The Shakespeare Authorship Question: Useful Links

Having written a novel exploring the Shakespeare authorship issue, I’m conscious of having entered a uniquely contentious field – but also one which may be unfamiliar to many. As a result, I thought I’d collate a few links for those wishing to explore the subject in more detail.

As I’ve said elsewhere, my interest in the authorship is non-partisan – it’s the controversy itself that fascinates me – so this selection covers all sides (and there are many) of this exceptionally animated debate.

William ShakespeareStratfordian sites

The Shakespeare Authorship Page – a tremendously straightforward, uncluttered resource from David Kathman and Terry Ross, ‘dedicated to the proposition that ‘Shakespeare Wrote Shakespeare’.

The Simple Case for Shakespeare – J. M. Pressley’s measured explanation of his support for Shakespeare looks to Occam’s Razor for resolution, arguing that, for want of any definitive evidence, the ‘simplest explanation is usually the correct one’.

60 Minutes with Shakespeare – the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s response to the controversy sparked by Roland Emmerich’s pro-Oxford Anonymous in 2011, inviting 60 high-profile guests to have their say on the authorship issue.

Rational Wiki – a robustly-written account of the authorship controversy from the wiki site dedicated to the ‘refutation and analysis of anti-science and crank ideas’.

The Place 2 Be: Who Wrote Shakespeare? – a diverting Q&A takedown of the various alternative authorship theories, albeit somewhat in need of a 21st century makeover.

Real Shakespeare – along with a detailed reading of the Sonnets, Ian Steere explores some of the shadier sides of Shakespeare’s biography, regularly cited by anti-Stratfordians, and argues that they in fact strengthen Shakespeare’s claim.

Was Oxford Shakespeare? Computer-Aided Analysis – from Kathman and Ross’s website (above), a specifically anti-Oxfordian summary of widely-cited computer analyses conducted in the early 1990s by Ward Elliott and Robert Valenza, showing a decisive mismatch between the styles of the alternative candidates and that of ‘Shakespeare’s’ plays.

Non-partisan sitesAnti-Stratfordian (but otherwise non-partisan)

The Shakespeare Authorship Coalition – a Californian charity devoted to explaining why Shakespeare’s claim is questioned, and inviting interested parties to sign a ‘Declaration of Reasonable Doubt’ on the matter. In so doing, the hope is to legitimise the issue in academia.

The Shakespearean Authorship Trust – formerly known as the Shakespeare Fellowship and Shakespearean Authorship Society, the SAT is a charity dedicated to promoting and, if possible, resolving the question of who really wrote Shakespeare’s plays and poems. Among its trustees is Mark Rylance, arguably the finest Shakespearean actor of his generation.

Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Biography – website supporting Diana Price’s book of the same name, which is regarded as one of the foremost anti-Stratfordian texts of recent times, offering a non-partisan explanation of the case for an authorship debate.

The Shakespeare Authorship Roundatable – a long-standing California-based authorship group, which prides itself on welcoming all points of view.

The Shakespeare Authorship Research Centre – based at Concordia University in Portland, Oregon, the SARC is devoted to furthering discussion of the authorship issue in academic circles, and currently has a strong leaning towards the Oxfordian case.

Rogues, Vagabonds and Sturdy Beggars – a step-by-step introduction to the Shakespeare authorship debate, with a good amount of literary and historical context along the way.

Bard Wars – an entertaining and intelligent Fortean Times piece by Jerry Glover exploring the debate in the wake of Roland Emmerich’s Anonymous.

Edward de VerePro-Oxford

The Shakespeare Oxford Society – a New York-based membership group dedicated to ‘researching and honoring’ the True Bard – ie. Edward de Vere – with over 500 adherents and annual conferences which have been going strong for over 35 years.

The Oxford Authorship Site – an online repository for numerous documents relating to the Earl of Oxford and William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon, compiled by prominent Oxfordian Nina Green to support the claim that Edward de Vere authored ‘Shakespeare’s’ plays.

The Shakespeare Fellowship – a North American Oxfordian society, which regards itself as the natural successor to the first Shakespeare Fellowship (established by Thomas J Looney, the first Oxfordian), occasionally working in partnership with the Shakespeare Oxford Society.

politicworm – a large, superbly-organised website by the New York-based artist and scholar Stephanie Hughes, providing detailed background on the authorship question, while advocating the Earl of Oxford as the most likely candidate.

The De Vere Society – a UK membership organisation which champions the Earl of Oxford’s candidacy through meetings, newsletters and research. The De Vere Society Library is currently housed at Brunel University, home of William Leahy’s Shakespeare Authorship Studies course.

Shakespeare’s Bible – Professor Roger Stritmatter was awarded a PhD for correlating annotations in Edward de Vere’s Geneva Bible with Shakespeare’s plays. This site features details of that work, plus associated news and background on the authorship debate.

The Monument – Hank Wittemore’s site provides a reappraisal of Shakespeare’s sonnets from an Oxfordian perspective, supporting his 900-page magnum opus on the subject ‘The Monument’, as well as a stage-show on the same.

The Oxfreudian – for a psychoanalytic take on the authorship issue, Dr. Richard M Waugaman’s website provides a series of links to articles and reviews he has written on the subject, with an Oxfordian focus.

Francis BaconPro-Bacon

Sir Francis Bacon’s New Advancement of Learning – Lawrence Gerald’s site celebrates the life and work of Sir Francis Bacon, and offers a comprehensive summary of the evidence supporting Bacon’s claim as the true author of ‘Shakespeare’s’ plays and poems.

Shakespeare Authorship: Bacon vs De Vere – one of several web pages on the subject by Richard Allan Wagner, who argues passionately against the Oxfordian cause, largely in favour of Sir Francis Bacon.

The Cryptographic Shakespeare – a monograph compiling the different codes and ciphers in Shakespeare works which give away the identity of the ‘concealed author’, Sir Francis Bacon.

Francis Bacon as Shake-speare – a collection of documents and essays from Bacon’s life which purport to back-up his claim to Shakespeare’s plays and poems, albeit with little explanation of exactly how.

Christopher MarlowePro-Marlowe

The International Marlowe-Shakespeare Society – a highly accessible site from the recently-founded Marlovian collective, which collects evidence supporting Marlowe’s claim, and aims to establish him as the only viable alternative author of Shakespeare’s plays and poems.

The Marlowe-Shakespeare Connection – a very active, neatly arranged blog supporting the work of the International Marlowe-Shakespeare Society and its associated activities.

Peter Farey’s Marlowe Pages – a clear-sighted collection of articles celebrating Marlowe’s genius, and also advocating the ‘highly probable’ idea that Marlowe’s death in 1593 was faked, and that he in fact went on to write the works we now know as ‘Shakespeare’s’.

The Marlowe Papers: Research – website of Dr. Ros Barber, whose PhD was the first on the authorship in the UK, containing plenty of background research and information supporting her acclaimed novel-in-verse The Marlowe Papers 

The Marlow Studies – this Marlovian library is maintained by Cynthia Morgan, and dedicated to Marlowe’s long-time champion Dolly Walker-Wraight (A D Wraight), whose works figure prominently in the selection available online

The Marlowe Society – founded in 1955 by Thomas A. Bushell, who was sympathetic to the views of Calvin Hoffman (the pioneer of the Marlovian theory), the Marlowe Society’s chief aim is to celebrate the works of Christopher Marlowe per se – though it is open-minded on the Shakespeare authorship question, welcoming reputable research advancing Marlowe’s candidacy.

Mary SidneyPro-Sidney

The Mary Sidney Society – a somewhat perfunctory website for the US-based society, containing a concise overview of the case for Mary Sidney having written Shakespeare’s works, as well the obligatory overview of the anti-Stratfordian case

Shakespeare Authorship Question – Jonathan Star’s site is makes the case for Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke, as the author of Shakespeare’s plays, with a detailed dissection of Ben Jonson’s Eulogy – traditionally the strongest piece of evidence in the Stratfordians’ arsenal

William StanleyPro-Stanley

The URL of Derby – John Raithel’s well-indexed site comprehensively outlines the case for William Stanley, Earl of Derby, complementing established Derbyite texts with research of his own.

  1. Not a bad collection of links, but perhaps a few comments would be pertinent. First, your labelling of certain sites as “pro-Shakespeare” automatically prejudices the debate by implying that sites supporting alternative authorship candidates are some “anti-Shakespeare,” when in fact nothing could be further from the truth. One may search on the allegedly “pro-Shakespeare” sites listed above for any substantive or deep understanding of the nature of the Shakespearean works — and there’s a reason for this. As Ben Jonson said, “I loved the man — *this side* of idolatry” (emphasis mine). Like Ben Jonson, the Oxfordians at least love Shakespeare not as an idol but as a living literary presence, whose works are deepened an humanized by the awareness of his real biography. The sites you single out are “pro Shakspere” — a position which, ironically, requires the to deprecate the intellectual force the plays at every possible opportunity.

    You left at least one useful site off your list: Shake-Speares-Bible.com

    Best Regards

    • Thanks for your comment. Others have been in touch regarding my omission of Shakespeare’s Bible, for which apologies. This has now been corrected.

      As for the pro-Shakespeare/Shakspere distinction, your point is well made and – at the risk of sounding a little shameless – developed dramatically in my novel. As for changing the list, I think I will amend to ‘Stratfordian’, as this seems to be the least partisan terminology available.

      Best wishes,
      Tom

      • Thanks for the link Tom. I agree with your amendment as to the labelling. As a point of history, I can tell you, in early debates on HLAS back in the 1990s, Tom Reedy’s Stratfordian colleagues objected vehemently to this term since it was a rational sociological label that had the deficiency as they saw it of authorizing another point of view as it if had the sanction of rationality. They lost that debate. I sometimes don’t like the distinction invoked by “Stratfordian” either — because what is happening more and more, as one might expect if an authentic paradigm shift is unfolding, the distinction between orthodox and heretic is starting to crumble on both sides. The Oxfordians have since Looney done an incredible job of citing orthodox authority, so that their argument develops out of facts and positions already established on the contrary side. This is one of the reasons their arguments have increasingly been convincing to those familiar with both sides of the debate.

  2. On a related point, the collection of links designated as “Non-partisan” are anything but. They would be more accurately described as “Anti-Stratfordian” of “Anybody but William Shakespeare”.

    • I agree. “Anti-Stratfordian” is the best term, even though it has the disadvantage of describing a position that is essentially negative (deconstructive, to put it in the lexicon of contemporary literary criticism) in character. The very fact that Tom Reedy is now insisting on this is indicative of the rather profound change in the nature of the debate over the last twenty years. Now if we can just get Tom to stop bemoaning in the public how all the Oxfordians are wasting their lives…… : )

      Sorry for the typos in the original post. I was unable to edit after submission.

    • Hi Tom,

      Thanks for the comment. Your observation is a fair one – I knew what I meant, and assumed others would too, but in posting this material I’m quickly coming to see the importance (quite rightly) of being as clear as possible. I’ve amended accordingly.

      All the best,
      Tom

  3. One last thing.

    Whatever some has “dubbed” me in an attempt to smuggle an insinuation of conflict of interest into the discussion, I am most certainly NOT a “professional Oxfordian.”

    Let’s keep this real.Such a thing does not exist. I’m a professional instructor of composition, literature, Shakespeare, and sometimes introductory Latin.

    There are many persons that might with some accuracy be described as professional Stratfordians (e.g. Stanley Wells or Paul Edmondson — that is, people who earn more or less full time livings writing and teaching about Shakespeare from the Stratfordian assumption. There is no one that fits this description among anti-Stratfordians. That may change over the next five to ten years, but its not the case now.

    It’s not my business to tell you how to write your link descriptions, but I do find that label to be more than a little tendentious.

    • Thanks for the clarification. I see the distinction you’re making and have removed this from the post. As you say, it will be fascinating indeed to see if any ‘professional Oxfordians’ do emerge over the coming years.

      All the best,
      Tom

  4. Another point that might interest you: The portrait you are using for Oxford is most likely his father, according to a German reference I can’t find at the moment.

    (And just FYI, the fact that I try to be accurate in the use of descriptive terms is no indication “of the rather profound change in the nature of the debate over the last twenty years”. If anything, it is indicative of the vast differences in scholarly standards between academic scholarship and anti-Stratfordism. Nor was there ever a debate on HLAS back in the 1990s in which I or my “Stratfordian colleagues objected vehemently” to the use of the term “anti-Stratfordian”, nor does the term “deconstructive” mean “negative” “in the lexicon of contemporary literary criticism”.)

    • Thanks, Tom. I wasn’t aware of there being any doubt over that image of Oxford. Will investigate and see if I can’t replace it with a more definite likeness.

      • I believe I found the reference via Goggle Books, but it was a long time ago. Go to the Oxford page on Wikipedia. There is a gorgeous painting of him when he was 25. AFAIK, that’s the only authentic image of him.

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