In 2009 I published The De Vere Code, which demonstrates that the poems published as Shake-speare's Sonnets in 1609 were in written, not by William Shaksper from Stratford-on-Avon, but by Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, a nobleman at the court of Queen Elizabeth I.
As the promotional bandwagon for Roland Emmerich's Stratford-baiting Anonymous gets under way, this blog will chronicle the next few months in the life of The De Vere Code, to see how its arguments, and the wider case for Edward de Vere, fare during this time of unprecedented scrutiny around all things Authorship…
Thursday, 29 September 2011
Alan Nelson v Emmerich, Orloff and co
As the intermittently flickering studio lighting added an unintentionally Elizabethan fireside atmosphere, Professor Nelson single-handedly fended off the uncompromising director Roland Emmerich, screenwriter John Orloff and Oxfordian author Charles Beauclerk. Amazingly, he actually opened his remarks by saying that he'd written a book demonstrating that Edward Vere was a really bad person - and bad poet (see previous post). This was greeted with a ripple of laughter from the audience, but only served to goad Emmerich and co. It was the Professor's last laugh of the evening.
It provided a wonderfully bad start, however, with the prof delivering a seven-minute (according to Emmerich) tirade against Anonymous, after which the director spluttered, 'My god, is this how you teach?'
Awkward shuffling of papers. Nobody seemed sure who was chairing the debate (no one - it turned out appropriately enough), so screenwriter Orloff launched a salvo on historical accuracy, stating that dating Shakespeare's plays is subjective. No it isn't, replied Nelson. Yes it is, Orloff parried. Alright then, it is, Nelson countermanded.
In appeasing mood, Emmerich conceded that he was not 100 per cent sure either way who wrote the plays - but thought it more likely that Oxford was the author. Orloff chipped in that a fundamental issue for him was that Shakespeare's daughters were never taught to read or write - how could a man of Shakespeare's intellect allow that to happen? In addition, though it is documented that the Stratford man went to and fro between Stratford and London over a period of 20 years - not a single example of a letter from him exists in London or Stratford. Yet there are many examples of letters from other poets of the time.
Professor Nelson then announced that the discussion was a waste of time.
At this point Emmerich introduced Beauclerk - a wise move guaranteed to bring calm and order to the unruly proceedings. The Earl duly intoned into the gloom at little above a whisper that the dynamic of the Stratfordian account was 'inert' and consigned the works of Shakespeare to a historical vacuum devoid of context or motivation. It's the dynamic of the plays in the context of Oxford's life that makes them exciting (mild applause). Oh, and Shakespeare's my great-great-great-granddad. Nearly.
At this point apropos of nothing, Emmerich interjected, "I would hate to have you as my teacher." I think it was directed at the Professor. He then continued, "I made the film because when I read the script I was upset that I had not been told this in school - that there is a problem, I was kept ignorant. And I knew that without me it probably wouldn't get made, because in Hollywood you have to be very powerful to even make a movie like this."
This hit a nerve with everyone, going as it does to perhaps the core of the authorship issue for many.
"Don't you think there is a problem, a puzzle?" Orloff asked Nelson.
"No, I don't," replied Nelson.
A question from the audience, "I'm an English teacher - what should I do?". (laughter).
Emmerich: "No - it's serious, just be honest and say I believe this or that, I believe it was Stratford. Whatever. Be honest."
Beauclerk: "Shakespeare is an icon, inert to schoolchildren. The authorship opens the plays up as a lens to view this period of history. Is true writing arid fantasy? Or is it the attempt of the writer to remake his shattered world? Is it good to divorce art from life for children?"
You could almost hear the audience ripping up the Declaration of Independence and pledging allegiance to the crown, so impressive is Beauclerk when he gets going, but sadly we ran out of time. So, after an interesting discussion of the relevance of historical accuracy to drama, and some fascinating stuff about why Orloff and Emmerich rewrote some of the history for film purposes, the debate closed. In his hurry to leave, Emmerich at first appeared to forget to shake hands with Professor Nelson. But then he remembered, and all ended well.
The fundamental question: Is there an Authorship Problem? was I would say, won by Emmerich and co. The Stratfordians need to get their act together in these situations, if they are serious in hoping to nail the coffin lid down on Oxfordiansim. These guys - particularly the articulate and well-versed Orloff - are not dummies. They really think there's an issue - and they've thought about it quite hard.