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The following is a paper written by Dennis Baron in 2013

The Birth, Life, and Death of William Shakespeare

In a recent television interview the theatrical director Peter Brooke said: “It`s an idiotic idea that Shakespeare didn`t write Shakespeare”; and the eminent Shakespearean scholar Professor Stanley Wells, who has written many thousands of erudite words on the subject, put his own position quite succinctly when he said: “All the people who question Shakespeare`s authorship are crackpots”

Of course it is beyond doubt that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare; but the question that needs to be answered is: was the author of the plays, sonnets, and narrative poems William Shakspere of Stratford-on-Avon, who the Stratfordians insist on calling William Shakespeare, or was the author someone who used the name William Shakespeare as pseudonym; and, if this is so, what was the significance of the name Shakespeare? The purpose of this paper is to answer these questions.


During her Summer Progress in July 1578 , Elizabeth 1, and her court, stopped at Audley End House near Saffron Walden. Gabriel Harvey, a fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge, speaking in Latin verse, gave a welcoming address that praised the Queen, Lord Burghley, the Earl of Leicester, the Earl of Oxford, Sir Christopher Hatton, Philip Sidney, and others.

Harvey`s tribute has been translated by Bernard M. Ward, and in this translation Harvey said of the Earl of Oxford: “Thy merit doth not creep along the ground...It is a wonder which reaches as far as the heavenly orbs...Pallas striking her shield with her spear shaft will attend thee. For a long time past Phoebus Apollo has cultivated thy mind in the arts...I have seen many Latin verses of thine, yea, even more English verses are extant...now is the time for thee to sharpen the spear...Minerva strengthens thy right hand...Thine eyes flash fire, thy countenance shakes a spear”.

Pallas Athena, known as the spear-shaker, and Minerva were the Greek and Roman names for the goddess of Wisdom, Intelligence, and the Arts. In Rome the guild of poets and dramatists met in the Temple of Pallas.

Harvey`s tribute to the Earl of Oxford was published in the Fourth Book of Walden Rejoicing in September 1578 .

It has been argued that Ward`s translation of Harvey`s phrase vultus tela vibrat does not mean “thy countenance shakes a spear” because spears is a too specific definition of tela. In 16 th . century Latin dictionaries the word tela has in fact got two meanings; first, it is the plural of telum which means: all things that may be thrown with the hand, a weapon to fight with. The second definition is: a web of cloth, that which is woven. Pallas/Minerva was the virgin goddess of weaving as well as of music, poetry, and drama. So the second definition is an indirect reference to Pallas/Minerva, who is always seen brandishing or shaking a spear. It therefore follows that, within the context of Harvey`s previous references to Pallas/Minerva and her spear, tela has not unreasonably been translated by Ward as “a spear”; although, tela being plural, it should actually be “spears”.

In Thomas Elyot`s Latin dictionaries of 1538 and 1559 there is a second definition of vultus, or voltus, from the verb volo , which, it is recorded, was used by old writers; and this definition is: to will. Therefore, vultus tela vibrat not only means “thy countenance shakes spears”, but could still have been interpreted in the second half of the 16 th. century as meaning “thy will shakes spears” .

In the late summer of 1592 Thomas Nashe, a young satirist who had come down from Cambridge four years previously, published his book Pierce Penilesse his Supplication to the Devil. The book tells the story of a writer who recognizes that men of low wit prosper whereas he , who has more wit than any of them, is living in poverty,

There is a passage in the book in which a malcontented, greasy son of a clothier “complaines, like a decayed Earl, of the ruin of ancient houses: whereas the Weaver`s looms first framed the web of his honour” his clothes are now threadbare and he is like a “squire of low degree”. “He will be humorous, forsooth, and have a brood of fashions by himself”. “Sometimes, because Love commonly wears the livery of Wit, he will be an Inamorato Poeta, and sonnet a whole quire of paper in praise of Lady Swin-snout, his yellow faced Mistress, and wear a feather of her rainbeaten fan for a favour, like a fore-horse”. “All Italionato is his talk, and his spade peake is as sharp as if he had been a Pioneer before the walls of Rome”. “If he is challenged to fight, for his delatory excuse, he objects that it is not the custom of the Spaniard or German to look back to every dog that barks”. “You shall see a dapper Jack, that hath been but over to Dieppe...Talk English through his teeth, like Jaques Scabbed-hams, or Monsieur Mingo de Mousetrap: when, poor slave, he has but dipped his bread in Wild Boars grease, and come home again; or been bitten by the shins by a wolf: and says, he has adventured upon the Barracades of Gurney or Guingam, and fought with the young Guise hand to hand”. In a margin note by the side of this passage, Nashe has written “The nature of an upstart” . In his previous writings Nashe`s definition of an upstart has been someone who has received undeserved acclaim.

Satire needs a subject, and the passage becomes pleasing satirical humour when one knows that in 1592 there is an actual decayed Earl who, because of his lack of financial acumen, has sold more than one hundred of his estates over a period of ten to twelve years and is, financially, not much more than a squire of low degree. In his youth this Earl had been a leading man of fashion who had spent extravagantly on his clothing. He is recognized as the best of the courtly poets who has “written excellently well” and, being one of the senior English Earls, he is, in royal processions, a fore-horse to the Queen. On returning from his travels in Italy he was described by Gabriel Harvey as the “Mirror of Tuscanism”. In 1580 he was challenged to a duel by Philip Sidney and was twice heard to call Sidney a puppy . This same Earl travelled, without permission, to the Low Countries when, after only a few days, he was brought back by Thomas Bedingfield on the orders of the Queen. One of the supporters on his crest is a Blue Boar. He is reported to have told the rather tall story that, after service with the Duke of Alva, a dispute between two Genoese families had escalated into a war, and that he had been chosen by the Pope to lead an army of thirty thousand men to settle the dispute, which he did without having to fight a battle. This decayed Earl is Edward de Vere, the seventeenth Earl of Oxford.

By including in his satire the names Jaques Scabbed-hams and Monsieur Mingo de Mousetrap, Jaques being a character in As You Like It and The Mousetrap being the play that is presented to the King and Queen in Hamlet, is Nashe surreptitiously suggesting that these plays were written by the decayed Earl, the Earl of Oxford?

This “nature of an upstart” passage is a little ambiguous. Did the weaver`s looms first frame the web of the greasy son of a clothier, the subject of the passage, who Nashe sarcastically calls “his honour”; or did the weaver`s looms first frame the web of “his honour”, the decayed Earl?

If the decayed Earl is “his honour”, then the purpose of the rest of the passage is to do nothing more than to satirize the Earl of Oxford as an upstart; but an upstart who Nashe could be implying has written Hamlet and As You Like It . If this unlikely interpretation is correct, what is the point of having , as the subject of the passage , the son of a clothier?

The alternative interpretation is that the subject of the passage, the son of a clothier, is “his honour”, and that the rest of the passage, by satirizing incidents in the Earl of Oxford`s life, is implying that the son of a clothier is not only complaining about the ruin of ancient houses, like a decayed Earl, but is also taking on aspects of the Earl of Oxford`s life.

Therefore, the purpose of this “nature of an upstart” passage is to inform the reader that a greasy son of a clothier is beginning to receive undeserved acclaim for writing Hamlet and As You Like It , but that it is actually the Earl of Oxford who deserves the acclaim.

About six weeks after the publication of Pierce Penilesse his Supplication to the Devil a new book called Greene`s Groatsworth of Wit was published by Thomas Nashe`s friend Robert Greene.

Groatsworth relates the adventures of one Roberto who complains about his treatment by the London actors. Greene admits that Roberto is himself, and in warning three playwrights, none of whom are named, to beware of actors he writes: “Yes, trust them not: for there is an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his Tygers heart wrapped in a Players hide, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you; and being an absolute Iohannes factotum, is in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in a country”.

On reading these lines it is noticeable that most of them are paraphrasing Thomas Nashe`s preface to Greene`s Menaphon , which was written three years earlier. In this preface Nashe writes of “vain glorious Tragedians, who contend not so seriously to excel in action, as to embowel the clouds in a speech of comparison, thinking themselves more than initiated in the Poets immortality, if they but once get Boreas by the beard and the heavenly Bull by the dew-lap”, which would seem to be paraphrased by Greene as: “in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in a country”. Nashe then write of “Art-masters, that intrude themselves to our ears as the Alchemists of Eloquence who, mounted on the stage of arrogance, think to out-brave better pens with the swelling bombast of a bragging blank verse”, which is paraphrased as: “supposes he is well able to bombast out a blank verse”. Nashe then goes on to criticize writers who vaunt “Ovid`s and Plutach`s plumes as their own”, which is echoed in Groatsworth as: “beautified with our feathers”.

The only part of the Groatsworth lines that is not a paraphrase of Nashe`s preface of 1589 is: ”for there is an upstart Crow...that with his Tygers heart wrapped in a Player`s hide”. This is an intentional mis-quotation of “O tygers heart wrapped in a woman`s hide” from The Third Part of King Henry the Sixth which, in 1592, was the anonymous play The True Tragedy of Richard Duke of York, and the death of Good King Henry the Sixth . Greene is saying that an upstart crow is receiving undeserved acclaim by vaunting has is own The Third Part of King Henry the Sixth . .

Two books, Pierce Penilesse his Supplication to the Devil and Greene`s Groatsworth of Wit, published six weeks apart, both refer to an upstart. By combining the upstart player with the upstart son of a clothier it can be seen that someone was receiving undeserved acclaim by presenting himself as the author of The Third Part of King Henry the Sixth , Hamlet and As You Like It, but that these plays had actually been written by the Earl of Oxford. This interpretation is reinforced with the realization that Groatsworth refers to the upstart as a player, and that a player plays the part of someone other than himself: he pretends to be someone else. Furthermore, Greene describes the player as a Crow, which implies, from a knowledge of Horace, that the player is not only an upstart, but is also a thief .

It could only be clearer if the “Tyger`s heart” line had been inserted into “the nature of an upstart” passage, or if Nashe had been the author of Groatsworth .

In the late summer of 1592 the cat had been let out of the bag; Thomas Nashe and Robert Greene knew what was happening: Nashe representing the upstart as the son of a clothier and Greene representing him as a player. Perhaps the player is the greasy son of a clothier; and perhaps...could it be...that the thieving upstart is like the drunken tinker Christopher Sly from Burton Heath in Warwickshire who, in the Induction scenes of The Taming of the Shrew, wakes up to find that he is living the life of a Lord?

William Shakspere of Stratford-on-Avon was the son of the glover John Shakspere. It is not known if William was a greasy son of a glover, but from what little is known of him he could have been “all malcontent”. Whether Shakspere was a real actor or, because of his fortunate name, simply someone who was specifically hired to play the part of a lifetime, is now open to speculation. However, what seems to be more than likely is that in the late summer of 1592 he was the thieving upstart who filched the good name of Shakespeare from Edward de Vere.

On 27 th. April 1593, eight months after the publication of Pierce Penilesse his Supplication to the Devil , and six weeks before the publication of Venus and Adonis, Pierce`s Supererogation by Gabriel Harvey was entered on the Stationer`s Register .

In the first part of his book Harvey writes: “Give me the fellow, that is as Peerless as Pennyless; and can oppose all the libraries in Paul`s churchyard with one wonderful work of supererogation; such an unmatchable piece of Learning, as no books can avail, but his own; the only records of the singularities of this age”. A work of supererogation being a work which acts as a balance against the sins of our lives. Perhaps when Harvey wrote “the singularities of this age” he was thinking of Hamlet describing the players as: “the abstracts and brief chronicles of the time”; and that it was Pierce Penniless, the pennyless peer, who had written Hamlet: a wonderful work of supererogation, which, according to Nashe in his preface to Menaphon, must have been written before 1589.

Harvey then continues: “the primroses of May...blossom in Mr. Pierce Pennilesse, as in the rich garden of poor Adonis”.

In the third part of Pierce`s Supererogation Harvey writes that he “can conceive small hope of any possible account, or regard of mine own discourses, were that fair body of the sweetest Venus in Print, as it is redoubtably armed with the complete harness of the bravest Minerva...She shall no sooner appear in person...but every eye of capacity will see a conspicuous difference between her, and other mirrors of Eloquence”. The complete harness of the bravest Minerva is Pallas/Minerva shaking a spear with her right hand while holding a shield with her left hand.

Harvey had said that the Earl of Oxford is attended by Pallas striking her shield with her spear shaft; that Minerva lies hidden in his right hand; that now is the time for him to sharpen the spear; and, that his countenance, or will, shakes a spear . Therefore, Gabriel Harvey knew that the Earl of Oxford is the author of Venus and Adonis, because it is armed with the complete harness of the bravest Minerva: the name William Shakespeare .

Venus and Adonis was published in June 1593, and on the title page is a quotation from Ovid`s Amores, Elegy XV, Book One; which, though not published until 1597 , was translated by Christopher Marlowe as:

Let base-conceited wits admire vile things,

Fair Phoebus lead me to the Muses` springs.

Phoebus Apollo was the sun-god of light, beauty, joy, music, and poetry; and from him all bards and musicians received their inspiration; and, from his handmaidens, the Muses, came light and progress in every field of science, art, and culture.

So, in the very first publication that bears his name, Shakespeare not only equates himself with the spear-shaker, Pallas Athens, the goddess of the drama, but also implies, by quoting Ovid, that he is inspired by Phoebus Apollo, the god of poetry, and his Muses.

If, in 1593, the reader of Venus and Adonis could also read Latin , and was aware that Gabriel Harvey had paid a remarkable tribute to the Earl of Oxford with references to both Pallas Athena and Phoebus Apollo, then the reader would have had no doubt whatsoever that the author of Venus and Adonis was Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, and that he had chosen to write under the pseudonym of William Shakespeare.

The reader of Venus and Adonis would also have realized that the author`s dedication of his work to the Earl of Southampton was nothing more than a mock dedication.


The Shakespeare plays are today divided into acts and scenes, but each scene can also be divided into episodes. Some of these episodes are constructed around a framework of one or more dominant words in the dialogue, each of which is repeated one or more times. When these dominant English words are translated into Latin, a word or phrase that contains a “ver” syllable can be found. If, within the clustering of these dominant words, the dialogue also contains the word “nothing” or “yet”, it is translated into Latin as nihil or nihilominus.

So, concealed in these episodes of English dialogue is the clustering of Latin words that contain a “ver” syllable, which are combined with the Latin nihil or nihilominus. The family motto of the leading candidate for the authorship of the Shakespeare plays, Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, is the Latin vero nihil verius: truly nothing truer; and therefore , certain episodes in the Shakespeare plays are constructed around concealed words that form a Latin pun on the motto of the Earl of Oxford.

The only time that a dominant English word in the dialogue translates as a syllable other than “ver” is when it translates as “vir”, which still produces a “ver” sound; or when it translates as “via”, which in Old Latin was spelt vea, meaning: a road, a way; or devia: to wander out of the way, to go astray; so that devia is quite a dominant hidden word in A Midsummer Night`s Dream.

If there was only one of these puns in the whole of the Shakespeare plays, it would be considered as being coincidental. If there were only two or three of these motto puns in each of the plays, then they too would probably be considered as being coincidental. However, there is in fact an average of 24.54 of these concealed Latin puns on the motto of the Earl of Oxford in each of the Shakespeare plays. A total of 908 in all of the plays.

I have read twenty plays that were published between about 1560 and 1620 but which were definitely not written by the Earl of Oxford. The average number of puns on the Earl of Oxford`s motto in these plays is 2.85. I have also read twenty modern plays; plays that were written within about the last one hundred years; e.g. Pygmalion, Who`s Afraid of Virginia Wolf, Waiting for Godot; and these plays contain an average of 1.5 puns on the motto of the Earl of Oxford. These modern authors would have been completely unaware that they were writing puns on the Earl of Oxford`s family motto, and therefore the average of 1.5 puns in modern plays is the figure that constitutes coincidence.

So, an average of 24.54 puns on the motto of the Earl of Oxford in the Shakespeare plays, but only an average of 2.85 in the plays that were written in the 16 th/17 th century period; and 1.5, the figure that constitutes coincidence, in modern plays. This means that there are sixteen times more motto puns in the Shakespeare plays than would be expected to occur by chance. These statistics show overwhelmingly that the puns on the Earl of Oxford`s motto in the Shakespeare plays were written intentionally and are not coincidental.

Who but the Earl of Oxford would have written the Shakespeare plays knowing, as the author would have done, that they contain an average of 24.54 concealed puns on the motto of the Earl of Oxford?

The difference between the motto puns that are written by de Vere in the Shakespeare plays and those in both the 16 th/17 th century period and the modern period is not just a matter of quantity but also a matter of quality or complexity.

The repetition of the concealed “ver” words in the Shakespeare plays cannot be found to the same extent in the 16 th/17 th century period, and to an even lesser extent in modern plays. Whilst Shakespeare`s motto puns repeat the “ver” word several times over many lines, the motto puns in the non de Vere plays rarely cover more than one line and are really quite simply constructed, using only one “ver” word , which is repeated only once , and combined with nihil or nihilominus.

The majority of the motto puns in the Shakespeare plays are formed by the repetition of two, three, four, or more different “ver” words which are combined with the repeating of the motto`s nihil element. This never happens in either a 16 th/17 th century play or in the modern plays.

Some of the Shakespeare motto puns intermingle with each other so that it is difficult to know if they should be considered as being separate motto puns, or whether they should be considered as being one motto pun. A similar difficulty arises when a short motto pun is found in the midst of a distinctly different longer motto pun. Incidentally, the Shakespeare motto puns that are formed from the repetition of two, three, four, or more different “ver” words have been counted as one motto pun. This means that in the statistics that I have presented above , the complexity of the Shakespeare motto puns has been seriously under represented in relation to the 16 th/17 th century period and the modern period.

An example of a fairly simple pun on the motto of the Earl of Oxford can be found in Act 4, Scene 5, line 11 of Henry the Fifth, where Bourbon says: “Shame, and eternal shame, nothing but shame”. The word “shame” can be translated into Latin as VERecundia, or VEREcundia, meaning: a feeling of shame, or shame; and “nothing” is translated as nihil. This produces VERecundia, VERecundia, nihil, VERecundia; which is a pun on vero nihil verius. The introduction of the word “shame”, Latin VERecundia, by the Dauphin at line 4, and its reiteration by Bourbon at the end of line 11, and also at the end of the scene, expands the motto pun.

The Porter`s scene in Act 2, Scene 3 of Macbeth is very important in the Shakespeare Authorship Debate because Stratfordians claim that it is the only instance in the Shakespeare plays that refers to a contemporary event, and that the event occurred after the death of the Earl of Oxford in 1604, therefore the Earl of Oxford cannot be the author of the Shakespeare plays.

The first day of the trial of the Jesuit Henry Garnet in March 1606 for misprision of treason, having prior knowledge of the Gunpowder Plot, had focused on the subject of equivocation. Sir Edward Coke, who conducted the prosecution, said that a 61 page book A Treatise of Equivocation, which had been published by the King`s Printer just before the commencement of the trial, had been written by Father Garnet “not long before the Queene`s death”. In fact it seems that Henry Garnet wrote his treatise in 1598 when he was asked to give an account of equivocation for the instruction of Catholics. It is because of this word “equivocation” that the Porter`s scene in Macbeth is said to refer to the trial of Henry Garnet.

The most relevant lines of the Porter are: “Faith, here`s an equivocator, that could swear in both the scales against either scale, who committed treason enough for God`s sake, yet could not equivocate to heaven: O, come in, equivocator” .

The “equivocation” episode actually begins towards the end of Scene two with the repetition of “knocking”, the Latin pulsare et VERberare: a beating, striking, knocking; and culminates some forty odd lines into scene three when Macduff asks the Porter: “Is thy master stirring? Our knocking has awakened him”. In between there is the repetition of equivocator with equivocate; Latin tergiVERsator: one who delays, declines; with tergiVERsari: to find excuses, evade, equivocate. The English word tergiVERsate means: to equivocate, make conflicting or evasive statements.

It would therefore seem that the Porter`s scene does not refer to the trial of Henry Garnet in 1606 but is, in fact, constructed around the repetition of pulsare et verberare and tergiversari with tergiversator, which are combined with the repeated nihilominus to form a concealed double pun on vero nihil verius, the motto of the Earl of Oxford.

There is a very interesting example of an extended motto pun at 2.1.28. of The Tempest:

Antonio: Which, of he or Adrian, for a good wager, first begins to crow?

Sebastian: The old cock.

Antonio: The cockerel.

Sebastian: Done: the wager?

Antonio: A laughter.

Adrian: Though this island seem to be desert –

Antonio: Ha, ha, ha!

Sebastian: So, you`re paid.

So why is the wager “a laughter”? Because the Latin risum movere, or commovere, means: to cause laughter. By speaking first , Adrian is the cause of laughter when Antonio laughs and the wager is paid. During the rest of this very long episode Gonzalo is the cause of laughter or ridicule; this culminates at line 2.1.171:

Gonzalo: Do you mark me, sir?

Alonso: Prithee, no more: thou dost talk nothing (nihil) to me.

Gonzalo: I do believe your highness, and did it to minister occasion to these gentlemen, who are of such sensible and nimble lungs, that they always use to laugh (risum movere: to raise a laugh) at nothing (nihil)

Antonio: `Twas you we laughed (risum movere) at.

Gonzalo: Who, in this kind of merry fooling, am nothing (nihil) to you: so you may continue, and laugh (risum movere) at nothing (nihil).

Antonio: Nay, good my lord, be not angry (stomachum movere) .

Gonzalo: Will you laugh (risum movere) me asleep, for I am very heavy?

A pun on the Earl of Oxford`s motto vero nihil verius is formed from the repetition of risum movere with stomachum movere which are combined with nihil; the pun being: nihil, risum movere, nihil, risum movere, nihil, risum movere, nihil, stomachum movere, risum movere.

The exact meaning of risum movere: to cause laughter, to raise a laugh, is made clear in the dialogue: “Twas you we laughed at”; Gonzalo is the cause of laughter. Therefore it is perfectly clear that Shakespeare intended to write this episode around the Latin risum movere , and to form a pun on the motto of the Earl of Oxford . The episode, which started at line 30, comes to an end at line 190.

It is interesting to see how the dialogue of an episode develops as Shakespeare connects concealed Latin words that are derived from the same stem but which have subtle changes of meaning. An example of this starts at 3.3.95 of Othello .

Iago: Did Michael Cassio, when you wooed (virginem petiere iuvenes), know of your love?

Othello: Why dost thou ask?

Iago: But for a satisfaction of my thought (advertere).

Othello: Why of thy thought (advertere), Iago?

Iago: I did not think (versare) he had been acquainted with her.

Othello: O yes (vero), and went between us very oft.

Iago: Indeed (vero)!

Othello: Indeed (vero)? Ay (vero), indeed (vero)...What dost thou think (versare)?

Iago: Think (versare), my lord?

Othello: Think (versare), my lord! Alas, thou ech`st me. As if there were some monster in thy thought (advertere) too hideous to be shown. Thou dost mean something (non nihil)...What didst not like? And when I told thee he was of my counsel in my whole course (via) of wooing (virginem petiere iuvenes), thou criest `Indeed (vero)!`...If thou dost love me, show me thy thought (advertere).

Iago: My lord, you know I love you.

Othello: I think (verso from vertere) thou dost.

Iago: For Michael Cassio, I dare be sworn I think (verso) that he is honest (verus).

Othello: I think (verso) so too.

Iago: Why then, I think (verso) Cassio`s an honest man (vir) .

Othello: Nay, yet (nihilominus) there`s more in this. I prithee, speak (verba facere) to me as to thy thinkings (versare), as thou dost ruminate (ruminatio: a turning over in the mind; therefore versare), and give thy worst of thoughts (advertere) the worst of words (verba).

Iago: Utter (verba facere) my thoughts (advertere)!

Othello: If thou but think`st (versare) him wronged and mak`st his ear a stranger to thy thoughts (advertere).

Iago: It were not for your quiet ...to let you know my thoughts (advertere).

Othello: What dost thou mean?

Iago: Good name in man (vir) or woman (vira), dear my lord, is the immediate jewel of their souls: Who steals (avertere) my purse steals (avertere) trash - `tis something (non nihil), nothing (nihil); `twas mine, `tis his, and has been slaves to thousands; but he that filches (avertere) from me my good name robs (intervertere) me of that which not enriches him and makes me poor (It. povero) indeed (vere).

Othello: I`ll know thy thoughts (advertere).

The Latin cogitare means: to think; but an alternative is versare, from vertere: to turn over in the mind, to meditate upon, to think over, to think about. This is connected to advertere: of the senses, thoughts, to direct towards. When Shakespeare comes to the “good name” section he connects versare and advertere to avertere: to steal; and intervertere: to rob. A definition of filch is: to steal; and is also avertere.

The repetition of versare, advertere, avertere, and intervertere, when combined with nihil , non nihil, and nihilominus, creates a pun on the motto of the Earl of Oxford.

More evidence that Shakespeare intended to write puns on the motto of the Earl of Oxford can be found at 2.2.112 of Measure for Measure .

Isabella: Could great men thunder as Jove himself does, Jove would ne`er be quiet, for every pelting, petty officer would use his heaven for thunder; nothing but thunder.

The Latin tonare verba foro means: to thunder forth; or more literally: to thunder words forth; as used by Virgil among others, and when combined with the Latin nihil: nothing; a pun on the motto is created: tonare verba foro, tonare verba foro, nihil, tonare verba foro. Furthermore, tonare or tonans is a divine epithet, especially of Jupiter: thundering Jupiter; and knowing this , Shakespeare has Isabella say “Could great men thunder as Jove does, Jove would ne`er be quiet”.

In the remaining lines of this episode Shakespeare, in order to emphasize that the motto pun is formed around the Latin verba, connects tonare verba foro as follows:

Angelo: Why do you put these sayings (verba) upon me?

Isabella: Because authority (senatus verbis), though it err like others, hath yet (nihilominus) a kind of medicine in itself.

Angelo: She speaks (verba facere), and `tis such sense, that my sense breeds with it.

Isabella: ...But men, proud men, dressed in a little brief authority (senatus verbis)...plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven as make the angels weep...That in the captain`s but a choleric word (verbum) which in the soldier is flat blasphemy (profanus verba) .

The Latin verbum is a word, verba is words or sayings, verba facere is to make words or to speak, profanus verba is profane or impious words meaning blasphemous words, and senatus verbis means: in the name of the senate, authority.

There are several characters in the Shakespeare plays that are banished or exiled; the most extensive “banished” episode can be found at 3.3.9. of Romeo and Juliet where “banished” and “exile” are the dominant words for 130 lines. However, I think that the episode that begins at 1.3.139 of Richard II is much more interesting.

King Richard: Therefore we banish (solum vertere) you our territories: you, cousin Hereford, upon pain of life, till twice two summers have enriched our fields, shall not regret our fair dominions, but tread the stranger paths (viae) of banishment (solum vertere).

Bolingbroke: That sun that warms you here, shall shine on me... and gild my banishment (solum vertere).

King Richard: Norfolk, for thee remains a heavier doom...the dateless limit of thy dear exile (solum vertere).


Mowbray: Then thus I turn (verto) me from my country`s light, to dwell in solemn shades of endless night.

King Richard: Return (revertere) again, and take an oath with thee. Lay on our royal sword your banished (solum vertere) hands, swear by the duty that you owe to God, our part therein we banish (solum vertere) with yourselves, to keep the oath that we administer: you never shall, so help you truth and God, embrace each other`s love in banishment (solum vertere)...

Bolingbroke: I swear.

Mowbray: And I to keep all this.

King Richard: Uncle, even in the glasses of thine eyes I see the grieved heart: thy sad aspect hath from the number of his banished (solum vertere) years plucked four away. [To Bolingbroke] Six frozen winters spent, return (revertere) with welcome home from banishment (solum vertere).

John of Gaunt: I thank my liege that...he shortens four years of my son`s exile (solum vertere), but little vantage shall I reap thereby.

King Richard: Thy son is banished (solum vertere) upon good advice...Cousin, farewell (avere) – and uncle, bid him so, six years we banish (solum vertere) him and he shall go.

Aumerle: Cousin, farewell (avere)...

Marshall: My lord, no leave take (avere) I, for I will ride as far as land will let me by your side.

John of Gaunt: O, to what purpose dost thou hoard thy words that thou returnest (revertere) no greeting to thy friends?

Bolingbroke: I have too few to take my leave (avere) of you.

John of Gaunt: What is six winters? They are quickly gone...call it a travel (via) that thou tak`st for pleasure...the sullen passage (via) of thy weary (fessus de via) steps esteem as foil wherein thou art set the precious jewel of thy home return (revertere).

Bolingbroke: Nay, rather, every tedious stride I make will but remember me what a deal of world I wander from the jewels that I love (errare via)...Must I not serve a long apprenticehood to foreign passages (viae), and in the end, having my freedom, boast of nothing (nihil) else, but that I was a journeyman (viator: passenger) to grief?

John of Gaunt: Think not the king did banish (solum vertere) thee, but thou the king...Go, say I sent thee forth to purchase honour, and not the king exiled (solum vertere) thee...Look, what thy soul holds dear, imagine it to lie that way (via) thou goest, not whence thou com`st....Come, come, my son, I`ll bring thee on thy way (via).

Bolingbroke: Then England`s ground farewell (avere), sweet soul adieu... where`er I wander (errare via) boast of this I can, though banished (solum vertere), yet (nihilominus) true born Englishman.

Two Latin words that mean to banish, to exile, are exterminare and eicere; but neither of them are “ver” words, therefore Shakespeare might have had in his mind amovere in insulam: to banish to an island; and in Henry VI Part II the Duchess of Gloucester is indeed banished to the Isle of Man. However, it appears that in this episode Shakespeare had in mind solum vertere: to turn or leave one`s country, to go into exile.

That Shakespeare had solum vertere in mind can be seen when Mowbray is banished by Richard, and Shakespeare has Mowbray say at line 176: “Then thus I turn (verto from vertere) me from my country`s light, to dwell in solemn shades of endless night”, which is a poetical definition of solum vertere that includes the English solemn punning the Latin solum.

In this long episode solum vertere, which is connected to revertere: to turn back, return; via, which is connected to errare de via: to wander out of the way; fessus de via: weary with the journey; viator: a traveller, wayfarer; and avere: to bid farewell, at a leave taking; are all found both before and after the nihil to form a triple motto pun.

Finally, an example of a concealed pun on the Earl of Oxford`s motto that can also be found in Ben Jonson`s commemorative poem to William Shakespeare in the First Folio. It is from The Winter`s Tale and begins at 4.4.64.

Shepherd: Pray you, bid these unknown friends to`s welcome (salvere iubere) ...Come on, and bid us welcome (salvere iubere) to your sheep-shearing (oviarius: relating to sheep), as your good flock shall prosper.

Perdita: Sir, welcome (salvere iubere): It is my father`s will, I should take on me the hostess-ship o`th` day...You`re welcome (salvere iubere), sir...Grace and rememberance be to you both, and welcome (salvere iubere) to our shearing (oviarius).

Polixenes: Well you fit our ages with flowers of winter (Fr. hiver) .

Perdita: Sir, the year growing ancient – not yet on summer`s (Sp. verano) death nor on the birth of trembling winter (hiver) – the fairest flowers o`th` season are our carnations and streaked gillyvors, which some call nature`s (veritas) bastards (nothus).

Polixenes: Wherefore, gentle maiden (virgo), do you neglect them?

Perdita: For I have heard it said there is an art (imitari veritatem) which in their piedness (versicolor) shares with great creating nature (veritas).

Polixenes: Say, there be; yet (nihilominus) nature (veritas) is made better by no mean, but nature (veritas) makes that mean: so, over that art (imitari veritatem) which you say adds to nature (veritas), is an art (imitari veritatem) that nature (veritas) makes...You see, sweet maid (virgo), we marry a gentle scion to the wildest stock, and make conceive a bark of baser kind by bud of nobler race. This is an art (imitari veritatem) which does mend nature (veritas)... change it rather, but the art (imitari veritatis) itself is nature (veritas).

Perdita: So it is.

Polixenes: Then make your garden rich in gillyvors, and do not call them bastards (nothus).

Perdita: These are flowers of middle summer (verano) and I think they are given to men of middle age...Y`are very welcome (salvere iubere).

This episode has an outer and an inner element. The outer element is formed around the Latin salvere iubere: to welcome; but the substance of the episode is the philosophical exposition of the relationship between nature and art. The Latin veritas means: truth, reality, the nature of things, nature. In works of art imitari veritatem means: to be true to nature; or literally: to imitate truth or nature. The exposition is therefore constructed around the concealed Latin veritas and imitari veritatem; and with the introduction of the adversative yet, nevertheless, Latin nihilominus, a pun on the Earl of Oxford`s motto is created. The Latin virgo: a maid or maiden; and the Spanish verano: summer; complete a multiple word pun on the Earl of Oxford`s motto in this episode.

In the First Folio poem to the memory of William Shakespeare, written by Ben Jonson, there is a section beginning at line 47 that revolves around Nature and Art . At lines 54 and 55 we find the words: nature, yet, nature, art; the Latin veritas, nihilominus, veritas, imitari veritatem; a pun on the motto of the Earl of Oxford that is constructed in exactly the same way as in The Winter`s Tale . Perhaps Ben Jonson is covertly saying that Shakespeare is actually the Earl of Oxford . Furthermore, in the letter to the Great Variety of Readers in the First Folio, we can now see that the “imitator of nature” could also have been intended to refer to the Earl of Oxford.

In Tolstoy On Shakespeare: A Critical Essay on Shakespeare, written in 1910, Leo Tolstoy wrote: “Shakespeare`s characters...repeat a question several times, or several times demand the repetition of a word which particularly struck them...one sees intentional artifice...that he is playing with words”. Tolstoy was perfectly correct. Unfortunately, he did not know how, or why, Shakespeare “is playing with words”.

This playing with words raises a question: was Shakespeare a mechanical writer, an automaton, someone who wrote to a prescribed formula? I don`t think so .

From a very early age de Vere would have been aware that there are many Latin, French, and Italian words that almost tell his name. By the time he came to write the Shakespeare plays it would have become second nature for him to write dialogue from the definition of these “ver” words.

The “ver” words were the inspiration that fired his imagination and inventiveness, and it is Shakespeare`s imagination and inventiveness that raises him above all other dramatists. Shakespeare`s method of writing plays does not detract from his greatness, it enhances his greatness; so much so that he is even more of a genius than even his most ardent admirers realize.


Shakespeare`s Sonnets was entered in the Stationer`s Register on 20 th. May 1609 and published a little later by Thomas Thorpe with the following inscription written by T.T.


This inscription has been described as “arguably the most enigmatic book dedication in history”. It would not be too unfair to say that, collectively, the most eminent university professors haven`t the slightest idea what Thorpe`s inscription is all about, as they seem to be completely at odds with each other over its interpretation.

Of all the works attributed to Shakespeare he only personally acknowledged the two narrative poems Venus and Adonis and Lucrece as having been written by himself. This was when he dedicated each of them to Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, in 1593, and 1594 respectively. The link between the sonnets and these two narrative poems is the name of the author William Shakespeare; and, that the Fair Youth of the sonnets might be the dedicatee of the narrative poems. It follows from this that it would not be too surprising if a connection could be found between Thorpe`s inscription and Shakespeare`s dedications to the narrative poems. The connection, and the key to understanding the inscription, can be found in two groups of words: “all happiness” and “wisheth the well-wishing”.

The words “all happiness” are the last two words of Shakespeare`s dedication to Southampton in Lucrece. This would seem to suggest that Thomas Thorpe is wishing Mr. W.H exactly what Shakespeare wished the Earl of Southampton, i.e., “I wish long life still lengthened with all happiness”. The words “wisheth the well-wishing” not only refer to the Lucrece dedication but also to the main clause of the last sentence of Shakespeare`s Venus and Adonis dedication: “which I wish may always answer your own wish”.

In these two dedications Shakespeare is wishing Southampton all happiness and whatever Southampton wishes for himself. So it is logical to infer that Thorpe`s inscription refers to Southampton as Mr.W.H., and to Shakespeare as the well-wishing adventurer.

We can now look at the inscription again; and, with added punctuation, see it from a new perspective: To the only begetter of these ensuing sonnets, Mr. W.H., all happiness; and that eternity, promised by our ever living poet, wisheth the well wishing adventurer in setting forth.

The inscription is in two parts. In the first Thorpe wishes all happiness to Mr. W.H . , Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton; and, in the second part, the well wishing adventurer, Shakespeare, has set out on a journey or adventure to eternity. This only leaves “our ever living poet” to be identified.

In sonnet 17 Shakespeare writes: “Who will believe my verse in time to come”.

In sonnet 55: “Not marble, nor the gilded monuments

Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme”.

In sonnet 81: “Your monument shall be my gentle verse,

Which eyes not yet created shall o`er read ,

And tongues to be, your being shall rehearse,

When all the breathers of this world are dead,

You still shall live, such virtue hath my pen”.

And in sonnet 107: “Now with the drops of this most balmy time,

My love looks fresh, and death in me subscribes,

Since `spite of him I`ll live in this poor rhyme,

While he insults o`er dull and speechless tribes;

And thou in this shalt find thy monument,

When tyrants` crests and tombs of brass are spent”.

Shakespeare believes that his verse is eternal; and through the virtue of his pen the Fair Youth will be immortalized. It is generally accepted that “ever living” applies to someone who has died but who will live on through eternity; and as I have established that it is Shakespeare who has set out on a journey to eternity, then Shakespeare is also “our ever living poet” who, in the sonnets, has promised “that eternity” for his verse and himself.

So why did Thorpe refer to Shakespeare twice, as both the “well wishing adventurer” and “our ever living poet”? For the answer to that we have again to look at the main clause in the last sentence of the Venus and Adonis dedication. In this sentence Shakespeare leaves Southampton to Southampton`s own heart`s content, which Shakespeare, in the main clause, wishes may always answer Southampton`s own wish. The form of this clause is reflected in the inscription when Thorpe wishes Shakespeare that eternity which Shakespeare himself promised he would have. Thorpe had to refer to Shakespeare twice in the inscription in order to simulate the structure of Shakespeare`s clause in the Venus and Adonis dedication.

Thomas Thorpe`s inscription is not a dedication. It is more like a message of condolence or consolation on the death of a relative or close friend.

Troilus and Cressida was also published in 1609 with a Preface that begins: “Eternal reader, you have here a new play, never staled with the stage, never clapper-clawed with the palms of the vulgar”; although, incidentally , the title-page of a previous printing claimed that the play had been performed by the King`s Men at the Globe Theatre.

Without mentioning the author`s name, apart from the heading “A never writer to an ever reader”, the Preface goes on: “when he is gone, and his comedies out of sale you will scramble for them, and set up a new English Inquisition. Take this for a warning, and at the peril of your pleasure`s loss, for not being sullied with the smokey breath of the multitude; but thank fortune for the scape it hath made amongst you. Since by the grand possessors` wills I believe you should have prayed for them rather than been prayed”.

What this Preface seems to be saying is that the Shakespeare plays are being held by “grand possessors”, members of the nobility, and that the reader should “thank fortune” that Troilus and Cressida, which has not been “sullied with the smokey breath of the multitude”, has escaped from their control. The Preface also predicts that when the author “is gone, and his comedies out of sale, you will scramble for them”.

However, the Preface to Troilus and Cressida was not a prediction of what will happen “when he is gone, and his comedies out of sale”, because the withholding from publication of the Shakespeare plays was already happening . In the six years since the publication of Hamlet only three Shakespeare plays had escaped and been published: King Lear in 1608, Troilus and Cressida and Pericles in 1609. Therefore , the inference that the reader could take from this situation was that the author had already “gone”. Of the twenty-two Shakespeare plays that had not been published at the time of the Earl of Oxford`s death in 1604 , only four, the three just mentioned plus Othello, were published before the publication of the First Folio in 1623.

Most Shakespearean academics accept that The Tempest was the last play, or one of the last plays, to be written by William Shakespeare. They therefore find it rather odd that it is the first play in the First Folio. The reason why it is the first play in the First Folio is because it is an allegorical representation of key events in the life of Edward de Vere.

In his youth Prospero spent too much time with his books and neglected his Dukedom of Milan; consequently he finds that his Dukedom is taken from him by his brother and he is exiled on a magical island. A noble Neapolitan, Gonzalo, provides Prospero with food, fresh water, rich garments, and books, which Prospero prizes above his Dukedom. With the help of his assistant Ariel, an airy spirit, Prospero creates a tempest which causes his enemies to be marooned on the island. Prospero foresees that two of the courtiers are plotting to kill the King and Gonzalo whilst they are sleeping, and so he sends Ariel to prevent this from happening. Stephano, urged on by the monster Caliban, tries to take the magical island from Prospero; but Prospero is the master magician not Stephano. Finally Prospero`s daughter Miranda falls in love with the King`s son Ferdinand, Prospero is restored to his Dukedom and he forgives his enemies.

Edward de Vere was twelve years old when his father died and therefore, not having reached his majority, he was made a Royal Ward of Court under the care of Sir William Cecil, later Lord Burghley, the Principal Secretary of State to Elizabeth I. It is known from the records that during the period of the wardship de Vere was provided with expensive clothing and books. It would therefore appear that Gonzalo represents Lord Burghley.

In de Vere`s fourteenth year his half brother-in-law, Baron Windsor, claimed that his wife, de Vere`s half sister, was the only legitimate issue of Edward de Vere`s father, and therefore he, Baron Windsor , was the legitimate Earl of Oxford.

During his early years de Vere devoted his life to books and learning, later becoming one of the leading poets and writers of comedies at the court. Because of these interests he was not given any position of state, which would have been expected of one of the foremost Earls of England. He began to neglect his Earldom and had to sell some of the lands and estates that he had inherited. These events: de Vere`s half brother claiming his Earldom; and, later, de Vere neglecting his Earldom, are reflected in Prospero`s brother taking the Dukedom from Prospero. By the age of about twenty-five de Vere found himself to be an outsider at the court, becoming an exile on his own island of the theatre, which is “full of noises, sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight, and hurt not...and sometime voices, that, if I then had waked after long sleep, will make me sleep again”. On this island, the theatre, he tries to educate the monster Caliban, who, on one level, represents the audience, the general population.

At the end of 1580 de Vere reported to Elizabeth that some of her courtiers were plotting with foreign powers to depose her. It is not clear how much credence she gave to his report but two and a half years later these same courtiers were implicated in the Throckmorton Plot. One escaped to the continent, one was imprisoned for the rest of his life, and a third never regained the favour of Elizabeth. It is also known that foreign powers were planning to kill Lord Burghley. This event, and de Vere`s part in it, is clearly represented in The Tempest.

Towards the end of his life de Vere`s eldest daughter, Elizabeth, married William Stanley, the 6 th. Earl of Derby; and his second daughter, Bridget, married Francis Norris, who became Baron Rycote. James I restored ancestral lands to de Vere which Elizabeth I had withheld from him for more than twenty years. James I also restored the Earl of Oxford to the privy council. These events are represented by the love of Miranda and Ferdinand, and in Prospero regaining the Dukedom of Milan. Stephano, aided by Caliban, who worships Stephano, dresses himself in Prospero`s magical garments to become the king of the island; but his plans are thwarted by Prospero. The bitter, resentful, joke is that Stephano represents Shakspere of Stratford-on-Avon, who, worshipped by the general population has become the king of the theatrical world. However it is de Vere who, with his words, conjures up historical figures, deities, thunder, lightening, shipwrecks, and hounds. It is de Vere who is the master, not Shakspere.

On page 370 of his book Shakespeare: The Poet & His Plays Stanley Wells writes that “Prospero functions in the play as...the controller of the action of the play, the conjuror up of a vision...a figure who, at whatever stage of the dramatist`s career the play had been written, would inevitably have born some relationship to the author himself.”

Of course Prospero does not do this controlling and conjuring all by himself; he is helped, assisted, and supported by the airy spirit Ariel. In Act three, Scene three, Ariel enters like a Harpy. In late mythology a Harpy was a fabulous monster, having a woman`s face and body and a bird`s wings and claws. It was supposed to act as a minister of divine justice. However, in early mythology a Harpy was a spirit of whirlwinds and hurricanes, who could carry people away and had the powers of the underworld. It can be seen that, in most of the play, Ariel has the attributes of a Harpy from early mythology, but in Act three, Scene three, has the attributes of a Harpy from late mythology.

So Ariel supports Prospero, who “would inevitably have born some relationship to the author himself”. The Earl of Oxford`s family crest has two supporters. One is a boar, the Latin verres, the other is...a Harpy. William Shakespeare`s First Folio of Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies was published in 1623; it is dedicated “TO THE MOST NOBLE and INCOMPARABLE PAIR OF BRETHREN WILLIAM Earl of Pembroke...AND PHILIP Earl of Montgomery”.

In 1597 Lord and Lady Pembroke were promoting a marriage between their eldest son William and the Earl of Oxford`s second daughter Bridget; the marriage, however, did not materialize . William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, would become the Lord Chamberlain from 1615 to 1625; the supreme authority in the world of the theatre, and therefore in a position to decide which plays could be published and which were to be suppressed.

The year after the Earl of Oxford died, 1605, his youngest daughter Susan married Philip Herbert, Earl of Montgomery.

It therefore seems to be more than likely that Susan de Vere, together with her husband and her brother-in-law, the Lord Chamberlain, had been the “grand possessors” of the Shakespeare plays , and that it was they, the relatives and friends of the Earl of Oxford, who were instrumental in bringing about the publication of the First Folio of Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies .

I believe that this paper has answered the questions that were posed at the beginning, and I hope that you have been convinced that these important authorship questions have been answered.