Did Shakspere write Shakespeare?

One of the ongoing word battles between authorship scholars and academics turns on the spelling of the name Shakespeare. It’s a rather odd name, actually, when compared with most English names from that period. Attempts to link it to medieval nicknames like Breakspear or Longspear have mostly failed to catch on with either side (perhaps merely shaking a spear just doesn’t seem sufficiently impressive to rate a cognomen). Then why when the Lord Chamberlain’s Men decided, finally, to put the Stratford playwright’s name on the plays, was it not spelled like it was in his “hometown” of Stratford?

It may be that no one pays much attention to the spelling issue since English spelling in William’s time was all over the place, particularly when it came to proper names. So the fact that it’s been spelled in as many as 83 different ways in Warwickshire, according to E.K. Chambers (Facts and Problems: 2.371-4), hasn’t raised many eyebrows. Still, even in Renaissance England 83 different spellings might suggest a particular uniqueness about this name and its origin. And since Warwickshire is centrally located within the geographic area known as “the Norman diaspora,” it’s more likely than not that the name originated in northern France, from whence it came over with the Norman Conquest along with William’s ancestor, a laborer named Jacques-Pierre (a frequent given name for French Catholics since both James and Peter invoke the apostolic founder of the Roman Church). This would explain why, in Warwickshire, before the 1590s, the name was invariably spelled so that it would be pronounced with a short a, Shaks-peer or Shax-pyeer, or Shagspyeer.

In a recent article in the online authorship journal Brief Chronicles, journalist and independent scholar Richard Whalen, editor of a series of Shakespeare plays richly annotated with Oxfordian data, examines the question of why generations of Stratford scribes spelled William’s surname Shakspere when it was spelled Shakespeare on the title pages of the plays, an issue that academics generally deal with, as they do with so much else, by simply ignoring it. Those who have dealt with it assume that the two spellings are variations of the same name, meaning that both represent the same individual and therefore the illiterate William of Stratford and the genius who wrote Hamlet must, ipso facto, be one and the same.

One Stratfordian who has given the spelling issue his attention is David Kathman, a securities analyst cum Shakespeare scholar, who explains how he arrived at this conclusion on his website: The Shakespeare Authorship Question (which he “dedicates” to the delicate sarcasm that “Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare”). Whalen finds, not surprisingly, that Kathman’s methodology is skewed. While sounding impressive, it seems that it’s yet another case of we used to call GIGO, Garbage In­­––Garbage Out. Data itself is neutral; if a question is asked in the right way, it provides an appropriate answer, solid, reliable; like the house of the third little pig, it’s made of bricks. Like that of the first little pig, Kathman’s house is made of straw, and Whalen goes far to blow it away. Readers interested in following Whalen’s arguments (and Kathman’s) in full can read them online where they present them better than I can here.

Why Shakespeare, not Shakspere?

For purposes of comparison, Kathman chooses to separate the various spellings of the name into two groups defined by whether or not the letter k is followed by an e. This is an obvious division since the spelling used by the London printers on the plays of Shakespeare, always includes an e after the k, while in all the earlier Stratford spellings there is no e in the first syllable. While Kathman terms those with the e “literary” and those without the e, “non-literary,” a more precise designation would be those derived from London (with e) and those from Stratford (without e); this because the London spelling has been exactly the same ever 1598 when it first appeared on the title pages of the second editions of Richard III and Richard II, while every version found in the Stratford archives up to that point, however extravagant the spelling, shows the s (or x or g) followed immediately by the k.  These variations, suggest that the Warwickshire scribes may have been attempting to reflect how the name was spoken. Here we have another aspect of the spelling issue, one not discussed by either Kathman or Whalen.

The cloud of misunderstanding that surrounds the crazy spelling of that early period does offer today’s scholars a bit of silver lining: it can help to ascertain how words were pronounced. Spelling tends to follow pronunciation––where it doesn’t, which is often the case with English, it’s usually because some bit of an earlier pronunciation has remained stuck in it, like flies in amber. For instance, we can be certain that the Earl of Oxford and his friends did not pronounce his name Veer, as it’s pronounced today, but Vayer, as it was spelled in 1590 by Sir Thomas Stanhope in a letter to Lord Burghley (Akrigg Southampton 32). As a homonym of Vair, the way the French pronounced the name, and as they also pronounce vert, meaning green, (the French don’t pronounce a final consonant unless it’s followed by a word that begins with a vowel), it’s a name that would carry meaning to all speakers of French and also Latin, for the Latin root word ver, meaning truth, virtue, and the springtime of the year, is also pronounced vair.

Why did the London printers add the e?

Like all vowels, e has a great deal to do with how a word is pronounced, and since the process known as “the great vowel shift,” was almost finished by the time in question, it seems that our present rule was already observed, that is, that an e at the end of a syllable means that the preceding vowel is pronounced long rather than short; thus establishing whether a writer means to say mat or mate (met or mete, mit or mite, mut or mute). Attempts to ascertain the meaning of a word can be confusing where a 16th-century writer has forgotten (or scribbled) the e, leaving the pronunciation to context. But scribes would certainly have known how the terminal e on a syllable affected an earlier vowel, as would the compositors who set the type for the Shakespeare plays, and as, without the slightest doubt, would the actors and patrons of the Company whose decision was, finally, after four years of publishing the plays anonymously, to add William Shakespeare to the title pages of Richard III in a form that required that it be pronounced with a long a, not the short a of Shakspere. In fact, perhaps to make it as clear as possible that this was the desired pronunciation, someone decided that the first time it appeared in print, the e would be separated from the s with a hyphen!

Why then did it matter to the actors, their patrons, and the playwright himself, that as it was published in 1598 on the plays––and in the Meres Palladis Tamia that was published at about the same time––the name be pronounced with a long a?  Why must it be pronounced Shake instead of Shak?  The only possible reason for the change in spelling, and for the otherwise inexplicable hyphen, is that it turns the otherwise sober name of a real individual into a pun: “William Shake-spear,” like “Doll Tear-sheet.” What then could be the reason why the actors who owned the play, and who we must suppose first saw it into print in October 1597, turned William of Stratford’s name into a pun that so perfectly describes the true author as one who shakes a spear (his pen) at fools and villains, and who fills the stage with the great warriors of the English past.

A more obvious pun name in a Shakespeare play generally denotes a clown or a fool.  Of the two servants in Two Gents, Launce is given to pointless responses while Speed is slow; in Henry IV, while Mistress Quickly describes how, as proprietress of the Inn, she is required to address the needs of Falstaff and his pals, the name of her associate, Doll Tear-sheet, suggests how differently she addresses their needs.  Malvolio can be read as “ill will to E.O.” with Benvolio suggesting the opposite.  Even Fall-staff, derived from the medieval general Sir John Fastolfe, can be read as a pun rich with implications for the middle-aged Oxford and his Lord Great Chamberlain’s staff of office.

By tweaking William’s surname so that from the anglicized Jacques-Pierre of his hometown it can be read as a pun on Spear-shaker, they are replacing what would otherwise have been taken for granted as the real name of a real person––which it was, of course, but one that also suggests that the author is nothing but a provincial clown, a mere “spear-carrier,” the timeless theatrical term for one who has no lines and who appears onstage only to give the appearance of a crowd, as William of Stratford is listed with the Court payments office as an actor with the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, and later a share-holder, when in fact his true role was only to provide the Company with a name for the published plays.  With the kind of equivocation that was so richly distributed throughout the works of both Shakespeare and his editor, Ben Jonson––who termed this sort of meaningful wordplay in his own plays “glancings”––the Company was able to launch the authorial name that within a few months would be the key to their astonishing financial success under James I.

Punishing Shakespeare

“So it’s a pun, so what?”  So everything!  That the name that the Lord Chamberlain’s Men chose to put on these plays is a pun should be a factor of major importance to those interested in advancing the truth about the authorship!

Unfortunately, that Shakespeare is a pun is something that, for Oxfordians as well as academics, tends to be ignored as a rather silly distraction, a foolish fetish of the otherwise pure-souled and high-minded Grand Master of English Literature. Shakespeare’s penchant for puns and other wordplay is ignored, or treated as a side issue, not only by the buttoned-up bean-counters, but also by the authorship advocates, partly because they continue to be so locked in combat with the academics that they can’t see beyond the walls of their bunkers, but also perhaps because puns have been objects of scorn for so long that to attribute importance to any pun, even to this one, crucial though it may be, is to invite yet more disdain than the poor questioner is willing to bear.

This might be more easily understood were English literary history to be considered. Following the grim and humorless decades of Puritan dominance of the English culture during the middle decades of the 17th century, as Shakespeare’s beloved theaters were shuttered and torn down and a scorched earth policy directed towards every threatened outbreak of old-fashioned “merry-making,” the English seem to have lost any desire for Shakespeare’s (and Chaucer’s and Skelton’s) enthusiastic wordplay.  As the 18th-century “Augustans” sneered at Shakespeare for his bawdry, most famously, in the Introduction to his edition of the plays, the venerable Samuel Johnson took aim at Shakespeare’s addiction to what he called quibbles:

A quibble is to Shakespeare what luminous vapours are to the traveller, he follows it at all adventures; it is sure to lead him out of his way and sure to engulf him in the mire. It has some malignant power over his mind, and its fascinations are irresistible. Whatever be the dignity or profundity of his disquisition, whether he be enlarging knowledge or exalting affection, whether he be amusing attention with incidents, or enchaining it in suspense, let but a quibble spring up before him, and he leaves his work unfinished. A quibble is the golden apple for which he will always turn aside from his career, or stoop from his elevation. A quibble, poor and barren as it is, gave him such delight that he was content to purchase it, by the sacrifice of reason, propriety and truth. A quibble was to him the fatal Cleopatra for which he lost the world, and was content to lose it.

Society has never returned to the level of appreciation that Shakespeare and his fellows had for puns, relegated today to tabloid headlines (and Cole Porter lyrics), but then society may never again have had so many pressing reasons for resorting to the frisky thrusts of Shakespearean wordplay.  Since Oxford was largely acceptable to both the Court and the public in his role as theater patron, a traditional role for men of his class, he and his actors and patrons managed to keep hidden the fact that much of what they performed was not the work of his secretaries––Thomas Kyd, John Lyly, Anthony Munday––whose names ended up on the published versions, but their Master’s creations.

The worm turns

His enemies, of course, were not fooled by this, so when, as time went by, and their efforts to rid themselves (and the world) of his precious London Stage came dangerously close to success in the mid-’90s, Oxford turned, like a cornered animal––a wild boar?––lashing out with the venomous play that succeeded in winning them their right to perform, but that also forced the Company to put a name on the plays.

With the production of Richard III during the Queen’s ninth Parliament in 1597-’98, Oxford and the Lord Chamberlain’s Men tarred and feathered in effigy their bitterest and most dangerous enemy, the newly-appointed Secretary of State, Robert Cecil, Oxford’s brother-in-law.  As portrayed by the 30-year-old Richard Burbage, dressed in the garb and affecting Cecil’s manner of speech and body language, the news that the Crown’s own company had dared to portray the most powerful official in England as history’s most wicked king silently swept the nation as the MPs returned to their constituencies with the play in their pockets and their fingers on their lips.  Apparently young Burbage had given a stellar performance; for the rest of his life it would be known as his most famous role.

Following their attack on Robert Cecil, there must have arisen a great popular demand, lost to history but certainly not lost to common sense, that the name of the play’s author be revealed. Forced to respond, doubtless out of fear that the truth would escape before they had time to counter it, the Company yielded to necessity. Using the name that their manager had had ready and waiting for a good two years, the Company quickly brought out a second edition with the name William Shake-speare on the title page. Those blind to the pun continued to regard the author as someone unknown previously but obviously worthy of respect, while those who did see the pun understood that the name of the true author was not something that was going to be revealed anytime soon.

Thus, what may have been rushed into print as a quick fix to the furore aroused by Richard III, the author’s pen name was cast in stone, never to be altered for the duration of either Oxford’s or William’s life, or the life of the Company that continued to flourish for decades after their deaths, or in fact, for the following four centuries until the early 20th century when the Academy took up its defense out of some sort of misplaced knee-jerk professionalism, which today they mostly leave to outsiders, to the hirelings of the Birthplace Trust, and the trolls who beset cyberspace.

The Company’s production of Richard III was something from which Cecil, whose reputation, never very rosy with those who knew him at firsthand, never recovered. The Queen, who undoubtedly had been imperfectly acquainted (by Cecil) with the situation before it erupted during Parliament, was the only one at that time who could have put a stop to this contest between her playwright and her Secretary of State.  She was not about to see her Secretary of State further demeaned, but neither was she about to give up her holiday “solace.”

Exactly how she did this may not be possible to cite, but it’s not impossible to guess, for Cecil, who once in total power under James became so adept at destroying those who caused him grief seems to have left Oxford, and his company, alone from that point on. And while it’s unlikely that they continued to perform Richard III until after Cecil’s death in 1612, the published play would continue to appear in one edition after another every few years, whenever Master Secretary got another title or high office.

By the time of his death, Cecil held all the major offices of State, more than ever had been held or ever would be held at one time by any other official in English history.  And, as Secretary of State with total control over the State records, he had plenty of time and opportunity to eliminate all references to Oxford as the author of the Shakespeare canon, as creator of the London Stage and English periodical press, and in fact as anything but the ungrateful son-in-law of the great Lord Burghley.

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29 responses to “Did Shakspere write Shakespeare?

  1. Another brilliant piece, forsooth!
    This argument for pronunciation in context and period is fluent and effective as applied to the Shakspere / Shakespeare issue

  2. One thing. You wrote “By tweaking William’s surname so that from the anglicized Jacques-Pierre of his hometown it can be read as a pun on Spear-shaker, they are replacing what would otherwise have been taken for granted as the real name of a real person––which it was, of course, but one that also suggests that the author is nothing but a provincial clown, a mere “spear-carrier,” the timeless theatrical term for one who has no lines and who appears onstage only to give the appearance of a crowd, as William of Stratford is listed with the Court payments office as an actor with the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, and later a share-holder, when in fact his true role was only to provide the Company with a name for the published plays.”

    But he may have been more than that. The Diana Price hypothesis is that he was a play broker and usurer, a money man, whose skill made him a financial person of interest but not an artist. In a little known but excellent article prepared for the authorship debate for the Tennessee Law Review some years ago, she examined payments to acting companies to determine more closely William’s role in all of this. She found out, contrary to traditional scholarship, that names were listed in importance of financial significance. (CEO’s etc) So he might have been a shareholder and financier, for those names (she provided several other examples) were always listed in order of importance, whereas traditional scholars have always assumed falsely his name was on the roles because he was chief dramatist.

    This would be consistent with a few things, among them the suit for sureties of the peace by William Wayte against Shakspere, Langley and others. (In the write, it is Shakspere, not Shakespeare, which buttresses the case for change of spelling-contrary to Kathman’s assertion, not ALL documents for London were with the “e” at the end.) Second is the fact that he got wealthy very quickly, wealthy enough that by 1597 he bought New Place for $60, in those days a tremendous amount of $$. He retired to Stratford a very wealthy guy. How did he get enough $$ to become a *shareholder* in an acting company, a shareholder prominent enough to be listed on the rolls of the company reserved for the financial agents of such company?

    In the Mountjoy deposition, he is listed as “Shakespeare”. Of course his signature is barely legible.

    • hopkinshughes

      The Lord Chamberlain’s Men had to include William as a member of the Company, probably because of the large sums they paid him, much more than a mere playwright would normally get, so he had to be portrayed as both an actor and a shareholder, the only possible way to account for it (other than the truth). Price seeks to find a reason for his sudden acquisition of sufficient funds to purchase New Place, etc., but the idea that he made money by brokering plays is not supported by any real evidence, nor is it necessary, since his name was so valuable in getting the plays published that it more than accounts for his sudden “success” as soon as his name appears in the Court records as a member of the Company in 1595.

  3. P.S. 1597- listed in King’s register for tax default (Shakspere, not Shakespeare)
    1598- tax default again- Shakspere
    1598- listed in registry as moved- Shakspere
    1599- property document for Globe- listed as Shakspere
    1599- Inventory document occupying Globe-Shakspere
    1599- tax delinquency Shakspere
    1600- Clayton loan- Shackspere

    Where the h*** is all this “Shakespeare” in London?

    • hopkinshughes

      Right! Thanks! Richard Whalen has examined the record and found few spellings (none?) with the long a in anything directly related to William of Stratford as opposed to the title pages on the plays and others connected to the Lord Chamberlain’s/King’s Men.

    • A purchase and sale document written by a lawyer of clerk in London for the purchase of the Blackfriars gatehouse named the buyer as William Shakespeare if Stratford-upon-Avon. It was accompanied by a mortgage to the same person. Both documents named John Heminges as a trustee. The buyer’s signature was spelled differently than his name in the text.

      After the Stratford man’s death, Heminges and his co-trustees transferred the property to Shakespeare’s daughter and son-in-law. Heminges attributed the plays in the first folio to William Shakespeare. There is no evidence that Heminges knew anyone else by that name other than the Stratford man.

      • hopkinshughes

        Academics have assumed that William was in London during this 1613 transaction, but (besides the questionable signature) there’s no evidence for that. As for the Gatehouse purchase, it was never used by William as a dwelling, only as an investment, and one of a very peculiar nature that did not allow for William’s family to inherit it, although the trustees did transfer William’s share to two of his neighbors two years after he died (Schoebaum, A Life). If they then passed it on to William’s daughter and her husband, it seems Schoenbaum was not aware of it.

        Since John Hemmings was involved in the Gatehouse deal, possibly even its primary factor, this fits with a scenario that, as business manager of the Lord Chamberlain’s/King’s Men, casts him as the one mostly responsible for making the deal with William to use his name on the plays, and for seeing to it over the following decades that said William was sufficiently satisfied with what he was getting in return for the use of his name.

        Reply from Philip Buchan:

        “Academics have assumed that William was in London during this 1613 transaction, but (besides the questionable signature) there’s no evidence for that.”

        There are actually two different signatures: one on the bargain and sale, and the other on the mortgage. The presence of two trustees from London and the scribe, Henry Lawrence all attest that the transaction took place there.

        “As for the Gatehouse purchase, it was never used by William as a dwelling, only as an investment, and one of a very peculiar nature that did not allow for William’s family to inherit it, although the trustees did transfer William’s share to two of his neighbors two years after he died (Schoebaum, A Life). If they then passed it on to William’s daughter and her husband, it seems Schoenbaum was not aware of it.”

        Your point regarding Schoenbaum is correct. It’s clear from the conveyance (http://www.shakespearedocumented.org/exhibition/document/bargain-and-sale-transfer-blackfriars-gatehouse-new-trustees-john-greene-and) that the Gatehouse property was “payd for and on the behalf of Susanna Hall one of the daughters of the said William Shakespeare and now wife of John Hall of Stratford aforesaid.” The transaction had the effect of transferring the property from the three London trustees of Shakespeare’s to two Stratford trustees, who would manage the investment property for the benefit of John and Susanna Hall. Remember that Shakespeare’s will included a complex fee tail arrangement that held the property in suspense and would have settled his estate on his first male descendant (of which there were none.) My thought is that Shakespeare wanted a male heir to carry on the family arms and name. This trust arrangement would have allowed the trust eventually to settle on a male grandchild of William and Anne.

        I also agree with Schoenbaum that the function of this arrangement was to keep this property out of the estate that Anne’s widow’s share would come out of. It’s a very delicate arrangement: Shakespeare had to rely entirely on the three trustees to carry out his wishes, and once he passed away, they were free to sell the property without giving Shakespeare’s family a penny. That suggests a strong personal relationship between Shakespeare and his trustees, and a very sophisticated knowledge of the laws of inheritance.

        This is quite at odds with a scenario of Heminges merely being a business manager making sure Shakespeare got enough to stay quiet about some secret arrangement. Here, Shakespeare put up all the money and took all the risk, and Heminges did nothing at all during Shakespeare’s lifetime.

        What would have been the point of continuing payment to the surviving Shakespeare family? What could they possibly do or say to mess up the Oxford arrangements? Is there any reason to think they knew who Shakespeare was covering up for, or even if they did, that they would dare to sully the name of the father-in-law of Philip Herbert? By the time the transaction transferring the Blackfriars Gatehouse to a trust for the benefit of Susanna took place, Oxford had been (apparently) dead for fourteen years; the publication of the First Folio was still years in the future. How could the complaints of three illiterate provincial women have been heard or credited in far-off London?

        Reply by SHH to Philip Buchan:

        Very interesting! Good information! But it’s not really “at odds” with the suggestion that it was arranged by Hemmings. The timing of the deal, 1613, suggests that William, perhaps already unwell (he died three years later), had become concerned that the deal with the Lord Chamberlain’s Men did not involve anything that could be passed on to his survivors (none of whom apparently mattered to him but the daughter who had married well). So Hemmings came up with a deal that did just that. As for William himself having the smarts to arrange such a complicated deal, his involvement in other deals at that time, such as the Welcome enclosure, would discourage such a view.

        What is missing here that may never be resolved is in what way this deal benefitted the trustees. There must have been some benefit for them, or they would never have become involved. The gatehouse itself had a bad reputation as a place for recusants to take sanctuary, since it lay within the Liberty of Blackfriars. Clearly it was a relic of the days when the monastery was surrounded by a wall, gone by then, so it was very old and probably not in good repair. The rent, the only benefit to accrue from its ownership, couldn’t have been very great.

      • One of my issues in this man’s biography is where did he get his $$? He got very wealthy and got $$ very fast. There is so much that we don’t know. His father had issues with usury. One of his best friends was a usurer. He gets involved in some kind of fracas with weird elements with Langley of the Swwn. What is he doing with Langley if he is chief writer for Chamberlain’s men?

        1596 “William Wayte petitioned for sureties of the peace against William Shakespeare and three others
        “ob metum mortis”
        Waite was in fear that he was in danger of death or bodily harm Accused had to** pay a bond** and made to keep peace Failure to do so would result in forfeit of the bond.

        Described like this on one site
        What seems certain is that the work that the young Shakespeare found took him to the shadiest part of the theater world. Most biographers suggest his first employer was Philip Henslowe,(speculate-no evidence) who became wealthy as much from his work as a brothel landlord as he did as a theatrical impresario. Nor was the playwright’s next boss, Langley,??? much of a step up….

        Langley’s most dangerous opponent was William Wayte, the man who accused Shakespeare of threatening him. Wayte was noted as the violent henchman of his stepfather, William Gardiner, a Surrey magistrate whom Hotson was able to show was highly corrupt. Gardiner made a living as a leather merchant in the upmarket district of Bermondsey, but most of his money came from criminal dealings. Legal records show that several members of his wife’s family sued him for swindling them; at different times he was found guilty of slander and “insulting and violent behaviour,” and he served a brief prison sentence for the latter. Gardiner’s appointment as a magistrate indicates no probity, merely the financial resources to make good any sums due to the crown in the event that some prisoner defaulted on them. Since they took this risk, most magistrates were not above exploiting their post to enriching themselves.

        Biographers who have made mention of the writ’s discovery since Hotson made it in 1931 have tended to dismiss it. Shakespeare must simply have got caught up in some quarrel as a friend of Langley’s, they suggest–on very little evidence, but with the certainty that the author of Hamlet could never have been some sort of criminal. Thus the evidence of the sureties, Bill Bryson proposes, is “entirely puzzling,” while for the great biographer Samuel Schoenbaum, the most plausible explanation is that Shakespeare was an innocent witness to other men’s quarrels.

        This seems almost willful distortion of the evidence, which seems fairly unambiguously to show that the playwright—who is named first in the writ–was directly involved in the dispute. Indeed, Hotson’s researches tend to suggest that Langley and Gardiner were in more or less open conflict with each other for the spoils of the various rackets that theater owners dabbled in—that their dispute was, in John Michell’s phrase, “the usual one between urban gangsters, that is, control of the local vice trade and organized crime.” And since Shakespeare “was principal in their quarrel,” Michell reasonably concludes, “presumably he was involved in their rackets.”

        That Will Shakespeare was somehow involved in the low-life rackets of Southwark seems, from Hotson’s evidence, reasonably certain. Whether he remained involved in them past 1597, though, it is impossible to say. He certainly combined his activities as one of Langley’s henchmen with the gentler work of writing plays, and by 1597 was able to spend £60—a large sum for the day—on purchasing the New Place, Stratford, a mansion with extensive gardens that was the second-largest house in his home town. It is tempting to speculate, however, whether the profits that paid for such an opulent residence came from Will’s writing–or from a sideline as strong-arm man to an extortionist”

        Wait a minute. ” Nor was the playwright’s next boss, Langley,??? much of a step up….’ This is 1596. By then it is known that the following plays had been written and performed
        Henry VI part 12, 2, 3
        Richard III (Monster hit)
        Comedy of Errors (with Comedia del arte all over it)
        Titus Andronicus (Monster hit)
        Two gentleman of Verona
        Love’s Labour’s Lost
        Romeo and Juliert
        Richard II
        Midsunner Night’s Dream

        28% of plays in Folio

        I’m sorry this does not add up. Why is a successful playwright who has had monster hits hanging out as an enforcer for a rival theater owner? We will never know the details but again, where the money comes from is deeply mysterious. I know it is possible for people to be complex and compartmentalized. But Shakespeare became high on the list of money men in the company, CEO type status, as Price feature’s in her Tennessee Law Review article. I know Stephanie believes he was paid off, but I’m wondering if its more than that.

        I said to Alan Nelson at a conference. based on _direct personal documented evidence while alive_, there is more evidence the man was a usurer than a playwright. Which was Price’s theory.

        In any event, his life is such an enigna.

      • Philip Buchan

        “The timing of the deal, 1613, suggests that William, perhaps already unwell (he died three years later), had become concerned that the deal with the Lord Chamberlain’s Men did not involve anything that could be passed on to his survivors (none of whom apparently mattered to him but the daughter who had married well).”

        There is no evidence of a “deal” with the LCM (by that time, the King’s Men) other than that Shakespeare was a player, shareholder, and housekeeper of the Globe and the Blackfriars Theatre — and also in-house playwright. In 1635, long after Shakespeare, Oxford, and even Susan Vere, Countess Montgomery, had died, Cuthbert Burbage described Shakespeare as a “player,” along with Condell, Heminges and Phillips. Though it’s convenient to dismiss all evidence that is contrary to your theory as part of a plot by Robert Cecil, it’s hard to understand how Cecil was able to alter a letter a quarter century after his death.

        “What is missing here that may never be resolved is in what way this deal benefitted the trustees. There must have been some benefit for them, or they would never have become involved.”

        Your assumption that Shakespeare was illiterate and only involved with the playing company to hide the true author is preventing you from seeing the truth. All that was in the deal for the trustees was that they helped to see through an arrangement for a close friend who trusted them. In other words, they were honor-bound to follow through, and they were honorable men.

        Without simply restating our entirely different views on authorship, it seems to me that your portrayal of Shakespeare as a provincial illiterate requires the creation of an elaborate false evidence trail. Even assuming as you insist that the works were not written by Shakespeare of Stratford, your theory is flawed. Without some nexus to the London theater, the Stratford Will could not possibly be mistaken for the author. There would be no reason to keep him quiet or pay him any money.

        Stratford Will would have had no way to know that there wasn’t some other Will Shakespeare about. He would at least have known HE didn’t write any plays. He would not be in a position to expose Oxford. But if Will was a player in the LCM/KM, all that would change.

        As for the condition of the gatehouse property — really, without evidence, I would not want to guess. Katherine Duncan-Jones calls the gatehouse property “substantial” and points out that the property included “a good sized plot of land called ‘Ireland’s Yard.'” Blackfriars was an upscale area, home to Baynard’s Castle, home of the Earls of Pembroke. The Burbages has property there besides the Theater, and Ben Jonson was a local resident. Most probably, Shakespeare spent at least some time at the gatehouse property, which was extensive enough for him to let out part of the property and maintain an apartment for himself, convenient to the Blackfriars Theater that after the fire at the Globe became the only venue of the Company.

  4. In 1568—just about when the young William Shaksper was learning how to spell his name—Sir Thomas Smith wrote [1]:

    “The Latins had five vowels, a, e, i, o, u, all of them double-natured, that is, sometimes, long, sometimes short, but always written the same and pronounced with the same sound; except that the long takes twice the time of the short to speak …

    “Nothing can be clearer than our pronunciation of all these vowels and their differences, both in quality and in length; but we write them most inadequately. For sometimes, when we wish to indicate that a vowel is short, we stick on an extra consonant and add an e at the end … In the same way, when we want to represent a long vowel, we heap up on it other vowels which are not sounded. … What worse or more improper could be said or imagined? … So, when we write inanus, puer, jubere, as madde, ladde, bidde, who, I ask you, pronounces the last de in any of these words? Or when we write factum, onerare, manere, as made, lade, bide, what sound has the final e? These words certainly differ only in the [temporal] length or shortness of the vowels, as anyone can easily perceive who will listen and believe his ears, unless he is more uneducated (ἀμούσας) than an ass.”

    To Smith, then, shake and shack were pronounced with exactly the same vowel— “the Latin A, both long and short”—just like the French chaque, but with shake [ʃa:k] as a eighth-note and shack [ʃak] as a sixteenth.

    In the early years of Elizabeth’s reign, in “the most conservative and perhaps most ‘standard’”[2] speech, the vowel sound in daze or lade or shake would have been the old pure Latin [a:] or perhaps the newer [æ:] (exactly like our modern short a but drawn out), or somewhere in between. (Vowels, like colors, shade into one another.) Over the course of the 16th century, and into the 17th, the actual quality of the long a got progressively sharper—was spoken higher in the mouth—going from [a:] to [æ:] to [ɛ:]. That is, pate sounded first like the French la patte (drawn out a little longer: [pa:t]), then pat [pæ:t], then pet [pɛ:t]. The short a rose part way with it, from [a] to [æ]. Later in the 17th century, pate began to sound like pet in a New Zealand accent, but (as always) a little protracted: [pe:t]. Finally, sometime in the 18th century, it broke into the diphthong that it has in Modern English: [peɪt] .

    In the Stratford player-poet’s lifetime, he might have heard or said his first syllable as something like chaque, shack, sheck—or all three. He wouldn’t be called sheikh-speare until the time of Johnson and Malone.

    [1] Smith, Thomas, Sir, Literary and Linguistic Works. Part 3, A critical edition of De recta et emendata linguae Anglicae scriptione, dialogus (Lutetiae, ex. off. Roberti Stephani, 1568), ed. Bror Danielsson (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1983), 49, 51.

    [2] Lass, Roger, “Phonology and Morphology” in The Cambridge History of the English Language, Vol. 3: 1476-1776, ed. Roger Lass (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 92.

    • Interesting. So if someone wanted to “shake” a spear or “shake” someone until they woke up, how would it have been said or written? To differentiate from a “shack”.

    • A Midsummer Night’s Dream, III.ii.261: Or I will shake thee from me like a serpent
      Antony and Cleopatra, II.vi.73.2: Let me shake thy hand;
      As You Like It, I.i.26: will shake me up.
      All’s Well That Ends Well, II.iii.151: That dost in vile misprision shackle up
      Twelfth Night: II.v.55: Bolts and shackles!

      Poems:
      Sonnet 18.3: Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
      Rape of Lucrece, 505: This said, he shakes aloft his Roman blade,
      6 more (not counting author’s name on title page)

      I would love to see original Folio edition to see spellings. So when he wrote “Let me shake thy hand”, did the actor say “let me “shek” thy hand or “shack” thy hand?” but when he wrote “That dost in vile misprision shackle up” , did the actor say Shakele me up?”

  5. It would depend, of course, on the player’s own accent. By 1600, most Londoners would probably have said [ʃɛ:k] thy hand and [ʃak(ɘ)l] or [ʃæk(ɘ)l]. Names, however, were a different matter: a writer might set down the name as Shaksphere or Shakespeere, or whatever he fancied, but pronounce all forms as [ʃɛ:kspɛ:r].

    There are several good First Folio sites, like this one:

    http://internetshakespeare.uvic.ca/Library/

  6. The name “Shakespeare” means exactly what it looks like: shake + spear. It’s one of a huge class of verb + object names, noted from the earliest work on English onomastics, Camden’s Remains (1605). He gives a brief list of Englishmen’s names derived “from that which they commonly carried, as Palmer, that is, Pilgrime, for that they carried Palme when they returned from Hierusalem, Long-sword, Broad-speare, Fortescu, that is, Strong-shield, and in some such respect, Breake-speare, Shake-Speare, Shotbolt, Wagstaffe.” In his 1946 essay “Shakespeare and Wagstaffe,” the philologist Ernest Weekley adds “Doolittle, Turnbull, Lovejoy, Makepeace, Breakspear, Drinkwater. These and hundreds of others are plentifully attested in the medieval Rolls, from the 12th century onward. They are never preceded by de or atte, so cannot be local; they are never found as first names, so cannot be ‘corruptions’ of baptismal names; they are never preceded by le or the, so cannot be occupational. Therefore, to anyone who understands what is meant by philolgical evidence, they are nicknames. … If they are to be regarded as personal names, we must ask for documentary records of Schakesperius fil. Gulielmi.”

    There are none. The first child baptised as “Shakespeare” (23 November 1616) was the Stratford poet’s grandson, Shakespeare Quiney. He was buried 8 May 1617.

    As for Hughes’s notion that the name “came over with the Norman Conquest along with William’s ancestor, a laborer named Jacques-Pierre”? . . . lords, not laborers, “came over.” There were no Jacques-Pierres in 11th-century Normandy: prénoms composés were first used in the late Renaissance, by courtiers. So it follows: no Jacques-Pierres in England. “Prior to Stuart times, it was vanishingly unusual for a person to have more than one given-name. King James I was baptised Charles James, according to a [recent] fashion emanating from the French court (and therefore redolent of Roman Catholicism). It was an aristocratic affectation. … Two names for males became common only from the late eighteenth century onwards.” (Richard Coates, “Onomastics,” in The Cambridge History of the English Language, 4 (Cambridge University Press, 1992), p. 346.)

    Moreover, Shakespeare is only one of a cluster of similar surnames, brandishing all sorts of things: Shakelance, Shakelady, Shakeshaft, Shakstaf, Schakeheved {shake + head], Shakeleg, Shacklock, Schaktre, Schakerake. Nothing to do with Jacques, which may survive in the rare surname Jakeway, Jackways, Jackaway.

    Nearly all of these Shake- and Shak- names are recorded in multiple spellings. As David Kathman has observed, the murderer in Arden of Feversham, called “Shakebag” in Holinshed, has his name spelled six different ways in the 1592 Quarto: mostly Shakbag (25 times) and Shakebag (10 times), but also Shakebagge, Shakbagge, Shackbag, and Shakabage. Some of these instances are in stage directions, but most are in spoken dialogue. Clearly “Shakebagge” and “Shakbag” were pronounced identically.

    Likewise, the poet and playwright Shakerley Marmion’s forename varies. Kathman writes: “On the title page of his A Fine Companion, the name is spelled ‘Shakerley,’ but the author’s dedication is signed ‘Shack: Marmyon.’ On the engraved title page of Marmion’s poem Cupid and Psyche, his first name is spelled ‘Shakerley,’ but on the typeset title page it is ‘Shackerley.’”

    And it’s not just “Shake-“ names with alternate forms: nearly all -ake names have -ack variants, and -ack names, -ake variants. There are far too many to list here, but a few other names of this kind (mostly taken from P.H. Reaney & R. M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames) include:

    Breakspear, Brakspear, Braksper
    Crack, Crake, Cragg
Crakebone (meaning crack + bone)
    Hackshall, Hacksaw, Hakesalt, Hackesalt
    Hacksmall, Hakepetit
    Makepeace, Makpays, Makpesse
    Packem, Paik, Pakes
    Rackstraw, Raickstraw, Rakestraw, Raykestray
    Wakeham, Wakem, Whackum
    Wackrill, Wakerell

    And like Shackerley/Shakerley, these variant spellings were used indifferently, not only within families, but of the same person. Samuel Backhouse (1554-1626), a Member of Parliament, is also on record as Mr Bakehouse (the original form of the name) and Mr Bacchus.

    Kathman found 15 manuscript references (1593-1616) to the poet-playwright as
    Shakspeare, Shaxberd, Shakspear, Shakspere, Shaksper, Schaksp., Shakspe. (The first syllable of “Shaxberd” makes perfect sense if you remember that “Ajax” was pronounced “a jakes.”)

    I was curious to know how long these spellings with “Shaks” and “Shacks” persisted in print. Answer: to 1700 at least. (That’s as far I could go with EEBO.) In the 18th and 19th centuries, many scholars used “Shaksper” or “Shakspere” in criticism and editions: since that’s how the playwright signed himself, they reasoned, that’s how the name should be spelled. But that was a cultivated choice; I was looking for Shaksper in the wild. I found at least 70-odd printed examples: Shaksper, Shack-spear, Shaksspire, Shackespeers, all those “illiterate” odd spellings.
    Above all, there’s the 1608 Quarto of Lear by M. William Shak-speare—which ought to have killed the silly argument right there. Publishers and booksellers went on advertising “Mr. Shaksper’s Poems” and “Shakspear’s Playes,” even with folios in front of them.
    As late as 1687, Gerard Langbaine, whose personal collection of early modern English plays comprised at least 980 titles and whose works are “a landmark in the history of dramatic authorship, bibliography, source study, and criticism” (ODNB), slightly favored the spelling “Shakspear” over “Shakespear.” Or at least his printer did, and the author made no objection.
    In 1658, Sir Aston Cokyane wrote of “Shaksphere” and “Shakspeare your Wincot-Ale,” putting the author of the Shrew in his Warwickshire context. Sir Aston had a manor in that county, and wrote a poem in praise of “Mr. William Dugdale, upon his Warwickshire Illustrated” and an elegy “On the Death of my very good Friend Mr. Michael Drayton,” in which he bids “You Swans of Avon … Sing, and then die.” Drayton’s Avon is Shakespeare’s, and it mourns for both:

    Sure shortly there will not a drop be seen,
    And the smooth-pebbled Bottom be turn’d green,
    When the Nymphes (that inhabit in it) have
    (As they did Shakespeere) wept thee to thy grave.

    Elsewhere, Sir Aston omits the medial “e”; but the Swan of Avon is Shakespeere.

    There is praise and condemnation running from Bodenham (1603) and Barksted (1607), right through the 17th century
    Perhaps the most interesting to Hughes, with her love of the “shakes spear” quibble, would be one of the very last plays performed before the closing of the theatres. It was played in May-August 1641 and published in 1649 as The country captaine … lately presented by His Majesties servants at the Black-Fryars. The author was William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle, though according to Anthony Wood’s Athenae Oxonienses, the professional dramatist James Shirley assisted Newcastle “in the composure of certain plays which the [duke] afterwards published.” Note that the players are the King’s Men, who would have known how “Shakspeare” was pronounced.
    Here Captain Underwit asks Thomas, his servant, to look through his library for books on military subjects.

    Vnd
    Let me see now the bookes of Martiall discipline.
    Tho.
    I bought up all that seeme to have relation to warr and fighting.
    […]
    Vnd.
    Item the Booke of Cannons; Shakspeares workes. Why Shakspeares workes?
    Tho.
    I had nothing for the Pike men before.

    Pikemen, of course, shake spears. Bada boom.

    Newcastle had been a patron, disciple, and dear friend of Ben Jonson; he had been a courtier since about 1610, and would have seen the first Whitehall performances of The Tempest, The Winter’s Tale, and Cardenio; he was (incidentally) a duke—and when he wrote “Shakspeare,” he pronounced it “shake spear.” Unequivocally, the quibble still works in this spelling.

    • So? What’s the point? There must be a point in there somewhere.

      • The point? That Shaksper wrote Shakespeare. Both sorts of spellings were used for the poet-playwright’s name, interchangeably; both, for the man of Stratford’s. They were one and the same. And by contemporary evidence, “Shakspeare” was in fact pronounced “shake spear.”

  7. Hyphens were new, and early moderns hadn’t quite got the hang of them. “Certainly, printers of the early seventeenth century found themselves in great difficulties in using this punctuation mark. There are many examples in the 1623 folio of fairly correct use, but many others where it is clearly wrong, for example, a-part, with-draw, down-right, threw-off, although there are many cases where a hyphen seems appropriate, e.g. newes-cram’d” (Roger Lass, CHEL 3, 41). I would guess that printers often stuck hyphens in because they liked the look of them, much as heavy-metal bands use umlauts.

    “Evidence that shack and shake were pronounced just as we do today”? Absolutely not! We know from Sir Thomas Smith’s writing that he would have said chaque for both syllables, but lingered on the second. Later speakers might say shack and and a long-drawn sheck; but the modern diphthong that you’re thinking of (shayk) would not appear until the 18th century. You’re off by two hundred years.

    There is good written evidence from the 17th century that “Shakspeare” was pronounced just like “shake spear,” as otherwise that pun wouldn’t work.

  8. So a question. The dedications to V&A and Lucrece are not hyphenated but a host of references (Avisa, others) to the author early on are. What’s your take?

    • Some may be inadvertent while others are meaningful. Not every published item emanated from the same inside source. Avisa is obviously relevant, but I don’t know enough yet to comment on it. Like the Sonnets and many of the epigrams of the next century, it’s necessary to have the background right before attempting to place these errant publications in time, in purpose, and in authorship. But it seems clear that “SHAKE-SPEARE” was hyphenated in the title to the Sonnets in order to send the same message that it sent for the first time on the title page of Richard III, and to the same select readership, that it’s a pun and therefore, a pen name.

      • Philip Buchan

        David Kathman’s site gave a persuasive explanation for many of the hyphens — one publisher liked hyphenating words, including Shakespeare’s name:

        … individual printers and publishers tended to use hyphens according to their own personal idiosyncracies. This is relevant for the case of Shakespeare, as Matus points out. Of the fifteen quartos of individual plays where the name is hyphenated as Shake-speare on the title page, thirteen of them are editions of three plays (Richard II, Richard III, and 1 Henry IV) all published by Andrew Wise and the man who took over Wise’s business in 1603, Matthew Law. Wise’s fondness for hyphens, and the fact that publishers often kept title-page information intact from one edition of a work to another, tends to make the hyphenation of Shakespeare as Shake-speare look more widespread than it actually was.

        It’s understandable that before anyone correlated the publishers with plays that use the hyphen, that it might seem to have some hidden significance. But when we look closer, it appears to be an idiosyncratic spelling of one publisher that accounts for most of the hyphens.

        Reply to Philip Buchan:

        Andrew Wise is indeed the clue. Compared with what we know about most of the printers then, he has no history whatsoever. The normal conclusion for those who have grasped how the poets and playwrights of the time were constrained to get their works in print against the prejudices of the ruling party officials is that there was no such person as Andrew Wise. He appears in the record briefly just as these plays had to be gotten into print, only to disappear as soon as James is crowned. I don’t know where Wikipedia got the bio they use, but there’s nothing about him in the ODNB. Kathman is no use to us as he is a firmly fixed Stratford defender and will never report anything in a way that allows for questions about that POV. Of the tiny handful of genuine scholars who show an open mind on some of the more crucial aspects of this issue is Brian Vickers. Most are useless.

  9. In organizing these responses, it’s almost impossible to keep them following in some kind of order with interminable repetition. For that reason, I’m adding my responses to a particularly long response from NW:

    SHH: “NW, because the subject is important, we’ll listen so long as you cease to sully the discourse with invective (which, when it occurs, will be edited out, to preserve the appearance at least of collegiality).”

    NW: “Invective”? I was quoting a philologist on non-sense. It is (by the way) not thought collegial to censor someone else’s comments without forewarning or even an [ellipsis mine: SHH]. In an academic conversation, that would be bad form. I will take the act as notice, though, and write circumspectly.

    SHH: “First: the only thing that all this verbiage proves is that spelling then was so chaotic that nothing can be proven by it alone.”

    NW: And yet you’ve divided Shakespeare in two—author and peasant, extra-woolly sheep and goat, based solely on chaotic spelling. This is hardly consistent.

    SHH: No. That’s not true, it’s only one of many reasons that I give throughout for not only how but why we should see the hyphenated name as a pen name AS WELL AS a real name. It’s precisely this kind of nit picking that has caused me to leave both the herd of Stratford defenders and the herd of authorship advocates who devote their time to arguing with the defenders. Because we operate from different paradigms, this kind of argument is usually pointless.

    SHH: “Second: the origin of names cannot be automatically assigned to one group or another since what what may seem likely just from the sound or spelling so often turns out, with further research, to have originated by a very different process; one example of this might be the great difference between medieval surnames like Breakspear or Longspear, which have a genuinely martial tone, to Shakespear, which seems rather silly in that context, since merely shaking a spear is the action of a clown, not a warrior.”

    NW: Do you never look words up? [unnecessary slur on my scholarship, intended to make you look smart}. OED: Shake: “To brandish or flourish threateningly (a weapon or something used as a weapon); †to wield. Also, to flourish, wave (something) in ostentation or triumph.” The oldest citation is c1000 “Macheram stricto mucrone uibrabat, gloss sceoc.” [He was brandishing a drawn sword, He shook [it].] In the first full English sentence quoted, the weapon is a speare: “Heo scæken on heore honden speren swiðe stronge” (Laymon, “Brut,” c. 1205). In All’s Well That End Well, Shakespeare writes, “Go thou toward home, where I wil neuer come, Whilst I can shake my sword. And Milton’s line is magnificent: “And over them triumphant Death his Dart Shook, but delaid to strike.”
    Is Death a clown?

    SHH: Good point, although it’s stretching it to go all the way back to Anglo Saxon, since words take on different shades of meaning over time.

    NW: If Shakespeare is so clownish a provincial name, why on earth would your Oxford have wanted to steal it?

    SHH: Here we have the problem of the sheer and utter lack of understanding of the authorship question, which stems from their refusal to read any of our literature. Oxford did not “want to steal” anything. He needed a name to get Venus and Adonis published. His printer knew a guy in his hometown who was chronically in need of cash, and whose name suggested a pun, though, largely because V&A was written for Oxford’s inner circle, it required no hyphen to make the point. He did put it on an inside page, however, and not on the cover, where by tradition the author’s name belonged.

    NW: Especially as it belonged to a very well-known theatrical figure.

    SHH: It was certainly not a “well-known” name when it was first used on a play in 1598. That was the beginning of its subsequent fame. Imagine some satirist lampooning Trump undercover as “Jon Stewart.” Surely the securest strategy would be to take no name at all?

    SHH: Which was the “strategy” employed at first by the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, when they set about to claim the Shakespeare canon by publishing them beginning in 1594, putting into print some eight plays with no name on the title page until 1598 when it showed up in the second editions of RIII and RII.

    NW: And if “shaking a spear is the action of a clown, not a warrior,” how do you imagine that this name “so perfectly describes the true author as one who shakes a spear (his pen) at fools and villains, and who fills the stage with the great warriors of the English past.”
    You can’t have it both ways.

    SHH: But that is exactly the point. He did have it both ways, one way for his coterie, who sought his identity in puns and other tricks, the other for the readers who had no idea that the leading characters were based on leading coutiers and government officials.

    SHH: “Third, a long list can be made of English names anglicized from French originals.”

    NW: So? Shakespeare isn’t one of them. Pure Anglo-Saxon.

    SHH: Maybe. Maybe not. Sigmund Freud agreed that it was derived from Jaques-Pierre, but of course, he was only the founder of modern psychology. What could he know!

    SHH: “Fourth, the lords who accompanied William the Conqueror would not have ‘come over’ by themselves, they would have brought along both personal servants and foot soldiers culled from the Norman peasantry.”

    NW: Personal servants and foot-soldiers are not “laborers,” to use your dismissive word.

    SHH: “Peasants in literature are called by their given names without the surname that identified a man then as a something more than just a common laborer, or if more precisely, by what kind of work he did (Snug the Joiner)…”

    NW: Snug =is= his surname. All of the mechanicals have surnames already: Peter Quince, Nick Bottom, Francis Flute, Robin Starveling, Tom Snout, and Snug . . . .”

    SHH: Good point, although all of these, if not pun names, are just as fictional, for no real person would have such a name. Like pun names, they are meant to describe the characters.

    NW: Did you not read the passage from Ernest Weekley I quoted?

    SHH: Yes, but I didn’t find it relevant.

    NW: I repeat: “Names like Shakespeare “are never preceded by de or atte, so cannot be local; they are never found as first names, so cannot be ‘corruptions’ of baptismal names; they are never preceded by le or the, so cannot be occupational. Therefore, to anyone who understands what is meant by philolgical evidence, they are nicknames. … If they are to be regarded as personal names, we must ask for documentary records of Schakesperius fil. Gulielmi.”

    SHH: Clearly this is a philologist adding his 2 cents to the authorship argument. Not relevant.

    NW: Have you never heard of parish records? Of court documents? Peasants are baptized and buried; they are married, arrested, and come up in court. Genuine scholars have read hundreds of thousands of dull documents, in the pursuit of history.

    SHH: So? What has that got to do with what this discussion is supposed to be about, which is whether or not the Lord Chamberlain’s Men had the true author (the spearshaker) in mind as well as the guy whose name would allow them to get the plays past the official censor. Don’t attempt to label me a snob. You haven’t read enough of what I’ve written to have any idea of who I am or how much I’ve studied over the 30 years I’ve devoted to the study of EM literature.

    NW: Based on that compilation of data, Stephen Wilson writes in The Means of Naming:
    “The custom probably began in Italy. Persons with two first names are found there from the late thirteenth century. … By the late fifteenth century double naming was frequent among the élites of Florence, Perugia, Venice, Rome. … In France, double first names make their appearance much later, in the sixteenth century, and then only among the élites and/or in selected regions. The custom was almost certainly introduced from Italy and Spain. It was adopted in the Franche-Comte, when it was under Spanish control. … Double first naming was introduced more generally in the seventeenth century—at Lormont in the south-west, in the Forez, in the Aisne, in Normandy.” (214-5) In France, as throughout Europe, polyonomy was “‘at first the apanage of the highest social classes.’ It began to be adopted by artisans in the 1830 and 1840s, but did not reach the peasantry until the 1860s.” (220). So: no dogsbody Jacques-Pierres in Norman Warwickshire. This is an ex-theory.
    “Camden noted in 1605 that ‘two Christian names are rare in England’, citing only a couple of royal examples and the same ‘among private men.’ Indeed Lord Chief Justice Coke asserted at about the same time ‘that a man cannot have two names at baptism’. Bardsley suggests that the custom spread among the nobility and gentry in the seventeenth century through imitation of royal example or via royal godparenthood.” (216-7).

    SHH: we are always being told that changes did not occur until a particular time until someone publishes something that shows that they began earlier. And why would Camden or Coke concern himself with this point? Because they were out to rid England of Catholics, for whom the double name was favored, and had been long before it became an issue for the dominant protestants.

    SHH: Well, that’s enough, NW. Any more would be striving to deal with the fact that your points are all based on the uneducated William as author while mine are based on the Earl of Oxford as author. And since this is my blog, and I’ve reached the end of my patience, I’ll say goodbye. If you would like to return, please read enough of what I’ve written here, and the responses I’ve gotten from other authorship scholars, to have a better idea of what it is that you’re attempting to deny.

  10. Ken, good question. Venus and Adonis (then Lucrece) were written almost two decades after Oxford quit publishing his own poetry, following his return from Italy, when he began concentrating on writing for the Stage. (He had found the reponse to his poetry by his contemporaries at Court both hurtful and beneath his contempt, and it was also clear that while the Queen was okay with him functioning as a patron, she was NOT okay with him publishing his own poetry.)

    It’s clear from a variety of sources that V&A was written (at some point in 1592) probably in response to the popular enthusiasm with which the reading audience were reacting to Philip Sidney’s sonnet cycle Astrophil and Stella (published by his sister in 1591). Oxford had to show London’s reading audience that there was another even greater poet than the saintly Philip.

    Because he was without a pen name at the moment (having just killed off Robert Greene), he used the name of an illiterate yeoman two days ride by horseback from London, a man badly in need of an income, who was probably suggested to him by his printer, Richard Field, son of the Stratford tanner John Shakspere’s business partner, who had recently acquired the printshop of his former master, Thomas Vautrollier, which was located a few steps in the Liberty of Blackfriars from the private stage created by Oxford (1576-90) for purposes of entertaining the educated audience at the Inns of Court.

    Because the particular audience for whom V&A and Lucrece were written would have understood that a pun name like “Shakespeare” was a pen name, no hints were necessary. When the Lord Chamberlain’s Men finally got around to putting a name on the plays (following the 1597 showdown with Secretary of State Robert Cecil in which Richard Burbage played the King as Cecil’s double), the actors, or whoever published it, felt that a stronger hint was needed, one that accentuated the two syllable pronunciation, and perhaps more importantly, that hinted at its fictional character by using a hyphen, as in Doll Tear-sheet.

    That later plays were published both with and without a hyphen suggests that once the audience was so informed it did not need to be informed again, so the plays after Richard III might use the hyphen or not. As for the Sonnets, the hyphen, plus a number of complicated hints in the introductory material, suggest that by 1609, it was felt that the reading audience needed to be reminded of the fact that it was a pen name, for no living being would ever have used a name hyphenated in that way.

    As for Avisa, I haven’t put enough time into that to suggest any explanation for that or for who it was about. It’s one of a number of published works that must wait until more is known for certain about the background events than we know at present.

    • Avisa refers to the author as Shake-speare.

      “Willobie his Avisa was licensed for the press by printer John Windet on September 3, 1594. In the printed text, the poem is preceded by two commendatory poems, the second of which, signed “Contraria Contrariis; Vigilantius; Dormitanus,” contains a reference to Shakespeare’s poem The Rape of Lucrece, published four months previously:

      “Yet Tarquyne pluckt his glistering grape,
      And Shake-speare paints poore Lucrece rape.”

  11. SHH response to Philip Buchan’s response to an earlier response from me (it’s next to impossible to keep the responses properly connected.)

    Philip Buchan?iframe=true&theme_preview=true | March 22, 2017 at 10:54 am | | Edit
    SHH: “The timing of the deal, 1613, suggests that William, perhaps already unwell (he died three years later), had become concerned that the deal with the Lord Chamberlain’s Men did not involve anything that could be passed on to his survivors (none of whom apparently mattered to him but the daughter who had married well).”

    PB: There is no evidence of a “deal” with the LCM (by that time, the King’s Men) other than that Shakespeare was a player, shareholder, and housekeeper of the Globe and the Blackfriars Theatre — and also in-house playwright.

    SHH: Of course not! Since the motivation from the first was to hide the fact that the author of these incredibly popular plays was not only a courtier but the son-in-law of the Lord Treasurer, the actors were constrained to leave nothing that could be so interpreted.

    PB: In 1635, long after Shakespeare, Oxford, and even Susan Vere, Countess Montgomery, had died, Cuthbert Burbage described Shakespeare as a “player,” along with Condell, Heminges and Phillips. Though it’s convenient to dismiss all evidence that is contrary to your theory as part of a plot by Robert Cecil, it’s hard to understand how Cecil was able to alter a letter a quarter century after his death.

    SHH: Why is it so hard to understand this?! Cuthbert Burbage was one of the principle creators of the Shakspere as Shakespeare story. Son of James Burbage, founder and manager of the team that eventually became the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, brother of Richard Burbage, whose reputation as a great actor was based on his performance of Richard III, Cuthbert’s letter reflected the story as he, his father, his brother, their patron Lord Hunsdon, and their playwright the Earl of Oxford, had created it back in 1595-98.

    SHH: “What is missing here that may never be resolved is in what way this deal benefitted the trustees. There must have been some benefit for them, or they would never have become involved.”

    PB: Your assumption that Shakespeare was illiterate and only involved with the playing company to hide the true author is preventing you from seeing the truth. All that was in the deal for the trustees was that they helped to see through an arrangement for a close friend who trusted them. In other words, they were honor-bound to follow through, and they were honorable men.

    SHH: On the contrary, it’s your assumption that William of Stratford was capable of writing the Shakespeare canon that prevents you from seeing that this and any number of other transactions can be interpreted in an altogether different light from the one that Hemmings created on purpose to keep the author’s identity a secret so that the Company could continue to perform his works uninhibited by the censors who answered to the Crown. This stems from your ignorance of just how incredibly learned was the true author, and how utterly without credentials was William of Stratford.

    PB: Without simply restating our entirely different views on authorship, it seems to me that your portrayal of Shakespeare as a provincial illiterate requires the creation of an elaborate false evidence trail. Even assuming as you insist that the works were not written by Shakespeare of Stratford, your theory is flawed. Without some nexus to the London theater, the Stratford Will could not possibly be mistaken for the author. There would be no reason to keep him quiet or pay him any money.

    SHH: I’m sorry, you’ve lost me here. The problem is not an elaborate false evidence trail, it’s the utter and total lack of any evidence trail that shows that William was educated, no letters from him to anyone, one letter to him that appears to have never been unanswered, no understanding from his neighbors in Stratford of the supposed fact that he was the author of the plays that were so popular in London, etc., etc. etc.

    PB: Stratford Will would have had no way to know that there wasn’t some other Will Shakespeare about. He would at least have known HE didn’t write any plays. He would not be in a position to expose Oxford. But if Will was a player in the LCM/KM, all that would change.

    SHH: This argument, which I’m willing to publish here to show just how bizarre those who defend the Stratford biographer can be in their defense (you can’t call it reasoning), goes absolutely nowhere. “Stratford Will” probably knew very little about the London Stage until he was given the opportunity to get an income simply by allowing the actors to use his name on their published plays. Of course he knew that he didn’t write the plays! His genius was in keeping his mouth shut about that fact! And why on earth would he be tempted to “expose Oxford” and kill the goose that was laying these golden eggs?

    PB: As for the condition of the gatehouse property — really, without evidence, I would not want to guess. Katherine Duncan-Jones calls the gatehouse property “substantial” and points out that the property included “a good sized plot of land called ‘Ireland’s Yard.’” Blackfriars was an upscale area, home to Baynard’s Castle, home of the Earls of Pembroke. The Burbages had property there besides the Theater, and Ben Jonson was a local resident. Most probably, Shakespeare spent at least some time at the gatehouse property, which was extensive enough for him to let out part of the property and maintain an apartment for himself, convenient to the Blackfriars Theater that after the fire at the Globe became the only venue of the Company.

    SHH: Sorry, “most probably” won’t do. That’s the kind of conjecture that the official story is so larded with that it swims in fat. Cut away the fat and you’ve got nothing. Or rather, you’ve got an illiterate provincial whose name had become key to the fortune that allowed him to buy land in his hometown and reinstate his father to the position that he had lost when William was in his teens.

    So until you’ve actually read some of the other pages here, in particular the one on the missing evidence, and can demonstrate that you’ve gotten a grasp on what this argument is all about, I’m done attempting to respond.

  12. “PB: The Burbages had property there besides the Theater, and Ben Jonson was a local resident. *Most probably*, Shakespeare spent at least some time at the gatehouse property, which was extensive enough for him to let out part of the property and maintain an apartment for himself, convenient to the Blackfriars Theater that after the fire at the Globe became the only venue of the Company.

    SHH: Sorry, “most probably” won’t do. That’s the kind of conjecture that the official story is so larded with that it swims in fat. Cut away the fat and you’ve got nothing.”

    I’m happy to discuss the evidence supporting my assessment of the probability that Shakespeare spent at least some time at the gatehouse property. He was a player in the King’s Men company, which after the destruction of the Globe was centered around the Blackfriars Theater, making the gatehouse a very convenient location; though he had lodgers identified as living at the property, its size could easily accommodate a private apartment for Shakespeare when he was in town, while still having a lodger occupying other parts of the building; some scholars have speculated that the lodger named might have been merely a servant who lived there year-round, while Shakespeare was only down occasionally. But though I think there’s strong evidence in support, there’s no evidence directly on point that Shakespeare occupied the building, and there is evidence that there was someone else living there and that he purchased it as an investment (for later transfer for the benefit of his primary legatees, the Halls, through trustees.)

    I certainly understand and agree with your concern about the often sloppy use of terms like “probably” or “likely.” People will make an assessment that something is “probably” the case without fully analyzing the alternatives. For instance, a certain Marlovian of my acquaintance says that Marlowe faking his own death is the most likely of several possibilities. But does that mean that of five different possibilities with four of them at 20% or less, is faking his own death the most probable if he assesses it at about 22%?

    But the biggest problem (and one that you can’t accuse me of in the example above) is people deciding some event or result is “likely,” and then using that result as if it was absolutely certain and building an entirely speculative, evidence free argument around it.

    Can you distinguish my use of “most probably” from your use of similar language?

    “The Lord Chamberlain’s Men had to include William as a member of the Company, *probably* because of the large sums they paid him, much more than a mere playwright would normally get, so he had to be portrayed as both an actor and a shareholder, the only possible way to account for it (other than the truth).”

    “Clearly it was a relic of the days when the monastery was surrounded by a wall, gone by then, so it was very old and *probably* not in good repair.”

    “. . .since Warwickshire is centrally located within the geographic area known as “the Norman diaspora,” it’s *more likely than not* that the name originated in northern France, from whence it came over with the Norman Conquest along with William’s ancestor.”

    “And while it’s *unlikely* that they continued to perform Richard III until after Cecil’s death in 1612, the published play would continue to appear in one edition after another every few years, whenever Master Secretary got another title or high office.”

    • Again, the problem stems from our differing points of view. We use equivocal terms because we can’t provide hard evidence for a particular statement. Our differing POV are based on how we see the Stratford biography, which you find sufficient to support William as the author of the canon, while I do not. I agree that using such terms is justifiable, but not if used to support a particular POV. Wherever I use “maybe, probably, most likely,” etc., it’s based on my basic POV, which is that the Earl of Oxford, whose biography, having demonstrated all the qualities lacking in the Stratford biography, plus dates that conform to the plots of the plays, plus known relationships with courtiers whose biographies conform to those of several of the more important Shakespearean characters, plus a compelling reason for why his identity had to be hidden, has convinced me that he is the true author. Yes, I have created a card house of conjectures, but all rest on this basis. Yours rest on a basis that I have found to be utterly lacking in the kinds of support necessary to convince me, after 30 years of study, that William of Stratford wrote the Shakespeare canon.

      This is why I find arguing with defenders of the Stratford biography to be so utterly pointless. Even arguing on the basis of the Missing Evidence, which explains why it’s so difficult to prove our case, is fruitless, since the number of persons, Oxfordians included, who base their POV on anything but a thorough knowledge of theatrical practice through the ages plus tomes like E.K. Chambers’s The Eliabethan Stage, can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Luckily there have always been a few like Brian Vickers, who, although he will not risk his ability to get his work published by demonstrating an understanding of our basic POV, does understand at least one of our arguments.

      One last point: you and I also differ in that while I am thoroughly steeped in your POV, it being the one I grew up with, you on the other hand not only know nothing about mine, nor do you show much interest in learning something of it. How do I know this? Because your responses make that clear, which is why I find it pointless to discuss it with you.

  13. Thanks for your unusual willingness to listen. Still, I’ll be surprised if it moves you in our direction. First there must be an understanding of the sheer impossibility that a man in William of Stratford’s positon could possibly have had what it would have taken then to do what Shakespeare did, the immensity of the education revealed in his works, an obvious connection to the London patrons. Second, there must be a thorough understanding of what may have been one of the most repressive periods in English history, one that saw Poetry defined as lying and poets as universally crazed or decadent. Without these perceptions there can be no true understanding of the immensity of Shakespeare’s accomplishment as we see even now in how the “experts” continue to chip away at it, distributing his authorship to one lesser writer or another.

    As for “assuming” that Oxford wrote the canon, it has taken centuries for literary forensics to locate someone more credible than either William or Francis Bacon. But even more to the point, while you complain of our lack of evidence, it is this very lack of evidence that gave rise to the search for a better author. Why should there be so little evidence for what must have been a phenomenon of national significance, the birth of the British Media, the Fourth Estate of government, namely the London Stage and English periodical press, both occurring at roughly the same moment in time? Suddenly there are two, then three, then eight theaters, all going at once and all drawing condemnation from every official sector, yet so little has been left in the records that we have no real grasp on how it came about or who was involved.

    Trained to stick to the evidence, sadly the philologists and others who claim to know all, actually know nothing, because nothing has been left on which they could base a trustworthy scenario. So until you’ve developed your forensic skills to the level of the fictional detective who can see that the corpse could not have killed himself because while the gun is in his right hand it was known that he was left-handed, you will be playing the role of the official who simply wants to get a conviction and the hell with the screwy evidence.

    Stop comparing us authorship scholars to each other (we are still fumbling in the dark and bumping into each other) and start concentrating on the history of the period and how easy it would have been for the Cecils to have altered the record, and what could have been their motive for doing that. Or is politics “not your thing”?

  14. Philip, I’m tired of going rounds with you. When your comment directly relates to how to interpret some fact I’ll consider replying. Otherwise it’s simply going round and round the same old mulberry bush, seen by you from the perspective left us by the Cecils, and me from an effort to explain the absurd anomalies that surround the Stratford biography. You ignore the issue of William’s lack of education, the issue of the negative attitude at the time to poetry and plays, the close connection of the plots of the plays to Oxford’s personal life, and so many others that to continue with this is to waste both my time and yours. I created this blog so I would be free of the hassles that have attended every other effort to tell the story of the London Stage from an Oxfordian perspective. Create your own blog.

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