* moment of stunned silence*
That is all very well and good you say, after picking yourself up from the floor, but what has it got to do with healing philosophy?
First of all, Shakespeare’s knowledge of the human soul places him among the great philosophers of all time, quite apart from his writing genius. Secondly, how is it that all my life until now, I did not know who the real Shakespeare was? And if all my life I ‘laboured under this mistaken belief’, what other mistaken beliefs am I labouring under? All of us, since I am sure 99% of the world is not aware of the truth.
The conventional view is that Shakespeare was a man from the small, country town of Stratford. Many people, however, reject the conventional view, and argue that Shakespeare was the pen name of Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, and that the Earl of Oxford had to conceal his authorship for social and political reasons.
The social and political reasons being that all artistic work was considered at that time not much better than manual labour and so was beneath Oxford’s station as a Lord. Hammond’s essay exposes many convincing arguments of which I quote here those I thought the most obviously true:
Shakespeare's works contain a vast amount of knowledge, knowledge that the Stratford man could scarcely have acquired. Shakespeare knew the Greek and Roman classics; his works refer to the tragedies of Sophocles, the dialogues of Plato, and many other ancient classics … Shakespeare also had a firm grasp of politics … a deep knowledge of legal matters … understood naval and military matters ... He was thoroughly versed in the pastimes of the nobility, such as falconry; he often uses images borrowed from falconry. How could the Stratford man have acquired such knowledge? …those who adhere to the Oxford theory describe the poet as one of the best educated people of his time, or of any time.
In short, Oxford’s education was of the first order, he moved in high political circles, he travelled extensively, he was a soldier-sportsman-athlete, a scholar and a gifted writer from an early age. In short he was everything that the Stratford man was not and that the Shakespeare as revealed in his works certainly was. Hammond ties many threads together drawing on the research of many people, such that one is left in no doubt as to the conclusion.
But no need to take my word for it: read the essay and judge for yourself. We must thank Jim Hammond for this belief-shattering essay and not least for passing on to us what is certainly a description of the real Shakespeare:
While traveling on the Continent, Oxford may have encountered the poet George Chapman. In one of his plays, Chapman has a character say that he encountered Oxford in Germany, and that he found him to be .
...the most goodly fashion'd man
I ever saw: from head to foot in form
Rare and most absolute...
He was beside of spirit passing great
Valiant and learn'd, and liberal as the sun,
Spoke and writ sweetly, or of learned subjects,
Or of the discipline of public weals.
Image from Wikimedia: Edward De Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford from an engraving by J. Brown after G.P. Harding 1575
P.S. You can add your name to a Declaration of reasonable doubt about the identity of William Shakespeare at the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition