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

King John

As You Like It

Julius Caesar

Twelfth Night

All's Well That Ends Well


Measure for Measure

Timon of Athens


Anthony and Cleopatra


The Winter's Tale


The Tempest

That means 18 plays are identified as to authorship in the web site, but another 18 are not, before considering the play Henry 8.


In 1598 Palladis Tamia: Wits Treasury by Francis Meres was published. Meres attributed twelve plays to Shakespeare, including four which were never published in quarto: [Two] Gentlemen of Verona, [Comedy of] Errors, Love Labors wonne, and King John. In addition he identified some of the plays that were published anonymously before 1598 - Titus, Romeo and Juliet, and Henry IV - as being written by Shakespeare. Sadly for Oxfordians he mentions Edward Earl of Oxford as being a writer of comedy in the same paragraph as he does Shakespeare.

I would like to comment on this.

On the late night of January 14-15 2002 I watched an interesting program about the life and work of Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835 - 1910) on PBS TV. He's better known as the writer Mark Twain. As it went along the narrator shifted seamlessly between calling him first one name and then the other. It seemed quite natural to do so, and I would probably not have noticed it but for my present investigation into the Shakespeare identity problem. It did not occur to me to list these occurrences until near the end of the program when it was too late. But fortunately it was a two part show, and the following night, January 15 - 16 I was ready with pen and paper and listed in separate columns each time each name was used. My count came to

Samuel Clemens (or Clemens) 17

Mark Twain (or Twain) 31

Unfortunately this is not a perfect score as I was interrupted by a 'phone call and lost almost 5 minutes near the end of the program. But I think the point can be made that when talking about what Clemens did and wrote, his name was used; when the action or writing mentioned had the name Mark Twain, that was used. It may not have been as completely accurate as that, but such seemed to be the case.

On this evidence alone I think we can say that Francis Meres, in a like capacity to the PBS TV show in his own day, was (or his informant was) commenting on the works using the name as the author identified himself for each work he referred to. The result is that it really has no bearing on who Shakespeare was.

The web site authors state that it was only after about 1600 that playwrights began to have their names appended to their plays. They say

Only about a third of all the plays printed in the 1590s named the author on the title page, and a significant portion of these were the Shakespeare quartos late in the decade... John Lyly had been one of the most popular playwrights of the 1580s, writing for the Children of Paul's yet six of his plays were published, in ten different editions over a dozen years, before his name ever appeared on a title page (in 1597 on The Woman in the Moon).

There is a difference though. We've found that Shakespeare was a nobleman.

I believe it's correct to say that none of the other playwrights at that time was anything other than a commoner. Certainly, I think Greene, Lodge, Marlowe, Lyly and Wilson, mentioned by the web site authors in this context, were not noblemen. So the motivation may be a little different in Shakespeare's case. It seems that for his own personal reasons he was building a separate persona for his writing, now that it was becoming famous and sought-after, as he knew it would. And that seems to be why he used this persona on more of his plays than anyone else used their own names on their works. The printers would also have found it advantageous. Shakespeare's works sold more copies. There were apparently even spurious works printed with attribution to Shakespeare just because his name had selling power.

1f. This paragraph refers to the First Folio, which we'll discuss in a later chapter on that subject.

The next paragraph says that there is no evidence that William Shakespeare was a pseudonym. However, this investigation has found as a fact that as Shakespeare was a nobleman, and as there is no nobleman named Shakespeare, the name has to be a pseudonym.

The web page authors conclude this section by saying

All the historical evidence ties William Shakespeare of Stratford to the plays bearing his name, as we will now demonstrate.

Of course we can agree with them completely except for the two words 'of Stratford' and we can look forward to their demonstration of proof with considerable interest.

Because we will have to refer frequently to the authors of the web page, for brevity I propose from now on to refer to them as A, and because A is singular but the authors are apparently plural, to avoid awkwardness for example we'll state 'A says' rather than 'A say.'

A's section 2 is headed

2. William Shakespeare was an actor in the company which performed the plays of William Shakespeare.

From 1594 on, the plays of William Shakespeare were performed exclusively by the acting company variously known as the Lord Chamberlain's Men (1594-6), 1597-1603), Lord Hunsdon's Men (1596-97), and the King's Men (1603-42). William Shakespeare was a prominent member of this acting company, as the following evidence demonstrates.

2a. This recites the 15 March 1595 official entry re payment to Kempe, Shakespeare and Burbage for 2 court performances. The entry is suspect, as discussed in chapter 4. If genuine, it identifies William Shakespeare as a member of the company, but not necessarily as an actor.

2b. Quotes the story of the John Manningham diary entry of March 1602 about Burbage to come to a female at night using the name Richard III but Shakespeare got there first and sent a message to Burbage at the door that William the Conqueror came before Richard III.

This is at the level of the poet/dramatist's common folk and clowns, not of noblemen. If true it shows that someone called Shakespeare was a member of the company, not necessarily an actor.

2c. On 19 May 1603 the Lord Chamberlain's Men were licensed as the King's Men. The document lists "Lawrence Fletcher, William Shakespeare, Richard Burbage, Augustyne Phillippes, Ion Heninges, Henrie Condell, William Sly, Robert Armyn, Richard Cowly" ...

2d. The account of Sir George Home, Master of the Great Wardrobe, lists the names of "Players" who were given four yards of red cloth apiece for the investiture of King James in London on 15 March, 1604, "William Shakespeare, Augustine Phillipps, Lawrence Fletcher, John Hemminges, Richard Burbidge, William Sly, Robert Armyn, Henry Cundell, and Richard Cowley.

The authors think the placing of Shakespeare's name at the front indicates his prominence. This is unlikely, as Burbage was an owner with his brother as well as the leading actor, It's more likely that Shakespeare as the business man went by himself to get the licence in 2c, and the cloth in 2d for all of them. That would then be why his name is up front. This is very close to being an actor but not quite there, but we agree he's a member of the company.

2e. The will of Augustine Phillips, 1605, bequeaths gold coins to 'my Fellowe William Shakespeare, Fellowe Henry Condell, ... my Fellowe Lawrence Fletcher, Fellowe Robert Armyne ...'.

Here's more confirming evidence that William Shakespeare is a member of the company, but not proof he's an actor.

2f. The 1616 Folio of Ben Jonson's Works contains cast lists for his plays. The cast list for Jonson's Every Man in His Humor, performed in 1598, includes "Will Shakespeare, Aug. Philips, Hen. Condel, Will. Slye, Will. Kempe, Ric. Burbadge, Ioh. Hemings, Tho. Pope, Chr. Beeston, and Ioh. Duke."

This must be random and not ranking, as Shakespeare would not be placed before Burbage. Alternatively, it may be in order of appearance. To open the play, Juniper the cobbler is found sitting in his shop singing at work,, Shaxper would then be either that character, or Onion, who enters and tells him to stop singing "a God's name." Onion doesn't even appear in the "Persons in the Play" list.

2g. The cast list for Jonson's Sejanus, performed in 1603, includes "Ric Burbadge, Aug. Philips, Will. Sly, Ioh. Lowin, Will. Shake-Speare, Ioh. Hemings, Hen. Condel, and Alex. Cooke."

Although some question the veracity of Ben Jonson, I think there's sufficient evidence here to show that Shaxper, was probably an actor, and is the person referred to. It would not be de Vere as this rival playwright would not have, I think, under any circumstance performed as a common player in Jonson's plays. Nor, for the same reason, would Jonson, I suggest, have permitted Shakespeare, the poet/dramatist and his hated rival, to act in one of his plays. This would then mean that Jonson knew Shaxper as an actor/ sharer in the Globe theatre company and nothing more. Certainly not as a playwright.

The next section (3) by A has the following heading

3. William Shakespeare the actor was William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon.

A's item 3d states

Shakespeare bought the Blackfriar's Gatehouse in London... on the deed dated 10 March 1613, John Hemmyng, gentleman... acted as trustee for the buyer, "William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon." This property is disposed of in Shakespeare's will.

...Shakespeare was also a sharer in the syndicate that owned the Globe theater. There were three parties to the agreement. Nicholas Brend, who owned the grounds upon which the Globe was built; Cuthbert and Richard Burbage, who were responsible for half the lease; and five members of the Chamberlain's Men - William Shakespeare, John Heminges, Augustine Philips, Thomas Pope, and William Kempe - who were responsible for the other half of the lease. Each of these men had a 1/10 share in the profits. The share dropped to 1/12 when Henry Condell and William Sly joined in 1605-8, and dropped to 1/14 in 1611 when Ostler came in.

I have no problem with the statement in heading 3 except to note that William Shaxper of Stratford upon Avon was calling himself William Shakespeare later in his life.

A's item 4 is headed

William Shakespeare the Globe-sharer was also William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon.

I have no problem with the statement in heading 4, but note that Shaxper was still being pronounced Shackspeare rather than Shakespeare in 1601 according to item 4b below..

A's item 4b states

In a mortgage deed of trust dated 7 October 1601 by Nicholas Brend to John Bodley, John Collet, and Matthew Browne, in which Bodley was given control of the Globe playhouse, the Globe is described as being tenanted by "Richard Burbadge and Willm Shackspeare gent."

A's item 5 is headed

5. William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon, the actor and Globe-sharer, was the playwright and poet William Shakespeare.

This is where we part company. Our investigation has shown that Shaxper was not, and could not have been, the poet/playwright Shakespeare. We will need to consider carefully the evidence A provides to support this statement.

5a. Around 1601, students in Cambridge put on a play called The Second Part of the Return from Parnassus, the third in a series of plays that satirized the London literary scene...At one point Kempe says,

Few of the university (men) pen plays well, they smell too much of that writer Ovid, and that writer Metamorphosis, and talk too much of Proserpina and Jupiter. Why, here's our fellow Shakespeare puts them all down, aye and Ben Jonson too. O that Ben Jonson is a pestilent fellow, he brought up Horace giving the poets a pill, but our fellow Shakespeare hath given him a purge that made him bewray his credit.

This speech, and Burbage's rejoinder, were quoted and discussed in chapter 9 section 2, but here are a few additional comments.

Although A states the Parnassus play is a satire, it seems not to be realized 'Kempe's' speech here is in itself a satire, making a fool of the professional fool for his ignorance, because

1. playing to a University audience at a university he says their playwrights don't 'play well' when the opposite is true.

2. He shows ignorance of the Classics by inadvertently mixing them up.

3. He doesn't know his Shaxper from his Shakespeare

The last phrase in the last sentence seems to be the one implying that Shaxper is Shakespeare, but no one today knows what it means. I say this with some confidence as I've found different (Stratfordian) scholars have different opinions as to whether a play of Shakespeare is being referred to, and if so, to which one it refers.

There's something else to notice. 'Bewray' is an archaic word now, and meant to reveal (usually inadvertently.) Credit now can have any one of four meanings:

1. a belief or trust

2. good reputation

3. trust in a person's ability to pay

4. sum of money or other resources at the disposal of a person held by, in Elizabethan times, probably a goldsmith, or to one's account in the records of a vendor.

This is being said of Ben Jonson. To follow the meanings of the words they seem to imply that somehow Shakespeare the dramatist has caused Jonson to (unintentionally) disclose his belief or trust or good reputation or ability to make good on his promises.

What's of interest here is the involvement of Jonson in the Shakespeare identity problem. He's deeply involved in the First Folio (later). He's the only one who has Shaxper listed as a cast member (twice), and somehow he's involved here. There's something the university audience would have known that 'Kempe' gets wrong that's lost to us now.

I suggest that this much used quotation is no proof of anything, least of all that Shaxper was Shakespeare.

A continues with

5b. In 1610 John Davies of Hereford published a volume entitled The Scourge of Folly, consisting mostly of poems to famous people and Davies's friends. One of these poems was addressed to Shakespeare

To our English Terence, Mr Will Shake-speare.

Some say (good Will) which I, in sport, do sing,

Had'st thou not plaid some Kingly parts in sport,

Thou hadst bin a companion for a King;

And beene a King among the meaner sort.

Some others raile, but raile as they thinke fit,

Thou hast no railing, but a raigning Wit:

And Honesty thou sow'st, which they do reape;

So, to increase their Stocke which they do keepe.

A comments

Terence was an ancient Roman playwright who came from humble origins, just like Shakespeare. Davies's references to 'playing' parts 'in sport' refer to acting, and his repeated references to 'kings' is a play on the name of the King's Men; the only other poems in the volume that similarly play on 'king' are those to Robert Armin and William Ostler, also members of the King's Men, and the poem to Armin also refers to plying 'in sport.' Incidentally, this poem is demonstrably not addressed to the Earl of Oxford in any kind of disguise, since it is addressed in the present tense to a living person, and Oxford had been dead for six years.

My comments are

1.Terence was born in Carthage, date unknown, but said to be about 185 B.C. or 190 B.C.. This was after the end of the second Punic war between Rome and Carthage, which ended with the defeat of Carthage and terms by Rome to reduce the great power and strip the wealth from Carthage. Terence was born before the third and final Punic war at the end of which the city of Carthage was literally obliterated from the map by Rome. For details and dates see my Edward Furlong web page: section Is Our Civilization Dying? chapter 7. Terence was a slave of Senator Publius Trientius Lucanus, who, it is said, educated him and later freed him. Terence then assumed the name PubliusTerentium Afer, after his patron. His first play was produced in 166 B.C. apparently when he was 19 (24?). It was an immediate success. He soon had friends in high places including General Scipio Africanus the Younger. Terence adapted his 6 comedies from Greek models. His plays were sophisticated, satirical, and subtle, with elegant Latin, unlike Plautus his predecessor with his broad farce and colloquial Latin. Terence died in 159 B.C. on his way back from Greece where he had searched for more play material. He was then apparently only about 26 (31?) years old. This does not leave much room in his life for the education, literary output and fame he achieved, coming from slavery as a beginning. My guess is that he was a prisoner taken from a wealthy family in the wealthy city of Carthage. If I'm right, and the evidence seems to support this view, then he was not "from humble origins, just like Shakespeare (Shaxper)" as A says he was.

2. In the poem by Davies we have the usual problem with publications. A gives the date of publication, 1610, and says it cannot be de Vere as it's in the present tense. Actually, the reference in the first sentence is in the past tense. But Davies certainly did not write all his poems within 5 minutes of publication. This one could have been written years earlier, in 1603-4 when de Vere was still alive, and James 1st was king. It might have been written even earlier, in the 1590s, and the King references merely capitalized later for publication, to add the extra pun on the King's Men theatre company and make the poem more topical again.

3. The poem seems relevant to de Vere, but not to Shaxper, who could not have been a companion for a king. De Vere, with his reigning wit, and family name related to truth, or honesty, not railing like an actor, was the one lining other peoples' pockets through the printing and performances of his plays. The beneficaries included Shaxper, so this reference is incorrect for him.

The whole poem, is, I suggest, at least inconclusive. Further, we don't know how much Davies knew about the Shaxper/Shakespeare situation.

A continues with


In 1615 Edmund Howes published a list of 'Our moderne, and present excellent Poets" in John Stow's Annales. He lists the poets "according to their priorities (social rank) as neere I could," with Knights listed first, followed by gentlemen. In the middle of the 27 listed, number 13 is 'M. Willi. Shakespeare gentleman.'

My comments are

1. Fortunately I was able to locate on the Web what appears to be the complete list referred to by A. Here's the list said to be by Edmund Howes in 1615:

Our moderne, and present excellent poets which worthely florish in their owne workes, and all of them in my owne knowledge lived together in this Queenes raigne, according to their priorities as neere as I could, I have orderly set downe (viz) George Gascoigne, Thomas Churchyard, Edward Dyer, Edmond Spencer, Philip Sidney, John Harrington, Thomas Challoner, Frauncis Bacon, John Davie, Iohn Lillie, George Chapman, W. Warner, Willi Shakespeare, Samuell Daniell, Michaell Draiton, Christopher Marlo, Benjamine Johnson, Iohn Marston, Abraham Frauncis, Frauncis Meers, Joshua Siluester, Thomas Deckers, John Flecher, John Webster, Thomas Heywood, Thomas Middleton, George Withers.

I believe this is the list referred to by A as it has 27 names and the 13th is indeed Shakespeare. But whatever Howes meant by priorities it does not seem to be social rank as there are, to the best of my knowledge, only 4 knights listed, and not with knights first, as A says, but interspersed and not recognized as such. They are Sir Edward Dyer, Sir Philip Sidney, Sir Francis Bacon, and Sir John Davies (not to be confused with the John Davies of Hereford discussed in 5b above). Another interesting omission is the class of nobility, whether earls or barons. And the list is far from complete, for example, an obvious omission being Sir Walter Ralegh.

Either the Web page has altered the list, or A has, because the Web page does not list Shakespeare as A does.

2. Apparently there is another list, in a 1615 edition of John Stowe's Annales or Chronicles. He published many works, and lived 1525-1605 so either his Annals outlived him as a publication or he had a son by the same name. There are many John Stowes down through the ages from then to the present. I have only been able to obtain an excerpt from this list, said to contain 24 of

Our modern and excellent poets which worthely flourish in their own workes in the Queen's reign...

"Edmund Spencer, Esq: Sir Philip Sidney, Knight; Sir Francis Bacon, Knight;

Maister George Chapman, Gentleman; Mr. William Shakespeare, Gentleman;

Michael Draiton, Esquire, and Mr. Benjamin Johnson, Gentleman.

The order is the same, but there are omissions in the sequence from the preceding list.

I suggest all this is 'hearsay' evidence, and tells us nothing about who Shakespeare was. I propose to set it aside as irrelevant.

A continues with 5d.

Some time between 1616 and 1623, William Basse wrote an elegy entitled "On Mr. Wm. Shakespeare," in which he suggests that Shakespeare should have been buried in Westminster Abbey next to Chaucer, Beaumont, and Spenser:

Renowned Spenser, lie a thought more nigh

To learned Chaucer, and rare Beaumont lie

A little nearer Spenser to make room

For Shakespeare in your threefold, fourfold tomb,

To lodge all four in one bed make a shift

Until Doomsday, for hardly will a fifth

Betwixt this day and that by fate be slain

For whom your curtains may be drawn again.

If your precedency in death doth bar

A fourth place in your sacred sepulcher,

Under this carved marble of thine own

Sleep rare tragedian Shakespeare, sleep alone,

Thy unmolested peace, unshared cave,

Possess as lord not tenant of thy grave,

That unto us and others it may be

Honor hereafter to be laid by thee.

A continues:

This poem circulated very widely in manuscript, and it survives today in more than two dozen copies. Several of them have the full title "On Mr. William Shakespeare, he died in April 1616," which means they were unambiguously referring to the Stratford William Shakespeare. In any case, the poem could not be referring to the Earl of Oxford. It was written no earlier than 1616 (12 years after Oxford's death) since it refers to the death of Beaumont, which happened in March 1616 and it was certainly in existence by the time of the First Folio in 1623, since Ben Jonson's eulogy alludes directly to Basse's and responds to it.

My comments are:

1. The poem was not apparently printed until 1633. If the poem exists in manuscript form with so many copies, is the writing the same hand on all the copies? Further, is the addition of ",he died in April 1616" in the same handwriting as the rest of the heading and poem? And why is it only on 'several' and not on all of them? This is inconclusive evidence as presented, and further, it seems to me that Basse would not have put additional wording on a few copies. I assume this addition was by someone other than Basse, that there was probably more than one copyist, and only one added this particular 'gloss.'

2. From another source I find it stated that the poem was written in 1622. If this is correct, it means it's not related directly to the death of either Shaxper or the poet/dramatist.

3. From a third source I learn that Basse was apparently a student at Oxford when he wrote the poem, and that he was 'closely associated with Oxford's daughters.' This makes sense and adds meaning to the poem's phrase 'possess as lord not tenant' because as Viscount Bolbec he was a lord, although his more senior title was as an earl. With the additional information we now have, I think the tables are turned on A, and that the poem was probably saying that de Vere who was apparently buried at Hackney should be buried in the Poet's corner in the south transept of Westminster Abbey.

4. Ben Jonson referred to this poem in F1, and we'll come back to this in the chapter on F1.

A continues:

5e. Sometime before 1623, a monument was erected to William Shakespeare in Stratford, depicting him as a writer. Anti-Stratfordians desperately try to discredit this evidence by any means possible, but their efforts are misguided and futile. (See The Stratford Monument, and 51-k below.) From the 1620s on the monument was consistently seen as representing William Shakespeare, the famous poet.

My comments are, first, there are some facts in this much disputed topic. They are

1. There is presently existing a monument to William Shakespeare in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford on Avon.

2. We have it on the authority of M. H. Spielmann "Shakespeare's Portraiture" in Studies in the First Folio (Oxford University Press, 1924) that there were "certain repairs made in 1748." Therefore, whatever monument was there prior to 1748 is unknown to Stratfordians and Oxfordians alike.

3. Spielmann provides considerable detail on the history of 17th century tomb makers, engravers and artists engaged in work relating to monuments to deceased persons. However, he speaks of the "Shakespeare-haters" (Shaxper dissenters) and denounces criticism of the authenticity of the existing Stratford monument as "misconception." He is a biased scholar.

4. Spielmann produces convincing evidence that the plate showing the monument published in Sir William Dugdale's Antiquities of Warwickshire in 1656 may be inaccurate as it was not of course photographed, but reproduced from an artist's sketch(es). He provides numerous examples of errors in some of Dugdale's other representations and 'facts' due to his reliance on subordinates and apparently sub-contracted artists, as his output of informational material was prodigious.

5. The main differences between the existing monument and Dugdale's representation are

(a) what looks like a sack of something (which could be a sack of grain) shown in front of the top-half figure has become what seems to be a cushion.

(b) what was a pair of arms and hands almost 'akimbo' holding firmly on to the 'sack' has become spread hands resting on the 'cushion', the right hand holding a quill pen, the left holding some distance away a piece of paper which droops over the front of the 'cushion.'

(c) the face of a stern somewhat narrow faced man with a pointed full beard and moustache has become a more benign, rounded faced man.

The differences in physiognomy are remarkable. The first looks like a grain dealer you would not want to get into an argument with, the second, a peaceable soul who might be almost anything in life.

My conclusions are

1. We just don't know what the original monument looked like.

2. I find a certain anomaly in the second benign representation. Why is this man holding a pen and paper on a cushion? This is not how you write. Something soft would be the worst possible material to write on, in fact almost impossible.

3. Spielmann thoughtfully provides two pictures of John Stow's Monument, erected elsewhere. The photo shows a man at a desk looking downward, leaning forward with a pen in his hand concentrating on writing. This is immediately recognizable as a man used to writing, and/or in the act of writing. The second picture for Stow is a much older engraving from a drawing and is quite different. The man is not looking down but straight ahead, his arms and hands are apart and he has no pen.

4. In the Shaxper monument I am suspicious of the 'cushion', if that's what it's meant to represent. It may suggest a hold-over from a former somewhat different representation as I don't think it fits.

5. We don't know who authorized and who paid for the Shaxper monument. It seems to me unlikely that the wife, whose debt Shaxper left unpaid, and to whom he left only his second best bed, would have arranged it. And his son in law, Dr. Hall apparently merely left a laconic note in his records that his father in law had died on Thursday.

From this evidence I deduce that there was probably some change made to the original monument, even before the 1748 'repair.' Whether it was genuine repair or tampering with the representation we just don't know. I think the 'cushion' is an anomaly for the purported monument to a writer. I suggest what we have here is inadmissible as evidence beyond a reasonable doubt one way or the other as to Shaxper's being originally represented as Shakespeare the poet.

A continues with 5f, 5g, 5h, and 5i. These all relate to the First Folio of 1623 which we'll investigate in a later chapter.

5j recites an anecdote from an anonymous volume published in 1630 entitled A Banquet of Jeasts or Change of Cheare.

A comments

This jest implies that the writer had been in Stratford church, and that he believed that the William Shakespeare born there was 'famous'; indeed not yet 15 years after Shakespeare's death, he was apparently the town's main claim to fame. True, the writer does not explicitly say that Shakespeare was famous as a poet, but it is difficult to see why a grain dealer would bring such fame to his home town.

My thoughts on this are that we can prove Shaxper was a grain dealer, but we can't prove he was a poet. Thinking he brought fame to this small Warwickshire town is, I believe significant. In a town where half the aldermen were illiterate doesn't only say little for the local school, it suggests the town would have actively promoted Shaxper as Shakespeare for its own financial benefit, which the town continues to do to this day in the 21st century.

5k recites a diary entry of a Lieutenant Hammond of September 9, 1634, when travelling through Stratford upon Avon with his military company " the Church in that Towne...a neat Monument of that famous English Poet, Mr. William Shakespeare, who was borne heere...."

5l: In 1638 Sir William Davenant's Madagascar contained the following poem "in Remembrance of Master William Shakespeare"

A quotes this in full and comments

'...Davenant specifically associates the poet Shakespeare with the Avon river...This testimony deserves to be taken seriously, because significant evidence indicates that William Shakespeare was a friend of the Davenant family. William (1606-1668) used to hint that he was Shakespeare's bastard son, several independent 17th-century sources report that Shakespeare used to stay at the Davenants' tavern in Oxford on his journeys between Stratford and London...."

5m: The 1640 edition of Shakespeare's poems, published by John Benson, contains a poem entitled 'An Elegie on the death of that famous Writer and Actor, M. William Shakespeare.' The same volume contains William Basse's poem from 5d above, entitled "on the death of Williamn (sic) Shakespeare, who died in Aprill, Anno. Dom. 1616."

5n: Sir Richard Baker, a contemporary of Shakespeare and a friend of John Donne, published Chronicle of the Kings of England in 1643. Sir Richard was a (sic) avid fan of the theater, also writing Theatrum Redivium, or the Theatre Vindicated. In the Chronicle, for Elizabeth's reign he notes statesmen, seamen, and soldiers, and literary figures who are mostly theologians with the exception of Sidney. In conclusion he says,

After such men it might be thought ridiculous to speak of Stage-players; but seeing excellency in the meanest things deserves remembering. ... For writers of Playes, and such as had been Players themselves, William Shakespeare and Benjamin Jonson, have specially left their Names recommended to Posterity.

I have listed A's 5j to 5n without individual comment because all this is hearsay evidence arising well after the publication of the First Folio. I believe it is certainly fair to say that by then Shaxper was well on the way to being established as Shakespeare. First I'd like to comment specifically regarding Sir Richard Baker, and then conclude with a more general comment on the 5j to 5n items.

Sir Richard Baker (1568-1644/5) entered Hart Hall, Oxford university, as a commoner in 1584, He is said to have left without taking a degree, studied law in London and afterwards travelled in Europe. In 1593 he was chosen member of parliament for Arundel, and in 1594 received his MA. In 1597 he was elected to parliament for East Grinstead. In 1603 he was knighted by James 1st. In 1620 he was high sheriff at Oxfordshire where he owned some property. Soon afterwards he married the daughter of Sir George Mainwaring of Shropshire. He assumed responsibility for some debts of his wife's family; his Oxfordshire property was seized in 1625. My source for all this says 'Quite penniless, he took refuge in the Fleet prison in 1635 and was still in confinement when he died.'

The Fleet prison was a notorious debtor's prison, and the fact that he was never released tells me that 'he took refuge' there is a euphuism for imprisonment as a debtor. It was here that he spent his time mainly in writing. Apart from his Chronicle, for which he is famous, all his writing was religious except the Theatrum and a translation of discourses on Tacitus. The source's conclusion regarding the Chronicle is "For many years the Chronicle was extremely popular, but owing to numerous inaccuracies its historical value is very slight."

The statement by Baker, then, distils down to hearsay as we have no evidence to show how he came by what he wrote concerning Shakespeare.

This concludes our review of A's evidence for Shaxper being Shakespeare, which ends with 5n, Sir Richard Baker.

A provides a conclusion to this section


How do we know that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare? We know because the historical record tell us so, strongly and unequivocally. The historical evidence demonstrates that one and the same man, William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon, was William Shakespeare the player, William Shakespeare the Globe-sharer, and William Shakespeare the author of the plays and poems that bear his name - and no person of the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras ever doubted the attribution. No Elizabethan ever suggested that Shakespeare's plays and poems were written by someone else, or that Shakespeare the player was not Shakespeare the author, or that Shakespeare the Globe-sharer was not the Shakespeare of Stratford. No contemporary of Shakespeare's ever suggested that the name used by the player, the Globe-sharer, or the author was a pseudonym, and none of the major alternative candidates - not Francis Bacon, not the Earl of Oxford, not Christopher Marlowe - had any connection with Shakespeare's acting company or with his friends and fellow actors.

Anti-Stratfordians must rely solely upon speculation about what they think the 'real' author should have been like, because they cannot produce one historical fact to bolster their refusal to accept who that author actually was. No matter how they try to ignore it or explain it away, the historical record -all of it - establishes William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon as the author of the works traditionally attributed to him.

It seems a shame to have to continue with one's own comments after this noble, pejorative position statement but such must be the case.

My general comment on A's 5j to 5n is that it is not proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and most of A's inspired conclusion is pure unsupportable personal opinion.

After 400 years of scholarship looking for it, no factual evidence has been found to prove that Shaxper was the poet/dramatist. The attribution to Shaxper is primarily based on certain words in the Introduction to the First Folio (1623) plus hearsay and circumstantial evidence.

This lack of evidence for the identity of the poet/dramatist is not the result of a plot or conspiracy. It was deliberate and intentional on the part of the poet/dramatist himself. Sonnets 71 and 72 tell us that. They are both quoted in full in Chapter 18, and I suggest you read both, but because the web is infinitely expandable here are the relevant lines from sonnet 71, and this is Shakespeare himself speaking:

No longer mourn for me

when I am dead....

Do not so much as my poor name rehearse,

But let your love even with my life decay;

Lest the wise world should look into your moan,

And mock you with me after I am gone.

The poet will of course die with his real name, and it seems the world is likely to mock him in his real name after he is dead. That's if he should be remembered.


Shakespeare continues his post-mortem instructions in the next poem:

O! Lest the world should task you to recite

What merit lived in me, that you should love

After my death, - dear love, forget me quite,

For you in me can nothing worthy prove;

Unless you would devise some virtuous lie,

To do more for me than mine own desert,

And hang more praise upon deceased I

Than niggard truth would willingly impart:

O! lest your true love may seem false in this,

That you for love speak well of me untrue,

My name be buried where my body is,

And live no more to shame nor me nor you.

For I am sham'd by that which I bring forth,

And so should you, to love things nothing worth.

The name to be buried with his body is of course his real name, not his pseudonym. And that's the poet/dramatist Shakespeare himself saying this. It's factual evidence.

Then in sonnet 76 he says

every word doth almost tell my name

Almost, but not quite. He is deliberately withholding it. And there is a very good reason. Elsewhere in the sonnets (#121: chapter 19) he tells us why. He's disgraced himself, he's 'vile esteemed.' Vile is a strong word; not dishonest, or corrupt, or a murderer, or other criminal, but vile. So there's moral turpitude involved. The poet/dramatist also says in effect, in sonnet 72, that he wants to go to an unmarked grave, though his writing he knows perfectly well is immortal, and he doesn't hesitate to say so. For example sonnet 55 begins:

Not marble, nor the gilded monuments

Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rime; ,...

Shakespeare wants to efface his persona because of what he's done and has become in his life, but he wants his work to stand by itself as immortal and be unsullied. There's no conspiracy by others to hide him and substitute Shaxper. The poet/dramatist did the hiding of his real person himself, deliberately and intentionally, because of the shame and disgrace of his life as he had led it, and the consequent disgrace to his family, This is what Shakespeare tells us, and I believe him. Further, what Shakespeare says about himself fits perfectly with the known circumstances of the life of Edward de Vere, and we have found it fits no one else so closely.

If this is what happened we need next to ask the practical question how did the plays of this dramatist find their way in a steady stream to the Globe Theatre Company for public performance? First, now that we know they're all written by a nobleman, we can reasonably surmise that all the plays originated as productions at court. After enthusiastic reception there they would some time later have been revised and adapted for the public stage. Why the Globe theater company? The answer seems to be that as the plays were popular the nobleman could probably have had his choice of theatre companies, but he perhaps chose the Globe company because the leading tragic actor of the day was an owner there; Richard Burbage. Further, the famous clown Kempe was there, and the actor + musician Augustine Philips. A competent musician was important for the performance of the numerous musical pieces with lyrics woven into the various plays.

Because this nobleman had one of the best wits in England he must have found it amusing as a by-product of his choice of theatre company that the Globe also had a man called William Shaxper, a base born (lower class) provincial who was working his way up to being a sharer (investor). Shaxper was a dealer in malt, grain and stone. He would be a perfect conduit, and a dealer in plays, between the author's executive secretary and the senior management of the Globe (The Burbages, Richard and Cuthbert). Shaxper even changed his name's pronunciation from Shaxper to Shakespeare. This provided a perfect cover for the real author, the poet/dramatist. Little did this author think that scholars for the next 400 years would believe that Shaxper actually wrote the plays, which as the real author knew, was ludicrously impossible. But the Stratfordians are so very nearly right. Their only real error is in saying Shaxper was the author. Much of the rest of what they say is probably true.

As near to the facts as I can find them it seems to be that

1. William Shaxper, ambitious, quick witted, but lacking education, changed the spelling and pronunciation of his name to Shakespeare after going to London and joining the Globe theatre company where he eventually became a sharer.

2. He may well have had a hand in procuring the stream of plays from the actual playwright to the Globe company. He was certainly in a position to do so. And as a known dealer in many things, he may well have dealt in plays for the Globe.

3. The playwright himself tells us in his own personal sonnets that his work is immortal, but he will pass unnoticed to an obscure grave. And this is precisely what happened. We don't know where his grave is.

4. Shaxper needed to do very little to inherit the mantle of the playwright. who, as de Vere, died 12 years before Shaxper. Shaxper was already a part owner of the company producing the plays, he was a minor actor there, he had virtually the same name as the playwright had given himself, William Shakespeare. The fact that Shaxper came to be known as the playwright virtually fell into his lap. Anyone in the next generation would be almost bound to conclude that he was the playwright.

5. How then do we know he wasn't, despite A's fine statement for the defence of Shaxper? Two reasons. The words of the playwright that he 'bore the canopy' which was impossible for Shaxper, plus the evidence of Shaxper's own crude attempts just to write his own name on legal documents. These two simple, plain, cardinal facts amid all the hypotheses and hearsay prove conclusively that Shaxper was not and could not have been the poet dramatist William Shakespeare. And that, I think, is why Shaxper has a 'cushion' under his pen, which is separated from the paper, on his Stratford on Avon monument. Who ever heard of a writer having a cushion under his pen? What you need is a firm solid piece of material, in those days a wooden desk or table, on which to write. The anomaly of the 'cushion' lends credence to the suggestion of the monument's having been 'improved' to substitute a 'cushion' for a sack of grain.

I suggest it is the intentional personal obscurity of de Vere in his later life, the man who was Shakespeare, plus the ambition of Shaxper who had to do very little to be thought to be the poet/dramatist, which has caused the general public and even scholars to be misled for so many centuries. Interestingly, a number of famous writers, including

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sigmund Freud

John Galsworthy

Henry James

Mark Twain

Walt Whitman, and

John Greenleaf Whittier

plus, on the production side,

Sir John Gielgud, and

Orson Welles,

have expressed disbelief that Shaxper was Shakespeare.

It transpires that their intuition is more reliable than scholarship.

Although in this chapter our quotations from Shakespeare's sonnets prove that Shaxper could not have been Shakespeare, they don't necessarily establish that de Vere was Shakespeare. In the next chapter, we'll begin reviewing the sections of A's web page 'critically examining Oxfordian claims.'


To Chapter 25 To Chapter 27

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