Who Really Wrote Shakespeare's Plays Edward De Vere Part 2

About the controversy over who really wrote Shakespeare's plays, arguments for and against Edward de Vere.

WHO REALLY WROTE SHAKESPEARE'S PLAYS?

EDWARD DE VERE, 17TH EARL OF OXFORD (1550-1604)

The group authorship under Oxford's direction receives rather direct confirmation from the Art of English Poesie (1589), in which a passage speaks of "A crew of Courtly makers [poets], Noblemen, and Gentlemen, who have written excellently well as it would appear if their doings could be found out and made public with the rest, of which number is first that noble Gentleman, the Earl of Oxford." This passage clearly supports the case for the Oxford syndicate.

Shakespeare himself, according to this theory, served as middleman between authors, theaters, and printers for production and publication of the plays; and graciously lent his name as a protective pseudonym for the joint authorship by these courtiers.

Arguments Against: It is unnecessary to postulate an "Italianate Englishman" for the author. Such arguments could as well "prove" that Jules Verne must have gone to the moon or cruised "20,000 leagues under the sea." As pointed out previously, Shakespeare's geographical knowledge is usually overemphasized by anti-Stratfordian critics. Shakespeare had ample opportunity to collect the information he needed for Italian locales from readily available sources in London. Moreover, since the professional dramatist earns his bread by creating a successful illusion of locale, J.T. Looney only demonstrates how well Shakespeare succeeded in his craft.

Similarity of styles and analogies to Oxford's life are, in every specific instance, strained and farfetched. According to H. N. Gibson, "In the whole range of the Shakespearean plays there are innumerable names, references, and episodes, which, with a little manipulation, can be made to fit the circumstances of almost anyone; they are in fact freely used by the supporters of all the theories, which in itself is enough to condemn them."

Equally labored are the historical allusions that supposedly show an earlier date for the plays. An event can be used for dramatic purposes long after its actual occurrence. Moreover, anti-Oxfordians have found external events favoring traditionally accepted dates in the very examples given by the Oxfordians.

The passage purporting to show Oxford's groupist leadership for authoring the plays does no such thing. It does not state that the authors worked as a group or that they wrote plays. Oxford is specified as leader only in the sense of his noble rank. Also, the quoted passage itself was published before any Shakespearean plays had been written. While most Shakespearean scholars agree that some collaboration and revision by actors and editors occurred in several of the plays, they find no evidence to refute the essential unity of authorship. The syndicate theory of authorship simply poses more problems than it resolves.

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