Is This The Author Of Shakespeare Which I See Before Me?

Edward de Vere

I wouldn’t go as far as to equate those who deny Shakespeare as the author of the Shakespeare plays with holocaust deniers, but both categories beggar belief. There is no doubt about either –the Nazi genocide of the Jews and the fact that William Shakespeare wrote the plays. The film Anonymous, which has just been released, has reopened the debate with its thesis that Edward de Vere is the author of the plays ( It’s absurd because there’s no evidence for it. However, with the mass media of our times – films, internet, television – we swallow information and scholarship in its watered-down, mostly uninformed or imagined forms, mistaking fiction for fact. For example, the film Shakespeare in Love, lapped up by vast audiences, has created the idea that the fictional events are historical events. The film portrays detailed events in the life of the young writer, including a full-blown romance, whereas we have no idea whatsoever about his life at that point. And no-one has any idea of what kind of person he was at any point in his life.

Come to think of it, though, this isn’t a new phenomenon. Shakespeare was himself as guilty as any modern media merchant of creating myths about historical figures. Take King Richard 111. We think of him as an out and out villain, a psychopath, crippled and with a hunch back. He wasn’t like that at all – we see him through Shakespeare’s eyes. Historians can do whatever they like, they can’t change that image of him. And what do we know about Brutus, the assassin of Julius Caesar? Nothing at all, really, but we know him well because of the way Shakespeare made him.

If Anonymous becomes a runaway hit, the uninformed will simply accept that Edward de Vere wrote the plays. Four centuries of scholarship will count for nothing. It’s similar to the way that the movement from the Mozart piano concerto that was used as the sound track for the film Elvira Madigan is usually announced, even on classical music radio stations, as ‘the Elvira Madigan theme,’ and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony as ‘the Clockwork Orange theme.’

We can imagine a hundred years from now, when all ‘knowledge’ is absorbed from popular culture, that no-one will know anything, although everyone will think he or she does.


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4 replies
  1. Amy
    Amy says:

    I doubt there is no evidence for the Earl. I am beginning to believe more and more that it was him. There is a lot of historical evidence backing the Earl up, from what I’ve been researching.

  2. Amy
    Amy says:

    I don’t think it’s fair to say just because it’s now a film, it should be dismissed. Lots of films are made to create hype, but this is a topic worth investigating and if the film brings attention to the question, it’s done a good job.

    • king
      king says:

      Hi Amy

      No-one’s dismissing the film. It’s probably a most enjoyable, well performed and edited entertainment. However, it isn’t an academic work. The authorship question that you want attention drawn to is not a valid question anymore. Reopening it would be like reopening the question of whether the earth is flat, or whether it revolves around the sun or vice versa. There are many many reasons why the Shakespeare plays could not have been written by an upper class writer, and nothing about Edward de Vere fits in with what we know about the history of the plays. And something you shouldn’t forget is the way Shakespeare uses the images of nature in the specific countryside around Stratford – nature observed by a local boy who has spent years wandering around in that setting. A very observant boy, I should add, and a boy with a curiosity greater than most’s. I think the big problem is that it’s difficult for ordinary people like you and me and the scholars to imagine a kind of genius that’s uniquely like his. It happens occasionally, and we find it in Mozart and Bach, where we just cannot conceive of minds that can do what those minds are capable of. Both Mozart and Bach came from humble backgrounds yet no-one denies that they composed the music attributed to them. Mozart had even less schooling than Shakespeare who, after all, did go to school for several years, where he learnt Latin and Greek and mathematics and history. He would also have had to do physical education!

      Take care

      Warren King

  3. JM
    JM says:

    Wow, are we ever on the same page about popular culture. More misinformation has been passed on as factual under the banner of “popularity’ than any other way. And now, the vehicle is larger and more powerful than ever. They have the mighty platform of marketing and media with which to increase visibility. This is my greatest worry about this film. The topic has become “topical”–though in my opinion, not in a good way How much more time will be taken up discussing *this* instead of the work itself?


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