Candidates for Shakespeare

Roger Manners

Roger Manners, 5th Earl of Rutland (1576 – 1612, aged 36) was “too young and unproven” to be Shakespeare, is the widely-held belief. Again, to be taken seriously, he would have had to be a literary genius in 1593 at the age of 16 (when Venus and Adonis was first published). There is no evidence of this. Nor was there evidence that this future “Courtier, nobleman, law student, classicist and linguist, sportsman, soldier, witness to a great storm at sea” had ever involved himself in poesy, theatre or players.

He was 11 when he began studies at Cambridge University and was recorded as being there for seven years until aged 18. By that date, Shakspere was 30 and had many plays completed and performed, and the Sonnets in being. It is commented that if Rutland had been Shakespeare and thus so prolific so young, how was this never witnessed or noticed?

On the credit side, through his long sojourn at the University, Rutland thus knew well the “Cambridge terminology” found in “Hamlet”, supposedly a rare knowledge. He visited Denmark and Elsinore, knew and was known by the royal Court there, which as King James’ ambassador he visited in 1603 for a royal christening.

A little on the bizarre side, as these searches for the Shakespeare Identity go, “Sherlock Holmes” (celebrated author Conan Doyle), was brought in to examine the case for Rutland. He said much as others: that Shakespeare was of the nobility, Courtier, classically-educated, spoke French and Italian, was a lawyer and so on... and he had witnessed a great storm at sea: Rutland did, during the sea crossing on returning from Denmark.

Visiting the ancestral Rutland home, Belvoir Castle, ‘Sherlock Holmes’ (Conan Doyle) pointed dramatically at the large wall painting of the young Rutland ... ”Shakespeare”, he declaimed.

Additional notable points

  • The 5th Earl inherited aged 12 when his father died. He was a royal ward under Lord Burghley, but the guardianship was undertaken by ... Francis Bacon
  • When aged 20, Rutland went abroad travelling – by which time some 14 plays, in the Shakespeare canon, were known and had been performed
  • In the family library, a Rutland researcher in 1900 found a cache of very old books, but more, paper records which said that the library in Shakespeare’s time contained a number of specific books - source books, which Shakespeare could have used in his research for the plays
  • At Belvoir is a ceiling fresco, a copy of Correggio’s Io and Jupiter, mentioned unexpectedly in The Taming of the Shrew
  • Rutland at 20 was at Padua University, in Italy, at the same time as students by name Rosencrantz and Guylderstern – who in turn were at the royal christening in 1603 ( and were in Shakespeare’s Hamlet)
  • The Danish connection is the strongest ‘proof’ in the case of Rutland as Shakespeare – and as a result the Earl finds favour, realistically, as ONE of the writers in the Shakespeare “writing group”
  • There is an even more mysterious claim: that Shakspere as Shakespeare accompanied the Rutland party to Elsinore in 1603. As with so much of this great Detective Mystery, nothing is proven

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© Brian Jarvis 2003-2011. All rights reserved


See also She Died Twice
A dramatisation of the story of the death of the Quaker Mary Dyer in 1660


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