Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Biographical Information on Thomas Dekker (Part 1)

The following biographical information on Thomas Dekker is taken from The Modern Language Review, Volume 15, 1920.  The reader may notice that G. C. Moore Smith, referred to at length in my Discovered: A New Shakespeare Sonnet, is a co-editor of the volume.

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Biographical Information on Thomas Dekker (Part 2)

Dekker is a mysterious playwright and pamphleteer even by the standards of the late 16th and early 17th centuries, during which little biographical information was attached to the names of the new influx of university educated commoners who filled London bookstalls with an unprecedented amount of printed matter. Dekker describes himself in suggestive terms in his work while choosing never to provide specifics.  The few entries in Henslowe's famous diary which may refer to the man and in the records of St. Gile's Parish, in Cripplegate, include so many variant spellings that might refer to Dekker... or might not.

It might seem as if we have no more information available to us than the little we have already gleaned from his written works.  But is there nothing more to find?  Or are there hints everywhere that scholars have yet to detect?  Before we explore what answers there may prove to be to these questions, it is important to review what scholars think they may have discovered so far.

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Monday, May 11, 2015

Discovered: A New Shakespeare Sonnet: the experience.

When I discovered previously unattributed Shakespeare sonnets, while following a research trail from electronic text to electronic text to electronic transcriptions of more than usually obscure manuscripts, I was so intent upon getting the details right that I barely felt a moment of wonder.  I was hot on the trail of something, it appeared, but I barely knew what until I was on top of it and then it just seemed impossible that the very best I could hope for had somehow actually come to pass.  The resulting celebration lasted a matter of minutes.  Mostly I just stood staring at the text, grinning and shaking my head.  I think a fist-pump or two were involved, as well.

After weeks of repeatedly retracing my route, and checking to see that previous scholars’ efforts hadn’t explained the find away, I cautiously revealed it to a few close friends and family members.  They were confused.  Wasn’t it a really big thing to make such a find?  Why didn’t I seem in the least overjoyed?

Of course, I was too exhausted to appear appropriately exhilarated.  I could only think of the enormously tedious work ahead.  I still had to formalize the statistical evaluations, gather notes from every quarter, plan, write and rewrite the manuscript, etc.  While my numbers would likely meet with the silence of prejudice, for all my efforts, those who might so much as deign to read them would almost certainly find them suspect as a matter of course.  I am outside of their professional and amateur networks, after all. 

The computer resources available to me give me a far better set of tools than earlier scholars but only secret proprietary programs can suffice any longer.  Nothing but each group’s own Good Housekeeping approved numbers would satisfy.  My open invitation, here, that they do that verification would not necessarily satisfy them with the prospect of confirming a finding announced in a Kindle book.  That said, my numbers would be both essential to a proper presentation, and, if they were noticed at all, the basis of irrational alpha-positioning.  None of this was exactly leaving me celebratory.

How perverse the Cosmos seemed, then, to add on top of all of these difficulties, the fact that the front matter of the book would display the title Edward de Vere was Shake-speare: at long last the proof among my august publishing credits: an Oxfordian authorship title.  The vast majority of traditional Shakespeare scholars, seeing such a title, will likely consider it a provocation and a sign either that I could never properly identify a new Shakespeare sonnet or could never be allowed to be credited with such a discovery.  The best strategy could only be to ignore the existence of the claim: a thing easily accomplished given that it was made in a Kindle book.

My necessary allies, in this particular matter, were almost certain to recoil in disgust from even considering my new discovery it coming from an Oxfordian.  Each successive draft of the monograph was written in the face of these eventualities.

As if Kindle publishing weren’t frustrating enough, now comes a branding issue.  Surely my books don’t sell in sufficient numbers that I should have such problems.

But there can be no denying that having written a Shakespeare Authorship book attracts a lot of negative attention.  The book may sell a bit more than most other nonfiction subjects not involving sex or weight loss but not so much that its coattails are meaningful.  That is pretty much the full range of benefits, as it were, while the ferocious Stratfordian trolling and the dismissive cold shoulder from Shakespeare scholars in academia (or non-profit knock-offs of academia) on the other hand, can be quite impressive.

In my own books on the work and identity of William Shakespeare I strive to be more rigorous than traditional Shakespeare scholars.  My Edward de Vere was Shakespeare and Was Shake-speare Gay?  are heavily documented and strictly conservative in their interpretation of historical facts.  The latter title only reflects for a few brief summary pages upon the implications of Shakespeare’s sonnets for the traditional assignment of the man from Stratford as the playwright William Shake-speare.  Those implications are hard won through long hours of research, strict documentation and conservative interpretation.

In all of this research, of many hundreds of thousands of words of text, I have found far and away more evidence for Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, as the author of the works that go under the name of William Shake-speare.  For present purposes I wish I could say otherwise (and get away with it).  To remove my Shakespeare Authorship title(s) would only appear disingenuous, when, with electronic ease, my other books would be soon found out.  The book credits must be included.  That these new sonnets are evaluated upon their own textual basis, apart from all other publishing platforms, issues and persons, must somehow be enough to get them recognition in the end — however long it will take to reach that end — and myself due recognition for having had the research skills to have found them out.

All of the above said, this is not offered to the public as an authorship book regardless that the context in which the new sonnets are found can only have authorship implications.  The sonnet in the monograph Discovered: A New Shakespeare Sonnet is offered as a new Shakespeare poem entirely divorced from the question of who Shakespeare might have been.  As many as four poems in the pirate anthology merit investigation as possible Shakespeare poems: three sonnets and one song.  One sonnet satisfies traditional criteria for Shakespeare authorship so perfectly that the present monograph focuses almost entirely upon it.  The others receive brief commentary and are marked for future evaluation.

The new resources available to the amateur scholar give him or her the opportunity to participate fully in the fields that they love.  The discipline and standards are another matter but they are well worth developing, given the opportunities, and academia is right to expect them.  To lack them all but guarantees failure.  I hope that Stratfordians and Oxfordians both can evaluate these poems without reference to authorship issues or the publishing platform by which they are presented.

I hope you will click here to go to the Facebook book page and follow the progress.