Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)
Oh, to be in England...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Anonymous- Was Shakespeare a Fraud? Methinks not!

Anonymous: The Film
"Set in the political snake-pit of Elizabethan England, Anonymous speculates on an issue that has for centuries intrigued academics and brilliant minds such as Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, and Sigmund Freud, namely: who actually created the body of work credited to William Shakespeare? Experts have debated, books have been written, and scholars have devoted their lives to protecting or debunking theories surrounding the authorship of the most renowned works in English literature. Anonymous poses one possible answer, focusing on a time when scandalous political intrigue, illicit romances in the Royal Court, and the schemes of greedy nobles lusting for the power of the throne were brought to light in the most unlikely of places: the London stage."

Rhys Ifans as the Earl of Oxford who in my opinion did NOT author any Shakespearean texts

As I was researching this post in anticipation of the release of "Anonymous" in a few weeks' time, I was actually sucked in just for a moment. Just a brief moment. And then I shook my head and did some more research and I am now quite convinced that although this might make a good story, it is a work of fiction. That is a polite way of saying that this film is a bunch of bunk. But that is OK, as long as it is made clear to viewers that this is truly fiction/bunk and we should watch it for entertainment and not information.

Sam Reid as the Earl of Essex in Anonymous

I do not claim to be an English scholar, but I have now read enough to believe that there are enough contemporary accounts referencing William Shakespeare of Stratford as the author of these plays and sonnets, to discount all of the so called evidence to the contrary. Furthermore, as an educated Canadian woman who is descended from English coal miners and cotton mill workers and shoemakers, some of whom were in the workhouse during the 19th century, I find the idea that only a highly educated member of the aristocracy could have written Shakespeare's prose and poetry offensive. Poppycock and twaddle I say!

Joely Richardson as young Queen Elizabeth and Jamie Campbell Bower as young Oxford

However, as someone who adores the film Shakespeare in Love, which never purports to be anything but fiction, I am open to seeing this film and hopefully enjoying it as an Elizabethan political thriller. There are certainly a fine collection of actors in this (Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave, Rafe Spall, Joely Richardson, David Thewlis et al).  There are also a lot of fab costumes. And I am a total sucker for a CGI flyover of the Thames in any century that isn't the 21st!

Vanessa Redgrave as the apparently not so virginal Queen Elizabeth

So bring on the intrigue, incest and incredible distortion of the facts. I just want the eye candy!

What do you think? Shakespeare or the Earl of Oxford? See the film or pass on it? Let me know what you think.


  1. Indeed I agree! Shakespeare all the way!

    Made me think of this Stepeh Fry tweet:!/stephenfry/status/102688814358732801

    Actually, I remember he had a link to some program he had participated in, about Shakespeare, but couldn't find it, alas.

    Some of the things I've seen about Anonymous does lead me to believe that they are actually promoting the Oxford-notion as "true" - but then I'm not a fan of Shakespeare in Love, so you may blame some of that on my cranky disposition if you will. :)


  2. Ugh - Stephen Fry of course - darn typo...

    Oh, and I also wanted to say, that I agree - it's snobbery of the worst kind to think that Shakespeare couldn't have written his works because he wasn't "fine" enough.

    Oh, and the notion that Shakespeare was given the "credit" because nobody would care what a nobody like him wrote? So what they are saying is that Oxford basically used him as a scapegoat if anything went wrong? Personally, I'd prefer not to think that the author of those plays was a despicable coward - but then, maybe that's just me.


  3. @LRK- Yes, the whole Oxfordian theory just doesn't make sense. If there is one thing the Brits do well, it is to document- they love to write everything down! So a lack of documents only proves that things were lost or destroyed in the 400 years that have passed (not surprising). But I believe that we have to take the remaining documents at face value-you know ALL the ones that say that William Shakespeare, actor and playwright from Stratford was the author of all that bears his name. But I guess that wouldn't make for a "political thriller". I just hope the viewers don't get sucked in and believe this fantasy!
    Oh, I'm plenty cranky too, but I'll still go! ;)

    P.S. I'll let you know if I find Stephen Fry's Shakespeare program. I'd love to see that!

  4. I'm on the fence about seeing this movie. Seeing all those layers of clothes and knowing how infrequently they bathed, I start itching all over. :) I'll wait to hear what you think.

  5. I just saw this article:

    I hope you let us know what you think about the movie when you get to see it!:)


  6. @LRK- Thanks for the link. Glad to know the Brits aren't taking this lying down. I hope it will be received like The Da Vinci Code where most people realized that it is pure fiction. They did realize that didn't they?

    Just tweeted it to share it with other like minded individuals. Thanks again!

  7. Not only was Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford the author of many of the Shakespeare plays. Jane Austen's novels were actually written by her cousin Eliza Austen, Comtesse de Feuillide. I prove this in my recently published biography "Jane Austen - a New Revelation". There are many parallels between the two: no remaining original texts, the lack of education of the purported authors, references to the true authors' lives in their works, reasons why their true identities needed to be hidden. It is not that the establishment really believes William Shakespeare and Jane Austen to be the true authors, they do not. They only wish the masses to believe this.




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