Monday, October 31, 2011

Marlowe and Bacon and Shakespeare

Marlowe and Bacon and Shakespeare

Here are some quotes that support the connection between Marlowe and Shakespeare:

What Shakespeare scholars say about Marlowe:

“For nearly two centuries, the closeness of the work of Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare has been an accepted fact of Shakespearean scholarship.”

“Shakespeare seems to be very much aware of what Marlowe is up to and chooses to plot a parallel course, virtually stalking his rival’
Shapiro, James. 1991. Rival Playwrights: Marlowe, Jonson and Shakespeare. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, p.103

“The two men may have been acquainted; certainly Shakespeare knew Marlowe’s work and responded to it in his own first efforts.”
Schoenbaum, Samuel. 1977. William Shakespeare: A Compact Documentary Life. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, p.166

It’s acknowledged observations like this that support the Marlowe as the real Shakespeare theory. There are many more quotes like these here:

Now, let’s look at some other very interesting findings from a book and an article on Marlowe (links will follow):

As you probably all know, Christopher Marlowe worked as a spy for Sir Francis Walsingham. Marlowe for a time was receiving funds from one or more patrons. But that money dried up. Walsingham died on 6 April 1590 and with this “the state’s funding all but dried up, and payment to Marlowe ….would have ended in April or May.” No one was appointed to replace Walsingham. His spies, and maybe some of Lord Burghley’s (William Cecil) “were defecting to serve the young earl of Essex.”  Francis Bacon, in his own words, had “knitted” his brother Anthony to Essex after Anthony returned from the continent, and had not received government support after working for 10 years as one of its agents.  “Individual councilors paid out of pocket for intelligence-gathering operations while Burghley fretted over costs.”

[An aside: Anthony Bacon, older brother to Francis, was responsible for receiving and sending intelligence reports over much of Europe through a network of spies that he established during his ten years abroad. Indeed, Anthony in the few short years since his arrival back in England in 1592 had managed to set up and operate one of the most sophisticated spy networks. It was at this point that the Earl began to climb the stairway to power. Their rivals couldn't match them in their ability to seek and find valuable information which Essex presented to Elizabeth and her council. As a result Essex was offered a seat in the Privy Council. ]   

“He [Marlowe] had been drawn into the group of men working for Essex via Anthony Bacon.”  So he joins Anthony and Francis Bacon, the Earl of Southampton, along with Walter Raleigh and Thomas Hariot (mentioned in the Shakespeare’s Hamlet posts) and other intellectuals.

“Marlowe was probably an atheist”.  Marlowe was said to have discussed atheist literature and arguments with Raleigh. One of Marlowe’s accusers, Baines, (another former agent of Walsingham)  “claimed that Marlowe had once said  ‘Moses was a juggler and that one Hariot being Sir Walter Raleigh’s man can do more than he.’ Thomas Hariot (again one of Francis Bacon’s fellow intellectuals) “was a Renaissance intellect, interested in plants, agriculture, the anthropology of newly discovered countries, navigation, mathematics, optics, weather, astronomy, astrology, religion. He gave great offence with his views on Genesis and his saying thatex nihilo nihil fit’ --Nothing will come of nothing’, is repeated in Shakespeare’s King Lear.

Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus, “Cast as a secular play there could be no retribution in the plot, since Faustus’s agenda is the secret secular agenda of Raleigh, Hariot, Bacon and I suspect Marlowe himself. As a play about the new science it would have cast a further shadow of suspicion over Raleigh and others. Marlowe anticipates an atheistic, scientific, imperialist age. It is already around him in the freethinking Raleigh, in the efforts of Raleigh’s friend Hariot, in Dee, Hakluyt, Gilbert. Hariot corresponded with Kepler and knew Galileo’s findings. Descartes later read Hariot’s work. Raleigh sponsors, and Bacon consolidates, the message. It is experimental science as its own authority, leading to ‘new inventions and powers’.”   

[a note here that Francis Bacon did try to get support from King James, and maybe Queen Elizabeth before him,  for his vision of government supported scientific research, like what the Royal Society later became.]

Dr Faustus is another Marlowe text that Shakespeare used as source. Prospero is just such a magician whose book teaches him like Faustus ‘the framing of this circle on the ground’ that ‘brings whirlwinds, tempests, thunder and lightning.’ Prospero gives up his art, understanding the religious message of Marlowe’s play, to end in Protestant, almost Puritan orthodoxy. ‘Oh, something soundeth in mine ears, ‘Abjure this magic, turn to God again!’’ says Faustus;  ‘this rough magic I here abjure’ says Prospero. Faustus is warned that his sins ‘no comiseration may expel, but mercy, Faustus.....Then call for mercy, and avoid despair.’ And Prospero does just that in his final speech. ‘And my ending is despair unless I be reliev’d by prayer, which pierces so that it assaults mercy itself and frees all faults.’ Prospero takes Faustus’s fate seriously, and in doing so tries to redeem the spirit of the new learning, hallow the hidden agenda of Marlowe’s play, the illicit magic of the scientific project.”  

“In short, Marlowe’s historic achievement was to marry great poetry to the drama; his was the originating genius. William Shakespeare never forgot him: in his penultimate, valedictory play, The Tempest, he is still echoing Marlowe’s phrases.”
Rowse, A. L. 1973. Shakespeare: The Man. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press. (1988 reprinting) p.43

So, we have:

Marlowe connected with Francis Bacon and the Essex group along with the side group of Bacon’s science circle of Raleigh, Hariot, Warner, and others. With this being the case, and with all the evidence for Bacon as Shakespeare presented here, it’s not hard to see the mutual influences between them. Bacon would have easy access to Marlowe’s poetry and plays and may have influenced them as well as having improved his own literary skill from discussing these topics with Marlowe. [I’ve posted here earlier where Bacon described the experience of someone coming for advice on their poetry.] Bacon would be exposed to Marlowe’s style and as Bacon was known to imitate and improve on others language, he could do this with Marlowe too.  

There are play sources that Marlowe had access to that ‘Shakespeare’ also used. For example, Hecatommithi was a book listed by Anthony Bacon as belonging to a spy named or code-named Le Doux, whom the Marlovians say could have been Marlowe. This book “contains tales that anticipate the plots of Measure for Measure and Othello. They were translated from Italian into French and Spanish by Shakespeare's time, but not into English. That raises the question of how William Shakespeare of Stratford could have accessed them.Francis Bacon may have just borrowed the book and others from Marlowe, though he might as easily got them elsewhere . [Note: see the many parallels between Bacon and Shakespeare on Measure for Measure in another Baconian topic here.]

Now, in the letters of Anthony Bacon it is said that “The earl of Essex having engag’d Monsieur Le Doux, a French gentleman, who had come to England to serve him as an intelligencer from abroad, …”. So the argument, apparently, is that Marlowe, after having a falsified death in May of 1593, was given (in Anthony Bacon’s private intelligence letters) a false name and nationality, and now began to write the Shakespeare plays from the continent and send them to England. Except that in 1595 he was back in England and staying with some of Bacon’s friends for a time, before heading back overseas. (The Marlovians aren’t entirely sure about this so there are a couple other hypothesized new identities that they think he may have taken.) If “Le Doux” wasn’t Marlowe then he may at least have been a good source of knowledge and maybe books for Francis Bacon. Essex also had asked Le Doux that if he had the opportunity to travel to Italy, that, among other things, he should “take a little pains to draw up particular descriptions of every principality of Italy, specifying in each of them the following points, ….the grandeur and extent of them: The revenues, and whence they arise; the strong places, with their garrisons; what number of soldiers are maintain’d by each state; the sea ports; the great rivers and famous cities in each principality; the commodities  produc’d by each country, and whither they are exported; what merchandises they import from abroad, and from whence; what laws or customs each state is governed by, and what counselors and officers the prince most employs.

[Another aside:  various people mentioned in intelligence correspondence had code names, as shown in the correspondence of Anthony Bacon with his network. So ‘Le Doux’ is thought (in Marlovian theory) to have been the code name for Marlowe. ‘Achates’ was a regular contact named Mr. David Foulis, James VI ambassador to Elizabeth. King James was in regular correspondence with Anthony Bacon and Essex. ‘Tacitus’ was, according to Anthony’s decipherment, ‘the king of Scots’ [James VI]. ‘Plato’ was the code name for the Earl of Essex. ‘Solon’ was one of Queen Elizabeth’s ambassadors.  This is taken from: 
Memoirs of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, from the year 1581 till her death. In which the secret intrigues of her court, and the conduct of her favourite, Robert earl of Essex, both at home and abroad, are particularly illustrated. From the original papers of... Anthony Bacon, esquire, and other manuscripts never before published. By Thomas Birch, 1754.]

As mentioned previously, parallels between Marlowe and Shakespeare’s The Tempest have also been shown. Some parallels between Bacon and Shakespeare’s The Tempest are so striking that by themselves have been offered as one proof of common authorship. You can see these under the Baconian Evidence topic of ‘Parallels’.

What is, then, the explanation for the reference to Marlowe’s death in Shakespeare’s As You  Like It?:  “For example, how can Touchstone's words 'When a man's verses cannot be understood, nor a man's good wit seconded with the forward child, understanding, it strikes a man more dead than a great reckoning in a little room' (As You Like It, 3.3.9-12) be a tribute to Marlowe, as commentators suggest? As Agnes Latham wonders in the Arden (second series) edition of the play, 'nobody explains why Shakespeare should think that Marlowe's death by violence was material for a stage Jester.'”

The answer to this may be that, assuming Bacon wrote the play, that he was, as usual, using a jester character to speak some truth. And that truth is that when a wise person tries to impart some of his wisdom, as in a philosophical observation, and the listeners don’t understand it, then that is a loss. And though the loss is non-physical, it is somewhat parallel to one’s physical death. This would be because, philosophically, good ideas that can advance society are as or more important than a physical life.

Bacon can be seen, in the play reference, as recognizing his literary peer and free-thinking associate or friend. In contrast, there is no known connection between William of Stratford and Christopher Marlowe.

I hope to have more time to read more of the Marlovian literature. It may show many more connections to Bacon and his circle.

Here are other links I used:

Christopher Marlowe: poet & spy by Park Honan

A last thought. One of the theories of Marlowes ‘supposed’ death is that he was murdered through the orders of the Cecil group. Well, after Walsingham died, Marlowe seems to have rejected the Cecil circle to join with Essex, whose star was then rising. Anthony Bacon had joined with Essex partly for the same reason. Part of the reason Anthony couldn’t make his fortunes at court after returning from the continent as an intelligencer was that “he met with a still more considerable obstruction from the jealousy of his own uncle, [William Cecil] the lord treasurer, and his cousin Sir Robert Cecil, who resented his early attachment, as well as that of his brother [Francis], to the earl of Essex, between whom and the Cecil’s there was an irreconcilable opposition.” Cecil, in 1592, had some kind of talk and probably admonishment for Marlowe for his alleged involvement in counterfeiting. And now Marlowe had associated with the Cecil’s political opposition, as one more agent for Essex. And, in addition, involved himself in irreligious activities and propangda, at least of the kind that the Cecil’s didn’t approve. If Marlowe was assassinated, it’s not hard to see why.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

John Hudson - Response to Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Shakespeare Bites Back:

A Reply by John Hudson

Today, on 28th October 2011,  Stanley Wells and  Paul Edmondson  of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust responded to the opening of  Roland Emmerich’s movie Anonymous by publishing a 40 page pamphlet. They called  it  Shakespeare Bites Back:  Not So Anonymous.  There is an old English proverb “Barking Dogs Seldom Bite.” This pamphlet shows very clearly that the case for Shakespeare is all bark and no bite. Indeed it seems almost completely toothless.

On one point we are in agreement: that who wrote the plays does matter. As the pamphlet states, to claim that the plays were written by someone who did not in fact write them “is to deny history, the nature of historical evidence, and also to sever from the works any understanding of the humanity and personality behind them… we want to know as much as possible about the  artist responsible for the work.”  Yet  it is precisely in  such a distortion of historical evidence that the Trust‘s representatives are engaged.

The strategy that they adopt in their pamphlet is two-fold. Their first strategy is to put forward biased and misleading evidence in support of their candidate. The writers claim to be objective, yet there is no such thing as total objectivity. Good researchers acknowledge this and declare their biases. Wells and Edmondson do not do so. Instead they express surprise that they are accused of being biased because they support the truth claims of their organization, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. With assets of at least 20 million pounds, this is a significant entity  with which they are both affiliated, in the capacities of Chairman and as Head of Learning and Research--- the latter being presumably a paid position. The buildings that the organization operates are Stratford-Upon-Avon’s leading tourist attraction. So far from being objective, Wells and Edmondson are engaged in a rather belated public relations exercise, creating propaganda to support their organization’s financial interests which are increasingly coming under competitive threat from those advocating alternative candidates for the Authorship.

[note: this may explain the increasing censorship of posts that the Oxfordians and myself have experienced recently on some websites.]

The writers wonder why so many lawyers and several Supreme Court justices are interested in the Authorship Question. The answer is that it is the job of lawyers to understand the nature of evidence. Many of them, therefore, are sensitive to the fact that the case put forward for William Shakespeare’s authorship does not satisfy the most basic requirements for valid evidence.

This “evidence” has two main problems. Firstly, Wells and Edmondson detail, correctly and at length, that the name William Shakespeare appears on the quartos and on the First Folio. Yet, unfortunately for their case, that was not the original baptismal name of the man from Stratford. His baptismal name, as they know perfectly well, was Gulielmus Shakspere. They need to demonstrate how and why and when he changed his name to William Shakespeare. Furthermore, the appearance of a person’s name on the cover of a literary work does not necessarily prove that the work was actually written by that individual. Many works have been published under pseudonyms and allonyms, and they have deceived millions of people. For instance, Wells and Edmondson refer to the “novels of Mark Twain” as literature that was based on biographical life experience. That is correct, except “Mark Twain”  was a pseudonym,  concealing  the author’s true name,  which was Samuel Clemens. So the appearance on the cover of the name that the Man from Stratford supposedly adopted does not demonstrate in any way that he wrote the Shakespearean works.

Next, as if this is supposed to hold some weight, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s advocates list a number of contemporaries who believed that the Man from Stratford wrote these works. Unfortunately the belief of  contemporaries does not mean they were necessarily  correct in  that belief. Many people in the 16th century believed that the world was flat. It is not.  Many contemporaries of Samuel Clemens, and evidently  some  misguided people today, believe that Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was written by Mark Twain. They are not correct either.

Evidently, Wells and Edmondson have made the most basic errors in understanding  the nature of historical evidence. To substantiate their case that the Man From Stratford wrote these plays, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust need to document what lawyers call the “chain of custody” between the alleged action of Mr. Shakespeare in composing these works, his giving the play manuscripts to the actors, and their appearance in print.

Such evidence could take many forms. It might be letters from persons who had actually watched Mr. Shakespeare during the process of composition. Or, as an alternative, one might accept data that showed that the collaborator John Fletcher was actually in the same room at the same time as William Shakespeare was composing his part of the collaborative plays. Unfortunately, no such evidence exists. Rather, as Gordon McMullan remarks in his introduction to the Arden edition of King Henry VIII, the proposition that Shakespeare worked on a scene simultaneously with a collaborator is regarded by Shakespeareans as “generally anathema”.

Yet another, less satisfactory, way of establishing a “chain of custody” would be to show that the rare knowledge in the plays—knowledge of the Court, Denmark, feminism, astronomy, Judaism, the Talmud, Italian geography, the town of Bassano, Hebrew, rare plants, music, the Northern dialect to name just a few—is precisely matched in Mr. Shakespeare’s biographical record.  The Shakespearean Birthplace Trust representatives do not put forward this evidence either—and for a very good reason. No such evidence exists.

Finally, we turn to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s second strategy, which is to dismiss evidence for competing candidates and to suppress inquiry. In responding to those who advocate for other authorship candidates, the Trust’s polemical PR  pamphlet instructs their supporters as follows: “Don’t start arguing against an individually named alternative; start by reminding the person putting forward the claim that their preferred nominee is in no way more valid than any of the others.”  This represents a denial  at the outset—regardless of what  evidence might be put forward—that the evidence for any candidate could be superior to that for any other of the 70-odd  authorship candidates. This is an extraordinary instruction to deny the validity of evidence. It is, however, compatible with  Stanley Wells’s suggestion in his article in  The Stage on 27 September 2007. There he insisted that the “proper reaction” to the plays is to be full of wonder that Shakespeare wrote them, and  not to ask how he could have done so. In other words, Professor Wells seeks to suppress critical inquiry.

As a graduate of the Shakespeare Institute at the University of Birmingham, of which Dr. Wells used to be the director, I am disappointed by his failure to meet normal scholarly standards of argument. I am equally disappointed that the Institute’s incoming director, Dr. Paul Edmondson, has joined him in this biased polemic against free academic inquiry.

John Hudson is Director of the Dark Lady Players, an experimental theater company which  advocates that  the author of the plays was Amelia Bassano Lanier (1569-1645).

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Shakespeare's Italian and Hebrew

Shakespeare's Italian and Hebrew

As many of you have probably heard, there have been 77 alternative candidates mentioned as possibly the Real author of the Shakespeare works. That’s right – 77! Why not make it an even 78? Let’s also nominate Dudley Do-Right!  There you go, now there are 78 alternative candidates!  We could probably go even higher but 78 is a nice round number and besides, pretty soon people may eventually want to start seeing the evidence for all these candidates, and there’s the rub, as they say.

In any case, one of the newer candidates is for Amelia Bassano Lanier

I have not read much of the evidence for her as the ‘Real’ Shakespeare. But I’ve just come across a nice article on some of this evidence from John Hudson. This evidence is quite relevant to the authorship question. I’ll provide a link to his article at the end of this post. In his article SHAKESPEARES ITALIAN AND HEBREW: EVIDENCE THE PLAYS WERE WRITTEN BY AMELIA BASSANO LANIER, John Hudson gives evidence of some of the Italian sources and language as well as of Hebrew that has been found in Shakespeare.
Here are a few excerpts. He writes that:

Established literary research shows that the author of the Shakespearean plays read the following sources in Italian; Dante, Tassoʼs Aminta & Jerusalem Liberated, Bandelloʼs Novella, Cinthioʼs Epitia & Hecatommithi, also Il Pecorone, Il Filostrato, Aretinoʼs Il Marescalo and Filosofo, GlʼIngannati, Il Novellino, Il Cesare, an Italian 1530 translation of Plautus’ Mostellaria and possibly both Di Sommi’s Quattro Dialoghi and the manuscript of Scala’s Flavio Tradito.

[See also: Shakespeare’s Knowledge of Aretino’s Plays in which the it is shown that “Shakespeare knew Italian”]:

[note: I’ve previously posted on Shakespeare’s knowledge of Italian, Italian plays, and Italy, but further confirmation is always welcome.]

(Back to Hudson, he writes:)

For example one of the Sonnets echoes Boccaccioʼs famous prayer to his Muse. In Il Filistrato the master poet promises his Muse that if he is successful “thine shall be the honour and mine shall be the labour, if these words shall any praise acquire”;

“Tuo sia lʼonore e mio si sia affano
se i detti alcuna laude acquisteranno”.

Sonnet 38 ends with the very same sentiments, as if the author had paraphrased a direct translation from the Italian “If my slight Muse doe please these curious daies the paine be mine, but thine shall be the praise”

The Use of Hebrew (Hudson continues):

Concerning the playwrightʼs ability to read Hebrew, in an article in Shakespeare Survey, Schelomo Jehuda Schöenfeld observed that in The Merchant of Venice Portia says “I am lockʼd” (3,2,40) and “I am containʼd” (2,8,5) in one of the caskets. These are intriguing statements because it is her portrait that is inside the casket and not Portia herself. But a Hebrew speaker would know that PoRTiaʼs name in Hebrew is spelt PRT. They would see the lead casket, know that the word ʻleadʼ in Hebrew is YPRT (opheret--the first letter is a soundless ʼayin), and realize that the Hebrew pun shows that Portia (PRT) is contained inside the lead. Schöenfeldʼs article gives many more examples.

In addition, Florence Amit has found spoken Hebrew hidden in the nonsense language used in Allʼs Well That Ends Well. The interpreter says to Parolles, "Boskos vauvado. I understand thee, and can speak thy tongue. Kerely-bonto, sir, betake thee to thy faith..." (4,1,75-77). In the allegory in the play Parolles is a Jew. Not surprisingly, then, the nonsense language the interpreter is speaking is actually Hebrew. If translated, the interpreter is saying something that makes sense in the context of the play. B'oz K'oz means “In bravery like boldness” and Vah vado means “And in his surety” (vah = and; vado = vad, meaning ʻsure,ʼ plus an ʻoʼ ending for ʻhisʼ). And so we get: "In bravery like boldness, and in surety, I understand thee, and can speak thy tongue.” Similarly, Kʼerli, “I am aware” (ki =since, erli = er, aware, li = grammatical suffix meaning “to me”) and bʼon to; his deception (b'on(na) = deception, with the grammatical ending ʻoʼ meaning his. Thus, “I am aware of his deception sir, betake thee to thy faith..."

The playwright’s use of the Mishnah is identified in a study by Alan Altimont, and published in Notes and Queries. [Examples follow in the article online].

Finally, in his book Shakespeare’s Judaica and Devices David Baschhias identified around a dozen allusions in the plays to the Talmud. However this work did not go through the scholarly peer-review process of a university press. Similarly Florence Amit has identified dozens of Hebrew transliterations in the plays, in her article ‘Apples of gold Enclosed in Silver’ published in Mentalities=Mentalities (2002) volume 17, the Journal of the Institute for the Histories of the Mentalities in New Zealand. This publication is not a Shakespearean journal so the article has not been peer reviewed by Shakespeare scholars. Although this additional evidence is suggestive, I base my case on the two published examples which have appeared in the recognized critical journals, and the example from All’s Well That Ends Well.

Here’s the link to the whole article:

It helps to remember also that, according to James Shapiro “There’s no way that Shakespeare could have bought or borrowed even a fraction of the books that went into the making of his plays.” (1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare). So Shapiro thinks that William Shakspere prowled the bookshops and took notes (or just remembered everything in all the books he browsed through), and in that way he learned to read Italian, Hebrew, Greek and Spanish, and then read all his poem and play sources in these shops. (And maybe that’s where he studied Law and enjoyed reading dense legal treatises in old French!).

In contrast, we know that Bacon was tutored in several languages beginning in his youth and studied languages at Trinity College, and that Hebrew was one of these languages. His mother was fluent in many languages, and at least owned a Hebrew bible, so likely she also knew that language as well. Something more to think about.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

More Contested Will rebuttals

Some more rebuttals to James Shapiro’s Contested Will.

One of his arguments is that if the Shakespeare works were pseudonymous that the name on them would necessarily have to be consistent. But I don’t see any reason why this should be a necessity. And if Bacon was Shakespeare, as shown in all the previous evidence presented here, it may have been that sometimes Bacon had some control of the printing of a work and used “Shake-speare” or “William Shake-speare”, and if he was too busy to take time to exert control on the printing, the printers may have left out the hyphen. But again, the name, without the hyphen, has already been associated with the name of Francis Bacon on the Northumberland manuscript, where “By Mr. Francis Bacon” is associated twice with “Your William Shakespeare”.

Shapiro implies that if someone used a pseudonym that they would want all readers to know that it was such. But he gives no reasoning on why he thinks a pseudonymous writer that wanted readers to know he was writing under a false name, would use a name like that of a known person, rather than something more obviously a pseudonym, like Voltaire or the like. But if the author didn’t want it to be very easily known by the average reader that he was writing under a pseudonym then that would explain why he used a name like that of a known person, and maybe also why he wouldn’t be too concerned if the printers/publishers used slight variations on it. Perhaps also, he used other means to allow readers to figure out who the true author was.

Another of Shapiro’s arguments is that with so many plays being written with parts that had to be performed well, that the playwright must have had a good acquaintance with both the theater design and especially the various actors, even boy actors for female roles, in order to fit the parts to the actors and vice versa. He argues that ONLY someone working for the theater company could have this inside knowledge. But the problem with this argument is that he has already undermined it by also arguing that this same theater playwright could have knowledge of the court world by having performed at court as an actor many times, thus giving the actor/playwright Shakspere the insight to that environment. Likewise, a playwright, like Bacon, not directly tied to a theater company, could know about many of the practicalities of putting on a play in a theater by walking through it and talking to the various actors and operators. He could also talk to them when they were outside the theater walking about, as at bookstalls, or at the court where they visited, or at Wilton house where the Chamberlain’s men are thought to have played. So, fitting parts for Will Kemp or his replacement Robert Armin may not have been an obstacle at all. And since we have reports of non-theater aristocrats or courtiers writing plays, we know that it was often done. This easily refutes Shapiro’s contention that ONLY “a long-term partner in an all-absorbing theatrical venture” could have been a playwright. It’s no more sensible than the opposite argument that “ONLY an aristocrat could have been the playwright”.  There might be a preponderance of the evidence that leans one direction or the other, but neither can be absolute.

Also, evidence showing that Shakespeare, whoever he was, often used stage directions in an amateurish way has already been presented here in the Troilus and Cressida section.

A last argument by Shapiro, which he seems to think is the greatest argument of all, is of a special epilogue written for a court performance of The Second Part of Henry the Fourth. In this epilogue there is Shakespeare himself speaking as the author of the play. When this play was earlier performed at The Curtain Theater in Shoreditch the epilogue was said by Will Kempe who had played Falstaff. But for various reasons it was changed for the Court performance before the Queen and all. In this court performance, the epilogue had been changed to read as follows:

First, my fear; then, my curtsy; last my speech. My fear is your displeasure. My curtsy, my duty. And my speech, to beg your pardons. If you look for a good speech now, you undo me. For what I have to say is of my own making. And what indeed (I should say) will (I doubt) prove my own marring. But to the purpose and so to the venture. Be it known to you, as it is very well, I was lately here in the end of a displeasing play, to pray your patience for it, and to promise a better. I meant indeed to pay you with this, which if (like an ill venture) it come unluckily home, I break, and you, my gentle creditors, lose. Here I promised you I would be, and here I commit my body to your mercies. Bate me some, and I will pay you some, and (as most debtors do) promise you infinitely. And so I kneel down before you; but indeed, to pray for the Queen. 

Shapiro argues that a) ONLY the true author could have said “For what I  have to say is of my own making.” Why he thinks that is strange since actors are highly trained to say things many times a day that are not “of their own making”.  And b) Shapiro says that the speech is “brassy and confident” and that it’s “inconceivable that any of the rival candidates for the authorship of the plays associated with the court could possibly have stood upon that stage at Whitehall Palace, publicly assuming the socially inferior role of player, and spoken these lines.”  Well, the answer to this is 1) actors can say a line in a “brassy and confident” manner. They do it all the time in many rehearsals and then in the performances before hundreds and thousands of spectators. And 2) neither Bacon, nor any other Courtier or Aristocrat author would be the actual person saying the lines, so it wouldn’t be they that would be acting the inferior social part, it would be the actor. Then c) Shapiro argues that “it is even harder, after reading these powerful and self-confident lines, to imagine the alternative, that the speaker, who claims to have written the play they just saw, was merely a mouthpiece for someone else in the room, and lying to both queen and court.” The answer to this is that, again it is not hard at all for an experienced actor to say lines in a “powerful and self-confident” way. After all, they regularly play the parts of kings, soldiers, and other high-ranking characters. And about them “lying to both the queen and court”. First of all, the whole play, and all their plays, are lies. So even the prologues and epilogues, being part of the plays, should not be expected to be truths, even in a court setting before the queen. And Bacon, knowing the queen very well, would also know whether or not he could get away with such an epilogue said by the actor William Shaksper.  This is not difficult to imagine at all, and yet this appears to be Shapiro’s ‘best’ evidence that William of Stratford was the playwright Shakespeare. He just seems to be grasping at straws for whatever circumstantial evidence he hopes the average reader will accept uncritically.

There’s a new pseudo-debate between ‘Anonymous’ director Roland Emmerich and Professor Stanley Wells.
Also of interest was an exchange between Emmerich and Shapiro, in which, according to an Oxfordian website:

At a public Q&A with Emmerich recently, Columbia University professor James Shapiro (Contested Will) tried to smear Emmerich with insinuations of Nazism -- a vile slander that provided a case-in-point of the desperation and intellectual bankruptcy that marks most Stratfordian rearguard actions today.