Oxfordians claim the sonnets published as SHAKE-SPEARE’S SONNETS fit the life story of the Earl of Oxford better than they fit the life story of William Shakespeare of Stratford. They point out correctly that the poet often refers to himself as old, while Shakespeare was in his thirties when most of the sonnets are thought to have been written. They claim correctly that the poet complains of feeling disgraced and point out, again correctly, that the Earl of Oxford was often disgraced (although it is doubtful that there was any human being who ever lived who did not feel disgraced at one time or another).
If thy soul cheque thee that I come so near,
They also claim, quite incorrectly, that the sonnets tell the story from the point of view of a nobleman. This ignores sonnet 25 in which the poet states that he is barred from boasting of proud titles. No one ever barred Edward de Vere from boasting that he was the Earl of Oxford and Lord Great Chamberlain. But even more glaring than sonnet 20 is sonnet 136, in which the poet says, “My name is Will.”
Most Oxfordians insist that the sonnets are all absolutely autobiographical, that the poet must be the Earl of Oxford because the sonnets tell the story of the Earl of Oxford. They claim the sonnets cannot be fiction.
Except for the “my name is Will” part. That part alone, they insist, must be fiction.
Some have claimed that if you search for sonnet 136 on the Internet, it most often appears with the name in quotation marks. There were no quotation marks around the name when the collected sonnets were first published by Thomas Thorpe in 1609. In that publication the name appears in italics. Many Oxfordians claim that the use of italics must be there for a reason, and the reason is to show that the poet’s name was not really Will. But in sonnet 53, the names Adonis and Helen appear in italics. In sonnet 93, the name Eve appears in italics in a reference to Eve’s apple. Is someone telling us that the Greek youth loved by Aphrodite was using a pseudonym? Was Helen of Troy really Gertrude of Troy? Was that woman in Eden who ate the apple was really named Sophie?
The publishers in Shakespeare’s time frequently put names, REAL NAMES, in italics. The First Folio is brimming with real names of real people in italics.
The Oxfordian belief that the poet used italics (or worse, nonexistent quotation marks) to tell us that he did not really mean it when he said his name was Will is one of their more nonsensical claims.
Either the sonnets are not 100% factually autobiographical, in which case the fact that the poet claims to be old and in disgrace are not actual evidence of anyone’s authorship, or the sonnets are 100% factually autobiographical, in which case the Poet’s name was not Ed.