Selection of comments on the article "Shakespeare scholars unite to see off claims of 'Bard Deniers'" of Saturday 30 March 2013 in The Guardian online

The debate went on till Saturday 6 April.

There were in all 938 postings.

Hyosho 31 March 2013 12:22 pm

@Gray62 - The "paucity" of evidence about shakespeare's life is actually another myth pedalled by the anti-stratfordians. We probably have more information about shakespeare than we do any comparable figure from the same time period outside of politics and the aristocracy.

Gray 62 - 31 March 2013 9:11 pm

@Hyosho - Utter nonsense. We do know more about Christopher Marlowe, even though his "official" life was much shorter.

specific - 30 March 2013 6:25 pm

@KeithMason -

"There is also evidence that he was for a time residential tutor for the son of a noble family - hardly a job he would get if he was just a yokel."

No there isn't. Honestly, there just isn't.

It's this really astonishing lack of direct biographical evidence about the details of WS's life coupled with the absence of pretty much any evidence linking him to the writing of the plays that fuels the speculation.

Elfwyn 30 March 2013  1:43 pm

James Shapiro has written a wonderful book called 'Contested Will', which comprehensively and categorically refutes all the arguments that Shakespeare didn't write the plays.

Where Shapiro really hits home, though, is when he points out that to argue that Shakespeare couldn't have written the plays because the author must have been a much-travelled aristocrat, is to deny him any imagination. Shakespeare may never have been to Italy, or walked the streets of ancient Rome, or fought in a battle, but what he couldn't get from books, or from people he knew, he could summon up from an imagination...

KrusthyteKlown 30 March 2013 5:30 pm

@mijnheer - Shapiro's book is basically a string of personal insults against those who have dared to question the official dogma of Stratford Will. He actually does very little to tackle the many problems with said dogma.

Cosmonaut 1 April 2013 10:23 am

@KrustytheKlown -

Shapiro's book is basically a string of personal insults against those who have dared to question the official dogma of Stratford Will.

You say that like it's a bad thing.

Do these loons and snobs deserve any better?

KrustytheKlown 30 March 2013 6:26pm

@LastWarriorPoet -

His two daughters were both literate - both their signatures survive and that is a test accepted for everyone else.

It's amazing how non-facts are blithely accepted as fact when it comes to Shaxpere. Both his daughters' signatures do not survive. One of his daughters produced a "painfully formed signature, which was probably the most that she was capable of doing with the pen." The other signed with a mark.

Howard16  30 March 2013  4:00 pm

The issue is not snobbery and never has been. It is about evidence. The traditional Stratfordian theory presents us with a major disconnect between the life of the presumed author and his creative output. It's almost as if we have a disembodied body of works with little or no relationship to the author.

KrustytheKlown 30 March 2013 7:40 pm

@Pazuzu - ...

As I said in another post, it's quite possible some of these points can be debated, or even refuted outright. But resorting to personal insults - as you and others have done - without even trying to argue the point, would lead one to believe that you are hiding behind the 'accepted' nature of your own dogma, and that the Stratfordians are rather less secure in their beliefs (for that's what they are, beliefs) that they would care to acknowledge.

cherrytreeleaves 30 March 2013 5:13 pm

Mark Twain: "Shakespeare is the best known unknown person that has ever drawn breath upon this planet." Sure, Twain's witty remark does not prove anything; the fact that the Stratfordian theory has been repeated for centuries , however, does not prove anything either.
The missing evidence of the authorship of Shakespeare of Stratford has not been discovered by conspiracy theorists, but by doubters dwelling intensively on historical documents. It is a shame that in our century doubters often face this killer argument.
Time and profound research will reveal the truth in the course of time.
For the ones interested in the contribution of the German-speaking countries, see:

Elfwyn 31 March 2013  3:48 pm

@WillDuff - Thanks for wrapping it all up so succinctly.

Those who think Shakespeare didn't write Shakespeare have come across as slightly hysterical, willing to believe almost any contorted 'fact' they can fit into their scenario, and above all profoundly ignorant of life in Elizabethan and Jacobean England.

And why, WHY are they so adamant that a nasty young aristocrat, disliked by many of his contemporaries, unpleasant to his wife and involved in at least one probable murder, should have written those plays and poetry under an assumed name?

I think it all boils down to snobbery.

SaxonRed 31 March 2013 8:11 pm

Take three 20 line chunks, one from an early play, one from the middle, and one from the end of Will's career, and nine out of ten people, tutored or not, will be capable of placing them in the right chronological order. No Oxfordian can even get started with the task.

William1944  31 March 2013 11:33 pm

@EasilyLead - "Are you seriously attributing it [the Shakespeare canon] to a murderer, rapist, coward and bully?"

I am, and it is your part to establish the charges are true.

SaxonRed 31 March 2013 6:24 pm

@howard16 - I suggest you read a book on Edward de Vere. Nelson is the place to start.

howard16 31 March 2013 7:04pm

@SaxonRed - Nelson's book should be called "Demonology 101."

The motivation for Nelson's "biography" was clearly to discredit the Oxfordian claim and is a transparent hatchet job. Nelson is not interested in seeing Edward de Vere, except through the eyes of antagonism and hostility.

saintboniface 01 April 2013 1:49 am

Finally, Shapiro declares Alan Nelson's biography of Oxford as authoritative. Nelson has done a good compiling job. But he's no historian and thought it not necessary to consult what historians have researched about a lot of fields he tries to cover as non-historian. With predictible results. If he, Nelson, is the "eminent expert" on Oxford the article alludes to, be sure we'll be having some fun.

SaxonRed 01 April 2013 11:43am

@saintboniface -

Nelson gave Oxfordians a lesson in what history actually is by doing the only decent academic research into their founding father, Thomas J Looney (pron. Loo-Knee not, as Oxfordians contend, Low-knee). ...

This is because Prof Nelson IS a historian.

How very Oxfordian of you not to realise what historians actually do.

Ginghead 01 April 2013 9:45 am

An IQ test for all those involved would reveal the Shakespear deniers to be considerably less intelligent than the rest.

Moon landing conspiracy theorists, people who don't believe in immunisatoin's safety, people who believe in ghosts, astrology and religion: all of them, in general, are of lower IQ than those on the opposite side of the debate.

saintboniface 01 April 2013 7:19 pm

Saxon Red

This is because Prof Nelson IS a historian.
An April fool's joke, isn't?
How very Oxfordian of you not to realise what historians actually do.

Which historians? Professor SaxonRed et al? At any rate what Nelson does is not what law historians like William S. Holdsworth or Plucknett have been doing, not what historians have been doing in the Hakluyt series, etc.

Do you want a longer list of his misreadings and blunders?

SaxonRed 01 April 2013 8:26pm

@saintboniface - Yep. Let's have a list. It's a peer-reviewed biography, the only one. We need to know what the mistakes in it are.

SaxonRed 02 April 2013 12:35am

@saintboniface -

Anyway, it is not at all unusual to find small errors in large works covering new ground and fixing them is a normal process which doesn't make him wrong or you right... Monstrous Adversary is the only credible biography of Oxford. It quite clearly eliminates Oxford as the author of Shakespeare's work.

And you can't discredit it with rubbish like this.

saintboniface 02 April 2013 1:55 am

So the immaculate historian Alan Nelson would have been corrupted through his dealings with Oxfordians and not through his omission to consult real historians, law historians and others.

SaxonRed 02 April 2013 2:41am

@saintboniface -

You DO have problems with comprehension, don't you. My response was to invite you to produce your list (see below). You didn't.

cherrytreeleaves 02 April 2013 6:11pm

 @SaxonRed - If "what history makes obvious" was obvious to me, I would not ask any questions. To consider Jonson's dedication hard evidence simply does not make sense to me. Can you tell me three facts that make the connection of the Stratfordian candidate to the works of the Bard obvious? I have not come across any so far. I can tell you three facts that make me think Oxford is the most likely candidate.
Despite my view I refuse to develop the arrogance of many Stratfordians who label the doubters or the ones who think differently fools or conspiracy theorists. If you do not want to take my doubts seriously I have to accept it. But I do hate it if the discussion becomes personal and offending.

cariad2  02 April 2013 6:49

@cherrytreeleaves -

What motive do the Stratfordians have for continuing with their claim?

It is deeply irrational to suppose that the 'debate' starts from the position that it's an entirely open question who wrote Shakespeare, with the 'Stratfordian hypothesis' just one shot in the dark among many others.

cherrytreeleaves 02 April 2013 7:02pm

@cariad2 - "It is deeply irrational" your opinion.

cariad2  02 April 2013 10:18pm

@cherrytreeleaves -

So far as I can make out what you're implying, in your opinion the way to establish that Shakespeare didn't write Shakespeare is to start by reducing all the reasons anyone ever had for believing that he did to the status of mere conjecture

cherrytreeleaves 02 April 2013 8:25pm

@cariad2 - "logic-chopping fatuity" - what kind of logic in the Stratfordian case??
By the way: Prof. Wells in an interview: "What we know about Shakespeare is 5 percent fact and 95 percent fiction". So much as to my "reducing the reasons to the status of mere conjecture".
All the conjectures concerning my motives and intellectual faculties from your side show your bitterness and helplessness.

saintboniface 02 April 20133:30pm

@Saxon Red -

First these two:
1. Over ten years ago Paul Streitz, an Oxfordian (with whom very few Oxfordians agree) was held up to ridicule by Stratfordian participants on the forum HLAS for stating that Raphael Holinshed was one of the witnesses in favor of the Earl of Oxford in the Brincknell affair in 1567. Rightly so. The witness was one Randolph Holinshed, a connection with Raphael Holinshed of the Chronicles cannot be identified. Streitz was then scoffed at as a worthy representative of Oxfordian stupidity. Now Alan Nelson makes the same mistake as Streitz on page 48: "The 17 jurymen were, however, as compliant as the jury was packed: one juryman, William Waters, was Oxford's own servant, while the subsequently more famous Ralph (or Raphael) Holinshed was Cecil's protégé."
2. Page 432: "On 17 September 1604...

For further errors, here the links:

SaxonRed 02 April 2013 3:54pm

@saintboniface - As I thought. I'm sure Prof Nelson will correct any and hopefully all errors in his next edition.

Saintboniface 02 April 2013 11:59

What I contest is Nelson's competence as a historian, something you've forcefully maintained here.

SaxonRed 03 April 2013 9:01am

@saintboniface - Not only is Nelson the best and only reliable historian when it comes to de Vere, he is also the best and most reliable historian when it comes to Oxfordianism's founder, Thomas J Looney... This is because he is a historian. Historians make mistakes. They correct them or they are corrected by other historians. History doesn't change, though our knowledge is increased if our minds are open. There are no open Oxfordian minds. There are NO historians in the Oxfordian camp because historians do not twist facts and evidence to suit their purposes... Look at what you are doing now. Abject defeat on all the main issues in the comment section of a major international newspaper article on authorship. Oxfordians don't get these opportunities all that often. Yet you are reduced to masking the defeats with interminably unreadable posts containing nothing but smoke and your pedantic, nitpicking irrelevancy.

SaxonRed 03 April 2013 10:15am

You campaign against Nelson is a truly unpleasant stench in the nostrils of scholarship. If you try and buy Monstrous Adversary from Amazon, you will find that a couple of Oxfordian resellers have conspired to inflate its price to £340 (when it can be bought from Liverpool University Press for £22). This is perfectly consonant with your own pseudo-academic efforts to discredit Nelson.

SaxonRed 03 April 2013 9:30am

Oxfordianism's in its final death throes (as far as sensible people taking it seriously goes) and this book will be invaluable in NAILING its coffin shut.

cherrytreeleaves 03 April 2013 10:36am

@SaxonRed - Be careful. Books are softer than nails and can be destroyed when coming into contact with iron or steel.
But even if the book might substitute a hammer the outcome might be disastrous: coffin empty, Oxfordianism on the rise.

SaxonRed 03 April 2013 5:46pm

@saintboniface - You committed one the Seven Deadly Academic Sins, paraphrasing an author inaccurately then accusing him of the inaccuracy you yourself had introduced. Assuming, no doubt, that no one would check.

All the bleating you can muster won't save you now. I'll not be listening to any more of your corrections and if Professor Nelson doesn't open any of your emails, I now understand why.

Saintboniface 03 April 2013 6:10pm

You didn't check. If you had checked, you would have seen that in my last contribution I didn't paraphrase Nelson, I QUOTED him, verbatim.

cherrytreeleaves 03 April 2013 11:55am

@SaxonRed - "Shakespeare Deniers" are academics and scholars, my dear, and they do not deny Shakespeare. Over-simplification kills the truth; academics like you should know.

Saintboniface 04 April 2013 7:11pm

@SaxonRed - I'll not be listening to any more of your corrections and if Professor Nelson doesn't open any of your emails, I now understand why

True, but you don't understand why. The reason why Professor Nelson doesn't open any of my emails is that I've never sent him an email.

NatWhilk1623  06 April 2013 7:59pm

@saintboniface - And so? All stunningly irrelevant.

Oxford did not write Shakespeare. That is truth, beyond your smoke and mirrors. He is a vanishingly minor historical figure, marginal except for those concerned: the people he abused, betrayed, assaulted, abandoned, beggared, raped, or killed.