Welcome back for the second part of my interview with my professor, mentor, and dear friend, Sallie DelVecchio.
Deb Fade: What was it about “Will of Stratford” that made you question his authorship?
Prof. DelVecchio: There are several things about the Stratford lad that got me wondering:
- I’ve never understood how the greatest writer in the language didn’t leave behind one book, play, poem, letter, or even shopping list. All we have are six signatures, all different, all scribbled, nearly undecipherable. Not one book.
- So what library did he use to get his source quotes? There were no public libraries, and he didn’t attend college and therefore, didn’t have access to that library.
- And why did nobody attend his funeral? Hundreds turned out for Ben Jonson’s–poets, nobles. It’s all recorded. Shakepeare’s went virtually unnoted and unnoticed.
Those things have bothered me for years. I just can’t make sense of them. Stratfordians have no viable answer. That’s why I just had to pursue this.
Deb Fade: What informational sources would you recommend to others who are interested in learning more about the SAQ?
Prof. DelVecchio: There are many, but these are a good starting point: (links attached)
- Mark Twain’s essay: “Is Shakespeare Dead?”
- Shakespeare By Another Name by Mark Anderson
- North of Shakespeare by Dennis McCarthy
Let’s not forget the Stratford lad:
- Will in the World by Stephen Greenblatt
Deb Fade: Who do you think are the most credible candidates for the authorship, and why?
Prof. DelVecchio: (1) Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford and (2) Sir Thomas North, translator of Plutarch’s Lives
Brevity prevents my going into depth about either candidate, but we know that the Bard had an extensive knowledge of many subjects. Oxford and North had the requisite knowledge. There are many factors, but I can’t cover them all in one post.
I have a YouTube presentation,“To be, or not to be—Shakespeare.” It’s an hour, and I barely scratched the surface, but it goes into more detail.
Deb Fade: What advice do you have for educators who may consider teaching the SAQ to their students?
Prof. DelVecchio: Don’t teach the SAQ. Just introduce it and ask questions as you go along. “What if Oxford wrote this?” Guide them.
I constantly tell my classes that I struggle with this issue, that I don’t have definitive answers, only more questions. I can tell you that introducing the SAQ brings an edge, an interest to the class that shocks a lot of the students. Invariably, they’ll come up to me at the last class and say that they signed up for the credits but are leaving with a genuine interest in the Bard. The SAQ does that.
In closing, I want to thank Professor DelVecchio for giving her students, myself included, the opportunity to question the traditional Shakespeare “biography” as we explore the canon through our own close readings and research. Sallie: you’re responsible for the spark that ignited my obsession with all things “Shake-speare!”