Hand of Damocles

In the face of such methodological shortcomings, conflicting opinions, and duelling analyses, what is one to think? An obvious explanation is that to- day’s orthodox scholars, including all the stylometricians here mentioned, are groping blindly in the wrong paradigm, and are handicapped by the confines of the conventional Shakespearean dating system. (Craig and Kinney are familiar with the Oxfordian argument, and mention it several times, once even citing an article in The Oxfordian.) In addition, very few scholars of any period have given any consideration to the idea of a substantial corpus of Shakespearean juvenilia. We can be sure that Shakespeare did not always write like Shakespeare.
Ramon Jiménez: Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter January 2011

Stylometry takes a step forward

In 2009, Hugh Craig and Arthur F Kinney published a book called Shakespeare, Computers and the Mystery of Authorship, revised in 2012, which has received surprisingly little attention in the SAQ debate, given its title. Craig is Professor of English at the University of Newcastle, Australia and a contributor to the Early Modern Literary Studies site and is the author of a very good study on Jonson which looks at the problems thrown up by lexical analysis of his work.

Arthur F Kinney is the Thomas W, Copeland Professor of Literary History at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He is a founding editor of English Literary Renaissance and he has also written on SAQ-relevant issues in Shakespeare's Web (2004) and Shakespeare and Cognition (2006). This book drew in the work of two doctoral students at Amherst; Philip Palmer and Timothy Irish Watt.

All sorts of bells should be ringing by now. However, the only reviews I can find in the field comprise a solitary Amazon review and a very positive notice from Linda Theil. I doubt she read it or even looked inside. There is also a mystifying article on the book in the Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter in which Ramon Jiménez proves he has definitely read some of its contents but, concluding from the above conclusion, he has either understood nothing or is presenting his summary of an entirely different book.


Fuseli2Macbeth is a Jacobean play, through and through.

It celebrates the accession of James VI & I, and his descent through a true line of  Scottish kings, foreseen to “stretch out to the crack of doom.” In the vision summoned by the witches to appall Macbeth, the distant heirs of Banquo carry “treble scepters”:  emblems of the kingship of England, Ireland, and Scotland.  Elizabeth I did not rule Scotland; her rival Mary, James’s mother did.  He sought the union of his realms.

Macbeth alludes to the policies and slogans of his reign:  Concord, Peace, and Unity.  Malcolm feigningly protests that he would “pour the sweet milk of concord into hell, /Uproar the universal peace, confound / All unity on earth.”

John Davies of Hereford

John Davies of Hereford's poem of 1610, written in the present tense to Will Shake-speare (with the hyphen six years after De Vere died) provides all the information Oxfordians claim is non-existent in one verse. It also strongly implies he is a commoner.

No room for speculation about identities here. In fact, I'm not really sure what needs to be added to this, other than the fact that it completely demolishes all contentions that there are no contemporary references to Will's career and collapses the whole silly, pseudonym/front man theory.

The Oxfordian Chronology

We have been asking and begging to see a full Oxfordian Chronology and Paul Streitz has kindly provided one.

Now it is fair to say that not all Oxfordians agree with this comprehensive list of works that the Earl of Oxford either wrote himself, translated or to which he made significant contributions.  However, it is also fair to say that this is the first time we have ever seen such a full and final statement of De Vere's contribution to literature. And it is also fair to say that whilst there is little in the way of consensus of any kind in Oxfordland, whenever pressed on the issue, this is the so-called scholarship that they fall back on.

Redating the Tempest 2.

An Anti-Stratfordian Tour de Farce

Although an intensely irritating waste of paper, despite appearances, there is a purpose in this type of publication.

Books like these are published to be reviewed here. To be cited in internet discussion. When they find themselves unable to explain why The Tempest is associated with Hallowmas rather than Shrovetide, these books provide Oxfordians with an out. "Have you read my book on The Tempest" they will say. Or "Have you read Stritmatter and Kositsky's book on The Tempest?" It's usually said with a patronising snort, implying both that the matter has been dealt with definitively and whoever they are arguing with is poorly read on the subject.

In other words, the book is intended to be cited for what it set out to achieve, rather than what it actually says.

It actually says very little.

Redating The Tempest 1.

I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll b-b-b-blow your house in!

On the Date, Sources and Design of Shakespeare's The Tempest

Roger A. Stritmatter & Lynne Kositsky


This book is not about The Tempest.  Not a word of it.  It’s all about Stritmatter and Kositsky’s desperate need to claim the great prize of its authorship for the god of their idolatry:   a tragic, unacknowledged genius whose apotheosis their book will bring about.  His name?  Roger Stritmatter, Lord of Coppin.  

Oops!   Sorry.  Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford.

Whose name is demurely absent from their text, save once.  Not in their own words but in Gail Kern Paster’s:  which are by far the best thing in the book:

For well-schooled professionals ... the authorship question ranks as bardolatry inverted, bardolatry for paranoids, with one object of false worship (Shakespeare) replaced by another (Marlowe, Bacon, Edward de Vere). To ask me about the authorship question, as I’ve remarked on more than one occasion, is like asking a paleontologist to debate a creationist’s account of the fossil record.... For much worse than professional disclaimers of interest in Shakespeare’s life is the ugly social denial at the heart of the Oxfordian pursuit ... a ferociously snobbish and ultimately anachronistic celebration of birthright privilege.


Shakespeare Clinic

"Judging from their surviving writing, Shakespeare was not just 100 times better than Oxford, he was also 80 times more productive. Shakespeare wrote about 3,500 lines of verse a year for twenty years, most of them immortal; Oxford, in the Shahan-Whalen scenario, wrote about 40 lines of woebegone juvenilia a year for ten years, then, for fifteen years, wrote nothing at all that he or anyone else could be bothered to save––but then, at forty-three, supposedly burst from his cocoon to become a literary supernova overnight. "

Eliott and Valenza

Play the dating game yourself.

Elliott and Valenza's data isn't the only game in town but their work is the most extensive and those who have followed their lead have come to identical conclusions. The Shakespeare Clinic they operated through the late 1980's and 1990's departed on an Oxfordian trajectory and the early results did lean towards plausible cases for the three front runners, Marlowe, Bacon and de Vere. They were joyously embraced by the alternative cadre. Horribile dictu; pencils got sharper, computers got faster, the battery of tests extended, differentiation improved, sophistication and accuracy went up through the roof, and disaster struck.  They went from hero to zero with Oxfordians almost overnight.

Their tests, they concluded, 'eliminated The Earl' as a candidate. Eliminated. They eliminated another 56 candidates too, including all the favourites.