Shakspere Wrote Shakespeare !
that Shakspere wrote ‘Shakespeare’: he was a genius, arising with other writing talents just after Elizabeth’s reign began, and as Theatre began to demonstrate a new professionalism with the passing of the old religious, constantly moralizing traditions – the Morality plays, Mystery plays and Mummers’ plays; and the strolling players public performances, dependent on the goodwill of the local mayor; and the rewarding but by-invitation performances for the rich and nobility.
Shakspere was not alone, but one of many accomplished new poets, word-craftsmen with dramatic minds, well versed in the mores hominum, ways of mankind and in the ways of effective theatre; and that he was no Robert Greene, to sink hedonistic into dissolute death, but a practical, solid Taurean businessman who, Stratfordians believe, excelled and became rich and successful through his own literary genius and sure-touch in money matters AND his long association with the Lord Chamberlain’s Men.
An aristocrat wrote Shakespeare !
that someone else wrote ‘Shakespeare’ using Shakspere and his name, say the anti-Stratfordians: the aristocratic Francis Bacon, or the equally-noble Earls of Oxford, Derby, Rutland, or the very talented Countess of Pembroke? None (of the aristocracy) would wish/dare to be openly associated in Court with such ‘disdainful activities’ – disfavour would harm themselves, family, reputation or advancement. Anonymity was one path, but not one that ego could easily accept. Offer it to a theatre management anonymously and, if the supply of anonymous plays continued, SOMEONE in management must have known identity. Humans love gossip and in the theatre’s insecurities, especially so! Secrets of this kind are not kept anonymous. And thus chosen as a ‘front man’, the mere actor/occasional writer Shakspere would gratefully act as a go-between, accept their writings, their patronage and their secret payments (and his own greater earnings, as his ‘theatrical prosperity’ increased) for use of his name thus. However, against this is the fact that the ‘rustic front-man’ is unlikely to be an ‘authority’ figure during rehearsals and in face of actors’ demands for explanation/direction. It would have so easily become an ‘open secret’ known in so many quarters.
Shakspere as collaborator, then a patron appeared !
* that for a while, say from 1585, he worked as the author-beginner among the new band of professionals who arose from after 1570 – the University ‘Wits’ – Lyly, Lodge, Peele, Greene, Nashe, Marlowe; and those of ‘lesser education’ – ‘the grammarians’: Kyd and Shakspere/Shakespeare, Chettle and the later Jonson, Decker and Fletcher. BUT collaboration, between the young Shakspere and the’wits’ was, according to divided scholarly opinion today, surely a non-starter. He was influenced by Lyly and Peele, then Kyd and Marlowe. All these poet-playmaker-writers were toiler, factotum, poorly esteemed, poorly rewarded, whatever their education, Cambridge or Oxford, or the grammar school. ‘Many minds’ may be detected in the plays attributed to Shakspere, but acceptance of HIS rising genius in his time was grudging and jealousy certain.
It was – as indeed was the sub-stratum of the Elizabethan period – alive, imaginative, assertive, expansionist, but also a veritable poisonous, rivalrous environment. Greene, from 1587 and Nashe from 1589, were always envious, spiteful and vindictive, particularly in 1592 to the ‘upstart crow’, Shakspere, ‘patronising his betters’. How sad, in that Greene was inventive, a good writer, better than his subsequent reputation. Lyly and Lodge were pointedly in other directions (Lyly associated closely with the Earl of Oxford, Lodge with Peele and Greene). Peele was associated with Greene, and Marlowe was his own secret. Chettle spoke warmly on Shakespeare but the others were young on the scene. Shakspere, perhaps five years with a troupe, learning and practising his acting and playmaking, and now permanent in London, was apparently alone. A rising genius… some praise arising, but also jealousy rampant.
Today theories of collaboration are fraught with opinion, theory, invention pressed into, as its own evidence, unevidenced, even imaginary….
True, an insatiable demand for ‘new’ plays resulted in some ‘serial collaboration’; out of the classical past came the reworking of old plays, and new ideas and material taken up from any literary source – there was no copyright. Shakspere may or may not, in his early days, have been the ‘final author’ but he needed SOME help? True, he ‘borrowed’, such practices were rife and he would have been no exception, at the beginning. He borrowed from George Gascoigne, for The Taming of A Shrew, then The Shrew (the plot Bianca-Lucentio); Gascoigne’s work was based on Ariosto’s I Suppositi, in turn finding sources in Plautus and Terence.
There is little real evidence, except the ‘reading of the tea-leaves’, truth often comes by graceful intuition. Shakspere/Shakespeare was diligent, persistent and conscientious as a reviser of his work. If we accept him as a young, developing genius, there would have been, later in his career, surely no need for collaboration – except briefly with Fletcher.
The success of Henry VI, 1 or 2 whatever, a total of some 10,000 attendances March to April1592, saw ‘Shakespeare’ outdo Marlowe’s Tamburlaine. If no patron before this, there would have been one then?
But, surely, before and during this enormous breakthrough, there was a hidden patron? No man is an island. If there was no one supporting collaborator, much might be due to his first patron, either financially or intellectually? And had that relationship begun earlier?
The dedications on the narrative poems published in 1593 and 1994 posit that the patron might well have been Henry Wriothesley, third Earl of Southampton (there is rumour of £1,000 gift – x £156 or more in today’s values). Venus and Adonis received “no intimation of disfavour” – it was not withdrawn in ten re-printings over ten years afterwards. But, note, both my Lord Oxford and the brilliant Bacon were connected with Southampton.
Shakspere as willing conspirator and ‘outlet’
that one patron/organiser acted as the channel and hidden director for a small group of talented aristocratic writers, fearful of exposure (though often funding their own theatrical troupes!), who supplied playscripts and poetry offered to the exceptionally talented Shakspere who adjusted their efforts to meet his own imaginative and theatre standards, and incorporated all within his own plays.
And seeming praise of him as “Our English Terence” is doubled-edged in that Terence, “the impoverished Roman writer”, was suspected of passing off works by aristocrats under his own name. Terence in fact was often used to refer to hidden Roman poets, much seeking anonymity as did Elizabethan nobles. Shakspere/Shakespeare retired a rich man continuing his cloak of anonymity.
To the anti-Stratfordians, but unproven, his career had been that of a hired hack (as for the most part, film writers were in Hollywood’s 1920s to 1950s). Whatever, his efforts were very well rewarded: as he had noted in his later use of “For they say, if money goes before, all ways do lie open” which must have been his philosophy and comfort in being able to buy the mansion New Place, Stratford after only say nine or ten years work. And echoed Bacon’s belief: “Money is like manure, of very little use except it be spread”. Later, not to be left out, Mozart said that “Money, after good health, is the best thing to have.”
Shakespeare groomed for stardom !
that Shakspere was singled out early on as a young poet and dramatic writer of superior quality; that he was educated and groomed for stardom; that he was an apprenticeship actor, during which he developed play ideas and plays; that people noticed his innate, universal wisdom; and all were brought under one over-arching aim, in which he and his mentor and financier agreed, and on which they never fell out: his talent was freely acknowledged, and he agreed to his literary consciousness being directed under an even larger, more stellar intellect than his own….
He intended to use drama to bring the world, inner and outer, upon the stage, is one modern view of intention. ”Imagination is the eye of the mind. It is the work of imagination to receive information from the senses, so as to present it to the reason, and then when reason has made its judgement and decision, to convey that decree to the Will, which ensures the action.”
This is Shakspere/Shakespeare speaking? No, it is Francis Bacon. Truth is ancient and modern. Indeed, eternal for Mankind. If either man knew of the Vedas, ancient knowledge of India, they could not have translated Mind’s environment better. The plays of Shakspere/Shakespeare reflect it, Bacon wrote the outline.