If you have been keeping up with the groundbreaking revelations on this site live as they happen (or rather other people’s groundbreaking revelations live as this philosophy blogger gets around to discovering them after everyone else) you will know whom I mean by ‘Shakespeare'. I do not mean a vague local chap from Stratford who was the best-educated man of all time, a political, military and legal expert and a prolific, creative literary genius whilst at the same time managing to leave almost no corresponding physical or historical trace of his life. I mean rather Edward De Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford who wrote anonymously under the name of Shakespeare for political and social reasons (see my post The real Shakespeare).
After this post, Jim Hammond, whose noteworthy site is at the origin of my recent posts (see his essay Who was Shakespeare?), pointed me to this site: Shake-speare’s Treason. At this point my head was reeling. With time only for a brief look, I couldn’t make out what the heck was going on here. Then Jim, commenting on my last post Edward De Vere Google search, nudged me to discover 'The Prince Tudor Theory'. I would have gotten around to it, eventually. So today I read Jim’s excellent essay Shakespeare’s Secret Son: The Prince Tudor Theory and all the pieces fell into place.
In a nutshell, Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford, was a favourite at Queen Elizabeth’s court. And, according to the theory, perhaps at one point he was more than a favourite. They have a secret affair and Elizabeth gives birth secretly to their son who of course is prince and heir to the throne but Elizabeth does not recognize him publicly as such. Their son, Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton, later takes part in the Essex Rebellion and is captured and imprisoned for treason in the Tower of London. He is released after two years. (You can’t make this up, truth is stranger than fiction). Jim gives us a good overview of the development of the Prince Tudor Theory over time up until today where it is taken to another level by Hank Whittemore who has discovered a ‘code’ in the bard’s sonnets.
Hank has discovered a numerical structure in Shakespeare’s Sonnets; he has discovered what may be called The Rosetta Stone that makes it possible to understand the Sonnets. T. S. Eliot said of the Sonnets, “This autobiography is written by a foreign man in a foreign tongue, which can never be translated.” Hank’s work allows us to translate this “foreign language,” it allows us to understand the Sonnets for the first time…
Hank argues that the Sonnets deal almost entirely with Queen Elizabeth and Southampton. They deal with the poet’s love for his son — not with a homosexual passion, as many have supposed, nor with a heterosexual passion, as earlier Tudorites believed. Hank argues that the famous Dark Lady of the Sonnets is Elizabeth…
Hank argues that the Sonnets express the poet’s anguish over his son’s predicament … They also express the poet’s anguish that his connection to Elizabeth will never be made public, that his son will never become King (even if he’s fortunate enough to avoid execution), and that his own career as a writer will be buried in secrecy and silence.
Jim goes on to give an absolutely fascinating exposé of the arguments in favour of the Prince Tudor Theory, citing verses from the sonnets which become clear once one knows how to unlock them using Hank’s key.
Hank has written a book on his discovery, 'The Monument: Shake-Speare’s Sonnets by Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford', which has its own site here. If you want to know more you can also visit Hank Whittemore’s Shakespeare Blog. And if you are in the Boston area you can go to Hank’s 28 March solo show on the subject Shake-speare’s Treason – The True Story of King Henry IX, Last of the Tudors.
This is a truly amazing subject for further study and I look forward to getting my teeth into it. A big thank you to Jim for the nudge. I was getting around to it though.
P.S. Click on the 'comments' link below to read a message from Hank Whittemore. That's right, the man himself, live as it happens...
Image: Book cover of ‘The Monument: Shake-Speare’s Sonnets by Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford’ by Hank Whittemore