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"Shakespeare" by Another Name: The Life of Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, the Man Who Was Shakespeareby Mark Anderson
Synopses & Reviews
A triumph of literary detective work about the true author of the works of Shakespeare.
William Shaksper of Stratford was an actor and entrepreneur who had little education, never left England, and apparently owned no books. In the centuries since his death more and more questions have arisen about the true source of the plays and poetry conventionally attributed to him. Now journalist Mark Anderson's page-turning and groundbreaking new biography, "Shakespeare" by Another Name, offers tantalizing proof that it was the 17th Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere — a courtier, spendthrift, scholar, traveler, scoundrel, patron, and prolific ghostwriter of state propaganda — who actually created this timeless body of work.
Weaving together a wealth of evidence uncovered in ten years of research, Anderson brings to life a colorful figure whose biography presents countless mirror images of the works of Shakespeare. De Vere lived in Venice during his twenties — racking up debt with the city's money — lenders (Merchant of Venice); his notorious jealousy of his first wife spawned both self-critical works (Othello, The Winter's Tale) and self-mocking japes (The Comedy of Errors); an extramarital affair led to courtly disgrace (Much Ado About Nothing) as well as street fighting between his supporters and rivals (Romeo and Juliet). Anderson contends that the only way de Vere's compromising works — including brutally honest portraits of the powerful elite at Queen Elizabeth I's court — could ever be published was under another man's name.
Anderson, a contributor to Wired and Harper's, is only the latest to champion Edward de Vere, the 17th earl of Oxford, as the author of Shakespeare's works. The hypothesis rests chiefly on the charismatic de Vere's eventful life and times. De Vere came into his earldom early, after his father's unexpected death, and spent his childhood as a ward of Queen Elizabeth's chief minister, William Cecil, whom Anderson casts as Polonius to de Vere's Hamlet. Cecil provided de Vere with a first-rate education that prepared him for his travels in Italy and his short-lived success in Elizabeth's court, which the earl undermined by fighting with fellow courtier Philip Sidney, impregnating one of Elizabeth's maids-of-honor and general profligacy. Anderson slows down his account by constantly equating events and people in de Vere's life with almost every character and scene in Shakespeare's plays. The earl's inconvenient death in 1604, however, requires Anderson to explain away all contemporary references in the last phase of Shakespeare's output with the same vehemence with which he found earlier coded identifications. The anti-Stratford movement currently favors the Oxfordians, who will eat this up; others will find it hard to swallow. (Aug. 22) (Copyright © Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Since the real Shakespeare is no longer around to stand up, such arguments are difficult to resolve. Anderson makes a spirited case, and even the staunchest anti-de Vere partisan will profit from hearing him out — though will likely remain unconvinced." Kirkus Reviews
"[Anderson's] proof — made up of coincidence and circumstantial evidence (none of it new) — fails to support his claims....The book is a pleasant read, but its treatment of the material is so selective and one-sided as to undermine its credibility." Library Journal
In this groundbreaking new biography, journalist Mark Anderson weaves together evidence uncovered in ten years of research to offer tantalizing proof that Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, actually created the timeless body of work attributed to William Shakespeare.
About the Author
Journalist Mark Anderson has devoted more than a decade to researching the life of Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, publishing articles on de Vere in Harper's, the Boston Globe, and on PBS.org. He has also been a contributing writer for Wired.
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