Addressing the behavior of De Vere must await its own essay. What can be said in passing, is that often the greatest literature is written by people who profoundly struggled in their personal and financial lives, in many cases proving destructive to those around them as well as themselves. The claim that De Vere’s biography excludes him is equivalent to claiming that Baudelaire did not write the poems of Baudelaire, that Caravaggio did not paint the pictures attributed to him.
Malone attributed the mistake to Louis Theobalds, but, as Schoenbaum notes, Theobalds had died three years before the will was discovered. The rapscallion who offered the erroneous transcription is unknown, but Philip Nichols signed off on the 1763 Britannica entry, and at a minimum is a responsible party in the mistake and/or deception.
The second-best bed has remained a controversial bequest as it does not evoke the proper image of the cultivated, genteel poet/dramatist that is consistent with Shakespearean iconography. It does, indeed, invite an element of ridicule. For this reason, generations of Shakespearean biographers have searched for ways to cope with its undesirable implications.
More from Virtual Grub Street on Shake-speare and Edward de Vere: