102 Reasons

There's better evidence for fairies at the bottom of your garden than for De Vere's authorship of Will's plays.

Their manifesto

Court poet, didn't know it

A bit of sleight of hand in the film Anonymous moves the publication of Venus and Adonis from 1593 to 1599. I rather enjoyed the scenes in the printing house but the redating is significant, not accidental. Because the progression in Shakespeare's career is, in itself, telling evidence against The Earl.

Venus & AdonisIn 1593, with the playhouses shut and only a few modestly successful plays under his belt, Will Shakespeare had the makings of the greatest court poet in history. He had the business of patronage sorted out and a very successful, lucrative book in print. Venus and Adonis was quite possibly the best poetry book since Caxton printed The Canterbury Tales, much more appealing to popular taste than the work of his rivals (Chaucer excepted, of course), with its sexy language and titillating love-making. Furthermore, he repeated the feat without much apparent effort and got another successful book out almost no time after the first, The Rape of Lucrece. Great title.

What's the leklywhode?

Oxford's spelling was idiosyncratic, even for an Elizabethan. He almost always wrote "lek" for like, in all its forms: "misleke," "leklywhodes," and "lekwise," among many others. Another quirk of his is "wowld" for would. Alan Nelson writes: "So characteristic is Oxford's spelling in this regard that the three spellings 'cowld', 'showld', and 'wowld', along with 'lek' for 'like', are almost enough in themselves to identify a piece of writing as his."

Take a letter

Oxfordians make much of the fact that there are no surviving letters written by Shakespeare as if the fact that the 70 letters of Oxford's which survive give him precedence, Yet in 70 letters, there is not a single mention of poetry, plays, players, theatres, absolutely nothing. No evidence of any connection with Shakespeare's world whatsoever.

BA or no BA?

Oxfordians are wont to insist that the plays show evidence of a first rate university education. They were even once inclined to argue that the plays were written in 'the idiom of Cambridge University'. When someone (a Cambridge graduate, as it happens) asked for examples of this idiom and help identifying it, they were greeted with complete silence. 

What's in a name?

Two 'E's, Or Not Two 'E's
That is the question

Oxfordians make much of the different spelling of Will’s name though the significance of different forms has to be viewed in the light of the non standardised spelling of the time. 150 years before Dr Johnson started the first dictionary, the spelling of English words varied from playwright to playwright and individual to individual. In different places Will’s name is written as Shagsper, Shaxper, Shacksper and Shake-speare. David Kathman’s excellent authorship pages deal with that in detail.

There is no need to assume these are all different people. On Shakespeare’s famous will there are three different spellings of ‘Shakespeare’. 

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