The Social Affairs Unit

Print Version • Website Home • Weblog Home


Use the buttons below to change the style and font size of our site.
Screen version     Print version:   
October 05, 2005

Is Sir Henry Neville the true author of Shakespeare's plays? William D. Rubinstein discusses the Shakespeare "authorship question" and explains why he believes that Shakespeare's plays were really written by Sir Henry Neville

Posted by William D. Rubinstein

In a book to be published later this month, The Truth Will Out: Unmasking the Real Shakespeare, William D. Rubinstein - Professor of History at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth - (together with his co-author, Brenda James) argues that Sir Henry Neville was the true author of Shakespeare's plays. Here Prof. Rubinstein discusses the Shakespeare "authorship question" and explains why he believes that Sir Henry Neville was the true author of Shakespeare's plays.

Did William Shakespeare, the Bard of Avon, write the works bearing his name on their title page? For 150 years or more, many highly intelligent people have argued that William Shakespeare did not write the plays and poems allegedly written by him.

The "anti-Stratfordian" movement (as it is known) arose in the mid-nineteenth century, when it nearly always argued that Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626), the great philosopher and legal figure, wrote Shakespeare's works. In the twentieth century, most anti-Stratfordians have claimed that Edward De Vere, the seventeenth Earl of Oxford (1550-1604) wrote Shakespeare's works, although there are many other alleged "candidates". Somewhat dormant for many decades, the so-called "Authorship Question" has reemerged during the last twenty years or so with renewed vigour, particularly, but not exclusively, in the United States. Many societies now exist in America, Britain, and Europe devoted to debating the issue, all with websites, conferences, and journals. In recent years an annual conference on the Authorship Question has even been held at the Globe Theatre in London, remarkable as this may sound. The Globe's recent director, Mark Rylance, has many doubts as to whether William Shakespeare, the actor and theatre-sharer (i.e. part owner) who was born in Stratford-on-Avon in 1564 and died there in 1616, actually wrote the works attributed to him, as do many other prominent figures in the theatre world like Sir Derek Jacobi.

This renewed interest in who actually wrote Shakespeare has occurred in the teeth of adamant and virtually unanimous opposition from nearly all established scholars of Shakespeare, especially those in university literature departments, to whom any discussion of an alternative Author is generally considered to be prima facie evidence of insanity. To the overwhelming majority of academic Shakespeare scholars, there is no "Authorship Question", and, as a topic of discussion, it is strictly taboo. Most academic conferences and journals concerned with Shakespeare and his works automatically ban any discussion of this subject submitted for consideration, and on Shaksper (www.shaksper.net), the leading Shakespeare academic website, any topic relating to Shakespeare may be discussed except the Authorship Question.

To be sure, this is not as outrageous as it may seem. During the nineteenth century, many "Baconians" engaged in evident charlatanism by claiming that the plays contained a secret code revealing Shakespeare's name; more recently, the leading anti-Stratfordian candidate has been the Earl of Oxford, who unfortunately died in 1604, nine years before Shakespeare's last play (Henry VIII) was apparently written, necessitating the creation of a chronology of Oxford's writings as "Shakespeare" totally at variance with the orthodox dating of the plays universally accepted by scholars. Unquestionably, although well-intentioned and often highly intelligent searchers after the truth, many anti-Stratfordians have been egregious and counterproductive in their persistence as well as in their lack of compelling evidence.

Nevertheless, there is a strong case to be made against the notion that Shakeaspeare of Stratford, the actor and theatre-sharer, wrote the works bearing is name. His lack of those qualities and qualifications assuredly necessary to have been the author of these works - who was a man of profound learning, knowledgeable about Court politics, multilingual, and almost certainly widely travelled on the Continent - has been recounted many times, as has been the complete inability to find a "paper trail" from Shakespeare's lifetime directly linking him with the plays he allegedly wrote. Although Shakespeare is arguably the most deeply-researched human being in history, virtually nothing whatever relating to his life, and nothing whatever relating to his purported authorship, was discovered in the entire twentieth century, despite the efforts of hundreds of researchers.

At the present time, no one is sure whether Shakespeare was a conforming Protestant or a secret Catholic - there have been a spate of books written over the past twenty years or so alleging the latter - and there are two alternative, and contradictory views of how Shakespeare came from Stratford to London, the older poaching-deer-and–then-holding-horses-at-the-theatre-door view having been supplanted in some quarters by the view that he spent two years as a youth in two Catholic households in Lancashire before joining Lord Strange's travelling acting company. Indeed, the closer one looks at Shakespeare's life, the more doubts about his authorship there must be.

To give one example of where legitimate doubts must exist, on the night of 28th December 1594 A Comedy of Errors was given its premier at Gray's Inn before an audience of lawyers, an occasion marked by a drunken saturnalia which became known at the time as "the night of errors". At precisely the same time, however, William Shakespeare and his entire acting company were known to be elsewhere, specifically at Greenwich Palace, performing before the Court. There cannot be the slightest doubt of this, since payment was specifically recorded to William Shakespeare (who is named) for the performance, dated 28th December 1594. Stratfordians have attempted to get round this contradiction either by asserting that the entry was misdated (for which, of course, there is no evidence) or that the performance took place during the day, and then Shakespeare and his company went on to Gray's Inn (presumably without rehearsing) to give the premier of Errors on the same night. But, as E. K. Chambers pointed out in 1907, all Court performances took place at night, starting at 10 p.m. and ending at 1 a.m. In other words, Shakespeare and his acting company were known to be elsewhere literally at the moment when one of his plays was being premiered. Such anomalies as this one, of which there are many, are consistently swept under the rug in orthodox biographies of Shakespeare.

What has been needed, however, and hitherto lacking has been a credible alternative candidate whose life history meshes with the known chronology of Shakespeare's works and helps to illuminate why and when the works were written. This month, Brenda James and I will publish The Truth Will Out (published by Longman, London), in which we believe that we have identified the real author of Shakespeare's works, a man never before mentioned as a Authorship candidate.

His name was Sir Henry Neville (c. 1562 -1615). Neville was a descendant of the brother of "Warwick the Kingmaker"; his mother was the niece and heiress of Sir Thomas Gresham, the great merchant and founder of Gresham College. Neville was educated at Merton College, Oxford and then (1578-81) went on a four-year tour of the Continent with Sir Henry Savile, the great Oxford scholar. Neville was known for his deep learning and was fluent in many languages. He served as an M.P. for most of his adult life, and lived chiefly in a large mansion, Billingbear Park, about six miles from Windsor. How he met Shakespeare the actor and used him as his front man in the theatre may never be completely known, but Mary Arden, Shakespeare's mother, was a distant relative of Lord Bergavenny, Neville's grandfather.

Neville served as Ambassador to France in 1599-1600, and, on his return to England, became involved in the Essex conspiracy, with the famous performance of Richard II by the rebels taking place a few days after he agreed to join them. Following the collapse of the rebellion, Neville was tried and sentenced to death, which was commuted to life imprisonment in the Tower and a huge fine. Much of the evidence against him was given by his old friend Lord Southampton, also convicted for his part in the rebellion, who spent two years beside him in the Tower. There - for the rich, the Tower was not unlike a good hotel - Neville wrote Hamlet and many of the Sonnets, some of which are certainly addressed to Southampton. To condense a long story, Neville published Shake-speares Sonnets three days before the official launch of the second London Virginia Company. Its celebrated, mysterious Dedication was certainly written by Neville himself, not by its publisher Thomas Thorpe, and is certainly dedicated to Southampton, his fellow director of the Company and close friend, as "well-wishing adventurers" in the new Company. In our book, we present a comprehensive life of Sir Henry Neville, showing how his biography meshes at every point with the accepted chronology of Shakespeare's works.

To read more on the Social Affairs Unit Web Review by Prof. Rubinstein on Sir Henry Neville and William Shakespeare, see William Shakespeare and Sir Henry Neville: A conspiracy or an agreement? and Sir Henry Neville and the Sonnets: Do the Sonnets show that Shakespeare's work was in fact written by Sir Henry Neville?. To read a critical review of Prof. Rubinstein's thesis, see Lincoln Allison's The Play's the Thing, remember - Lincoln Allison unmasks the true author of Shakespeare's plays, William Shakespeare.

William D. Rubinstein is professor of modern history at the University of Wales - Aberystwyth. He is the co-author (with Brenda James) of The Truth Will Out: Unmasking the Real Shakespeare (Longman, 2005).


Comments Notice
This comments facility is the property of the Social Affairs Unit.
We reserve the right to edit, amend or remove comments for legal reasons, policy reasons or any other reasons we judge fit.

By posting comments here you accept and acknowledge the Social Affairs Unit's absolute and unfettered right to edit your comments as set out above.
Comments

How can anyone come out with such nonsense. Such piffle coming from a supposedly serious academic. Everyone should know by now that "Shakespeare" was an Arabic writer - Sheikh Speare.

Posted by: Jon at October 5, 2005 09:10 PM
•••

Just remind me - is Prof. Rubinstein not the same man who on these very pages rejects evolution? He is obviously a man who sees a quixotic wayout idea - and then decides to embrace it.

Posted by: Jane at October 5, 2005 09:13 PM
•••

What I want to know is, was Shakespeare Jack the Ripper? And what was Shakespeare's role in JFK's assassination?

Posted by: Paul at October 5, 2005 09:16 PM
•••

Professor Rubinstein neglects to note that the Court records that show a payment to the Lord Chamberlain's Men (Shakespeare's company) for a performance on December 28, 1594, also state that the Lord Admiral's Men were paid for the same day. (E. K. Chambers, The Elizabethan Stage, IV:164-65) Obviously, one of those dates is wrong. Since the warrant for payment was issued two and half months later, on March 15, 1595, the misdating is no great surprise.

One also wonders how Professor Rubinstein imagines Henry Neville put across the idea that Will Shakespeare was the real playwright if the "front man" and his troupe weren't around when the plays were presented. Like all other anti-Stratfordians, this one can't keep his web from tangling.

I have a few more observations, preliminary of course, on the Neville thesis at: http://stromata.typepad.com/stromata_blog/2005/09/a_new_shakespea.html

Posted by: Tom Veal at October 6, 2005 04:43 AM
•••

If the author of Shakespeare's works were educated at Oxford, why did Ben Jonson describe him as knowing "little Latin and less Greek"?

Posted by: The drunken porter at October 6, 2005 09:11 AM
•••

I claim no expertise in these matters, but citing the vast popularity of this position in America may be an example of the argementum ad populam, the logical fallacythat lots of people cannot be wrong. As for the simultaneous performances, if Tudor Englishmen were as particular about their dates as they were with their spelling, this matter may be considered solved. Ultimately, however, this sort of speculation is more entertaining and less harmful than what might occupy peoples' time otherwise, chiefly drawing unprovable conclusions about the causes and remedies of global warming.

Posted by: s masty at October 6, 2005 09:49 AM
•••

Yes but why were the plays (etc.) put out under _Shakespeare's_ name? Why not use your own name? That seems to me a very substantial stumbling-block.

Posted by: Sudha Shenoy at October 6, 2005 05:14 PM
•••

Where does this rather convincing body of evidence put Shakespeare's alleged bisexuality, based on the feelings expressed in his sonnets? Neville was married with a reasonable sized family and there is no evidence that he was homosexual. If however the sonnets were written while Neville was imprisoned in the tower things may have changed and he developed a very close relationship with Lord Southampton.
I look forward to reading the book

Posted by: John HAYMAN at October 7, 2005 03:06 AM
•••

Tom Veal states in his Stromata observations that one can't assume that a recorded first performance was necessarily a premier of that play. However, many orthodox scholors have made just such claims. You can't have it both ways.

Posted by: hc at October 7, 2005 06:28 PM
•••

Perhaps some orthodox scholar has asserted that the performance at Gray's Inn was the premiere of A Comedy of Errors, but that is not the majority, or even a significant minority, opinion. As Professor Rubinstein ought to know, E. K. Chambers, whose authority he invokes, dated the play to 1592 or earlier.

Posted by: Tom Veal at October 7, 2005 08:26 PM
•••

I look forward to reading Brenda James and Professor Rubinsteins book, not being an expert but having read several books on the subject, the Stratfordians have never given a satisfactory answers to Shakespeares lack of a sound academic education, which he would have needed to have written so prolifically and with such indepth knowledge of court life at home and abroard.
Sir Henry Neville may be another in the line of possible authors but his background and allround knowledge must make him the strongest candidate to date.

Posted by: David Nixon at October 9, 2005 04:00 PM
•••

As something of an amateur in this field and quite fascinated by the amount of research and interest in this topic, I am intrigued by one question - Why does anyone care who the author was? The plays themselves are such beautiful works of the dramatist's art. No other dramatist seems to raise such feeling about authorship. Any thoughts?

Posted by: christine stirrup at October 10, 2005 01:57 AM
•••

Though I don't plan to become one of those bores who respond to every comment, I do want to make a couple of points in answer to Mr. Nixon:

1. An Elizabethan "academic education" contained not a scintilla of schooling in "court life at home and abroad". Neither history nor political science was part of the curriculum.

2. Shakespeare's plays are pretty innocent of authentic information about royal courts. In the real world, messengers didn't burst into the royal presence unannounced (Macbeth, I:2), and kings were not found alone in their chapels (Hamlet, III:3). Scott McCrea's recent book, The Case for Shakespeare (my review is at http://stromata.tripod.com/id476.htm), has quite a bit about the author's lack of "in-depth knowledge" of how either monarchs or aristocrats lived.

Posted by: Tom Veal at October 10, 2005 04:38 AM
•••

i sorry to burst your bubble,but sir henry neville was the courier,his is why he was seen delivering the plays.i believe as stated in a book "the playmakers" that marlowe wrote shakespeare's plays,read the book and see why.

Posted by: SEAN HEENEY at October 10, 2005 06:19 AM
•••

Professor Rubinstein's assertion that Neville wrote many of the Sonnets in the tower following the Essex rebellion directly contradicts the widely-accepted dating of these poems to the early 1590s. Most scholars also accept the obvious thematic and stylistic coincidences between the sonnets, the writings of John Florio and Love's Labours Lost. It is difficult to see how or why, almost ten years later, the author should revert to an earlier mode and style of writing.

Posted by: Michael J Moohan at October 10, 2005 11:50 AM
•••

I would like to reply to some of the points made by Mr Veal in his posting about The Truth Will Out, both here and on his own website (Stomata). They are in error; readers will have to decide whether they are also a comedy.

It is of course possible that The Comedy of Errors was written before its first recorded performance on 28 December 1594, as Chambers suggests, but there is simply no evidence that it was performed before this and recent authorities do not accept that it was. For instance, Michael Dobson and Stanley Wells in their Oxford Companion to Shakespeare (Oxford, 2001) - a source hardly likely to be sympathetic to anti-Stratfordian views - state (p. 84) that "it is unlikely that the lawyers and students [of Gray’s Inn] would have hired actors to appear at a grand festive occasion with anything but a new, or at least current play…stylistic texts confirm a dating around 1594, with rare vocabulary placing it between The Taming of the Shrew [c1592] and Romeo and Juliet [c1594]." Two other points are relevant here. First, the Gray's Inn performance was preceded by a series of masques which many scholars, including AL Rowse, believe were by Francis Bacon. Bacon was a close kinsman by marriage of Neville's (Not a blood relative, as is sometimes stated) - when Neville's mother died, Neville's father remarried Bacon's much older half-sister. Both were deeply learned university men and MPs. It is inconceivable that they did not know each other well, and presumably admire each other. Errors is about separated sets of twins. Draw your own conclusion. In contrast, what conceivable connection was there between Bacon and William Shakespeare? As well, Errors was not known to have been performed again until 1604. It was apparently not in the Chamberlain's Men's repertoire, which lends weight to the argument that it was written for a one-off ad hoc performance.

As to the date of the Greenwich performance, 28 December 1594 is what it says. Mr Veal would not dream of questioning it if some other date were specified, but would certainly accept it as valid primary evidence. He has done so here only because it is inconvenient to Stratfordian orthodoxy.
William D. Rubinstein

Posted by: William D Rubinstein at October 10, 2005 12:15 PM
•••

In response to Professor Rubinstein:

1. With all due respect to The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare, the view that The Comedy of Errors was first performed at Gray's Inn on December 28, 1594, is a distinct minority opinion, and the arguments that Professor Rubinstein recites - based on speculative stylistic analysis and ideas about what 16th Century lawyers would have wanted in the way of entertainment - are feeble next to a clear allusion to a war that ended a year and a half earlier. Records of theatrical performances in Elizabethan times are so scanty that no inference can be drawn from them.

2. Why should there be any relationship, familial or otherwise, between the writer of preliminary masques (whose identification with Bacon is another small minority opinion, backed by not a shred of documentary evidence) and the author of the play presented as the main feature of the evening? Because "Errors is about separated sets of twins"? That line of reasoning utterly escapes me.

3. The reason for questioning the December 28, 1594, date for a performance at Court by the Lord Chamberlain's Men is not "because it is inconvenient to Stratfordian orthodoxy" but because another company is recorded, in the same set of documents, as performing on the same day. While possible, the appearance of both of the major London companies on the same bill is not at all likely. Since the warrants for payment were not issued until March 15, 1595, it's wholly believable that one of the given performance dates is mistaken.

We still await an explanation of how Neville could have maintained the fiction that Shakespeare was the playwright if the "front man" and his troupe did not present the "premieres" of the plays.

Posted by: Tom Veal at October 10, 2005 01:34 PM
•••

Alas, Alack!
I have the definitive answer to Mr. Shakeyspear's work in
my own family tree!!
The true author was my lowly-esteemed ancestor, Bardley Shakes Parker, Earl of
Nothingham and sometimes jester at the Court of Lizzie Numero Uno.
He, according to family memoirs (never authenticated, thank GOD!) used the nickname "The Bard" for all of his worthless ditties, which were just a way of covering up his great
works. And he took "Shakes" for his last name, adding to it the family name of his lover,
Butch Spear.
Sorry I must devastate the Shakespearian world like this,
but, as the family crest reads,
"Let them guess until."
Warmest Regards,
Brad Parker (American -- Bostonian -- in Japan)
bradpark@mindspring.com

Posted by: Brad Parker at October 11, 2005 04:18 AM
•••

The orthodox Shakespeare academics are simply trying to muddy the waters and stop the growing consensus that the true author was Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford.

There is absolutely no evidence for Mr. Sir Henry. The majority of the sonnets were written in the early 1590s, a time when Sir Henry would have been in his late twenties or early thirites. In the sonnets, the author complains of being old and tired and lame. The poet is "old," "beated and chopped with tanned antiquity," bearing "lines and wrinkles," in "age's steepy night."

He looks at the past with regret and to the future with the sense that his death is not far off. Time is running out for him. He likens himself to "a decrepit father" who "takes delight" in the Fair Youth as in his "child" (37), implying a gap of a generation. Again this fits Oxford (who was twenty-three years older than Southampton) but not the scholars' Shakespeare (who was only nine years older), nor Bacon, nor Marlowe, nor Sir Henry.

Don't take these diversionary tactics seriously.

Posted by: Howard Schumann at October 12, 2005 05:03 PM
•••

A Postscript to "Alas! Alack"

Begging your pardon, dear scholars & Shakes. enthusiasts, I forgot to mention in my earlier post that I have the ORIGINAL ms.
of THE COMEDY OF ERRORS -- signed at the bottom by my
never-illustrious ancestor: Bardley Shakes Parker. Dated
Dec. 27th, 1594. And -- I shall be happy to display this priceless object to the world just as soon as the ink dries.
I doth promise!!!
Warmer Regards (than previously) -- Brad Parker
[Bostonian living in Japan]
bradpark@mindspring.com

Posted by: Brad Parker at October 13, 2005 06:38 AM
•••

HARK!
Please to excuse one more bit of evidence indicating that my never-beloved, slightly cracked ancestor,Bardley Shakes Parker, was indeed the true
literary genius. The brittle parchment I have recently discovered in my writing desk (next to my collection of Parker pens) contains these few lines in the damn-awful handwriting of Bardsley:
"To die or to live -- such is my dilemma, with all my friendes supporrting the former and only my best-liked
dog,Nevvere, showing he doth
wish for my life to proceedeth. He did jumpeth with joy when I cursed the neighbor's pooodle
bitch for trespassething: "Out! Get thee out, damn Spot!!"

Best Regards,
Brad Parker (Bostonian in Japan)
PS: Framed copies of Bardsley's remarks, dated 1616.1, will be available for sale as soon as I wash and press the original into a more aesthetically-pleasing condition.


Posted by: Brad Parker at May 13, 2006 02:14 AM
•••

bring it on shakesparker -i'm buying it!

Posted by: juliet at July 19, 2006 11:52 AM
•••

"The orthodox Shakespeare academics are simply trying to muddy the waters and stop the growing consensus that the true author was Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford.

There is absolutely no evidence for Mr. Sir Henry. The majority of the sonnets were written in the early 1590s, a time when Sir Henry would have been in his late twenties or early thirites. In the sonnets, the author complains of being old and tired and lame. The poet is "old," "beated and chopped with tanned antiquity," bearing "lines and wrinkles," in "age's steepy night."

He looks at the past with regret and to the future with the sense that his death is not far off. Time is running out for him. He likens himself to "a decrepit father" who "takes delight" in the Fair Youth as in his "child" (37), implying a gap of a generation. Again this fits Oxford (who was twenty-three years older than Southampton) but not the scholars' Shakespeare (who was only nine years older), nor Bacon, nor Marlowe, nor Sir Henry. "

And yet Henry Neville was older than Shakespeare... so your assertion that he was not old enough to write the Sonnets through an old man's eyes also works against Shakespeare. So, since OBVIOUSLY, according to your logic, Shakespeare wasn't the author, who do you suggest would be the true author? Your grandpa's uncle's half-sister's cousin's former college roommate?

Posted by: Lily Fields at April 15, 2007 02:39 AM
•••

Ummm...I think Lily Fields is a little confused here in the last comment. Howard Schumann states clearly in his first sentence that the true author was Edward de Vere, 17th earl of Oxford.

The fact that Neville was older than Shakespeare and therefore Shakespeare couldn't have written in this way, is precisely the point. Shakespeare the grain dealer DIDN'T write the sonnets, he was merely the frontman for de Vere.

Posted by: Malym at May 13, 2007 04:03 AM
•••

Professor Rubenstein's theory makes perfect sense to me when I examine all of the references in Shakespeare's The Phoenix and the Turtle. The poem is dedicated to Sir John Salusbury of Lleweni Wales. It is necessary to do some geneology on all of these people to see how perfectly it all fits together, but if you do the research the results are pretty amazing. This information through records and links on the internet is all out there and anyone with the time and the interest can connect the dots. What people don't understand in these modern times is how important religion was to 15th century Welsh and Englishmen. It was everything, because if you were on the wrong side of the church, you were also on the wrong side of politics and it followed that you would lose your livlihood and perhaps, by extension, your head. (no pun intended).


Sir John Salusbury was the younger brother to Sir Thomas Salusbury (beheaded by Queen Elizebeth for his part in the Babington plot). Sir John Salusbury was married to Ursula Stanley, illegitimate sister to Ferdinando Stanley, Lord Strange of Lord Strange's Men. ( who died a mysterious death : poisoned-some say for refusing to join the Protestant plot in the Netherlands to usurp Elizebeth's throne). Ferdinando Stanley was married to one of Diana Spenser's ancestors: Alice Spencer. Henry Neville was descended on one side from the Stanleys. Henry Neville's mother was niece (and sole heir) to Sir Thomas Gresham, financial advisor to Queen Elizebeth , and the founder of Gresham College. He also built the first London Stock exchange in conjunction with, and at the suggestion of Sir Richard Clough of Denbigh Wales, whose wife, Catrin of Berain, was the illegitimate direct descendent of Henry vll (this would make her the second cousin of Queen Elizebeth and also related to Neville. Thomas and John Salusbury were sons of Catrin of Berain by her first marriage to Sir John Salusbury of Llweni and therefore stepsons of my ancestor, Sir Richard Clough, of Denbigh Wales. Sir Richard Clough (my ancestor, Catrin's second husband) and Sir Thomas Gresham were partners in negotiating loans across Europe at high rates of exchange and at that time, were two of the wealthiest men in the kingdom. Ben Jonson was printing the works of William Shakespeare at Gresham College. They all knew one another and most were in some way related to one another.

The Phoenix and the Turtle was dedicated specifically to Sir John Salusbury of Llweni on the marriage of his wedding to Ursula Stanley and his knighting by Queen Elizebeth. It contains some highly enigmatic and debatable content, aimed at a very specific audience. Whether or not it is complimentory or derogatory is conjecture at this time because we don't know whose side Neville was on. That is to say, we don't know if he was a Catholic, or a Protestant. Following the execution of Thomas Salusbury (of which Neville would have had first hand information) the Salubury family was temporarily in disgrace until John, through his own efforts, worked his way back into the good graces of Queen Elizebeth. This did not make him a popular man with some members of the junior branch of the Salusbury family. After all, the poem shadows the allegory of following your desires and beliefs at the expense of all else. There is a horrible enui in this poem that smacks of prison and death.The phoenix (Elizebeth) ends up dead and so does the Turtle (Essex).

In real life, so did a lot of Neville's relatives whether they supported the Queen or not. Stanley, Lord Strange was a supporter of the Queen as was John Salusbury, and yet John Salusbury failed to achieve success at the hands of Queen Elizebeth and lost a brother into the bargain. I sometimes wonder if the dedication is not a deep cutting irony and insult possibly as the result of what Nevile perceived to be hypocracy on John's part. Lord Strange ended up dead at the hands of an assasin. Let the bird of loudest lay claim the throne. Although John Salusbury was Esquire to the Body of the Queen, he was also her third cousin through his mother. This fact did not save his brother Thomas from his fate on Tower Green along with Anthony Babington and others. I firmly support the theory that Henry Neville was Shakespeare because the time period and connections that he has with all the players in his own family and within the theatrical troupes are just too many to be ignored and too many to be cooincidence. The hopes and dreams of all those disgraced displaced members of the family of Queen Elizebeth who didn't care for James l either. the firmest evidence we have: the poetry itself points in that direction.

Ergo Ben Jonson's reference in his poetry to Neville's death at Windsor and his dedication of the Phoenix and the Turtle to Sir John Llweni of Salusbury seem apt.

Posted by: Llyn at April 15, 2008 01:07 AM
•••

a rose by ant other name would smell as sweet

Posted by: james cruickshank at September 29, 2008 12:47 PM
•••

Could this be a case of the phenomenon once called "the insularity of the British"?

One had hoped that modern exchanges with Europe and so on might have banished it but not so. The majority of British ( I could say English -like the authors of 'The Truth Will Out' I live in Wales) responses to to the dilemma above totally fail to address the issue of knowledge of european countries.

To the rest of us it is clear that only someone who had actually lived in Verona, France and so on could possibly have had knowledge of such details of daily life as names of servants and so on. But no, the names were gleaned from libraries, through letters!! All laughable as I say to us "foreigners". Well perhaps Shakespeare and/or any other candidate above- all of whom share the trait that they could not have possibly visited all the countries that the plays are set in, may have had spiritual contact with some early form of the internet?

Since Neville DID travel so extensively and exactly mirroring the progression of the plays ( not to mention the transition from comedies to tragedies coinciding with Neville's stay in the tower) the whole question hinges on the logic of acquisition of local knowledge.
To a foreigner that is.

To use modern bloggspeak: to those of us who ourselves have lived in different countries the whole question becomes a nobrainer. Our pity for exhibitions of insularity, obsession with detail of court life and so on is even greater than 50 years ago when isolation, and vague memories of an Empire, were possibly a sort of excuse for questions such as: "do they use english as the officiol language in your country"?. I was asked this of my european motherland (admittedly a small country then and an even smaller one today) in the seventies in Aberystwyth, a university town, after all.

Ah well nothing new and so on, one can hope for better in future. When the rest of the world accepts the fact that a rose, no matter how sweetsmelling and incredibly, beautiful still has a genus and family history which are in themselves interesting and captivating , and that the name of that rose is Neville, then too will this island (or the english part of it as I say there is more commonsense here in Wales) follow suit!! We can wait.

Posted by: Iskra Holstein at November 25, 2009 11:58 PM
•••
Post a comment








Anti-spambot Turing code







Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, this site is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

The Social Affairs Unit's weblog Privacy Statement