the cover of the Dial of Princes

Sir Thomas North

Lately there has been a lot of ink spilled about Sir Thomas North. In fact, a new book out, North by Shakespeare by Michael Blanding claims that William Shakespeare wrote every single word, but he plagiarized giant sections from the works of Sir Thomas North. If so, how does this relate to Edward de Vere’s authorship?

Please note, the co-author of North by Shakespeare is Dennis McCarthy who I met on Twitter. Dennis apparently researched North for over 15 years and then teamed up with author Michael Blanding to write the book. Actually, both guys are on Twitter, and here is the link to the book they posted on Twitter: sirthomasnorth book link.

On Twitter, Mr. McCarthy stated that some of the phrases about how the pope was coronated matched North’s journal, and if one were to do a Google search for these two phrases, out of trillions of Google pages, they would only lead to one person: Sir Thomas North. Here are the phrases as I best recall them:


and “two officers next them with silver rods in their hands, then the cardinals having a cross borne before them”

Did these phrases lead me to Sir Thomas North’s travel journal? Not exactly. The Google search engine took me to this book: Miscellaneous State Papers from 1501-1726. It is a free book on Google and you can read it at this link. This book was first published in 1789 and apparently, North’s travel journal can be found in this book (pgs 62 -98 of the books pages.) However, although North may have penned the words, he is NOT named as the author. (No author’s name is given.) Apparently, during the reign of Mary Tudor (“Bloody Mary”) a trip to Rome for two British Ambassadors had been arranged by the state department which North was a part of, and he recorded the trip in his travel journal(s).

Who would have made the arrangements for this trip? Possibly Sir Thomas Smith or even John de Vere, the 16th earl of Oxford and father of Edward de Vere. Both seemed to be working together with William Cecil at this time.

Thomas North’s Travel Journals

Sir Thomas Smith who was succeeded in his position by Sir Francis Walsingham had worked in the royal court as did John de Vere. The 16th earl of Oxford was a staunch Protestant and Queen Mary was Catholic, so John de Vere had insisted that his son Edward de Vere be raised in the household of the great Cambridge scholar, Sir Thomas Smith.

Sir Thomas Smith

I mention this because Miscellaneous State Papers tells us that these papers were considered “classified” during their time. These papers might not have been as “Top Secret” as the ones the FBI found at Trump’s Mar-a-lago residence, but the King or Queen at the time did not want the general public to be privy to the information.

In the North case, Thomas North had traveled to Italy with two English Ambassadors to witness the coronation of the new pope.

The English Queen “Bloody” Mary was Catholic, so it made sense to keep it on the down-low as not everyone in England was Catholic. After returning to England, North’s journal would have been copied so the Queen could read it. After all, she had paid for the trip. So perhaps someone like a secretary would be tasked to read it and give a report on it to the Queen.

The point I am trying to make is that it seems logical that after Queen Mary’s death, the papers would have most likely been stored for safe-keeping at Cecil House. Why Cecil House? Because Queen Elizabeth became queen after Queen Mary and her most trusted advisor was William Cecil.

Edward de Vere grew up at Cecil House and he most likely would be keenly interested in reading them. After all, he was planning to travel to Italy and North’s travel journals talked about that very subject.

The Oxford Connection

By the way, some of the papers in the State Secrets were dated from 1501 and in 1508, and this is a time when Edward de Vere’s relative Aubrey de Vere served under King Henry. So the State Papers would be useful for setting the stage for a history play like Henry VI.

We recall that in King Henry VI, act 3 scene 3 who should appear? A character named “Oxford” who serves the king. (Edward de Vere was the 17the earl of Oxford.)

Yet, Dennis North and Michael Blanding claim the man from Stratford simply lifted passages word-for-word from North’s journals and plays. It would be as easy as taking candy from a baby. But if you think about it, how could an outsider be able to do this? They make it seem like any commoner from Stratford-upon-Avon could easily do this and no one would say anything. So, they claim North’s travel journals, which were considered “state secrets” were sold to William Shakespeare who then used them in his plays which were performed in public.

Back in those days, the torture tool, “the rack” was commonly used. Once a person was put on the device their limbs were literally pulled apart and they would die a horrible death. William Shakespeare and Thomas North were apparently unafraid of the rack

Thomas North’s History

Doing a quick Google search of my own, I discovered there had always been a suspicion that North himself did not translate the first thing he’s been credited with, the Dial of Princes because he had added Spanish letters to it’s ending. These letters came from “libros” (the Spanish word for books) not “livres” (the French). In other words, North claimed he had translated the book from the French version, but it was actually from Spanish.

Here is the excerpt taken from the DNB bio:

It seems likely, moreover, from comments made by North in the second, revised
edition, The Diall (1568), that the first edition was not altogether well received for more
literary reasons: ‘detracting tongues’, he wrote, had given out that the translation ‘was no
woork of myne, but the fruit of others labor’ (sig. R1v). An existing translation, from an
abridged French translation of Guevara by Jean Bouchier, Lord Berners, had been
published in 1535 (it reached its ninth edition in 1557), but North does not seem indebted
to it. How long North remained as a student is not known, though in 1568 he recalled
with apparent fondness ‘the woorshipfull, and my beeloved compaignyons, and fellow
students of our house of Lyncolnes Inne’ (ibid.).

North had signed his defensive ‘Epistle to the Reader’ in 1568 ‘From my lord Norths
house nere London’ (sig. R1v).

Thomas North was staying at a house in London. Back then, a nobleman like North who had companions from Lincoln’s Inn (a law school) could have easily met up with another nobleman like Edward de Vere who was studying at Gray’s Inn (a law school). Edward de Vere was known to be an expert in Greek and Latin and could have offered to edit North’s translation of The Dial of Princes which was revised again and reprinted in 1582.

North’s translation of Plutarch’s Greek book, The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romanes, is taken from the third edition of Bishop Jacques Amyot’s French translation. It is interesting to note that Edward de Vere purchased this same edition (a receipt for his purchase still exists today) and brought it with him to Italy. So, Edward de Vere most likely was the ghost-writer for Plutarch’s Lives.

How do we know this?

The “To the Reader” introduction to Plutarch’s Lives, sounds like Edward de Vere wrote it, (not Thomas North) because in this introduction, we find the word “love.” Edward de Vere was fond of using the words “loving”, “beloved” and “love” but North did not. Yet in this introduction to Plutarch’s Lives we find the word “love” not once – but two times!

The Dedication to Plutarch’s Lives

To the Reader

The profit of stories and the praise of the Author are sufficiently declared by Amyot in his epistle to the reader, so that I shall not need to make many words thereof.  And indeed, if you will supply the defects of this translation with your own diligence and good understanding, you shall not need to trust him; you may prove yourselves, that there is no profane study better than Plutarch.  All other learning is private, fitter for universities than cities, fuller of contemplation than experience, more commendable in students themselves than profitable unto others.  Whereas stories are fit for every place, reach to all persons, serve for all times, teach the living, revive the dead, so far excelling all other books as it is better to see learning in noblemen’s lives than to read it in philosopher’s writings.  Now, for the author, I will not deny but love may deceive me, for I must needs love him with whom I have taken so much pain, but I believe I might be bold to affirm that he hath written the profitablest story of all authors.  For all other were fain to take their matter as the fortune of the countries where they wrote fell out; but this man, being excellent in wit, in learning, and experience, hath chosen the special acts of the best persons, of the famousest nations of the world.  But I will leave the judgement to yourselves.  My only purpose is to desire you to excuse the faults of my translation with your own gentleness, and with the opinion of my diligence and good intent.  And so I wish you all the profit of the book.  Fare ye well.  The four and twentieth day of January, 1579. Thomas North


The word “diction” means “the choice and use of words and phrases”. Unlike Stylometry, it is not necessarily a mathematical process. It’s more of how some writers consistently use and reuse the same words over and over again. For example Edward de Vere’s fondness for the word “love” Using diction-ology, my research shows that the authorship of The Dial of Princes and Plutarch’s Lives to be that of Edward de Vere who gave the credit to Thomas North.

For example, here is a link that shows Edward de Vere using “loving”, “beloved” and “love” in his letters. Not one time. Not twice. But 27 times.

No other writer of this time period does this.

Here is an interesting article that explains it.

Also, another question for you: did Sir Thomas North write these lines below?

“And herein I am forced like a good and politic captain oftentimes to spoil and burn the corn of his own country, lest his enemies thereof do take advantage.” Burning ears of corn is a popular theme with Edward de Vere.

Did Sir Thomas North write them? No, they are Edward de Vere’s words. They are found in his Introduction to Cardanus Comforte, the book Hamlet allegedly was reading.

If you get a chance to read Shakey’s Madness, my theory would be that Edward de Vere at age 17, DID help North translate and rewrite Plutarch’s Lives written by Sir Thomas North.

If De Vere gave it away without taking any credit for himself, it makes sense why the words and phrases from North’s version of Plutarch’s Lives match words, lines, and verses found in Shakespeare so well: why? Because Edward de Vere wrote all of them! This sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

Why would de Vere do such a thing? But more importantly, why would he give away his book of Sonnets and Venus & Adonis not to mention such masterpieces as Macbeth, King Lear, and Hamlet?

Find out in Shakey’s Madness!