Oxfordians: The Birthers of the Elizabethan Renaissance

I have long wearied of the tiresome assertion that Shakespeare did not write Shakespeare. This phillipic by Ron Rosenbaum against the cinematic albatross Anonymous is three months old, but punctures the key argument of the Oxford fantasy:

In the opening, our fancy-pants British narrator (Derek Jacobi) tells us disdainfully that Shakespeare only had a “grammar school” education, disingenuously concealing the fact that the typical “grammar school” of the time, such as the one in Shakespeare’s hometown Stratford, had graduates who had learned how to translate and compose verse in Latin. Can you compose verse in Latin? How many American poets can? How many Oxfordians can even read Latin? As Simon Schama, the British historian, put it recently:

“Grammar school,” which means elementary education in America, was in fact a cradle of serious classical learning in Elizabethan England. By the time he was 13 or so, Shakespeare would have read (in Latin) works by Terence, Plautus, Virgil, Erasmus, Cicero, and probably Plutarch and Livy too. One of the great stories of the age was what such schooling did for boys of humble birth.

So, if someone of Shakespeare’s education could have written those plays, then does it not violate Ockham’s Razor to insist that another man wrote them? What, besides simply snobbery, does Oxfordianism satisfy?


3 thoughts on “Oxfordians: The Birthers of the Elizabethan Renaissance

  1. If “grammar school” in Elizabethan England was such a “cradle of serious learning,” and Stratford school, which Shakspere MAY have attended, was the intellectual equal of Harvard, then where are all the works of all the geniuses that were there at the same time? Why isn’t English literature filthy with Shakespeares?

    The mystery is that many of the sources that Shakespeare uses were available only as manuscripts, owned by wealthy individuals. How did Shakspere gain entrance to those private libraries without leaving a trace? Why is there no mention by anyone that “Good Will Shakespeare visited my library Tuesday last…”? Why is there no mention of a living breathing Shakespeare until Ben Johnson claims AFTER HIS DEATH to have employed him as an actor?

    The doubt about Stratford springs from the realization that the story of the famous playwrite is not backed by evidence on the ground. Had he written one or two plays we might be able to accept his intangibleness, but the Stratford story demands a very public individual over a considerable period of time. At a time when paper was rare and used until it was covered, no one thought to save a souvineer of the famous man. Or even record in there diary that they met him… The conclusion is that the name Shakespeare was not famous in his day, but that rocks the Stratford foundation.. the story of a fulltime writer /actor /heavy drinker in London at the same time as he was a businessman in Stratford is just not supported by the reams of letters, manuscripts and receipts that would be left behind. But despite no real evidence to support it, the theory is still there, but the emperor has no clothes.

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