The case for Edward De Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford.
Many Oxfordians believe that the true author of Shakespeares
plays was an aristocrat named Edward De Vere. The evidence
for this comprehensive, ranging from Edward de Veres
aristocratic knowledge of the upper classes through
to his education and the structural similarities between
his poetry and Shakespeares. As regards authorship
of Shakespeares plays and sonnets, it has been
suggested that Edward wrote these under the pseudonym
of Shakespeare, both to avoid breaking a voluntary convention
against aristocrats publishing poetry and plays and
to escape the consequences of the subject matter he
was writing about. George Puttenham's 1589 book, The
Arte of English Poesie explains this further.
Below are the major reasons Oxfordians claim Edward
De Vere was well qualified to write 37 plays and 154
Edward De Vere and Elizabethan Theatre.
Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford is known to have composed,
directed and acted in plays around the same time as
Shakespeare. Like Shakespeare he was part of an acting
troupe but unlike Shakespeare, Edward managed his acting
troupe called "Oxfords Boys". Furthermore, Edward
De Vere was a leaseholder of the Blackfriars Theatre,
a rival to The Globe.
Edward De Veres poetry and its similarities
Whilst most academics agree that Edward De Veres
poetry was better than the Sir Francis Bacons
(the other contender for replacing Shakespeare), few
believe it is of a standard necessary to prove De Vere
wrote the 154 sonnets claimed to have been authored
Similarities in Edward De Veres verse to Shakespeares
suggest however that such a leap in poetry composing
was possible. Specifically six-line pentameter stanzas
in Venus and Adonis reoccur only in Edward
de Veres early poems and yet are not repeated
by other poets of Shakespeares time. Both Joseph
Sobran and J. Thomas Looney have noted the close similarities
in form between Edward De Veres work and that
claimed to be Shakespeares.
Edward De Veres knowledge of Elizabethan Courts
and his superior education.
It is recognized by Oxfordians and Stratfordians alike
that writing about royal courts, Italy and law required
a certain prerequisite level of education. Edward De
Vere fits the bill here since he is known to have graduated
from Cambridge University at age 14, becoming master
of arts at age of 16. Furthermore in view of plays like
The Merchant of Venice which discussed law, De
Vere studied law at Gray's Inn. Account books clearly
showed that Edward De Vere had an extensive library
underlining his qualifications to write as knowledgeably
Underlining this argument is the fact that Venus
and Adonis, derived from Ovid's Metamorphoses,
could only have been possible with Arthur Goldings
translation of this work. Arthur Golding was Edward
De Veres uncle and his translation was said to
be dedicated to Edward De Vere.
To further prove that Edward De Vere was qualified
to write settings ascribed to Shakespeare, Edward De
Vere is known to have traveled to Italy in the 1570s,
putting him in an ideal position to write knowledgeably
about Venice (The Merchant of Venice / Othello).
Similarities between Edwards life and the
Similarities between Edward De Veres life and
Hamlet suggest that Hamlet was almost an autobiographical
play about the Earls life. Notably Polonius
line of "young men falling out at tennis" is
believed to refer autobiographically to Edward De Veres
notorious tennis court squabble with Sidney. Notably
Edward De Veres father-in-law, William Cecil,
Lord Burghley is said to be have been parodied as the
character Polonius. Only a person intimately knowledgeable
of Lord Burghleys life could parody this man convincingly
Furthermore only Edward De Vere fits the historical
assertion in sonnet 125 that Shakespeare "bore the
canopy" over Queen Elizabeth in her victory celebration
over the defeat of the Spanish Armada.
The parallels continue between Edward De Veres
life and subject matter in Henry IV, Part One. It is
known that in 1573 Edward De Vere and company did routinely
play practical jokes on ill-fated travelers on the same
stretch of road as Prince Hal does in the play.
The similarities between life and sonnets, continues
as Edward De Veres poem "Anne Vavasor's Echo",
composed for Anne Vavasor is likely to have been
the elusive "dark lady" of the Shakespeares
sonnets. Furthermore, Anne Vavasors Echo
has more than a passing resemblance to the echo verses
in Venus and Adonis.
Edward de Veres nickname resembles "Shakespeare".
At court, Edward De Vere was nicknamed "Spear-shaker"
due to of his ability both at tournaments and because
his coat of arms featured a lion brandishing a spear.
Perhaps coincidentally, Edward De Vere lived in the
same area as Shakespeare, his Bilton Hall home being
the Avon River and the Forest of Arden on another.
Problems for Edward De Vere...
De Vere died too early to complete the later plays.
A large problem for Edward De Vere authoring Shakespeares
work is the fact that he died in 1604. This was before
roughly 12 plays ascribed to Shakespeare were composed.
However even Sir Edmund K. Chambers, a noted Stratfordian,
agrees that the standard dating of Shakespeares
play is sketchy at best.
Tudor Aristocrats had no need to write under nom de
A standard line for why Edward De Vere used the nom
de plume of Shakespeare was to avoid breaking an aristocratic
convention not to write. Unfortunately we now know that
aristocrats such as Edward De Vere did publish and without
fear of breaking convention. It appears that this convention
was weakly enforced and that aristocratic publishing
was frowned upon rather than punished, this convention
weakening entirely in Elizabethan times to which Edward
De Vere belonged.
The recent Shakespeare Clinic, under the direction
of Robert Valenza and Ward Elliott (Claremont-McKenna
College), found little match between Edward De Veres
poetry and William Shakespeare's.