Charles Beauclerk answers questions following his talk on Timon of Athens at the Shakespeare Symposium from the Oxfordian Perspective (held on May 8, 2010, at the Watertown Free Public Library, Watertown, Mass.). The exchanges are about not only the play, but also the authorship debate itself, with a few choice words directed at Prof. James Shapiro’s Contested Will.

Beauclerk’s own book (Shakespeare’s Lost Kingdom) is the perfect antidote to Shapiro’s banality, and his views on Timon couldn’t be more apt in demonstrating the difference between Oxfordian interpretation vs. mainstream/Stratfordian interpretation. On pages 275-284 of SLK Beauclerk expounds on his views of the play, views which are not only Oxfordian, but also Oxfordian with the added perspective that the playwright Oxford/Shakespeare was (in Beauclerk’s view) Queen Elizabeth’s illegitimate son.

“Timon,” writes Beauclerk (p. 275), “is raw Shakespeare, a crie de coeur rather than a fully deliberated work of art.”

Later (p. 279) he cuts right to the chase when he notes the significance of the opening scene with the Poet:


“The Poet describes Fortune as a ‘sovereign lady’ enthroned ‘upon a high and pleasant hill,’ beckoning to Lord Timon out of the crowd of suitors with ‘her ivory hand.’ … Timon himself is presented as Fortune’s child or minion, ‘bowing his head against the steep mount whereon she sits.'”

Later he writes (p. 280-281),

“In Shakespeare’s case, Fortune could mean only one figure, the Tudor monarch … That Shakespeare has the Queen in mind is clear from the way Timon harps upon the whore masquerading as a virgin:

          Strike me the counterfeit matron:
It is her habit only that is honest,
Herself’s a bawd. Let not the virgin’s cheek
Make soft thy trenchant sword: for those milk-pups
That through the window-bars bore at men’s eyes,
Are not within the leaf of pity writ,
But set them down horrible traitors (IV.iii.114-120)

It is when one sees this highly personal authorial perspective as the subtext of the play (indeed, of the entire Shakespeare Canon) that one can begin to appreciate the true importance of the authorship debate, and the simple fact that knowing what the author had on his mind when he wrote a play bears directly upon fully understanding that play.