Who Was Shakespeare?
by Richard Allan Wagner
From their very inception, the Shakespearean works were shrouded in a mysterious web of secrecy—so mysterious and secret that both the historical and literary evidence strongly show that everything we think we know about the works of “Shakespeare” are the result of several highly organized conspiracies having to do with the Shakespeare myth. This article shines light on the essential elements of those conspiracies and the myth.
Rise of the Stratfordians
At the time the 1623 Shakespeare Folio was being published, a mysterious monument featuring a bust of “Shakespeare” was erected in the Holy Trinity Church of the English village of Stratford. No one knows who arranged for its construction or who paid for it. Ostensibly, the monument’s purpose was to direct the reader of the Folio to Stratford. A brief eulogy of Shakespeare written by the poet Leonard Digges makes a strange allusion to “thy Stratford Moniment”. Digge’s eulogy appears to have been tacked-on toward the end of the Folio’s dedications as an afterthought suggesting that the monument was built prior to the publication of the Folio, and that Digge’s eulogy was added so that the reference to the Stratford Monument would not be overlooked. However, considering how intricately the language in the “Monument” and the Folio are carefully contrived and intermixed, it is more likely that the actual construction of the Monument occurred sometime after the Folio’s publication.
Another peculiarity about the monument is that the bust of “Shakespeare” bore no resemblance to the Folio’s “Droeshout engraving”. Moreover, there was nothing about the image to suggest any connection to literature. Instead, the bust depicted a rustic looking man with a stern face and a drooping mustache clutching a sack of grain—a fitting representation, considering the mysterious man from Stratford was known to have been a grain merchant in his latter years.
Original “Shakespeare” Bust
After a century of neglect, the original bust was removed and replaced (1748) by a completely different looking bust that remains to the present day. Author Alfred Dodd offers an apt description: “The effigy which stands in place of the ‘curious original’ is in general outline the same, but a cushion takes the place of ‘the bag’ and a large quill pen is placed in his hand. His hands no longer suggest that he hugs his money bag or wool sack in an almost miserly fashion, and the smirking, doll-like face is very different from the shrewd, hard-faced man who knew excellently well how to drive a bargain.”* The reason we know about the original bust is due to an engraving of the Stratford Monument which appears in Sir William Dugdale’s book “Warwickshire,” published in 1656.*
“Shakespeare Bust as it appears today
Despite the existence of the Stratford Monument, people remained largely unaware and unconcerned about the Shakespeare authorship for nearly one and a half centuries.
In 1769, the celebrated London actor David Garrick traveled to Stratford to pay homage to a man he erroneously thought (based on the wording in the Folio) to have authored the Shakespearean work. Upon his arrival, Garrick found the Stratford citizens to be profoundly oblivious to who “Shakespeare” was. The village was ravaged by filth and decay. All vestiges of the mud wall houses in which the “Shakespeare” family allegedly dwelled were long gone. But Garrick the actor became Garrick the entrepreneur. He saw an opportunity to turn Stratford and “Shakespeare” into a profitable enterprise. Thus, Garrick (wittingly or unwittingly) cashed in on the nebulous legacy of the 1623 Folio—and the Stratfordian myth of the man the world came to know as “William Shakespeare” was born.
Almost instantaneously, Garrick began to use his celebrity to attract outside visitors (with money to spend) to his Stratford “jubilees” in which he produced and starred in virtually all of the Shakespearean plays. Other profitable jubilee attractions included guided tours of “Shakespeare’s” alleged birthplace and souvenirs of furniture and other miscellaneous items supposedly owned by “Shakespeare”—along with plenty of food and ale.
“Shakespeare” of Stratford had become a cottage industry. In many respects, it was a forerunner of the modern Renaissance Faire. But more importantly, as the popularity of the Shakespearean work increased, the Stratford myth of “Shakespeare” gradually worked its way into the hallowed halls of orthodox history. Eventually, biographical books about the life of a man named “Shakespeare” (who, technically, never really existed) began to materialize out of sheer invention and supposition. On this, author Ross Jackson states “Many books were written about Will Shaksper, and an uncritical and unquestioning public consumed them with great interest. What the public did not notice was that these books invariably started out with the unstated but tenuous assumption that the man from Stratford wrote the works. These biographies were not based on the known facts of Will Shaksper’s life… but consisted mainly of speculations about how ‘he must have done that’, how ‘he must have traveled there’, how ‘he must have known this person’, how ‘he must have been proficient in this language’, and how ‘he must have been the greatest genius that ever lived’, with little or no evidence to back up the assertions. Generations were brought up to accept this myth about Will Shaksper without question.”*
Amazingly, by the onset of the nineteenth century, the Stratfordian version of “William Shakespeare” the author was generally adopted as gospel among historical and literary academicians. Most learning institutions in Britain and America were busily teaching the Stratfordian hypothesis to a naïve and uninformed public. In essence, the Stratfordian myth is little more than a complete sham designed only to serve the ambitious interests of a select group of ivory tower elitists driven only by their need (and greed) to hang on to David Garrick’s specious legacy, regardless of the truth.
The first known published statement questioning the authorship of the Shakespearean works appeared in Life and Adventures of Common Sense by Herbert Lawrence in 1769. By the mid nineteenth century, many prominent writers and scholars had begun to scrutinize the Stratfordian doctrine. They discovered glaring holes and inconsistencies in the traditional story. One Shakespearean scholar, Delia Bacon (not related to Francis Bacon) wrote a book titled The Philosophy of the Plays of Shakespeare Unfolded (published 1857) in which she proposed a carefully documented thesis showing the Shakespearean works to be the product of an elite group of writers led by Francis Bacon. Not to be undone, the Stratfordians launched an all-out attack on Delia Bacon, denouncing her as “the woman who hates Shakespeare.”
Many prominent people in the academic world such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Thomas Carlyle, responded to the Stratfordian abuse of Delia Bacon with supportive words in her defense and proclamations of advocacy for the new Baconian doctrine concerning the Shakespearean authorship. Most notably, Mark Twain became the staunchest anti-Stratfordian (and Baconian supporter) with his book Is Shakespeare Dead? in which he severely lampooned the Stratfordians as mindless “Troglodytes.” Regarding the Stratfordian biographies, Twain writes “we set down the ‘conjectures’ and ‘suppositions,’ and ‘maybes,’ and ‘perhapses,’ and ‘doubtlesses,’ and ‘rumors,’ and ‘guesses,’ and ‘probabilities,’ and ‘likelihoods,’ and ‘we are permitted to think,’ and ‘we are warranted in believing,’ and ‘might have beens,’ and unquestionablys,’ and ‘without a shadow of a doubt,’—and behold! Materials? Why, we have enough to build a biography of Shakespeare.”* He then compared the Stratfordian myth of Shakespeare to a Brontasaurus skeleton which was on display at the New York Museum of Natural History. The enormous skeleton only had nine actual bones, the rest of the colossal structure consisted of plaster.
Myths and legends are hard to deal with. Once they get started, they take on a life of their own. This phenomenon is commonly called “The Liberty Valance Effect.” You know, from the old movie “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” in which John Wayne shoots the menacing outlaw Liberty Valance then makes it look like Jimmy Stewart did the deed. Even Jimmy believes he killed Valance. The townspeople treat him like a hero. Thereafter, Jimmy’s character moves up in the world as a very important man. Years later, he finds out the truth. But it’s too late. The legend has become history. He tells the real story to a prominent news reporter who has no interest in seeing history revised, even though it is contrary to the truth. The reporter says “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend”… and so it is with the Stratfordian legend of “Shakespeare”!
The Shakespeare Problem
In order to create the Shakespearean works the author had to meet certain criteria.
The first and most important criterion is that he was a genius of the highest magnitude. He also had an education that far exceeded that of any ordinary university graduate. He was a master linguist, fluent in Latin, Greek, Italian, Spanish and French. He possessed a mastery of all Classical Literature which included Homer, Ovid, Virgil, Cicero, Pliny, Seneca, Plutarch, Tacitus, etc. He also had a superior knowledge of philosophy and science. He owned or had unlimited access to a vast library. He was a well trained lawyer possessing a highly sophisticated knowledge and understanding of the finer points of law. He was familiar with and accustomed to the protocols, manners, and conduct of the royal courts of Queen Elizabeth and King James—including privileged information known only their courtiers and high ranking government officials. He had attended both Cambridge University and Gray’s Inn. He traveled abroad in many different foreign countries. He was an expert on ciphers and encryption techniques used in the royal secret service. He had knowledge of various sports enjoyed only by the noble class—most notably, falconry. And finally, he was both a Rosicrucian and a Freemason.
The greatest flaw in the Stratfordian doctrine is that there is absolutely no evidence that the man the “Strats” insist was Shakespeare fulfills any of the above criteria! There is not a shred of evidence that “Shaksper” of Stratford ever received an education, or that he ever owned a book, or that he ever wrote a letter, or that he ever traveled abroad. As far as the record shows, there are only six alledged instances in which he awkwardly scrawled a barely legible signature on various documents throughout his life. Each of the signatures suggests he was remarkably unskilled with a pen, apparently requiring assistance in applying his mark. Note that the Stratford man was not known as “Shakespeare”, nor did he ever write his name as such—in the six instances that he wrote his name, he invariably writes “Shaksper”.
The only “Shaksper” signatures known to exist
Evidence of “Shaksper’s” illiteracy should come as no surprise considering the environment from whence he came. As a matter of record, the majority of Stratford’s citizens, including its village officials, were uneducated. “Shaksper’s” entire family, even his own children were illiterate. His last will and testament makes no mention of books, manuscripts, notes, letters, or anything of a literary nature. The most significant item mentioned in the will is his second best bed which he left to his wife.
Also remarkable, is the fact that, at the time of “Shaksper’s” death, there was an absolute vacuum of eulogy or praise for the man. Moreover, neither the citizens of Stratford nor anyone remotely connected to the literary world acknowledged him as having been a writer.
Yet, the Stratfordians stubbornly maintain that “Shaksper” was the true author of the Shakespearean work. Their claim rests on two fundamental arguments. First, the name Shaksper resembles the name Shakespeare. The adherents of the Stratfordian doctrine insist the two names are one and the same despite evidence to the contrary, and despite the fact that Shaksper never signed his name as Shakespeare. Second, the Strats are adamant in their view that Ben Jonson’s phrase “Sweet Swan of Avon,” which appears in his eulogy of Shakespeare the author (in the 1623 Folio) is a reference to their Stratford man. However, this point is remarkably weak considering Shaksper (in any context) was never associated with swans or with sweetness. Furthermore, the word “Avon” is too generic a word to be specifically connected to Shaksper over anyone else. If it had been Jonson’s intent to link the term “sweet swan” with Shaksper, he would have written “sweet swan of Stratford.”
If the question of Shakespeare’s authorship had been left to the discretion of a real court of law, the remarkably flimsy Stratfordian case would have been thrown out long ago. Unfortunately, the matter is governed by the court of orthodox history which, owing to The Liberty Valance Effect, has backed the Stratfordian position for nearly three centuries. It is no wonder that the emotionally charged Strats have grown cocky and arrogant, viciously attacking anyone who has the temerity to challenge their authority.
Until the nineteenth century, the Shakespearean works had gone unappreciated as masterpieces. The heightened interest in Shakespeare brought hard questions regarding the authorship. The issue had remained unchallenged for so long, and the Stratfordian dogma had become so deeply ingrained in the academic community that a great many careers were (and still are) heavily invested in the Stratfordian myth. Any threat to the traditional view of Shakespeare meets with fierce resistance. However, the problem facing the besieged Strats is that their whole premise rests on a house of cards held together with the smoke and mirrors of pure supposition. The great betrayer of Stratfordian dogma is that it has no hard, “smoking gun” evidence to support its crumbling position. Time has a way of revealing truth. More and more facts that were not known, or were suppressed, or overlooked centuries ago are now coming out into the light. A progression of facts and funerals should eventually lay the Stratfordian myth to rest.
What is certain is that the only historical person who perfectly matches all of the criteria for the Shakespeare authorship is Francis Bacon—furthermore, the hard evidence confirms it!
Sir Francis Bacon
Character Assassination and Disinformation
Mark Twain’s critique of the Stratfordians was both compelling and straightforward. Soon thereafter, the Baconian doctrine (posited by Delia Bacon) gained significant recognition throughout Europe and the United States. The Stratfordian dogmatists who were totally unaccustomed to being subjected to academic scrutiny were placed in the untenable position of trying to explain the unexplainable. It became evident that the Stratfordian premise rested on faith rather than fact. In order to sustain the myth, the Strats began to search for ways to shift attention away from the Baconians by means of propagating disinformation.
In 1837, Thomas Babington Macaulay, an English writer and politician, wrote a false and libelous essay about Francis Bacon. Macaulay (later Lord Macaulay) was a flamboyant, forceful writer whose specialty was “sensationalized history.” In other words, he was a hack writer with little concern about getting his facts straight. In essence, he was an English counterpart to the American “dime novelist.” Naturally, his essay, titled Lord Bacon, focused on the trumped-up impeachment of Bacon as King James’ sacrificial Chancellor. Macaulay vilified Bacon in every conceivable way, calling him a “corrupt judge” who “persecuted the innocent, had tampered with judges, had tortured prisoners, and had plundered suitors”…“was not likely to be scrupulous as to the means by which he enriched himself… the amount of plunder which he collected in this way was impossible to estimate”… “The moral qualities of Bacon were not of a high order…“the unfortunate husbands who caught him in their houses at unseasonable hours are forgotten”…“his faults were coldness of heart and meaness of spirit”…“he was at that very time employed in perverting those laws to the vilest purposes of tyranny,” etc. It was a classic case of pure tabloid character assassination. Unfortunately, many uninformed people blindly accepted Macaulay’s lies as history. To this day, numerous Stratfordians (who know better) shamelessly cite Macauley as a historical source in spite of the fact that Oxford University ordered all of Macaulay’s works to be placed in a special category as “not trustworthy to history.”
Winston Churchill referred to Macaulay as “the prince of literary rogues who always preferred the tale to the truth.” Ironically, near the end of his life, Macaulay said he regretted having written the essay on Bacon. However, the damage was done—it had gone viral, and the stain to Bacon’s good name still persists, effectively casting aspersions on all things Baconian.
Another misconception blocking the reconciliation of the Baconian doctrine with public sentiment is the utterly erroneous assumption that the famous cryptographers William and Elizabeth Friedman “proved that Bacon wasn’t Shakespeare.” The Friedmans never said or implied any thing of the sort. They simply said they couldn’t find the hidden messages Elizabeth Wells Gallup (a Baconian scholar) claimed were encrypted in the Shakespearean works, using Bacon’s bi-lateral cipher. Yet, I still come across misinformed people who say “Didn’t the Friedman’s disprove all that stuff about Bacon being Shakespeare”?
Perhaps the greatest tragedy of Francis Bacon’s life is that, in death, he continues to suffer the same injustices and attacks from individuals who still don’t know him.
Misconceptions over Macaulay and the Friedmans proved sufficient to cause many anti-Stratfordians to shy away from the Baconian camp. The Strats (for the time being) were breathing a sigh of relief. However, the “Shakespeare Problem” refused to go away.
Quite conveniently, in 1920, an English school teacher by the name of Thomas Looney extrapolated a third possible Shakespearean author in his book Shakespeare Identified. Looney correlated places and events mentioned in the Shakespeare works with the travels and circumstances in the life of Edward De Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. Furthermore, De Vere made a somewhat compelling match with many of the criteria essential for the Shakespeare authorship. Looney’s book became the ideal ploy for misdirecting attention away from the Baconian trail.
The Oxfordian thesis seductively attracted a legion of enthusiastic followers and converts. Even Orson Welles remarked “If De Vere wasn’t Shakespeare there are a lot of interesting coincidences to explain.” Gradually, more books about De Vere as Shakespeare began to fly off the printing presses—eventually leading to Charlton Ogburn’s voluminous 892 page work titled The Mysterious William Shakespeare which became the Oxfordian bible.
Since the publication of Ogburn’s book in 1984, the Oxfordian thesis has enjoyed considerable popularity—hailed by many Shakespeare enthusiasts as the “leading contender” for the Shakespeare authorship. More recently, Mark Anderson’s book Shakespeare by Another Name (2005) has received rave reviews.
However, unlike solid concrete, the great problem with plaster is that it cracks easily. While basking in the glory of Oxfordian popularity over the past several decades, the “Oxies” failed to take notice of the cracks and crevices that began to appear in their seemingly invincible case. The biggest crack of all is the pesky “timeline dilemma” which clearly shows that a substantial portion of the Shakespearean work continued to be written and revised well after De Vere’s death in 1604. The Earl of Oxford had prematurely exited the Shakespeare scene nearly 20 years before the final curtain.
In response to the timeline problem, the Oxies conveniently rolled back the dates in which all of the later plays had been written. They further altered or at least reinterpreted numerous facts, events and references in a sly attempt to be consistent with an earlier timeline. Anderson managed to artfully smooth over some of the cracks by conceding that De Vere must have been working with collaborators—some of whom must have kept on collaborating without De Vere. But the cracks kept getting wider and wider as it became apparent that the Oxfordian case was beginning to resemble Mark Twain’s Brontasaurus skeleton—too much plaster with no real substance.
After all this time, it turns out that the Oxies, just like the Strats, had built their case on supposition. Ogburn and Anderson had carefully constructed the Oxfordian thesis by skillfully connecting various people, places, and events to De Vere by means of sheer extrapolation. The pages of their books are suspiciously excessive in the use of auxiliary modifying words and phrases such as “probably, possibly, had probably, might have, may have, could have, would have, may be, may well be, would have been, could have been, must have been, most likely, more likely to have been, could be, had probably, may have met, would likely to have met, may be referring to, could have acquainted himself with, may have crossed paths with,” etc.
The mere use of such phraseology, when reasonably applied, is not a problem—however, when the pages of a book are incessantly overflowing with it, I suggest something is amiss. The superfluous extrapolations used by Ogburn and Anderson do not constitute evidence—they are hollow substitutes for evidence. Good, reliable, historical evidence consists of tangible things such as letters, notes, and artifacts that clearly and unequivocally demonstrate a connection between people, places, and events. Like the Stratfordians, the Oxfordians simply do not have the hard, “smoking gun evidence” necessary to support their case.
Writing voluminous books often creates the illusion of a weighty argument presumably backed by a vast quantity of impressive facts. However, I submit that the Oxfordian case is pure plaster.
The great supposition upon which the Oxfordian case primarily rests is that De Vere traveled to or near many of the locations mentioned in the Shakespeare plays—therefore, he must be Shakespeare! But De Vere is not as unique in meeting that criterion as the Oxfordians would have us believe. Actually, most of Elizabeth’s noblemen enjoyed extensive journeys abroad—including the brothers Francis and Anthony Bacon.
Furthermore, the assertion that De Vere “must have” visited all of the locales, or that he “probably met” all of the principle characters in the plays is simply not true. Love’s Labours Lost is a prime example. In typical Oxfordian style, Anderson magically extrapolates De Vere into the court of Navarre as he writes “During the celebrations surrounding the coronation and wedding [of King Henri III of France], De Vere must have met Henri of Navarre.”* In the very next sentence, Anderson says “De Vere probably also met the fifty-one-year-old poet Pierre de Ronsard”—yet, there is absolutely no evidence that de Vere ever met Henri of Navarre, or attended his court—or ever met Pierre Ronsard.
Navarre is critical because it is abundantly clear that the author of Love’s Labours Lost is totally familiar with specific details of the Navarre region and Henri of Navarre’s court. Anderson’s misleading attempt to connect De Vere to the court of Navarre is not an isolated case of Oxfordians taking liberties with history through supposition. Furthermore, with regard to Navarre, the Oxies tend to capitalize on the often confusing references to the contemporaneous Kings Henri III of France with Henri III of Navarre (later Henri IV of France).
In an online article titled The Case for Oxford (published by the Atlantic Monthly website) Oxfordian author Tom Bethell states “Oxford and a party stayed six weeks or more in Paris and were introduced to the French King, Henry III. It is possible that at this time Oxford met Henry of Navarre* (King of France 1589-1610), whose brother-in-law, the Duke of Alencon, was then being considered as a husband for Queen Elizabeth. Henry of Navarre and Oxford were about the same age, and in many respects Henry seems to have been a man after Oxford’s own heart. We know that the author of Love’s Labours Lost was familiar with both the layout and protocols of the Navarre court in 1578 (described in Love’s Labours Lost).” Notice how Bethell uses exactly the same sort of cozen language employed by Ogburn and Anderson to create the impression that De Vere and Henri of Navarre were friends. Again, the Oxies are attempting to connect De Vere with Henri of Navarre through the power of assumption. On the other hand, both Francis and Anthony Bacon’s friendship with Henri III, and their prolonged stays at Navarre (particularly Anthony’s) are very well documented.
Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford
The great trick with the Oxfordian methodology is to fabricate a historical scenario out of thin air by maneuvering the reader into creating a connection by assuming the connection actually exists. Whereas magicians are masters of sleight of hand, Oxfordians are adept at sleight of mind. An excellent example of this is Anderson’s audacious claim that De Vere is somehow connected to the famous document known as the Northumberland Manuscript. Anderson writes: “A tantalizing cover page for a circa-1597 manuscript of Richard III—and a number of other controversial works—has survived the centuries and now sits in the archives of Alnwick Castle in Northumberland. The manuscripts for which this page serves as the cover have all, however, been lost or destroyed. The one-page document is a list of seditious or surreptitiously obtained texts: Richard III, Richard II (treasonously depicting the deposition of a sitting monarch), Nashe’s Isle of Dogs, and the libelous Leicester’s Commonwealth. On this single surviving sheet, a scrivener, whose handwriting has never been identified, scratched out two words that would henceforth be seared into the flesh of every mature play from De Vere’s pen. There on a single page, scattered amid sundry sentence fragments, quotes, and titles, are written the words ‘Willi…Sh…Sh…Shak…will Shak…Shakespe…Shakspeare…Shakespeare…william… william Shakespeare…William Shakespeare.” *
Although he takes great care not to directly say that De Vere wrote the page, Anderson is deliberately trying to steer the reader toward the assumption that De Vere could be the document’s author. Furthermore, Anderson brazenly conceals the fact that the Northumberland manuscript was the property of Francis Bacon. He further neglects to inform the reader that both the names Francis Bacon and William Shakespeare are repeatedly written all over the page in various forms, including the words “By Mr. FFrancis William Shakespeare”.
Front Cover of the Northumberland Manuscript
Amazingly, in the following sentence, Anderson writes: “Thence comes it,’ in the words of Sonnet 111, ‘that my name receives a brand.” It would be naïve to think Anderson is unaware that the number 111 matches the name Bacon in the Elizabethan Kaye Cipher. It’s both uncanny and strange. The sentence is tantamount to saying “I am Bacon.” We are compelled to ask why is Anderson going to such bizarre lengths to deceive the reader, and why is he putting on such an outrageous display of chutzpah? It seems he has a hidden agenda. I personally distrust hidden agendas, particularly when they involve deception.
It is true that De Vere was too closely connected to most of the members of Bacon’s “Shakespeare circle” not to have been involved with the enterprise in some capacity. If a few of his “tall tales” (Anderson’s words) made their way into several of the Shakespearean storylines, I would not be surprised. In fact, I believe some aspects of De Vere’s reckless life are portrayed in at least two of the plays. Could that make him one of Bacon’s numerous collaborators? Perhaps—but even if that’s true, it hardly qualifies De Vere as the author of the Shakespearean work.
Bacon, the Concealed Poet
The Stratfordians and Oxfordians concede that Bacon fits all of the required criteria for the Shakespeare authorship. They have only one argument against Bacon. Actually it’s not so much an argument as it is another erroneous assumption. They like to say that Bacon’s writing style was too “stiff” or “stilted” to be consistent with the “Shakespearean style.” But they are conveniently ignoring the fact that the “writing style” of Shakespeare is a deliberate mixture of styles which evolved over a span of nearly five decades. Trying to match the style of A Mid Summer Night’s Dream with the style of Macbeth, or the style of Love’s Labors Lost with the style of The Tempest is a matter of comparing apples to oranges. Bacon didn’t adhere to just one standard writing style.
What makes Shakespeare SHAKESPEARE has less to do with an individual writing style and more to do with overall composition. The one constant that runs through all of the plays, in their various stages of experimentation, is the methodology with which they are carefully and coherently arranged. It is clear that the same mind that crafted Measure for Measure is the same mind that molded Timon of Athens. It’s the ineffable guiding force of the “master’s touch” that is at work in all of the Shakespearean plays.
All of the plays, from the earliest to the last, draw on consistent philosophical themes intended to instruct the reader in lessons about nature both on the cosmic and human levels. Bacon designed the work more to be read than performed.
What Stratfordians and Oxfordians fail to acknowledge was that Bacon was able to shift his writing style from the left analytical side of his brain to the right creative side without breaking stride—thus, being capable of expressing the same thought in two distinctly different ways. The author Edwin A. Abbott wrote “His [Bacon’s] style varied almost as much as his handwriting; but it was influenced more by the subject-matter than by youth or old age. Few men have shown equal versatility in adapting their language to the slightest change of circumstance and purpose. His style depended upon whether he was addressing a king, or a great nobleman, or a philosopher, or a friend; whether he was composing a state paper, magnifying the prerogative, extolling truth, discussing studies, exhorting a judge, sending a New Year’s present, or sounding a trumpet to prepare the way for the kingdom of man over nature.”* It should also be noted that Bacon often wrote letters and speeches for others (especially Essex) perfectly mimicking both their writing style and handwriting.
Naturally, writing a scientific work such as the Novum Oranum required Bacon to resort to the more formal tone his detractors allude to. But they ignore the fact that Bacon’s philosophical prose works received much praise from many later poets who recognized the Shakespearean elements in his style. For example, the poet Gerald Massey noted “The philosophical writings of Bacon are suffused and saturated with Shakespeare’s thought.” The poet and essayist Alexander Smith wrote “He [Bacon] seems to have written his Essays with the pen of Shakespeare”—while the essayist and historian Thomas Carlyle proclaimed “There is an understanding manifested in the construction of Shakespeare’s plays equal to that in Bacon’s Novum Organum.”* The true essence of Bacon’s Shakespearean style was the unique structure of the underlying thought and natural philosophy upon which it rested.
Beyond his Shakespeare circle, Bacon took great care to conceal the fact that he was a poet. In a letter to one of his good pens, John Davies of Hereford, Bacon writes “So desiring you to be good to concealed poets, I continue, your very assured, FR. Bacon.” In the same vein, Bacon’s secretary Tobie Matthew wrote his master a letter in which he states (about Bacon) “The most prodigious wit that ever I knew though he be known by another”. Years later, John Aubrey described Bacon as “a good poet, but concealed.”
Great poets always recognize the genius of other great poets, even when they are concealed. With regard to Bacon the concealed poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley may have said it best: “Lord Bacon was a poet. His language has a sweet and majestic rhythm which satisfies the sense, no less than the almost super human wisdom of his philosophy satisfies the intellect. It is a strain which distends and then bursts the circumference of the reader’s mind, and pours itself forth with it into the universal element with which it has perpetual sympathy.”*
For the hard evidence of Bacon’s authorship of the Shakespearean works see:
BACON’S SMOKING GUN’S: THE HARD EVIDENCE
from Richard Allan Wagner’s book The LOST SECRET of William Shakespeare.
* Alfred Dodd: The Secret History of Francis Bacon p. 252
* Ibid: pp. 249-250
* Ross Jackson: Companion to SHAKER OF THE SPEAR pp. 78-79
* Mark Twain: Is Shakespeare Dead? From My Autobiography p. 23
* Mark Anderson: SHAKESPEARE BY ANOTHER NAME p.76
* Thomas Bethell: The Case for Oxford
* Anderson: pp. 111-112
* Edwin Abbott: Francis Bacon an Account of HIS LIFE AND WORKS
* Jackson (quoting Gerald Massey) pp. 31-32
* Peter Dawkins: The Shakespeare Enigma (quoting Percy Bysshe Shelly) p. 173
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The one premise that rings true in the movie Anonymous is that the man we all thought to be the true author of the Shakespearean works was NOT who we thought he was—on that issue the movie is correct, beyond that, everything else is pure fiction.
Shakespeare Authorship: Bacon vs DeVere
Since de Vere is easily dismissed as the author of the Shakespearean works due to the timeline and sheer lack of evidence, why do die-hard Oxfordians persist in foisting their allegations onto a largely unsuspecting public?