Rhapsody in Red

Does converting to Oxfordianism increase your appreciation of the work, as many Oxfordians claim? Nat Whilk likens it to ketchup on gourmet cooking, creating such an accurate picture of how faint praise can damn creative effort, we decided to indulge in a few riffs on the theme. 

First the Oxfordian post which triggered our imagination, from Barabara Hobens Feldt. Posting on a thread attached to Annie Martirosyan's Amazon review of Shakespeare Beyond Doubt, Barbara is indulging in the time-dishonoured 'elite knowledge' argument as she builds to her rhapsodic climax.

2 Corinth

“I clearly see that my work for the Earl of Oxford cannot be much longer required.”

Lawrence Nowell


De Vere’s formal education ended at thirteen, when his last known tutor, Lawrence Nowell, washed his hands of him: “I clearly see that my work for the Earl of Oxford cannot be much longer required.” Tactfully put. Oxfordians interpret that to mean that the pupil had outstripped his master. But the tutor lavishes no praise, and offers no regrets at leaving what would—in Oxfordian fantasy—have been the student of a scholar’s dreams. If you had the boy Shakespeare as a pupil, would you shrug him off? But Nowell had other, more congenial work in hand. And Oxford had received all the tutelage that a boy of his rank— who would always have secretaries—would need. Dancing, drawing, French, cosmography (that is to say, maps), and a bit of Latin—a small fraction of what a grammar-school boy would learn—made way for lordlier accomplishments, fencing and horsemanship. Some lessons took. Oxford had a nice italic hand; he was a pretty dancer and a champion at tilting.

Company of players

Oxford was a patron of a theatre troupe. It wasn't a very distinguished theatre troupe and mostly toured the provinces. However, any theatre sponsorship in the 16C helped to fund the development of the English stage at a crucial point in its history. Oxford's admirable patronage of young and interesting writers and translators, while not extensive by the standards of the day, is a greater contribution than to the arts than his poetry.

There's no evidence that he did more than lend his name to his acting troupe, however.