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Reply to Shakespeare Bites Back

Reply to Shakespeare Bites Back

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Published by JOHN HUDSON
Reply to the pamphlet Shakespeare Bites Back, by Stanley Wells and Paul Edmondson of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, commenting on the release of Roland Emmerich's movie ANONYMOUS about the Earl of Oxford.
Reply to the pamphlet Shakespeare Bites Back, by Stanley Wells and Paul Edmondson of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, commenting on the release of Roland Emmerich's movie ANONYMOUS about the Earl of Oxford.

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Published by: JOHN HUDSON on Oct 28, 2011
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11/19/2013

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Shakespeare
Bites Back:A Reply by John Hudson
Today, on 28th October 2011, Stanley Wells and PaulEdmondson of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust responded tothe opening of Roland Emmerich’s movie
 Anonymous
bypublishing a 40 page pamphlet. They called it
ShakespeareBites Back:Not So Anonymous
. There is an old English proverb“Barking Dogs Seldom Bite.” This pamphlet shows very clearlythat the case for Shakespeare is all bark and no bite. Indeed itseems almost completely toothless.On one point we are in agreement: that who wrote the playsdoes matter. As the pamphlet states, to claim that the playswere written by someone who did not in fact write them is “is todeny history, the nature of historical evidence, and also tosever from the works any understanding of the humanity andpersonality behind them… we want to know as much aspossible about the artist responsible for the work.Yet it isprecisely in such a distortion of historical evidence that theTrust‘s representatives are engaged.
 
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The strategy that they adopt in their pamphlet is two-fold. Their first strategy is to put forward biased and misleading evidencein support of their candidate. The writers claim to be objective,yet there is no such thing as total objectivity. Good researchersacknowledge this and declare their biases. Wells andEdmondson do not do so. Instead they express surprise thatthey are accused of being biased because they support thetruth claims of their organization, the Shakespeare BirthplaceTrust. With assets of at least 20 million pounds, this is a significantentity with which they are both affiliated, in the capacities ofChairman and as Head of Learning and Research--- the latter being presumably a paid position. The buildings that theorganization operates are Stratford-Upon-Avon’s leading touristattraction. So far from being objective, Wells and Edmondsonare engaged in a rather belated public relations exercise,creating propaganda to support their organization’s financialinterests which are increasingly coming under competitivethreat from those advocating alternative candidates for theAuthorship.The writers wonder why so many lawyers and several SupremeCourt justices are interested in the Authorship Question. Theanswer is that it is the job of lawyers is to understand the natureof evidence. Many of them, therefore, are sensitive to the fact
 
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that the case put forward for William Shakespeare’s authorshipdoes not satisfy the most basic requirements for valid evidence.This “evidence” has two main problems. Firstly, Wells andEdmondson detail, correctly and at length, that the nameWilliam Shakespeare appears on the quartos and on the FirstFolio. Yet, unfortunately for their case, that was
not
the originalbaptismal name of the man from Stratford. His baptismal name,as they know perfectly well, was Gulielmus Shakspere. Theyneed to demonstrate how and why and when he changed hisname to William Shakespeare. Furthermore, the appearance ofa person’s name on the cover of a literary work does notnecessarily prove that the work was actually written by thatindividual. Many works have been published under pseudonyms and allonyms, and they have deceived millions ofpeople. For instance, Wells and Edmondson refer to the “novelsof Mark Twain” as literature that was based on biographical lifeexperience. That is correct, except “Mark Twain” was apseudonym, concealing the author’s true name, which wasSamuel Clemens. So the appearance on the cover of thename that the Man from Stratford supposedly adopted doesnot demonstrate in any way that he wrote the Shakespeareanworks.

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