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Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford 1550-1604

Who Wrote Shakespeare?

Report of the lecture given by Charles Beauclerk on July 22nd 2009

Total suspension of belief was required for this lecture!

The speaker, who is the Earl of Burford, pressed claims for his ancestor Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, to be regarded as the true author of Shakespeare's works.

The Authorship Question focuses on attempts to persuade the world that Shakespeare's works were not written by Shakespeare and has been described by Professor Michael Dobson of Roehampton University as "Shakespearian scholarship's distorted shadow". The Oxfordian Theory, one of at least five others in the field, was first put forward in 1920 by Thomas J Looney in his book Shakespeare Identified and was strongly supported by Sigmund Freud and Charlie Chaplin.

William Shakespeare 1564-1616Charles Beauclerk began by creating a historical context to enforce his argument, suggesting that the problem was historical rather than literary as he dismissed "academic authority" as being unwilling to consider new paradigms. By reference to supposed hidden meanings in texts, he claimed that the Stratfordian Shakspere was semi-literate and lacked the education and experience to create works of such breadth and quality. It was suggested that Shake-speare, a pen name of the true author, used Shakspere as a front man and eventually paid him off, enabling the purchase of a large house in Stratford.

The speaker then highlighted a political cover-up centred on the Elizabethan court and claimed that Edward de Vere was the illegitimate son of Elizabeth I with whom he subsequently had a son [said to be the Earl of Southampton]. A computer overlay of portraits was used to demonstrate facial resemblances between the incestuous lovers. It was proposed that the myth of the Virgin Queen was created to conceal this relationship. Also detailed were parallels between Hamlet and the Earl of Oxford indicating that the play was autobiographical and it was suggested that themes in several of Shakespeare's other plays reflected many aspects of Oxford's life.

The lecture was illustrated by de-contextualised extracts from plays and sonnets but no real documentary evidence was produced.

The speaker took some perceptive questions from members at the end of a lecture that proved to be interesting, intriguing and thought-provoking but not convincing for all. His answers, however, raised yet more questions.

Liz Dray, 23rd July 2009

Charles Beauclerk with the Deputy Chairman