Century-long speculation on the Shakespeare authorship may finally come to rest.
Typical for the early theatre, the plays stem from a collaborative effort involving the finest playwrights and poets, as well as the royal court.
An independent review by Icons of Europe shows that William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was a prolific theatrical entrepreneur who managed a stable of playwrights and poets, notably the renown Ben Jonson. The courts of Queen Elizabeth and especially King James participated in this collaboration, typical for the era, by commissioning plays for their own entertainment and providing material for the dramatic content. Several lines of Jonson’s prefatory verse opening Shakespeare’s First Folio (1623) appear to heap sarcasm – and not praise as often observed – at Shakespeare’s alleged authorship.
Separately, Icons of Europe finds that noblemen also commissioned writings, ad hoc in their own name, and that the origin of the Shakespearean sonnets is connected with the acclaimed poet’s poet and sonnet writer Edmund Spenser. Copyright law was first introduced in 1709.
Since long, arguments have been raised on why Shakespeare could not have written the works bearing his name, and various theories point instead to noblemen such as Francis Bacon, Walter Raleigh and Edward de Vere. Most recently, the movie Anonymous picked Vere as the true author. In response, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust launched a scholarly campaign to promote its own viewpoint that “Shakespeare was indeed the true author”.
However, some of the Trust scholars admit: “None of Shakespeare’s plays is the product of an isolated genius… Collaboration was arguably the default form of writing in the early theatre”. The same scholars also name specific playwrights in Shakespeare’s stable of writers.
Today, Poet’s Corner at Westminster Abbey displays telling evidence on Shakespeare’s stable of playwrights and poets, including Ben Jonson whose monument was erected before 1728 by a grateful descendent of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford.
Cecilia Jorgensen, co-founder of Icons of Europe, Brussels concludes:
“There is every reason to celebrate the theatrical entrepreneur Shakespeare and his entourage. In view of his round anniversaries in 2014 and 2016, it’s high time to set the record straight on an exceptional and rich facet of Britain’s history and culture.”
The full review is accessible at www.iconsofeurope.com/shakespeare.htm
Its sources of information include the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey, and Shakespeare’s First Folio of 1623.