Shakespeare in Stratford and London: Ten Eyewitnesses Who Saw Nothing - Part 12
by Ramon L. Jiménez
To sum up: we have the literary remains of ten different eyewitnesses, eight of whom must have come into contact with William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon—or should have if he were the actor and playwright we are told he was—and two who met his daughter Susanna. If two or three of these ten eyewitnesses had failed to associate the well-known playwright with the man bearing the same name in Stratford-upon-Avon, it would not be worth mentioning. But none of these ten, all of whom left extensive written records, apparently connected the man they knew, or the daughter of that man, with the well-known playwright.
We can be sure that if any one of these ten people had, just once, referred to William Shakespeare of Stratford as a playwright, or if his name had appeared in Henslowe’s Diary, just once, as being paid for a play, then those who reject the Stratford theory would have a lot of explaining to do. In fact, there is no record of anyone associating Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon with playwrighting or any other kind of writing until the questionable front matter of the First Folio seven years after his death. Instead, the facts support the argument that the name Shakespeare was the pseudonym of a concealed author who did not write for money, did not sell his plays to playing companies or publishers, and was indifferent to their appearance in print.
Given the mystery of William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon, it is instructive to recall a similar instance of negative evidence in the well-known mystery story “Silver Blaze,” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In this case Sherlock Holmes was called to a small town in Dartmoor where a racehorse had been stolen, and its trainer murdered. One of the clues that enabled Holmes to solve the case was his observation that at the time of the theft the dog guarding the stable failed to bark. In the usual run-up to the solution, the horse’s owner became impatient with Holmes, and asked him,
“Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
“To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time,” Holmes replied.
“The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
“That is the curious incident,” remarked Sherlock Holmes.
Holmes deduced that the silence of the dog meant that the horsethief was familiar to him, that there was nothing unusual about him—nothing to bark about. The silence of these ten eyewitnesses tells us the same thing. To them there was nothing about William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon that was worthy of note—nothing to bark about.