Cranleigh Arts Centre
West Surrey Area
Museums & Art Galleries
Report of the lecture given by Charles Beauclerk on July 22nd
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dray, 23rd July 2009
Charles Beauclerk with the Deputy Chairman