The talk of the town

Another inconsistent claim made by Oxfordians is that the Earl of Oxford was highly rated as a playwright and author by his contemporaries. Yet once again, the evidence for this significant claim is effectively non-existent.Despite the oft-quoted extracts from Francis Meres and George Puttenham, no one has ever actually claimed that Oxford was a playwright outside the authorship debate.

Francis Meres made one mention of Oxford in Palladis Tamia, saying simply that Oxford was 'the best for comedy'.

This might be conclusive evidence that he wrote some comedy or interlude for the courts if Meres were a modern writer but praise for the artistic efforts of aristocrats, from whom all patronage emanated, was de rigueur in the 16C. However catastrophically awful these efforts might be, saying nice things about the talent of the aristocratic writer could unlock a favour or two. Flattery could get you everywhere.

Futhermore, it's actually quite hard work discovering examples of the work some of the other 'poets' Meres lists with Oxford:

so the best for Comedy amongst us bee, Edward Earle of Oxforde, Doctor Gager of Oxforde, Maister Rowley once a rare Scholler of learned Pembroke Hall in Cambridge, Maister Edwardes one of her Maiesties Chappell, eloquent and wittie John Lilly, Lodge, Gascoyne, Greene, Shakespeare, Thomas Nash, Thomas Heywood, Anthony Mundye our best plotter, Chapman, Porter, Wilson, Hathway, and Henry Chettle.
 

It is not even slightly difficult to find the work of those authors listed with Shakespeare as a tragedian, though once again then is a mystifying group from the upper crust at the start of the list:

the Lorde Buckhurst, Doctor Leg of Cambridge, Doctor Edes of Oxforde, maister Edward Ferris, the Authour of the Mirrour for Magistrates, Marlow, Peele, Watson, Kid, Shakespeare, Drayton, Chapman, Decker, and Benjamin Johnson.


Shakespeare features in all of Meres' lists, however and he gives the titles of 12 of his plays, a fairly comprehensive list at the time he wrote it. No mention of any Oxfordian titles, however.

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