Where can I get details about de Vere’s life that may pinpoint the ways in which his papers were dispersed? – Stella Samaras

Samaras:  I am trying to track down Edward de Vere’s particulars: i.e., did he marry, did he leave heirs, who were his friends, how was he educated?  Mark Alexander has an article on his website. The details that would most help me are not mentioned.  I have been fascinated with the authorship question for a long time. I am trying to pinpoint the various ways in which Edward Oxenford’s papers may have been dispersed and then possibly reabsorbed and catalogued by antiquarians / collectors.

Hughes:  You should read Mark Anderson’s book: Shakespeare by Another Name.  This will give all the facts as we know them as of 2005.  I have quite a bit of information here as well.  Just type a keyword into the search field in the upper right corner of this page.  Another useful website is Nina Green’s The Oxford Authorship Site.

Such research is always welcome, and will probably turn up something of value, though maybe not exactly what you’re hoping to find.  My guess is that the deal his patrons made with the relatives of the various Court personalities satirized in the plays was that, as soon as the plays and poems were published, all the original papers would be destroyed.  But even if this is what happened, there’s always the possibility that they missed something.  There may well be many another Northumberland Manuscript lurking in family archives and the basement of the PRO.

I give a quick overview of his life (as I see it) here; also some facts and guesswork about his death.

Good luck, and let us know what you find.

9 responses to “Where can I get details about de Vere’s life that may pinpoint the ways in which his papers were dispersed? – Stella Samaras

  1. Hello and thank you for your response. I seem to have misrepresented my question. I am actually chasing down Edward Veere (Vere) – the son of Edward Oxenford and Anne Vavasour.

  2. Good for you! I wish I could be of more help. The primary source for evidence of Anne Vavasor’s life is the book by E.K. Chambers : Sir Henry Lee: An Elizabethan Portrait. There’s a review of it in the ELR back in the 30s. http://res.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/pdf_extract/os-XIII/50/225. If you don’t have access to this, and want it, I can get it for you. Sadly the Chambers bio is not available on books.google.com, though usually it’s available through Interlibrary loan. If you live in England you have an advantage over us in America, and could perhaps do a great service by finding out more about Ann and her son. If so, please let us know.

  3. Thank you. I have access to the Chambers book but not the ELR review. If you can get it for this hobbyist, she will be very happy. Living in Australia, I am at least as disadvantaged in finding out more, but it can’t hurt to try.

    If I find anything, of course I will let you know

  4. I think I may have come across a forgotten fact about E.O.’s son Edward Vere.
    From a biography of Francis and Horace Vere published in 1888 by Clements Markham it seems Edward Vere grew up in the army in the Netherlands under his father’s cousins. Markham says he joined the army as a very young page.

  5. It’s unlikely that a boy would “grow up in the army.” He did serve under his uncle, Sir Francis Vere, as an adult. There’s evidence that he entered the University of Leyden at age 15, so he may have been living overseas with Sir Francis previous to that, or with someone connected to him. You’ll find more information on sourcetext. Were you ever able to locate a copy of E.K. Chambers’s Sir Henry Lee?

  6. When I finally got to the library (it’s a 3 hour drive away and usually an overnight stay) I got distracted. I discovered that certain books I could download by logging in from home so I looked at something I could access without the logistics of travel involved. In the time between posting my question and being able to get to the library I began looking at the Ashbourne Portrait and as the library holds a copy of George Vertue’s Notebooks I looked at those instead. The Notebooks threw me off on a tangent but I will definitely be refocussing on E.K. Chambers.

  7. George Vertue’s Notebooks are a potential trove of information about the authorship. I believe that the secret of Shakespeare’s authorship survived within a small elite of aristocratic literary patrons until this period, which is when the statue was made for the Abbey and Vertue sketched the Stratford memorial and did his portrait engravings. He was closely allied with Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford (second creation) who would have acquired what Oxford artefacts remained through his wife, Henrietta Cavendish Holles, much of whose collection of family papers ended up in the national archives as the Harleian Miscellany. It is through her that we have the one portrait of Oxford that we know for certain is his, the Welbeck. My guess is that there was another portrait, one that Vertue used for one of his engraved portraits of Shakespeare, and that Scheemakers used for the statue in the Abbey. Some good research along this trail would be extremely helpful. At some point I’ll provide what I’ve turned up, though any conclusions must still be extremely conjectural.

  8. Vertue on the Monument: [V.9b, B.M.13b] transcribed to “The Twenty-Second Volume of the Walpole Society”, 1933-1934 Vertue Notebooks, Volume III.

    “About this time was erected the Statue and Monument of Willm. Shakspeare Poet in Westminster Abbey – the money to pay for this was raisd by the publick contributors that proposd to have it erected, there was a subscription of a guinea ticketts-half guinea-or others might pay at he Drury lane play house for a play (for the benefit) the overplus to be applyd to pay the expence, and the Masters and players gave their parts gratis that night; “so likewise they did at another night at Covent garden play house – both which benefitts raisd about 300 pounds – this was [V.10, B.M. 14b] deposited in trust to the Earl of Burlington, Dr. Meade and Mr. Alex Pope.

    “. . . at the bottom of this Contrivance [were] some friends of Mr. Scheemakers, who first proposd it, for him to be the Sculptor and no one else, thus he Artfully securd himself the Jobb. . . . by this means and so publick a man of greatest note, he has made himself famous and noted-ten times more than before as indeed on all hands it is allowd to be an excellent well dispos’d and wrought statue, crowds of Spectators daily resort to see it – and mostly commend it . . . .”

    Another interesting point in [v.106, B.M 58b] Wapole Society Vertue Volume I “Shakespears Monument in the Chancell (not in the parish church of Stratford upon Avon) but adjoyning to it (I have seen it) Mr Garter Anstis. offer’d to get me a Cast of his face . . . ( I have got it )”

  9. Yes, very interesting. As an artist, Vertue was interested in the visual testimony of the Stratford bust. We can only conjecture what other testimony he had to consider through his relationship with the Harleys, testimony he used in creating his engraved portraits of Shakespeare. His interest reflects the rise of interest in Shakespeare during this period among the literati of the time. How much did he, and the others, know? How much did they guess? What limits were placed on how much they revealed by the Grand Possessors of his day, still concerned perhaps to keep family secrets? There are some vital clues in the engravings themselves, but so much depends upon conjecture that this branch of the investigation will have to wait for someone in a better position to follow up on it than I am.

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