Talk:Shakespeare authorship question/Archive 15

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Contentious "Early doubts" edit

Smatprt, your justification for this edit is not acceptable, as you are misconstruing your source.

In the first place, McMichael and Glenn didn’t write what you are referring to; William and Elizabeth Friedman did. In fact, McMichael and Glenn write on page v: “The argument is over a century old ….” (1962)

Secondly, the Friedmans don’t say what you say they say. Here’s the entire two-page section concerning the early hints (my emphasis throughout):

McMichael & Glenn, Shakespeare and his rivals, pp. 56-57:

1957 "The Great Controversy," The Shakespearean Ciphers Examined, William F. and Elizebeth S. Friedman, Cambridge University Press, 1957, pp. 1-4.

[p. 1] It seems that the first man to question Shakespeare's sole authorship of the plays was a certain 'Captain' Goulding. In a small book called An Essay Against Too Much Reading, published in 1728, he hinted at one of the anti-Stratfordian arguments. The plays, he said, are so superlative that 'Shakespear has frighten'd three parts of the World from attempting to write; and he was no Scholar, no Grammarian, no Historian, and in all probability cou'd not write English.' Goulding [continues] . . .

Although his Plays were historical. . . the History Part was given him in concise and short, by one of those Chuckles that could give him nothing else. . . . I will give you a short Account of Mr. Shakespear's Proceeding; and that I had from one of his intimate Acquaintance. His being imperfect in some Things, was owing to his not being a Scholar, which obliged him to have one of those chuckle-pated Historians for his particular Associate. . . and he maintain'd him, or he might have starv'd upon his History. And when he wanted anything in his Way. . . he sent to him. . . . Then with his natural flowing Wit, he work'd it into all Shapes and Forms, as his beautiful Thoughts directed. The other put it into Grammar. . ..

One may see here the germ of much future ingenuity. . . .

In 1769-some forty years later-there was published in England a curious little allegory with a historical framework, called The Life and Adventures of Common Sense. It is anonymous, [and] [p. 2] contains what has been considered to be one of the first references to Bacon as Shakespeare.

In the allegory, Common Sense.. his father Wisdom.. and his companions Genius and Humour arrive in London together; they meet on their arrival a Stranger,

..a Person belonging to the Playhouse; this Man was a profligate in his Youth, and, as some say, had been a Deer-stealer. . . . This Man. . . took the first opportunity. . . to rob them of every Thing he could lay his Hands on. . . . Amongst my Father's Baggage, he presently cast his Eye upon a common place Book, in which was contained, an Infinite Variety of Modes and Forms, to express all the different Sentiments of the human Mind, together with Rules for their Combinations and Connections upon every Subject or Occasion that might Occur in Dramatic Writing. . . . With these Materials, and with good Parts of his own, he commenced Play-Writer, how he succeeded is needless to say, when I tell the Reader that his name was Shakespear.

Bacon kept a commonplace book, which has survived. Some Baconians have therefore inferred that Bacon is represented by Wisdom, 'my Father', in the allegory.

The first writer to come out firmly (which we now know to be a forgery, and therefore under no obligation to include. TR) for Bacon was the Rev. James Wilmot, D.D. He made the attribution in about 1785, but it seems not to have attracted attention at the time; his priority was recorded and authenticated in 1805 and 1813.

Another allegorical work referred to the authorship of the plays in 1786; this was The Story of the Learned Pig.. by 'An Officer of the Royal Navy'. It is a small step from the notion of a learned pig to that of the learned Bacon; some readers have been eager to make it. The Pig as he describes himself is a Protean figure-the cliche is justified, for he was successively greyhound, deer and bear. By p. 35 he can state:

I am now come to a period in which, to my great joy, I once more got possession of a human body. . . . I was early in life initiated in the [p. 3] profession of horse-holder to those who came to visit the playhouse, where I was well known by the name of 'Pimping Billy'. . . . I soon after contracted a friendship with that great man and first of geniuses, the 'Immortal Shakespeare', and am happy in now having it in my power to refute the prevailing opinion of his having run his country for deer-stealing, which is as false as it is disgracing. . . . With equal falsehood has he been father'd with many spurious dramatic pieces. 'Hamlet, Othello, As you like it, the Tempest, and Midsummer's Night Dream', for five; of all which I confess myself to be the author.

As anybody can see, except for the Wilmot material, which we now know is fraudulent, neither McMichael and Glenn nor the Friedmans are disputing the statement, “During the life of William Shakespeare and for more than 200 years after his death, no one seriously suggested that anyone other than Shakespeare wrote the works.” We give due weight to all these instances in the final paragraph of this subsection.

In addition to my other references to that sentence, looking at other sources we find these statements:

Wadsworth, Frank W. The poacher from Stratford

[9]A rather different kind of comment upon the composition of the plays appeared in 1728 under the title of An Essay Against Too much Reading. Variously attributed to Matthew Concanen, a minor hack once satirized by Pope, [10] and a certain Captain Goulding of Bath, the Essay presents the thesis that reading is the primrose path to failure as a writer. After pointing out how the study of Shakespeare "has frighten'd three parts of the World from attempting to write," the author discusses the more direct approach to literary composition utilized by the dramatist himself. Describing Shakespeare as a man who "was no Scholar, no Grammarian, no Historian, and in all probability cou'd not write English," he continues:

[cut material already quoted for the most part]

In his novel fashion, the author of An Essay Against Too much Reading also qualifies as an early Disintegrator.

[22] There can be no doubt about Joseph Hart's place in literary history. Not only was he the first person to state ex-[23]plicitly and unequivocally in print that William Shakespeare did not write the plays bearing his name, but also he developed at length the important thesis that Shakespeare was, in Hart's own words, “a vulgar and unlettered man.” With Hart, it is interesting to note, Emerson's romantic uneasiness about Shakespeare's "profane life" has become a form of social snobbery according to which only the university graduate can be an educated man (an attitude that ignores the great classical scholarship of the nonuniversity writer, Ben Jonson). Furthermore, the angry tone and the personal animus exhibited against Shakespeare were to become major characteristics of the arguments advanced by Hart's followers.

From S. Schoenbaum, Shakespeare’s Lives, 2nd. (1991)

(Regarding The Life and Adventures Of Common Sense: An Historical Allegory (1769), Schoenbaum writes:)

[396] This parable neatly exemplifies a popular eighteenth-century notion of the early manhood of the National Poet, but how it serves the anti-Stratfordian cause is not immediately apparent. For the allegory does not deny Shakespeare his own works, but, rather, shows the dramatist equipping himself with the attributes of his art; elsewhere, in analogous vein, the narrator refers to Vergil, Horace, and Ovid as mere amanuenses whose literary productions were dictated by Wit and Genius. Such considerations carry little weight with the Baconian apologists, who seem not to understand Lawrence or even, as Wadsworth observes, to have read him through. These sectarians point to Wit, Genius, and Humour as characteristics of Bacon; they note with triumph that he kept a commonplace-book. Somewhat inconsistently, they identify Wisdom with their hero. Thus, contrary to the dictates of common sense, did they interpret The Life and Adventures of Common Sense as anticipating their heresy.

Some have genuflected before the Learned Pig as an early prophet of the anti-Stratfordian revelation. The main theme of The Story of the Learned Pig (1786), by 'an Officer of the Royal Navy', is the sad neglect of naval officers by an ungrateful nation, but it takes the odd and entertaining form of a chronicle of the metempsychoses of a soul which, after a strange medley of lodgings (Romulus, Brutus, a black cat, a fly), has come to inhabit a performing pig at Sadler's Wells. [. . .] One revelation leads to another: 'With equal falshood has he been father'd with many spurious dramatic pieces. "Hamlet, Othello, As you like it, the Tempest, and Midsummer's Night Dream", for five; of all which I confess myself to be the author.' For a time Pimping Billy lives happily on the proceeds of his plays, but then (such is the transience of felicity) preference is [397] shown to Shakespeare by 'the first crowned head in the world, and all people of taste and quality'. A violent fit terminates the pander's existence, and we next see him as a bear baited in every town in England. Only the remorselessly literal-minded could detect the seeds of heresy in this quaint narrative, but such literal-mindedness is not alien to the anti-Stratfordian sensibility.

[399] Prior to the recovery of the Ipswich file, the anti-Stratfordians could hail Colonel Joseph C. Hart as their first indisputable—although not Baconian—standard-bearer. [. . .] The book contains tables of longitude and the like, and a glossary of sea terms; but the author's maritime theme does not prevent him from airing strong opinions on a variety of topics. Nowhere is he more idiosyncratic than on the subject of gentle Shakespeare, who reduces Hart to a state of apoplexy.

Milward W. Martin. Was Shakespeare Shakespeare? A lawyer reviews the evidence.

[5] Thus, really starting in the 1850s, after Shakespeare of Stratford had been more than two centuries dead, the theory that the Stratford man did not write the plays and poems had its origin (and it is important to bear this in mind), not in any discovered evidence, but in the wholly theoretical conviction that he was too illiterate to have done so.

It is that conviction, and nothing more (for documented evidence to support the pretenders is non-existent), that has continued as the basic foundation on which all anti-Stratfordianism rests. "It is impossible that that man from Stratford was the author"-that is the starting point from which each eager detective takes off on his safari through the jungles of Elizabethan literature in his efforts to demonstrate who the real author was.

Frederick A. Keller. Spearing the wild blue boar. [138] In this book we have stressed the fact that Shakespeare's authorship of his works went unquestioned during his lifetime and in the 150 years following his death [Keller bases this on the Wilmot story]. But what do the Oxfordians say? Here's a direct quote from the Shakespeare-Oxford Society website (March, 2006): "...there is a strong and continuous tradition of doubt about him [Shakespeare], stretching back to the time when the plays were first published. Much of this is described by Charleton Ogburn (The Mysterious William Shakespeare}'.

This is an untruth that cannot go unchallenged. The website gives not a single instance of early doubt in the 16th and 17th century when the plays were first published, and, unsurprisingly, neither does Ogburn.

Ogburn fils does mention The Story of the Learned Pig (1786) by "an officer of the Royal Navy", as an example of early Anti-Shakespearianism but only an Oxfordian, desperate for "evidence", could imagine it an attack on Will's authorship. [. . .] Ogburn also found ammunition in a 1769 historical allegory by Herbert Lawrence, an apothecary and a surgeon, called The Life and Adventures of Common Sense. In it, the hero-narrator, the son of Truth and Wit, makes his way to England in 1588 where he is befriended by a rogue working at a playhouse. [. . .]

Why Ogburn chose this as a late-18th century example of an author doubting Shakespeare's authorship is difficult to say. Lawrence in no way denies that Shakespeare authored his works; he merely (and entertainingly) explores and enumerates the almost superhuman qualities that Shakespeare possessed to qualify him as the greatest writer in English literature.

At the Shakespeare-Oxford Society website, the authors go on to state: "Before Wit and Common Sense, the trail [of doubters] leads back into the 17th and even the 16th centuries, with numerous literary allusions [of which we are supplied with none] many noted by Ogburn [who also makes note of none] ...”

Reader: I know this deception coming from a claque of presumably scholarly Oxfordians sounds incredible but there is a way to resolve whatever doubts you may have about my veracity. First, check out the Shakespeare-Oxford Society website to verify my quotes. Then do as I did. Read the pertinent chapters in Ogburn's book, The Mysterious William Shakespeare. See if you can find a single "doubter" of any stripe from the 16th or 17th century or a scholarly one from the 18th. I'll bet a pound to a pence you'll come up as empty as I did.

The first doubter of record to question Shakespeare's authorship was a diffident clergyman, the Reverend James Wilmot, an Oxford Fellow who retired about 1781 as Rector of Barton-on-the-Heath, a little village some seven miles from [140]

Warren Hope and Kim Holston (Oxfordians), The Shakespeare controversy

[xii] It must be understood, though, that Delia Bacon did not emerge from a vacuum. She had predecessors. The first published doubts about the authorship of Shakespeare's plays seem to have surfaced in 1769 with the anonymous publication of a book entitled The Life and Adventures of Common Sense: An Historical Allegory. In this allegory, a character called Wisdom has a commonplace book filled with rules for dramatic writing and other unusual matter. Wisdom meets a "person belonging to the Playhouse" who is described in terms of the legends that were gathering around the name of Shakespeare. This person obtains Wisdom's commonplace book and becomes a playwright-"his [xiii] name was Shakespeare!" While not probing the question of authorship directly, this book, which has been attributed to a physician named Herbert Lawrence, at least shows that a need to explain Shakespeare's knowledge was then felt by some. [. . .] The first bold call for an inquiry into the authorship came in 1848, when Joseph Hart, an amateur boating enthusiast, and later the American consul at Santa Cruz, published his The Romance of Yacht-[xiv] ing. Hart remarked that "destitution of authentic incidents marks every stage" of Will Shakspere's life, declared the attribution of the plays and poems to him to be a fraud, and urged a search for the actual authors.' Hart did not seem to think that a solitary individual could have accomplished the feat. These statements and others similar to them paved the way for Delia Bacon. The history of the question really begins with her.

And finally, from Charlton Ogburn, Jr. The mysterious William Shakespeare.

[125] In the very year of David Garrick's Stratford jubilee - 1769 – firmly establishing William Shakspere as his nation's greatest writer, a book was published with an innuendo that all was not above-board in the matter of his authorship. This was a rather tedious allegorical narrative, supposedly by Garrick's friend, the physician Herbert Lawrence, in which a character called Common Sense, born in Athens, the son of Truth and Wit, relates his picaresque adventures. [. . .] Whether, in implying that "Shakespear's" success came about from the purloined gifts of others, the Life and Adventures of Common Sense reflects a suspicion about the Stratfordian's bona fides that had existed all along, it certainly foreshadows later doubts about it.

So also, it would seem, does The Story of the Learned Pig, appearing in 1786. Another historical allegory, this one was by "An Officer of the Royal Navy." The hero-narrator, who signs himself TRANSMIGRATUS, has been reincarnated in innumerable forms going back at least to Romulus, occupying the bodies of insects and higher animals, [. . .]

'There is little logic in it, yet indisputably it singles out Shakespeare as an author not who he seemed to be. As for who the author was, "Learned Pig" may be meant to suggest Bacon.

Sir Francis Bacon was the explicit choice of Dr. James Wilmot, [. . .]

[129] A botcher up of plays written by others is just the opinion of Shakespeare expressed by Joseph C. Hart, a New York lawyer and writer and colonel in the National Guard, in an unlikely vehicle, a book on his sailing experiences. The Romance of Yachting, published in 1848, is conventionally credited with marking the earliest dissent from the Stratford attribution. [. . .]

[131] The year 1856 was portentous in bringing the first open proposals for a concrete alternative to Shakspere as the author.

As you can see, even your anti-Stratfordian sources disagree with you. As you know, or should know, the word "seems" is used to mean "to give the impression of being; to appear". It is never used to make an unequivocal statement, and to take it as such and then use it as a reference for an unequivocal statement is an error in scholarship. I might add that I wish I had back the two hours it took me to put this together. Tom Reedy (talk) 23:00, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

Sorry you wasted your time then. Especially since you fail to impress. If the Friedman's say "it seems" then we should report that as the first "possible allusion" (and I have no problem putting it in that context). If these allusions imply he was collaborating with others, then we should report that. Instead, you categorically state that there were no doubts, period. Do you truly not see the difference? Also, you write that "we know" the Wilmont story is a forgery. You may agree, I may agree (actually I do not know either way), but how exactly do you "know" this? An allegation has been made by people I respect, but as far as I "know" it has not become a proven fact and I have to wonder if it can ever become one. Please enlighten me. (Sorry my response was so short). Thanks. Smatprt (talk) 00:43, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
Another WP:IDIDNTHEARTHAT violation, for the record. One editor put in a huge amount of detailed work to explain Smatprt's distortions, and he is shrugged off, and then a question is placed (on Wilmot) which asks the same editor to do more work. That is, in any man's language, contempt for evidence and for one's interlocutor, who should not be treated as a drudge for one's own ignorance.Nishidani (talk) 11:53, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
Smatprt never gives up. He invariably appends a note or a tag to wedge in his POV, even when it's proven that the statement in contention is an accepted fact (even by his own side), not opinion. He uses outdated sources, such as Cairncross, in violation of WP:RS, and objects to presenting information that undercuts his pet fringe theory, even though it meets all Wikipedia standards for reliable information. He needs to review WP:RS every day for a month, and commit to memory such sentences as "Material that has been vetted by the scholarly community is regarded as reliable; this means published in reputable peer-reviewed sources or by well-regarded academic presses," and "How accepted, high-quality reliable sources use a given source provides evidence, positive or negative, for its reliability and reputation. The more widespread and consistent this use is, the stronger the evidence." And to Smatprt, "no one seriously suggested that anyone other than Shakespeare wrote the works" is the same as "categorically stating that there were no doubts, period", which is illuminating when pondering the source of his problems with editing. Tom Reedy (talk) 13:37, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
"During the life of William Shakespeare and for more than 200 years after his death, no one seriously suggested that anyone other than Shakespeare wrote the works." That sentence is a fact as it stands. It is well supported, and echoes the wording of several of its references.
As to the three "possible allusions" as you put it, they are handled properly in the last paragraph in the subsection. "The first implicit doubts about Shakespearean authorship arose in in certain 18th century satirical and allegorical works." (Although I like your "possible allusions" better.) And the "collaboration" is not actually collaboration as would be done with anouther playwright (and the wording should be changed to reflect that); he uses an historian for his history, much the same way he used Halle and Holinshed: "the History Part was given him in concise and short, by one of those Chuckles that could give him nothing else . . .Then with his natural flowing Wit, he work'd it into all Shapes and Forms, as his beautiful Thoughts directed."
As to the Wilmot story, here's the Publisher's Weekly review of Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? James Shapiro. Simon & Schuster, $26 (352p) ISBN 978-1-4165-4162-2 from [1]
Shapiro, author of the much admired A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599, achieves another major success in the field of Shakespeare research by exploring why the Bard’s authorship of his works has been so much challenged. Step-by step, Shapiro describes how criticism of Shakespeare frequently evolved into attacks on his literacy and character. Actual challenges to the authorship of the Shakespeare canon originated with an outright fraud perpetrated by William-Henry Ireland in the 1790s and continued through the years with an almost religious fervor. Shapiro exposes one such forgery: the earliest known document, dating from 1805, challenging Shakespeare’s authorship and proposing instead Francis Bacon. Shapiro mines previously unexamined documents to probe why brilliant men and women denied Shakespeare’s authorship. For Mark Twain, Shapiro finds that the notion resonated with his belief that John Milton, not John Bunyan, wrote The Pilgrim’s Progress. Sigmund Freud’s support of the earl of Oxford as the author of Shakespeare appears to have involved a challenge to his Oedipus theory, which was based partly on his reading of Hamlet. As Shapiro admirably demonstrates, William Shakespeare emerges with his name and reputation intact. 16 pages of b&w photos. (Apr.)
Tom Reedy (talk) 03:47, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
Two brief comments. Re:Wilmot. It appears that the forgery assertion is not a proven fact, and I doubt that it ever will be. As such, the Wilmot information should not be kept out of the article in its entirely. As on his page (which Paul has done very good work on, it can be noted that the accusation has been made, but I think we all would agree that the Wilmot information has been a part of the authorship history for far too long to simply ignore.Smatprt (talk) 16:05, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
That's typical thinking for anti-Stratfordians in general and Oxfordians in particular: just repeat something long enough and it becomes true. Kind of like how the weight of incorrect assertions somehow rises if there are enough of them.
The Wilmot material has been proven to be untrue, but you'll have to wait until the book comes out to see the evidence (supposedly April 6, but the latest information I have is that it will be released sometime later this month). Of course, given your pattern, you'll just claim it's one man's opinion and should be balanced with all the outdated references that treat it as reliable. Tom Reedy (talk) 19:37, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
Regarding "no serious doubts", I think what I have failed to explain is that I do not doubt that the assertion has been made by many Stratfordian critics. What I am saying is that it is still an opinion. How could it be otherwise? To claim that there were "no doubts" would imply that every person in the world has actually been asked. It's a strong opinion. It's a consensus opinion, if you will. But it's still an opinion. It would be impossible for it to be otherwise. And I simply don't understand your refusal to allow "It is the opinion of Strafordian scholars that..." to precede the opening line. Otherwise you are stating an opinion as a fact, which as I have said, would be an impossible fact to ascertain. Smatprt (talk) 16:05, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
"To claim that there were 'no doubts' would imply that every person in the world has actually been asked." You make ridiculous comments such as that and then wonder why we have a hard time taking you seriously as an editor.
According to WP:FRINGE, "Claims that are uncontroversial and uncontested within reliable sources should be presented as simple statements of fact." Not only is the claim "During the life of William Shakespeare and for more than 200 years after his death, no one seriously suggested that anyone other than Shakespeare wrote the works" uncontroversial and uncontested within the reliable sources cited for the statement, it is also not contradicted by the anti-Stratfordian sources I quoted above. So for the purposes of Wikipedia (and for the world at large), that statement is treated as a statement of fact. And it is, because there is no recorded data (which is what we deal with here on the planet earth, not impossible to assess ad hoc definitions of "fact" such as you bring up when it suits your purpose) to the contrary, otherwise I'm sure someone would have trotted it out. Furthermore, WP:NPOV which you think the sentence violates (although you don't give any specifics as to exactly how it does so), states that "By 'fact' we mean 'a piece of information about which there is no serious dispute.'" If there is a serious dispute about this from anyone other than yourself, I'm not aware of it. In addition, contrary to your intimation that the statement is ignoring the suggestive comments that were made concerning authorship before the mid-19th century (none of which can be classified as "serious"), the subsection treats those fairly in the paragraph below, so you have no basis for complaint other than that your demands are not being accommodated.
WP:FRINGE also states that "When using sources written by authors who are a reliable experts in the field in which they are writing, consider using the facts mentioned by them rather than making direct attributions of their opinions. Facts do not require in-text attribution since they are not solely the opinions of people."
Answering your continuing niggling comments is growing tiresome. Read the Wikipedia guidelines. Tom Reedy (talk) 19:37, 10 March 2010 (UTC)

To claim that there were "no doubts" would imply that every person in the world has actually been asked.

To claim there were no doubts about quantum theory, or evolution would imply that every person in the world has actually been asked.etc. I'm sure you'll find some aboriginal people still subscribing to the idea of a four cornered earth. Shall we ask them about geophysics?
Technical questions of science and history are not resolved, or put into doubt, by a plebiscite. If democratic voting were to adjudicate, America would teach creationism, and belief in the devil. Wake up to what you're words mean, i.e., that your assumption is nonsensical. Everybody in the world has not yet had his say on the Wilmot question, therefore 18th century scholarship lies in a state of perplexity and doxic doubt. Brilliant!Nishidani (talk) 16:54, 10 March 2010 (UTC)

Size of article

Smatprt has created a new anti-Stratfordian page, History of the Shakespeare authorship question, on the grounds that this article is too long and needs to be split. The guidelines for article size at WP:SIZE recommend that article be between 6,000 and 10,000 words long. This article right now is 13,000 words. I've identified 1,200 words in the main text that is peculiar only to the Oxfordian argument (not counting the Oxford candidate entry), most of it under Date of Playwright's death, and another 2,500 in the individual candidates' entries, most of which is duplicated in the individual candidates' articles. In addition, there is a lot of back-and-forth debate-style text that could be summarised and cut down to probably less than 30 per cent of the present size.

One problem is that we need to cover the Baconism periods a little more, but I don't see any major wordage being added, mostly a bit more detail on the cryptogram phenomena.

So if we can weed out the single-purpose Oxfordian arguments and concentrate on the common arguments against Shakespeare's authorship, and then cut down each candidate section to a short summary of when they were nominated and for what main reason, I think the article can be comprehensive and still satisfy the size requirements. Tom Reedy (talk) 17:08, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

The history section is also completely lacking any coverage of the group theories that you had identified earlier as missing from the history entirely, as well as a more thorough history of the Oxfordian theory, including why, for example, it is regarded as the lead theory. this obviously needs explaining. Smatprt (talk) 19:14, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Presently the two longest sections, that probably should be split into side articles, are the History section and the Debate points section. This of course is covered at WP:SPLITTING. You will see that Wikipedia does not encourage deleting material as a response to length, but rather splitting the article. This is a basic policy and guideline.
My point is that all this material is in the appropriate articles, most of it verbatim, so it would not be a deletion of material, just a deletion of material that is duplicated elsewhere and that the sections in fact point to. Tom Reedy (talk) 19:27, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
The only section of the date of death section that is indisputably an Oxfordian side argument is the Tempest to and fro. I will delete that presently, but if there are any objections to this please feel free to revert. Aside from that, I do not support cutting material from Wikipedia, in violation of general policies, when the correct approach (according to policy) is to simply split lengthy articles. Your resistance to this policy is truly odd. I would also insist that prior to deleting any material (other than the Tempest dating issue) that a consensus by achieved for such deletions.
And your constant putting words in the mouths of other editors I also find odd, as well as tiresome. Tom Reedy (talk) 19:27, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Again, I find your refusal to split the article when appropriate very disconcerting. It gives the appearance that you want to use deletionism as a way to cut anything from the article that you do not like. I hope that is not the case. The history section would make a really great stand alone article and time would be much better spent creating an accurate summary of that section, rather than embarking on a pOV deletion craze. Smatprt (talk) 19:14, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Too late; you've already been on a POV deletion craze for many months. Tom Reedy (talk) 19:27, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
It is very evident from the numerous debates in this history of this page that what is needed on this topic is in fact greater specificity, as Smartprt urges. The standard response to this from Tom Reedy is given here. I agree with Smartprt, and would add, Tom, that you are in no position to complain abut Smartprt's "putting words into the mouths of other editors." On that score there is no doubt that you've given at least as good as you've gotten, and Nishidani for his part has participated from the get go in the poisoning of this entire discussion through his incendiary ad hominem insinuations that anyone who doubts the standard view of the bard is to equated with a holocaust denier -- a statement which actually tells us more about Nishidani's own preoccupations and predilections than it does about the topics actually under discussion. I find it shameful that, given your own friendships and personal relationships, you would not speak out against this cynical and abusive tactic. Given your reticence to do so it is not necessary to put words into your mouth in order to see your failure to endorse a neutral POV. Your silence argues a complicity in the smear tactics of your fellow editor. You won't make the subject of this article go away by continuing to delete material that does not conform to your own POV. As Smarprt argues, there is a huge history of this subject which, no matter how economically the article is worded, cannot reasonably be accommodated within the space of the original structure. Splitting the article is a good idea and has my vote. --BenJonson (talk) 21:02, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
I have no fucking clue about what you're going on about. If you think I read every word on these boards you're nuts. Tom Reedy (talk) 00:42, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
I'm opposed to Tom's proposal to delete existing material to get the article size down within guidelines, and in support of Smatprt's proposal to split off the history section. The history of the authorship question is a large, complex subject that deserves its own treatment. It's too much to cover in this article. The only reason to include it here is to make it difficult for readers to sort through the material and gain an understanding of the major evidence and arguments. That seems to be the over-riding purpose of Tom, Paul and Nishidini in their editing proposals. Schoenbaum (talk) 00:03, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
Opposed to deletion of any material. Wikipedia policy is that Wikipedia is not censored. As in all articles that grow large, splitting off of material into subarticles is always the Wikipedia policy. Softlavender (talk) 04:16, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
It would help if you bothered to check what the proposal actually is, since there is no question of censorship and never has been (not that editing for relevance is censorship anyway). Tom said "all this material is in the appropriate articles, most of it verbatim, so it would not be a deletion of material, just a deletion of material that is duplicated elsewhere." Paul B (talk) 07:17, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
Paul, there is duplication of material all over Wikipedia, and there should be. There is plenty of information in the Shakespeare article, for example, that is repeated verbatim in countless other articles. That is not the point. To censor material from this article, using "duplicaton" as an excuse to do so, is inappropriate. In any case, this section is about length. And it is clear that the majority of editors think that the history section deserves its own article and that a summary should be provided here. Why that is even an issue remains unclear. Smatprt (talk) 16:11, 10 March 2010 (UTC)

Why do we not get all this flood of resistance when you remove material? Tom Reedy (talk) 19:43, 10 March 2010 (UTC)

Because, for the most part, I have not removed material. The only large amount of material I have addressed was in the context of splitting the article due to length.Smatprt (talk) 15:48, 11 March 2010 (UTC)


Paul Barlow has just reverted Smatprt’s latest effort on the uncontroversial passage the former originally wrote. I intended to do the same, since it is evident wadding nonsense, and does little more than restore the deception he has angled for here, despite repeated explanations as to why his edits here are wrongheaded. Smatprt edited in:

although some scholars believe there was no "Ur-Hamlet" and that Shakespeare's play was written earlier than is traditionally believed).[1]

Neither Bloom nor Cairncross can be cited as scholars who disbelieved in an 'Ur-Hamlet', as Smatprt insinuated they did here. When I first objected to his fiddling with the text like this, Smatprt replied:

'after all, it is speculation that an "Ur-Hamlet" even existed. As Cairncross speculated, it might have been Shakespeare's Hamlet in the first place.

There is no ‘speculation’ (Oxfordian inhouse jargon for this particular point). Cairncross and Bloom both accepted that the Ur-Hamlet existed. They just argued that it was by Shakespeare. The fact that Cairncross thought it was by Shakespeare is neither here nor there. Charlton Ogburn Jr.argued that since Shakespeare was always the author of the piece, there was no Ur-Hamlet to speak of, which is a bewildering position to take, since all it shows is that Ogburn Junior never understood the conventions of Quellenforschung, in which Ur- is a prefix attached to indicate a prior version of the earliest text we have.

(2) Note that Smatprt does not give a page number for Cairncross’s book. What he does is cite the title of the book and then quote the only fragment of it given on the wiki Ur-Hamlet page, where a paginated reference is also lacking. What Smatprt did therefore was violate a cardinal canon of WP:RS, which reads:

It is improper to take material from one source and attribute it to a different one. For example, a webpage may provide information that the page's author attributes to a book. Unless you examine the book yourself, your source is the webpage, not the book. You should also make clear, where appropriate, that the webpage cited the book. It can be important to be clear about this for two reasons: (a) because the credibility of your edit rests on the webpage, which may have misinterpreted the book, and (b) because it is sometimes preferable to cite the original source, especially where the issue is a contentious one.'

All this despite his protestations that 'I've got Cairncross', while refusing to give the page number. So please do not come back on this: the point is settled, and the originally phrasing by Barlow was perfectly clear, and neutral. Nishidani (talk) 11:37, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

Another false accusation. I didn't "refuse" to give the page number. You have asked for it and I have just provided it.Smatprt (talk) 16:25, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Smatprt did the same thing here. He claimed he had changed the quotation from a book review into a direct quote from the book, but all he did was put quotation marks around the book review text. It was obvious that he didn't have the text, but he never lets an inconvenient quibble such as that stop him from making an edit. I also removed a ref to Wadsworth he had purloined to support his edit because the source said no such thing. We need to check every ref in the article, because I suspect there are more than one or two of these. Tom Reedy (talk) 15:09, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Cairncross - page 69. Check it out for yourself.Smatprt (talk) 15:52, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Emailing friends does help in tricky stiuations, doesn't it. You still haven't answered the question. Where do, as you have asserted several times, Cairncross and Bloom assert that they 'believe there was no "Ur-Hamlet".' You have cited them for this statement, you have cited them for believing that prior to the Hamlet quarto, no earlier text existed.Nishidani (talk) 16:01, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Another baseless accusation - all right - pick a page number from YOUR Cairncross and I'll tell you what's on it in (with no time lag for emailing). And to answer your question, check page 69, as well as the note I just added with the quote. And, TOM, I just expanded the quote from Gibson (which I am STARING at. Now withdraw your accusations, both of you. Smatprt (talk) 16:14, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
My "accusation," as you put it, is not false. If you had the reference then, why did you change the quotation in the manner that made it obvious you were working only from the book review article? Tom Reedy (talk) 18:30, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
I'm waiting. Could it be that YOU are the one that does not have Cairncross???Smatprt (talk) 16:27, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Well? - or are YOU emailing someone with the Cairncross? :) Smatprt (talk) 16:34, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Your repeated cracks have put me in an edit-conflict, constraining me to reclick back (while doing so adjust my text) now 4 times.
Sorry. The burden of proof is on you. I, unlike yourself, never said I had Cairncross at my elbow (the test is useless in anycase, since with two friends watching, one with a copy, emails can supply any answer instantaneously to the other's needs). If my deduction was correct, I have no problem in apologizing. But it still remains a fact that for several edits you did not supply a page number to Cairncross but simply the remark found on the Ur-Hamlet page, where it is without pagination, meaning you did not check the book you say you had at your elbow. Second, you did supply page numbers for Bloom. But it turned out the Bloom page numbers did not support what you said they argued. So it is proven that there either you had not read Bloom, or if you had, deliberately misrepresented what he wrote. You have, I see dropped Bloom on the quiet, tacitly admitting you got that wrong, without explaining how you caused the confusion in the first place.
Editing is not a coy game of hide and seek. It is a matter of sharing information. You have constrained several editors to question you on your various chops and changes to this text, in which, on every correction of a mistake, you simply go ahead and readjust the text to avoid the error you made earlier, without the slightest apology for the large waste of people's time your frantic and messy work of errors constrains them to fix. This method merely makes us all waste a huge amount of time correcting you until you get things right, on an edit that shouldn't be made in the first place, as Tom Reedy, Paul Barlow and myself have said (3 people challenge you and you still persist in tinkering)
I am still waiting for you to tell me where, as you asserted in earlier edits, Bloom and Cairncross denied the existence of an Ur-Hamlet. Since your record is one of chronic miscitation of sources (I see in your latest revision that you implicitly admit Harold Bloom said no such thing on the two pages you earlier cited in your edit for the view he denied the existence of an Ur-Hamlet), anything you wish to put in must be backed by quoted evidence. You as tendentious editor, not I, are required to cite the evidence from Cairncross. It won't change things anyway, for as Paul Barlow said above:'the views of Cairncross et al are irrelevant here and serve only to interrupt the flow of the passage'. Nishidani (talk) 16:38, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Nishidani, as I pointed out below, you are not merely tendentious, you're abusive and violent. Not always. When it suits you to talk about substance, you're pretty good at pretending -- but your opening comments in this discussion, which are now preserved as part of the public record of Wikipedia, show a malevolence which is now documented.--BenJonson (talk) 21:18, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
ps. This is farcical editing. Why must anyone be dragged into this absurd bickering simply because one editor is careless, slapdash, and when corrected, just persists in finessing his useless edit until patience is exhausted? Nishidani (talk) 16:43, 9 March 2010
I have no problem fixing an edit (which for some odd reason, you object to the fixing of edits??). I did so, so hopefully the issue is settled. You, hover stated "Carincross said no such thing" - which implied you DID have the Cairncross at your elbow. So you made the same mistake I did - trying to offer a point from memory. Thanks for urging me to double check both my Cairncross and my Bloom. I agree we should be precise and I, at least, apologize for the minor error. But my remaining question is, if you simply wanted a page number, why not add a tag requesting such, instead of resorting to mass deletion? You are such the fan of correct protocol - so why do you constantly break this one? Smatprt (talk) 16:48, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Oh dear, man. Learn to read! Read what follows very slowly, consult dictionaries, check out the relevant passages in a standard English grammar book, email a few friends who may have studied English to high school level.
Justify this quote from your latest edit.

Shakespeare merely wrote the play earlier than is traditionally believed, an opinion shared by Harold Bloom and Peter Alexander

It requires justification because the Quarto Hamlets have matter in them that could not have been written before 1600. I'm presuming you are not an adolescent struggling in remedial classes in English, while you edit with furor here. But Bloom and, apparently (I haven't read him) Alexander, hold Hamlet wrote the Ur-Hamlet, for Chrissake, and that Ur-Hamlet cannot be identical with the play (for the simple reason that we have several printed Elizabethan versions of the play). Bloom knows, as everyone does, that Shakespeare wrote, or lies behind, also the Hamlets we have. He wrote Hamlet as we have it, and he also, for Bloom, authored the Ur-Hamlet, an earlier version. Since Bloom believes this, your attempt to conflate Bloom and Cairncross is twiddle-brained, For Bloom accepts there are earlier and later versions, and when there are earlier and later versions, you completely confuse the distinction and confuse readers, in the misleading suggestion that, like Cairncross, Bloom believes 'Shakespeare merely wrote the play earlier than is traditionally believed.' That is immensely ambiguous, for the play could mean the Ur-Hamlet, any of the Quartos, or the Folio version, all of which have substantial differences between them your ridiculously stupid paraphrase ignores.
As to Cairncross, his book's thesis is cited in the secondary literature. Perhaps you don't understand the distinction.
No one should be expected to work with editors who persist in not understanding what their interlocutors are actually saying. Nishidani (talk) 20:46, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
"the Quarto Hamlets have matter in them that could not have been written before 1600." Could you be more specific, both about which passages you are referring to, and why these passages must have been written after 1600? Also, since you are discussing Cairncross here, what does he say about these passages? You seem to allow him as an authority. Will you now cut him out of the article because he has articulated a contrary argument? Let's get real here.--BenJonson (talk) 21:07, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

since you are discussing Cairncross here

Sorry Ben, but I stopped reading your remarks at this early point. If you are going to adopt Smatprt's tactic of misinterpreting argument and context, in order to set up a discussion on irrelevancies, I'll ignore you. Reread the extensive exchanges: this has nothing to do with discussing Cairncross.Nishidani (talk) 09:46, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
"this could mean the Ur-Hamlet, any of the Quartos, or the Folio version, all of which have substantial differences between them your ridiculously stupid paraphrase ignores." There's no reason to be abusive here, Nishidani, although I now realize that is part of your personality and its difficult for you to control it, especially when you are operating under a pseudonym and can give full vent to your intolerance. The statement of course as worded does not refer to any particular extant text of the play. It's pretty well established in comparative bibliography that when one is looking at surviving texts one must sometimes infer the existence of prior states of the text which are not in evidence. What Bloom, Cairncross, and others have suggested is that some version of Hamlet, perhaps much like the one surviving in Q1, must certainly have existed at least as early as, say, 1594. Cairncross himself not only declares (pace your astounding denials elsewhere on this page) that "there is no ground for believing in the existence of an Ur-Hamlet" (75, my emphasis), but that "Hamlet....may be dated between August 1588 and August 1589, and most probably, as will be seen from the topical references discussed later, in the early months of 1589" (83). So, rather try to pretend that he agrees with you, or that he's so much stupider than you are that even if he doesn't, this wikipedia article should ignore him, why don't you try embracing an authentically NPOV for a change? By definition, that means acknowledging complexity and difference. By the way, how is life in the British former colonies? Or are you actually in England? --BenJonson (talk) 21:19, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

I would merely add to the previous comments that this entire discussion shows that Nishidani does not understand the meaning of the term "Ur-Hamlet" as it has been used in academic discourse for more than the last hundred years. To say that certain scholars regarded the Ur-Hamlet as being by Shakespeare is to create a complete mish-mash out of this entire discussion. As my quotation from Cairncross illustrates -- and I would be happy to cite further witness in case Nishidani is not by this quotation alone sufficiently apprised of the extent of his erroneous declamations --'by definition' the Ur-Hamlet is NOT by Shakespeare. On the contrary, it is a "presumably lost" text, most commonly attributed to Kyd, which is used to account for numerous references to a play of Hamlet which predate the mid-1590s, long before the "consensus" date of the play, and is decisively not by Shakespeare. To say that certain scholars thought the Ur-Hamlet was by Shakespeare is to rather comically capitulate on the point at issue, by suggesting that a Shakespearean Hamlet did pre-exist 1596 or 1594. But those scholars who argue in favor of this are generally trying to create clarity, not sow confusion on the internet. Cairncross follows the usual pattern by accepting the traditional definition of Ur-Hamlet, and goes on to argue that it does not exist, because the references refer to a Shakespearean play instead. In his view, and the view of Bloom and others, the references usually cited in support of its existence actually refer to an early text of Hamlet, perhaps one very similar to the highly primitive version published in Q1 (which is 1600 lines shorter than Q2). But Nishidani assures us that "Cairncross and Bloom both accepted that the Ur-Hamlet existed. They just argued that it was by Shakespeare," and follows this by accusing Smartprt of being "careless, slapdash, and when corrected...[persisting] in finessing his useless edit until patience is exhausted." You're one to talk. Why would you say that say, as if it were a transparent fact that Cairncross accepted something which he clearly does not? It takes a special kind of self-confidence to repeatedly engage in such disruptive tactics, without betraying even the slightest sign of remorse. --BenJonson (talk) 23:04, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
This pointless slab of text exemplifies the problems of rational discussion on this page. For some reason Oxfordians have got it into their heads that the existence of the ur-Hamlet is somehow a threat to their case, so its existence has to be challenged at every turn. Why that should be so is a mystery. It makes no difference to their case if Kyd or some other dramatist wrote an earlier play on the same subject as Shakespeare, any more than the existence of Brooke's The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet threatens their claim that De Vere wrote the later Shakespeare play on the same topic. It also makes no difference if Oxford/Shakespeare wrote a significantly different earlier draft in the 1580s. Indeed since Shakespeare of Stratford only appears on the London scene in the early 1590s, this could be used as evidence for Oxfordian theory. So why all this pointless argument, and desperate need to promote the marginal and obsolete views of Cairncross? The passage in this article that we are supposed to be discussing is in fact about the history of the authorship issue. It is not about Cairncross. It is not even about Hamlet as such. Yet Smatprt feels this mysterious "threat" of the ur-Hamlet, so he just has to add an irrelevant lump of text about writers who published on the ur-Hamlet issue 100-150 years after the period being discussed. He also has create the false impression that Bloom's views are substantially the same as Cairncross'. It's irrelevant, distracting and intellectually deceptive. It's also bad writing. Paul B (talk) 10:22, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
All this nonsense arises because neither you, BJ, nor Smatprt understand what the word Ur-Hamlet means, and consistently misread, misprision, twist the plain language of the books you cite, or your interlocutors' words here. Gentlemen, ‘Ur-Hamlet’ is technical jargon for an earlier version of the play we variously have in the Ist and 2nd quartos, and the Folio. According to what BenJonson now writes, an earlier version of the play did exist, according to Cairncross. This is what I have been arguing from the outset.
Smatprt wrote here

it is speculation that an "Ur-Hamlet" even existed. As Cairncross speculated, it might have been Shakespeare's Hamlet in the first place. Paul's version may have left that possibility open, but in the context of the sentence that preceded it, that possibility was, at the very least, unclear.' Smatprt (talk) 05:44, 8 March 2010 (UTC)

Logical analysis of this sentence.
(a)Smatprt says to posit an Ur-Hamlet is ‘speculation.’(i.e. one could say it didn't exist)
(b)the Ur-Hamlet might have been Shakespeare's Hamlet.(one could say it did exist)
This clumsy language appears to be saying: it is pure speculation that an earlier version of Hamlet existed. It tries to say, an earlier version of Hamlet may not have existed, but if it did, it may have been Shakespeare's. This adds nothing, finesses nothing not in Barlow's edit, who avoided the issue of who may have written the Ur-text. Smatprtt just mugged it with vague waffle.
Benjonson in the meantime created a stub on Cairncross on the 9th. In it he wrote:-

‘The book makes a number of controversial arguments about Hamlet -- arguing, for example, that the play was written around 1588-89 (rather than twelve years later, as most scholars insist), and that the so-called Ur-Hamlet, to which frequent allusion occurs starting in 1589, is actually an early draft of Shakespeare's play,’Andrew Cairncross, stub created by Ben Jonson on 9th of March, 2010

What does this mean? That Benjonson tells us that Cairncross argued that an earlier draft, what other scholars call the Ur-Hamlet, did exist in 1589. Brilliant!!! That is what I have been trying to hammer home to Smatprt, who waffled on about Cairncross arguing that such an 'earlier version' may not have existed, for 2 days. ‘Ur-Hamlet’ means in Shakespearean studies, an ‘earlier draft’.
BenJonson then on this page, after hauling me over the coals of accusation for being intemperate, reconfirms exactly what I myself have been telling Smatprt, while defending Smatprt!!!!! E.g.,

'What Bloom, Cairncross, and others have suggested is that some version of Hamlet, perhaps much like the one surviving in Q1, must certainly have existed at least as early as, say, 1594.'

Another piece of analytical brilliance!: some version of Hamlet, we are told Cairncross maintains, must have existed as early as say 1594.
So, we have BenJonson accepting that an earlier draft existed, that some version of Hamlet must have existed by 1594, and he adduces Cairncross as supporting this theory, which happens to be the consensual theory, not the freak theory of one Cairncross, adumbrated in 1936, but of contemporary Shakespearean scholarship, as I showed in my edit criticizing Smatprt’s tampering with Paul Barlow’s clear and succinct edits. Smatprt adduced Cairncross to insinuate that an Ur-Hamlet, or earlier draft, may not have existed: Benjonson adduces him to argue an Ur-Hamlet, an earlier version, did exist.
So before engaging in these absurd polemics get your acts together. Smatprt using Cairncross asserted the existence of an Ur-Hamlet is ‘hypothetical’ ‘speculation’: Benjonson using the same Cairncross, sayshe argued that this earlier version must have indeed existed. Gentleman (a) you are not trustworthy in your reporting Cairncross's views, (b) you raise huge clouds of contentious dust, in the notorious deVerean fashion, because you fail to understand the simple nuances of English words like Ur-Hamlet, and the logical content of English sentences. The above exchange only provides us with one more egregious example of behaviour described in Hamlet, where we find the idiom: Hoist with his own petar, referring to the engineering of something which leaves its artificer hanging on his own ostensible evidence. I suggest, for private ends, that whoever of the two of you actually has a copy of Cairncross, that you parse the full text slowly, and figure out what he said, because you both exploit patches in it to come to contradictory conclusions. Once that has been done, emend the page on Cairncross by all means, if it is wrong. But don't drag the confusion into this article. Nishidani (talk) 11:01, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
The Cairncross quotes and page numbers have been provided. You must have missed that. Yet, your bullying and misrepresentations continue. You continue to misquote editors, misquote Cairncross, and make false accusations. Smatprt (talk) 16:17, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
But since you subscribe to a fringe theory, notorious for its thriving following of untutored kibitzers, amateurish historians brimming with an exuberant incapacity to observe the most elementary rules of textual analysis, and legitimate inference from historical documents, and since you miscited Bloom who maintains that there was an Ur-Hamlet, a first draft of Shakespeare revised in the later Hamlet (Peter Alexander idem), and since both you and BenJonson cannot agree, though citing the same pages, on what Cairncross was saying, no one in here is obliged to believe you, or Benjonson when you cite a secondary source, because your unreliability and incompetence in handling sources is now part of the record. So transcribe the page, much as Tom Reedy has for you on another question.Nishidani (talk) 16:49, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Bloom, xiii - "My largest departure from most traditional Shakespeare scholarship is that I follow Peter Alexander's Introduction to Shakespeare(1964), in assigning the early Hamlet (written anytime between 1589 and 1593) to Shakespeare himself and not to Thomas Kyd". You must have missed this.
I have bolded Bloom to make you try and understand that when he writes 'early Hamlet' he is also admitting that a 'later Hamlet' also existed, Two versions, unlike Cairncross. Think, man, what words mean.Nishidani (talk) 18:55, 10 March 2010 (UTC)

  • Cairncross - "For it has led to the conclusion that Hamlet, as we have it, was written by Shakespeare for the Queen's Men at the end of 1588 or the beginning of 1589" (xv-xvi) and "The complete Hamlet, represented (with a few modification) by the Second Quarto (Q2), was written for the Queen's Men, by Shakespeare, late in 1588 or early in 1589. (ix) Smatprt (talk) 18:18, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
Now, with that established, you can compare Bloom and Alexander's judgement, i.e. that there was an early and late Hamlet, both written by Shakespeare, with Cairncross's view that there was only one Hamlet written by Shakespeare. Bloom and Alexander therefore, in admitting substantial revision, cannot share the view/opinion of Cairncross (actually no one does, except deVereans who simply add that Shakespeare c.1588 was deVere), since he said the text of 1588 is more or less Q2, which was published in 1604,1605. None of this is relevant to Paul Barlow's point. Nishidani (talk) 20:26, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
Talk about an anti-climax masquerading as a breakthrough. The point is that all three of these scholars (among many others, by the way), think that Shakespeare's Hamlet in some form dates back to the early 1590s or 1580s. The article needs to reflect that reality.-- (talk) 21:41, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
It did, with Paul Barlow's edit. A word of advice. Concentrate when you read.Nishidani (talk) 22:39, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

Expansion of Passionate Pilgrim material?

Can anyone tell me the relevance of the long-winded (and ridiculous) post-structuralist reading of Heywood that Smatprt added? It is an extreme minority view (and it's not even a view, really, just a reading), held by only one person as far as I can determine, and its inclusion gives undue weight to a single opinion in violation of WP:ASF, this section of WP:RS, and WP:RSUW, "Views held only by a tiny minority of people should not be represented as significant minority views, and perhaps should not be represented at all." Tom Reedy (talk) 22:01, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

There's always the argument for keeping pure risible junk in, because it underlines the poverty of idea, the mind-stretching lengths that the ignorant will go to to try and make a case! That and the Swan of Avon are the most engregious of many instances. I personally won't touch it, since this kind of housekeeping is up to self-respecting de Vereans.Nishidani (talk) 08:24, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
Well, I have no such confidence. It also violates several specific aspects of WP:OR, a policy for which this entire article needs to be closely reviewed. Tom Reedy (talk) 08:46, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
Tom, its relevant, of course, because it directly addresses the issue you brought up regarding the interpretation of "under" whose name Heywood was referring. Citing OR, by the way, is pretty outlandish, as its obviously RS, its properly attributed and direct quotes are provided. You have raised the issue of "modern" and "updated" scholarship, and not relying on old research beliefs to support your own additions. It strikes me as hypocritical to now argue against it. (And misquoting policy to further your own agenda is also a policy infraction. Please refrain from going down that path, as well.) Smatprt (talk) 14:46, 13 March 2010 (UTC)

Smatprt, WP:OR states that we must "to cite reliable sources that are directly related to the topic of the article, and that directly support the information as it is presented." Thomas's article is about plagiarism, not about Shakespeare or when he died. It also states "Even with well-sourced material, if you use it out of context or to advance a position that is not directly and explicitly supported by the source used, you as an editor are engaging in original research," as well as "Do not combine material from multiple sources to reach or imply a conclusion not explicitly stated by any of the sources." In addition, it states that "If your viewpoint is held by an extremely small minority, then — whether it's true or not, whether you can prove it or not — it doesn't belong in Wikipedia, except perhaps in some ancillary article."

Thomas's statement is what is outlandish, as evidenced by its reception. Lisa Freinkel called it "interesting" in Reading Shakespeare's Will (2002), n. 31, p.337; and in Shakespeare Survey 60, n. 35, p.263, in the article "Canonizing Shakespeare: The Passionate Pilgrim, England's Helicon and the Question of Authenticity," James P. Bednarz writes, "Thomas's argument is especially undermined by his eccentric reading of Heywood's metaphoric admission that his lines were 'not worthy his patronage' under whom Jaggard had published them as a reference to Heywood's actual patron, the earl of Worcester, rather than to Shakespeare (284-5)."

You are using the fact that Freinkel calls Thomas's work "interesting" as an example of it being "outlandish"?? Thanks for digging that up, by the way, as it agrees that Thomas's work is interesting. Thomas "directly" addresses the misreading of "patronage" and your addition of an argument of "under" whose name as a "fact" relating to Shakespeare. Seriously - Shakespeare referred to for his "patronage? Please. Smatprt (talk) 21:17, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
Jesus, sometimes you're unbelievable. I have to admit that even in your confusion you certainly don't lack chutzpah. You actually think Freinkel is calling Thomas's take on PP "interesting" is a compliment? You have no clue about subtext.
FYI, here's the relevant passage from Freinkel: "External evidence, decisive in this case (unlike the ambiguous evidence for Q), tells us that Shakespeare could not have written all of the poems, and even that one of the authors was furious that his work had been published under Shakespeare's name.<31>" The note reads: "31. St the end of his 1612 An Apologie for Actors, Heywood appended a note to his current printer, attacking Jaggard for pirating his previous work. 'I must necessarily insert a manifest iniury done me in that worke [the 1609 Troia Britanica] by taking the two Epistles of Paris to Helen, and Helen to Paris, and printing them in a lesse volume [the 1612 Passionate Pilgrim] vnder the name of another [i.e. Shakespeare] which may put the world in opinion I might steal from him' (quoted in Rollins, Variorum Poems, 535). See Max Thomas's interesting reading of Heywood's note in 'Eschewing Credit.'"
Regardless of your take on it, your use of it violates the policies I named for the reasons I gave. Tom Reedy (talk) 22:49, 13 March 2010 (UTC)

And I haven't even gotten into WP:ASF, [2] and WP:RS. Should I spell those out, or can you find them yourself? Or would you care to show how I am "misquoting policy to further [my] own agenda?

One other thing about WP:OR: it appears that not only anti-Stratfordian cites are affected; the orthodox views in this article are equally guilty. the way I understand the rules, we should be quoting only reliable sources that deal directly with this topic, i.e. bogus Shakespeare authorship. So I will be combing through the article and changing the affected citations.

As I have been saying from the beginning, this is probably going to take a year or better. Tom Reedy (talk) 16:34, 13 March 2010 (UTC)

The expansion certainly should be withdrawn. Or reduced to a line. As it is, not having the article before me, its relation to the article is wholly obscure, and Thomas's essay gets more space, of generic distraction, than the point re Heywood. There must be better sources in the fringe froth that expound suspicions about Heywood's identification of Shakespeare than this. Secondly, Smatprt seems to be trying at times to use mainstream literature to undercut what he sees as mainstream opinion (the mainstream scholarship is distinguished by its intense and continuous principles of critique on virtually all areas) rather than doing what he should be more capable of doing, i.e. providing us with fairly decent material, aired from the doubters' windmills.Nishidani (talk) 16:44, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
Mainstream scholars are in disagreement about many things having to do with Shakespeare, including the authorship question - a fact you try to hide wherever possible. What are you afraid of? Smatprt (talk) 21:17, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
You seem to believe that's some type of debate point, even though more than 60 others besides Oxford have been nominated as the true author, on no more evidence than Oxford has: zero. My only fear about this article is that it will end up as crappy as I found it. However, I'm heartened by the low page view rates of this and other anti-Strat pages, so I'm sure the damage to high school students will be minimal. Tom Reedy (talk) 22:49, 13 March 2010 (UTC)

Candidates and their champions

This section needs to be cut down to around two paragraphs for each candidate. I've checked and almost every word is reproduced verbatim in the main articles. I see no reason to have any rebuttals in the individual sections—just a short description of who they are, a summary of why they are candidates, when they were nominated and by whom. The rest of the candidates should just be listed with Wikilinks. They could be divided into two main categories: nobility and commoners with a university degree. The reasons are all alike, too: the nobility are almost all biographical candidates, while the commoners are all education candidates. The cryptology to some extent seems to be shared between the groups; generally the longer the candidacy the more likely someone has found a code or cryptogram supporting them. Tom Reedy (talk) 00:05, 13 March 2010 (UTC)

Tom, what you are proposing is not the Wiki format. You need to read wp:splitting and wp:ss, keeping in mind that this is the parent article and the candidate articles are sub-articles, and follow those guidelines. It is not up to you to create a new format for Wiki articles. Also, no RS breaks up the minor candidates the way you are proposing - THAT would be OR on your part. Breaking them up into commonors/nobility also makes little sense. They should just be listed chronologically as to when they were brought forth, much like the history section.Smatprt (talk) 14:52, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
You know, Smatprt, I used to think you knew a lot more about Wikipedia guidelines and policies than I did, but since I've been trying to educate myself on them it appears to me that your knowledge is confined to how best to construe them for your own ends. Tom Reedy (talk) 16:38, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
another false accusation from TomReedy. Smatprt (talk) 21:08, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
There - I just worked on both Oxford and Bacon, following wp:SS (basically importing the lead from those articles and making the minor adjustments necessary to avoid duplication from the main article. Eliminated some 2,800 bytes in the process. The Marlowe lead is hopeless right now and Stanley does not have a theory article to draw from. I suggest those sections remain basically the same as they are now, although the Marlowe one might be trimmed a bit.Smatprt (talk) 15:32, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
You appear to me to be angling for stuff from other pages in order to elbow out material, instead of trying to directly work this page. I can see no justification for this procedure, except that of making work difficult for everyone. You announce what you have done, cite a vague indirection and elide significant material. Nishidani (talk) 15:35, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
Nishidani - you have just reverted an edit made strictly according to the policy on splitting articles. The replaced material encompasses the lead of the Bacon article, which has achieved GA status. "Elbowing out material" or "angling" have nothing to do with it. Justification? - See wp:Splitting and wp:SS and learn to check the talk pages before making incorrect assertions of "not a word" on the talk page. Smatprt (talk) 21:08, 13 March 2010 (UTC)

I rewrote the first two sketches to illustrate what I was talking about. Feel free to revert if you don't agree, and we'll work it out later. I don't think refutations are necessary; they pretty much go without saying and with no room for detail they all seem to be clones anyway. I corrected a statement in Oxford's: he didn't start really taking off until Ward's biography, and he really caught the public eye with Barrell's 1937 Saturday Evening Post article. By the early 1940s he was so well known as a candidate that he could be used as a character prop in the movie Pimpernel Jones. Tom Reedy (talk) 05:38, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

Second lead paragraph

It now reads thusly:

Authorship doubters believe that mainstream Shakespeare biographers routinely violate orthodox methods and criteria,[7][8] and include inadmissible evidence in their histories of the Stratford man.[9] They also claim that some mainstream scholars have ignored the subject in order to protect the economic gains that the Shakespeare publishing world has provided them.[10] Authorship doubters assert that the actor and businessman baptised as "Shakspere" of Stratford did not have the background necessary to create the body of work attributed to him, and that the personal attributes inferred from Shakespeare's poems and plays don't fit the known biography of the Stratford man.[11]Anti-stratfordians also note the lack of any concrete evidence that Shakespeare of Stratford had the extensive education doubters claim is evident in Shakespeare's works. They question whether a commoner from a small 16th-century country town, with no recorded education or personal library, could become so highly expert in foreign languages, knowledge of courtly pastimes and politics, Greek and Latin mythology, law, and the latest discoveries in science, medicine and astronomy of the time. Doubters also focus on the relationship between internal evidence (the content of the plays and poems) and external evidence (biographical or historical data derived from other sources).[12]

I think the first two sentences should be scrapped or relegated further down into the main text. It doesn't seem to me to be important to the main premise of the theory that Shakespeare was a fraud. The third sentence gets to the heart of the matter and should lead the graph. Tom Reedy (talk) 00:41, 6 March 2010 (UTC)

I had the same thought about the first three lines (and part of line 5) of graph 3, as well:

"The majority of academics specializing in Shakespearean studies, called "Stratfordians" by sceptics, generally ignore or dismiss these alternative theories, arguing they fail to comply with standard research methodology and lack supportive evidence from documents contemporary with Shakespeare.[improper synthesis?][citation needed] Mainstream scholars reject anti-Stratfordian arguments and say that authorship doubters discard the most direct testimony in favor of their own theories,[13] overstate Shakespeare's erudition,[14] and anachronistically mistake the times he lived in,[15] thereby rendering their method of identifying the author from the works unscholarly and unreliable.[improper synthesis?] Consequently, they have been slow to acknowledge the popular interest in the subject.[16] Support for William Shakespeare as author rests on two main pillars of evidence: testimony by his fellow actors, and by his fellow playwright Ben Jonson in the First Folio, and the inscription on Shakespeare's grave monument in Stratford.[17] Title pages, testimony by other contemporary poets and historians, and official records—the type of evidence used by literary historians that Stratfordians believe is lacking for any other alternative candidate—are also cited to support the mainstream view.[a][18] Despite this, interest in the authorship debate continues to grow, particularly among independent scholars, theatre professionals and a small minority of academics.[19]"

It seems that both graphs start out attacking each others methods instead of stating the facts of their cases. It's true that both camps question each others methods, but in stating "this is why we don't believe in him" and "this is why we do", why don't we just stick to the facts of the arguments instead of each others opinions of the researchers and their methods? As Tom says, it can all be relegated to the main text - maybe it's own section so everyone can lash out and then be done with it. In the spirit of compromise, why don't we agree on simultaneous deletion of the material from both graphs, with an agreement to discuss where best in the article it might be more appropriate? Smatprt (talk) 16:15, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
If, on the other hand, both sides can't agree to delete these attacks, then I would support moving the first 2 lines of graph 2 to the end of the paragraph instead of the beginning so the graph at least starts with the more important facts of the anti-strat case.Smatprt (talk) 16:15, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
Let's take one paragraph at a time. The anti-Stratfordian paragraph begins with a generalization about biographers with no supportive detail and then speculation regarding the motives of academics. Neither of these have much to do with why anti-Strats believe that Shakespeare didn't write the works. If you want to keep the two sentences, then I suppose for balance we should mention the speculation about anti-Stratfordian's motives as well, none of which has been discussed in the article, but I suppose we could make room for it. There is certainly no lack of material to choose from. Tom Reedy (talk) 21:18, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
My preference would be to start over, drop all attacks on motives, competence, character, who does and doesn't adhere to alleged standards, etc, and briefly summarize where Strats and non-Strats differ in the evidence they look at, and how they interpret it. I'd like to begin with a statement something like: "Doubters acknowledge that there are clear reasons why most Shakespeare scholars have long thought that the Stratford man was the author. The main evidence supporting the traidional view -- the testimony in the First Folio, published seven years after he died, the Stratford monument and inscription, and the appearance of his name (or a similar name) on many of the published works would seem to amount to a prima facie case for him as the author. If this were the only evidence one looked at, most people would naturally assume that he was the author. But doubters also find huge gaps in the evidence, and note that other evidence seems inconsistent with the traditional view. In light of all of this other evidence, in retrospect they also see apparent anomalies in the evidence supporting the traditional view that they say renders it inconclusive. Given their doubts about the traditional evidence, plus other evidence that seems to strongly contradict it, they seriously question whether William Shakespeare of Stratford's was the author of the works." I think this is an accurate, and much more constructive summary of the view of doubters than what we have now. This would be a major change, so I'm very open to suggestions, but please consider it. Schoenbaum (talk) 23:00, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
First, Tom, et al, I think we need to look at both graphs 2 and 3 together. They both suffer from many of the same issues and I have no hope of reaching a consensus on either paragraph if we fail to consider them together.
Schoenbaum, I think you (and all of us) need to look at wp:lead. The lead is supposed to summarize the article, and not introduce new material that is not represented in the article. While I appreciate your attempt, I think is belongs in the "authorship doubters" section, leaving the lead to properly summarize the main points raised in the article.Smatprt (talk) 07:28, 7 March 2010 (UTC)
To quote wp:lead: "The lead serves both as an introduction to the article and as a summary of the important aspects of the subject of the article." Graph one introduces the article. Now we need to provide a "summary of the important aspects of the subject of the article". Presently, graph 2 does address the main points raised by the anti-strats. Even the lines questioning orthodox methods are reflected in the main article. All of graph 2 can certainly be rewritten, but it does, at least, provide the required summary. Smatprt (talk) 07:34, 7 March 2010 (UTC)

So show me the "main points" in the text that the first two sentences summarise: "Authorship doubters believe that mainstream Shakespeare biographers routinely violate orthodox methods and criteria,[7][8] and include inadmissible evidence in their histories of the Stratford man.[9] They also claim that some mainstream scholars have ignored the subject in order to protect the economic gains that the Shakespeare publishing world has provided them." Tom Reedy (talk) 16:42, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

Tom, before we start discussing this paragraph, I want to resolve the issue I brought up earlier. In order to come to a fair and balanced rewrite of graph 2, it is necessary to look at both graphs 2 and 3 together. I don't see any other way to agree to a compromise on either graph. For example, both graphs begin with attacks on the methods of strat and anti-strat researchers. I am perfectly willing to tone down the first two sentences in graph 2, espcially line 2. But I will need to see a similar toning down of the first 3 lines (and the contentious part of line 5) in graph 3. Obviously, there is no trust between your team of editors and those editors who support the minority view. I can't imagine giving concessions on one side without agreement to similar concessions on the other. I propose we look at both graphs together on this page and when agreement is reached, then both graphs can be inserted. The upside is, that if we do it this way, we might actually get through the lead much quicker than this line by line approach that took so darn long to resolve graph 1. Thanks. Smatprt (talk) 15:44, 11 March 2010 (UTC)
You haven't responded to my question about where the material is in the text that those two sentences supposedly summarise. All I see in the text is a verbatim repetition. I don't mind discussing both graphs simultaneously, but the two sections you say should be considered as trading chips are not functionally equivalent. Tom Reedy (talk) 18:24, 11 March 2010 (UTC)

The whole lead should be re-written. It's quarrelsome, it does not invite the reader to continue reading further, it unfairly characterizes doubters in a blatant attempt to discredit them, and it is obviously prejudicial, not objective as an encyclopedia article ought to be. It's an abomination that Wikipedia should not find acceptable in the least. Alexpope (talk) 07:30, 16 March 2010 (UTC)Alexpope

Language and pejoratives

Neutral and objective language is essential for an encyclopedia article. Also, editors should be scrupulously honest and fair. The encyclopedia Brittanica has about 2 pages on the authorship question, which can serve as a model for the Wiki editors.

Although it was published about 15 years ago, the EB does not call the issue a "fringe theory" but treats it with respect. Why can't Wiki do the same?

Example from Encyclopedia Britannica, Fifteenth edition, (1991) Vol. 27, p. 266:

Questions of authorship. The idea that Shakespeare's plays and poems were not actually written by William Shakespeare of Stratford has been the subject of many books and is widely regarded as at least an interesting possibility. The source of all doubts about the authorship of the plays lies in the disparity between the greatness of Shakespeare's literary achievement and his comparatively humble origin, the supposed inadequacy of his education, and the obscurity of his life. In Shakespeare's writings, people have claimed to discover a familiarity with languages and literature,with such subjects as law, history, politics, and geography, and with the manners and speech of courts, which they regard as inconceivable in a commmon player, the son of a provincial tradesman. This range of knowledge, it is said, is to be expected at that period only in a man of extensive education, one who was familiar with such royal and noble personages as figure largely in Shakespeare's plays. And the dearth of contemporary records has been regarded as incompatible with Shakespeare's eminence and as therefore suggestive of mystery. That none of his manuscripts have survived has been taken as evidence that they were destroyed to conceal the identify of their author." Alexpope (talk) 07:29, 17 March 2010 (UTC)Alexpope/talk

And why can't the authorship doubters be allowed to explain the reason that doubts arose in the first place, instead of having to defend themselves against misconceptions about what they supposedly believe (or what they supposedly are too dense to believe).

The first principle of editing is to examine wikipedia policies, which define this as a fringe theory.
The EC is written by authorities in the field, wikipedia is written by anyone.
No one is stopping authorship doubters from editing here. One asks them to observe the rules, not use it as a venue for propagating one theory (de Vere) over others, and to learn to parse English in such a way that, when exchanging comments with other editors, they do not create strawman arguments, pretend to be deaf, or persist in introducing matter that has been shown to be defective.

There is no excuse for silly stereotypes such as "snobs" or "sloppy scholarship" applied as generalities; it's manifestly unfair to dismiss important scholars that have studied authorship issues in great depth, such as the Ogburns or Diana Price, when the dismissers have obviously not read these seminal works or read them with such malice that we cannot trust what they say about them.

Neither Ogburn nor Price are 'important scholars' (Alan Nelson in his bio of de Vere found nothing of worth in Ogburn's book). They are 'independent researchers' without qualifications in the fields they work(ed) in. Both the Ogburns and Price read mainstream scholarship with 'malice', or, in neutral terms, with extreme scepticism. To read with extreme scepticism is a good thing, if you have a rational method. The references to 'snobbism' and 'sloppy scholarship' are grounded in what authoritative mainstream scholars say. Sam Schoenbaum spoke of madness; Quiller-Couch of a lunatic atmosphere. Since RS entertain this interpretation of the 'authorship doubter' work, it is a mainstream view and needs to be registered. If one finds one's interlocutor going off on bizarre tangent of circular thinking in his or her edits, etiquette requires cool equanimity, sure, but if the WP:IDIDNTHEARTHAT, it is understandable that occasional remonstrations in sharp language by editors exasperated with stalling, poor editing, clumsy prose, will occur. It should not be the norm, but one is not expected to keep listening coolly to people who do not listen.

I have read at least 50 books and hundreds of articles over the past 20 years, have weighed the evidence and the arguments, and come to a reasoned conclusion. I thought I would have something to offer by way of information and greater precision in language and explanations. I spent a whole afternoon one day looking up page references and relevant information to help clarify the Wiki authorship page, only to have my work swept away because one editor considered Ogburn a "fringe theorist." People with far less sterling credentials on the orthodox side are esteemed more highly by that editor just because they agree with him. So, obviously I don't want to waste my time like that any more.

We have all spent decades reading. What our own views are doesn't count. What mainstream scholarship thinks must be registered beside what the exponents of the fringe theory think. That is all we are asked to do.

Those who have a Paul Bunyan size axe to grind should recuse themselves from encyclopedia editing and make their polemical arguments in more suitable venues. After reading some of the ridiculous ad hominem attacks, inflammatory language, distorted quotations, and unacceptably slanted arguments in the discussion, I have concluded that this whole site has become a wasteland of acrimony, and it is seriously eroding my confidence in other Wikipedia information as well. Alexpope (talk) 09:11, 11 March 2010 (UTC)alexpope/talk

The fringe theory is highly polemical, and is rooted in an ad hominem assault on the yokel of Stratford, and those who maintain that there is no evidence to undermine the reasonable assumption that his contemporaries knew he was an actor, and author. I register your disenchantment, no doubt articles will be written in The Times commemorating the global significance of your sense of resignation. In the meantime, one works here, with characters who don't appear to read much literature, but who persist in introducing themselves by handles chosen from great writers, or great scholars, Sam Schoenbaum, (the name begs respect, and that doffing of the cap Bernays used whenever in the 1850s, during the course of his lectures on classical philology, he had occasion to mention his predecessor Scaliger), BenJohnson, and now, alas, Alexander Pope.
Perhaps I should open another wiki account, under Jonathan Swift, and rejoin the page with a monicker of similar factitious power.Nishidani (talk) 09:59, 11 March 2010 (UTC)
Reflection. It is true that there is an impasse, and occasional intemperence on one side responds to a refusal to listen on the other. In reading the literature, and these threads, one gets the constant undertone of the conspirational school begging to be given a just hearing, and a thinly veiled sense of resentment that they are hard done by, a sense of unfairness. Well, 160 years of suspicion have yet to yield up a skerrick of evidence generally, and Looney's theory, despite its semi-institutionalization, and the extensive networking of 'independent researchers' has made no dint in serious scholarship. The fundamental rift is in method. All disciplines in the humanities subscribe to a certain methodology, wary of circular reasoning, suspicious of approaches that want an exiguous documentary record to yield more than it can, and alert to the great dangers that arise when one employs, as a fundamental hermeneutic thesis, the biographical fallacy. These disciplines have enough people in them who play around the rules, of course.
The de Vereans et al., subscribe to methods that challenge all this. Well, one can, in theory, do precisely this if you think the possible insights so trenchantly persuasive that the standard hermeneutic programme will collapse under what would turn out to be a paradigmatic shift of the Kuhnian kind. Nothing like this has happened, and not because of some establishmentarian counter-conspiracy. Nothing like this has happened because 80 years of intensive suspicion have yielded nothing of substance, no deviant evidence that would make the edifice crumble from its aftershocks. What has occurred is simply a certain minor series of publicitarian waves among the uninformed public, and a few big names from the theatre and fiction who are attracted to this fringe view. This minor public 'recognition' has almost assumed the status of a proof, rather than being evidence of the frailty of human opinion. It is recognition, in the Hegelian sense of Anerkenntnis, that is sought. Recognition of this kind will only come when someone in the fold shows the kind of mastery of textual analysis, font type, printer conventions, court culture, Elizabethan education, and aesthetic interpretation that is requisite for accomplished scholarship, while applying it to a rational evaluation of the fringe theory. Price tried, but lacked the background. 99% of the stuff on the net is illegible for its paranoid parti pris and hermeneutic incompetence. If one desires recognition from the margins of a heresy, one must show oneself capable of understanding the force of the dominant register's thinking. I see no such thing here. Just a persistence in mucking around with the evidence to prink out a nice picture, and hostility to the natural scepticism of the mainstream. If Smatprt showed a capacity to actually understand what he is being told, some humility before the empirical evidence, and a readiness to drop a patently outlandish notion when three people have shown it to be so, instead of insistent challenges to the obvious, perhaps one could work with him.Nishidani (talk) 10:38, 11 March 2010 (UTC)

The main problem with this page is that most of the editors don't know the subject. Yes, they know the Oxfordian arguments, but this is not the place for them. Nor is this the place to argue Shakespeare authorship in general. The article should be a description and a history of a phenomenon, not a promotion of it. This article is going to have to undergo major structural changes to conform with Wikipedia policies, and the editors who think they own the article aren't going to like it.

Did you know that Baconism in the late 19th-early 20th centuries was more talked-about and known to the general public than Oxfordism has ever been?

Did you know that a California court (a real one, not a mock court) ruled that Bacon had been proven to be the true author of Shakespeare in the 1920s?

Did you know that Roger Stritmatter is not the first person to be awarded a doctorate for authorship study? A German in the late 19th century was awarded a PhD based on his study of Bacon as the True Author.

"Those who have a Paul Bunyan size axe to grind should recuse themselves from encyclopedia editing and make their polemical arguments in more suitable venues."

Do you mean axes such as these? [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

Tom Reedy (talk) 14:00, 11 March 2010 (UTC)

Tom, I suppose the publication of James Shapiro's, Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?, next month will greatly assist documenting the page.
I note in previews that he cites a curious piece from a USA Lutheran pastor,pastor, S. M. Schmucker's 1848 mock A Life of Shakespeare, where irony is used by showing what would happen if Strauss' biblical critical methods were applied to WS. It would be interesting to know if this preceded or came after the 1848 work already alluded to. Schmucker is cited as arguing (ironically):-

'Is it not strange that one individual, so ill prepared by previous education, and other indispensable requisites, should be the sole author of so many works, in all of which it is pretended that such extraordinary merit and rare excellence exist?'

Nishidani (talk) 16:49, 11 March 2010 (UTC)
Yes, perhaps we should look up when each work was registered; this one is much more fully developed than Hart's and might precede Hart by several months (although other sources say Schmucker was published 1853, so it might be an error). Schmucker was a fierce critic of Strauss. His book was titled Historic Doubts Respecting Shakespeare: Illustrating Infidel Objections Againt the Bible, and in it he anticipates almost every anti-Stratfordian strategy, including drawing a distinction between Shakespeare the man and Shakespeare the poet. Shapiro says there's no evidence that the parody influenced any of the early anti-Stratfordians, and writes that Schmucker's "book confirms that the competition to identify who was the first to deny that Shakespeare wrote the plays misses the point badly," because anti-Stratfordism was almost predestined given the sensibility and events of the 19th century. Tom Reedy (talk) 18:53, 11 March 2010 (UTC)
ps. the Californian judgement re Bacon should be in the history part of the text, since it anticipates the Supreme Court case in favour of another author 60 years later.Nishidani (talk) 16:51, 11 March 2010 (UTC)


Resolved: A merge is appropriate. Please sandbox a proposal that will replace this article and eventually all the offending articles. Content forking should be done after a decent main article is written if and only if it is deemed necessary in light of WP:CFORK.
It is the view of this outside editor who has never edited any of these articles that arguments for consolidating articles on alternative authorship hypotheses are stronger than those arguments for keeping them separate. I encourage editors on all sides to move forward in the consolidation. Remember that redirects preserve edit history so material will not be "lost" just because a merge is undertaken. Editorial discretion will be necessary for deciding which ideas have received independent notice and therefore can be included and which have not. Deleting the articles that are eventually merged is not recommended, but, after useful content has been merged into another article, replacing the text with #Redirect [[Mergedto article]] is fine. Future editors may decide that content forking is necessary to keep the main article from becoming too big. Spinning-out new articles should be done keeping in mind Wikipedia policies and guidelines. ScienceApologist (talk) 18:34, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

I challenge your authority and grounds for making this decision. Your simultaneous archiving of the page and closing discussion reflects the need to stifle debate and enforce a false "consensus.' Wikipedia advertises a policy of consensus. There is no consensus here for your proposed action. In fact, a majority of commentators have on various credible grounds opposed the merger. Their arguments have not been answered. Academic sanction is not the only grounds for notability. --BenJonson (talk) 19:25, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

Per Wikipedia:ANI#Shakespearian fringe theory and some awful articles I've added a merge template. In view of the consensus of experience editors ther, I suggest that the merger be expedited.--Peter cohen (talk) 10:54, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

  • Support Obviously, one article on the fringe theory that WS did not author his own plays is enough. Anything else fails WP:UNDUE. --Crusio (talk) 12:16, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Support These articles have been nothing but promotional pieces for a long time, and any attempt to balance them results in a violent response by the adherents of the fringe beliefs, who guard them jealously from any outside influence . Tom Reedy (talk) 12:55, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
As the original author of the current entry on Marlovian theory, I reject this. I have watched patiently while various "balance" enthusiasts trampled all over it and said not a word. My original intention was not to "sell" the theory, but to present enough information to allow people to decide if they wanted to know more, and to give them guidance as to how they might do so. Peter Farey (talk) 18:14, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
Comment -- This sounds awfully close to a vote for oppose. Just sayin'! Fotoguzzi (talk) 16:58, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Support per WP:UNDUE. Would even support outright deletion of the Oxfordian theory: Parallels with Shakespeare's plays page. Nsk92 (talk) 14:51, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose - Baconian_theory has achieved Good Article stuatus. The Oxfordian article follows the same exact format. And, after all, isn't Wikipedia supposed to represent "all" human knowledge? There are several notable theories and they should each have their own article.Smatprt (talk) 14:55, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
No, every detail of human knowledge cannot and should not be recorded by Wikipedia. Look at the John F. Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories page, which is about half the size of this page. It doesn't go into great detail of each major individual theory, but summarises them sufficiently without the back-and-forth debate style evident on this page (which is discouraged by Wikipedia, as I have been trying to tell you for months). How the Baconian page achieved GA status is beyond me, but I know that if you hadn't been forcibly restrained by being blocked several times during the procedure to improve the William Shakespeare article it never would have achieved FA status. I've said before that if Nishidani, Paul Barlow, I and a few others were left alone we could have this article at FA status in less than a month, but most of our time has been spent having to argue with you and BenJonson.
I will try to begin arguing my defense to your charges sometime later today or tomorrow. Tom Reedy (talk) 15:27, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
"In a 2004 interview with Slashdot, Wales outlined his vision for Wikipedia: "Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That's what we're doing." This is also repeated in the main article on Wikipedia itself. Smatprt (talk) 15:43, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
Our definitions of what constitutes "knowledge" obviously diverge. It's not the same as "information". Tom Reedy (talk) 16:31, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Support. Per UNDUE and FRINGE. More effort seems to have gone into this fringe theory than on Shakespeare himself, which I see is a great shame, the weight this is given is detrimental to Wikipedia itself. Rehevkor 15:39, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose - The great thing about Wikipedia is that it leaves the door open to the kind of discourse that is simply not available anywhere else. Why try to shut that door too? There's a truth to be found in this discussion, and who knows from what argument or fact posted here the final agreement will come. User: methinx —Preceding undated comment added 16:07, 15 March 2010 (UTC).
  • Strong support the merge is required so as not to give undue prominence to this fringe theory, per the ANI discussion. The other points raised by ANI (such as use of fringe terminology and fringe sources) also need to be addressed. Verbal chat 16:13, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Support, though I very much hope that the resulting article will be a lot shorter than the present one, rather than (as I fear) a lot longer. --GuillaumeTell 16:35, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose - One article cannot possibly do justice to the overall authorship issue, including the history of doubts about the Stratford man and a review of relevant evidence pro and con, plus the same for each of the major candidates. Schoenbaum (talk) 17:26, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Comment - This article is already over 95K and exceeds the recommendations on length. Merging more information into it seems like a bad idea. As it stands now, it needs to be split as per wp:SPLITTING, as discussed (at length) above. Why the new editors refuse to split the article is another question that should be addressed.Smatprt (talk) 18:10, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose - The Marlovian argument does not have the same basis as other anti-Stratfordian theories, and simply cannot be adequately presented within a portmanteau entry. For example, our case case relies hardly at all upon either the supposed inadequacy of William Shakespeare or the strange belief that the characters and story-lines of the plays can tell us anything really significant about the authorship. Peter Farey (talk) 18:21, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Strongly Oppose - Why is it that if people disagree with something here, they do their best to hide it or get rid of it altogether? It seems to me that to do so with The Oxfordian Authorship page by conflating it with the Shakespeare Authorship Question page is simply an attempt to marginalize it and its implications for Shakespearean studies. Mizelmouse (talk) 20:08, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
Comment. You can't marginalize what is marginal. (b)No one is getting rid of anything. To the contrary, there is a request that de Verean aficionados limit their efforts at using Wikipedia to promote a fringe idea to one, at most two pages. Since those who subscribe to the theory are dismissive of mainstream scholarship, which is what wikipedia is supposed to be sourced to, too many pages of this stuff, using unorthodox, fringe methods of speculation, tests the tolerance of the encyclopedia, which aims for quality, not titivated spam.Nishidani (talk) 20:19, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
"Titivated spam"?? Must you always be so insulting? And another ad hominem generalization (those who subscribe...are dismissive...) without any data to support it? Will you ever stop this incivility? Smatprt (talk) 20:53, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
For the love of God, Montresor! Is there any way you could refrain from these "leave Britney alone" outbursts until this discussion is over? Tom Reedy (talk) 23:04, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
Frankly, it seems like you could take your own medicine, Tom. It takes two to edit war. --GentlemanGhost (talk) 23:33, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
One hesitates to explain a joke, M. Ghost, but I assure you this one is almost Shakespearean in masterfully-integrated richly-layered literary and pop culture allusions. Tom Reedy (talk) 12:16, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
Comment. Dear Nishidani, 1. I think you misunderstood me. I was not talking of the marginal quality of the different Shakespeare authorship theories, nor do I wish to at present. I was speaking of the possible marginalization of the page if it is conflated with The Shakespeare Authorship Question page. It cannot be done without substantial cutting. 2. Contrary to your remark, those of us who publish in mainstream scholarly jounals often use mainstream scholarship while doing so. If we Oxfordians used "fringe methods of speculation," I do not doubt these journals would not publish us. My partner and I have been published by such journals as Critical Survey, Notes and Queries, Review of English Studies, Shakespeare Yearbook (forthcoming), Rocky Mountain Review of Language and Literature, Cahiers Elisabethans etc.. Good heavens, I’ve even cited Mr. Tom Reedy in one of our papers. It would be interesting to know where you’ve been published with regard to Shakespeare Scholarship.Mizelmouse (talk) 21:11, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
Well, give me a list of your publications. From your page it does not appear that you have invested any significant time in writing articles for this encyclopedia. When I say 'fringe methods of speculation' I am paraphrasing several academic sources. I repeat the phrase because the methods used by 'Oxfordian' editors here are exceptionally irrational.Nishidani (talk) 10:56, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
Comment. Dear Nishidani, I believe I said it would be interesting to see where you've been published. You haven't graced me with an answer, so why would I grace you with one? And no, I've invested no time at all in writing articles on Wiki, because it appears to me as I've told several people here--both Oxfordian and Stratfordian--that controversial subjects occasion much argument and ire as they shift and change like tectonic plates. Some material disappears entirely. I prefer the writing I do to stay put. Perhaps you could tell me which academic sources consider that Oxfordians are using "fringe methods of speculation," and what their sources are for such comments? Thanks very much. Mizelmouse (talk) 15:12, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
Comment. 'I prefer the writing I do to stay put.' The allusion to the Horatian Exegi monumentum aere perennius is well-taken. I look forward to the vast scholarship that will gloss your poems, when, if they have not already, entered the Can(n)on.
Comment Thank you. I look forward to it also.
Shakespeare was of a different temper: he wrote for his fellows, and cared not a jot for the aftermath, nor for their precise conservation.
You seem to have a plethora of information regarding Shakespeare's motives for writing. Could you source this statement, please?

Some of us prefer to use our wits for the public good, and not for our own vanity.
Since you haven't published anything on Shakespeare, as you admit below, you can't be said to be using your wits for the public good, at least in that arena.
As to 'partner', I always hear the word with a resonance of that lilt familiar to those who watch classical Westerns.
How interesting. Of course, what you say has nothing to do with the matter at hand.

Good luck, and yes, I'm published, but not on Shakespeare. On Shakespeare I merely follow what people who actually trouble themselves to master classical and several European languages, in addition to Elizabethan and Renaissance cultural history, write.

I see. You've never published anything on Shakespeare, but you feel qualified to excoriate those Oxfordians such as myself who have.
I don't take them at their word, of course. If I come across others who venture there without that grounding, I take them cum grano salis. There's too much to read to waste one's eyes on the scribblings of the lazy.Nishidani (talk) 18:27, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
I do agree. In fact my eyes are particularly bad today. So if you don't mind, Nishidani, I'll stop this discussion now. Mizelmouse (talk) 19:57, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

  • Strong oppose - I'm not entirely sure how one could merge articles of the size under consideration into one that is already vastly oversized. Shakespeare authorship question is currently 148 kilobytes and has reached the size for which it should be split, Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare authorship is 90 kilobytes, Oxfordian theory: Parallels with Shakespeare's plays is 46 kilobytes long and Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford is 39 kilobytes long. Merging these articles would render an article too large to deal with the competing theories and treat them in a manner that incorporates all the content in a meaningful way. The theories are so disparate that they could not possibly receive equitable attention and would effectively render the article unmanageable. The proper way to deal with this much information is to have an overview article and sections within it that briefly summarize the various theories. That's already what you have here. It already is as it should be. Wildhartlivie (talk) 20:43, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
Comment. I agree this article is vastly oversized, but that's because the format is contrary to that recommended by Wikipedia policy and guidelines, which I have tried to discuss with the editors of this page, only to be met with accusations of censorship and POV pushing. This article should be a description, not a back-and-forth debate over the finer points of the individual authorship theories. It could be cut into half or less and still be comprehensive. And I'm not sure that such an article should incorporate "all the content in a meaningful way." The John F. Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories page, which I've already referenced, is much more compact yet covers more different theories than the current three main alternative Shakespeare authorship theories. At the very least all the various Oxfordian theory articles should be merged. As it appears now, the prevailing rationale seems to be that giving undue weight to a theory with absolutely no positive evidence gives it more weight than otherwise. IOW, 0 + 0 + 0 > 0. That might be a good strategy for publicising your particular fringe theory, but that isn't the purpose of Wikipedia, nor should it be. Tom Reedy (talk) 21:11, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose - I'm inclined to agree with Nishidani's suggestion that there should be one separate article on the Oxfordian theory (not three), but I don't think that the material should be merged here. Given the voluminous information contained in those articles, it seems to me to be something which should remain split out. Dumping it all here would unbalance this article or else be so pared down as to give short shrift to this (admittedly alternative) theory. As for the WP:UNDUE and WP:FRINGE concerns, the measuring stick for both is the abundance (or lack thereof) of reliable sources. The articles as they stand have plenty of references. I haven't followed all the links, but those references which do not meet the reliable source standard should be edited out. If, after this has occurred, the resulting article is so small as to fit neatly into this article, then I could see the benefit of merging. But right now, the suggestion to merge seems more like an end-around of achieving consensus. --GentlemanGhost (talk) 20:52, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
References to fringe theories here are mainly to fringe books. The few references to mainstream scholarship fit the classic definition of WP:RS. The problem is, that WP:RS privileges quality academic publications, which however don't take most of the stuff thrown up by fringe speculators seriously. So one is constrained to document the meanderings of the 'theory' from its own, otherwise, unreliable sources, unreliable in that a huge amount of this material just gets the simplest matters wrong. This places wikipedian editors in a predicament. No one is opposed to this 'theory' being described. Those who embrace it should try at least to present a minimal quantity of material that is not farcical or risible. They don't. Potentially everything is crammed in, with no regard to quality. And secondly, the main editors for the doubter camp are all de Vereans, which means that the page is tilted to one of several dozen perspectives. This means, 'nolens volens' that those editors in here who favour the fantasy push the particular vein of scepticism, and alternative candidature, they embrace, and, in doing so, edit as spokesman for a sectarian perspective.Nishidani (talk) 11:04, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Strongly Oppose - The arguments to merge are based on a priori definition, not substance or reason. It is argued that by definition the Oxfordian theory is a "fringe theory" which deserves deletion through merger. The proposal is demonstrably flawed for at least two related reasons:

1) Proposers ignore the actual language of Wikipedia:Fringe theories, which clearly states even theories which are thought to be "fringe" can achieve notability and therefore deserve inclusion: "A fringe theory can be considered notable if it has been referenced extensively, and in a serious manner, in at least one major publication, or by a notable group or individual that is independent of the theory. References that debunk or disparage the fringe theory can also be adequate, as they establish the notability of the theory outside of its group of adherents." A Google search for the phrase "Oxfordian theory" ( yields 67,300 hits. The first 47 pages (all that google provides on default search) concern with very few or no exceptions the topic which is proposed for deletion through merger. These sources include a major debate in Harpers magazine, and articles in such publications as The University of Tennessee Law Review, New Yorker, and The New York Times -- none of them, incidentally, "debunking" or disparaging the theory.

2) As mentioned by previous commentators, neither Baconian theory nor Marlovian theory have been nominated for merger. Yet it is obvious that a consistent application of the “fringe theory” definition would require identical treatment for all three pages, since they represent the three major alternative theories of authorship. By any credible standard of notability, moreover, the Oxfordian theory is the most notable (for at least the last 26, if not 89 years) of all three, having had far more public exposure than the two alternatives, and having a significantly wider following. Yet the Oxfordian page is the only one proposed for merger. Why is that? The double standard employed by supporters of the merger is painfully evident and must lead an authentically NPOV editor to wonder why there is so much heat about an article with is in the very precise sense of the term parallel with pages which are not likewise nominated for merger.

Finally, as Smarprt points out, the existing article is already over 95K and exceeds length recommendations. I therefore support his contrary move for wp:SPLITTING, as discussed (at length) above and wonder with him “why the new editors refuse to split the article” and instead propose the manifestly ad hoc and double standard solution of merger, with the inevitable loss of detail and specificity that will entail. --BenJonson (talk) 20:56, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

  • Strongly opposed To merge entries on other claimants into the orthodox entry is sort of fraud. Are the partisans of the orthodox theory (it's also a theory) so terrified that they must use such tricks?

Fullstuff —Preceding unsigned comment added by Fullstuff (talkcontribs) 21:10, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

Comment It should be noted for the record that this proposal to merge is in response to the report filed here: (talk) 21:22, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

You should at least send them to the right page, Roger. And don't forget to scroll down and read the two other related complaints (same thing, really). The current request for comments is here. Tom Reedy (talk) 21:43, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose – Although I have my reservations about Bill Bryson’s claim, I’ve been assured that by 2007 “The number of published books suggesting – or more often insisting – that his works were written by someone else is estimated now to be well over 5,000.” [8]. Assuming that fewer then 500 were written before 1907, that is an average of 50 such books per year for the last century. In comparison with about anyone else, every aspect of Shakespeare gets undue weight, but that goes for the real world as well as Wikipedia. Be it through market forces like positive feedback, or through a need for monocultural simplicity and hero worshipping, the stage sections of my local bookstores depressingly are 1/2 to 2/3 Shakespeare and as little as 1/3 everyone else. At any rate, to comply with wp:UNDUE and to acknowledge its minority standpoint, mention of the authorship question in the Shakespeare article is limited to 75 words and one link (to this article) only. Considering the "well over 5,000 books", excluding a considerable number of books written in rebuttal, I would say a few articles on the subject is not undue weight. Afasmit (talk) 00:14, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
The number of articles on Hamlet alone in early 1970 was calculated at 25,000. Of the 5,000 books, how many survive the week they were published in? Of them, how many were ever cited in WP:RS sources? Tens of thousands of useless books are published every decade on the Bible for every book that has something intelligent, fresh and new to add to them. Not by that token do we think the relatively rare scholarly tome is somehow diminished in importance by the sheer weight of numbers of evangelical bible thumping or speculative fantasies about who the 'Jesus' who loves you was.Nishidani (talk) 11:11, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Strong Oppose. There's no reason whatsoever to even suggest merging (and hence decimating) these various articles, except that a few editors obviously want to censor the extensively researched and well-documented evidence in them. These deletion-minded editors are throwing about the extremely misleading term "fringe theory" to bolster their agenda, when in fact these extremely scholarly theories are not fringe at all, not even by Wikipedia standards. Now, could we please go back to NPOV, equal time, impartial data, and live-and-let-live -- which is what Wikipedia is all about? Wikipedia is not censored. Softlavender (talk) 00:39, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
    • comment the above post by Softlavender contains a radical misstatement od policy. WP:NPOV does not state that we should give equal time to fringe theories. Rather it talks about giving WP:DUE weight according to the degree of support in the literature. The NYT survey whichfor some reason the "non-Stratfordians" like to quote contains results such as the following:

18. Which of the following best describes your opinion of the Shakespeare authorship question?

2% Has profound implications for the field
3 An exciting opportunity for scholarship
61 A theory without convincing evidence
32 A waste of time and classroom distraction
2 No opinion

This makes it pretty clear how Wikipedia should slant its articles on this collection fo fringe theories.--Peter cohen (talk) 10:55, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

  • Oppose -- There is plenty of crappy scholarship on the Stratfordian and Oxfordian sides. I think wikipedia articles naturally start out crappy and get better. My reason for wishing to maintain separate articles for the claimants is that there are a lot of them and the article sizes should be different. Giving Henry Neville a paragraph and giving Edward DeVere a paragraph in a combined article would seem unreasonable if only because the Neville idea is so young. If the decoding cipher craze has waned, a Baconian authorship article might still become long to explain the history of the idea while a DeVere article might become long because scholars are coming at the problem from so many angles. To balance my first sentence, there is good research on both sides, too. I hope people aren't afraid of the wikipedia process that slowly improves the mediocre and discards the bad. Fotoguzzi (talk) 15:44, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose - An article on the case for Oxford should be included, and multiple articles are needed to cover the topic adequately. neshge 16:19, 16 March 2010 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Wember (talkcontribs)
  • Support — we don't need separate articles on every bit of minutiae on fringe theories. *** Crotalus *** 17:31, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

Finding a better way forward

It seems that this proposal has caused a wide division among editors and we may be at an impass. While I agree that the current state of the articles is less than ideal, I am not sure deletion and merger is the correct solution. In my opinion, there has been enough scholarly writing on the various theories relating to the Shakespear authorship question (even if only to discredit such theories) to make it impossible to adequately cover the topic in one article due to size limitations. However, I do think three seperate articles on the Oxford theory is undo weight and that theory could be adequately covered in one article. On the other hand, the various fringe articles are themselves written in a back-and-forth debate style which in my opinion is unencyclopedic and detrimental to achieving a neutral article. Further, these articles are plagued by editors who have major ownership issues.

So how do we find a way forward? I propose that to start it would be best to at least merge the various Oxford-theory articles together. After that, a re-write of the individual theory articles could be tackled which would replace the debate style with a more appropriate approach. Some admins should probably be appointed to oversee the revisions to prevent any ownership problems from getting in the way. I know this compromise probably won't make either side happy, but such is the nature of compromises.4meter4 (talk) 22:34, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

This sounds like a reasonable approach. But I would like to clarify one thing that seems to be a mischaracterization: As mentioned in the ANI t/hread that started this whole thing "Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare authorship, Oxfordian theory: Parallels with Shakespeare's plays and Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford" are at issue. However, while the first two are certainly about the theory (the "Parallels" article having been split off from the parent article due to length), the third article mentioned, Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, is primarily a standard biography of Oxford, who was the Lord High Chamberlain of England and potential heir to the crown. Like Sir Francis Bacon, the man himself (regardless of the authorship issue) led a notable life. I think all would agree that it should remain a stand-alone article - with the caveat that the section within, that addresses the Authorship issue, can and should be cut down to a shorter summary, with a link to the Oxfordian Theory article.
Regarding the two theory articles though, I, for one, would agree to the suggested compromise to re-merge these two, and would be happy to contribute to that effort by cutting down on the numerous examples of "parallels" to the ones that most readers would find noteworthy. And I completely agree that admin oversight is a good thing for those, as well as the main Authorship article where we are now. Smatprt (talk) 23:32, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

I agree with Smatprt and strongly oppose the merger of articles being discussed. A short while ago I posted my concern that the debate style is inappropriate and offensively biased to anyone who simply wants accurate information. I suggested that the Encyclopedia Britannica entry on the authorship question could serve as a model of simple objectivity. It does not regard the authorship question as a "fringe theory" so why can't Wikipedia be equally respectful of the issue? As one who has relied on Wikipedia for accurate and self-correcting of outdated information, I am appalled at the argumentative and hostile criticism of what should be considered a cutting-edge kind of scholarship. Alexpope (talk)Alexpope —Preceding undated comment added 00:35, 16 March 2010 (UTC).

  • comment. The problem is accurate information. I've wasted a montyh trying to weed out the inaccuracies of disinformation, and all I get is protests about being 'hostile'. To repeat, the Enc Brit article is written by a competent scholar. Wikipedia is written by anyone, and many anyones who are enamoured of a fringe theory. By all means take it as a guide to neutral writing. Nishidani (talk) 15:39, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
    • comment Alexpope, could you be so kind as to quote some samples from the Britannica article, which I do not have readily available, which illustrate the moderate NPOV which you are suggesting should be a model for the article?--BenJonson (talk) 14:51, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

I, too, agree with Smatprt and strongly opposethe merger. The Oxfordian theory is not a 'fringe' theory. It is researched and supported by a number of professors at universities. It is discussed in books from mainstream publishers and major magazines and journals. James Shapiro, a respected Shakespeare scholar at Columbia University, takes it seriously. He has written a book on the controversy wherein he states that he takes very seriously the fact that writers and thinkers he respects have doubted the traditional identity of the poet-dramatist.Wysiwyget (talk) 01:41, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

He takes the fact that they believed it seriously; the theory he calls "groundless" and characterizes one anti-Stratfordian performance as "a vision of a world in which a collective comfort with conspiracy theory, spurious history, and construing fiction as autobiographical fact had passed a new threshold." Tom Reedy (talk) 02:15, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
"He takes the fact that they believed it seriously"; good idea, and grounds for notability, which I think was Wysiweget's point. But a Wikipedia article is not written by a single professor, especially one as poorly informed and highly selective in his presentation of relevant facts as Professor Shapiro is.--BenJonson (talk) 14:58, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
Yes, he's nowhere as near informed as you are, as I'm sure he's aware. His publication history pales in comparison with yours. I don't know how he ever screwed up the audacity to write a book about it. Maybe he was encouraged by reading your comprehensive and authoritative work on the subject.
Oh, wait a minute . . . Tom Reedy (talk) 15:23, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
If 4meter4's suggestion is accepted (and I think it would be a good compromise, at least for the Oxfordian articles), there are actually four Oxfordian articles that should be merged: Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare authorship, Chronology of Shakespeare's plays – Oxfordian, Oxfordian theory: Parallels with Shakespeare's plays, and Prince Tudor theory. I agree with Smatprt that the biography article, Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, should be a stand-alone article. However, as it is written it is obviously slanted to promote the Oxfordian theory of authorship, and it is heavily dependent on Oxfordian sources, which are not RS, and OR. Who in their right mind would want to spend the time to cleanse the stables and oversee bringing it up to Wikipedia standards? Life is too short. And we haven't even brought up, much less discussed, all the Oxfordian propaganda sprinkled through every conveivable Shakespeare-related article, such as The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet and Francis Meres.
And we're still left to determine what to do with this article and History of the Shakespeare authorship question, which should be merged. there is no doubt, if there ever was, that this article needs to be overseen by a harsh administrator to wring the water out of it. Tom Reedy (talk) 02:02, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
I might add, in addition to Tom's point, that the de Vereans here seem committed to pushing the theory, but singularly indifferent to editing pages related to it, which would benefit the Encyclopedia, but do not help them, apparently, in promoting their ideas, since it is so much encyclopedic background.
(1)There is almost nothing of note about J. Thomas Looney. Until I edited the facts in the other day, the page hadn’t even noted his birth and death dates.
(2)There is no biography of Charlton Ogburn Sr. who popularized Looney’s ideas. Someone had the clever idea of confusing him with his son, since (see (3)
(3) If you pump in Charlton Ogburn, you don't get the father, but the son, which is certainly an abuse of policy. The biography of his son Charlton Ogburn Jr., who just expanded his father's fantasies, is used again to repeat the blobs, yet no one has cared to actually research and write his life up independently of his de Verean piece of fiction, far inferior to the novel he wrote.
(4) Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, which one should think would have been a showcase for the trenchant historical erudition of de Vereans, is mainly farcical. For
(4a) Alan H.Nelson's Monstrous Adversary: The Life of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, (2003), is the standard modern academic biography and yet gets just 3 references out of 69, mostly on trivia.
(4b)The articles sources frequently invoke obscure archival primary documents, against the rules, which suggests either that the editor is using wikipedia for his own research, or citing archives through secondary sources he does not mention, which is again a violation of wiki editing rules.
(4c) It uses Charles Ogburn as a secondary source whereas, since we have two mainstream biographies at least (by Ward and Nelson) Ogburn’s book should not be sourced (Nelson, the standard source, says it has nothing useful to add by way of documentation, if I recall his preface correctly)
(4d) It uses many sources from Oxfordian journals, or people like Nina Green and Stephanie Hughes, who aren't reliable.
In short, were people like Smatprt, Schoenbaum and Benjonson committed to Wikipedia, they would like the rest of many of us, be working to ensure far more articles, outside of the narrow area of Oxfordian 'theory', met Wikipedian standards. It is quite astonishing that bios of the leading theorists languish in neglect, (while bios of people who had nothing to do with de Vere or the theory of his authorship get smacked with this nonsense). Is it because that's far less sexy, and involves more serious work, than the controversies aroused by editing for the theory itself? It is an argument from silence, of course, but arguments from silence is virtually what de Verean theory is based on.Nishidani (talk) 15:39, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
With all that's been learned by the veteran editors here, why not start over with the goal of a short article on The Shakespeare Authorship Question that two editors could work on offline. Not sure that this follows Wiki procedures, but the current page (and these discussions) seem to verge on the unmanageable. The short article of course would have links to the other pertinent articles on Shakespeare, Oxford, Marlowe, etc. Just an idea.Wysiwyget (talk) 02:16, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
I'm impressed by the number of people who don't do some work to edit these articles, yet say they should be conserved all of a sudden. If you believe they are important, improve them. Nishidani (talk) 11:15, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.
  1. ^ Bloom, pp. xiii, 383; Cairncross,The Problem of Hamlet: A Solution, Macmillan, 1936|Andrew Cairncross stated that "It may be assumed, until a new case can be shown to the contrary, that Shakespeare's Hamlet and no other is the play mentioned by Nashe in 1589 and Henslowe in 1594."