A Credo For Rational Anti-Stratfordians

Rational anti-Stratfordians are united in their understanding of both human nature and the nature of a literary hoax. They can and do cite numerous examples of similar charades, some solved, some not, including the plays of Terence, the letters of Plato and the Federalist Papers.

They understand writers will, from time to time, and for various reasons, attribute their works to others and that they will use misleading advertisements, prefaces or epistles placed in these works, or elsewhere, to actualize the dissimulation.

The book of Mormon and the Bible are equally worthwhile examples, since both claim, solely on internal evidence, and in stark distinction to contemporary accounts, to be inspired by, what "Mark Twain" called, the Deity.

Anti-Stratfordians do not find it peculiar that fellow travelers will have assisted an Author with such a project whether for intellectual, philosophic, spiritual or, even, monetary reasons. Indeed it seems likely some (dupes and coney catchers) will have provided aid and comfort without knowing precisely what they were doing and for whom.

Nor do rational Anti-Stratfordians find it remarkable, that these named and unnamed co-conspirators will have risked their own lives to serve in these projects.

At that same time, for example, the Marprelate conspirators, had successfully fought a long term pamphlet war, against the English church and state, without being caught, unless we suppose that John Greenwood and John Penry, both of whom were hanged in the spring of 1592/3, were Marprelate. Greenwood and Marlowe, we recall, were at Cambridge together, where they both, very likely, received instruction in how to wage such "unorthodox" Protestant warfare.

Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus, for example, dramatizes how a person may lose his immortal soul, even when offered redemption, simply because one might cling to the Catholic notion that one could only be saved by deeds, as opposed to grace. Shakespeare’s plays, as opposed to the actor’s background, are profoundly Protestant in this respect.


Among the named conspirators must be counted Southampton, Pembroke and Blount, who published many of these remarkable plays. Indeed Blount, who was, according to his address to Marlowe’s translation of _Hero and Leander,_ Marlowe’s literary executor, can easily be linked to a similar conspiracy of silence devised to protect the name of a diplomatic translator who Blount calls his "friend" and who was "anxious" to do both Southampton and William Herbert, Lord Pembroke, "good service." All three principles must have know the name of the translator, yet none were willing to divulge it, since he was, apparently, either an exile or a persona non grata. That Marlowe knew all three of these powerful and influential men and that he was, in 1600, either an exile or a "persona non grata" seems, in light of the historical record, which records him alive in 1602, quite possible.

For hundreds of years reasonable people have doubted the First Folio's advertisements attributing the plays of William Shakespeare to the actor of similar name.

Their leaders includes such greats as Emerson and Twain and, in English academic circles, may have included Frederic Boas and Tucker Brook, both of whom were never satisfied with the tenuous, if not contradictory, link between the turbulent life of the author of the Sonnets and what Boas called the actor’s "placid" life in Stratford and London.

The grounds for rational doubt are simple, straight forward and numerous: 1) the biographic facts relating to the actor's life are not the sort of facts that constitute the necessary life of the Author, particularly so if the Sonnets were his; 2) his lack of mention or, rather, connection ,as the Author to these works, during his lifetime, is equally inconsistent with his alleged authorship, as evidenced so thoroughly by Diana Price in her new book _An Unauthorized Life_; 3) his immunity from prosecution as the Author of Richard II, and other similarly seditious materials, including Rape of Lucrece, remains suspicious and inexplicable; 5) the continuation of his works after his death, particularly the revising of works already published prior to his death, such as Richard II and Othello, is truly remarkable; 6) the appearance, writ large, within his works of advanced education, classical readings, liftings from foreign languages, travels and intellectual and political friendships is baffling within the framework of the rustic, economically pressed Stratfordian; 7) the Kentish focus of the English works and their detailed grasp of local color, along with the lack of a similar Warwickshire background, is also curious; 8) the lack of any certain immature, juvenile or late works is also an issue of real concern; and 9) the appearance within his works of diplomatic materials and their focus on diplomatic events, as evidenced by Hamlet, Measure for Measure and several similar plays, is equally difficult to reconcile with the life of the rustic and unprivileged actor, who finds no mention within these circles and could not have commanded access to what were then highly privileged sources of diplomatic intelligence.

While it is not difficult to reconcile the rustic’s life with his illiterate and/or ill lettered Stratford family, it remains nearly unfathomable that the Author’s daughters would have endured unlettered in a household where the world’s greatest dramatic canon was being written, if Stanley Wells, chair of the Stratford Trust, is correct, on a near daily basis. There are several compelling reasons for this" first the connection between dramatic plays and the spoken and written word is much more direct and obvious than it is in other areas of literary endeavor and children exposed to such a context are almost certain to learn to read and write even without formal instruction. The second reason is equally compelling, while it is true that women were less well off educationally speaking than males during this period of English history, it is not true that they were less well off in literate households, where they competed with and generally exceeded their males siblings in such maters. Perhaps, most importantly, the Author’s opinion on the education of women, particularly of daughters, as evidence throughout his plays, was entirely favorable, "modern" and liberal. So the poor literate standing of his own daughters, daughters who failed to protect his books, his letters, his manuscripts and his assorted papers, is most remarkable.

The first recorded doubter was Queen Elizabeth I, likely the best informed woman of her age. She appears to have suspected Marlowe the author of Richard II.  Quoted by her jurist, the Kentishman, Sir William Lambarde, in a high rage, during the aftermath of the Essex Rebellion, where Richard II had been enacted for the purpose of fomenting the coup, she ranted, "I am Richard II. know ye not that? He that will forget God, will also forget his benefactors; this tragedy was played 40tie times in open streets and houses."

The Queen’s use of the "future" tense, for an action that took place in the near past is, somewhat confusing, I suspect, particularly to modern speakers and readers of English and may be supposed an idiomatic use of either "the past perfect" or "future perfect" tense. (Or it may record the Queen’s attempt to philosophize about human character via generalization.)

In any event, it seems certain the person in question, i.e., the Author, had forgotten (past tense) God and was only suspected (future tense) of being about to "forget his benefactors," or precisely the opposite of the Essex case.

It is, thus, not likely that the Queen was alluding to Essex, as often claimed by Stratfordians, for Essex had very clearly forgotten his benefactors (and the Queen) and was only _suspected_ of being "about to forget" God, a charge he easily defended himself against and which was not, thus, long forwarded by the prosecution during his trial.

We can be certain of this because Coke, who had overseen Bacon’s prosecution of Essex, remembered to remark, before King James I, during Ralegh’s subsequent trial, "Essex died the child of God, and God honoured him at his death," whereas Ralegh was going to perish a doubting Thomas. (184, _The Great Lucifer_."

On the other hand, the Queen’s quoted remark easily and _exclusively_ fits the playwright Christopher Marlowe, who was widely suspected of having forgotten God, and, in fact, had been arrested for heresy and atheism on a warrant issued by the Privy Council on 18 May 1593, after his former roommate Thomas Kyd had been tortured in an attempt to produce capital evidence against Marlowe. Indeed Marlowe was rumored to be, on the eve of his official death, 31 May 1593, about to "forget" his benefactors, i.e., the Queen, and to be in route to the King of Scots. Diplomatic historians now know Marlowe was poised to act officially, as the proxy (or projector, as Nicholl will call him) for his master, Lord Burghley, ostensively, on the issue of the so called "Spanish Blanks," before James VI, then King of Scots, and, thus, was not, as Kyd, and Marlowe’s detractors, believed, about to go to Scotland as a traitor or as an expatiate.

Marlowe remains the only playwright so accused, and thus, so far as is known, the _lone_ possible suspect for the Queen’s fulmination. This chapter of English history is so embarrassing or damaging to Stratfordianism that it is routinely ignored by historians and biographers of the period, as evidenced by its total lack of mention in the recent biography of Bacon, Hostage to Fortune.


We need merely to consider that, during the aftermath of the Essex Rebellion, the only player to have been interrogated over the use of Richard II, was Shakespeare’s fellow actor, Augustine Phillips. Clearly had the Queen, her domestic junta, or, even, poor Augustine Phillips, considered William Shakspere, the actor, the author of _Richard II_ , he would have promptly joined Dr. John Hayward in Newgate prison. Hayward, who was then supposed the author of Richard II’s historical source, Henry IIII, soon received a life sentence for his troubles and would have died in his acrimonious and plague ridden prison along with Southampton (who was imprisoned in the Tower of London) had they not both been freed by a grateful King James, a year or two later.

Unlike Hayward, who was protected by his Cambridge degrees and his status as a "scholar," the actor would have been racked, tortured and, upon confession, summarily executed. His method of death would have been far more painful and protracted than Essex’s travail, which required only three blows by his executioner to sever his head, according to William Camden, who was there at the time, or the same cruel number required to remove Mary’s. (Though generally unremarked upon, Essex’s rebellion had, apparently, been deliberately orchestrated to call Mary’s execution to the fore, Richard II  having been presented on the 13th anniversary of her execution.)

Students of these public and quite gruesome executions teach us that the "headsman" would strike so as to first sever the victim’s arms in a deliberate effort to prolong their torment in what was rightly called "the theater of hell."

Oxfordians know that the life of Oxford fits the hypothetical biography of the Author much better or more closely than the life of the rustic actor: he had an education, intellectual and political friends, he’s reported to have written comedies and he traveled. Unfortunately he died too early to have been responsible for any post 1616 changes. Much the same is true of Bacon and Marlowe: both were much more qualified to have been "Shakespeare" than the rustic actor. Indeed if Marlowe survived, as the historical records maintain, he commands the most viable biographic "match," since his works easily qualify as the missing early works of "Shakespeare." Against Bacon stand his political views, which were pro-royal and monarchal, and his date of death, also too early to have been responsible for the continued post 1630 changes to the plays and their de nova appearances, as evidenced by Two Noble Kinsmen and the emendations to the Second Folio of 1634.

In any case, as rational anti-Stratfordians, we continue to point out that the facts of the actor's life are not those required of the Author. The biographic links are not present and many contradictory links, such as those listed and discussed above, can be cited as negative evidence.

We have no quarrel with rational Stratfordians who concede all this and simply treat their Stratfordianism as a biographic theory, linked by the ads, proven misleading in other points, in the First Folio.

Rational Stratfordians merely urge rival claimants to bring forth similar biographic evidence for their candidate(s) and welcome discursive debate about who wrote these great works and what they mean.

Rational Stratfordians accept the intellectual "overburden" of the works and their classical and neoclassical liftings, whereas, irrational Stratfordians deny these important and, often, quite obvious parallels.

Indeed all rival candidates (and rational Stratfordians, as evidenced by  Carlie and Harold Bloom) are united in their opinions that the works are the result of the greatest literary intelligence alive at that period. All acknowledge him as a matchless literary, linguist genius, armed with a broad education, travels and a first hand knowledge of foreign mores and customs and the leisure or "dilatory" time to have produced diplomatic docudamas of this quality, several of them _after_ 1616.

If we take as his, the 20,000 or so emendations made to the so called Perkins copy of the Second Folio, he must have been in good health in the mid 1630s. Or at the same time _Two Noble Kinsmen_ appeared out of the ether. This magnificent lost play, said Shakespeare’s on its title page and argued entirely his by stylometric studies and several scholarly opinions, entered history on the 8/18 of April 1634 or 41 years to the day from the date "Shakespeare’s" first work, Venus and Adonis had entered on in 1593. Both works memorialize the birthday of William Herbert who was born on the 8/18 April 1580. The Sonnets, which bear his initials, entered on 20 May 1609, one of three Shakespearian works, which materialized on this day in _consecutive years_, at the hands of separate publishers. It marks Marlowe’s last official appearance before the Privy Council. Marlowe’s play _The Jew of Malta_ appeared on 17 May 1594 or precisely one year to the day from the date of Marlowe’s final arrest. It was not published until 1633, when it too appeared out of the ether, addressed to Marlowe’s childhood friend and classmate from both the King’s School and from Corpus Christie College, Cambridge, Thomas Hammon...someone appears to have been keeping close track of important dates and people, for Marlowe, over an astonishing period of time. Indeed Marlowe’s last known work appeared on 8/18 April in 1654, or precisely sixty-one years from the appearance of _Venus and Adonis_, a thoroughly Kentish poem dealing with Marlowe’s patrons, the Sidney/Herberts. and featuring Mary Sidney Herbert, then the Countess of Pembroke, to whom Marlowe had dedicated Latin love poems, which he attributed to Watson, a year earlier. _The Jew of Malta_ it will be remembered first appeared in Henslowe’s _Diary_ on 26 February 1592, Marlowe’s birthday. _Henry IV_ would arise on that day in 1598 and be transcribed for its altered appearance in the First Folio on that same day in 1623/3, according to the payment of Sir Edward Dering, who lived in Pluckley, Kent, the home of Marlowe’s mentor and professor, Thomas Harris, and whose librarian would later excitedly sign himself "I Shakespeare" when recording his purchase of the First Folio. (_Shakespeare Quarterly_ 1965.)

Indeed this divides them from many non rational Stratfordians who have for centuries claimed the Author was a rustic self educated actor and that these works do not evidence genius as much as a peculiar kind of crass materialism, i.e., a simple desire on the part of an actor and/or theater manager to enrich his company with plays he had tossed together backstage, more or less between acts, as suggested by the movie *Shakespeare in Love,* which depended, for its dramatic action, upon a plot that involved the Shakspere not knowing he was lifting *Romeo and Juliet* from earlier sources, wherein their fates were already sealed.

Irrational Stratfordians are thus forced, by necessity, to suppose, as did the writer of this movie, that Shakespeare invented his plots and parallels as circumstances presented themselves, spurred on by economic and personal considerations. Irrational Stratfordians believe, for example, that the Sonnets are pure fiction and the parallels between the plays and Plato’s are "coincidental." The similarities include precisely the same number of works, i.e., 36 and such obvious echoes as those evidenced between Socrates and Falstaff, as noted by Harold Bloom, Leo Strauss, Howard White and myself.

All rational anti-Stratfordians remain unified in their understanding of the Elizabethan and Jacobean political milieu, which they acknowledge would have precluded the survival of the Author, had his identity been known to the authorities, who controlled the press and had the means of insuring that those with "grotesque opinions soon had bodies to match." This fact, and this alone, explains why the poet was "hidden."

Rational anti-Stratfordians are also keenly aware that in such societies an "underground railroad" routinely helps individuals, particularly of this nature, find limited personal freedom by scheming against the state. It was risky and dangerous business, but the course of human freedom and the nature of a repressed society assures us dissidents, almost always, find friends and support.

Thus rational anti-Stratfordians do not find it unlikely that the Author would have had confederates in high places or that these comrades would have risked their lives to help, whenever and however they could, with a project of this magnitude. A project which had been placed, in their minds, by Providence in the hands of a man far more blessed or gifted than they.

To these silent and unnamed heroes of "Shakespeare's" works, the world owes an inestimable debt of gratitude.

The Pembroke family, Marlowe’s first patrons, remain the most likely suspects, along with Sir Robert Cecil, the First Earl of Salisbury, who is featured, under that title, fifty some odd times in these remarkable works. Cecil, Essex, Southampton, Hayward, and Marlowe were all at Cambridge together, all were likely to have been in on the wink. Essex was at Trinity college and would have known Marlowe’s namesake and friend, the Trinity Marlowe, who supposedly appeared a Valladolid, there years after his death...meaning that scholars must now choose between the two Cambridge scholars which one surfaced at Valladolid on 20/30 May 1599 and was reported there to the Privy Council in a dispatched from William Vaughan, dated 4/14 July from Pisa, Italy.

William Herbert, to whom the First Folio is addressed, has his initials on the dedication of the Sonnet and was, according to Boas and Chambers, the only candidate connected by "a single shred of tangible evidence" to the Sonnets. Just as his mother, Mary Sidney Herbert, may easily be glimpsed as the Pretty Boy’s mother, she is equally as easily seen as Venus, though no Stratfordian can explain how young Shakespeare would have known her, let alone produced, with her, an illicit son, about whom the poet would later write, was connected to his de facto father by "a hidden shame." One that prevented him from acknowledging the poet with "public kindness" least he loose his titles. lands and "honor."

The actor’s litigious nature and, what Duncan-Jones is calling, his miserly and tightfisted financial dealings, do not mesh well with the rather astonishing fact that he overlooked the revenue from his published works and never protected this title when his name was improperly affixed to works that were either not his, such as _A Yorkshire Tragedy_ and, arguably, the poems, which were not included or addressed in the First Folio, or to works which were his, but which were published from fraudulently obtained, "maimed" and otherwise pirated copies.

Lastly rational anti-Stratfordians understand that acolytes and true believers defend the citadels of irrational Stratfordianism with insults and bad faith. Indeed we relish these outbursts as outward signs that reason is, at long last, prevailing. Rational Stratfordians have nothing to fear from us, but irrational Stratfordians are rightly in rout, as their fear gives way to flight.

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