SOAR Project fundraiser

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SOAR thumbnailEach year the New England Shakespeare Oxford Library has held a special sale in our Bookstore to raise funds to cover our basic costs … mostly website maintenance and fees, and acquisition of new books. But in recent years our costs have increased, mostly involving the publication of James Warren’s Index to Oxfordian Publications each year, and of then transferring all the entries from the Index into an online catalog (the SOAR Catalog, maintained with specialized cataloging software on LibraryWorld’s library OPAC web servers), and finally (but most importantly!) of maintaining and enhancing those records (the SOAR Project).

The SOAR project is now the major ongoing activity of the New England Shakespeare Oxford Library, and it will take years more to complete, with the ultimate goal being that every single one of the 5,000 records presently in the catalog (and the thousands more to come in the coming years) will each include an abstract and/or excerpt from the article itself, subject tagging of all records so that ALL similar items in the catalog can be retrieved in one search (however and whenever they were published), and, finally, links to an online version of the article, maintained in the SOAR archive, or on any website anywhere in the world. To date more than 1,000 of the SOAR records now have direct links to PDF copies of individual articles, e.g., all of Shakespeare Matters (2001-2013), and the first 15 years (1965-1980) of the Shakespeare Oxford Society Newsletter. More of these links are added each week. Also, more than 500 records now have abstracts and/or excerpts from an article embedded in the record, giving users a quick look at what an article is about before reading it. Much of the recent history of how the Index and the SOAR Project have evolved since 2011 was reported in Linda Theil’s Febrary 24, 2015 news report for the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship.

INDEX TO OXFORDIAN PUBLICATIONS (Cover thumbnail, resized_2)So, with all this recent history in mind, this year’s Fundraiser features deals on An Index to Oxfordian Publications, with a discounted price of $25.00 in our Bookstore, and with several combined bundle offers on the Special Offers page. These are pretty good deals for Oxfordian texts that are, in our humble opinion, historic and invaluable. Check them out.

3rd edition of An Index to Oxfordian Publications now available

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INDEX TO OXFORDIAN PUBLICATIONS (Cover thumbnail, resized_2)The Third Edition of An Index To Oxfordian Publications is now available on amazon.com ($39.95). and for a special discounted price ($30.00) at The New England Shakespeare Oxford Library Bookstore (sample pages are also available at the Bookstore site). This latest edition is 50% larger than the 2nd Edition (2013), with two thousand new listings having been added, for a total of more than 6,500 listings. In addition to updating the Index with the most recent publications from Oxfordian societies, the 3rd Edition also includes new sections on worldwide reviews and commentary on the Oxfordian theory that expands its already extensive coverage of all Oxfordian publications since the 1920s, and a selected bibliography of books.

The Index’s Oxfordian periodical coverage includes currently published titles (The Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter, The De Vere Society Newsletter, Brief Chronicles and The Oxfordian) through the end of 2014, plus full coverage of all past publications from both independent Oxfordian publishers and older Oxfordian societies, such as The Shakespeare Fellowship Newsletters (both the English and American branches, 1930s to 1950s), Shakespeare Matters, The Elizabethan Review, The Spear-Shaker Review, The Edward de Vere Newsletter, The Shakespearean Authorship Review, and The Bard.

The major new section in the Index includes more than 1,000 articles from 200 non-Oxfordian publications that have reviewed and commented on the Oxfordian theory, including the regular Oxfordian columns that appeared in Louis Marder’s Shakespeare Newsletter (1979-1991) and in The Shakespeare Pictorial (1929-1939). Other articles indexed range from ones in The New York TimesTimes Literary Supplement, Shakespeare Quarterly, Notes & Queries, etc. to numerous other commercial and literary publications (large and small) from around the world.

And finally, the Index has also been expanded to include an extensive, selected bibliography of Oxfordian or Oxfordian-related books, along with selected non-Oxfordian books on the Shakespeare authorship question in general. The 350 listings in the new book section include both nonfiction commentary and criticism, and also fictional works inspired by the Shakespeare authorship question, particularly the Oxfordian theory.

Editor James Warren is owed an enormous thank you from all Oxfordians (and all Shakespeareans, for that matter) for his tireless work in compiling the original Index in 2011-12, and for expanding on it over these past three years, to where it is now the definitive “go to” resource for any questions about past Oxfordian scholarship.

The next step, as Warren notes in his Introduction, is providing subject access to all this material, and providing copies of the articles themselves to anyone who wants to read them. This is the mission of The New England Shakespeare Oxford Library’s SOAR Catalog, which presently includes approximately 80% of what is in the 3rd Edition of the Index, and by the end of 2015 will include 100%, plus the beginnings of extensive subject access and access to the articles themselves.

New book offers new claim to reveal Shakespeare’s true identity

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, but this story today caught my interest, mainly because of the forthright confession by the writer (Robert Gore-Langton at the Daily Express in the UK) that he had long been someone who sneered and laughed at the whole authorship debate, and then just one book (Alexander Waugh’s Shakespeare at Court) said just the right thing in just the right way, and — suddenly — that familiar moment that all of us who are anti-Stratfordians (and/or Oxfordians) can relate to occurred: the epiphany.

Soon to follow, I am sure, is Mr. Gore-Langton having a ton of fun as everything that ever mystified him about Shakespeare starts to become “very” clear (pun intended).

From the article:

If like me, you have never doubted that Shakespeare wrote the plays of Shakespeare, you might well sigh at the fruitcake theories of the strange people who think he was someone else. The truth is, surely, blindingly obvious. We may not know much about him but we at least know Shakespeare retired to his hometown of Stratford upon Avon having written 36 plays that are utterly imperishable…

… After reading a new book by Alexander Waugh, “Shakespeare in Court” (the book is presented as a lively, learned but very funny court case in which witnesses are cross examined), I am beginning to think the anti-Shakespeare cranks might just have a point.

Shakespeare was Shakespeare, again.

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Shakespeare-DroeshoutOne of the more ill-informed little posts on the Shakespeare authorship that you are likely to see anytime soon popped up on a Washington Post blog yesterday. That it comes from an assistant editor might have been surprising once, but not in 2014 when anyone who knows anything certainly knows that the Washington Post of yesterday is long gone. The post (Why Shakespeare WAS Shakespeare) directs readers to the latest book (with the same title) from Stanley Wells, a $1.99 kindle e-book on amazon.com that lets us know (again) that “Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare,” so please ignore 150 years of controversy, and also please ignore the 2,500 individuals (many prominent actors, authors, jurists and scholars) who continue to disagree (e.g., see The Declaration of Reasonable Doubt). The Declaration site’s founder and chairperson John Shahan is engaged in an interesting set of exchanges in the reviews/comments section under the book listing at amazon.com. Check it out.

From the blog:

Pity the Shakespeare scholars. For more than a century now, they’ve been distracted from actual scholarship by zany arguments that the man from Stratford-upon-Avon did not write the plays we attribute to him.

All of this flared up (again) a few years ago when Roland Emmerich released a silly costume drama called “Anonymous,” which posited that Edward de Vere was the true (secret) author of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” et al.

Pity the Shakespeare scholars. For more than a century now, they’ve been distracted from actual scholarship by zany arguments that the man from Stratford-upon-Avon did not write the plays we attribute to him.

Readers interested in a brief summary of the claims and a strong defense of the Bard might consider Stanley Wells’s new Kindle single, “Why Shakespeare WAS Shakespeare” ($1.99). In about 60 pages, the esteemed scholar and editor considers the various anti-Shakespeare arguments (and some of their loonier proponents) and provides a quick, well-grounded rebuttal. Along the way, he also gives an overview of what is known about Shakespeare’s life.

Online, Wells’s essay has already attracted the opprobrium of skeptics. “It appears that Mr. Wells has simply copied old arguments from previous books on the subject,” writes a customer named Mark Twain. (Rumors of his death are, apparently, greatly exaggerated, but that’s a whole nuther conspiracy). “Worst, he keeps repeating various ‘facts’ that are simply long-held assumptions. When will modern scholars start thinking for themselves, or doing their own research?” Sigh.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Authorship Evidence: Shakespeare Beyond Doubt

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    • Here begins a series of posts on the new book Shakespeare Beyond Doubt (2013) from a cadre of Shakespeare scholars purporting to demonstrate that the man from Stratford, and only him, could have been the primary author of the Shakespeare works.
    • So it looks now that we’re moving into arguments by evidence, which is where the question should be examined.
    • The Declaration of Reasonable Doubt has some commonality to the U.S. Declaration of Independence in the 18th century. Then the American scientist, statesman, and diplomatic leader Benjamin Franklin, who was in France seeking support for the American cause, was demonized by the then propaganda as a “traitor to his king”, the “dean of all charlatans,” who “deceived the good with his white hairs, and fools with his spectacles”. It kind of makes it seem like he was a part of some feeble-minded conspiracy than one of many individuals that disagreed with a group with great power and self-claimed ‘authority’.
    • One response to this argument would be: On what basis are the mainstream Shakespeare scholars ‘authorities’ on the authorship question? There have been doubters who have spent 20 years or more on the authorship question, or more specifically, on just one aspect of this question. Have any of the mainstream scholars researched the authorship question for that length of time?
    • More recently, on the mainstream or establishment side of the debate, there is the emphasis on not questioning any approved ‘authority’ on the topic. For instance, Paul Edmondson of the SBT wrote:  “There is the loaded assumption that even though one may lack the necessary knowledge and expertise, it is always acceptable to challenge or contradict a knowledgeable and expert authority. It is not.
    • We hope also that we are finally moving beyond the name calling, slanders, and insinuations that ‘doubters’ are  ‘Holocaust deniers’, vampires, psychologically aberrant, mentally deficient, etc. Why would anyone have implied such a characteristic to so many high-achieving intellectuals like Henry James, Walt Whitman, Charles Dickens, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mortimer Adler, Harry Blackmun, leading Shakespearean actors such as Sir Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance, and some modern authors on this topic like Peter Usher, Ph.D, professor of astronomy and astrophysics, Peter Sturrock, Ph.D, a Stanford astrophysicist, and Barry Clarke, a writer of logic puzzles for MENSA? These are not people who should be in strait-jackets and locked in dark rooms, just because, like Galileo, they “looked through the telescope”!
    • We now find that both sides of the dispute are in agreement that ‘the authorship question’ is important. Professor Shapiro lamented the lack of scholarly interest in the topic; the stylometric analysts Elliott and Valenza agreed, the leaders of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust now say it’s important, and now also many other scholars supporting them say it’s important. So, from any Shakespeare enthusiast, we shouldn’t hear “it’s [the authorship question] not important” or “it doesn’t matter who wrote them”. Now, more Shakespeare enthusiasts, are likely to become at least somewhat knowledgeable about the basic arguments on both sides of the question

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

BBC News – The Marlowe Papers wins Desmond Elliott Prize

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    • Ros Barber’s The Marlowe Papers, a novel written entirely in verse, has won the annual Desmond Elliott Prize for debut fiction.

      The book explores the intrigue around the death of Christopher Marlowe and the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays.

      Joanne Harris, the chair of judges, described the novel as a “unique historical conspiracy story”.

      The £10,000 prize is named after the distinguished publisher and literary agent Desmond Elliott who died in 2003.

    • “The Marlowe Papers is technically accomplished and hugely impressive in both style and scope, enhanced by being written in verse, it is certainly an ambitious undertaking for a new novelist – I cannot wait to read Barber’s next book.”
    • US-born Barber was inspired to write her debut novel while watching a Channel 4 documentary in which Shakespeare scholar Jonathan Bate dismissed the theory that playwright Marlowe was the true author of the works of Shakespeare as the stuff of fiction.
    • She is the author of three volumes of poetry and she was recently appointed associate of the Shakespearian Authorship Trust – a charity which aims “to seek, and if possible establish, the truth concerning the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays and poems”.

      The authorship debate was in the spotlight in 2011 when Roland Emmerich’s film, Anonymous, portrayed Shakespeare (played by Rafe Spall) as an inarticulate buffoon.

      Rhys Ifans played Edward de Vere – the 17th Earl of Oxford – who was credited as the true genius behind the words of the Bard.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

New book reveals the real Shakespeare | Irish Examiner

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    • “His plays are renowned, but a new book unravels the mystery of the man, says Rita de Brun.”
    • “The man behind the plays has long been mysterious, but that’s changing, with the publication of 30 Great Myths about Shakespeare, a new book by Laurie Maguire and Emma Smith.”
    • “The intention was to evaluate the evidence that exists, illustrate how that has been interpreted or misinterpreted, and show what our conclusions as to the truth about Shakespeare reveal about our own personal investment in the stories we tell,” she says.”
    • “As to whether she got much insight into Shakespeare’s elusive personality while researching the book, Maguire shakes her head. “The personal papers, which might well have revealed so much of his personality, could not be scrutinised, as, after his death, they probably went to his favourite son-in-law. However, we do know that he wasn’t particularly philanthropic — legal documents show him lining the insides of his own pockets rather than giving to the poor,” she says.”
    • “As to his nature, we really don’t know much, but he’s unlikely to have been flamboyantly ostentatious, and he’s likely to have been the type who would sit in a corner, watch people, take notes and take stock.”

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Review: Elizabeth’s Bedfellows, By Anna Whitelock

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    • Sex sells. The publishers must have thought this when offered Elizabeth’s Bedfellows: an Intimate History of the Queen’s Court. Whitelock’s book proposes to look at Elizabeth I’s reign through the bedchamber, her ornate rooms in her palaces, guarded by 30 women.
    • The many men who wanted to get close to Elizabeth had to penetrate this circle to reach her. Whitelock’s book should be full of sexual intrigue, thwarted desire, and jealousies. But the historian never quite throws off her academic inhibitions.
    • Dudley and Elizabeth stalked around each other for decades, jealous of each other’s romantic links, but parted only upon his death, over which she was inconsolable. This affair, even if never consummated, should provide dramatic tension for much of the book. But the pulse never races in the detail-laden prose.
    • The question of who would marry Elizabeth was a serious one. England was still riven by her father Henry VIII’s divorce from the Catholic Church, and with counterclaims for the throne from all corners, what was required from Elizabeth was a clear line of succession.
    • One cannot fault Whitelock for her meticulous research, but there is little mention of the Elizabethan culture of love, played in the miniatures of her lovers, in the sonneteers, and the depictions of the queen in Shakespeare – think Titania in A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Elizabeth’s romantic adventures extended far beyond the bedchamber, into the popular pysche, and the inclusion of that could have lent some passion to an otherwise fairly dry history.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Who Was This William Shakespeare?

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    • If you have students who have seen the film Anonymous, or who have delved into one of the thousands of books casting doubt on the authorship of the Shakespeare canon, you might like to be equipped to answer this question; my answer might surprise you.  After reading some of the best and most up-to-date scholarship on Shakespeare, I have come to this startling conclusion:  the plays commonly attributed to William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon, were actually written by William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon.  Shocking, right?  Well, you’d be surprised how many people (including some characters in my novel) disagree with me.
    • Bill Bryson, whose book is slim, readable, witty and perfect for high school students or even middle school students wanting to know more about Shakespeare, writes that “nearly all of the anti-Shakespeare sentiment — actually all of it, every bit — involves manipulative scholarship or sweeping misstatements of fact.”  This is another great learning opportunity for students.  We live in an age when, more than ever, students need to learn to evaluate the information they receive.  Showing students that information that has appeared in such venerated sources as the New York Times, History Today and Scientific American can still be based on “manipulative scholarship and sweeping misstatements of fact” can help open their eyes to the dangers of taking any information at face value without corroborating research.
    • Simply stated, the problem with the anti-Stratfordians is twofold.  First, after nearly two hundred years of challenging Shakespeare (following two hundred years during which no one, including those who knew him, challenged him), they have yet to present a single shred of solid evidence that someone else wrote Shakespeare’s plays.  Secondly, they have summarily ignored quite a few shreds of evidence that Shakespeare did in fact write his plays.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

May Book Review – “I am Shakespeare”

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    • I hope you find this month’s Book Review interesting.  In order to cater for a wide range of tastes, this choice will hopefully be diverse enough in its attempt to inspire new readers.
    • I Am Shakespeare. A play by Mark Rylance. This play examines the authorship debate using a ‘Webcam Daytime Chatroom Show’ setting as its platform. It presents four alternative candidates as authors, the philosopher, Francis Bacon, the Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere and Mary Sidney, the Countess of Pembroke.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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