Despite my skepticism about the accepted wisdom in regard to the historical William Shakespeare, I do deeply love the body of work that is Shakespeare. My most favorite play is The Tempest, the final play in the canon. I also have read and loved As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Henry V, Richard III, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Othello, and King Lear. I know that is not all of the plays, but that is probably more than most people have read. And of course, as an English major in college, and later as a teacher, I have actually analyzed, compared, studied, and taught some of these plays. So, the Shakespeare I know is the Shakespeare of the writer’s own mind, his communicated wit and wisdom, imagination and intellect.
And I do not have any disdain or disrespect to give the Stratford guy. To say that, in the Elizabethan world, the actor son of a tradesman with only a grammar school education could not have been the mind behind the literary masterworks is foolish. The Stratford guy owned and operated the Globe theater at a time when “the play was the thing”. All of London society, rich and poor, gloried in the theater, and Shakespeare did for Elizabethan plays what Babe Ruth did for baseball. He was a good enough business man to make himself a decent fortune. Although, apparently, this world-shaking author didn’t spend any of his money on owning books, which in my experience is extremely rare among writers. His life, bound up in an urban existence that never traveled outside of the country also somehow produced great works that were set in places in Europe, especially Italy, that described those settings in accurate detail. As a working actor, he also apparently had the time to study law and somehow learn the inner workings of the royal courts of more than one country. And the plots were not original. He took existing stories that already were a part of European literature and lore and wove them into rich tapestries of human striving, laughable foibles, and a deep understanding of basic human character. But I do have doubts that the businessman and actor from Stratford was the real writer of the plays.
I have already told you that I don’t believe Sir Francis Bacon was secretly Shakespeare. Christopher Marlowe wasn’t either. And I have unsuccessfully made a case against Shakspere, the Stratford guy. So who could possibly be the real William Shakespeare? Well, I am not going to be able to make a decent case for him in the 100 words that I have left to end this essay with. So there has to be more to come. (And stop screaming obscenities at the computer screen. I am going to reveal the name before the end of this essay. And I promise not to make my case for him in coming days too boring and horrible.) I have to show why I believe that the true heart of Shakespeare could only have beaten within the body of Edward deVere, the Earl of Oxford.