Some Recent News briefs and Commentary
Director of the
Shakespeare Authorship Centre
What really is going on in Stratford? Not just in the RSC, with
the Prince of Wales, Michael Gambon, and Sheridan Morley outraged by
the plans of Adrian Noble and Sinead Cusack, who want to build a
Shakespeare Village at Stratford and demolish the theatre there,
demanding £100 million for this scheme.
A far more serious crisis is building up, a crisis which the Establishment in this country finds even more embarrassing: Who wrote the Shakespeare Plays?
What evidence is there for this analysis? Here are some indications of impending meltdown.
1. In the last year the steady flow of books about Shakespeare has dwindled to a trickle.
2. Not one biography of Shakespeare written in the last five years has made money. All of them have received only muted praise. Professor Katherine Duncan Jones' biography, "Ungentle Shakespeare", in which she pours scorn on Shakespeare, the man, was described by Professor Stanely Wells as "patchy."
3. THE IMPACT OF THE INTERNET. No longer do we have to rely on academics' books which give only the limited amount of information provided by other academics. The field is now wide open, giving us access to all the information available, not just the facts about the Stratford man. Anything not directly connected with the known facts about ShakespeareRosicrucian and Neoplatonic teaching, contemporary philosophyis treated with scant attention.
4. Magazines which usually contain articles about Shakespeare in their April issues each year, now exclude all mention of his name. On the 23 April there is no mention of Shakespeare in any programme on BBC1, BBC2, IRV, Channel 4, or in any Radio broadcast.
SHAKESPEARE THE EMBARRASSING SUBJECT
Every editor, every journalist knows that there is doubt about the authorship of the Shakespeare plays. Every director, every actor knows this. But this is the one subject that they are told to suppress. Why? They all know that every change in public opinion is accelerated by publicity. Proof of this imposed silence is staring us in the face. No publicity has been given to the opinons of Mark Rylance, Artistic Director of Shakespeare's Globe, on Bankside. He believes that these great plays were written by Francis Bacon. The public has not been given this information by any medium. Silence reigns.
Private conversations are now taking place at Oxford and Cambridge, in which professors are discussing the increasing isolation of Stratford, preaching to a dwindling audience. Silence is only a short term solution. No professor has come forward with a convincing defence of the possibly uneducated Stratford man.
Commentary on the Shakespeare controversy in recently published books shows the continuing decline in our belief in William of Stratford. More and more books now refer to the possibility that the Stratford story may be only a legend, a money making myth.
Iver Brown and Anthony Burgess have admitted that at least on e Shakespeare play, Love's Labour's Lost, may have been written by Francis Bacon.
In recent years authors of books on literary history, reference books and tourist guides have made one or more of the following admissions :We do not exactly know where or when Shakespeare was born.
We do not know where or even if he went to school.
We do not know where, or when, or even whom he married.
There is no evidence that the Earl of Southampton was his patron.
There is nothing of interest that we can discover in his will.
He was not mentioned once either by Henslowe or Alleyn.
Many people, including Lord Dacre, have found that the evidence for thinking that the author was William Shakespeare is inconclusive (Letter, 5. 9. 1975)
By a thorough examination of the many weak points in the orthodox theory the press will soon perhaps bring forward the day when this disturbing controversy is brought to conclusion.
THE WELL RUNS DRY
The current issue of the Bookseller, with its list of forthcoming books, and its half-yearly publication, The Buyers' Guide, paint a bleak future. Only one book on Shakespeare, "After Shakespeare", is mentioned. The steady stream of Stratford mythology is rapidly drying up. There is nothing suprising here. When belief evaporates, the first evidence of this trend is found in the book shops.
When a general realises that defeat is invevitable, he has to decide on the next step. How is he going to break the news to the rank and file, who still believe in victory? Some time elapses before he makes a move. The first tale sign of crisis is his silence. If the silence is prolonged, that is clear indication that dispute is raging behind closed doors. The choices are few : surrender, counter attack or continued ineffective defiance.
Disputes are now going on in every English department at our universities. The professors know how weak their position is. The recent Shakespeare biographers have done nothing to prevent the impending collapse. Publishers, booksellers and the general public are wating for the next step in this extraordinary catastrophe. -Francis Carr
THE OFFICIAL GLOBE THEATRE BOOKLET
Shakespeare's Globe Exhibition 2002- Daniel Hahn and Rosemary Linnell
Why do people doubt he was the true author?
Owing partly to the relatively small number of contemporary documents (certainly a tiny number by modern standards) which link William Shakespeare to the plays generally ascribed to him, for over 150 years many people have believed than another person must have been their true author.
As part of our inquiry into Shakespeare's identity and authorship question, the Public Record Office have lent us a changing selection of these for display. This should stimulate visitors' consideration of this long standing debate.
Francis Bacon, Viscount of St. Alban
Dates : 1561-1626
Background : Aristocratic, educated at Cambridge; before his time as a law student and Bencher at Gray's Inn, he spent three years (1576-9) in France.
Famous For : Four decades of extraordinary public service as MP, privy counselor, Attorney General, Lord Chancellor. A prolific prose writer on history, ethics, politics, mythology and science. Celebrated by Ben Jonson for his great wit and conversation.
The Case : There is an uncanny similarity between the attitudes, interests and wit of Shakespeare and Bacon. He had a vocabulary consistent only with Shakespeare, and relished the theatre and poetry as a branch of learning, a source of delight, and a means of educating people to virtue. He described himself in a letter as a "concealed poet," and is known to have employed other writers on his behalf. He is the only one of the four leading contenders still alive in 1623 when the First Folio was published.
THE WAR AGAINST CLICHE-MARTIN AMIS Jonathan Cape pub. 2001The only evidence we have of Shakespeare's existence, apart from the poems and plays, is the portrait of a man who was clearly an idiot. That Shakespeare should have been, of all things, a dramatist, is one of the great cosmic jokes of all time.
WHO KILLED KIT MARLOWE?- M.J. TROW Sutton Publishing 2001Francis Bacon was the most truly brilliant mind of sixteenth century England.
Thomas Mendenhall had been commissioned to prove that the plays of William Shakespeare were written by Francis Bacon.
THE SCHOOL OF THE NIGHT -ALAN WALL Seeker & Warburg 2001When Shakespeare died he left no books in his will. His daughter Judith was completely illiterate. There is something very worrying about Shakespeare : let's call it the chasm that appears whenever we attempt to match what we have of the works with what we know of the life.
The facts lead nowhere.
INTRODUCING SHAKESPEARE -NICK GROOM Icon Books 2001Who is the Real Shakespeare? The authorship controversy persists because, despite two or three dozen official and legal documents that mention Shakespeare, and possibly threescore contemporary allusions, we still need to know more about his life. His plays show familiarity with the law, with the court, and with classical learning. He must have been highly educated.
UNGENTLE SHAKESPEARE - KATHERINE DUNCAN-JONES Thomas Learning 2001Publisher's Blurb : The claim that virtually nothing is known has been used to support a Romantic view of Shakespeare as a free-standing genius in lofty isolation from the mundane doings of the Renaissance world.
SHAKESPEARE'S UNORTHODOX BIOGRAPHY- DIANA PRICE Greenwood Press 2001
Fact after fact stopped me in my tracks. No biography could account for Shakespeare's education. His own children grew up functionally illiterate. Shakespeare retired to an illiterate household at the height of his presumed literary poweres. He wrote nothing during the last several years of his life. He left behind dozens of biographical records, but unlike those surviving for other writers of the day, not one of them suggests literary activity.
KINGDOM FOR A STAGE:
MAGICIANS & ARISTOCRATS IN THE ELIZABETHAN THEATRE- JOY HANCOX Sutton Publishing 2001 Bacon's Knights of the Helmet
What we have in these pages, under the guise of an alchemical treatise, is a suggestion that Elizabeth had a child fathered by Leicester (images such as "Wombs of Glass" and the "heat" of Vulcan causing the tree of alchemy to "spread"). There is also the weight of the imagery in "The Whole Worke's Emblem", where the fruit of the royal symbols beginning with the fruit of the Earth and ending with the child on the back of a pig, with dagger's raised aloft, are even more specific and carry the analogy from birth to a suggestion of self-inflicted death and rebirth. The symbol of Hermes disappearing into the helmet and reappearing as a Sun figure had underneath it the words "The Sun Speaks." Was this a play on the words Sun and son? Were the words addressed to "proude Mercury"-"I'll fetter thee"-a reminder of a real threat which Bacon, alias Mercury, had lived under?
If individuals or university related centers would like to order the Who Was Shakespeare the fortnightly authorship news sheet call Francis Carr at 01273 509 460 or write to him at 9 Clermont Court, Brighton England BN 1 6SS