I’m not sure if I’m happy or sad about this. Seems just last week there was a 2 day Shakespeare conference right in my backyard (Watertown, MA). Unfortunately it was about Shakespeare Authorship - “mostly Oxfordians”, the post tells us. So perhaps it would not have been my cup of tea.
Not too much new under the sun, presentations by the author of The Monument:
It is Whittemore’s theory that Her Majesty was not the “virgin queen” she claimed to be. He maintains that Elizabeth in the late 1560s began an affair with Edward de Vere, and, after staying out of public view for six months, bore a son, Henry Wriothesley [pronounced Risly], 3rd Earl of Southampton (1573-1624). Henry would join Robert Devereux (1566-1601), 2nd Earl of Essex, in the so-called Essex Rebellion against the government in 1601. This failed, and Essex was beheaded as a traitor, while Henry was reprieved and imprisoned in the Tower until Elizabeth’s death (the “three winters cold” in Sonnet 104). Henry, as royal issue, could have claimed the throne as King Henry IX, last of the Tudors. The Sonnets are viewed as written by de Vere to his son, the dedication to “Mr. W.H.” reversing the initials to conceal the identity of the addressee.
and “Shakespeare By Another Name”:
He stated that the plays characterized people from de Vere’s life – which is plausible. Not so convincing was his statement that the author “stopped creating new work in 1604, stopped reading in 1604, stopped reporting in 1604.” He proposed that the standard chronology of the writings is “a polite fiction.”
What *is* new, at least to me, is the theory of poet Marie Merkel (author of a book on Titus Andronicus) that The Tempest, very late in Shakespeare’s life and very different from all other works, is in fact so different because it was written by …
…She also compiled several dozen words that occur in “The Tempest” and in Ben Jonson (1572-1637) but nowhere else in the Bard’s plays.
Her conclusion is that “The Tempest” was written by Jonson, who, she says, was still obsessed by this play in 1631. She doesn’t explain how Jonson came to provide his lengthy prefatory encomium to “my beloved, The AVTHOR Mr. William Shakespeare” in the 1623 First Folio of the plays, in which “The Tempest” was printed first. She is preparing a book on Jonson and the play, and will doubtless address this question.