Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Enter John Lyly

From time to time, Shakespeare Authorship aficionados query after the name “John Lyly”.  This happens surprisingly little given the outsized role the place-seeker, novelist and playwright played in the lives of the playwright William Shakespeare and Edward de Vere.  So pronounced a link between the names of the Earl and the playwright makes Lyly as important as any figure in the debate.

But still, few seem to have taken the time to read (much less study) his works.  Only a small number of the facts of his life are widely known.   Some have even suggested that the name was an alias for Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford.

The best source of information on Lyly is the exceptional introduction to Warwick Bond’s edition of The Complete Works of John Lyly (Clarendon Press, 1902).  Little new information has been added over the years regarding Lyly.  The references to the Earl of Oxford, though dated, remain helpful.

Bond tells us that the first certain information about the man comes from registrars’ rolls for Magdalen College, Oxford, where his B.A. and M.A. degrees were duly entered in 1573 and 1575 respectively.  Between the two we also have a Latin letter, dated May 16, 1574, written by Lyly to “Viro illustrissimo, et insignissimo Heroi Domino, Burgleo, totius Angliae Thesaurario, Regiae Maiestatis intimis a consilijs, et patron suo colendissimo J. L.[1]

Most illustrious man, and most distinguished Heroic Lord, Burgley, Treasurer of all England, privy councilor to the Queen, and most attentive patron of John Lyly.
He gives the English translation in a footnote.  The young scholar requests that “his patron,” Lord Burgley, intervene with the Queen in his behalf, such that she might order the Magdalen College to bestow a fellowship upon him.

What the letter makes clear is that William Cecil, the Baron Burgleigh, and Lyly already have some sort of relationship.  Some have written that the young man was the son of a distant cousin.  I’ve never been favored with a source for the claim.  Whatever the basis of their relationship, it is strong enough that a mere scholar could think of asking “his patron” to interceded in his behalf with the Queen.  That Burgley has already been supportive in unspecified ways is also made clear.

The Queen’s order was not forthcoming and the documentation for Lyly’s life 1575-79 consists only of an entry in Cambridge University records incorporating his Oxford M. A. there in 1579.[2]  A reference from Gabriel Harvey’s Pierce’s Supererogation places the two adversaries both living and first meeting in The Savoy Hospital complex in about 1578.



During the reign of Queen Elizabeth, The Savoy Hospital had been stripped of the lands the rents from which had previously supported its Hospital and charitable operations.  It was forced to make up as much as it could by renting out the buildings in its modest complex for apartments.  After a crisis, due to mismanagement, Burleigh had come to control it through the hospital manager.  The Savoy being not far from the Burleigh House, on the Strand, the Lord Treasurer may have deposited his young charge there in order to have him on hand for piece work of one sort or another.

It is likely, then, that Lyly wrote Euphues, the Anatomy of Wyt (1578) while living in The Savoy.  It was a grand and immediate success.  Many of the readers that lauded it to the literary world of the Court and London surely also lived at or regularly availed themselves of bed and board at The Savoy.

A number of documents show that Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, lived and received guests at The Savoy when in London, in 1573.  Moreover an entry was made in the Savoy records that he was found in arrears of rent in that year for two tenements.  His floor space, then, was considerable.  By various estimates he continued there perhaps as late as 1578.  The overlap between the probable Savoy timelines for the two men make all but certain that they met there in 1577 or 1578.  Again Harvey informs us that Lyly became secretary to the Earl at about that time.  The dedication of Euphues and his England to the Earl in 1580 suggests that year as the latest possible start date for their arrangement.



[1] Lansdowne, MS. xix. No. 16.
[2] Bond takes this piece of information from Charles and Thompson Cooper’s Athenae Cantabrigienses which does not give exact information on the whereabouts of the entry in the university records.


Sunday, October 02, 2016

The Herbert Brothers' Other First Folio Dedication. (Page 2)

...Muses of this latter Age, then that which is owing to your Familie; whose Coronet shines bright with the native luster of its owne Jewels, which with the accesse of some Beames of Sydney, twisted with their Flame presents a Constellation, from whose Influence all good may be still expected upon Witt and Learning. 
At this Truth we rejoyse, but yet aloofe, and in our owne valley, for we dare not approach with any capacity in ourselves to apply your Smile, since wee have only preserved as Trustees to the Ashes of the Authors, what wee exhibit to your Honour, it being no more our owne, then those lmperiall Crownes and Garlands were the Souldiers, who were honourably designed for their Conveyance before the Triumpher to the Capitol. 
But directed by the example of some, who once steered in our qualitie, and so fortunately aspired to choose your Honour, joyned with your (now glorified) Brother, Patrons to the flowing compositions of the then expired sweet Swan of Avon SHAKESPEARE; and since, more particularly bound to your Lordships most constant and diffusive Goodnesse, from which, wee did for many calme yeares derive a subsistence to our selves, and Protection to the Scene (now withered, and condemn'd, as we feare, to a long Winter and sterilitie) we have presumed to offer to your Selfe, what before was never printed of these Authours. 
Had they beene lesse then all the Treasure we had contracted in the whole Age of Poesie (some few poems of their owne excepted, which already published, command their entertainement, with all lovers of Art and Language) or were they not the most justly admir’d, and belov’d Pieces of Witt and the World, wee should have taught our selves a lesse Ambition. 
Be pleased to accept this humble tender of our duties, and till we faile in our obedience to all your Commands, vouchsafe, we may be knowne by the Cognizance and Character of 
MY Lord, 
Your Honours most bounden






*
It bears mentioning that, in 1647, the plays of John Fletcher (Beaumont had died much earlier) were far more popular than those of Shakespeare.  Bringing The Bard into the dedication and two of the dedicatory poems would not have been designed to add to the luster of Fletcher.  Quite the opposite was the case: mentioning Shakespeare’s name together with Fletcher’s could only bring more luster to the name of the (at the time) only moderately popular Shakespeare.

So then why even bring Shakespeare and the First Folio up in a dedication to Philip Herbert?  Why even dedicate the Fletcher First Folio to Philip?  Perhaps the dedication celebrates an unusually intimate Shakespeare connection between the playwright and the Herberts.  Perhaps Fletcher had veen all too well aware during his life that in the sentiments of the Herberts, Shakespeare could never possibly be outshone by another.  His name must always be given first place.



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The Herbert Brothers' Other First Folio Dedication.

Philip Herbert, 4th Earl of Pembroke.
A copy of the First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays is traveling the country by way of celebrating what tradition says is the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare.  That tradition identifies a Stratford businessman as the author of the works of Shakespeare.

As I and others have pointed out, the Folio is dedicated to William Herbert, the Earl of Pembroke, and his brother Philip Herbert, the Earl of Montgomery, two men with close ties to Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford.  Oxford died in 1604.  The Folio appeared in 1623.  Between the two dates, William had risen to the office of Lord Chamberlain to King James the First.  Philip had married Oxford’s daughter Susan and been created Earl.

William died in 1630 and his Earldom of Pembroke also fell to Philip.  During William’s service as Lord Chamberlain many literary works were dedicated to him.  I do not find many dedications to Philip.  The First Folio is the only dedication of which I am aware to the two brothers together while they both lived.

The introduction to my Edward de Vere was Shakespeare: at long last the proof  revives a letter written in 1637 by Philip recalling William’s earlier injunction, under his authority as Lord Chamberlain, against  printing any plays that had ever been the property of the players called the King’s Men.  The King’s Men had earlier been known as the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, and, thus, had once owned the rights to most of the plays of William Shakespeare.  A collected plays of Shakespeare was being produced just after 1620 and the project coincidentally abandoned.  The First Folio soon began production under the aegis of the Lord Chamberlain without fear of prosecution.

Among the arguments Stratfordian scholars (scholars supporting the authorship of the man from Stratford) forward most boldly in their candidate’s behalf is the fact that the first recorded appearance of a number of Shakespeare plays occurred after the Earl of Oxford’s death.  Most of these plays have long been understood to show unmistakable signs of having been co-written with one or more co-authors.  The Stratfordian position is that the author had retired to his home town and greatly reduced (but not ended) his literary output.  It was a phase, they say, when he had rather layout the structure and write a few key passages of his plays and leave the rest to one or another amanuensis from among the more talented young playwrights of the time.

My own particular Oxfordian position is that Edward de Vere’s daughter Susan, the wife of Philip Herbert, Earl of Montgomery, and a very active player in the Court masques of her day, came into the possession of the uncompleted manuscripts of De Vere upon his death.  Those manuscripts were farmed out largely (but not entirely) to John Fletcher, the man in their judgment, best able to bring the manuscripts to successful and respectable completed plays.  Thus “new” Shakespeare plays continued to appear for a time.



All Shakespeare scholars, of all stripes, widely agree that John Fletcher’s hand is clear in many of the late plays.  Other playwrights' signature stylistic traits can be seen in some late plays, as well, but to a much smaller extent.  Fletcher’s fellow playwright, Francis Beaumont, for one, is strongly suspected of having contributed passages.

Philip Herbert did, it  turns out, receive at least one literary dedication after his brother’s death.  Actually, the dedication is to both he and his “(now glorified) Brother”.  It is a second dedication of a First Folio, that is to say, to the Herbert brothers.  The First Folio in question is of the Works of John Fletcher and Francis Beaumont, published in 1647.   I provide a transcription:

TOTHE RIGHT HONOURABLE
PHILIP
Earle of Pembroke and Mountgomery:
Baron Herbert of Cardiffe and Sherland,Lord Parr and Ross of Kendall; Lord Fitz-Hugh,
Marmyon,and Saint Quintin; Knight of the most noble Order of
the Garter; and one of His Majesties most Honourable Privie Councell:
And our Singular Good Lord.

MY LORD, THere is none among all the Names of Honour, that hath more encouraged the Legitimate... 



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Thursday, September 08, 2016

Why I am not an anti-Stratfordian.

The earliest Google search entry for the term “anti-Stratfordian” is a long article, entitled “The Shakespearean Myth”, in Appleton’s Journal of June 1880.  A number of hints strongly suggest that it is in fact the first use of the term.  Not the least of these hints is the fact that the term “anti-Shakespearean” is used three times in the article and “anti-Stratfordian” only once.

The article was written by James Appleton Morgan[1], a popular writer on the subject of Shakespeare Authorship, and presumably related to the Appleton’s who managed the journal.  The article was expanded and released as a book in 1881.  In the book version, “anti-Shakespearean” was used 11 times and “anti-Stratfordian” once.

The earliest listing for the term “anti-Shakespearean” is letter by Richard J. Hinton in the November 17, 1866, number of  another journal under the name of The Round Table.  While the letter mentions Delia Bacon, it is much more about Harrington, a novel by William Douglas O’Conner, in which the title character asserts that Francis Bacon and Sir Walter Raleigh co-wrote the plays of Shakespeare.  The novel (according to Hinton) was written without the knowledge of Delia Bacon’s theory.  The use of “anti-Shakespearean,” in the letter suggests that it had probably been already in general use prior the the letter.

It is not difficult to see the disadvantages of the term “anti-Shakespearean”.  By the 1890s, the moniker “Baconian“ had almost entirely replaced both terms.


Sir Granville George Greenwood’s 1908 volume The Shakespeare Problem Restated being agnostic about who was the true author of the works of Shakespeare, the author reintroduced the term “anti-Stratfordian”.  He was confident that the Stratford man could not be the author but was unable to determine who might actually have written the works.  Thus he was, in the literal sense of the various labels, not a “Baconian,” and certainly not an "anti-Shakespearean" but rather an “anti-Stratfordian”.  Greenwood’s many books and articles on the topic were justifiably the most popular in the popular Shakespeare Authorship debate of the time.  They have aged well into the bargain.

In 1920, Thomas Looney published his "Shakespeare" Identified in Edward De Vere, the Seventeenth Earl of Oxford.   The Baconians had already descended to the point where they depended heavily upon the most extreme claims of secret ciphers (which they themselves could not decipher), purportedly utilized by Francis Bacon, Lord Verulam, and his familiars.  This had become necessary in order to answer otherwise unanswerable historical counter-arguments of their critics.  As the result, they began to be perceived as crackpots.  No such ciphers proved necessary to support the authorship of Edward de Vere (though a few were unwisely adopted by later theorists nevertheless).

The first use of the term “Oxfordian,” according to Google Search, as applied to Shakespeare authorship, appears in the year 1933.  By 1940, the Baconians very much on the wane, and the Oxford theory on the rise, the term “Oxfordian” becomes more common.  Many factors indicate that the authorship question in general, however, had lost its attraction with the general public.

The Shakespeare Authorship debate languished until 1962 when Charlton Ogburn and his mother Dorothy published their Shake-speare: The Man Behind the Name.  Charlton had built a large network of cultural and governmental contacts during his time in the U. S. State Department.  He had already gained many influential converts by the time he published The Mysterious William Shakespeare: The Myth and the Reality, his third book on the subject, in 1984, and those converts had made many more influential converts still.

The watershed moment of the Ogburn effort came in September of 1987 when the briefs for a moot court case ‘in Re “William Shakespeare”’ appeared in The American University Law Review.  The case was heard on November 25th of that year, by sitting Supreme Court Justices William Brennan, Harry Blackmun, and John Paul Stevens.  The event, which took place at the Metropolitan Memorial Methodist Church, in Washington, D.C., was mentioned on the Good Morning America television program guaranteeing an overflow crowd.

The case garnered a meaningful amount of coverage at the time it occurred.  The justices came down on the side of the Stratford man.   That might well have been the end of the matter, as far as academia was concerned, if an 18-page account of the event and the upper crust venues and dramatis personae of the event, simply entitled “The Authorship Question,” hadn’t appeared the next April in The New Yorker magazine.  The article would prove to be orders of magnitude more influential than the moot court case itself.  The Shakespeare academic and theme park industries were in danger of being displaced as the sole legitimate authority over the 300 year old (and highly lucrative) Shakespeare industry.


From 1988 onward, then, traditionalists (i.e. Stratfordians) began to develop a set of strategies and social connections of their own.  The means that proved most effective was also hinted at in James Lardner’s New Yorker piece.   Brief mention was made of the fact that a number of Elizabethan figures had been advanced over the years as the true author of the Shakespeare plays.  The lingering term “anti-Stratfordian” was applied to the supporters of these figures collectively.

Lardner had only mentioned those other figures who might be considered viable candidates.  In the article, it was clear (if unstated) that only the Earl of Oxford, among them, could provide the materials for a strong case. 

The reigning Shakespeare industry did not scruple at such a limitation.  In fact, dozens of ridiculous candidates had been advanced over the decades.  Arguing a socius, the Shakespeare industry rebuffed all questions with the argument that “anti-Stratfordian” arguments were ridiculous.  This amounted to the position that any champion of an alternative candidate must defend themselves from the collective abuses of all alternative candidacies before they were worthy of anything but preemptive derision.  With their own considerable connections, the traditionalists succeeded in establishing the terms of the debate: there were only “Stratfordians” and “anti-Stratfordians”.  Anti-Stratfordians stood responsible to explain how all of "their" candidates could have been Shakespeare at once, how all of the many ridiculous theories could be squared.

An analogy for this would be to make an Evolutionist whose data suggested that Evolutionary theory about the development of the human eye needed to be honed in order to be precisely correct and in accordance with Evolutionary theory, answer for why, “being an obvious anti-Evolutionist,” he or she believed the world was created in 7 days, why he believed in Intelligent Creation, why he believed that ancient aliens had introduced life onto the planet earth, etc.  The reason why this response is unlikely in the realm of science is because it is not at all valid scientific method.  The trope is pure politics and can be found in every hotly contested election in order to prevent actual debate.  Happily the sciences remain functional, introspective and open to new data.  Shakespeare scholarship, on the other hand, again does  not see fit to scruple.

In short, the Stratfordian party, aware of the crippling scarcity of data under which it labors, chose the strategy of filibuster.  All the was not Stratfordian would be required to legitimize the entire anti-Stratfordian universe before (theoretically) being heard.  Failure to meet this demand would be represented to the court of public opinion as yet another unmistakable  sign that “anti-Stratfordians” were prima facia bozos unworthy of a hearing.

I do not imagine that I am the only Oxfordian who rejects the label “anti-Stratfordian”.  But it does seem worth looking at the basis that I reject its new post -1988 co-option as nothing more than a cheap political ploy.  I am “anti” nothing.  The Stratford man is not worth opposing.  He was an unusually successful street hustler and I honor him for his accomplishments in that way.  The times were not easy for a man of his class and limited education.  He clearly had an eye for the main chance and likely spent most of his waking hours pursuing that chance.


  • Check out Virtual Grub Street's English Renaissance Article Index for articles and reviews about this fascinating time and about the Shakespeare Authorship Question.





[1] President of The Shakespeare Society of New York.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Why I am Not an Anti-Stratfordian

The earliest Google search entry for the term “anti-Stratfordian” is a long article, entitled “The Shakespearean Myth”, in Appleton’s Journal of June 1880.  A number of hints strongly suggest that it is in fact the first use of the term.  Not the least of these hints is the fact that the term “anti-Shakespearean” is used three times in the article and “anti-Stratfordian” only once.

The article was written by James Appleton Morgan[1], a popular writer on the subject of Shakespeare Authorship, and presumably related to the Appleton’s who managed the journal.  The article was expanded and released as a book in 1881.  In the book version, “anti-Shakespearean” was used 11 times and “anti-Stratfordian” once.

The earliest listing for the term “anti-Shakespearean” is letter by Richard J. Hinton in the November 17, 1866, number of  another journal under the name of The Round Table.  While the letter mentions Delia Bacon, it is much more about Harrington, a novel by William Douglas O’Conner, in which the title character asserts that Francis Bacon and Sir Walter Raleigh co-wrote the plays of Shakespeare.  The novel (according to Hinton) was written without the knowledge of Delia Bacon’s theory.  The use of “anti-Shakespearean,” in the letter suggests that it had probably been already in general use prior the the letter.

It is not difficult to see the disadvantages of the term “anti-Shakespearean”.  By the 1890s, the moniker “Baconian“ had almost entirely replaced both terms.



Sir Granville George Greenwood’s 1908 volume The Shakespeare Problem Restated being agnostic about who was the true author of the works of Shakespeare, the author reintroduced the term “anti-Stratfordian”.  He was confident that the Stratford man could not be the author but was unable to determine who might actually have written the works.  Thus he was, in the literal sense of the various labels, not a “Baconian,” and certainly not an "anti-Shakespearean" but rather an “anti-Stratfordian”.  Greenwood’s many books and articles on the topic were justifiably the most popular in the popular Shakespeare Authorship debate of the time.  They have aged well into the bargain.

In 1920, Thomas Looney published his "Shakespeare" Identified in Edward De Vere, the Seventeenth Earl of Oxford.   The Baconians had already descended to the point where they depended heavily upon the most extreme claims of secret ciphers (which they themselves could not decipher), purportedly utilized by Francis Bacon, Lord Verulam, and his familiars.  This had become necessary in order to answer otherwise unanswerable historical counter-arguments of their critics.  As the result, they began to be perceived as crackpots.  No such ciphers proved necessary to support the authorship of Edward de Vere (though a few were unwisely adopted by later theorists nevertheless).

The first use of the term “Oxfordian,” according to Google Search, as applied to Shakespeare authorship, appears in the year 1933.  By 1940, the Baconians very much on the wane, and the Oxford theory on the rise, the term “Oxfordian” becomes more common.  Many factors indicate that the authorship question in general, however, had lost its attraction with the general public.


The Shakespeare Authorship debate languished until 1962 when Charlton Ogburn and his mother Dorothy published their Shake-speare: The Man Behind the Name.  Charlton had built a large network of cultural and governmental contacts during his time in the U. S. State Department.  He had already gained many influential converts by the time he published The Mysterious William Shakespeare: The Myth and the Reality, his third book on the subject, in 1984, and those converts had made many more influential converts still.

The watershed moment of the Ogburn effort came in September of 1987 when the briefs for a moot court case ‘in Re “William Shakespeare”’ appeared in The American University Law Review.  The case was heard on November 25th of that year, by sitting Supreme Court Justices William Brennan, Harry Blackmun, and John Paul Stevens.  The event, which took place at the Metropolitan Memorial Methodist Church, in Washington, D.C., was mentioned on the Good Morning America television program guaranteeing an overflow crowd.

The case garnered a meaningful amount of coverage at the time it occurred.  The justices came down on the side of the Stratford man.   That might well have been the end of the matter, as far as academia was concerned, if an 18-page account of the event and the upper crust venues and dramatis personae of the event, simply entitled “The Authorship Question,” hadn’t appeared the next April in The New Yorker magazine.  The article would prove to be orders of magnitude more influential than the moot court case itself.  The Shakespeare academic and theme park industries were in danger of being displaced as the sole legitimate authority over the 300 year old (and highly lucrative) Shakespeare industry.


From 1988 onward, then, traditionalists (i.e. Stratfordians) began to develop a set of strategies and social connections of their own.  The means that proved most effective was also hinted at in James Lardner’s New Yorker piece.   Brief mention was made of the fact that a number of Elizabethan figures had been advanced over the years as the true author of the Shakespeare plays.  The lingering term “anti-Stratfordian” was applied to the supporters of these figures collectively.

Lardner had only mentioned those other figures who might be considered viable candidates.  In the article, it was clear (if unstated) that only the Earl of Oxford, among them, could provide the materials for a strong case. 

The reigning Shakespeare industry did not scruple at such a limitation.  In fact, dozens of ridiculous candidates had been advanced over the decades.  Arguing a socius, the Shakespeare industry rebuffed all questions with the argument that “anti-Stratfordian” arguments were ridiculous.  This amounted to the position that any champion of an alternative candidate must defend themselves from the collective abuses of all alternative candidacies before they were worthy of anything but preemptive derision.  With their own considerable connections, the traditionalists succeeded in establishing the terms of the debate: there were only “Stratfordians” and “anti-Stratfordians”.  Anti-Stratfordians stood responsible to explain how all of "their" candidates could have been Shakespeare at once, how all of the many ridiculous theories could be squared.

An analogy for this would be to make an Evolutionist whose data suggested that Evolutionary theory about the development of the human eye needed to be honed in order to be precisely correct and in accordance with Evolutionary theory, answer for why, “being an obvious anti-Evolutionist,” he or she believed the world was created in 7 days, why he believed in Intelligent Creation, why he believed that ancient aliens had introduced life onto the planet earth, etc.  The reason why this response is unlikely in the realm of science is because it is not at all valid scientific method.  The trope is pure politics and can be found in every hotly contested election in order to prevent actual debate.  Happily the sciences remain functional, introspective and open to new data.  Shakespeare scholarship, on the other hand, again does  not see fit to scruple.

In short, the Stratfordian party, aware of the crippling scarcity of data under which it labors, chose the strategy of filibuster.  All the was not Stratfordian would be required to legitimize the entire anti-Stratfordian universe before (theoretically) being heard.  Failure to meet this demand would be represented to the court of public opinion as yet another unmistakable  sign that “anti-Stratfordians” were prima facia bozos unworthy of a hearing.

I do not imagine that I am the only Oxfordian who rejects the label “anti-Stratfordian”.  But it does seem worth looking at the basis that I reject its new post -1988 co-option as nothing more than a cheap political ploy.  I am “anti” nothing.  The Stratford man is not worth opposing.  He was an unusually successful street hustler and I honor him for his accomplishments in that way.  The times were not easy for a man of his class and limited education.  He clearly had an eye for the main chance and likely spent most of his waking hours pursuing that chance.


  • Check out Virtual Grub Street's English Renaissance Article Index for articles and reviews about this fascinating time and about the Shakespeare Authorship Question.





[1] President of The Shakespeare Society of New York.

Friday, July 08, 2016

A Point of Agreement.

One thing all sides of the authorship issue should surely be able to agree about. The works are phenomenal.  Let's not forget to enjoy them.

A New Variorum Edition of Shakespeare: Othello.A New Variorum Edition of Shakespeare: Othello. by William Shakespeare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars




View all my reviews






Monday, January 25, 2016

Sir Anthony Bacon: a Life in the Shadows.

This selection is taken from AN Historical View OF THE NEGOTIATIONS Between the Courts of England France and Brussels From the Year 1592 to 1617, by Thomas Birch, M.A. F.R.S. And Rector of the United-Parishes of St Margaret-Pattens and St Gabriel-Fenchurch.  The Anna Castle Blog[1] informs us that “Anthony Bacon’s only biographer is Dame Daphne Du Maurier” in her book entitled Golden Lads.  In the course of her research, Du Maurier states that Sir Anthony resided in Southern France for about 1585-89 "and was having too much fun to come home. Until he was charged with sodomy.”  The papers have since remained closed to the public, by all accounts.  There is no reason to believe that the Dame would have fabricated such a story.  There is some circumstantial evidence in papers elsewhere that Bacon did need help to escape some dilemma in 1589-90 and which eventually required intervention by the French king in order that he might leave the country never to return.  There were also rumors, upon his return, about his comportment with his household pages.


Somehow Sir Anthony had the habit of ingratiating himself in circles of the highest historical interest and most questionable mores.  Upon his return from France, he and his more famous brother, Francis, gathered a group of hired '"good pens" to do piece work -- a number known to have served as agents in his friend Sir Francis Walsingham's (who died in April 1590) network of informers -- but they seem to have put much more of their energies toward gaining preferment under the Earl of Essex.  Anthony became secretary to Essex, for a number of years, until the Earl pleaded with the Queen to save him from the man (blackmail is rumored to have been involved). A number of mysteries surrounding the Earl’s infamous rebellion and the Shakespeare Authorship Question seem to reveal Sir Anthony playing roles officially of little importance but regularly having leveraged himself into a participant of some power and influence.  My researches inform me that I likely will have reason to mention him in future work in this regard.

The following explains the close family relationship between the Bacons and the Cecils and something of Sir Anthony’s role in the international relations of the time.  I have yet to find further information on his paintings, which were extant in 1749.

Every bit as fascinating is the respect which Nicholas Bacon’s daughters received for being fluent both in Greek and Latin.  Not only were these very rare accomplishments for noble (much less bourgeois) women of the time, but almost no English men of the time, regardless of rank or education, were well-versed in classical Greek.  An even slightly more common knowledge of the language had to wait until the middle of the 18th century.   

Anthony Bacon, Esq; whose papers have been also of great service to me in this work, and of which there are several volumes in the Lambeth library, besides that in my possession, was son of Sir Nicholas Bacon, Knight, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, by his second wife, Anne, one of the daughters of Sir Anthony Cook, a Lady eminent for her skill in the Latin and Greek languages; as was likewise her sister Mildred, the second wife of the Lord Treasurer Burghley.  He was elder brother of the whole blood to Sir Francis Bacon, Lord High Chancellor, to whom he was thought equal in parts, though inferior in the acquisitions of learning and knowledge. He travelled early into foreign countries; for he was at Paris the beginning of the year 1580, and at Geneva in 1581, where he was acquainted with the celebrated Theodore Beza, who speaks of him in very high terms of admiration, in a letter to the Lord Treasurer in December that year. It appears likewise, from his papers, that he was at Bourdeaux, and Montauban, and in other parts of France in the years 1584 and 1586. Upon his return to England, about January 1589-90 he held a correspondence by letters in different countries; by which he received the earliest accounts of what passed there. And tho’ the Lord Treasurer was his uncle, and Sir Robert Cecil, Secretary of State, his cousin-german, yet he attached himself chiefly to Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, who, by his means, carried on a correspondence with the King of Scots, of which there are sufficient evidences among Mr. Bacon's manuscripts in my hands.
*
He was extremely well skilled in all the polite arts, and particularly in that of Painting; several excellent performances of his in the Flemish style, being still preserved at his seat at Gorhambury, near St Albans in Hertfordshire; an estate, which had been settled upon him by his father, and descended upon his death without issue, to his brother, Sir Francis Bacon.



[1] Anna Castle: Mysteries with Heart and Wit.  http://www.annacastle.com/anthony-bacon/

  • Historical inaccuracies in the film Anonymous: #3 When Edward de Vere and Vavasour had their affair, Anne, the Countess of Oxford, was in no position to arrive home to find them together.  Where the two conceived their illegitimate son.  Etc.



Monday, December 07, 2015

Historical inaccuracies in the film Anonymous: #4

The Cecils did not arrange for the Earl of Essex to be sent to Ireland.  William Cecil did not use the occasion to replace Essex on the Privy Council with his son.


In the movie Anonymous, William Cecil and his son Robert have a discussion in which William informs his son that he will arrange for the Earl of Essex to be sent to Ireland.  The aging William has convinced the Queen to send Essex and to introduce Robert into the Privy Council in the Earl’s place.  Soon thereafter, Robert has presumably executed his father’s instructions to arrange for the assassination of Essex and Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, as both assassinations are attempted and fail.

William Cecil dies soon after.  The Queen attends the funeral where she is informed by Robert Cecil that Essex has hatched a treasonous plan to gain the crown.  She orders that Essex return.

In actual historical fact, the decision to send the Earl of Essex to Ireland was made in early 1599.  The politics of the matter are not certain but Essex himself seems to have embraced the opportunity at martial glory.  It was his favorite means of gaining status and Ireland the only available theater of action.  Had he succeed in bringing Ireland back under English control he would have been the most admired man in England.


William Cecil, towering figure, and closest advisor to the Queen for decades, had already died some six months earlier, in August of 1598.  Robert could not have had Essex recalled then as Essex had yet to be appointed Lord Marshall of Ireland much less led his army to the country. 

There is no historical record of assassination attempts against either the Earl of Essex or of Oxford.  Edward de Vere was, in fact, injured in a street fight, probably around the thigh, but the injury occurred nearly 20 years earlier in an entirely unrelated matter.  The Cecils played no role.

As for William Cecil introducing his son to the attention of the Queen, and suggesting that he replace Essex on the Privy Council, Robert had already been a member of the Privy Council since 1591.  He was further appointed Principal Secretary to the Queen in 1596, roughly the equivalent of the modern Secretary of State.  At that time, William, his father, largely withdrew from active life, unable to perform his duties any longer due to illness and age.  William kept his office of Lord Treasurer though the duties were delegated to his son and his treasury staff.

There is another reason Robert Cecil could not have arranged to have Essex recalled from Ireland.  The foremost charge of insubordination against Essex was that he had returned in direct disobedience of the Queen’s direct order that he remain.  He had requested to return in order to conference directly with the Queen and Council about the conditions in that country and his request had been firmly denied.  He returned anyway.





Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Mermaid Series on Thomas Dekker (Part 4)

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Later in the Mermaid introductory biography we learn that Henslowe paid Dekker (and, in one case, fellow playwright Henry Chettle) for plays with titles associated with Shake-speare:

The year 1599 especially, towards the middle of which The Shoemaker's Holiday was published, must have been a year of immense activity. On the 9th and 16th April, Henslowe records a play by Dekker and Chettle, Troilus and Cressida. On the 2nd of May, a payment of five shillings was made to him, “in earnest of a book called Orestes Furies” and again in the same month there are payments to him and Chettle, for The Tragedy of Agamemnon. In July and August The Stepmother's Tragedy is mentioned;…
Versions of The Tragedy of Agamemnon and The Stepmother's Tragedy (the latter under the title of An history of the crueltie of a Step-mother) were listed in the records of the Court Revels during the late 1570s and the 1580s.  These two titles have long been suspected to have been written by Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, and rewritten as parts of the Shakespeare plays Cymbeline and Troilus and Cressida. [1]  

Of course, a Troilus and Cressida under the name of Shakespeare began to be spoken of at around the same time that Dekker was paid for a play of the same title.  No manuscript by Dekker of any of these plays has ever been discovered.  No record of any payments to Shakespeare for any plays have been discovered. These coincidences cannot help but raise the question as to whether or not we may have a record of Dekker acting as a front man in dealings with Henslowe.  After all, Dekker arriving with a manuscript and demanding payment does not establish that he ever actually wrote the plays.



Source: Ellis, Havelock and Rhys, Ernest, editors.  The Best Plays of the Old Dramatists: Thomas Dekker.  London: Vizetelli & Co., 1887.


[1]  Endless thanks to Catharine Reed for bringing to my attention that a partial plot summary was made, by the scribe of The Admiral's Men, of the Troilus and Cressida.  This summary has long been understood to be of the Troilus and Cressida for which Henslowe paid Dekker and Chettle.  By all indications, the play is nearly identical with the plot we have of Shake-speare's.  This powerfully supports the thesis that there were not two Troilus and Cressida plays but one and that one delivered to Henslowe by Dekker and Chettle and thereafter attributed to Shake-speare.  For the source see: Henslowe Papers: Being Documents Supplementary to Henslowe's Diary, ed. Walter W. Greg @ 142.  [This note is added 10/8/15]




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