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Part 2 – An Interview with Author, Syril Levin Kline

Syril Levin Kline and her award-winning novel, "Shakespeare's Changeling: A Fault Against the Dead"

As promised, here is the continuation of my discussion with Syril Levin Kline, author of the award-winning, historical fiction Shakespeare’s Changeling: A Fault Against the Dead.

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Fade: Who was your intended audience as you wrote this fascinating novel?

Kline: Everyone! Middle school and high school students will enjoy this book because it connects them to the actual author with the life experience to have created the Shakespeare canon. They will understand the meaning of scenes in the plays that traditional scholarship cannot and does not explain.

It provides students with a new template for understanding the history plays of Elizabethan England as a nation facing war that must use its theaters as mass media outlets that call the Queen’s subjects to arms.

It also shows the importance of Shaxper as a man working his way up in the world to become a prominent businessman and theater owner while helping his master, the true playwright, keep his identity hidden.

But Shakespeare’s Changeling is for anyone who loves a good mystery – and in this case, it’s a mystery that is over 400 years old!

Fade: How long have you been writing?  

Kline: Writing is one of my earliest memories. I wrote my first story when I was five and our Studebaker broke down. We had to walk through a field of very tall grass to get home, with my mom being very upset and my dad just shrugging it off.

The author and "friend" at a book signing event in 2014.

The author and “friend” at a book signing event in Middleburg, VA in 2014.

I wrote stories and plays in elementary school. When we studied conservation in the 5th grade, I researched Izaak Walton in the World Book Encyclopedia, which I used to read for fun. Walton published The Compleat Angler in 1653, and I used his dialogues between Piscator and Venator to write my own play with his characters.

I wrote for my middle school yearbook and literary journal, thanks to an excellent English teacher, Mildred Groner, who inspired me to become a writer. I wrote for my high school newspaper, and even wrote a humorous novel about my first year of college in a coed dorm in 1972.

As an adult, I wrote a thrice-weekly consumer Q&A column for a Midwestern newspaper, and during that time began my first draft of Shakespeare’s ChangelingI have also been a teacher, showing preschoolers how to write and illustrate their own storybooks.

Writers write. It’s what we do. Even as children, we search for and create our own images and symbols of meaning, and we scribble them on paper long before we can actually read any words.

Incidentally, there are several samples of Lord Oxford’s early juvenilia, but nothing known to have come from Shaxper of Stratford’s childhood quill.

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Fade: In a conversation in the Epilogue between Susan de Vere and Ben Jonson, the characters discuss the existence of “dark and dangerous secrets” encoded between the lines of Shakespeare’s poetry.

Please give us an example of one of these with a brief interpretation.  

Kline: There are poems in which Lord Oxford’s name is encoded in acrostic. There are also hints such as the Induction to The Taming of The Shrew that imply an impostor posing as a noble author, but sometimes this scene is omitted and not performed because traditional Stratfordian interpretations don’t understand it or deliberately attempt to hide its meaning.

Sonnet 81 also causes us to wonder who the poet is memorializing, and several sonnets suggest a father talking to a beloved son, beseeching the fair youth to marry and have children to replicate his handsome features.

I must say that in my own research for this book, I’ve seen Stratfordian orthodoxy telling people what to think about Shakespeare, whereas the Oxfordian approach tantalizes inquiring minds to ask questions and look beyond the first blush of simple, spoon-fed meaning.

The 1623 First Folio dedication

The 1623 First Folio dedication

 

Fade: To me, learning about the historical backdrop and key players in Queen Elizabeth’s court, banishes boredom and brings the Shakespeare Canon to life.

Your book has made me want to research people such as the Lords Pembroke and Montgomery because of their connections to the First Folio as well as their familial bonds to the de Vere family.

 

What are some books youd like to recommend to Shakespeare fans curious about these and other key figures in the Shakespeare story?    

Kline: I’ve already mentioned Ogburn’s The Mysterious William Shakespeare and Price’s Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Biography. I’d also recommend Shakespeare Identified as Edward de Vere, the Seventeenth Earl of Oxford by J. Thomas Looney, and William Farina’s De Vere as Shakespeare.

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A visit to the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship website will also direct interested readers to a variety of publications on the subject. Because there are so many books to read, I’m considering posting a link to our bibliography on my website http://www.shakespeareschangeling.com. Peter’s book will also be available sometime in the near future.

Fade: That is a fantastic idea!  In closing, I have one more question for you, Syril:

Do you think the Shakespeare Authorship Question will one day be added to the standard curriculum in literature classes?  

Kline: Yes. To this day, I thank Mrs. Groner, my 7th grade English teacher, for discussing it in our English class.

To reiterate my earlier comments, Shakespeare comes alive for students and people of all ages when they can see the connections between an author and his work and understand that genius is part nature and part nurture.

"Shakespeare's Changeling" Video Trailer

Shakespeare’s Changeling: A Fault Against the Dead Book Trailer

*** I would like to take this opportunity to thank Syril Levin Kline for this interview. May Shakespeare’s Changeling: A Fault Against the Dead take the Grand Prize at the Chanticleer Awards Gala! ***

Take the Bard to the Beach!

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Google Images

Looking for a midsummer’s read? A break from the ordinary?  A book that you won’t find on HuffPo’s “Beach Reads” list nor the NY Times’s “Cool Books for Hot Summer Days?”

To me, summer is the best time to escape the everyday – to abandon inhibitions and expand horizons.

With that in mind, may I suggest a topic that exercises your cerebrum as you relax by the beach, pool, or in a shady mountain retreat.

Perhaps a controversial subject that will make you, heaven forbid, question what you’ve been taught about Shakespeare.  OK, you know where I’m going with this, right?

Make this the summer you explore the Shakespeare Authorship Question!

Four summers ago, instead of catching up on the Stephen King novels I’d missed during the school year, I read a book that set my intellect on fire:  Shakespeare’s Lost Kingdom by Charles Beauclerk. 51q22k7UsDL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

If the plays and poems of Shakespeare were written today…we would see them for what they are — shocking political works written by a court insider, someone shielded by the monarch in an unstable time of armada and reformation. (Beauclerk)

This was the first SAQ book I’d ever read, recommended to me by my former English professor, dear friend, and mentor, Sallie DelVecchio.

51D54szYB3L._AC_UL320_SR210,320_From there I read what is, in my opinion, the Oxfordian primer:  Mark Anderson’s Shakespeare by Another Name.

“This book, with fascinating specificity, suits ‘the action to the word, the word to the action.'” (Sir Derek Jacobi on SBAN)

But if you are new to the Oxfordian Theory and want something to whet your appetite for learning more about the movers and shakers of Queen Liz’s court, I strongly advise you start out with something entertaining.

51536URc07L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_A historical fiction novel that will introduce you to the theory that challenges Shakespeare Orthodoxy: Shakespeare’s Changeling: A Fault Against the Dead by Syril Levin Kline.

Kline’s novel engages your mind in a tantalizing way.  It introduces you to some key players in the Shakespeare backdrop without bogging you down with historical information overload.  Shakespeare’s Changeling: A Fault Against the Dead offers a storyline more fact-based than that of the country merchant turned London playwright.

In my upcoming posts, I will chat with Ms. Kline about her book, literary inspirations, and why she feels the SAQ should be taught in mainstream academia.

‘Til then, savor these “dog days” because summer’s lease hath all too short a date!

Google Images

Google Images

Don’t look now, but Shakespeare (and Stratfordian hypocrisy) is trending again!

I’m back, Dear Followers, and ready to question the dogma of Shakespeare, again!

Today, I’d like to share a bit of the recent hypocrisy promoted by orthodox Shakespeare scholars in the mainstream media.  None of this, however, is breaking news to many of my Facebook friends.

First Folios

The First Folio Collection at the Folger Shakespeare Library. Photo courtesy of “The Collation,” a Folger blog.

At the beginning of the week, on the ABC News Sunday Spotlight, viewers got a glimpse into the underground vault of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. where 82 copies of the 233 rare, remaining copies of the First Folio are housed.

The online version of ABC’s story correctly mentions that this collection of priceless plays “dates back to 1623, seven years after [William Shakespeare’s] death.” (http://tinyurl.com/pofcclh)

487px-Edward-de-Vere-1575Yet, just a few days later, in Ask History, a blog sponsored by “History” Channel (yeah, you know the reason for those air quotes), the anonymous blogger declares that Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, could not be the true author of the works attributed to Shakespeare because

“…Oxford died in 1604, and some of Shakespeare’s greatest plays (including “King Lear,” “The Tempest” and “Macbeth”) were published after that date.” (http://tinyurl.com/nhbdmog)

So, these people are saying that the grain-hoarding merchant from Stratford-Upon-Avon, the man who is traditionally regarded as the one true Shakespeare, could have his alleged works published posthumously but that the same could not possibly be true of Oxford, who was once recognized by members of the Royal Court as Queen Elizabeth’s favorite earl and was, as per Ask History, 

“…highly educated, trained as a lawyer and was known to have traveled to many of the exact places featured in Shakespeare’s plays.”

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The Droeshout Engraving from Shakespeare’s First Folio.

But wait, there’s more!  While referencing the famous Droeshout engraving from the First Folio’s title page, Michael Witmore, Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library, produces this sparkly quote:

“People who knew him, worked with him said he looked like this…This is the picture that we think really captures the man, and this is the picture you see everywhere. This is his headshot.”

Really?  Who might those people be?  And, to me, that so-called “headshot” looks more like a masked figure with a dislocated shoulder!

There’s just one more thing I need to get off my chest.

When you scroll to the comments at the bottom of ABC’s “A Rare Look at Shakespeare’s First Edition at DC’s Folger Library,” you will see one lonely comment by someone named “Tom” who writes:

“A Shakespeare autograph would be worth a fortune. I’ve heard there is no known example.  Correction; One article I found said there were six known.”

I attempted to reply to his comment with:

“Yes, and here they are!  All 6, nearly illegible, signatures:” shakespeare_signatures_labelled1But for some reason, my comment and linked proof were deleted.  Too seditious?

Wait…are we living in modern America, or Elizabethan England?

Southampton and the Tudor Rose Theory (Part 2 of 2)

In the Prince Tudor theory, Elizabeth I was only the Virgin Queen figuratively not literally.

It is rumored that during one of her royal progresses, particularly the one she took in August of 1572, she was intimately involved with the 17th Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere.  He was, after all, the Queen’s favorite courtier at that point in time.  In a letter written at that time by Gilbert Talbot to his father the Earl of Shrewsbury, the queen “delighteth more in [Oxford’s] personage and his dancing and his valiantness than any other” (Brougham 171).

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In a nutshell, the Prince Tudor/Tudor Rose theory suggests that Elizabeth and Oxford had a son.  He was placed in the Southampton household as the “Changeling Boy,” Henry Wriothesley, who eventually became the 3rd Earl of Southampton (Whittemore xxxviii).

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Portrait of Elizabeth de Vere, Countess of Derby

As previously stated, William Cecil, Lord Burghley, had been pressuring Wriothesley to marry his granddaughter Lady Elizabeth Vere.  As you may remember, she was also Oxford’s daughter.

If those first 17 Sonnets I’ve been referring to were written by Oxford using the pseudonym “Shake-speare,” wouldn’t it be incestuous for Oxford to be encouraging his own children to marry each other?

But according to records, Oxford initially rejected Elizabeth Vere as his child; in fact, he separated from his wife Anne in 1576 on charges of her alleged infidelity, and refused to see his daughter until almost 6 years later when he accepted her as his own.

This insight conveniently clears up the incest factor, at least during the Wriothesley-Vere marital negotiations.

MonumentsmNow, let’s return to those 17 Procreation Sonnets, and view them through the Prince Tudor lens as per Hank Whittemore‘s The Monument: “Shake-Speares Sonnets” by Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford.  The following is a brief excerpt from Whittemore’s 860+ page exposition on the entire collection of Shake-speare’s Sonnets.

“BEAUTY’S ROSE”

Opening the Fair Youth series, Oxford uses the royal “we” to command “fairest creatures” (royal children) to beget “increase” (heirs) to ensure that “beauty’s Rose” (Elizabeth’s Tudor Rose dynasty) might not end upon her death (“Rose” is capitalized and italicized in Q):

From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty’s Rose might never die
– Sonnet 1, lines 1-2

This translates as the announcement of a dynastic diary:

From royal children the Queen and I command heirs,
So Elizabeth’s Tudor Rose Dynasty might not perish

From here on, we can view Edward de Vere as consistently using “fair” for Southampton’s royalty and “beauty” for Elizabeth and the Tudor lineage he inherited from her.

The Queen was known as “Beauty,” while “Rose” could not fail to echo the Tudor Rose dynasty begun by her grandfather, Henry VII, in 1485.

(Whittemore lxvi)

Tudor Rose

Tudor Rose

The symbolic Tudor Rose represents the union between the waring English houses of Lancaster and York which came as a result of a marriage between Henry VII of the Tudor dynasty and Elizabeth of York.

After this historical marriage in 1486, the War of the Roses came to an end and the Tudor Rose symbol, which combined the white and red roses of the two houses, was created.

And, yes, within that excerpt from Whittemore’s book lies another zinger which connects to a variant of the Prince Tudor theory.  This is referred to as Prince Tudor Theory Part 2 (“PT 2”).

This extension of the theory posits Edward de Vere as yet another bastard son of the Queen with her “stepfather,” Thomas Seymour as the father.  Elizabeth would have been merely 14 at the time of conception.

In the 2011 film Anonymous, Robert Cecil, played by Edward Hogg, relishes the moment as he reveals the identity of Oxford’s biological mother to the Earl.  At this point in the film, the devastated de Vere has just witnessed the failure of Essex and Southampton in their revolt against Cecil’s factions.  (See my earlier post “Guilty of Treason: Part 1” for some historical info on this event.)

In the DVD commentary on the film, writer John Orloff states that he did not want the PT 2 scene included but that director Roland Emmerich wanted it to remain.

Edward Hogg portraying Robert Cecil in Anonymous

Edward Hogg portraying Robert Cecil in Anonymous.

Yes, this is the issue that divides otherwise like-minded Oxfordians into separate camps.  So, you can choose to opt in or out!  What are my feelings on the topic?  While I am intrigued by the evidence that shows a correlation between Elizabeth, Oxford, and the Earl of Southampton, I am also hesitant to assume full-membership into the PT camp.

I am curious if there is any evidence that can prove a connection between Oxford and Mary Browne.  I would like to study that possibility more in depth.

But I do highly recommend Hank Whittemore’s blog: http://hankwhittemore.wordpress.com/

or purchase a copy of either Shakespeare’s Son and His Sonnets or The Monument for a more comprehensive look into his interpretation of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, as well as other matters regarding Oxford and the Shakespeare Authorship Question.

Southampton and the Tudor Rose Theory (Part 1 of 2)

I’ve hesitated to write this blog post for quite some time now because just the mention of it can trigger a volatile debate.  What I’m referring to is the Prince Tudor, or Tudor Rose theory.

Since I have hinted at it in several posts already, it’s time for me to elaborate for those who are new to the concept.

CAUTION:  For those of you who feel strongly against this theory, this would be the time to change the channel!

beauclerkThere are a few variations to this theory, but I will focus primarily on excerpts from Charles Beauclerk’s book, Shakespeare’s Lost Kingdom and in The Monument by Hank Whittemore.  Since this project’s main focus is on Southampton, I won’t get too involved in de Vere’s story right now.

To begin, I have chosen to discuss this theory because it provides a specific lens for interpreting the Sonnets and therefore relates to my independent study.  In this blog project, however, I’ve only focused upon the 17 Procreation Sonnets and the interpretation that implies they were written by Shakespeare to a young man.

If this is true, and if Henry Wriothesley was the addressee of these poems, it appears as if the poet is encouraging the young earl to marry and start making “copies” of himself.

The language is intimate, indeed, but it can be viewed from a homosexual lover-to-lover perspective or even from that of a father-to-son relationship.  Let’s assume the collection of Sonnets are of an autobiographical nature, and that the poet is addressing the young man as if he was his own son.

If you recall, in my previous post entitled “The Young Earl: ‘Harry’ Wriothesley,” I mentioned that the 2nd Earl of Southampton, Henry Wriothesley “Senior,” had been imprisoned for his involvement in the Ridolfi Plot.

Portrait of Mary (Browne) Wriothesley, Countess of Southampton, aged about 13, at the time of her marriage, 1565 as painted by Hans Eworth.

Portrait of Mary (Browne) Wriothesley, Countess of Southampton, aged about 13, at the time of her marriage, 1565 as painted by Hans Eworth.

When an earl spent time in the Tower, he did not necessarily live in squalor, and may have been allowed conjugal visits.

So, we cannot completely rule out “HW Sr.” as the biological father of “HW Jr.,” but, suspiciously, soon after the elder Wriothesley was released from prison, his relationship with his wife, Mary Browne, went downhill.

The Countess was moved to another estate and forbidden to see her young son.

To quote Beauclerk:

Mary Browne, the Countess of Southampton, had given birth to a son on October 6, 1573, but there is no record of a baptism for the baby, who may have died in infancy or been placed with another family in preparation for the adoption of the queen’s son.  Either way, her child was probably illegitimate and not a Wriothesley at all, for the earl, her husband, was in the Tower when the child was conceived and she was rumored to be having an affair with “a common person” by the name of Donesame, pretext enough in those days for the removal of the baby.  (106)

Stopes explains how young Harry was kept in his father’s custody and that the “Earl secluded himself more and more among his followers and estranged himself from his wife” (3).

Although the Countess attempted to make contact and explain herself to her husband, her attempts were hampered by the messengers, the Earl’s servants.  One in particular, Thomas Dymock, seems to have been the most influential in keeping the couple separated and was even designated an executor of the Earl’s will.

As mentioned in my post, “The Young Earl: Harry Wriothesley,” Harry’s wardship was “sold” and as an underage “Queen’s Ward” (Stopes 17), William Cecil became Harry’s legal guardian.

Yes, I’m sure you caught those ominous words in Beauclerk’s quote:  “the adoption of the queen’s son.”

More details to follow in “Southampton and the Tudor Rose Theory (Part 2 of 2)!”

lhertzel_1303424945_quill-penTo Be Continued…

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