Talk:Shakespeare authorship question/Archive 29

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Archive 25 Archive 27 Archive 28 Archive 29 Archive 30

Journalese? Or just Americanese?

Starting a new section, as I see the last one was hijacked in the service of the one before that....

Inglok, as an American, and a former editor myself, I find your edits very interesting. Tom, maybe we Yankees should just give up attempting to write correct British English. I know that I long ago abandoned the hope that I would inevitably succeed if I were oh-so-careful. The difference in usage that most surprised me was that of the kind "playwright William Shakespeare" (American) as distinct from "the playwright William Shakespeare" (British), or "schoolteacher John Smith" (American) as distinct from "John Smith, a schoolteacher" (British). That leads me to wonder what the British-born-and-raised (er, brought up) contributors to this article have to say about this. Nishidani, Paul, Peter? (At least I think the three of you are from over the big pond. Johnuniq, my guess is you're an American, but it's just a gut feeling. [And I'll understand if you don't respond at all, as I know you choose to be very private about your life, which is of course your right].) Some American-style words and phrases that Inglok changed have been on this page a long time. I can understand how they got by me for so long, but I'm curious how it is that no one corrected these things before. --Alan W (talk) 05:33, 27 June 2013 (UTC)

Good God, Alan!, I'm too upset about the implications (British) of 'former editor' to read on. Please keep editing with us: don't give up. The Special Alliance is not a fossil. . .(I must have some breakfast to placate the qualms this potentially sorry news is stirring in my ail-imentary cistern. . .) Nishidani (talk) 06:47, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
Oh, my! I'm glad that I have been up till what over here is an exceptionally late hour so I can calm your fears. (And thanks again for the supportive words.) No, I have no intention at this time of becoming a former Wikipedia editor. I meant only that in one of my past lives (and once more I contemplate my advancing years, as I move into geezer territory) I earned a living as an editor (and to an extent a staff writer) for a New York book publisher. Enjoy your breakfast and have a good day, Nish! Oh, and as I recall some Beatles song went, "Hands across the water...." Cheers, Alan W (talk) 07:03, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
Whilst being fairly pernickety about British English (Oxford spelling!) myself, I confess that – without referring to any authority – I had no particular difficulty with the omission of the article, definite or indefinite, in the piece as it was. I see little difference between, say, "Playwright and poet Ben Jonson knew..." and "Ben Jonson, playwright and poet, knew...". In fact in some cases I would suggest that the inclusion of the article can even be less helpful. I reverted Inglok's "David Garrick, an actor" to "David Garrick, the actor", claiming that his celebrity deserved it, but (other than it being clearly ridiculous) the actual words can now be taken to mean that Garrick is the one and only actor around. On the other hand, "Actor David Garrick" avoids both of these problems. Peter Farey (talk) 11:37, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
We have an accomplished internet and wiki technician (Johnuniq), a former professional editor (yourself), a fine (amateur in the best sense) scholar of Shakespeare with a terrific eye for encyclopedic prose, a published academic in the humanities with an artist's eye and a yen for studying outlandish theories, an acutely attentive Brit sceptic (Peter), and of course myself, a Nestorian bouncer ready to fight with mouth and main for the cause, to cite a few of the regulars. I think this variety trumps minor problems of regional differences, and accounts for the success of the page. None of us will hear things in the same way, even amongst the Pommie brigade. Here's just a sample of a few points which I noted in glancing over the first paragraphs today.

This is overhwhelmingly an American obsession, at least historically, and it was apposite that the article on it be written by an American (Tom), as it was natural for transatlantic or transpacific hands to pitch in and add their colonial defense of the English icon..

  • a front. I was taught front-man, and 'a front' lulls complacent ears not corrected by lynx-eyed reading to hear 'affront'.
  • diverse assortment = Assortment implies lexically diversity, so it sounds a touch (a tad) pleonastic, but an adjective is on musical/metrical grounds required there, and ‘diverse’ fits because it reinforces the sense of the not quite colloquial substantive that follows.
  • Work for acknowledgement. ‘work for’ meant ‘employed by’ to me (except in the idiom ‘works for me’ (it functions), and ‘for’ in the sense of ‘in order to’(secure/obtain) acknowledgement’. But as it stands, it is more succinct.
  • ’disqualify as’. I was raised to write ‘disqualify from’. ‘As’ in ‘disqualify as’ , however, to my ear means Shakespeare was in fact an author, and was dethroned by those who denied his competence to exercise that métier. Which is fine, but, technically, for the anal-yst of NPOV in its strìctest reading, might be teased out as slightly unbalanced.
  • canon . .could have written them’. I would have written ‘it’, since ‘them’ takes the canon as a plurality of plays and poems, but the word canon itself is a singular collective noun.
  • the available data . .consist’. Data is taken to be a plural, in the sense that it is a collective noun referring to an assemblage or pool or ensemble of discrete items of information, I was taught to distinguish datum and data, and use the appropriate verb according to the singular/plural status, and for me this is impeccable, The ‘data consist of’ is grammatically conservative, and unrecusably correct in OED terms, though had Tom written ‘consists of’, I doubt anyone would have raised transatlantic highbrows, though usage now prefers to take ‘data’ as a collective singular requiring ‘is’ or ‘consists’.
  • ’ attests that’. I was raised always to say ‘attest to the fact’ and would have written instinctively ‘certifies’.
  • ’ these gaps in the record suggest the profile of a person’ I wouldn’t have written, because ‘lacunae’ don’t provide material to suggest a profile. It is what survives, the dull data of bleak legal documents or sparse workplace entries mostly that trace the workaday life of Shakespeare which are used to impose a dull personality on Shakespeare that is then measured against the assumed sparkling genius of the plays. Hemingway’s records, had we lost the correspondence, would reveal an obsessive tax-paying, tax-fearing, testamentary provision-making, real-estate wheeler-dealer
  • ‘and to conceal’. I would have brought out the implicit link between the two consecutive infinitives, ‘to expunge . .and thereby conceal’. As they stand, the two verbs in parallel function double what is a single motive.
  • ’ born, brought up, and buried’. There is point in the thifty, laconic alliteration of the line. I would have written ‘raised’, but Tom’s line has the musical value of a rising metrical build-up from monosyllabic ‘born’ through the two syllables of ‘brought up’ and then trisyllabic ‘and buried’, though the o/o/a/e-i sound sequence here might equally yield way to the ‘born, raised and buried’(o,ay/a/e), which has a punchy threadbare strength.
  • environment suggests ecology nowadays, unfortunately, and nature is a nurse to poets. Environmentally there’s no reason why rural-rich Avon would not have stirred a poet. I would have written ‘ambiance’ which has the nuance of a human Lebenswelt rich in social stimuli.
  • incompatible with that attributable’ (ible/-able+ ‘attributable’ is vague)
Anti-Stratfordians consider Shakespeare's background incompatible with that attributable to the author of the Shakespeare canon
Anti-Stratfordians regard Shakespeare's background as incompatible with the kind of formal and social education they presume must lie behind the author of the Shakespeare canon
  • show little sympathy = evince. ‘Show’ is used several times, ‘display’ I think 4, ‘evince’ never, and my prejudice shows. I dislike the way a neat word like that is fading into extinction, and here it would provide stylistic variation from the other two mainstream verbs we use. etc.Nishidani (talk) 12:18, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
Clearly we went to the same school, Nishidani. Which house were you in? Peter Farey (talk) 12:53, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
(ec)I was dragged out of college as a boarder before I was old enough to get into any house other than a shithouse. The headmaster had reserved me a prize place in the best house of four the coming year, but twisted my arm up my back to force me to agree to staying on at the college. After several minutes of attempts to persuade me, as the arm was pushed into a freak of gymnastics between my shoulder blades, I stamped on his foot, he screamed in pain, and loosened his grip, and I ran off into the playgrounds and hid up a towering tree for several hours until night fell. He limped for some days, but never punished me for that infraction. I was too late-born to be raised in the House of Mirth, but kind of think that Cristina Stead's House of All Nations, without the financial implications, was where I was educated. Like all of us, I was born in a Womb with a Pew. Cheers Peter :)Nishidani (talk) 14:07, 27 June 2013 (UTC)

Nishidani points out what I think is an ironic characteristic of this page, it is mostly an American phenomenon (most Brits I've met are only semi-serious and not nearly as rabid when espousing Shakspur's fraudulent claim), yet we are directed to use British English while--or should I say 'whilst'--editing the page. I came late to academe and had to relearn grammar, and when I later entered the journalism field (first as a copy editor and then as a reporter) I had to unlearn it all again and learn to write journalese, which I still have to watch out for since I habitually fall into it when writing.

I gotta agree with Nishidani that we have a unique team particularly suited for this kind of topic. (The Americanism is "gotta" in place of "must"; the journalese omitting the "that is" before "particularly".) Tom Reedy (talk) 13:52, 27 June 2013 (UTC)

Alan, I can see clear differences between British and American English in the use of per cent and percent, north-west and northwest. But I'm not sure the distinction is so clear for the use of false titles, also known as preposed appositives. The omission of the definite article definitely has its roots in journalism, and it is, sadly, making inroads into every other area of writing, though these being deeper in America than in Britain. Indeed, on the Wikipedia article for false title it says, 'Merriam Webster's Dictionary of English Usage (MWDEU) says that the construction is "highly unlikely outside journalism"'. As we know, though, it's very common on Wikipedia, which I think is a shame.
Now, much confusion surrounds appositives, and in particular the difference between, and implications of, restrictive and non-restrictive appositives. For example, in "the actor David Garrick", which employs restrictive apposition, the definite article in the preposed appositive ("the actor") doesn't mean that David Garrick is the only actor. This would only be the case if a comma were used, as in, "the actor, David Garrick", which employs non-restrictive apposition. Remember, an appositive is a noun or noun phrase which modifies another noun or noun phrase. A restrictive appositive is required to identify the thing or person being spoken of. A non-restrictive appositive simply adds information and can be omitted without changing the meaning of a sentence. Inglok (talk) 16:08, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, that's interesting (as I said, I consulted no authority on this), but in this case it is unclear to me why you changed "After actor David Garrick mounted ..." to "After David Garrick, an actor, mounted ...", rather than "After the actor David Garrick mounted ...", which would have apparently been quite acceptable to you. Peter Farey (talk) 17:34, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
Some people object to my changing something such as "Actor David Garrick" to "The actor David Garrick" (I suppose they must think it's bad English, ironically), and "David Garrick, an actor" and "David Garrick, the actor" are not contentious. Inglok (talk) 18:42, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
I'm a Quarryman. We never learned any grammar. We were expected to pick it up from the lyrics of Beatles songs (or should that be Beatles' songs?). The objection to "David Garrick, an actor" is not grammatical. It's because the phrasing seems to imply that the reader needs to be told who Garrick was. As Winston Churchill, a politician, allegedly said, "this is the kind of English up with which I will not put". Paul B (talk) 19:05, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
In the sense that, beyond grammar, which is conservative, musicality also determines prose choices. Inglok is correct on 'Actor Garrick' urging emendation, since that kind of usage comes from the impact of the laconic exigencies of eye-catching headline usage. The definite article is required. 'the actor David Garrick' has a prompting function. 'Garrick, an actor,' in appositive postposition, implies the reader doesn't know or is unfamiliar with the man, which is a vagrant presumption. 'Garrick, the actor,' implies other Garricks, which only makes the reader pause to fossick through the ragged veins of his memory blanks for other Garricks with a different profession. In both cases, the reader's inner rhythm is stopped, and some, like myself, find that a touch jarring. Nishidani (talk) 19:26, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
Brilliantly said, Nishidani. Inglok (talk) 20:03, 27 June 2013 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Thank you, all! A lot here, and more than a bit overwhelming. I'll mull over what I can't absorb immediately. One thing, however, disturbs me. Years ago, I changed "Shakespeare was born, raised, and buried" to "Shakespeare was born, brought up, and buried" (something like that; I can't find it in the history now) only because someone objected to "raised" as an Americanism. Yet now you, Nishidani, tell us that "raised" sounds better to you. I will be happy to revert "brought up" to "raised", but I'll just mention it here first in case there are objections. Maybe this shows that even those brought up, or raised, speaking the same regional form of a language don't always agree on what "seems right".

Thanks for clarifying, Inglok. Now I see that some of the changes you made with an edit summary indicating only American-to-British changes actually included some removals of "journalese". Nothing to do with British vs. American usage.

Tom, I think you do yourself a disservice by being so apologetic for your journalese. As far as I am concerned, you have produced some of the most readable prose I've seen on Wikipedia. The more we alter it on the grounds that it is too journalistic, the more we risk making it ungainly and stilted.

Not that I object to your changes in the main, Inglok, but I also think we should avoid veering into the opposite fault of overly elevating the style. I would even suggest that today's edit referring to "The English schoolteacher J. Thomas Looney", well, I find it jarring. As if anyone would think, "Oh yes, that English schoolteacher". The more I think this over, the better the original "English schoolteacher J. Thomas Looney" sounds to me (and I have now, not exactly reverted, but reconstructed the sentence to make it, in my judgment, more natural and accurate, simultaneously avoiding disturbing those who eschew anarthrous nominal premodifiers). Peter, that you found "actor David Garrick" natural tells me that we can too easily overdo the stylistic changes in the name of correcting journalese. Paul, your quote from that political chap Churchill, whoever he was, is highly apropos. --Alan W (talk) 06:12, 28 June 2013 (UTC)

Hey, fellah. it's way past your witching hour, get ta bed. And, rest easy, we are very fair over here. The Star Chamber where you shall be tried has been convened, but matters drag out a little - there's bangers and porridge to be had, an early morning pint to satisfy the Irish faction, etc., before we decide on a verdict, and in any case, it will take at least 11 and a half hours before I can organize the tumbril and have you hauled to Tyburne. With traffic as it is, we're probably looking at two or three days before the drawn and quartering is done. So, though death as the good Doctor said, concentrates the mind sumfen wundaful, a yankee insurgent like yourself can assuage his qualms with the prospect of, at least now, several hours of undisturbed sleep. This is 'gunna' be a rerun of 1812. Nishidani (talk) 06:24, 28 June 2013 (UTC)
p.s. Alan. The list I made is not a criticism of Tom, but a survey of my linguistic prejudices as a non-American. It's playful. When we did the basic draft for the pre-FA article, I did the first draft, and then dropped from view to yield way to Tom's thorough reworking of it. I hardly ever checked or followed his edits over the months, because I trusted his judgement to cut, rewrite, and edit to the best level. The principle of the collaboration was, I could restore some order to ordure, but only Tom of the two of us knew how to reorganize it in conformity both with the best Elizabethan scholarship and the quality of encyclopedic writing required by wikipedia. Nishidani (talk) 13:57, 28 June 2013 (UTC)
No, Nish, I caught the spirit of your list. And, again, I think it was Tom who in response was a bit too self-deprecating. I'm amused by the result of my query, I'll add. Given the way Inglok's changes were made, I thought that there was something about "false titles" that was particularly American that I hadn't before picked up on. Now I understand that false titles are more in the realm of "journalese", and your and Peter's responses have made me aware that they are equally acceptable or unacceptable on both sides of the Atlantic. As for journalese, I'm not sure that some moderate infusion of it isn't salutary, or at least harmless, in some Wiki-instances, as long as we don't descend to the level of tabloid sensationalism. Partly depends on context, I suppose. --Alan W (talk) 00:24, 29 June 2013 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────If nothing else comes of this, questioning style and usage has helped me uncover one glaring inconsistency (though of course a blip in the SAQ scheme of things, and a real yawner to most of us here, I'm sure): I see we spell "frontman" also as "front man". Some glancing at online dictionaries suggests to me that "frontman" is now the most common form, so I will change "front man" to that spelling. As for "front" in this sense, despite its not resonating with you personally, Nish, it does appear as a valid form of "frontman" in the British-English version of the Oxford online dictionary, so I won't touch that. --Alan W (talk) 04:06, 29 June 2013 (UTC)

Interesting. The Oxford English Dictionary has only one example of the word "frontman", which comes from the Brisbane TV Times, "They imported another frontman, David Frost, albeit briefly." Otherwise, it is always given as two words, and none of the examples suggests anything covert about the role. Under "front" on its own, however, the nearest definition to the SAQ meaning is "A person, organization, etc., that serves as a cover for subversive or illegal activities...(Orig. U.S.)", for which the examples include "front", "front man" and "front-man", but not "frontman". Peter Farey (talk) 08:14, 29 June 2013 (UTC)
I tell a lie. The word "frontman" appears in the OED four times in all, including those quotations for words other than "front". In every case, it is the person who is the main presenter for some form of entertainment, particularly rock music. Peter Farey (talk) 08:28, 29 June 2013 (UTC)
I haven't searched very systematically, Peter, but my impression (and I am now talking only about the sense of front man/frontman as a cover for some sinister or secret activity) is that "front man" (occasionally "front-man") was once the standard spelling of the synonym for "front" in that sense. An old paper Merriam-Webster's dictionary I have here gives it only as "front man". But the spelling seems to have followed the modern trend of collapsing such spaced or hyphenated compounds into single words; and the online versions of both Oxford and Cambridge dictionaries, whether you request American or British spelling, now show only "frontman". Personally, I am comfortable with "front man", which does not seem to have died out as an acceptable alternative. If no one objects, I will be happy to change both instances of "frontman" to "front man". (Or of course you or anyone here could do it.) --Alan W (talk) 16:06, 29 June 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, Alan. It's done. I don't understand why there should be such a difference between the online Oxford English Dictionary, which I refer to, and the online "Oxford Dictionary" you consulted. The former is updated four times a year - such gems as "dad dancing","fiscal cliff", "flash mob", "geekery" and "tweet" having been added recently – so one would have expected them to have kept up with such a change too. What are the links for the two dictionaries you consulted? Peter Farey (talk) 04:30, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
Peter, you are right. I was wondering some such thing when I did my search, and you have pinpointed where the problem lies. The Oxford English Dictionary search for "frontman" returns only "front man". But the Oxford Dictionaries search for "front man" returns only "frontman"! (And I made sure to search in the "British and World English" dictionary.) I just found this explanation of the difference between the two dictionaries. But it's still not clear to me why the more "historical" Oxford English Dictionary doesn't seem to include at all what the Oxford Dictionaries use as the most modern spelling of the term. Historical development, after all, continues down to the present day. Anyway, good, you have made the change, and no complaints from me. Personally, as I said, I agree with you in preferring "front man". Now we have the venerable Oxford English Dictionary to back us up as a reliable source. Cheers, Alan W (talk) 05:16, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
Oxford seems to want to make everything difficult or puzzling. Having some lingering doubt about my getting the URLs correct, I clicked on the link above for the Oxford English Dictionary, and this time got no entry at all, because, apparently, you have to be a subscriber. But I got no such notice the last time and did get the entry for "front man". Maybe they make it random. That's a new one: education by roll of the dice. If you are a subscriber, you would not have had the results I had. To my own satisfaction, the first time I got to confirm what you saw, anyway. --Alan W (talk) 05:48, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
Thank you Alan! That's really very helpful and well worth remembering. I am lucky enough to be able to use my county library card number to access a whole lot of Oxford reference material, including the Oxford English Dictionary and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, both of which are especially useful for the sort of subject matter we discuss here. Although the definitions of "frontman" (or "front man" or "front-man") may allow the relevant meaning, I strongly suspect that is rather more common over here to use just the word "front", as we do (5 times in fact) in the article. Peter Farey (talk) 09:03, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
If any one needs a stable form of the OED evidence, I'll copy the entry out from the 20 vol 1989 edition which I have at hand.Nishidani (talk) 08:46, 30 June 2013 (UTC)
Peter, yes, my impression too is that this meaning of "front man" originated over here; not all of the linguistic influence has been from east to west.
Nish, 1989? The twentieth century? Like, that's so over, dude. :^) Thanks, I'll keep your offer in mind for the future, but I think we're OK for now. --Alan W (talk) 22:39, 30 June 2013 (UTC)

Systemic English bias.

I feel that the discussions at [1] and [2] remain unresolved. The lack of material in the article about non-English theories about Shakespeare's authorship makes this article biased. A number of these theories are quite popular in their respective countries. The fact that they are not well known in England and the US should not be held against them. See Wikipedia:Systemic_bias. Wrad (talk) 21:07, 16 August 2013 (UTC)

"On Poet-Ape"

Would anyone object if I removed the sidebar with the complete text of Jonson's "On Poet-Ape" from this article? Including lengthy excerpts from primary sources to illustrate anti-Strat arguments seems too much like making the argument rather than describing it, especially since the article provides no context on how Jonson scholars interpret the poem. - Cal Engime (talk) 20:22, 16 August 2013 (UTC)

Without feeling very strongly one way or the other about this particular matter, I will just point out, in case you haven't noticed, that nearly every component of this controversial article (huge understatement), except some instances of "and" and "the", it would seem, has been subjected to extensive and heated debate over its six-plus years. The inclusion of that sidebar is no exception. You might want to have a look at this discussion from December 2011. --Alan W (talk) 04:36, 19 August 2013 (UTC)
I think it's ugly and would not object to either replacing it with the original image or deleting it altogether and providing a Wikisource link to "On Poet-Ape" in the text. Tom Reedy (talk) 13:00, 19 August 2013 (UTC)
I have become used to the text box, but just did an edit to restore the image, with a link to Wikisource in the caption. Looks good to me. Johnuniq (talk) 01:14, 20 August 2013 (UTC)

Oxford as playwright

Anonymous editor has made this change, leaving the statement that sources have "suggested" that Oxford was a playwright. Although this does not seem right to me, I will not revert the change without a discussion here, as I do not have easy access to the relevant sources. My thinking is that if Meres and possibly others listed Oxford as a playwright, that amounts to a definite assertion, much more definite than a mere "suggestion". Is there any evidence that any of the other writers Meres listed as dramatists were ever discovered really not to have been? Comments, anyone? --Alan W (talk) 03:52, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

It seemed fine to me the way it was, although I don't know whether May actually said that he was an important court poet, which if someone has a copy might be worth checking. Peter Farey (talk) 06:19, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
I've restored the earlier version. As far as I know no-one disputes Meres' statement that the wrote comedies of some sort, so there is no need to to imply that it's in doubt. As for "important", well, that's debatable, but I see no need pointlessly to belittle de Vere's work. May describes him as "a competent, fairly experimental poet", which is hardly gushing, but he clearly believes that he was an important figure in court culture. Paul B (talk) 16:17, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, Peter and Paul. Looks like the three of us pretty much agree about this. --Alan W (talk) 15:28, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

Article title

The recent vandalism by User:Cassandra at the peak of her insanity reminded me: isn't "Shakespeare authorship question" a stupid name? Was the page ever called something else, and is this title a compromise after a Holy War? It seems to me that the title takes sides: it assumes that there is a question, a still-open question, about who wrote the plays. In other words the title favours the "anti-stratfordians". Wouldn't "Shakespeare authorship theories", for instance, be more neutral? Tom, what do you think? Bishonen | talk 21:55, 27 January 2014 (UTC).

Well, I don't suppose you'd know anything about that little bit of vandalism then? It's just that that's what it's usually called, or more commonly simply the "authorship question", as the reference to WS is usually clear. A case could be made for "authorship controversy". Google books links for shakespeare and "authorship question" give 5,960 hits; shakespeare and "authorship controversy" gives 3,860 links. Paul B (talk) 22:14, 27 January 2014 (UTC)
Me? Bishonen | talk 00:12, 2 February 2014 (UTC).

Unlinking "argument" in the introduction

Tom Reedy has reverted Paul Barlow's unlinking of the word Argument in the first sentence, with the explanation "wl is there because of a long, drawn out edit war between "argument" and "controversy" in the early days of this version". User:Cassandra at the peak of her insanity (= me) has now reverted Tom, because our article Argument defines the word in a different sense from how it's used in the first sentence here. I don't think we should have a misleading link for mere historical reasons, or be bound by an old compromise. That would amount to allowing the fringe POV-pushers unwarranted influence over the first sentence. (They wanted "controversy", eh? I can't say I'm surprised.) Because look at the dictionary:

Wiktionary gives 11 senses of argument. 2 and 4 are relevant here:

  • 2. A verbal dispute; a quarrel.
  • 4. (philosophy, logic) A series of propositions organized so that the final proposition is a conclusion which is intended to follow logically from the preceding propositions, which function as premises.  

(I don't think I need to explain how sense 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 aren't relevant; let me know if you have a problem with that.) Our article Argument is about sense 4, a term of art in logic and philosophy. This is its first sentence: "In logic and philosophy, an argument is an attempt to persuade someone of something, by giving reasons for accepting a particular conclusion as evident." I think everybody who reads Shakespeare authorship question, and a fortiori somebody who's written a lot of it, such as you, Tom, will agree that it's not about an argument in the logical/philosophical sense. It doesn't present an argument "that" something is the case, but an argument, or a verbal dispute or quarrel, about who wrote 'the works attributed to Shakespeare', as per sense 2. 2 is not a term of art but the sense in which people use the word in everyday situations, or, indeed, at the Argument Clinic. So, if we leave it unlinked, it's an 'everyday word' (compare the Manual of Style: don't link everyday words understood by most readers in context) and people will automatically, IMO, understand it correctly. If we link it to our article Argument, they most likely won't bother to click… fortunately, because if they do click, they'll be misled. Why take the risk? Therefore, Cassandra has unlinked the word again, per Paul Barlow's succinct reason "we shouldn't be wikilinking normal words". Thank you. Sorry to bore everybody. Oh… Cassandra? [Blushes.] Yeah, she's a sock. Her original link to the Argument Clinic was a joke (I think… though I still think it's pertinent), and since she had already edited the article, I didn't like to revert Tom as Bishonen, lest people think I was trying to edit war in the guise of two different people. Bishonen | talk 00:12, 2 February 2014 (UTC).

It's an argument in the logical sense that each side lays out their reasons for believing who wrote Shakespeare in such a way as to try to convince others of the validity of their reasons. It's not an argument in the sense that quarreling over a bill might be. I found this as to why it's linked, but I haven't looked any further:
This whole thing began because you linked the word to a YouTube video as a joke. What's up with that? Are you bored and need an argument? Tom Reedy (talk) 01:38, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
Here's another one. There's a super-long back-and-forth between Nina Green and everybody else, but I'm not gonna look for it because I don't want my head to explode. Tom Reedy (talk) 02:04, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
Delinking leads to equivocation. Readers might think there is a quarrel or fracas or dust-up, a shoot-out on mainstreet. There ain't. Folks are strolling along mainstreet in genteel converse, and a few ragamuffins, mainly, (Peter is the exception: he doesn't heckle when the mayor speaks, he politely notes that the mayor here and there has lapsed on one particular point, perhaps because tipsy) are squirting water-pistols, or squeezing off farts as the band plays. That's the relationship between scholarship and the fringe. A link makes the eye pause, as it should here, since this is a scholarly article about a problem that airheads rant on about mainly because they haven't learnt to parse the implications of what they think or say (Marlovians excepted), as opposed to what the foes of their conspiracy-fantasy affirm.
It's used as in the link 'an argument is an attempt to persuade someone of something, by giving reasons for accepting a particular conclusion as evident,' primarily. Used the wikdic against the link's own definition is an odd way of challenging it. Back then I used the OED (1989)vol.1 p.625-6 col.3f to make up my mind, since wiki ain't reliable (except where, rarely, reliable editors edit it) We adopted 'argument' and linked it simply to avert the reader that it is being used not in the most common vernacular sense (quarrel, fracas).Nishidani (talk) 11:05, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
(Not used in the sense of a shoot-out on mainstreet? Where were you during the 2011 RFAR?) Nishi, your proposed definition doesn't go with the actual first sentence of the article. Maybe it's the sentence that needs rephrasing? You're saying that the SAQ is the argument that [whatever somebody is trying to persuade somebody of], while the sentence says it's the argument about [whether one thing or another is the case]. Are you telling me we're supposed to read it as: 'The SAQ is the attempt to persuade someone of… of… of whether someone other than William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon wrote the works attributed to him'? Never mind, have it your way. Your five minutes are up. (— That was never five minutes! — Yes it was!) Bishonen | talk 12:48, 2 February 2014 (UTC).
I've never liked the '(about) whether'. I would personally have written:'the argument that someone other than (Edward de Vere),oops, William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon wrote the works attributed to him.' Thus put, argument, as linked, is perfectly congruent with:
'(In logic and philosophy, an argument is) an attempt to persuade someone of something, by giving reasons for accepting a particular conclusion as evident.'
I'm not a Curd, and I never want to have my whey, esp. in 5 minutes. I like to have my 'way' in the Chinese sense of , and not in Sinatran mode, i.e., by speaking preferably over several months, on things like the placement of a comma. As is notorious, I just like to make life on wiki disagreeable, if not unbearable, for all reasonably minded, decent, honest folks (prepare for this to be diffed by the irony-deprived POV-pushers in future AE attempts to outlaw me for antisemetic brigandage from this joint). Now, where was that bottle of scotch I fugot to polish off this morning . . .Nishidani (talk) 14:36, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
Your wish has been taken under advisement by the deacons of the Shakespeare Stratford Tourism Protective League and been granted. Plus the grammar is superior. Tom Reedy (talk) 18:48, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
With 20/20 hindsight, I think I can understand what happened here. The Wikilinked "argument" made perfect sense in the context of "argument that"; not so much when "argument about" (or "argument over", from 17 October 2011 to 13 April 2012) dragged the meaning into something more like a quarrel. Finally, a few days ago, Paul noticed the disparity and removed the Wikilink. But the WL does make sense with "argument that", which is as I take it the gist of Nishidani's, er, argument. "argument that" had a respectable first run, starting on 26 April 2010, and it was the wording that helped this article achieve FA status. It works for me, with the WL, and I'm glad the deacons of the SSTPL agree. --Alan W (talk) 23:19, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
N., Thanks for including me and my fellow-Marlovians out. Funnily enough, I intended to say that I thought that "that" would be better than "about whether" before Bishonen suggested it, but assumed that I would be shot down NPOV-wise by those who might insist that, just as they claim there is no authorship "question", there is no authorship "argument" either. Peter Farey (talk) 07:09, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
Ya shudda made the edit, ya pommie idjut, wen ya fort uv it, i.e. earlier. Your assumption of the Blessed Virgin is way off, Peter: it's part of the record that you were a key player in fixing this article, and have as much right as any of the rest of us dickheads to dicker with the text! Now, where's that whiskey,..and a hankie so I can dab it in and clean the schnoz of possible residues from this obligatory and in-good-faith brownnosing?
A word of thanks to PB for stirring the nornet's hest, and, after 美少年 swung her provocative leg bootwise our way, resolving an issue that made, by the looks of it, several editors here turn and toss (well at my age I'm beyond that second verb) in bed since 2010 (per Alan) regarding that lead phrasing.Nishidani (talk) 11:54, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── As I said in my edit summary, I don't think we should be linking ordinary words. I cannot see how a link to the article on "argument" helps the reader. WP:LINK is clear that we should not be linking "everyday words understood by most readers in context". In this case "argument" is an everyday word. It is clear in context that it is not being used mean "verbal fight" but "attempt to persuade of a claim". It's not being used in any special technical sense. It's just normal English. I don't think a dispute with Nina back in the Time of Troubles should still be dominating our decision-making. It's not that I don't remember the horror. I am fresh from another stressful bout with her at Greene's Groats-Worth of Wit. Nina can argue that black is pink and potatoes are triangles if she sets her mind to it. BTW, the outcome of the Groat's-Worth saga seems to have kick-started her current quest: to get rid of indefinite topic bans ("no ban should ever be for a period longer than two years, after which time it should automatically expire"). Paul B (talk) 20:02, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

Under ordinary circumstances I would agree with you. However, let's face reality: "everyday words understood by most readers in context" is a phrase that does not apply to anti-Stratfordians, as you have so ably illustrated in your anecdote. Tom Reedy (talk) 00:55, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
Gibes at anti-Stratfordians aside, I don't think that this case is so clear-cut, Paul. My impression is that the most "ordinary" sense of "argument" is a "quarrel", or at least implies one as an envelope for the other meaning, and the average person thinks of that first. I know that I instinctively read that into the sense at first glance in most contexts. This would seem to be supported by the on-line Oxford English Dictionary, where that is its first definition: "An exchange of diverging or opposite views, typically a heated or angry one", and what we mean here is its second: "A reason or set of reasons given with the aim of persuading others that an action or idea is right or wrong". Also, the history of the SAQ has in practice tended to pull the meaning in the direction of the first of these definitions. The Wikilink in this case is a reminder that the SAQ is presumed to be a civil debate. Hah! Still.... --Alan W (talk) 04:09, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
I'm inclined to agree with Paul. The change from "about whether" to "that" seems to me to provide quite enough context to allow even those suffering from anti-Stratfordism at its most virulent to understand the intended meaning.
Less of the pommie idjut, Nish. I thought of it shortly after reading your post of 11:05, 2 February 2014 (UTC), while awaiting the arrival of my son at our local. Got about as far as 'Dear Nishidani' when he arrived – as 'twere from Porlock – and by the time we had consumed the requisite number of pints together, Bish, you and Tom had already been and gone and done it anyway. Peter Farey (talk) 07:59, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
'awaiting the arrival of my son at our local'. Good grief, I know that the NHS is run down these days, but didn't imagine kids are now delivered in a makeshift emergency ward jerryrigged up at the local rubbidy!, let alone that the newborn celebrated his/her birth by joining in imbibing amber pints in the celebratory shout all round. Nice to hear you're fit and hale enough for late paternity, Peter, and my congratulations ( the wings as he stutters and stumbles off-page, . . .hmm . . .woids never quite say to all ears what some speakers think they means, and that's the prob with 'argument'. . .) Nishidani (talk) 08:36, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
Thanks! I must say that this occasion was considerably more relaxing than the first one was, nearly 43 years ago. Peter Farey (talk) 09:00, 4 February 2014 (UTC)

No Neville?

Why is Henry Neville not profiled in the article? Not only is he the subject of the only major anti-establishment book on the subject in the last 20 years, but he is far and away the strongest candidate. I notice there used to be Neville mentions in the article but they have been removed. John Chamberlain (talk) 17:31, 23 April 2014 (UTC)

There are a lot of authorship candidates, and this article is already long, so it comes down to weighing which candidates are WP:DUE per coverage in independent sources. Johnuniq (talk) 00:40, 24 April 2014 (UTC)
That's right. Please see List of Shakespeare authorship candidates. There are 84 candidates listed, and, as this article says, "Supporters of alternative candidates argue that theirs is the more plausible author", just as you are claiming that Neville "is far and away the strongest candidate." Only a few of those who received the most attention over the past century and a half could be covered in the present article. See also, however, History of the Shakespeare authorship question, which goes into greater detail about some candidates who could not be covered here and in which Neville does get some mention. --Alan W (talk) 02:21, 24 April 2014 (UTC)

Caroline Spurgeon, James Shapiro, and which Shakespearean scholar wrote the first book on the SAQ?

On my user talk page, user Mudguppy, a.k.a. GregB, has raised an interesting question, which I think is best asked and responded to here. So I am copying over the relevant parts of the thread, with a few deletions and additions....

Sorry for not discussing this here first. I'll leave it to you to remove, if you see fit, the phrase "marking the first time a recognised Shakespeare scholar has devoted a book to the topic." You reinstated it because "Spurgeon's book was not about the SAQ as such, it was about Shakespeare's imagery." It seems more accurate, though, to say it was about comparing Shakespeare's imagery with that of other writers. In her preface she describes her planned three-part project:

This first study deals chiefly with suggestions as to light thrown by the imagery (1) on Shakespeare's personality, temperament and thought, (2) on the themes and characters of the plays. The other [two] books [never completed -gb] will be chiefly concerned with question of authorship considered in the light of this freshly collected evidence, and with the background of Shakespeare's mind and the origins of his imagery. (ix)


[This method] enables us to get nearer to Shakespeare himself... throws light from a fresh angle upon Shakespeare's imaginative and pictorial vision... and it seems to me to serve as an absolute beacon in the skies with regard to the vexed question of authorship. (x)

The topic of this first book, the only part of the project she completed, I think should be understood as groundwork for her larger project. It is appropriate that she focuses on particulars, as no other scholar in her day appeared willing to do the necessary work of distinguishing these authors not by circumstantial, but stylistic evidence. The first authors she takes up for comparison are the two most commonly put forward by contemporary anti-Stratfordians as the true author of the works, in her Chapter II, "Shakespeare's Imagery Compared With That of Marlowe and Bacon." A few pages into that chapter she revisits her general thesis:

Shakespeare and Bacon are the two greatest men of their day, and the claim that Bacon is in truth Shakespeare and wrote his plays is still held to be a serious and well-founded one by a large number of people. It is natural, therefore, that one should be eager to ask, 'What does an examination of their images tell us?' (16)

The conclusion of that chapter returns to her general thesis:

These facts all point one way, and all seem to support the view that we have here, behind these two sets of writings, not one mind only, but two highly individual and entirely different minds. (29)

The first paragraph of the next chapter, "Imagery of Shakespeare and Other Dramatists Compared," repeats the thesis "that such analysis throws light on each writer's individual tastes or experiences" (30). Her chapter X, "Association of Ideas," concludes,

This curious group of images illustrates better, I think, than any other, Shakespeare's strong and individual tendency to return under similar emotional stimulus to a similar picture or group of associated ideas, and it is obvious at once that it forms an extraordinarily reliable test of authorship. (199)

Practically every page emphasizes "his most individual way of expressing his imaginative vision" (213), but occasionally, especially near the beginnings and endings of chapters, she explicitly mentions "the question of authorship. The fact that this metaphor is continuous, that it starts in 1 Henry VI and is developed in the two later parts, seems to me one of many proofs that the same mind and imagination has functioned through all five plays..." (224). On the next-to-last page of the book she is still emphasizing the comparison: "No other writer, so far as I know, certainly no other dramatist, makes such continual use of running and recurrent symbol as does Shakespeare" (354).

I think at least adding the phrase "with the exception of Carolyn Spurgeon in her unfinished project" is warranted. In the light of the stylometrics studies using neural networks etc., which are cited pretty widely and which date from the late 20th century, I think the entire statement is doubtful enough to delete. ...

GregB (talk) 13:27, 23 June 2014 (UTC)

If I may intrude on Alan's page regarding this? Alan's reasoning re Spurgeon is cogent, and your edit summary was defective. On the other hand, Frank W. Wadsworth certainly was an Elizabethan scholar, perhaps not stricto sensu a Shakespearean scholar, teaching-wise at least he was, and he did write a full-length study, The Poacher from Stratford whose precedence might give one pause over the words used of Shapiro's book. There is also Irv Matus's beautiful book to consider, but, lamentably, he was never a recognised Shakespeare scholar, though he was recognized by Shakespearean scholars as such. Perhaps it could be tweaked to read that (whereas Wadsworth surveyed the field of hypothesis). The crux would be resolved by writing : marking the first time a professional Shakespeare specialist has devoted a book to the topic (Schoenbaum doesn't count because his book only deals with this in a kind of appendix etc). Exit to boos from the galleryNishidani (talk) 14:58, 23 June 2014 (UTC)
... This is well worth discussing, although I would think that most of this discussion is more appropriate for the talk page of the SAQ article itself. Although I think that the phrase I restored is basically correct, still, you are making a point worth pondering, Greg. As for being a recognized Shakespearean scholar, I do think that Spurgeon fits that category. It's just that the main theme of her book is not the Shakespeare Authorship Question as such, unless I am greatly mistaken (I have read selections, but not the whole book).
It seems to me in retrospect that, yes, several Shakespeare scholars before Shapiro have taken up the question of authorship at one point or another in their books and other writings. What I think is a bit different is that Shapiro may well have been the first to devote an entire volume on the authorship question as a sociological phenomenon, which modifying phrase, or words to that effect were added by, I think, Johnuniq, very aptly. There seems to be a certain shift of emphasis in Shapiro's book, some element we don't find earlier. But I am not familiar with much of the earlier literature, and there are other contributors to this page who are much, much better equipped to evaluate all the background material than I am. And whether this mention of Shapiro's book should be modified is a topic I think might well be discussed by many others who care to participate, before any changes are made. ... --Alan W (talk) 23:36, 23 June 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── So, anyone else have any thoughts about this? Any further comments from GregB or Nishidani? --Alan W (talk) 23:53, 23 June 2014 (UTC)

Frank Wadsworth was the first person I thought about also. He is certainly recognized as a Shakespeare scholar, and he is described as one in the WP article. Personally I don't know why it's so important to try to make Shapiro's book a 'first'; plenty of other Shkespeare scholars have written about the SAQ. If anything, he was the first major SAQ book from a Shakespeare scholar in the 21st century, the previous century's scholarly highlights being written in the 1950s. R.C. Churchill gives a list of scholars who addressed the SAQ on page 19 of his book, published in 1958. So really I think it would be more accurate to take it out; it seems to be just an intensifier used for no really good reason. (But changes do need to be discussed on the talk page, as per the ArbCom discretionary sanctions that we all agree to conform to by editing this or any other SAQ article.) Tom Reedy (talk) 00:50, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
P.S.: And in fact, unless there's a reliable source for the statement, it is WP:OR. Tom Reedy (talk) 01:37, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
I think Tom Reedy's point makes sense about Shapiro not really needing to be "first," although if firsts are deemed important, I read Spurgeon cover to cover for another project and her stylistic argument seems to me as germane as Shapiro's sociological one (though I haven't yet read Shapiro). I had prepared the following material on Spurgeon to suggest adding in the "Evidence for Shakespeare's authorship from his works" just ahead of the stylometrics:

= = =

In 1935 Dr. Caroline Spurgeon, in a discussion till then dominated by circumstantial evidence, initiated a comparison of the authors' actual writing styles: "It is natural.. that one should be eager to ask, 'What does an examination of their images tell us?' " [1]. In her preface to Shakespeare's Imagery, and what it tells us Spurgeon describes her project:

This first study deals chiefly with suggestions as to light thrown by the imagery (1) on Shakespeare's personality, temperament and thought, (2) on the themes and characters of the plays. The other [two] books will be chiefly concerned with question of authorship considered in the light of this freshly collected evidence... [This method] seems to me to serve as an absolute beacon in the skies with regard to the vexed question of authorship. (ix-x)

Spurgeon never completed her second and third volumes, but Shakespeare's Imagery, by comparing the figurative language of Shakespeare, Bacon, and five contemporary dramatists (Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, George Chapman, Thomas Dekker, and Philip Massinger), offered the first scholarly confrontation of the authorship challenge based on analysis of writing habits and personalities.

= = =
However, I may be overemphasizing Spurgeon; I haven't done a literature survey of this topic. I'll defer to those who know the field better. If you want to use any of this, you're welcome to it. GregB (talk) 03:29, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
[Bit of an edit conflict. I wrote the words below before I had read what GregB just contributed. What I say does not necessarily either agree or disagree. I was merely responding to Tom Reedy. I do think we're all agreed that Shapiro was not the first recognized Shakespeare scholar ever to address this question, anyway.]
Well, then how about
In 2010 James S. Shapiro surveyed the authorship question in Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?, marking the first 21st century book on the topic by a recognised Shakespeare scholar.
I think Shapiro himself implies that he is the first recognized Shakespeare scholar, at least in a long while, to have covered this topic thoroughly, since, if I recall correctly, doesn't he lament the failure of Shakespeare scholars to step into the fray by openly countering recent anti-Stratfordian claims? Maybe it's not essential—or even true, I now see—to make out that Shapiro is an all-time "first", and some revision is needed. But deleting the phrase altogether seems to me to be removing a pertinent bit of information that has its place in this article. --Alan W (talk) 03:54, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
Why is it pertinent if it's not true? As far as Wikipedia is concerned, if no RS says so then it's not true. Tom Reedy (talk) 19:28, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
Or, Alan, what about:'The long academic neglect of the authorship topic was interrupted by (the appearance of) James S. Shapiro's 2010 Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?.' Nishidani (talk) 21:35, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
Tom: I don't think I'm getting my point across. I am now agreeing that the "first" (ever) part is not true and so should be left out. I'm just suggesting we revise the sentence as opposed to just lopping off the phrase. Nishidani, I think your suggestion is on the right track. I wish I had Shapiro's book in front of me (I read a library copy) so I could find the page where he expresses regret that no Shakespearean scholars have jumped into the fray. Can anyone help? I was thinking of something like, "Regretting that no Shakespeare scholar had countered recent anti-Stratfordian arguments, in 2010 James Shapiro surveyed the authorship question in Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?, the first book on the topic in more than a half-century."
Well, I see you just reverted my revert, Tom. But what about my suggested revision? --Alan W (talk) 23:39, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
I think this is case of exaggerated claims being made by an author, followed by exaggerations of those exaggerations by publishers. Shapiro does have a habit of making self-promoting assertions about his priority and over-egging suggestions that he warned against the topic because Shakespeareans shun it like the plague. He asserts that "Prominent Shakespeareans - with the notable exceptions of Samuel Schoenbaum, Jonathan Bate, Marjory Garber, Staney Wells and Alen Nelson - have all but surrendered the field". This reads rather like the famous "What have the Romans eer done for us" scene: "nothing!... except...". Still, I think it's true that he's the first prominent Shakespeare scholar to devote a stand-alone book to the topic. Paul B (talk) 00:41, 25 June 2014 (UTC)
And maybe it was that very book that made Shapiro so prominent a Shakespeare scholar to the (relatively) general public. Hmmm. I'm starting to think that maybe Tom is right, and that sentence, in its now truncated form, should be left alone, after all. Not so easy to know what more to say, accurately, in bringing the occasion of Shapiro's book's publication into the article. I thought it worth discussing, anyway, and good that GregB/Mudguppy raised the question that he did. --Alan W (talk) 03:39, 25 June 2014 (UTC)
I agree with Tom. For what it's worth, Shapiro also says (p.6, UK version) "In taking this set of questions as my subject this book departs from previous ones about the authorship controversy. These have focused almost exclusively on what people have claimed, that is, whether it was Shakespeare or someone else who wrote the plays. The best of these books – and there are a number of excellent ones written both by advocates and those sceptical of Shakespeare's authorship – set out well-rehearsed arguments for and against Shakespeare and his many rivals." Peter Farey (talk) 08:58, 25 June 2014 (UTC)
Haha! Tom Reedy (talk) 17:16, 25 June 2014 (UTC)
Yup. Not only did you add it, you vigorously defended it, as I recall. Wasn't gonna mention it, but... Paul B (talk) 18:16, 25 June 2014 (UTC)
Not the first time I've done it, Paul. I've argued with Peter Farey on HLAS only to be reminded I argued the exact opposite several years earlier. Either I'm still capable of learning or my long-term memory is completely shot. Tom Reedy (talk) 20:35, 25 June 2014 (UTC)
Good one! Well, then I agree with Tom, too. But which Tom? Who knows, maybe it's a case of Multiple Personality Disorder and one of the many Toms is secretly an anti-Stratfordian? :^)
My long-term memory isn't doing so well, either. I felt "sure" that it was Johnuniq who added the part about the sociological approach. I guess we have to thank these newfangled search tools for keeping us all honest. --Alan W (talk) 04:42, 26 June 2014 (UTC)
Cheer up you guys. Age is a problem but you lot are young enough to use 'newfangled search tools'. I didn't know these exist, and can't figure out how the old ones work. And, secondly, I. . .no, can't remember what the second point was.Nishidani (talk) 07:31, 26 June 2014 (UTC)

New edits

It would be good if FatGuySeven discussed his edits on the talk page instead of trying to shove them into the mainspace, but since he will not, we need to figure out which edits to keep instead of wholesale reverting. For example, I've checked his Marlowe edit in both the reference he gave and the original, and since it moves the date up of Marlowe's candidacy I think we need to integrate it into the section. However FG7's idiosyncratic interpretations must be rewritten. For example his edit reads thusly:

"Marlowe's was first proposed as a member of a group theory by T.W. White in 1892, and this theory was expanded by Wilbur G. Zeigler in 1895, where Marlowe became the group's principal writer. His candidacy was revived by Calvin Hoffman in 1955 and, according to Shapiro, he is now the nearest rival to Oxford."

If Ziegler read White and expanded on his ideas, he gives no indication of it in his preface, nor does Churchill say anything to that effect. And the degree of popularity of Marlowe as Shakespeare is not under dispute by anyone I know, so attributing it as an opinion is unnecessary. We're also gonna have to correct his formatting when and if we do adopt his edits. Tom Reedy (talk) 14:28, 28 June 2014 (UTC)

I thought Marlowe was regarded as more likely than Oxford, so to me it seems it must be very much in dispute among those who dispute Shakespeare himself. But that all seems beside the point. Why address this fluctuating ranking in the article? and what are the criteria if we do? Is it the opinion of the latest published author, the opinion of most published authors, the latest movie, the most popular movie, peer-edited scholarly opinions, the preponderance of circumstantial indications, the preponderance of stylistic evidence ...? Based on studying their works whose attributions are least disputed, I think Marlowe trounces De Vere (but not Shakespeare), but does this even need to be argued or ranked in the article? GregB (talk) 17:59, 28 June 2014 (UTC)
We address it because for some years an Oxfordian consistently edited the article to favour de Vere, and consistently sought material illustrating the point (on good grounds) that Oxford is considered the most popular candidate now. Shapiro and others comment on this change in ranking (first Bacon then de Vere, but coming up fast for a rails' run Marlowe, and we follow those sources. Of course, Marlowe had in exuberant abundance the writerly gifts of genius de Vere shows no sign of possessing, but that's for Oxfordians to explain to themselves, since no one else is likely to listen.Nishidani (talk) 18:13, 28 June 2014 (UTC)
I think it's information that should be included. Otherwise one might get the impression that Bacon was still the No. 1 pretender. I don't think that anybody would dispute that Marlowe is just behind Oxford in popularity, though you would have a hard time finding a source saying the academic consensus says so, simply because it's not a topic of contention (or interest) among serious Shakespeare scholars. But it's a bit disingenuous to give that opinion to only one scholar: Stanley Wells, Paul Edmondson, Charles Nicholl, and most of the others who have written on it agree. Tom Reedy (talk) 21:44, 28 June 2014 (UTC)
If "in popularity" is the criterion, you're probably right about De Vere over Marlowe, and it's on topic for this article. GregB (talk) 03:06, 29 June 2014 (UTC)
Does anyone know of a RS who has expressed an opinion similar to that of GregB, that "Marlowe trounces De Vere (but not Shakespeare)"? This is a viewpoint I frequently hear from Stratfordians, and is one which I would have thought of as much interest as the number of adherents the various candidates have managed to attract. On that criterion there is no doubt at all that Oxford is streets ahead of any other. Peter Farey (talk) 05:18, 29 June 2014 (UTC)
I don't entirely understand what is meant by that, Peter. Could you elaborate?
On another note I'm sure you've read Ziegler. Do you remember him saying anything about Marlowe being part of a group? He says nothing about it in the preface. Tom Reedy (talk) 05:37, 29 June 2014 (UTC)
Tom, I meant that Oxford has far more supporters than any other candidate (other than Shakespeare, of course). On the other hand, in my experience, most of the Stratfordians I know who have expressed an opinion seem to think that, of the two, Marlowe has far more going for him than Oxford. I just wondered if anyone had read a RS who had also said something like that.
Funnily enough, on your second question I thought exactly the same thing, particularly noting that this certainly wasn't suggested in any of the non-novel bits. But I decided to have a look at the novel itself before saying anything, and haven't done so yet. Peter Farey (talk) 09:13, 29 June 2014 (UTC)
Well, I've had a quick scan through all the possibly relevant bits of the novel, and I can find not the slightest suggestion that anyone other than Marlowe did any of the actual writing. Peter Farey (talk) 10:12, 29 June 2014 (UTC)
Peter, Tom. If you check the link I gave in my edit re Schoenbaum saying Ziegler fingered CM as the author of the major/stronger plays, the second authority McCrea (2005) here, writes re Group Theory:

'W. G. Ziegler, three years later, made do without Bacon, attributing the plays to Marlowe, Ralegh, Rutland, and others,'

Since we know Schoenbaum, the professional historian and Shakespearean, checked everything, I gave precedence to his report that Ziegler 'credits Marlowe with all of Shakespeare's 'stronger plays',' (citing his preface and notes). If McCrea also checked Ziegler directly, it is WP:OR and unusable but the inference is that for Ziegler,'Ralegh, Rutland, and others' had a hand only in the minor plays.
As to Mudguppy's commonsense view that Marlowe would trounce de Vere. Compare

'Christopher Marlowe would certainly be the strongest alternative author if he had not inconveniently died in 1593.' W. D. Rubinstein Shadow Pasts: History's Mysteries, Pearson Education, ‎2008

I think he entertains the same view in his later book. I'll check if you like. Elliott and Valenza 2004 I think certainly say that the statistical evidence for stylistic proximity puts Marlowe in Shakespeare's neighbourhood, while the same puts de Vere somewhere out in the milky way, which is saying the same thing. Nishidani (talk) 11:00, 29 June 2014 (UTC)
Curiouser and ever more curious. Where on earth did McCrea get this from? Unfortunately, your link to his book omits page 140 in the UK, and my copy of it is (unlike me) at home right now. I'll check it when I return, along with Charles Nicholl's contribution to Shakespeare Beyond Doubt, which devotes a few pages to Zeigler.
Thanks very much for the thoughts about Rubinstein and E & V. Trouble is that the faked death is, of course, a necessary part of the Marlovian argument, and I guess that comparing it with Oxfordianism whilst ignoring that bit doesn't really compare them at all. Peter Farey (talk) 11:38, 29 June 2014 (UTC)
The argument for Marlowe (or Kyd) is the only rational one because it is based on two or three corpora of works all written by poets of genius. Nothing in de Vere's work bears this quality. To propose de Vere or others is to declare publicly that one doesn't understand or have an intimate feel for poetry, something which Marlowians cant' be accused of. Hope Sunday's lunch was a treat over there, Peter. It's fifty years since I wrapped the nosebag full of shepherd's pie round the proboscis. In fact, I don't feel like editing today, now that I think of that dish. Nishidani (talk) 12:00, 29 June 2014 (UTC)
Peter, another answer to your question about a "RS who has expressed an opinion similar to that of GregB, that 'Marlowe trounces De Vere (but not Shakespeare)' " -- I just ran across it in John Jowett's chapter in Edmondson and Wells:

This principle [that identifying by stylometrics another author in a part of a play also affirms Shakespeare's role the play] applies most critically to Marlowe, the one alternative candidate for the authorship of Shakespeare's plays who, though dead for most of Shakespeare's writing career, is known for his ability to compose brilliantly effective dramatic verse and to construct stageable plays. The fact that Marlowe qualifies in these respects certainly singles him out from other claimants, but it demonstrates nothing beyond that. (98)

GregB (talk) 03:15, 22 July 2014 (UTC)

I see that Alan has taken care of the Marlowe edit, and I have corrected the Oxford edit. Thanks guys. Tom Reedy (talk) 22:05, 29 June 2014 (UTC)

Thanks Alan. I have now identified where the "stronger plays" bit came from. It's in Zeigler's Preface (p.x):
<quote>Why was the authorship of the plays concealed? ¶The most plausible answer was that the master spirit labored until his death under some tremendous fear. What else but the fear of arrest and capital punishment for some crime could have kept him silent until, unwarned and unprepared, he entered "the undiscovered country?" ¶Was it not possible that the crime was committed in 1593? If so, would it not have kept this "king of poets" hidden in just such condition of darkened vision, isolation and solitude as Frederic Schlegel deemed imperative for the production of these austere tragedies? Suppose this condition had existed for five years; that is, from 1593 to 1598; all of the stronger plays which it is possible to attribute to the pen of one man could have been written.<unquote>
I still have no idea where McCrea's stuff about Ralegh and Rutland came from. The online copy is searchable, and whereas Peele, Jonson, Nashe etc. can be found in abundance, neither Rutland (or Manners) nor Ralegh (or Raleigh) have any matches at all. Mind you, McCrea's section about Marlowe is riddled with errors anyway. Peter Farey (talk) 07:01, 30 June 2014 (UTC)
Thanks Peter. Obviously then McCrea fucked up. I'll remove the ref to him in that section.Nishidani (talk) 07:09, 30 June 2014 (UTC)
Good idea. If you want a second one, then Charles Nicholl's 'Marlowe' chapter in E&W's Shakespeare Beyond Doubt (pp.30–31) says "The first to put forward Marlowe's authorship of at least some of Shakespeare's plays was an American lawyer and part-time writer named Wilbur Gleason Zeigler (1857–1935). In 1895 he published a novel not very subtly titled It was Marlowe, in which he proposed that Marlowe's death in 1593 was a fabrication, and that the poet survived for another five years during which he wrote such plays as Titus Andronicus, Romeo and Juliet, Richard III and Hamlet." Peter Farey (talk) 07:38, 30 June 2014 (UTC)

Drinks all around, boys. Cheers! Tom Reedy (talk) 00:19, 3 July 2014 (UTC)

Very interesting, Tom, though most of that goes back before my time here. As Faulkner said, the past is never dead. It's not even past. I have been out of touch for a few days, dealing with computer problems and the like. As for that about the "stronger plays", well, Titus Andronicus is in its way pretty strong stuff, but I don't think of it as one of Shakespeare's "stronger plays". Whatever Zeigler meant, I suppose; at least we cite the sources, and good you found what you did, Peter. Tom, interesting choice of words, that of "vague group of disgruntled politicians". While perhaps "politicians" is not technically incorrect in some sense, to me the word "politician" has different, more modern, connotations. Spenser in particular, though I am reminded he held some governmental posts, I do not think of as a politician. But I can't think of a better word. Just voicing my thoughts, as your expression is to me a bit jarring in that context. --Alan W (talk) 06:04, 5 July 2014 (UTC)
IIRC, Alan, I echoed the words of one of the sources I cited. I don't have them to hand at the moment to check. Tom Reedy (talk) 18:20, 5 July 2014 (UTC)
McCrea got the Rutland etc stuff from Churchill's Shakespeare and His Betters. Churchill is discussing the "group theory". He writes, " It was Marlowe: a Story of the Secret of Three Centuries, a novel published in Chicago in 1895, Wilbur Gleason Zeigler described them [the plays] as the work of Christopher Marlowe, assisted among others by Raleigh and the Earl of Rutland." (p.44) Churchill, a pioneering writer on the topic, makes many minor mistakes. It's certainly not to be found in the novel. I remember coming across that passage some while ago when I created the Zeigler page, and deciding quietly to ignore it. Zeigler strongly implies that Marlowe wrote the plays from 1593 to 1598, when he was killed in a fight by Jonson, after which Jonson "took over" the Shakespeare franchise. Of course, in this scenario Jonson could have commissioned works from Rutland and Raleigh, but I have no information that Zeigler ever suggested such a thing. He may have done so, but if he did, it was not in the novel. Churchill's book was published in 1938; Zeigler died in 1935, so I guess it's possible that Churchill corresponded with him while he was researching the topic. Paul B (talk) 19:42, 5 July 2014 (UTC)
Churchill's book was published in 1958. He was 19 when Zeiglar died (b. 1916), so I think it unlikely he was even interested in the topic then. Tom Reedy (talk) 04:32, 6 July 2014 (UTC)
I was reading it via the Questia online version, which has the following flyleaf: "R. C. Churchill 1958 Printed and bound in Great Britain for MAX REINHARDT LTD 10 Earlham Street, London w.c.2 by Richard Clay and Company, Ltd, Bungay, Suffolk Set in Monotype Imprint First published 1938". I guess that's an OCR error. Paul B (talk) 17:04, 6 July 2014 (UTC)
Paul, you say that Zeigler strongly implies that Marlowe was killed in a fight by Jonson, after which Jonson "took over" the Shakespeare franchise, but I can't find that second bit suggested anywhere in his book. In fact on page 303 he says "We would rather attribute to Jonson ignorance of the authorship of the plays". Although he is by no means clear on the subject, I would say that Zeigler's assumption was that Shakespeare himself (possibly with the help of Peele to start with) carried on writing the plays. But why on earth he chose to believe Aubrey's story about Jonson killing Marlowe in 1598 makes no sense at all to me! Peter Farey (talk) 06:53, 6 July 2014 (UTC)
@Peter. Yes, I think I misread the long footnote on pp.302-3, or rather that I read it in conjunction with the novel itself an came to possibly mistaken conclusion about what Zeigler was suggesting. The footnote states that Jonson dedicated seven years (!) to editing the First Folio from the original manuscripts, and that he only praised Shakespeare in the dedicatory poem because he had a financial interest in doing so. It also strongly implies that Marlowe was the second author of Sejanus. He says all this and then he says that Jonson may or may not have known the truth. This is despite the fact that in the novel he clearly depicts Jonson and Nashe jointly deducing the truth before seeing Marlowe alive at the opening night of Hamlet. It's difficult to reconcile these different claims. How can Jonson have co-written a play with Marlowe, spent seven years editing the works of "Shakespeare" from manuscripts, but not be aware of the truth? Zeigler says he doesn't want to attribute to Jonson the desire deliberately to conceal Marlowe's authorship - this despite the fact that Jonson apparently killed him! Paul B (talk) 21:25, 6 July 2014 (UTC)
Alan, I shared your discomfort with the word 'politicians', but I see from both Shapiro and Holderness that it was the word actually used by Delia Bacon. She apparently described them as "a little clique of disappointed and defeated politicians". Perhaps using this actual quotation, with quotation marks, rather than Tom's paraphrase of it might help? Peter Farey (talk) 07:26, 6 July 2014 (UTC)
Perfect! Thanks, Peter. I've made the change. --Alan W (talk) 20:50, 6 July 2014 (UTC)

The actor/an actor

established version: "Several contemporaries corroborate the identity of the playwright as the actor, and explicit contemporary documentary evidence attests that the actor was the Stratford citizen."

new IP version: "Several contemporaries corroborate the identity of the playwright as an actor, and explicit contemporary documentary evidence attests that William Shakespeare (or Shakspere) of Stratford was also an actor..."

The changes introduce confusion. The gratuitous inclusion of the spelling variation adds nothing. The phrase "the identity of the playwright as an actor" is not quite nonsensical, but it is, at least, odd. Of course the original phrasing ("the identity of the playwright as the actor") makes sense. The source - McRea - clearly states that the passage identifies the writer Shakespeare with the actor Shakespeare, not that it says Shakespeare the writer was also "an actor". So the source directly supports the original phrasing.

“Fellow” in this context means fellow player. “William Shakespeare” appears at the top of the list on the page tided “The Names of the Principall Actors in all these Playes”; “John Hemmings” and “Henry Condell” are in the same column. To celebrate the writer's dual careers, as poet and performer... (McRea, p.4)

McRea goes on to say:

The same poem gives Shakespeare the epithet “Sweet Swan of Avon,” while other introductory verses by the writer Leonard Digges mention “his Stratford Moniment.” These two allusions pinpoint the playwright as William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon (rather than, say, William Shakespeare of Stratford-on-Trent or William Shakespeare of Coventry). (p.6. my bolding)

McRea's wording supports the original phrasing: "the" Stratford citizen called William Shakespeare. Nowhere in this source is there any justification for introducing the "Shakspere" spelling.

This is all about a man called Shakespeare, who was a writer, an actor and was from Stratford. I don't know what are the exact words used by Milward W. Martin, as I don't have direct access to that book, but there was only one Stratford citizen called William Shakespeare.

Paul B (talk) 16:25, 27 August 2014 (UTC)

"Queen Elizabeth I" should be included as a possible candidate.

"Queen Elizabeth I" should be included as a possible candidate. Here is just one of the many articles I've read suggesting her as a candidate: [3] I have also completed a significant amount of research on the topic myself. I'm not sure why she wouldn't be considered a candidate. Thanks! Reedlander (talk) 20:23, 20 October 2014 (UTC)

She is a candidate, but one of many. We can't include all 80+ candidates in the main article. That's why we have List of Shakespeare authorship candidates, in which she is already included, and History of the Shakespeare authorship question. QE has not gathered much support, there are many others who would be "ahead of her" in the queue if we were to add new sections. There is also very little in what we call "reliable sources" (see WP:RS) on QE. This article is primarily about looking at the general evidence and arguments rather than covering all candidates. Paul B (talk) 20:31, 20 October 2014 (UTC)
It seems to me that QE should be the #1 candidate based on the fact that she had the greatest motive and the greatest amount of resources to write such material. She also had a very strong motive to hide her true identity. None of the male candidates would have a strong incentive to hide their identity. I'm not sure why historians place her so far down on the list. Perhaps sexism is a factor. Reedlander (talk) 21:56, 20 October 2014 (UTC)
Nevertheless, she hasn't attracted much support nor has very much been published about her candidacy. Wikipedia covers topics proportionately to how the academy treats them. Tom Reedy (talk) 22:02, 20 October 2014 (UTC)
I understand, but so-called reliable sources published in academic journals are also written by academics who don't want to upset the political apple cart at their institutions steeped in tradition. English majors and teachers in general are often poor economists and the economic situation of the authors should be a primary focus (to rule out candidates like Shakespeare himself). Perhaps we should try to find independent sources outside of traditional academia. Reedlander (talk) 22:15, 20 October 2014 (UTC)
That's not what Wikipedia does. Please read the articles linked on your talk page. Tom Reedy (talk) 01:15, 21 October 2014 (UTC)
Reedlander, you may want to learn more about history and the plays themselves. The plays are anti-Tudor. In fact, some of the later plays could almost be considered treasonous. — Preceding unsigned comment added by John Chamberlain (talkcontribs)

Signatures Issue

I have removed a false reference supposedly supporting the "authentication" of Shakespeare's "six signatures". The reference in question, page 93 of Schoenbaum, nowhere discusses the six supposed signatures or offers any material whatsoever somehow authenticating them. Also, this brings up the whole issue of the "signatures" in the first place, which the entire article treats as though it were a fact. I do not see how anyone with any knowledge at all could regard breviora on a seal tag as an autograph. It is well known that in those times seal tag inscriptions were written by the law clerk, not by the commoner. Also, this is easily verified by simply noticing that all the tags on a given issuance are invariably in the same hand. I do not want to go through this article putting replaceing "signatures" with "supposed signatures" or whatever, but I think it is kind of outrageous that the article just kind of blithely talks about seal tag inscriptions as autographs. John Chamberlain (talk) 21:47, 2 December 2014 (UTC)

I'm afraid for your claims about what is "well known" you will need sources. Asc far as I am aware the opposite is well known. Paul B (talk) 22:09, 2 December 2014 (UTC)

Collapsing cites and references

This article's list of citations and works cited is (naturally) very long. Is there any objection or MOS reason not to put them under a collapse? –Roscelese (talkcontribs) 03:57, 20 February 2015 (UTC)

Is there a precedent for notes or bibliography to be collapsed, particularly in a Featured Article? Since they come near the end, their being listed in full has never bothered me. In my view, the way the article is now structured seems perfectly natural, particularly in that it emulates the way articles appear in scholarly journals, on paper. Collapsing more purely digital accoutrements like navboxes does seem natural, but they would not, of course, appear in scholarly journals. Any other opinions about this? --Alan W (talk) 07:16, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
I don't see why the refs should be collapsed, and have not noticed that approach elsewhere. I did see a recent edit which reversed an attempt to compress a long references section into a scrollable window. Johnuniq (talk) 10:27, 20 February 2015 (UTC)

Stylometry video from TED (conference)

External video
Title page William Shakespeare's First Folio 1623.jpg
Did Shakespeare write his plays? - Natalya St. Clair and Aaron Williams, TED-Ed[2]

I included the video on the right in the article, but it was reverted without comment on the substance, only that since this is a featured article it should be discussed. OK, the is from TED, which is a pretty well known and respected organization. It explains Stylometry which is a pretty important topic for this article. It gives the academic consensus view of the mathematical case for Shakespeare's authorship. It doesn't overwhelm anybody with math, but does give references on the TED-Ed page referenced, so that you can look it up. Nothing surprising here at all, but it does expand the scope of the article by introducing the math. Smallbones(smalltalk) 04:17, 21 March 2015 (UTC)


  1. ^ Spurgeon, Carolyn F. E. (1968): Shakespeare’s Imagery, and what it tells us. London: Cambridge U. Press. (Original work published 1935) 16.
  2. ^ "Did Shakespeare write his plays? - Natalya St. Clair and Aaron Williams". TED-Ed. Retrieved March 20, 2015. 
Videos are a problem because checking what they contain is time consuming. I watched this one and it was a pleasant presentation of a stylometric method used to conclude that Shakespeare wrote the works, and that he and Marlowe collaborated on Henry VI. I don't think it said anything related to SAQ that is not already in the article. If it were an external link to the text of the video, I believe WP:EL would say the link was superfluous and should be removed. The authors seem reasonable, but they are not scholars with expertise in the area and the video does not seem to add anything beyond a different medium. Johnuniq (talk) 05:50, 21 March 2015 (UTC)
[Edit conflict] I was just adding my two cents when my edit collided with yours, Johnuniq. I might as well present what I wrote anyway, for what it's worth:
Nothing necessarily wrong with the substance, Smallbones. I viewed the whole video, in fact, and it seems very well done in its way. Note that I did recognize your addition as a "good-faith" edit, so please don't take my reversion personally. It's just that this article was worked over very carefully for years, with endless debates on how things should be done, and your addition was just dropped into the middle of a very carefully formatted article. In my own opinion, just from a relatively superficial editorial viewpoint, linking a video to a picture of the First Folio looks much less professional than it should and is unworthy of a Featured Article. More important, though, there is room here only for a very small, selected group of external links in an article like this, which synthesizes a vast amount of material. Maybe (I say "maybe" because a consensus would have to be reached; I am just one contributor with one voice) a link could be added at the end, in "External Links", pointing to this video. But I would suggest waiting a bit for some more comments by others, some of whom contributed thousands of edits and are far more knowledgeable about this topic than I am. --Alan W (talk) 05:56, 21 March 2015 (UTC)
Palpitations, horror gasping at . . .not the video, it was quite neat, but at the title. 'Did Shakespeare write his plays?'..splutter . . .That should be the plays....because,. . .the appropriative his already strongly implies he did, while the query allows that he mightn't have. 'Did Nishidani eat his (own) words?'. Yep. They're his and no one else may retract his words by devouring them, if only because they are indigestible. But, heck, my wife asked me to open the computer and check for canederli recipes, a devastating suggestion the dear woman is no longer as self-assured as 60 years of genius in the kitchen would leave one to expect. So, back to the real world, else tonight will be misery.Nishidani (talk) 14:29, 21 March 2015 (UTC)

While this might be a good external link for the stylometry article, I think it is out of place here. The purpose of this page is to report on the state of the SAQ, not prove that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare. Tom Reedy (talk) 17:09, 26 March 2015 (UTC)


I have a problem with the sentences:

Ogburn's efforts secured Oxford the place as the most popular alternative candidate. He also kick-started the modern revival of the Oxfordian movement by adopting a policy of seeking publicity through moot court trials, media debates, television, and later the Internet, including Wikipedia.

Surely Ogburn was dead before Wikipedia was founded. Yet this appears to be saying that he personally adopted the policy of using Wikipedia to promote Oxfordianism. (talk) 13:03, 10 April 2015 (UTC)

I think this is a valid point. Anyone intimately familiar with the material care to attempt a revision? For my part, I'm not sure exactly how much Ogburn (Jr.) did of the things mentioned in that sentence, and how much was undertaken later by others involved in this Oxfordian-movement revival. --Alan W (talk) 04:36, 13 April 2015 (UTC)
It's not just Wikipedia. Though the internet/web certainly existed at the time of his death (1998) it was still relatively small-scale, and I don't know how active he was in the last years of his life. The sentence has multiple sources, but I think the Wikipedia reference to the passage in Shapiro on pages 247-9 in which he discusses Wikipedia. He means that Ogburn 'kick-started' the use of popular media, but he does not specifically mention Ogburn himself at this point, merely organised Oxfordian activism. So I think the sentence should be tweaked - maybe to something like "He also kick-started the modern revival of the Oxfordian movement by adopting a policy of seeking publicity through moot court trials, media debates, television, and other outlets. These methods were later extended to the Internet, including Wikipedia." Paul B (talk) 16:20, 13 April 2015 (UTC)
That seems perfect to me, Paul. Since you didn't actually make the change, I have now modified that passage not just to "something like" but exactly as you suggested. Thanks, and thanks also to for pointing this out. --Alan W (talk) 05:05, 14 April 2015 (UTC)
Thanks! Paul B (talk) 15:29, 15 April 2015 (UTC)

Of Possible Value

I noticed the article mentions the moot court trials/debates. I was able to find this [4] if anyone thinks it would perhaps add something as an External Link. (talk) 05:55, 23 April 2015 (UTC)

Shakespeares skjulte sannhet

Dancing Badger, I have reverted your last edits adding material on Friberg's Shakespeares skjulte sannhet. For a number of reasons, this material should not be where it is, should not have been added the way it was, and probably should not have been added at all. This article is now a Featured Article, and stricter rules apply. For example, the citations should be added with formatting consistent with that already used. More important, what you assert is not supported by the cited sources, which say only that Petter Amundsen claims that Bacon wrote Shakespeare's plays. The article already has enough about such claims. Amundsen apparently did claim that Bacon was assisted by others (that, at least, is what the Norwegian Wikipedia page on Amundsen says), but this is nothing original. This article is not meant to record everything of this kind. It is not supposed to be a catalog of all alternative authorship claims. And the cited sources do not have the scholarly weight to justify their use here. They are simply film reviews. Nothing wrong with them, necessarily, as part of the on-line Norwegian newspapers they appear in; but more-scholarly sources commenting in such a way on Amundsen's claim as to support its notability (in this case it would have to be a claim that differs materially from earlier ones, engaged the scholarly community or popular discussion in some new way, or something like that) would have to be provided to justify this material's inclusion in this article.

Anyone care to comment further?

--Alan W (talk) 21:04, 19 July 2015 (UTC)

Unreserved apologies, no justification; a hefty lapse in judgement. The Dancing Badger (talk) 00:18, 20 July 2015 (UTC)

Sir Henry Neville as one of the leading candidates

I would like to propose that Sir Henry Neville (1562/4 - 1615) be included among the leading candidates. The following books have been published concerning his candidacy since 2005:

  • Brenda James and William D. Rubinstein, The Truth Will Out - Unmasking the Real Shakespeare, (Pearson, 2005).
  • Brenda James, Henry Neville and the Shakespeare Code (Music for Strings, 2008)
  • John Casson, Enter Pursued by a Bear - The unknown plays of Shakespeare-Neville (Music for Strings, 2009)
  • John Casson, Much Ado about Noting - Henry Neville and Shakespeare's Secret Source (Dolman-Scott, 2010)
  • Brenda James, Understanding the Invisible Shakespeare, (Cranesmere Press, 2011)
  • William D. Rubinstein, Who wrote Shakespeare's plays, (Amberley, 2012).
  • Mark Bradbeer and John Casson, Sir Henry Neville alias William Shakespeare, (McFarland, 2015).
  • Bruce Leyland and James Goding, Shakespeare, Sir Henry Neville and the Sonnets, (LeanPub, 2015).

These constitute a significant body of work over a short period. Neville is a new candidate but he is enthusiastically supported. His highest profile supporter is HRH Prince Philip. RalphWinwood (talk) 10:01, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

A lot of people are mentioned at List of Shakespeare authorship candidates. Only a few who have attracted significant attention, as recognized by reliable sources, should be listed in the main article. Re the Daily Mail article, what someone said Prince Philip said about the authorship is not suitable material for an encyclopedic article. Others may care to comment on the eight publications listed above, but quite a lot has been written about even minor candidates. It is interesting that those books are since 2005, but someone would need to assess what is said about the candidate (Henry Neville (died 1615)) in relation to the others listed in the article. Johnuniq (talk) 10:55, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
I can only find one reliable source that mentions Neville more than peripherally, Shakespeare beyond Doubt (2013), with several pages devoted to discussion of the candidacy. No doubt this is because of the recency of his nomination. I also notice that the Shakespearean Authorship Trust lists Neville before Derby, but they also list him before William Shakspere (sic). I have no objections to including it in the article, especially as Neville seems to have overtaken Derby, but I don't know if he should be considered one of the main contenders based upon just one RS. Eight books written by proponents is nothing compared to the hundreds of books that have been written by the proponents of the other major candidates.
The Google search of "Derby as Shakespeare" brings up 792,000 results; the same search for Neville brings up 518,000. Derby has been a candidate for more than a century and the theory has its own Wikipedia page. Neville has been a candidate only since 2005, so his Goggle result is impressive, but his SAQ candidature is mentioned only in a section of his biography (a page that is woefully short, BTW). I would like to propose that RalphWinwood put together a Wikipedia page on the candidacy of Neville using the Derby page as a model, and then we talk about adding him to the main SAQ page or possibly supplanting Derby. As it stands, I don't see enough WP:N to include him on the page. (I'm not asking him to manufacture notability, just demonstrate that it exists.) Tom Reedy (talk) 14:01, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

Thanks for your comments. I'd be very glad to assemble a short bio per the Derby section for consideration.RalphWinwood (talk) 22:19, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

Balance ?

Um. The article reads as if both sides of the argument are pretty equally - you know, weighted. But that's not the case, from what I've been reading (eg. ). So - bias ? (pro the doubters, that is). (talk) 16:18, 10 June 2015 (UTC)

Some more: — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:22, 10 June 2015 (UTC)

It brings tears to my eyes to read such words. So it's not a cowardly travesty funded by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and designed to conceal The Truth after all? That's a relief. Paul B (talk) 18:57, 10 June 2015 (UTC)

The nature of an article about a controversy sort of demands that the sides be represented with equanimity, even if most knowledgeable people would view only one side as reasonable. The nature of Wikipedia sort of demands that those who feel more strongly about their case are more likely to be active editors, especially if they feel they're not being given a fair shake. Most people who feel passionately about this controversy are anti-Stratfordians, as Stratfordians mostly consider it a non-issue and are more interested in the plays themselves. So a seemingly evenhanded treatment is more or less inevitable. I'm surprised that a more strongly anti-Stratfordian bias isn't evident. It seems to me that if read carefully, the types of "reasoning" used by both sides makes itself pretty clear. Schoolmann (talk) 12:56, 26 July 2015 (UTC)

I don't really understand. The two replies above seem to be using pretty words to say not very much. Again, if this is a fringe view, why is it afforded equal space? I've read in enough other places people pointing out that a "neutral point of view" doesn't mean affording each view the same weight, and I would fully agree. Ok, maybe I should look at the "main" Shakespeare article, or other related ones, and perhaps there the weighting is indeed more appropriate. Still, rather than describing the (fringe) view, this article seems to endorse it to a certain extent, or is debating it (which requires the assumption of it being a valid view). I don't see why that is appropriate. (talk) 17:10, 30 July 2015 (UTC)

I don't know if "fringe" is the best way to describe anti-Stratfordian proponents. "Unorthodox" might be more precise. There is a significant audience for anti-Stratfordian views, and they have been espoused by a number of famous people (Twain, Wells, Emerson, to name a few). At the same time the academic community is more circumspect. (talk) 19:41, 9 August 2015 (UTC)

I believe it is fair to say there is an anti-Shakespearian bias to this page when Carolyn Spurgeon still is not mentioned for her stylistic analysis early last century. A year or so ago I presented to this discussion several specific quotes demonstrating her explicit purpose to address several authorship challenges by comparing several authors' evidently unconscious habits of metaphor selection. Her book "Shakespeare's Imagery and What It Tell Us" (Cambridge 1935) is important because she is the first author I know of who disputed the authorship challenges by quantifying stylistic features of Shakespeare's and others' actual writing, as opposed to quarreling about circumstances of birth, education, and regional background... decades before computers, much earlier than the statistical methods of stylometrics. Less important works are represented here, in my opinion, but Spurgeon has the misfortune to have championed Shakespeare. Would anyone wish to reconsider Spurgeon? I could look around for my notes. I composed and offered a brief passage about her but it was never accepted. GregB (talk) 02:01, 20 January 2016 (UTC)


The introductory section as currently written is deeply unfair and dishonest. I have written something that is much more balanced. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Peter Endicott (talkcontribs) 14:57, 19 January 2016 (UTC)

This is a better introduction, which keeps getting deleted:

"The Shakespeare authorship question is the argument that someone other than William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon wrote the works attributed to him. Anti-Stratfordians—a collective term for adherents of the various alternative-authorship theories—believe that Shakespeare of Stratford was a front to shield the identity of the real author or authors, who for some reason did not want or could not accept public credit.[1] The idea has attracted much public interest,[2][a] and has gained a number of adherents, including Supreme Court justices, famous Shakespearean actors, and scholars and academics mostly outside of traditional English departments. Nevertheless, alternative authorship theories are fiercely resisted from many quarters. Most Shakespeare professors argue for traditional view and many refuse to discuss the controversy at all.

Evidence doubting Shakespeare's authorship can be found as early as the late 16th century, although more sustained and public skepticism did not arise until the middle of the 19th century,[4] when adulation of Shakespeare as the greatest writer of all time had become widespread.[5] Shakespeare's biography, particularly his humble origins and obscure life, seemed incompatible with his poetic eminence and his reputation for genius,[6] arousing suspicion that Shakespeare might not have written the works attributed to him.[7] The controversy has since spawned a vast body of literature.[8] While many candidates have been put forward, the most credible and popular challenger is Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. Only a few others have a serious following, including Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke, William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby, and Thomas Sackville. Sir Francis Bacon and Christopher Marlowe were early possibilities but now have almost no supporter among Anti-Stratfordians.

Supporters of alternative candidates argue William Shakespeare lacked the education, aristocratic sensibility, or familiarity with the royal court that they say is apparent in the works.[11] Many Shakespeare scholars claim that biographical interpretations of literature are unreliable in attributing authorship.[12] Traditional documentary evidence seems to support Shakespeare's authorship—there are title pages, testimony by other contemporary poets and historians, and official records—but much of this is vague and ambiguous on close inspection. Doubters argue that “Shakespeare” was an alias or pen name. Shakespeare himself never spelled his name this way, and “Shakespeare” itself was often hyphenated." — Preceding unsigned comment added by Peter Endicott (talkcontribs) 23:05, 19 January 2016 (UTC)

External links
Another problem with this article are the external links. The problem is that they all point to Stratfordian sites. There is nothing from the other point of view. If this is supposed to be a balanced article, the links should allow people to acquaint themselves with information from the other side. This is a shortcoming that needs to be addressed. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Peter Endicott (talkcontribs) 23:41, 19 January 2016 (UTC)

Please see WP:ARBSAQ. There is a lot of background reading there I'm afraid, but it should be obvious from the fact that the article has been stable for a long time that there is no significant problem with it. A new editor who believes the "opening section was biased and unbalanced" may not be aware of how articles are constructed at Wikipedia. A way to understand the situation is to imagine someone wanting an overview of a topic they know nothing about—should the article providing that information present "both sides" which the reader could study for a month and still not grasp, or should the article present what the best scholarly sources say, and merely mention the other side? For Wikipedia's approach, please read WP:FRINGE—the view that someone other than Shakespeare wrote the works is fringe. Johnuniq (talk) 01:41, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
This "new editor" essentially speaks for many who have attempted to assist with these pages and have been rebuffed by "the editors who hold a biased" view. His experience matches ours—to the detriment of the related articles here.Artaxerxes 19:45, 20 January 2016 (UTC)

The geocentric model of the solar system was stable for a long time, but it wasn't correct. There are significant problems with this article, but the editors who hold a biased and unfavorable view of the subject have managed to have their position prevail. These editors have misconstrued what a fringe belief is in this area. They have mischaracterized the debate. Just because they have gotten away with it for so long is no reason it should continue. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Peter Endicott (talkcontribs) 16:35, 20 January 2016 (UTC)

Breviographs & Secretary Hand

Why is the use of breviographs and secretary hand thought to be evidence against authorship? This needs to be clarified. From the context it doesn't sound like these techniques were used by the less educated (and indeed they were not). The point that secretary hand "vanished by 1700" is also not informative. If there is a relevant inference to be drawn from Shakespeare's use of it almost a century before it "vanished" that inference needs to be made explicit. Curious georgianna (talk) 05:47, 28 March 2016 (UTC)

Poll in introduction

The introduction is critical to framing the discussion objectively. At present the introduction emphatically characterises the "Question" as fringe - with all its pejorative connotations. This characterisation is based on selected opinions not on measurement. The only quantitative analysis I know of is the NY Time Education Life survey (2007) based on a random sample of 265 Shakespeare specialists. The study shows that 17% of US Shakespeare specialists accept that an author other than Shakespeare of Stratford is possible (of these 6% believe it probable). I believe this evidence contradicts the opinion-based conclusions in the introduction. I believe the quantitative analysis should be both summarised in the introduction and detailed in the body of the article.RalphWinwood (talk) 01:10, 5 April 2016 (UTC)

There are at least 4,726 colleges and universities in the United States. The podunk technical college I went to had multiple professors who taught Shakespeare. The larger university I transferred to had a department (in effect if not practice). I think it's safe to say that there's at least 5,000 Shakespeare specialists in the US, and probably closer to ten times that many professors who work with Shakespeare or relevant fields (e.g. lexicography or Elizabethan history). A sample size of 265 is about half a percent. That's too small a sample size to arrive at any sort of reasonable conclusion.
On top of that, the United States is only one of many, many countries in the Anglosphere, and there's plenty of non-English Shakespeare scholarship on top of that (Germany loves him). At that point it's like asking only a single person if Queen Elizabeth is really a lizard person. One out of one said yes, so that's 100%. This is why sample size matters.
The article (and our arbitration committee) lists the Shakespeare authorship question as fringe because that's what the majority (nigh totality) of relevant academics consider the matter, per the many, many sources in the article. It's not "opinion," it's the work of real academics instead of a phone poll. As John Oliver once explained, phone polls prove nothing. If you ask "Is brown a color?" and 49% say "no," that just means that 49% of the people you called don't know what they're talking about.
Basically, the "quantitative" material you added fails at being quantitative, and the material you accuse of being merely qualitative is not. Ian.thomson (talk) 01:30, 5 April 2016 (UTC)
This conversation has been rehearsed several times on this page. I suggest you search through the archives and read up on them before arbitrarily acting on your beliefs again. Tom Reedy (talk) 13:09, 5 April 2016 (UTC)

What is not known

So little is known about the Shakespeare of Stratford, that it is not possible for doubters to argue that he was a front for the true writer, and consequently few still do. Most doubters today merely contend that the name Shakespeare on the plays was a pseudonym. There is no evidence that Shakespeare of Stratford or anyone else brought the plays to the acting companies. Here is an excerpt from the excellent recent article by William Leahy: "[The] crucial and defining aspects of Shakespearean biography as a sub-genre are twofold. Firstly, they rely on the fictional in building a life from the works, and secondly they are structured by the (often unconscious) narcissism of the individual biographer. Such would seem to be a common reality in the sub-genre of Shakespearean biography, the ‘nothing’ of the empty vessel of Shakespeare becoming filled with authors’ fictionalised and idealised extensions of their own egos." Jdkag (talk) 15:26, 31 March 2016 (UTC)

One's amused to appreciate Leahy's mastery of narcissistic theory. I'm curious as to how Nicholas Rowe, Shakespeare's first biographer, was affected by the unconscious narcissism applied mechanically to the whole genre. He scraped up what hearsay was still available around the London and Stratford traps. The confusion of 'hearsay' with 'fiction' implicit in Leahy's bold generalization is interesting, in collapsing cosmically vast quantities of oral history as fiction, since, after all, that genre of collected memories of things experienced is, ipso facto just fiction, and scrupulous records of what survivors tell us of death marches, holocausts, gulags, or just family lore going back a century, is all narcissistic projection of fantasies. As to the great play on the 'nothing' that is the real Shakespeare, it made me recall that numerous biographers of great men with intimately deocumented lives as performers, from Reagan to Sinatra, end up with an exasperating conclusion that the subject, after thousands of pages, remains impenetrable. One recent instance.
We know everything about Sinatra. James Kaplan’s 2 volumes run to 1855 pages.In volume 2, Kaplan quotes someone who sounds like Sammy Cahn as saying:’There isn’t any ‘real’ Sinatra. There’s only what you see. You might as well try to analyze electricity. It is what it does. There’s nothing inside him.He puts out so terrifically that nothing can accumulate inside.’ (James Kaplan, Sinatra:The Chairman, Doubleday 2015 p.65)
We know everything of Sinatra, and he is a mystery. We know little of Shakespeare, and he too is a mystery. Why an exiguous trace of the latter's real identity or life should lead to pyrrhonic skepticism about the existence of the man as playwright himself, whereas the vast documentation of Sinatra's life admittedly tells us nothing about who he was, but not for that do we doubt that Sinatra qua Sinatra had no identity or was other than what he was perceived to be (unless esse est percipi), is a topic for the psychoanalyst indeed.
The obsession with Shakespeare's identity is evinced in both his biographers and anti-biographers. The one gives us guesses at what we cannot, but want, to know; the other gives us dismissals of even what we do know. Everything Leahy said, other than the ref to Bond's play, rings a familiar rhetorical strategy to me, and I can't see why it is worthy of inclusion on this page. Perhaps on some subpage re Shakespeare's biographers? Nishidani (talk) 17:26, 31 March 2016 (UTC)
Both of you are engaging in WP:FORUM - at no time do either of you discuss Reliable Sources to improve the content of the article. Please re-read the top part of all Talk Pages that talk about why this is not allowed. (talk) 00:57, 27 April 2016 (UTC)
Now, having creased your brow and wagged your finger to admonish others for having teetered a tad from the straight and narrow, I hope you're not too exhausted to enjoy the rest of your day.Nishidani (talk) 06:51, 27 April 2016 (UTC)


By the way, does anybody know what happened to editor RalphWinwood? His username is no longer active, but I can't find any record of sanctions or blocks.JerryRussell (talk) 18:27, 20 May 2016 (UTC)

The user page was never created, and they have not edited recently, that's all. Johnuniq (talk) 23:46, 20 May 2016 (UTC)
I dunno where he went, but I was under the impression that he was gonna improve his article, Nevillean theory of Shakespeare authorship. It's still incomplete and what he has there is still in terrible shape. Tom Reedy (talk) 02:39, 21 May 2016 (UTC)
I tried cleaning up a few things. Based on the evidence presented there, Neville doesn't seem to be one of the stronger candidates. JerryRussell (talk) 17:31, 21 May 2016 (UTC)
See Special:Contributions/RalphWinwood. (talk) 09:35, 27 May 2016 (UTC)

Poll in intro redux

I found the most recent archive talk page here: [[5]]

Reading through the discussion, I don't see anything like a consensus emerging, nor even a clear majority. And what I see here, was the outcome of an edit war, not a consensus.

The discussion in the archive mentioned a distinction between "fringe" and "minority" but where does Wikipedia policy actually make any such distinction? All minority positions, regardless of their credibility or lack thereof, are treated according to "fringe" policies. Or as a newbie here, am I missing something?

The New York Times survey, regardless of its flaws, does represent objective data. As such, I see no reason why it shouldn't be reported in this article, which is dedicated to describing this minority viewpoint. I don't see how an "undue weight" objection can be raised within this article, as it is obviously highly relevant to this so-called 'fringe' topic. It might be undue weight to refer to such a finding within the main Shakespeare article itself, but not here. I think the findings are fascinating, and deserve to be reported. As to the complaints about the statistical significance of the findings, I believe that they are significant, but also that any evaluation of the same is "original research". JerryRussell (talk) 18:18, 20 May 2016 (UTC)

Ian.thomson gave a very cogent argument for why this dubious stuff was elided from the final recension after much discussion. Nishidani (talk) 19:57, 20 May 2016 (UTC)
Ian Thomson's argument presented here, is based entirely on sample size and other supposed flaws of the New York Times survey. He complains that a sample size of 1/2% is too small, but many if not most public opinion polls are based on samples that small or smaller. The NYT article states that the error margin of the poll is 5% within a confidence level (p-value) of 5%. That means that the finding that 5% think the question is exciting or profound, is right on the edge of 'statistical significance'. That is, we can be 95% certain that if we were able to sample the entire population, the percentage would be greater than zero. As to the 17% that believe there is some possibility of a non-Shakespeare author, the statistical significance is enormous.
Thomson also claims that the sample of academic quotes is quantitative, which it is not. It is a self-selected and stratified sample.
The NYT poll was not a 'phone poll'. Thomson should read the article before making comments.
The comparison to Icke's lizard theory is ad hominem, and below the belt.JerryRussell (talk) 23:44, 20 May 2016 (UTC)
Regarding the earlier decision, I see a virtually endless war of attrition. I also saw an arbitration board decision requiring this article, but the only action taken was discipline of two unruly editors. Nothing specific about any particular editing decisions. Or did I miss something? Where was there a process that led to a conclusion, regarding this 2007 poll?JerryRussell (talk)
The poll in question was run by someone pushing a particular line. That alone rules it out. Johnuniq (talk) 23:46, 20 May 2016 (UTC)
What difference does it make, who ran the poll, if the methodology was valid? I don't see a signature line on this NY Times article, which means that their editorial board stands behind it. Does anyone question that the New York Times meets the Wiki definition of a reputable source?JerryRussell (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 23:51, 20 May 2016 (UTC)
Depending on what it's used for, yes. Per WP:NEWSORG, "For information about academic topics, scholarly sources and high-quality non-scholarly sources are generally better than news reports." Ian.thomson (talk) 00:55, 21 May 2016 (UTC)
(edit conflict) The Wikipedia definition of a reliable source includes the caveat that a source that may be reliable in one context may not be reliable in another. I would be happy with the NYT as a source for a report on the F.A. Cup Final; I'd be very wary of the NYT as a source for the mechanism of an anti-cancer drug. NYT has a reputation for fact-checking, but has no reputation for its ability to conduct unbiased surveys. A survey is a primary source and you really need a secondary source to analyse it before you can have confidence in any conclusions drawn from it. When you compound the uncertainty about the rigour of the survey by your own selective analysis from the survey, you're really a long way from improving the article. To be clear, you wrote "5% consider that the question is either an exciting opportunity for scholarship, or has profound implications for the field, while only 32% considered it a classroom distraction and a waste of time" while the survey answers were "32% A waste of time and classroom distraction" and "61% A theory without convincing evidence". Don't you think that the statement "93% considered it a classroom distraction and a waste of time or a theory without convincing evidence" would be a more appropriate summary of the answers to that question? Anyway, it's not within our competence as editors to draw those sort of conclusions from a primary source. --RexxS (talk) 00:58, 21 May 2016 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────(To JerryRussell): I agree the poll is interesting and that it doesn't make a lot of difference about the motives of the pollers. That's why it is already included in the article. See the fourth paragraph of the section Authorship in the mainstream media. Perhaps you were unaware that it was there.

As to your particular edit, leaving aside the fact that a newspaper is hardly a reliable source for what's going on in academe, the way you presented the information is misleading. You conflated two separate answers to a question (6 per cent answered "yes", and 11 percent "possibly") to give more weight, and you removed context by reporting answers from two different questions. Finally, the intro is just that: an introduction to the article in summary form, and is not meant to be a place to report details. Tom Reedy (talk) 02:20, 21 May 2016 (UTC)

Hello everyone, I appreciate the discussion, it's very helpful. I was not aware that the NY Times survey results are presented further down in the article. That makes for a dramatic change in the context of the discussion. I find myself still in agreement with RalphWinwood that the information belongs in the introduction, to give a balanced view, but I do respect the points raised above.
WP:CALC says that routine calculations such as addition are OK, but only if the editors agree it does not create a misleading impression. The formulation "93% considered it a classroom distraction and a waste of time or a theory without convincing evidence" is also true, I don't see how anyone can dispute that belief in an alternate Shakespeare author is a minority view among Shakespeare professors. If the preference here would be to avoid writing summary statements in that style, it takes just a few extra words to represent the facts from the article completely, and let the readers do the math as they prefer.
To the point that the survey is a primary source, I think it's possible to argue that the primary source was the original survey responses from the professors, and that the NYT has also provided some interpretation. But on the other hand, I find myself curious as to what the academic secondary sources have had to say about the survey since it was published in 2007. Does anyone happen to know?
Finally, I am curious whether the editors here believe it's really true that the survey findings are contradictory to the quotes from academic sources on this topic, or whether they represent a complimentary view? That is, many statements by Stratfordians seem to be coming from the "No true Scotsman" point of view -- they believe that if a professor is not a Stratfordian, then that person is not a True Professor, he/she is a crank who somehow got a job. It's an interesting fact that some Stratfordian professors feel that way, but has no bearing on the question of how many professors do not subscribe to the Stratfordian orthodoxy. JerryRussell (talk) 15:23, 21 May 2016 (UTC)
My suggestion is that you read the entire article before making suggestions on how the introduction should be changed. In addition, you might want to take a look at WP:LEDE. Tom Reedy (talk) 15:57, 21 May 2016 (UTC)
That's fair, please pardon my mistake. I did scan through the article, but obviously not carefully enough. On the other hand, I find it amusing that the other editors went to such lengths to disparage the NY Times article, when in fact it already does appear in the Wiki article. Considering WP:LEDE, I understand the feeling that the Times survey might not belong in the introduction. But, if the findings of the NY Times survey are correct -- and given all the other facts presented in the article -- where is the "scholarly consensus"? Mirriam Webster says consensus is "a general agreement about something : an idea or opinion that is shared by all the people in a group". (my emphasis.) I sure don't see any evidence of "consensus", even among Shakespeare professors. JerryRussell (talk) 18:08, 21 May 2016 (UTC)

Proposal: where the intro now says:

"all but a few Shakespeare scholars and literary historians consider it a fringe belief..."

Replace with:

"all but a small percentage of Shakespeare scholars and literary historians consider it a fringe belief..."


"Despite the scholarly consensus..."

Replace with:

"Despite the scholarly near consensus..."


"Despite the fact that the vast majority of scholars remain skeptical, ..."

Improvement, or not?

JerryRussell (talk) 18:59, 21 May 2016 (UTC)

All of that language you'd like to tweak was based on sources that said precisely what the srticle states. (a) the percentage is irrisory (b) in English, a consensus is precisely that, a 'general agreement'. It's politer than the correct descriptive term here, 'virtual unanimity', and as such something of a concession to the rumour-mongers of fringe heterodoxy, who would be better chasing doxies over the dales, as the wolf himself sang.Nishidani (talk) 19:14, 21 May 2016 (UTC)
The NY Times article does not indicate 'virtual unanimity'. Given the guess above of 5000 Shakespeare professors in the US, the Times survey is indicating that 6% believe there is good reason to doubt that the author was Shakespeare. That would yield a maximum likelihood estimate of 300. The confidence interval was given as 5%, meaning that the actual number might be as small as 50, but then again it might be as high as 550. Even the smaller number is not "irrisory". "A few" indicates a very small number, whereas "a small percentage" more accurately represents the best estimate. Why settle for vague and misleading language, when we could be less vague? JerryRussell (talk) 21:02, 21 May 2016 (UTC)
So having discovered that the flawed poll is indeed covered on the article, you've abandoned the crusade to include the results into the introduction, you now want to rewrite a sourced statement based on your interpretation of the poll in order to move the topic from fringe to minority. Is that about right?
We go through this every 4-5 months. Tom Reedy (talk) 22:56, 21 May 2016 (UTC)
Tom, could you tell me if there's a Wikipedia category for "minority" viewpoints, as opposed to "fringe"? I don't much care for the term "fringe",it seems pejorative to me, and as such, it's inconsistent with "neutral point of view." But I read some archives at wiki:fringe and my impression is that they're denying that there's any difference between a "fringe" and a "minority", the same rules apply in either case. It seemed that some people wanted to use "minority", others preferred "crackpot", and "fringe" was chosen as a compromise. Apparently some people even consider "fringe" a complement.
Anyhow, I'm not trying to argue that the Authorship Question should be exempt from wiki:fringe rules. But the way the introduction is written strikes me as pretty biased, considering the actual facts and sources presented.JerryRussell (talk) 05:13, 22 May 2016 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Please demonstrate the bias. The SAQ is described as fringe because it is fringe. There's no other word for it. It exhibits all the earmarks of a fringe theory, it doesn't use the conventional scholarly method, and only a relative handful of people believe and promote it. Wikipedia is biased toward the scholarly consensus, which is why fringe theorists think it is biased. I was hoping we could get through this without invoking the arbitration, but since it appears that this is headed the same place all the other discussions have ended up at, I suppose it is time to refer you to the arbitration page. Please read it. Tom Reedy (talk) 13:45, 22 May 2016 (UTC)

Arbitrary break 1

Hello Tom, since you've invoked the arbitration by placing a notice on my user page, and your user page states "If I contact you on yours, please answer me there", I suggest we continue the discussion on my user page. Thanks.JerryRussell (talk) 14:15, 22 May 2016 (UTC)
Your talk page is an appropriate venue for discussing your behaviour. It is an inappropriate one for discussing improvements to this article. I see you still don't understand what a primary source is, and why you're not competent to do amateur analysis of primary sources. No editor should be picking particular quotes from the report on the NYT Education Life survey to make a point. I'm going to propose that the current text, To the question of whether there is good reason to question Shakespeare's authorship, 6 per cent answered "yes", and 11 percent "possibly". When asked their opinion of the topic, 61 per cent chose "A theory without convincing evidence" and 32 per cent chose "A waste of time and classroom distraction", taken from the article is removed because it selectively picks certain responses. It's fine to mention the existence of the survey as an example of "Authorship in the mainstream media", and it's a perfectly good source for its own existence and the issues it intended to address, but not for any conclusions that editors are trying to draw from it. That would require an independent third-party to examine the field of how the SAQ is addressed in the mainstream media and be able to place the NYT story in the context of other such articles - that's what I mean by a literature review for this issue. Neither you or I are qualified to do that. I propose that the coverage of the survey in the article should be along the lines of In 2007, The New York Times conducted a survey of 265 American Shakespeare professors on the Shakespeare authorship question. The survey examined the professors' attitude to the question, their familiarity with the candidates and whether they chose to teach it in their courses. We are obliged to represent our sources neutrally; as soon as we start to select some parts and ignore other equivalent parts, we are imposing our POV on the source and that should not be happening. --RexxS (talk) 17:12, 22 May 2016 (UTC)
I disagree. It's fine to report the findings as long as it's done in a manner that doesn't distort the implications, take them out of context, or draw conclusions. Just mentioning that the poll exists would be useless. Tom Reedy (talk) 19:31, 22 May 2016 (UTC)
You're quite wrong. As soon as you pick two out of twenty-four questions to include, you distort the implications, take them out of context and imply conclusions. Our current text guides the reader towards a particular conclusion and is just as poor a use of a primary source as the way in which JerryRussell wants to use it to push the opposite view. When will you learn, Tom that as long as the article misuses sources to illustrate the mainstream view, you'll get SPAs misusing sources in exactly the same way to illuminate the fringe view? Of course just mentioning the poll exists is useless (to make a point), because the poll is useless (to make a point)! Why is it in the article at all, if it's not just an example of mainstream media's treatment of the SAQ? --RexxS (talk) 00:26, 23 May 2016 (UTC)
Thank you, Tom Reedy, for supporting the continued inclusion of this information. Since we have been discussing it so much, I noticed that the reference given is not to the original survey article as RalphWinwood had suggested, but rather it's to another article at NY Times by Niederkorn, discussing the findings. So this would be a secondary source, as opposed to the first article which you are claiming is a 'primary source'. The information given in the Wiki article can be taken as a direct quotation from Niederkorn.JerryRussell (talk) 00:33, 23 May 2016 (UTC)
RexxS, selecting which information from a source is relevant, is a problem for interpreting secondary sources as well as primary sources. Out of 24 questions in the original so-called 'primary source' material, are there any other questions which you consider relevant to the issue, which is to what extent non-Stratfordian ideas are held by Shakespeare professors? — Preceding unsigned comment added by JerryRussell (talkcontribs) 00:37, 23 May 2016 (UTC)
An editor drawing conclusions from a survey done by his own newspaper is a long way short of being an independent review. It's complicated to some extent by the fact that Niederkorn has credentials as a playwright and composer in his own right, as well as being a recognised Oxfordian. But he has expertise in the field and his acknowledged personal view is not enough to disqualify him from commenting. Nevertheless, selecting which information to use from a source is fraught with peril, and you've already demonstrated how you wish to cherry-pick the parts that suit your agenda. So don't get your hopes up, I'm not advocating to give you free rein to twist a source in order to make it reflect your POV. Out of 24 questions in the original primary source - and it's disappointing that you still don't understand what a primary source is - I maintain that precisely none of them are suitable for inclusion in the section. Is that clear enough for you? --RexxS (talk) 02:01, 23 May 2016 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────"Why is it in the article at all, if it's not just an example of mainstream media's treatment of the SAQ?" Um, because the title of the subsection is "Authorship in the mainstream media"? Whether the poll is useless or not is not really relevant here; the poll was taken, and the results are aptly and neutrally summarized, nor does the article misuse the source. Tom Reedy (talk) 00:48, 23 May 2016 (UTC)

And the only reason it deserves to be in the section "Authorship in the mainstream media" is because it's an example of "Authorship in the mainstream media" and nothing else. You can't use it to bolster the argument that the mainstream view of the SAQ is that William Shakespeare wrote his plays as you wish it to, because it's too poor a source to demonstrate any such thing, and because it's by no means conclusive in supporting the mainstream view. As you don't seem wiling to address the problems that I raise in the way this source is misused, I'll seek dispute resolution. If you'd like informal resolution with a third opinion, I'd be happy for Bishonen to act as referee as she is very familiar with this topic. Otherwise, feel free to suggest your preferred means of resolution. I've marked the section as disputed. --RexxS (talk) 02:01, 23 May 2016 (UTC)
Fine. I don't understand your point nor your vehemence in pursuing it. As to my "us[ing] it to bolster the argument that the mainstream view of the SAQ is that William Shakespeare wrote his plays", I am doing no such thing. The poll is what it is, and the article neutrally reports the core results. And "feel free to suggest your preferred means of resolution"? What is this, an 18th-century duel? Can editors contract among themselves now in order to avoid the arbitration process? I don't see how this is worthy of dispute resolution myself, but if you feel so strongly about it, by all means go for it. Tom Reedy (talk) 02:18, 23 May 2016 (UTC)
If this goes to dispute resolution, I'd like to point out that the article really needs to have a separate section, titled something like "Extent of academic consensus on the Shakespeare Authorship Question". The introduction has statements like "despite the academic consensus" and "all but a few Shakespeare scholars and literary historians consider it a fringe belief" which IMO are biased and unsupported in the body of the article, and footnote 3 is practically an article section in itself. The NYT survey is excellent data regarding scholarly opinion, and should not be hidden in the "mainstream media" section.JerryRussell (talk) 02:56, 23 May 2016 (UTC)
If you have some data on Shakespeare scholars in universities who take this crap seriously, and publish on the topic, other than Stritmatter and Leahy, name them.Nishidani (talk) 09:53, 23 May 2016 (UTC)
@Tom Reedy: I'm sorry you don't understand my point. It is simply this: when you pick 2 responses from a 24-question survey and quote part of them, you impose a bias by selection. That you feel they are "core results" is telling, because you are substituting your evaluation of what is "core" in a primary study for the necessary secondary source which is needed to make that judgement. Can you provide a secondary source that tells us which are the "core" results? No, of course not. Surely our policy at WP:PSTS makes clear what I'm saying. Can you see my point now?
It's unnecessary for you to remark on my vehemence, as that is an ad hominem comment and doesn't address the issue. Nevertheless if you are interested in why I feel so strongly about misuse of sources, it's because I've spent far too much time on Wikipedia arguing with SPAs who want to use primary sources to promote their favourite fringe theory or piece of pseudoscience. One vital way to do that is to ensure that supporters of the mainstream view, such as yourself and I, don't fall into the trap of using equally poor referencing to bolster the mainstream view. The fact that Shakespeare wrote his plays is so uncontentious to mainstream academics that few would bother to produce a scholarly article stating the obvious, but that's no excuse for cherry-picking from a primary source to make the point. It simply gives licence to the SPAs to do the same. You only have to read the crap that JerryRussell is spouting above about the NYT being "excellent data regarding scholarly opinion" - which is complete and utter bollocks - to see where you end up if you don't treat primary studies with the care they need. --RexxS (talk) 13:23, 23 May 2016 (UTC)
"when you pick 2 responses from a 24-question survey and quote part of them . . ."
But the article is not doing that. If you follow the ref, you will see that the author of the NYT article picked those questions to report on. This article is neutrally reporting what Neiderkorn reported. And if you review those 24 questions (actually 11 questions; 13 are just a list of anti-Stratfordian authors asking whether the pollee has read them or not), you will discover that most of them are just background or "setting up" questions, such as age, how long they've been teaching etc. Only a few actually answer the question, "what do Shakespeare professors think of the SAQ?" Coincidentally, those are the very same questions covered in the article.
Using your suggested method--just mentioning that the poll was taken without giving any results--is like saying that J. Thomas Looney published a book in 1920 without mentioning its main theme: that Oxford wrote Shakespeare. Tom Reedy (talk) 15:22, 23 May 2016 (UTC)
No, my suggestion is actually like saying "varenicline is a is a prescription medication used to treat nicotine addiction", rather than saying "varenicline is the most effective medication for tobacco cessation" without mentioning any of its side-effects. If the survey were treated carefully, the reader could follow the link to the survey and make their own minds up, rather than having them steered by a selected sample of results. It's still bias, no matter how much we agree with the bias ourselves. --RexxS (talk) 03:25, 27 May 2016 (UTC)
Um, you're teaching granny to suck eggs. Tom's expertise in Shakespearean studies consists precisely 'in treating primary studies sources with the care they need'. Nishidani (talk) 14:29, 23 May 2016 (UTC)
Well, Tom's legendary expertise 'in treating primary sources with the care they need' has let him down this time. And I don't need lessons from youngsters on egg-sucking, thanks. My expertise is in spotting when sources get misused, and you've provided zero reasoning to support your view beyond "I say so". --RexxS (talk) 03:25, 27 May 2016 (UTC)

All quiet for a few days. Can we remove the neutrality dispute tag on the section describing the NY Times poll? I still have concerns about the neutrality of the introduction, but in the scheme of things, the changes I asked for above are pretty inconsequential. I don't really want to get bogged down in neutrality debates right now. That is, as long as the info in the NY Times article is accurately represented.

I was pleased to find that the editors at the main Shakespeare page consider the survey so important, that it's cited in a footnote there as well. The 'Authorship' section there extracts the information this way: "Only a small minority of academics believe there is reason to question the traditional attribution." I think that's an excellent summary: it is truthful and also respectful of minority views. JerryRussell (talk) 20:58, 26 May 2016 (UTC)

My impression is that RexxS was going to take it to dispute resolution. If he's not, then go ahead and remove it. And yes, the main Shakespeare article does not state what academics think, as is proper. That is reserved for this page. Tom Reedy (talk) 01:26, 27 May 2016 (UTC)
I was going to take it to dispute resolution, as I remain convinced that it's a misuse of a primary source - Neiderkorn is the editor at NYT responsible for the piece and his selection from the survey is neither neutral nor independent. However, Bishonen has advised me to leave it alone, so I'll wash my hands of it. Carry on dealing with the consequences of selection from a primary source yourselves. I've done my best to explain why it's a magnet for SPAs pushing their fringe theories, and consequently why you're better off not quoting just two out many possible conclusions. I hope you won't be too surprised when the next one comes along with the same modus operandi. --RexxS (talk) 03:25, 27 May 2016 (UTC)
No worries. JerryRussell is just the latest in a long line. It's just the nature of the beast. (Though I confess I'm at a loss how you would include the other 22 questions, since they're irrelevant to the SAQ.) Tom Reedy (talk) 04:18, 27 May 2016 (UTC)
I made some remarks here earlier which were ill-considered, and Bishonen recommended (at my talk page) that I too give it a rest. I hope it's considered OK to delete & retract earlier remarks that have not been replied to here? Anyhow, I apologize, and am ready to let this go.JerryRussell (talk) 17:27, 27 May 2016 (UTC)
No worries, bro. Editing on WP is a learning process. We all did and are still doing. Tom Reedy (talk) 19:00, 27 May 2016 (UTC)

BBC2 "parody"?

I reverted the addition "In a parody of the authorship question, the 2016 BBC Two sitcom Upstart Crow depicted Shakespeare as the real author of all of Christopher Marlowe's plays" which used this review as a ref. I don't think it added anything to the topic except as a cultural reference, and the review doesn't mention the SAQ. Tom Reedy (talk) 01:46, 30 May 2016 (UTC)

Agreed. There is no reason to call this a parody (or to include it at all), although the idea that Shakespeare wrote Marlowe's plays first appeared in an anonymous article (in fact by John Taylor of Norwich) in 1819, thirty-eight years before Delia Bacon's publication on the SAQ. Whether it was suggested seriously is in some doubt, however, as the following year Taylor (again anonymously) published an article criticizing the theory in a rival magazine. Peter Farey (talk) 09:12, 31 May 2016 (UTC)

Archive index

Could this be reordered into 'conventional alphabetical format' for convenience.

Has 'Shakespeare the scriptwriter' been considered anywhere - 'turning the works of (putative author of choice) into a play'? (The 'Murder on the Orient Express option'.) Jackiespeel (talk) 10:11, 3 July 2016 (UTC)

Anthony Munday's Sir Thomas More

According to this Wiki article Sir_Thomas_More_(play)#Evidence_for_Shakespeare.27s_contribution, a three-page section of this play by Anthony Munday has been identified as an authentic sample of stylistically Shakespearean material written in Shakespeare's handwriting, verified by comparison to Shakespeare's signatures. Does anybody know if this has been recognized as relevant to the SAQ, or would it be WP:SYNTH to say so? I would think it's important if not downright decisive, and it seems to have been known for years, but I've never seen it mentioned in this context. JerryRussell (talk) 16:31, 1 September 2016 (UTC)

SAQers don't recognize that the hand is Shakespeare's, saying that the known samples are too few for a valid comparison. There will never be a decisive piece of evidence that will satisfy authorship partisans; they're not really about the evidence in the same way that gambling addicts are not really about winning. Tom Reedy (talk) 21:35, 3 September 2016 (UTC)
OK, so everybody knows all about it except me. Do you think it belongs in the article, maybe prominently highlighted with its own section heading?
Do you know if anybody has compared the sample to other prominent candidates such as Oxford, Bacon, Marlowe and so forth? At least it might be possible to get rid of some other candidates by process of elimination. JerryRussell (talk) 19:40, 4 September 2016 (UTC)
No, it doesn't belong in the article because it's not a major contention by either side; and no, our job is not to get rid of other candidates, it's to report the past and current state of the field in a neutral manner. Tom Reedy (talk) 22:55, 4 September 2016 (UTC)
I wasn't meaning to ask for original research on our part, but I was curious about what's been said. Tom, I think you probably know the literature much better than I do, and I appreciate your expertise. JerryRussell (talk) 23:17, 4 September 2016 (UTC)
If you haven't seen it, though, I did find this one article by an Oxfordian, in which he turns it into a pro-Oxford argument. He says "no reputable modern expert would think of affirming Hand D as the maker of the six signatures with so small a sample of letters for comparison." 1 And on careful examination of the Wiki article I linked above, that seems to be the case; or at least, the article quotes a 1916 expert statement, and nothing more recent. But, the article also states that the handwriting is not Oxford's, either. JerryRussell (talk) 23:17, 4 September 2016 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────There are a plethora of modern articles and books about Hand D that convincingly (to most scholars, anyway) that it is Shakespeare's hand, but I know of no usable reliable sources that do so in order to rebut Oxfordian arguments, which is what would be necessary to include it on this page. I've seen that Oxfordian article before; to them, almost anything and everything halfway good was written by Oxford. He's become a comic book character with near-mystical powers to them. Tom Reedy (talk) 03:02, 5 September 2016 (UTC)

"Christopher Marlowe credited as one of Shakespeare's co-writers"

Article in the Guardian: [6]

I suspect this may prove controversial. Have fun... (talk) 21:53, 23 October 2016 (UTC)

Article on main page 23 April 2017

There is a notice in the header, but it is a bit hard to see, so those watching this page might like to know that the article will again feature on the main page. The old and new blurbs are:

It was six years ago, groan. Time flies! Johnuniq (talk) 05:03, 9 April 2017 (UTC)

Really? I thought it was a ceaseless lackey to eternity. --NeilN talk to me 05:21, 9 April 2017 (UTC)
Time's had, my lords, been walloped at his back,
Now you have salvaged charms from sure oblivion,
And thereby earned our lasting gratitude:
Those scraps we fought, all good deeds past, empowered
The article we have, forgotten is the loon
perseverance chased out, by your accord,
And wiki's honour's bright. To have done is to hang
About till fashion picks you up, and sends a mail
To reaffirm our rewrite of that crockery
was monumental.Nishidani (talk) 14:25, 9 April 2017 (UTC)


I have added a shorter version of the Crollalanza authorship theory. This is treated at more length on Wikipedia’s corresponding Italian-language Shakespearian Authorship site.

This story is as yet little covered in English and little known to English-speakers; but (for good or evil) it is likely to become better known once Alicia Maksimova’s 2016 documentary film “Was Shakespeare English?”, which promotes it, goes the rounds of English-speaking late-night television. This will lead people to seek reliable information on Crollalanza.

I have emphasized those elements of this story—certainly not its plausibility!—that make it of interest, and perhaps worth space in the select group of authorship theories that Wikipedia currently covers. If senior editors do not consider it worth space here, perhaps they could remove it to a separate Wikipedia page, as is already the case for John Florio’s and Emilia Lanier’s claims, among others.

Much additional material about the Crollalanza theory can be found in the Italian-language Wikipedia site on Shakespearian authorship, but the automatic translation of this into English is largely unintelligible. I have prepared a more idiomatic translation of the entire Italian-Wikipedia article on Crollalanza, and have placed it on the associated Discussione (Talk) page here. Marcasella (talk) 16:47, 12 April 2017 (UTC)

Sorry to revert that work, but it looks like WP:RECENTISM and falls prey to suspicions of using Wikipedia to boost a fringe theory, apart from considerations of WP:Undue. Undue because many people who don't figure among the famous four have better coverage in secondary sources than (S)Crollalanza). I might also note that (a) appearing on the mystery mongering 'Voyager' programme on RAI2 run by Roberto Giacobbo is evidence enough it's fringe lunatic, for that's all that Giacobbo promotes. (b) Part of the alternative Shakespeare candidates were conjured up by voices putatively heard in séances, as the late lamented Paul Barlow here documented, and the Crollalanza theory has its origins in the paranormal, not in documentation as far as I can ascertain.
Still we do need a page perhaps on this, and I would advise you to retrieve your draft from the earlier page version, and simply create an appropriate wiki page and register the name at the List of Shakespeare authorship candidates page, with a link. Regards Nishidani (talk) 19:28, 12 April 2017 (UTC)
Thanks Nishidani. I do appreciate those arguments, and concede that the interest of the Crollalanza theory does not lie in its plausibility. In fact coverage on Wikipedia, by correcting one of its crucial claims, that Crollalanza in Italian means "shakes spear", may reduce its populist appeal.
I'm happy to move it to a separate page, but have no experience in setting up Wikipedia pages from scratch. Could I trouble you to provide me with a stub for such a page? Marcasella (talk) 22:41, 12 April 2017 (UTC)
Fine. I'll fix that in a few hours time, once I've found a broom to sweep away the mass of cobwebs from my eyes, and fueled the cognitive battery with leachings from Liptons. Cheers.Nishidani (talk) 07:32, 13 April 2017 (UTC)
I've set the page up for you at The Crollalanza Hypothesis of Shakespeare’s Identity. Be careful to reconstruct the idea's history, then the commentary on it, and finally its reception history. It overlaps obviously the Florio hypothesis. There is a lot of junk pseudo-scholarship on this, be careful to use only reliably published sources.Nishidani (talk) 14:59, 13 April 2017 (UTC)
Many thanks Nishidani. It will take me a day or two to work out how to do this. Marcasella (talk) 17:13, 13 April 2017 (UTC)
Nowuz.All you need look at is the (sfn|last name|year| and, if available, page) format in the bibliography (2) format all citations for the bibliography according to the models there. If you have any problems just give me a tingle on the virtual blower, i.e., my page. Regards Nishidani (talk) 18:54, 13 April 2017 (UTC)
Syntax is: {{sfn|last name|year|p=123}}, for a single page, and {{sfn|last name|year|pp=123–456}}, for a range (p vs. pp; the software unfortunately can't figure out that distinction on its own), and the page parameter is optional if one is not needed for that particular cite (but do please try to include specific page numbers for ease of verifiability). And I will also be watching the page and can help out with any more or less technical issues (but probably won't be much help with content issues). --Xover (talk) 19:17, 13 April 2017 (UTC)

Statistical analysis (stylometrics) rules out all proposed candidates.

Stylometics rules out all proposed alternative candidates. That means that either someone named William Shakespeare or some unknown person using the pseudonym William Shakespeare wrote his works. I would not be surprised if these people also rave about chemtrails, and shapeshifting lizardpeople. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:26, 23 April 2017 (UTC)


The word "however" is used to emphasise that a contrast is intended. It should generally not be used in encyclopedic writing as WP:NPOV is better fulfilled if we just state the facts and let the reader decide that it's a contrast. WP:EDITORIAL discusses it and there is also a short essay here. --John (talk) 11:01, 11 April 2017 (UTC)

I sympathize with the habit of searching for "however" in an article to see if it's necessary, but sometimes it really is the best way to convey the information. The four instances of it reinserted here all seem fine to me. None are editorializing; they simply make it clear to the reader that the point introduced is in contrast to the previous information. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 11:19, 11 April 2017 (UTC)
Does that imply that the reader is otherwise incapable of seeing that there is a contrast? No, I'm still standing by the deletions. It's a stylistic issue but quite an important one, especially with four here on a TFA. --John (talk) 11:22, 11 April 2017 (UTC)
Are there cases where you think "however" is allowable, or do you feel that WP:EDITORIAL implies it should always be removed? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 11:41, 11 April 2017 (UTC)
Two of the removed instances (regarding the will and textual evidence) relate to evidence that the sources point out contradicts the anti-Stratfordian case. The implications are indeed supported by the sources, and a connection is made therein. They are therefore not doing any of the naughty things mentioned in WP:EDITORIAL, and seem unexceptionable to me. William Avery (talk) 12:07, 11 April 2017 (UTC)
Arguments can be made for both sides but I think, given the history of the editing, where we were accused of subtly stacking the evidence against a fringe viewpoint, that John's call is correct. We should elide any phrasing that, 'however' innocently, might be read as nudging the reader towards a conclusion. Nishidani (talk) 16:50, 11 April 2017 (UTC)
True. I felt the prose was now very dry, and was reminded of a phrase in The King's English about unconnected sentences as "those 'little hard round unconnected things'" ... "that 'seem to come upon one as shot would descend from a shot-making tower'". But going back to that text I find that it is a discussion placing great weight on "degrees of thought dependence", which is exactly what editors are seeking to avoid here. So, what we have is exceptionally dry prose, appropriate to an exceptionally problematic subject. William Avery (talk) 18:41, 11 April 2017 (UTC)
That's just it, or part of the problem with deleting all the "howevers". The prose becomes too dry, hard to follow. I don't think it's an unfair "stacking the evidence" when we use modifying words to facilitate understanding of particular passages. Filling out a thought with emphasis in key places could work to stack evidence either way, if that were really what was being done. But we've already hashed out all the balance and fairness of emphasis, over many agonizing years, so I don't see any implicit bias in leaving in the "howevers". It's a matter of clarification, of holding the reader's attention, which is important, too. I like that about "shot descending from a tower" as a metaphor. But I don't think that even this controversial a topic requires prose so dense and monotonous as that would imply. We do not want to lose the reader. Wikipedia is, after all, not for experts in a narrow field (at least not only for them) but for everyone. The "howevers" worked just fine for several years. I am really not comfortable with deleting them en masse now. --Alan W (talk) 23:50, 11 April 2017 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Sorry to be late to the party, but I just now read this discussion. Two of the "however" perform critical lexical functions IMO: the one relating to the will and the one relating to the possibility of posthumous collaboration. With the "however"s deleted, the sentences read almost as non sequiturs. I know the reader is not supposed to be led to any particular conclusion (though I think that can be argued given Wikipedia's policies on due weight and reliable sources), but nether should we just throw out a list of statements and expect every reader to be able to figure out the relationships. Tom Reedy (talk) 02:13, 23 April 2017 (UTC)

I also refer to WP:FRINGE, which clearly states "Additionally, when the subject of an article is the minority viewpoint itself, the proper contextual relationship between minority and majority viewpoints must be clear." The use of "however" in the two examples I gave performs that function. Tom Reedy (talk) 16:03, 23 April 2017 (UTC)
Well, that clinches it for me, tipping the balance in favour of what Tom and Alan argue. I would therefore modify my statement above in support of restoring the deleted 'however's. Nishidani (talk) 16:07, 23 April 2017 (UTC)
Credit also to Mike Christie, who was the first to support my restoration (later undone) of the "however"s. Now I see that Tom Reedy has once again restored them. Thank you, Tom. --Alan W (talk) 16:26, 23 April 2017 (UTC)

Can we fix that ugly cit needed?

Both explicit testimony by his contemporaries and strong circumstantial evidence of personal relationships with those who interacted with him as an actor and playwright support Shakespeare's authorship

Now I don't think the query is needed because this sums up the state of scholarship amply evidenced throughout the page. But perhaps some indications of a possible citation for it can be found in Gary Taylor and Rory Loughnane, 'The Canon and Chronology of Shakespeare’s works,' in Gary Taylor, Gabriel Egan (eds.) The New Oxford Shakespeare: Authorship Companion, Oxford University Press, 2017 978-0-192-51760-9? Nishidani (talk) 20:06, 23 April 2017 (UTC)

Indeed, though that volume is not concerned with the type of authorship theories this page covers, pages 417-420 offers a good overall summation of those types of evidence. If you would care to do the honors? Tom Reedy (talk) 21:19, 23 April 2017 (UTC)
Done, General Rockjaw! Reminded of whom, how's your off-the-cuff fringe theory developing about the genetic similarities between jaws of the Caesarean busts in the Vatican's corridor of Roman statuary and those of Arkansas going? I'm sure we could lobby the de Verean trust to get a paper on the hypothesis published in one of their mags, if we can work out a Shakespeare-as-medium-of-transmission angle! It might even be sucked up as evidence lacking for the Crollolanza theory. Cheers!Nishidani (talk) 11:16, 24 April 2017 (UTC)
Well done. (Serious): I find it hard to pick up that volume without getting sucked into it for an hour or so, even though, as I wrote, it has nothing to do with our particular ghetto. As to the other, life has been doing its utmost to keep me distracted and my eye off the ball, and so far it's winning. Cheers and lurve to the missus! Tom Reedy (talk) 14:15, 24 April 2017 (UTC)

External links modified

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just modified one external link on Shakespeare authorship question. Please take a moment to review my edit. If you have any questions, or need the bot to ignore the links, or the page altogether, please visit this simple FaQ for additional information. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, you may follow the instructions on the template below to fix any issues with the URLs.

YesY An editor has reviewed this edit and fixed any errors that were found.

  • If you have discovered URLs which were erroneously considered dead by the bot, you can report them with this tool.
  • If you found an error with any archives or the URLs themselves, you can fix them with this tool.

If you are unable to use these tools, you may set |needhelp=<your help request> on this template to request help from an experienced user. Please include details about your problem, to help other editors.

Cheers.—InternetArchiveBot (Report bug) 19:40, 24 April 2017 (UTC)