Ten Premises

February 8th, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments
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Ten Premises for a study of Edward de Vere’s life:

1.) Our most compelling glimpse into the living person behind any poet or literary artisan is through his or her own words, filtered through the shrewd observances of contemporaries.

2.) Given the testimony of Gabriel Harvey (1579), William Webbe (1586), George Puttenham (1589), Francis Meres (1598) and Henry Peacham (1622), it is evident that “Edward Earle of Oxford” wrote poetry – including Latin works and drama – worthy of the highest praise.

3.) Since his few surviving poems (mostly lyrics) give only the barest hint of such promise, the earl must have written other works of high caliber – high enough for his contemporaries to rank him with Sidney, Ralegh and Gascoigne (in The Arte of English Poetrie, 1589), or with Chapman, Lyly, Nash and Shakespeare (in Palladis Tamia, 1598).

4.) The poetry and drama that earned these honorable mentions may have perished in manuscript.  Alternatively, the earl of Oxford’s works (which certainly included comedies, interludes, and poems in English and Latin, and, speculatively, may include translations, dramatic collaborations, pamphlets, prose romance or jest-books and other entertainments) may have appeared in print anonymously, under a pseudonym, or under the name of another author.

5.) A complete survey of potential attributions of anonymous work, or deliberate misattributions under invented or borrowed names, should begin with possible juvenilia (from 1562 onward), read with an ear for the thematic and stylistic roots of Edward Oxenford’s earliest signed poems and prose.


6.) Edward de Vere’s literary milieu – those writers and scholars with whom he studied, or with whom he could claim kinship or acquaintance, as well as those whom he employed or patronized, befriended, offended or inspired – sometimes to mockery – includes*:

Francis Bacon

Nathaniel Baxter

Thomas Bedingfield

George Buc

George Chapman

Thomas Churchyard

Bartholomew Clerke

Thomas Coryate

Angel Day

John Dee

Thomas Dekker

John Donne

Geoffrey Fenton

Giles Fletcher the elder

George Gascoigne

Arthur Golding

Robert Greene

Fulke Greville

Sir John Harrington

Gabriel Harvey

Nicholas Hill

Raphael Holinshed

Henry Howard, poet earl of Surrey

Henry Lok

John Lumley

John Lyly

John Marston

Anthony Munday

Thomas Nashe

Lawrence Nowell

George Peele

Walter Ralegh

Barnabe Rich

Thomas Sackville, Lord Buckhurst

Philip Sidney

Robert Sidney

Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke

Thomas Smith

John Soothern (or Soowthern)

Edmund Spenser

William Stanley, 6th earl of Derby

Johannes Sturm

Thomas Underdowne

Thomas Watson

* all links lead to Alan Nelson’s documentary biography, Montrous Adversary

7.) A study of the works and/or biographies of these writers would be an excellent introduction to

Mr. William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories & Tragedies.

 8.) Discovery of what his biographer Alan Nelson calls “the real Oxford” ultimately depends on a non-partisan survey of the documents that make up his biography, combined with a judicious analysis of the alleged literary allusions to the earl, with both strands of inquiry viewed through the broader context of the Elizabethan political and literary world.

9.) At the close of the Tudor era, Shakespeare and his fellow playwrights were well-placed to observe and comment upon the literary Lord Great Chamberlain’s flamboyant life and the ruin of his family’s ancient estate.  As the nineties progressed, the earl’s influence waned, his body weakened and his purse shrunk, yet tales of his former liberality to poets and scholars still remained fresh.  For those with the wit to camouflage a dramatic parallel, Edward de Vere’s follies and obsessions would have created a perfect storm of tragicomedy, capable of flooding the London stages with eloquent prodigals and vengeful cuckolds through many a dry season.  Therefore, topical references to the earl are probable.  Yet given the earl’s creed of malice and revenge, we should expect any such reference to be couched in highly obscure, ambiguous or cryptic terms.

10.)  Shakespeare had that wit in spades.  Ben Jonson too.

  1. Michael Egan
    April 12th, 2013 at 14:24 | #1

    Please add me as subscriber.

    • Marie Merkel
      April 18th, 2013 at 17:27 | #2

      Hi Michael,

      Glad to have you as a reader! To subscribe, just click the orange RSS button in the upper right corner of the blog, and choose how you’d like to receive future posts.

      Best wishes,


  2. March 15th, 2011 at 13:59 | #3

    Terrific, Marie. I am printing it out right now…!

    • Marie Merkel
      March 15th, 2011 at 14:18 | #4

      Excellent! Perhaps these “Ten Premises” could also go under the title “Ten Steps Towards Resolving Your Authorship Doubts”.

  3. January 29th, 2011 at 02:24 | #5

    Can we add Mary Sydney Wroth (Pembroke)? Wrote the first novel by an Englishwoman. (The Countess of Montgomery’s Urania) There are some Oxfordians looking for bio-bits. But what may be known already? She may have been with her namesake (almost) when she said that “we have the man Shake-speare here”. She was a live-in Pembroke after her and the Earl’s spouses had died, the former replacing Susan Vere. Hi, Joe

    • January 29th, 2011 at 13:15 | #6

      A worthy addition to the list, Mr. Eldredge! Born in 1587, to Philip Sidney’s younger brother Robert, and Barbara Gamage, Mary Sidney Wroth was on intimate terms with the inner sanctum of those who knew that “the man Shakespeare” was not the author who borrowed Shakspere’s name. Ben Jonson praised her to the skies; William Herbert, one of the “incomparable paire of brethren” of First Folio fame, was her lover and father of two of her children, and Susan Vere, Oxford’s youngest daughter, was her friend. Her openly autobiographical novel may well contain some camouflaged references to the literary scene of her childhood, and what part Ben Jonson and the Herbert brothers played in publishing “Shakespeare’s” plays.

      James Shapiro says autobiography just wasn’t done in Shakespeare’s day, yet his Contested Will contains NO MENTION of Mary Sidney Wroth. But she does earn a place in Shapiro and Woodring’s Columbia Anthology of British Poetry. Note that the editors chose to emphasize that Wroth “was admonished not to produce ‘lascivious tales and amorous toys'” – with no word of the topical nature of the toys that caused so much discomfort!

  4. December 12th, 2010 at 18:42 | #7

    De Vere does have a way of doing that! Will there be time enough to dance a galliard with each of his many strange shadows? Thanks for stopping by, Bill.

  5. December 1st, 2010 at 06:12 | #8

    Just a fan walking in off the street. Wow. Great. The fair makes the mind whirl.

  6. Earl
    November 28th, 2010 at 23:29 | #9

    Your list should also include family connections William Stanley and the Herbert brothers come to mind. Although his music was his primary interest, John Farmer might be another worthy to include. Nice site, Marie.

    • November 29th, 2010 at 13:13 | #10

      Thanks, Earl! I’m open to additions, and hadn’t thought of Farmer, the “URL of Derby” or the incomparable brethren. But I think I’d like to keep #6 of the Ten Premises for WRITERS whose works are available for study. Nonetheless, I’ve added Derby, since his literary biography is so fascinating, and his connection to Oxford as son-in-law so very close. I’ll have to give more thought to the composer of English madrigals, John Farmer, viz a viz #7 of the Premises: would a study of his works be an excellent introduction to Shakespeare?

  7. November 22nd, 2010 at 05:46 | #11

    @Soothern Comforte
    Yes indeed he does. Thanks for the suggestion.

  8. Soothern Comforte
    November 20th, 2010 at 00:55 | #12

    Does John Soothern merit inclusion in the list?


  9. November 16th, 2010 at 17:56 | #13

    Welcome to the Oxenford blog, and I’m glad to hear that you were at Ashland, and heard my talk on Falstaff & Jack Juggler.

  10. e
    November 16th, 2010 at 14:40 | #14

    my apologies, my lady, for male presumption….i enjoyed your talk in Ashland, I was the guy with books and high school kids. Lovely site. Bookmarked.

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