The Authorship Question
The Catholic Question
Cast of Characters
The Author's Mind
Edmund Campion
Edmund Campion as Shakespeare
The Works
Coincidence or Clue
The Devil's Advocate
Notes and References
Contact Me
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Much has been written in an attempt to explain the nature of the mind behind the great works of literature in the Shakespeare canon. It is usually acknowledged that the author possessed an incredible ability to analyse, understand and describe the unlimited variety of human personality and endeavour unequalled by any other English author. Shakespeare’s dramatic works have such universal and ongoing appeal that he well deserves Jonson’s plaudit that he was “a man for all time” .[3].

Many writers have attempted to classify and list the interests and fields of knowledge delineated in Skakespeare’s plays to demonstrate that he was indeed the man who knew everything. In his overview of the authorship controversy, John Michell [4], gives this comprehensive and awe-inspiring catalogue of Shakespeare’s specialities that have been put forward over the years:

The law and legal terms, contemporary and historical
The manners of the royal court, the aristocratic mind, ways and language
Sports of the nobility, hunting and falconry
Philosophy, classical and esoteric
Statecraft and statesmanship
Biblical scholarship
English and European history
Classical literature and languages
Italian geography and travel
France and the court of Navarre
Danish terms and customs
Horticulture and garden design
Wales and the Welsh
Music and musical terms
Painting and sculpture
Astronomy and astrology
Natural History
Medicine and Psychology
Military life
Exploration and the New World
Navigation and seamanship
Folklore, fairy mythology, the supernatural
Theatrical management and the habits of players
Cambridge University jargon
Cryptography and the Secret Service

The most frequent of Shakespeare’s literary allusions relate to classical literature and mythology, and it is widely accepted that he must have been an accomplished Latin scholar, as many of his sources were not available in the English language during Shakspere’s lifetime. In addition to Ovid in the Latin translation, Shakespeare’s most popular sources appear to be the Bible, Plutarch and Holinshed.

His writings are permeated with classical phrases and allusions
and the freedom with which he misquoted or paraphrased his
sources, while boldly adapting them to his own purpose,
indicates that he wrote largely from memory without constant
reference to books. Shakespeare did not flaunt his learning, but
it was at the centre of his mind and culture so he could not avoid
displaying it in his writing [5]

Other major components of Shakespeare’s knowledge relate to the law, aristocracy and the court, seamanship, military matters, psychology and medicine, country sports and pastimes, plant lore and folklore.

In addition to the possession of such a vast and impressive body of knowledge, the author also had at his command a remarkable and extensive vocabulary to express this knowledge, said to be far greater than that of any other writer in English. To put it in perspective: Milton was said to have a vocabulary of 7000 words; the New Testament employs around 5700 words; and Shakespeare somewhere between 20000 and 27000 words including inflectional forms.[6)]. Along with his contemporary and author candidate Francis Bacon, Shakespeare was responsible for coining and introducing from foreign languages, a very large number of English words. One twelfth of Shakespeare’s words appear in print for the first time in English. Edward Oakes also states the incredible fact that “nearly half of Shakespeare’s words were what scholars call hapax legomena, that is, words that Shakespeare used only once, having found the one right location for their perfect use and never needing them again.[7].

As well as attempting to gain an insight into the mind behind the works, writers have also endeavoured to scrutinize the nature of the man himself. Orthodox scholars have produced hefty tomes concerning the man from Stratford based on very limited historical information, ultimately failing to leave readers convinced they have any real sense of the man’s character. The known facts of his life outlined in the timeline section of this site, are noticeably few and contain a paucity of detail, which has given full reign to the biographer’s imagination.

Stratfordian Caroline Spurgeon in her book Shakespeare’s Imagery concluded that he must have possessed the following attributes: courage; sensitivity; balance; humour and wholesomeness and that he could be described as gentle, kindly, honest, brave and true with an overall character that was no less than Christ-like. It is not surprising that many people are unable to reconcile this picture with the record of William from Stratford who dodged taxes, had an injunction for violence taken out against him, sued for small business debts, engaged in questionable property deals and infamously left his wife his second best bed in his will. Can this provincial actor and businessman really be the author of works suffused with such idealism, imagination and passion - works which display life experiences so disparate to the known facts of his own life?

It has been my longstanding belief that Shakspere can not be the author of such works and it has only been recently, when I actually gave some thought to whom it could be, that I identified a man who did possess the learning, talents, experience and noble character attributed to Shakespeare.

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