Shakespeare a fake? What fools these mortals be.
My name’s Lucy and I’m a Stratfordian. Okay, not really. That’s just a fancy way of saying that I think William Shakespeare was real.
That even though he was born to a middle class family, went to the local school and never set foot in a university - that he wrote every single one of his approximately 38 plays, 154 sonnets, and 2 epic narrative poems, with an unrivalled creativity, a wicked sense of humour and a serious passion for documenting the world around him.
It means that I think Shakespeare’s humble beginnings did not define him. That his quick wit drove his talent and his natural curiosity made him a star.
Not so, says new film Anonymous by German director Roland Emmerich, who has devoted 130 minutes to re-telling the ancient story of a literary hero - by claiming that he was someone else altogether.
Emmerich doesn’t buy Will’s common beginnings. He says that only someone with an impressive education and a well-connected family with lots of money could be the real Shakespeare.
Cue noblemen Edward de Vere, the hero of Anonymous and the well travelled, long standing member of Queen Elizabeth 1’s court, who matriculated at St John’s College, Cambridge.
THIS man says Emmerich, is the REAL Shakespeare.
Emmerich’s idea is not a new one. Academics, history buffs and ye olde play goers alike have contested Shakespeare’s identity as far back as the early 1800s.
The unfortunately named J Thomas Looney most notable among them - for building an entire career out of trying to prove that Shakespeare was not the man behind all those words.
Just like Emmerich, Looney (who had several followers) believed that only someone of de Vere’s social status would have the time and inclination to produce so much literary work.
Christopher Marlowe and Francis Bacon were also contenders. But they’re wrong too.
You don’t have to be a rich guy with three parts to your name and a fancy education to be a creative genius - you just have to be passionate and clever.
According to Jonathan Bate an English professor at the University of Liverpool and avowed Stratfordian, people who use Shakespeare’s humble beginnings to debunk his existence underestimate his “deep involvement in the life of the theatre.”
Words, plays and acting were not just a hobby for old Will, says Bates. They were his profession. His passion. His reason for getting up in the morning.
Men like Edward de Vere certainly wrote, their social standing gave them an entirely different perspective on Elizabethan life. They were privileged, comfortable and happy with the status quo. William Shakespeare on the other hand, was a common man and that’s what made his stories so universal. We want him to have written the stories because his “common” beginnings reflect most of our own.
Just last year I went to Shakespeare’s house in Stratford-Upon-Avon - ducking my head in the miniature doorways, and staring out the rickety, ancient windows, wondering if it would be possible to understand just what it was that inspired him.
To be honest, it was hard going. Take away the tourists and their vegetable pasties. The endless rows of umbrellas and the Tudor souvenir shops, what you caught most was a glimpse of life - the business of people just going about their day.
What, no castles? That couldn’t be it, I remember thinking to myself. But maybe that’s the point.
Arguing about how a provincial bloke could be moved to write stories of great battles and royal courts are to completely miss the point of a great story teller. Because at the end of the day and above all things, Will Shakespeare’s true gift was a fantastic imagination.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…