For those of you who do not know me, I am a guy who has watched Four Weddings and a Funeral six times. Why? Because something bothered me the first time. I wanted to know what Charles, the character played by Hugh Grant, did for a living. Feel free to ask my wife. She could not believe that this little detail bothered me so much.
Finally, after six times, I convinced myself that Charles probably worked as a magazine writer. That settled, I moved on.
Years later, I visited Roger Ebert’s website where I found a review for the film. Mr. Ebert wrote: Four Weddings and a Funeral,” delightful and sly, is a comedy about people who seem to live out their lives in public, attending weddings. No doubt they have everyday lives as well, but the film doesn’t supply them. Even in the case of the central character, a likable, shy, perennial best man named Charles (Hugh Grant), we’re never told what he does for a living.
Okay, so let’s move on to Shakespeare. What bothers me so much about the Shakespeare authorship question? I have a pebble in my shoe about him and I am not saying that Shakespeare was a Frenchman or a German. No, I am saying that “You have the wrong guy.” I believe the “real” author was proudly British and perhaps embarrassed because he had a mental disorder that was beyond his control. Was he bi-sexual? Possibly. The real author shows symptoms of bipolar disorder that I talk about in my book, Shakey’s Madness.
How do we know for sure the “real” author was not the man from Stratford? Why doubt Shakespeare? That is what this post is about.
It is NOT just one thing. Rather, it is an accumulation of little things that do not make sense. Let me touch upon three things:
- The real author HAD to have access to MANY books. The British Library claims that Shakespeare had to have read Ovid’s 15 book classic poem Metamorphosis in both Latin and English. That is a total of 30 books! Where would a “glover’s son” find them? It would cost a fortune to purchase them. There were no public libraries. Plus, more books were needed. Some of the other plays that were written by Shakespeare were based on books that had not been translated yet into English, so he would have needed to read even more books. Plus, he would have had to known Greek, Spanish, Italian and French at a very high level in order to read them. Was Shakespeare known to have a high level of Greek or Latin? No, he had “small Latin and less Greek”.
- Not one of Shakespeare’s letters have ever been found. Not one letter written in Shakespeare’s hand has ever been found. Wouldn’t you keep one of his letters? This seems even more odd considering that he worked in London, a three-day journey by horse, from his home in Stratford-upon-Avon. He worked in London for over 20 years, so not one letter? Wouldn’t he write to his wife and daughters at least once? Wouldn’t his daughters keep those letters?
- Shakespeare was never jailed. Why was Shakespeare NOT put in jail for offending Queen Elizabeth? On Nov. 3, 1579, John Stubbs, a political pamphleteer was found guilty of “seditious writing”. He had created and promoted a pamphlet begging Queen Elizabeth not to marry the Prince of France. Stubbs received a sentence that was swiftly carried out: his right hand was chopped off with a meat cleaver. Stubbs had written that “the immoral union was like an uneven yoking of a clean ox to an unchaste ass, a thing forbidden in law.”
Yet, in Shakespeare’s play, “A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream”, Puck gives Bottom the head of an ass and Bottom cracks some lame jokes: Bottom says, “Good Master Mustardseed, I know your patience well. That same cowardly, giantlike ox-beef hath devoured many a gentleman of your house. I promise you, your kindred hath made my eyes water ere now.” to which Titiana replies: “Come wait upon him. Lead him to my bower. The moon methinks looks with a watery eye, and when she weeps, weeps every little flower lamenting some enforced chastity.”
So if you were an audience member back then, you probably could figure out that Shakespeare was joking about the Queen and the French Prince. The fact that Shakespeare got away with making this kind of joke shows us that the Queen must have cared about him. He was not just a country bumpkin.
We also know that the Queen cared about Edward de Vere because she gave him a pension of $1,000 pounds a year (worth about one million dollars) in todays money. She gave it to him after he had disobeyed her direct orders and angrily left a military post. Why did she do this? She cared about him.
Edward learned Greek at age 4. He had tutors teach him Italian, French, Latin, and Spanish. He attended Queen’s College at age 9. He lived for 16 months in Italy in Venice and visited every single Italian location that is mentioned by Shakespeare in his plays. His poems were published in books before he reached the age of 16, but around the age of 26, he stopped writing poetry completely. Many people believe he did continue to write under the pen name, William Shakespeare.
Shakespeare has been a fixture of British history for so long, he is imbued in the blood of British people. Most people love the rags-to-riches story of the man from Stratford and how a country bumpkin beat the royals. It’s a story of inclusion and therefore, when someone like me says, “You are honoring the wrong person,” some people become upset. They will say I am being a snob, or a “flat earth denier” or whatever.
But did you know that when I first wrote a book about selling real estate, I used to get similar hateful emails? Why? My suggestion was to have buyers preapproved for financing first, then show neighborhoods, then find the perfect home. It was called Selling Homes 1-2-3. And in about ten years, the way real estate agents worked with buyers completely changed. Will our beliefs about the real author of Shakespeare also change? It remains to be seen!