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Diana Price responds to Stanley Wells’ review of her book Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Biography

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    • Diana Price responds to Stanley Wells’s review of  Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Biography:  I am grateful to Professor Stanley Wells for following up on Ros Barber’s challenge to him and Paul Edmondson (eds., Shakespeare Beyond Doubt: Evidence, Argument, Controversy, Cambridge University Press, 2013, launched at the “Proving Shakespeare Webinar,” Friday 26 April 2013). Barber criticized their collection of essays for failing to engage in the arguments presented in Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Biography: New Evidence of an Authorship Problem ([SUB] Greenwood Press 2001; paperback 2013). As the first academic book published on the subject, it surely should have been addressed in essays relevant to Shakespeare’s biography. But better late than never.

    • In his review on Blogging Shakespeare (May 8, 2013), Prof. Wells takes issue with any number of details in my book, but he does not directly confront the single strongest argument I offer: the comparative analysis of documentary evidence supporting the biographies of Shakespeare and two dozen of his contemporaries. That analysis demonstrates that the literary activities of the two dozen other writers are documented in varying degrees. However, none of the evidence that survives for Shakespeare can support the statement that he was a writer by vocation.

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Ros Barber responds to Shakespeare Beyond Doubt

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    • “If the distinguished contributors to Shakespeare Beyond Doubt hope their book will place the traditional author of Shakespeare’s canon where the title claims, they are likely to be disappointed. In the hands of twenty-one orthodox Shakespeare scholars, the case for William Shakespeare of Stratford sounds plausible enough, and will reassure the already convinced as well as those who would like to be.”
    • “In many ways the book is a reprise of James Shapiro’s Contested Will, side-stepping recent scholarly work on the authorship question to focus on examining the ‘pathology’ and psychology of Shakespeare sceptics.”
    • “Though the belated entry of orthodox academics into this 156-year-old controversy is a welcome development, there are two major problems with Shakespeare Beyond Doubt. One is a blatant attempt to win the debate through semantics.”
    • “Throughout the book, the editors Stanley Wells and Paul Edmondson decree that those who don’t agree with them be described not with the well-established term ‘anti-Stratfordian’, but with the hackle-raising ‘anti-Shakespearian’. Their justification is that ‘to deny Shakespeare of Stratford’s connection to the work attributed to him is to deny the essence of, in part, what made that work possible … Shakespeare was formed by both Stratford-upon-Avon and London.’ Yet the contested connection between Shakespeare of Stratford and the work attributed to him *is* the authorship question.”
    • “But the most significant failing of Shakespeare Beyond Doubt is that it attempts to support the orthodox position using evidence the sceptics do not contest – that there was an author widely known as ‘William Shakespeare’ – while failing to address recent scholarship”
    • “Throughout the volume, and despite significant developments in non-Stratfordian research in the last fifteen years, only arguments advanced prior to 1960 are acknowledged.”
    • Paul Edmondson claims that those he perceives as his ‘antagonists’ ignore evidence, yet himself presides over a volume of essays that demolishes straw men while skilfully eliding the more challenging work of contemporary researchers

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Second edition of An Index to Oxfordian Publications now available.

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The second edition of An Index to Oxfordian Publications was published last month, just in time for the Shakespeare Authorship Studies Conference at Concordia University, at which the index compiler and editor, James A. Warren, received the conference’s annual Vero Nihil Verius Award for Distinguished Shakespearean Scholarship for all his work to make 75 years of Oxfordian scholarship available to the wider world. The index is published by my Forever Press, through amazon.com, where it is available for $24.95 (and where there is a “Look Inside This Book” feature so you can see what you’re buying). It is also available at a special lower price ($20.00) at the New England Shakespeare Oxford Library (NESOL) bookstore, plus an offer to bundle the purchase with a SOAR subscription and a free gift book for $50.00.

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The second edition has entries for all the newsletter and journal articles published in 2012 by the three major Oxfordian organizations (Shakespeare Oxford Society, Shakespeare Fellowship, and the De Vere Society), plus hundreds of new entries for older missing issues now found, and 100+ entries for the Oxfordian column that appeared in Louis Marder’s Shakespeare Newsletter from 1979 to 1991. The Index is the most complete source for everything published by Oxfordians since the 1930s, plus numerous entries for other anti-Stratfordian articles ranging from the 19th century up to today.

My congratulations (and gratitude!) again to Jim, who has done in just 3 short years the work we had all been talking about doing for decades. A reminder too, that all the index entries are also available at SOAR, the article database maintained at the New England Shakespeare Oxford Library. While SOAR remains open and free to all (and provides online links to many articles), I hope that folks will buy the index (which helps support the SOAR project), and which I believe you will find provides some access not available through SOAR, such as the whole middle section of the printed index, which is a table of contents for each and every issue of each publication, presented in chronological order, or the easy to read sections at the end of all book and film reviews, and a separate section for all obituaries of prominent Oxfordians..

Next up for the index and the SOAR project is subject access to everything. If you’d like to learn more and help in some way, shoot me an email.

“Henry VIII” Reborn in Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Fiery Production

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    • “So why has this play been so neglected? Perhaps it is because some scholars believe it to be a work of joint authorship — written late in Shakespeare’s career in collaboration with his successor, John Fletcher. Some might be superstitious knowing that during a performance of the play at the Globe in 1613, a cannon shot used for special effects ignited the theatre’s thatched roof and beams, resulting in a fire that burned the original building to the ground.”
    • “As with many of Shakespeare’s plays about the monarchs of England, this one is awash in political intrigue, chicanery, hypocrisy, betrayal and dissembling, all shot through with a particularly strident battle between the competing (and often overlapping) powers of the church and state.”
    • “Although King Henry is obsessed with securing a male heir to the throne, Ann Boleyn gives birth to a daughter. She will be the future Queen Elizabeth I — the woman who just happened to be Shakespeare’s great patron.”

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The Bookman’s Tale | BOOKMARKS Blog

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    • Peter returns to work and discovers, in an 18th-century book about Shakespeare forgeries, a Victorian miniature portrait of a woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to his late wife. His research to identify the watercolor’s origins uncovers what could be the holy grail of Shakespeare studies—a book annotated by the Bard at the time he was writing A Winter’s Tale—and leads Peter on a dangerous quest to prove the book’s authenticity. Interwoven throughout are flashbacks to Peter’s early relationship with Amanda and chapters on the book’s travels through many hands since 1592. Drawing on debates about the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays as well his own experience in the cutthroat world of antiquarian books, debut author Lovett has crafted a gripping literary mystery that is compulsively readable until the thrilling end.

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BBC News – Shakespeare ‘first great writer entrepreneur’

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    • William Shakespeare was the first great “writer entrepreneur” and his financial success gave him artistic independence, an Oxford University researcher claims.
    • It was an unprecedented step for an Elizabethan author to take a stake in the ownership of of a theatre company and it put Shakespeare in a “unique position”, compared with his literary contemporaries, claims Dr van Es, from Oxford’s faculty of language and literature.

      It made Shakespeare much richer, but it also gave him much more freedom over his writing and allowed him to innovate.

    • His financial stake in the theatre also meant that as well as impressing a fashionable aristocratic audience he also had to make sure that the plays had a popular appeal to keep the crowds coming back.

      “He was writing for a mass audience, but also for the court,” says Dr van Es. The outcome he says is the “high-low hybrid” that characterises his plays.

      This new way of looking at the playwright’s career – from treading the boards to the board room – also shows how different Shakespeare was from his contemporaries, says Dr van Es.

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ART & WILL: This is Not Shakespeare

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  • “In fact, there’s no evidence that the Cobbe Portrait is of Shakespeare.  Let us reiterate that: there is NO EVIDENCE AT ALL that Shakespeare is the person portrayed in the Cobbe Portrait.
    So why does the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust insist that we must all believe it was Shakespeare?

    Sadly, the answer (at least in part) is snobbery – that eternal bane of Shakespeare studies.”
  • “The Cobbe Portrait belonged to a personal friend of the Chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.  The portrait had been handed down through the Cobbe family along with a portrait of Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton and patron of William Shakespeare in the 1590s.  That, along with a distinct similarity to the Janssen Portrait, which itself has been touched up over time in order to make it look more “Shakespearean”, led to the supposition that the Cobbe Portrait was also of Shakespeare.”
  • “The important thing, however, is to note that the Cobbe Portrait is being foisted onto the public as an image of Shakespeare because of little more than wishful thinking.  And it is this very wishful thinking, overlayered with rampant snobbery and a political refusal to face facts about Shakespeare’s life and times, which has done so much to spoil Shakespeare scholarship over the years.”

    “Every time the Shakespeare “experts” produce another load of guff about Shakespeare (the Cobbe Portrait being just the latest example), it plays into the hands of the maniacs who want to believe that William Shakespeare did not write the plays of Shakespeare.  By lying to us about who William Shakespeare was (and what he looked like), the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is pouring petrol onto the flames of the crazy Alternative Authorship theories.”

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David Green: Shakespeare Beyond Doubt

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  • “The book is motivated by a perceived recent upsurge in interest in the claims of the Earl of Oxford, Marlowe and 78 others, the ‘Declaration of Reasonable Doubt’ issued by those who do not accept the Stratford-born actor as the proven author of the works and the film Anonymous. It hadn’t looked like that to me, though. I thought the absurdity of the evidence compiled by the supporters of other candidates meant that by now there was hardly a case to answer and so these assembled Stratfordians look to me a little bit paranoid in their keenness to defend a position that should be an easy win.”
  • “It can be a difficult thing in which to maintain an even tone. Most readers of the book will come to it with an opinion more or less on one side of the argument rather than the other and so a scornful, droll or ridiculing attitude towards the opposing camp, while often entertaining, doesn’t present itself as impartial, forensic and objective and an argument isn’t won by stating that it is ‘clearly’ or ‘obviously’ the case when it needs to be demonstrably so. But it is a partisan issue and a gathering of several contributors and so there will be different levels of blasé confidence among them as well as possible minor contradictions in which, for example, some will deny it is possible to establish authorship of work by finding biographical correspondences in it and then, a few chapters later, suggest that the plays mention the references to place names not far from Stratford to show it must have been him.”
  • “And so, the book progresses from a very fair assessment of the work of Delia Bacon, the American credited with beginning the debate in the mid-C19th, through Stanley Wells’ survey of direct references to William Shakespeare to 1642 to an analysis of Anonymous, the box office disaster, that the film perhaps doesn’t quite warrant. But the chapter on Shakespeare as collaborator by John Jowett seems to me as important as any because, in the unlikely event of any consensus being arrived at between these two (mostly) firmly entrenched points of view, it might be here. The idea that Shakespeare was the figurehead, the name, the stooge or the editor of a committee of writers that produced this body of work, in the same way that American television programmes like The Simpsons are made, is only a big stretch of generous effort from the widely accepted idea that Shakespeare collaborated with other writers on some plays.”
  • “I don’t know how much better the job could have been done but I remain a little bit surprised that it was required given the lack of a candidate to replace the Stratford man’s name on those books of plays and poems.”

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6 Myths About William Shakespeare That You Wrongly Believe

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    • “William Shakespeare. The name may make you shudder with the memory of English classes or revel in your favorite of his works. For many he is the greatest English writer of all time, certainly the most well regarded by modern popular culture.”
    • “Due to a combination of becoming a legendary cultural figure and lack of comprehensive paperwork from the 16th century, there are a number of myths and assumptions made about the man and his life that, although commonly held, are not correct.”

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Boston man’s life righted by Shakespeare | Boston Herald

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    • “It came in the form of a high school play and the discovery that Othello was black and, like Stroud, struggled with race and identity. Stroud auditioned and got the role. He dived into it, taking the script home and going over it again and again. There were words he didn’t get, meanings he couldn’t comprehend. But it still spoke to him.

      An acting coach helped him after school. “We just kept doing it over and over,” said Stroud. “I was yelling. And then I stopped the rehearsals, and I said ‘Yo! I love this!'” ”

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