In 1564, a man was born by the name of William Shakespeare. He was born to a poor family, was given little education, and had no interaction with sophisticated society. Thirty-eight plays and over 150 sonnets are not attributed to this ignorant man. Those who believe that Shakespeare was the author have no definitive proof but instead point to Hamlet’s declaration: “The play’s the thing(Satchell 71).” The true author, however, lies hidden behind the name of Shakespeare. Edward de Vere the premier Earl of Oxford is not only considered a great poet in history, but he may also be the great playwright who concocted the sonnets and plays which are now attributed to William Shakespeare of Stratford, England.
Edward de Vere was the Lord Great Chamberlain and the seventeenth Earl of Oxford. He was raised as a Royal Ward and from a very young age was educated in the sports and arts of nobility. Although disgraceful for a nobleman to waste time writing frivolous plays, Oxford as a young man wrote and staged the entertainment for the court. As an adult, he became engrossed in theatrical performances and frittered away his fortunes in support of several writers and actors (Friedman 13). During this time, De Vere also began writing several poems and plays. Much like Samuel Clemens, who wrote under the name of Mark Twain, Oxford adopted the pseudonym, Shakespeare. Soon after plays appeared under the name of “Shakespeare,” poems by de Vere ceased (Russell 5). Coincidently, the coat of arms of Lord Bulbeck, the third title of Edward de Vere, is a lion shaking a spear (Ogburn 10). De Vere was also known by the people as the “spear-shaker” because of excellence at the tilts and at jousting (Russell 5).
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Many believe this pen name was for protection. Many of the plays said to have been written by Shakespeare explicitly describe the corruption in court politics and contain “thinly veiled satires and parodies of politicians and courtiers.” In addition, public theatres such as the Globe were laced with prostitutes, drunkards and criminals and because of the scoundrel audiences, playwrights were held in low esteem. Moreover, many scholars believe de Vere’s reasons for his pseudonym may be linked to the homoerotic threads in many of the Shakespearean sonnets and de Vere’s possible homosexual affair with his son-in-law. Using his identity would have been a dangerous game when such affairs were a high crime (Satchell 71).
There are many allusions in Shakespeare’s plays that de Vere would have been particularly familiar with. As a child, de Vere was tutored by Arthur Golding, the translator of Metamorphoses. This literary work alluded to several times in Shakespearean plays. De Vere also studied law and travelled across the continent, spending a great deal of time in Italy (Tweedale 12). Many references to Italian art and architecture are also alluded to in Shakespeare’s plays. William Shakespeare of Stratford, however, never left England (Friedman 10).
The author of the Shakespearean plays had to possess a rare knowledge in several disciplines including physical sciences, medicine, he law, astronomy, and the Bible. Shakes of Stratford received no formal education with the exception of grammar school through the equivalent of third grade. De Vere, however, was taught by only the best tutors (Satchell 71). The Shakespearean plays were also written by one who has had interaction with the aristocracy and understood the workings of royalty from the inside out (Friedman 10). Although there is no evidence that Shakespeare moved freely about this society, de Vere was regarded as a “brilliant ornament of Elizabeth’s court” (Sachmartino 13) and as such would have understood what it as like to live in the aristocracy.
De Vere’s very life is in many ways represented in the plays attributed to Shakespeare of Stratford. For example, in the play Hamlet, de Vere describes many of the details of his life. Like the main character Hamlet, de Vere is virtually a prince and also of Danish descent. De Vere’s cousins, Horace and Francis are strikingly similar in name and action to Hamlet’s two friends, Horatio and Francisco. The anguish Hamlet felt due to his mother’s hasty remarriage after the murder of her husband was also similar to the distress De Vere felt over his mother’s swift remarriage after the murder of his father. One of the greatest scenes in Hamlet is when Hamlet stabbed Polonius through the arras and killed him. This is again remarkably comparable to de Vere, who in a fit of rage stabbed an undercook through a curtain for spying on the young nobleman (Ogburn 173)
Hamlet is not the only literary work in which de Vere describes his life. De Vere’s love affair with Anne de Vavasour is portrayed in Measure for Measure, and his own childhood is directly correspondent with Macbeth and Othello (Ogburn 11).
Oxford died in 1604. This year is also the same year that William Shakespeare retired from writing his alleged plays. It has been said, “The mouthpiece had to withdraw when the voice was gone (Friedman 11).” In another word, after de Vere died, his writing stopped, and therefore William Shakespeare’s career was complete and he thereupon retired.
There are also many verbal parallels in the works accredited to Shakespeare and the poetry of Edward de Vere. Contemporary authors will obviously have some phrases and images in common. When hundreds of these similarities are present, however, it tends to show that the authors either corroborated with each other, or that the authors are one and the same. This is precisely the case with Edward de Vere and William Shakespeare. Because we have only a small number of Oxford’s acknowledged poetry, it is impossible to trace each metaphor or image of Shakespeare’s works to de Vere’s poetry. According to Joseph Sobran, an author for the Oxford Society, forty or so comparisons would be considered a coincidence. Much more, which is present in the comparisons of Shakespeare and Oxford’s works, is “far beyond the possibility of coincidence (Sobran 1).”
In both Shakespeare and de Vere’s poetry, there are similar images and phrases. For example, fertility, harvest, and the lazy drones robbing honey were used by both authors. To capture pity, images such as weeping lovers or floods of tears were also used (Sobran 2). Similar phrases can also be found in the poetry of Oxford and the sonnets of Shakespeare. In “Love They Choice,” Oxford writes, “Who taught thee first to sigh alas my heart,” “Who filled your eyes with tears of bitter smart,” and “Colours pale they face.” These three phrases were also used in Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets. For example, “Who taught thee how to make me love thee more?” is found in sonnet 150 written under the alias of Shakespeare. Also written under the alias of Shakespeare is Titus Andronicus and The Rape of Lucrece which states, “And for these bitter tears, which no you see…” and “The colours of thy face, that even for anger, makes the lily pale” respectively (Sobran 3).
Common allusions used by both authors include Caesar, Hannibal and Pompey, Venus’ beauty, blind Cupid with his bow, and countless more from Greek mythology, wish cupid often being referred to as “blind boy” or “wanton” (Sobran 1).
Certain factors for comparison are also used often in the writings of both Shakespeare and de Vere. For instance, the use of sweet versus sour, joy versus woe, ebb versus flow, flowers versus weeds, and heaven versus hell are all commonly found in the works of both authors. As Oxford writes “He pulls a flower, he plucks but weeds,” in “Labour and it’s Rewards,” Shakespeare echoes this metaphor and similarly writes, “They bid thee crop a week, thou pluck’st a flower (Sobran 3).”
What is more revealing is that both authors have a similar rhythm and sentence structure (Sobran 2). In a couplet, Oxford writes:
Even as the wax both melt or dew consume away
Before the sun, I behold careful thoughts decay.
Shakespeare also uses the same image with comparable sentence structure and rhythm.
The morning’s silver melding do as soon as done
And decayed, against the golden splendour of the sun (Sobran
The similar syntax, images, and comparisons of the writings of these two authors show that de Vere not only was a great writer in history, but he was also the author of the works attributed to William Shakespeare.
Perhaps the greatest evidence for the true authorship of the Shakespearean sonnets and plays is the ciphered messages which can be found in the text of the sonnets and plays. Ciphers are codes of uniform length which bear a uniform relationship to the units of the plain text (Friedman, 15). In several of Shakespeare’s sonnets, de Vere’s signature can be found. For instance:
The order of the dumme shewes E D
And Musickes before every Acte E V E R E
These signatures can be found various places in the sonnets and plays attributed to William Shakespeare of Stratford. There are also several signatures of the object of his love affair, Mary Pembroke, and also one “I love you Mary Pembroke” (Huston 132)
There are also several examples of acoustic patterns found in Shakespeare’s sonnets. For example, in the sonnets 37 through 42, there are twenty-one signatures spelling out de Vere. These signatures are arranged to form six letters: O X F O R D, in consecutive order (Huston 161). Considering each sonnet is fourteen lines long, and there are six sonnets, and assuming there are 43 characters per line, the probability that these signatures would spell Oxford is nearly 55,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 to one (Huston 162). In Sonnets 25 through 46, de Vere also spelt out in 22 letter patterns W SHAKESPEARE-OXFORD-VERE (Huston 170). The odds of this happening are even greater than that of the aforementioned probability. Using poetic license, de Vere of Oxford utilized codes and ciphers to spell out his name and other such messages.
Edward de Vere of Oxford lived from 1550 to 1604. In the duration of that time, he was a young nobleman, a poet, and a lover of the theatre, but was also probably a great playwright who has yet to receive full credit for the plays he composed. De Vere witnessed first hand the inner workings of nobility. He traveled throughout Europe, completed his education at Cambridge University, studied the law at Gray’s Inn, and had abundant knowledge of historical occurrences and literary works (Russell 4). These are not only elements in the works attributed to William Shakespeare, but also are things which William Shakespeare of Stratford England knew nothing of. Who wrote the Shakespearean sonnets and plays? There is only one answer to this pivotal question – Edward de Vere of Oxford England.
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