The Wall Street Journal printed a front page story yesterday on the fact that Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has decided definitively that it is "beyond a reasonable doubt" that Shakespeare's plays were not written by Shakespeare. This is actually a subject that I've done quite a bit of research into for many years, so my letter on the subject follows:
Anti-Shakespearean elitists such as Justice John Paul Stevens have been singing the same tune now for more than a century, but the lyrics keep changing. Their motley crew of candidates-du-jour to the Shakespearean throne includes Francis Bacon, Ben Jonson, Walter Raleigh, Christopher Marlowe, the Earl of Derby, the Earl of Rutland, the Earl of Southampton, the Earl of Essex – and now the Earl of Oxford. (Wish I had a buck for every upstart Earl the Stevens crowd crowed about.)
But what I and other autodidacts wish more is that the media wouldn’t give air time (print space) to Oxfordian elitists who cannot shed their contumely and prejudice against those of us who, like Shakespeare, were primarily self-educated and masters of intellectual material. We are an illustrious bunch, us: Thomas Edison, George Bernard Shaw, Steven Spielberg, Gottfried Leibniz, Benjamin Franklin, Socrates, Abraham Lincoln, etc. (Remember Mark Twain’s immortal line? “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”)
We find knowledge not to be an ivory sport or dusty rationalism. We took a kernel of learning, as Shakespeare did, and grew it exponentially along pathways of volition and hardscrabble life. We sought not artificial curricula or artifice. We understand Shakespeare viscerally and came to him naturally. We love him for the making of himself and for what he made. And we find it ironic that the academic crowd does mental gymnastics to claim a commoner for itself (the new “nobility,” that is).
This does not mean we autodidacts dismissed contention that Shakespeare was not Shakespeare. We, instead, probed and delved with the solitary power of independent minds and found the academic positions(s) wanting and evasive (dismissal of Jonson’s ode to his “beloved” Shakespeare; death of Earl of Oxford in 1604; at least 10 plays written after Earl’s death; Earl’s own poetry middling; Earl’s own style unlike Shakespeare’s; no mention by Earl of Shakespeare plays in droves of personal letters; no acting career; no patron; etc.).
To paraphrase Shakespeare, the academics have more hair than sense.