Posted by Richard Willett - Memes and headline comments by David Icke Posted on 5 June 2024

A Defence of the ‘Conspiracy Theory’ About William Shakespeare

The Spectator has decided to offer a double-barrelled rebuke to and rebuttal of those who have the temerity to wonder about who Shakespeare was. Another frivolous book has been published, admittedly, but it does not serve the cause of Shakespeare to have a frivolous book reviewed in a frivolous way – twice. The frivolous book is By Any Other Name by Jodi Picoult, and I shall say nothing about it. The frivolous reviews are by Gareth Roberts and Philip Womack, Shakespeare scholars – not.

We are asked, with a sigh, why there continue to be conspiracy theories about Shakespeare? Why does anyone think he might have been Francis Bacon, Lord Verulam, or Edward, Earl of Oxford, or someone else, perhaps a woman? Ah, it must be snobbery or silliness. Why can’t we accept that Shakespeare was a lad from a market town who went to a grammar school, came to London, acted a bit, invested in property, signed his name a few times, had a daughter who could not write, and, cough, wrote Hamlet, King Lear, Antony and Cleopatra, Richard III and Romeo and Juliet? Ach, in disputing this we must be conspiracy theorists, suffering from twisted minds, wanting to intersectionalise everything. Well, no, not at all.

Let me put it this way. Would one rather stand with Alexander Waugh, the third in the line of great Waughs, or with a myriad of Professors who refuse to think? I, for one, stand with Alexander Waugh: and, if one asks why, the answer is that he thinks. In fact, he studies: he engages in scholarship. And it is this that is the basis of a defence of Shakespeare conspiracies. On one side, some of us are sceptical: we think. On the other side, there are those who are dogmatic and dismissive: refuse to think.

There are several things we have to bear in mind if we are to be properly sceptical about Shakespeare. One is that he did not live in the 19th century: the era of rail, newspapers and photography, when we knew what was what and who was who. The Elizabethan age was an age of conspiracies, also the Jacobean age. Almost no one could speak their mind without risking imprisonment or execution. Almost everything written in Shakespeare’s time was highly allusive, indeed, obscure, arcane, recondite. This has to be seen clearly. John Dee was the greatest man of the age: and he was an occultist. Everyone was a spy. Every painting was laden with multiple meanings. Consider any painting of Queen Elizabeth. Every poem was allusive to a fault. Nothing was what it seemed.

Yawn, say the dogmatists. Why is there a question about Shakespeare? Well, how about this. We know less about him than almost anyone else of his time. There is simply no paper trail. We have manuscripts by Ben Johnson, and letters – and the same for all the other, even minor, poets and playwrights. We have nothing for Shakespeare. Here was a poet, apparently acknowledged to be the greatest poet of the age, and there is simply nothing. Not even a convincing engraving. On the other hand, in what bits and bobs survive from the archive of William of Stratford there is no reference to anything resembling literature. Here was a man who made a fuss about the repayment of small loans, but made no provision in his will for his literary estate, and cared not at all about the fact that his writings were pirated, or that his name had been used on the title page of works which were clearly not his.

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