Talk:William Shakespeare/Archive 18

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Archive 15 Archive 16 Archive 17 Archive 18 Archive 19 Archive 20 Archive 22


First post - The main entry states conjecture as fact - which essentially links those who tried desperately to find some reason how Shakespeare obtained the education and knowledge that allowed him to write the plays (eg searching for possible theories rather than evidence to back up those theories). The word 'alleged' or 'supposed' ought at least be used across most of the main article even if (for now) Shakespeare remains the 'alleged' author of the plays in his name.

I am concerned at those who claim there is any 'wealth of evidence that survives testifying to [Shakespear's] authorship' given this is patently not true other than the name attributed to the plays (with no single orignal copy of any surviving) and the fact that the main evidence is the first portfolio compiled after S's death and with (apparently) no assistance or involvement of his family. The first folio (according to Shakespeareans) was supposedly produced by S's acting collegues - but the financial cost of printing the work would have required a rich backer (I believe more than half a million dollars in today's money) - meaning the actors noted were extremely unlikely to have been the actual backers. I am more convinced by more recent proposals by Brenda James and William Rubenstein about how friends of Sir Henry Neville WERE involved. Ben Jonson was employed by Nevilles family at the time and reasons why a frontman (such as his relative by marriage, Shakespeare) should be identified.

Given Neville's life fits perfectly with the timing and details of the plays in a way that previous claimants do not I believe gives him the right to now be identified as a primary claimant in the alternative authorship page - opposed to the dismissive paragraph that currently exists.

Why not note that Swans are mute - which is another obvious comment about the Swan of Avon - who was so 'upwardly mobile' (alleged in article) that his daughters and wife were illiterate and he left no books, no letters, and no evidence of any literary achievement in his lifetime that was recognised outside the alleged authorship of the plays.

I also wonder at the education - alleged - which was rote learning of a limited range of materials - at best to 14 (probably 12 given the known financial difficulties of the father at that time - and the father was illiterate so probably not greatly supportive of education). Again this is evidence that supposedly exists after the fact - theory = it must have been good if it produced Shakespeare).

Sorry if this was a long post - but I think the alternative authorship question should be raised early in the article on Shakespeare - and the information on S should be annoted to indicate 'it is believed' or 'it is supposed' and some realistic assessment of the likely education and background Shakespeare actually had. Including his lack of languages and access to documents he would have required to have written some of the plays - the Tempest, for example.(Targetf1 (talk) 14:52, 9 April 2009 (UTC))

In response to the above post, the authorship issue is raised twice in the article - once in the lead, and again in it's own "speculation" section. Given rules concerning undue weight, I find the coverage adequate. I do agree, however, that when there is a lack of evidence, that "it is believed" or "it is assumed" should be included wherever needed. Also, in the authorship article, the post on Neville states:
"In The Truth Will Out, published in 2005, Brenda James, a part-time lecturer at the University of Portsmouth, and Professor William Rubinstein, professor of history atAberystwyth University, argue that Henry Neville, a contemporary Elizabethan English diplomat and distant relative of Shakespeare, is possibly the true author of the plays. Neville's career placed him in the locations of some of the plays at approximately the dates of their authorship." I find nothing dismissive about this paragraph. Smatprt (talk) 17:37, 29 April 2009 (UTC)
Based on some of the more reasonable points made in the above posting, I added "It is believed that" on to "Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1590 and 1613." This is a good example where we are stating an absolute certainty that can't be made. Admittedly, most scholars agree with the statement, but they also acknowledge that there is no concrete evidence as to when any of the plays were "first" written. Also, there are numerous authorship researchers who have published their beliefs that much of the canon was written earlier than generally accepted, so we can't say that "no one" disagrees with the 1590-1613 range, as was posted recently. Oxfordians, for example, support an earlier start and a writing period between the mid 1570's and 1604.Smatprt (talk) 00:52, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
I for one believe in a later timeline for the writing of the plays. They were written in the early- to mid-18th century, and all the publications and criticisms were backdated to make everyone think they were written earlier. All the references to Shakespeare living in Stratford and being an actor and playwright? Forgeries! There was an authorship conspiracy--but most believers have it backwards.Tom Reedy (talk) 02:41, 30 April 2009 (UTC)

One possibility - #Shakespeare was just a very good playwriter# - the equivalent of today's scriptwriter/adaptor to film of other's stories - with good access to those ready to provide necessary information. This would allow Shakespeare to be identified as the author - and everybody else.

Actors and actor/managers - even from the provinces - at the time would probably have to be literate. It is patronising to assume that an illiterate father would not support a literate son (with the savings on clerks etc thereby arising) while even now there are countries where there is a notable gender difference in levels of literacy.

The actual question is perhaps - if 'someone or several' wrote large chunks of the works commonly identified as Shakespeare's - why didn't they admit to it in due course (or some contemporary make the claim)? 16:13, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

Smatprt writes: "Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1590 and 1613." This is a good example where we are stating an absolute certainty that can't be made.
If you read through the various discussions of datings for the plays, you will see that no scholar suggests that most of the plays were written outside the period 1590 and 1613. It took an awful lot of reading to come up with that sentence. The sentence deliberately leaves leeway for the possibility that some early works were written before 1590, but the number of plays for which this is possible is a minority. Therefore, the sentence "Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1590 and 1613" does not need "it is believed" at the beginning. Also, it is bad prose to start any sentence with the "it-passive" construction: we do see it all over Wikipedia, but not so often in featured articles. I hope you are not going to require me to go through all the plays one by one quoting the scholarship on their dating, because I really haven't got time. However, I would do it over a number of days if you can come up with a statement that most of Shakespeare's plays were not written between 1590 and 1613. qp10qp (talk) 02:37, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
If he doesn't come up with any (and I don't think he can) we should revert the edit. Stylistically it is impossible for the works to be dated back any appreciable time.Tom Reedy (talk) 13:57, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
Well, Qp, I can certainly start with the statement you require - from Paul Crowley, who I believe Tom is quite aware of, having interacted on various authorship discussion pages over the years. Here is a link to an essay where he concludes (see the final sentence) that the plays were written 15-20 years earlier than generally believed: [[1]]. I could also refer you to many sections of Ogburn's"Mysterious William Shakespeare", Anderson's "Shakespeare By Another Name" or Clark's "Hidden Allusions in Shakespeare's Plays", but you'd have to go thru each play section individually. I, too, am ready to go thru the plays one by one with you, as you challenge. Shall we start with Hamlet? Smatprt (talk) 17:16, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
No, am not going to give that sort of site or unreliable sources the time of day. I stopped reading when I came to the sentence: "Why does, and how can, Stratfordian 'scholarship' operate on the same basis as a young child?" I already reverted your edit yesterday and you reverted me back. I don't do revert wars, so lets see what other people think first. qp10qp (talk) 19:06, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
Well, that is not nearly as nasty or acerbic as the way many Stratfordians (including many editors of this page) view anyone who disagrees with them on the authorship issue! Even the great Mr. Wells has been reduced to nothing but nastiness, dismissiveness and name calling, of late. May I thn, disregard any source who sneers at anti-Stratfordians? On this general subject then, perhaps you might acknowledge this quote from Chambers, to whom "most subsequent scholarship on the chronology is greatly indebted", as he concedes the significant element of doubt in his chapter on chronology:
"I have attempted to bring together the results of chapter ix and fit them into the facts of Shakespeare's dramatic career as given in chapter iii. There is much of conjecture, even as regards the order [of composition], and still more as regards the ascriptions to particular years. These are partly arranged to provide a fairly even flow of production when the plague and other inhibitions did not prevent it" (Chambers 1930 I: 269).
In any case, I'll start with Hamlet then, and need only cite Dr. Daniel Wright, "We know from Thomas Nashe's preface to Greene's Menaphon that Hamlet was in performance as early as 1589." Now, you may disagree, but that is not the point - Dr. Wright is a scholar and a reliable source. Here is the link: [[2]]. Smatprt (talk) 19:46, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
More on Hamlet dating: This from Felicia Hardison Londré, the Curators' Professor of Theatre at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, who is also dramaturg for Missouri Repertory Theatre, Heart of America Shakespeare Festival (of which she is Honorary Co-Founder), and Nebraska Shakespeare Festival. She has served as guest dramaturg for The Great Lakes Theater Festival and worked with Actors Theatre of Louisville on its 1987 Classics in Context Festival. In 1989 she presented lectures in Nanjing. Venice, Moscow, and Stockholm. She has given her Shakespeare authorship lecture in Hungary, Japan, China, and at various American universities. To quote Ms Londré, "In relating the action of the tragedy of Hamlet to events in Oxford's life, I am indebted to many sources. I have not myself delved into London's Public Record Office or the archives at the Huntington Library, but instead have drawn freely upon the work of other scholars to offer here what is only a synthesis and a brief overview of a huge subject. Nor do I have time to present the available evidence for such peripheral matters as the dating of the play. Anyone who is interested in pursuing such matters may readily was turn to my major sources: Eva Turner Clark, J. Thomas Looney, and the Ogburns. Thus, I am simply going to posit that on the basis of the topical as a references in Hamlet, Oxfordian scholars are unanimous in pinpointing 1583 as the date of the play's original composition. The fact that the First Quarto did not appear until 1603 is readily explained by the fact that, given its unmistakable lampoon of the queen's Lord High Treasurer William is Cecil, Lord Burghley, the text could not be published during his lifetime (Burghley died in 1598.) However, there is substantial evidence that the play was known in performance by 1589 at the latest [Dorothy and Charlton Ogburn 649-50]." See paragraph 6 at [[3]]. Smatprt (talk) 20:27, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
It's impossible to avoid being reduced to what you call "nastiness" when presented with the level of ignorance presented in this comment, which, of course, is simply copied from an Oxfordian website without any discernable insight into the content that is replicated. No-one disputes that a play on the story of Hamlet was played before 1589. That's universal common knowledge. It's known as the Ur-Hamlet. You really haven't heard of it? And you think that presenting its existence is a challenge to conventional scholarship? O tempora o mores! And somehow it was OK to perform it in from of large metropolitan crowds, but not to publish it???? That's absurd. Paul B (talk) 22:08, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
I'm amazed (but not surprised) that you actually defend being nasty under any circumstances. That is what is truly absurd. Regarding the Ur-Hamlet, you know perfectly well that it is just a theory with absolutly no evidnece that it ever existed. You also know that some mainstream scholars have come out against its very existance, surmising that Shakespeare wrote Hamlet earlier than is generally acknowledged.Smatprt (talk) 02:26, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
I referred to "what you call nastiness". Since you have double standards on the subject, I don't think that what you consider nasty is anything more than a reflection of that fact. The Ur-Hamlet is not "just a theory" and of course the arguments for its existence are built on the existence of good evidence. Paul B (talk) 16:04, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
Re: Dates of authorship: If there is no concrete evidence supplied as to incontrovertable date of authorship (author's diary entries, signed correspondence with publisher, verified manuscripts signed by the author), authorship dates of the works of nonliving authors are speculative. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a speculative work, and speculation — even scholarly and academic speculation — must be listed as such. Softlavender (talk) 23:57, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
The word "most" is a qualifier, and the only qualifier the sentence needs. "Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1590 and 1613" is completely accurate. Carlo (talk) 00:55, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
That is just incorrect. Dating of the plays has been forced into the "accepted" time span of Shakespeare of Stratford (even Chambers acknowledges this). Where is the proof that early versions or first drafts were not written prior to 1590? To say something is "completely accurate" when it's actually an agreed on assumption is simply misstating the facts.Smatprt (talk) 02:26, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
It doesn't say "written," it says "produced," and the vast majority of William Shakespeare's play first appeared on the stage from 1590 to 1613. Carlo (talk) 03:15, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
Good point. However, that would be an entirely different matter. Then the entry is just plain wrong, because Shakespeare didn't "produce" his own works - they were produced by the acting companies and their financiers. Is that what we are trying to say? If so, then the entry should read: "Most of Shakespeare's plays were first produced between 1590 and 1613." Of course, I'm not sure we have the correct data referenced that firmly identifies the "first" performance of the majority of plays, if any. Still - an excellent point. Smatprt (talk) 14:45, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
This entry is not an authorship article and therefore should reflect the scholarly consensus, including the dating of the plays. Calling the accepted dating "speculation" stretches the meaning of the word, unless you consider every reported event as speculation if you didn't see it with your own eyes. The dates are considered scholarly judgments based on the historical record and stylistic characteristics, hardly what I would call unfounded speculations or mere hunches. The sentence should stand in its original form before Smatprt got bored and stirred things up.Tom Reedy (talk) 01:57, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
Then why not SAY that the statement is "scholarly consensus" instead of fact? Is there an author's diary, notes from the publisher, a dated manuscript, etc. as mentioned in the comment above? No, there isn't. It's an assumption based on circular logic. (BTW - I wasn't bored, but responding to comments left on the talk page. Isn't that how things work here?)Smatprt (talk) 02:26, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
Because everything in the article is based on scholarly consensus! Do you believe that every sentence should begin with "Most scholars believe?" If you think so, then every sentence in the authorship article should begin with "Most reputable scholars don't believe . . ." The dating is not based on circular logic nor is it artificially crammed into Shakespeare's lifespan. The evolution of feminine verse endings alone dates the plays to within Shakespeare's lifetime. In addition, the plays show stylistic influences from other contemporary plays, none of which are dated by author's diaries or dated manuscripts. It would be refreshing if the apologists for alternate authors used one-tenth the rigorousness you demand from Shakespeare scholars.Tom Reedy (talk) 21:01, 1 May 2009 (UTC)

This issue is currently under debate at Wikipedia:Reliable_sources/Noticeboard#Shakespeare_Oxford_Society. Paul B (talk) 00:30, 2 May 2009 (UTC)

I have found that respectable scholar that both QP10qp and TomReedy challenged me to find who dates most of the plays as pre-1590. A.S Cairncross (feel free to google him). In The Problem of Hamlet, A Solution Cairncross presented his hypothesis that the standard dating cannot be taken at face value and that most of the plays were written 10-20 years earlier than presumed by most scholars. He also presents a chronology based on his research, providing dates pre-1900 for over half the canon. Cairncross was by no means an authorship doubter, but a respected and oft published Shakespearean scholar who held an MA in Dramatic Lit. With that in mind, I will restore a new version of my previous edit, since the bar that was set for its inclusion has now been met. Simply adding "Most scholars believe" to the beginning of the sentence should do it. And you can no longer say that "no scholar" has ever suggested that most of the plays were written outside the period 1590 and 1613.Smatprt (talk) 01:46, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

Could you quote for us here the passage in which he said that most of the plays were written before 1590? Also the passage in which he said, according to your note, "the plays in the canon should be dated 10-20 years earlier than the standard chronology". I have no access to the book.
It's not a passage - he actually provides a list with possible dating attached. But I will supply that in the morning when I have the book in front of me.Smatprt (talk) 06:20, 21 May 2009 (UTC)
By the way, no one set a bar for the inclusion of the edit you insist on. The bar is set by the policy on undue weight: "Neutrality requires that the article should fairly represent all significant viewpoints that have been published by a reliable source, and should do so in proportion to the prominence of each. Now an important qualification: In general, articles should not give minority views as much or as detailed a description as more popular views, and will generally not include tiny-minority views at all". This is a tiny-minority view, lacking in prominence. See also the policy on exceptional claims: "Exceptional claims in Wikipedia require high-quality sources". A book published in 1936 is not a high-quality source for an exceptional claim.
Please show me the rule that says a book published in 1936 is not a high-quality source. It seems that you are bending the rules on this one. But I am perfectly willing to see this taken to the appropriate Wikipedia administrative process. What would that be?Smatprt (talk) 06:20, 21 May 2009 (UTC)
I am sure you are aware that the inclusion of your edit would undermine much of the article, making it seem that a significant proportion of scholars think Shakespeare's plays were written outside the period 1590—1613. "Most scholars believe" is your Trojan weasel for the purpose, and termites would run out from it. I've removed that phrase, but I've left the note in for the moment. Lets see exactly what Cairncross said, first, in case he was just suggesting that many plays have origins before 1590, which is at least a more plausible thesis. If I read your note correctly ("In The Problem of Hamlet: A Solution, A.S. Cairncross suggested that, as a whole, the plays in the canon should be dated 10-20 years earlier than the standard chronology) he would be suggesting, at the highest margin of 20 years, that an early play dated to about 1590 should be dated to about 1570, when Shakespeare was six years old. I know you don't believe that Shakespeare wrote the plays at all, so this might not bother you, but Cairncross did; are you sure you're representing him correctly?qp10qp (talk) 13:28, 20 May 2009 (UTC)
Certainly. I don't want to misquote Cairncross. Keep in mind the range, not strictly the 20 year outside margin. I believe Cairncross believes that certain plays, dated in the 1608-13 period, were possibly written in 1588-93 period, while others, dated by some scholars in the mid 1590's, could have been written in mid-1580's. But I will quote the passages in the morning, when I have the book in my hands. By the way, Cairncross may have been called names, but I am not aware of any study that actually refuted his claims. But in an article that quotes Chambers, for example, at length, as well as other 70+ year old scholars, I find the argument that a contemporary of theirs would not be deemed reliable. I also think that your Trojan weasel analogy is a bit extreme. Undermine much of the article? You give me far too much credit and I'm surprised that you would go to such extremes.Smatprt (talk) 06:20, 21 May 2009 (UTC)
It does undermine much of the article to imply that a significant number of scholars do not agree that most of the known plays were written between 1590 and 1603. "Most" is a weasely word in this context because it implies the existence of a significant minority. Wherever I was responsible for citing old scholarship in the article, it was in a sense as an informational courtesy, to acknowledge the contribution that the likes of Chambers, Boas, Dowden, Bradley, Pollard, etc. made to the evolution of certain key tenets of Shakespeare scholarship. But where old scholarship is out of step with subsequent scholarly consensus, it does not meet the requirement of exceptional sources for exceptional claims. qp10qp (talk) 13:33, 21 May 2009 (UTC)
Predictably, Smatprt is simply copying this from Oxfordian literature, which typically seeks out obscure, marginal and obsolete theories to bolster claims that "mainstream" scholars accept earlier dates (see the bizarre footnote in the current article on The Tempest relying on interpreting an 18th century writer). The Ogburns drag out this one. Cairncross's views were considered wholly marginal even at the time. The Shakespeare Survey described his argument as "fantasy" in 1948. Of course a great deal of research has been conducted since then. We don't need to distort this article by twisting the reality of scholarly consensus in this way. Paul B (talk) 14:57, 20 May 2009 (UTC)
Wrong again, PAUL. I'm not copying anything. I own a copy of the Cairncross book. But continue to make unfounded accusations. It just makes you look angry and meanspirited. Congrats.Smatprt (talk) 06:20, 21 May 2009 (UTC)
So Smatprt found a 70-year-old reference from a Shakespearean who floated a theory that was universally rejected by the scholarly consensus. No big surprise there. As Paul points out, the authorship people seem to think that any opinion from a scholar who believes the traditional attribution is as good as any other, and they rely on extreme and marginalized opinions in an attempt to give their crackpot theories a gloss of respectability. It only serves to illustrate that they don't truly understand what is meant by scholarly standards and supports the idea that one of the reasons for alternative authorship theories is some type of impaired cognitive abilities. Tom Reedy (talk) 15:35, 20 May 2009 (UTC)
Wrong again - I was simply supplying what was asked for. QP10qp stated that "not one" scholar ever suggested such a thing and challenged me to supply one before he would enter into a play by play assessment. I did as requested. Then, TOM. you blatantly said that if I could not, then I should be reverted. Well, I did, and now you go back on your words. No surprise, but I thought you guys were trying to maintain the high ground. But go on calling names and assessing "cognitive abilities" - it just makes you look petty.Smatprt (talk) 06:27, 21 May 2009 (UTC)
Also - you guys are making much of the fact that Cairncross is just one opinion, and that 1936 is somehow too old to count. Please consider then that in regards to the dating of Hamlet, which was the primary catalyst behind Cairncross' work - Peter Alexander (1964), Eric Sams (according to Jackson 1991, 267) and, more recently, Harold Bloom (2001, xiii and 383; 2003, 154) agreed with his assessment.(taken from the note section in the Hamlet article, which I did not write or source, by the way). I believe this addresses the issues you have raised regarding "a" singular scholar and the "old book" I cited.Smatprt (talk) 06:52, 21 May 2009 (UTC)
To remind you:
  • Qp10qp: "no scholar suggests that most of the plays were written outside the period 1590 and 1613" and "However, I would do it over a number of days if you can come up with a statement that most of Shakespeare's plays were not written between 1590 and 1613."
  • Tom: "If he doesn't come up with any (and I don't think he can) we should revert the edit. "
I provided the statement. Qp10qp - Are you going to live up to your words? In any case, I restored my edit, but clarified it so as not to "undermine" the article, which is not my intent. Smatprt (talk) 06:52, 21 May 2009 (UTC)
As you know, I was not saying that I would do or accept the edit, which, by quoting my words out of context, you are implying that I did. What I wrote was: "I hope you are not going to require me to go through all the plays one by one quoting the scholarship on their dating, because I really haven't got time. However, I would do it over a number of days if you can come up with a statement that most of Shakespeare's plays were not written between 1590 and 1613". Which you still have not done (it sounds to me as if you may be reading too much certainty and precision into Cairncross's less than clear-cut suggestions. But first lets see the quotations from Cairncross by which you justify your edit. If Cairncross was a good scholar—and at the moment I'm assuming that he was—he would not have been so crass as to say something like: "Most of Shakespeare's known plays were written before 1590" or "as a whole, the plays in the canon should be dated 10-20 years earlier than the standard chronology". Caution is the hallmark of the scholar; wild speculation that of the amateur. I would expect Cairncross to have presented a broad hypothesis, hemmed with the necessary ifs and buts). qp10qp (talk) 13:33, 21 May 2009 (UTC)

I do acknowledge what you have said above, so let me be more clear: When I asked if you were going to live up to your words, I was asking if you were going to go thru the plays one by one, which is the way I left our original exchange when I proposed that we start with Hamlet, Cairncross' book being in the back of my mind somewhere.(It was Tom who referred to the edit being reverted IF i didn't come up with the proper reference (which I believe I have, long as it may be). Sorry if you felt I was lumping the two of you together. I also realize that you don't expect a crass clear cut statement, for the very reasons you expound - any good scholar would use caution. And you are absolutely right - Cairncross presented a broad thesis, with the requisite ifs and buts. Like all good scholars, he called his chronology "a tentative scheme" - good scholarly hedging, if I do say so. In any case, on pages 182-184 of his thesis, in the chapter called Shakespearian Chronology, Cairncross posts his own list, some with dates, some bulked in groups, and also goes into detail on many of the plays through-out the book. So it's a mighty long "statement" (205 pages, to be precise), but reading your note above, it looks like that was what you were expecting, and not some crass unscholarly pronouncement. So I think we are on the same page as to what you were looking for.

I will quote various passages, and the list itself:

  • page xv-xvi: " This examination of the First Quarto of Hamlet, however, has carried itself, as it happens, to a point at which these accepted interpretation no longer seem to fit the facts, and a threat is offered to the whole structure of Shakespearian chronology. For it has led to the conclusion that Hamlet, as we have it was written by Shakespeare for the Queen's Men at the end of 1588 or the beginning of 1589."
  • pages xvii: "Pericles is at present dated 1608-1609. Yet in Hamlet Q1 (1603) there occur unmistakable fragments from Pericles, which as thus clearly written before 1603. Further, if the present argument is well founded in assigning the Quarto to 1593, Pericles must be put back ten years earlier still. And there is yet an additional possibility that, if there is any truth in Dryden's reference to Pericles as Shakespeare's first play, it must be relegated to the eighties, to the years 1585-88!"
  • Page 157: "It now seems certain, however, that the relation of the two plays has been inverted; that in reality Lear was written first - that is, some time earlier than 1594 - and that Leir represents an attempt to reproduce its main plot."
  • Page 173: "With Hamlet, Othello and King Lear assigned to the years 1589-91, conjecture suggests that the fourth of the great tragedies, Macbeth, may also find its natural place among them, and that the revolution effected by re-dating may not after all be so radical as it seems - that this group may remain intact and in approximately the same order as has already been determined."
  • Page 173 (A Note on Macbeth): "Nothing in the internal allusions proves, on examination, to be inconsistent with a date about 1588-90"
  • Page 181: "Of the plays indebted to Ariosto that can be dated before 1593 there are at least Othello and The Taming of the Shrew, while the date of Much Ado about Nothing is uncertain. From other Italian sources, and also not later than 1593, we have Twelfth Night, The Merry Wives, and perhaps All's Well. Is it not possible that - with the exception of th Twelfth Night which has been fixed in 1593 - one at least of these plays may have been written before 1589, and be included in the range of Nashe's satire?"
  • Page 182: "I have some ground, however, for excepting Julius Caesar, which was probably written shortly before Hamlet, ie in 1588 or very early in 1589."
  • page 182 (list): "pre-1589 - Comedy of Errors, Titus Andronicus, Julius Caesar"
  • page 182 (list, between Julius Caesar and Hamlet): "King John, Richard II, 1 & 2 Henry IV, Henry V, 1,2,and 3 Henry VI, Richard III.
  • page 183 (list pre-1589-1593): The Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet (1591?), The Merchant of venice, Twelfth Night (January 6, 1593)
  • page 183-84: "Thence, with the rise of national feeling against Spain and pride in the achievements and history of England, together with the convenient appearance of the second edition of Holinshed in 1587, Shakespeare passed naturally to the chronicle plan and probably wrote the whole seres from Richard II to 3 Henry VI with very little delay. Withe the success of Kyd's Spanish Tragedy - also topical - and the vogue of the Senecan revenge-play, he wrote Hamlet, and followed with other tragedies at intervals till about 1591. In these intervals, having exhausted Holinshed, he proceeded to Italian sources. By 1592, if not earlier, his rising popularity, as witness Greene's attack (which implies, moreover, his many-sided powers), caused him to be called on for plays for special occasions. He thus produced - still from Italian sources - Twelfth Night. After 1595, using North as a source-book, he seems to have gone on the the Roman plays."
  • Page 184: "a new chronology of Shakespeare's work requires to be constructed"

I realize that this is a long list, but I wanted to show you the extent of Cairncross scholarship, some of his reasoning and methods, (and prove to TOM that I wasn't just copying some Oxfordian website and was actually looking at the source in question!). In any event, I think you would find the book fascinating. Cheers. Smatprt (talk) 16:41, 21 May 2009 (UTC)

Thanks for taking all that trouble. The results are rather what I expected, however, and confirm that this material cannot be taken as a challenge to the statement that most of Shakespeare's plays were written between 1590 and 1613 or as justifying your note: "as a whole, the plays in the canon should be dated 10-20 years earlier than the standard chronology". (Would this include, for example, Henry VIII, whose first performance is documented?)
Sure, Cairncross seeks to provide earlier dates than usually accepted, but he is not using the year 1590 as a cut-off point. As you show above, he is dating some plays to "1589–91", to "earlier than 1594", "a date about 1588–90", "dated before 1593", "not later than 1593", "fixed in 1593", "list pre-1589-1593", "followed with other tragedies at intervals till about 1591", "By 1592, if not earlier", "after 1595".
Cairncross is not suggesting that most of the plays were written before 1590, and so he cannot be used to provide a scholarly challenge to the sentence "Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1590 and 1613" (I have therefore restored this over your latest version "A wide majority of scholars believe Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1590 and 1613"). The sentence in the article was written in full awareness of scholarship that tentatively dates some of the plays earlier than 1590. The inclusion of that flexible word "most" allows adequately for that scholarship. I would not be averse to backdating the earlier date to 1589, to make the cut-off point more generous–in fact, some standard datings for a few of the early plays do use 1589 as the first date in a range, and so that would not be a problem. qp10qp (talk) 17:39, 21 May 2009 (UTC)

Again - sorry for the long post, but I was answering both questions at once: First, that most, if not all of the canon, should be dated 10-20 years earlier than many standard chronologies have them (thus the 1593, 94 & 95 references to plays that are often dated 10 years later; and the reference to Pericles, that is often dated 20 years later. So I think I have been clear on that issue. Regarding the 2nd issue (most of the canon pre-1590) it appears we are right on the edge of "most". Taking a final look at the book, as quoted above, Cairncross has set the following dates:

  • 1585-88: Pericles, Comedy of Errors, Titus Andronicus, Julius Caesar
  • 1587-1589: King John, Richard II, H4-1, H4-2, H5, H6-1, H6-2, H6-3, R3
  • pre-1589: at least one of the satires (Shrew, Wives or All’s Well), possibly more.
  • 1589: Hamlet
  • 1588-90: Macbeth
  • 1588-91: Othello, Lear.

Depending on Cairncross' tragic period, which straddles the 1590 date in question, and depending on how many of the satires were pre-1589, he is saying that it's probable that at least 16, and possible that as many as 20 plays could have been pre-1590. So as I said, it appears we are on the edge of that "most" designation that is at issue. Have I summed that up correctly?

By the way - I certainly don't expect to go into a play by play discussion, though I would participate if needed. I just wanted to get this issue out and discussed without a lot of name calling and personal attacks. Thanks, to you, for doing that. I have no desire to undermine this article, but I do think dissenting opinions should be mentioned to keep all things neutral, and that our readers understand the difference between what is "scholarly consensus" and what is fact, which at present, the article does not make clear. Cheers! Smatprt (talk) 19:53, 21 May 2009 (UTC)

We must be doing our sums differently. I make that fifteen plays—well under half. Your words above, "most, if not all of the canon, should be dated 10-20 years earlier than many standard chronologies have them" is rather different from the note you placed in the article, "as a whole, the plays in the canon should be dated 10-20 years earlier than the standard chronology". What I'm driving at is that unless you have a rock-solid assertion by Cairncross that he did not believe that most of Shakespeare plays were written between 1590 and 1613, then he can't be cited to challenge or modify that assertion in the article. Anyway, what I've done, as I proposed above, is to change the lower date in the range from 1590 to 1589, which will make the sentence even more resistant to any charge that the range begins too late. As I said earlier, this is not arbitrary, since 1589 is sometimes given as an early possible date for a few of the plays. qp10qp (talk) 20:30, 21 May 2009 (UTC)
Just recounted - I get minimum 16, maximum 20. But since it's kind of open to interpretation, and since you are changing the line to 1589, it certainly brings that number down, whatever it is! I would suggest 1587 or 1588 since those dates are often mentioned regarding the early histories. However, the sections of the article that should be qualified based on Cairncross, would be the various stages he went thru. Cairncross dissents from where the tragic period is placed, for example. And many other scholars dissent on individual plays, such as Pericles, Lear, Winter's Tale and even Tempest. Some softening of the language in that sections should really be addressed.Smatprt (talk) 21:40, 21 May 2009 (UTC)
This is what I meant by Trojan. You would—because you believe that Shakespeare scholarship is a conspiracy and a fabrication—want to have "most scholars believe", etc. peppered throughout the article, in order to soften it. qp10qp (talk) 22:23, 21 May 2009 (UTC)
Actually, I do not believe that Shakespeare scholarship is a conspiracy or a fabrication. Is that why everyone gets so emotional? I do believe that the scholarship, both mainstream and dissenting, is in earnest. I also believe that scholarship, on both sides, is often sloppy - like the endless statements about Shakespeare's birthday, to use a fairly harmless example. It's not fabrication, its just an honest mistake, or its simply repeating by rote what other scholars have said, without checking facts. Certainly both sides of the argument have made presumptions. I do believe there was a conspiracy to hide the true author, not among scholars - but among the Elizabethan establishment. Even Queen Elizabeth believed in such conspiracies, as witnessed in the case of John Hayward and his The First Part of the Life and Raigne of King Henry IV of England . The Queen hated the work and had Hayward interrogated. According to the official records, the Queen "argued that Hayward was pretending to be the author in order to shield 'some more mischievous' person, and that he should be racked so that he might disclose the truth". Such a conspiracy apparently wasn't outlandish to her. Of course, being the target of many conspiracies, I imagine she knew whereof she spoke! In any case, it's simply misleading to present the groupings of plays so neat and tidy without acknowledging that there is great debate among mainstream scholars on their dating (Pericles being a prime example - early work or height of his maturity?). I guess I'm just surprised that you don't see that. Smatprt (talk) 01:13, 22 May 2009 (UTC)

I'm sorry - I forgot to answer your question about H8. First, we should clarify that we know it's first recorded performance, which is different than it's first performance, or when it was first written. And In spite of the fact that a witness to the fire said it ""had been acted not passing 2 or 3 times before"), most leading 18th and 19th century scholars, including Samuel Johnson, Lewis Theobald, George Steevens, Edmund Malone and James Halliwell-Philips, dated the play's composition to before 1603, claiming that the pro-Tudor nature of the play makes it highly unlikely it would appear during the reign of King James, whose mother was beheaded by the Tudors. I believe some scholars have postulated that the play might have been advertised as "new" as a promotional gimmick, but I would have to look that up. My take has been more along the lines that since it was also written by Fletcher, scholars have debated Fletchers involvement, some leaning toward collaboration, some toward revision. So it's a muddle that does not present a clear picture in regards to the dating of Shakespeare's writing. When did he stop, when did Fletcher take over? How do we know that? Smatprt (talk) 20:12, 21 May 2009 (UTC)

Don't forget that with Henry VIII, we don't have only Bluett's comment that it had only been acted two or three times before but also Wotton's "The King's players had a new play, called All is True ...". Whether the 18th– and 19th-century critics you mention were aware of this corroboration, I don't know. I wouldn't underestimate the smartness of the theatregoers of that time: they would definitely have noticed if they had seen a play before. The authorship issue is separate here, since you cited Cairncross's views on dating "the plays in the canon", and Henry VIII is in the canon. qp10qp (talk) 20:51, 21 May 2009 (UTC)
Cairncross didn't go into H8, and I din't put in on the list, so I am not sure what your question is. But I'm also not sure about underestimating London theatre-goers. Afterall, Samuel Pepys also referred to Henry VIII as being "new" in 1663, when the play was over 50 years old! It's hard to accept one and ignore the other. Afterall, Pepys has always been a pretty good resource. But again - a new play, that is also a collaboration, makes dating Shakespeare's section darn near impossible. Why the dual writers, though? Unless "Shake-speare" died and Fletcher had to finish off the work, of course... Ok - shoot me now, I heard the trigger being pulled back :) Smatprt (talk) 21:40, 21 May 2009 (UTC)
Well, the list is on the talk page. Your note which says that Cairncross backdates all the plays is in the article. That would include Henry VIII, which is why I brought up that question. The issue here is not so much whether Cairncross is right as whether he verifies what you think he verifies. qp10qp (talk) 22:33, 21 May 2009 (UTC)
Ok - I understand your point of view and I have changed the note to clarify Cairncross' beliefs. But in his concluding note, he does address the canon with this statement: "Many conclusions and conjectures are possible here, but not yet profitable. It will be enough if, of those that have been put forward, there remains established the thesis that Hamlet, as we have it, was written by William Shakespeare not later than August 1589; and that a new chronology of Shakespeare's work requires to be constructed, of which the tentative and rather slender foundations have been laid." He is careful and self-deprecating, while at the same time making his feelings pretty clear in calling for a new chronology. He does backdate most of the plays, and infers that his reasoning could effect them all. And being a good scholar, he leaves room and encourages further study on the issue. Smatprt (talk) 01:28, 22 May 2009 (UTC)

Above you say "I wanted to show you the extent of Cairncross scholarship, some of his reasoning and methods," yet you only quote his conclusions or flat statements (and I'm not sure anybody who thinks R2 preceded 3H6 can be trusted).Tom Reedy (talk) 15:34, 22 May 2009 (UTC)

Gee TOM, I didn't think you trusted anyone who didn't think like you, period! But rest assured, as Cairncross didn't presume to specifically order the plays - he merely grouped them. More to your point, throughout the book, Cairncross makes clear that H63, was one of the earliest histories. Actually, I quoted what I said I did - but you are a resourceful guy: just read the book for yourself.Smatprt (talk) 02:53, 23 May 2009 (UTC)
I've read the book, Stephen, which is why I want you to produce some of his reasoning and methods and parallels so you can explain to us why they are valid. And IIRC, he states that the history plays were written in chronological order--from R2 though R3. above you say, "being a good scholar, he leaves room and encourages further study on the issue," If so, have you ever wondered why nobody has picked up the standard in the past 70 years? There might be a good reason. Tom Reedy (talk) 04:44, 23 May 2009 (UTC)
If you've read it, then why on earth would I need to explain it to you? As Qp10qp has already pointed out, it doesn't matter if his theory is valid or not.
Regarding your "he states that the history plays were written in chronological order" - well, you are simply wrong. He never states the order he believes they were written in, nor does he ever use the word "chronological". He says Shakespeare "wrote the whole series from R2 to H3-6", and that is quite different. Moreover, throughout the book he repeatedly references "Titus Andronicus, The Taming of the Shrew, the three parts of Henry VI, and perhaps Richard III" (page 89) as earliest works, as well as Merry Wives, Henry V, King John, Twelfth Night, Othello, and Pericles as "written before 1593" (page 129). But no mention of R2 except to group it with the other histories on the list on page 182 that has no specific dates or order.
To your last point, you are wrong again - his primary thesis (Hamlet being written in 1588-89 (page ix) and being the Hamlet referred to in 1589) along with his secondary thesis ("the relation of The Troublesome Raigne of King John to King John, of Leir to Lear, and of The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth to Henry IV and Henry V"), where he makes the case that most scholars have this relationship inverted, with the anonymous works being pirates of Shakespeare and not the other way around - you know perfectly well that other mainstream scholars have, indeed, "picked up the standard", some going so far as to pronounce the anonymous versions as merely early drafts of the plays we know today (including A Shrew/The Shrew) - just as Cairncross proposed regarding Hamlet. So are you being willfully ignorant, or are you just gaming? In any case, my response is that you are simply wrong.Smatprt (talk) 22:04, 23 May 2009 (UTC)
If you read above, I qualified my statement with "IIRC." I haven't checked because I'm busy with another project at the moment, but apparently I did not recall correctly, and I've got no problem with that. As to your second rebuttal, no knowledgeable scholar I'm familiar with accepts Cairncross's idea that 16-20 plays predate 1590, or that Othello and Lear date from 1588-91, or that Macbeth dates from 1588-90. If you examine the reasoning of those who think that--say, for example--A Shrew and The Shrew were both written by Shakespeare, you'll invariably find that they don't know as much about EM theatre or Shakespeare as they think they do.Tom Reedy (talk) 22:17, 30 May 2009 (UTC)
Well I know you have heard of Taylor and Wells! I suggest you re-read "William Shakespeare, a Textual Companion", 1988. See page 169 for this quote by those "knowledgeable scholars": "A Shrew may be a source for The Shrew, or Shakespeare's own early play...or a bad quarto of The Shrew"!! (my bold). I'm kind of amazed that you missed that. So are you saying that Wells and Taylor "don't know as much about EM theatre or Shakespeare as they think they do"? On this we may agree, although for completely different reasons!Smatprt (talk) 01:00, 31 May 2009 (UTC)
Neither Taylor nor Wells thinks that "A Shrew" is by Shakespeare. That you think they do based on the statement you quoted illustrates your thinking habits and goes a long way to explaining why you're an Oxfordian.Tom Reedy (talk) 08:44, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
They may not think that A Shrew IS by Shakespeare, but they plainly acknowledge that it MAY BE by Shakespeare. Just as they acknowledge the possibility that A Shrew MAY BE a bad quarto of The Shrew - meaning, of course, that The Shrew predated A Shrew, and that The Shrew was written far earlier than most scholars believe. Of course, if you know another definition for MAY BE, please enlighten us! (And don't forget about Eric Sams, who believed A Shrew was Shakespeare's early version of The Shrew, and endorsed Cairncross' theory of the early Hamlet being by Shakespeare himself, a theory also endorsed by Peter Alexander and, more recently, Harold Bloom. So much for the belief that "nobody has picked up the standard" of Cairncross' work!). Smatprt (talk) 15:49, 5 June 2009 (UTC)
Reviewing the evolution of your arguments above is an exercise in Oxfordian thinking. You're like a heavy frog trying to find a lily pad sturdy enough to hold him, but every time he jumps on one it starts to sink so he hops on to another one in the hope that it will prove sturdy enough, but again it begins to sink, so he has to hop to yet another one. It's a characteristic of the sect apologists that has been remarked upon by Dave Kathman and Irv Matus. You say "mainstream scholars" have "picked up the standard" of Cairncross's dating. I say no knowledgable scholar I know of thinks that A Shrew is by Shakespeare, you say what about Taylor and Wells, who say it "may be" a source used by Shakespeare or written by him; I point out that neither of them believe so, and now apparently you're trying to make the case that "may be" is the equivalent of belief, and throw in Eric Sams, whose opinion is probably not even as good as Cairncross in most people's eyes. I don't know much about Alexander, but I must have missed the part where Bloom claims to be a Shakespeare and EM theatre specialist.Tom Reedy (talk) 22:06, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
That's all right, Tom. I think you miss a lot of things - like the fact that Bloom is referenced as a Shakespeare scholar in this very article, or that the Oxford Journal called Alexander "one of the great Shakespearean scholars of our age"! Where you been, man? And I never realized that if someone says "may be" that they really mean "definitely not". It makes me wonder what kind of dictionary you are relying on. You still don't explain why Taylor and Wells wrote the passage quoted, but instead resort to attacking the messenger, attacking the researchers, instead of addressing the argument at hand. Typical Stratfordian tactics. And not surprising given your history on these pages. But I am surprised by your lack of knowledge about someone as prolific as Alexander. Smatprt (talk) 05:16, 10 June 2009 (UTC)

You're right, Stephen, this isn't about the scholars, and I, not being a person who lives and breathes Shakespeare 24 hours a day the way you do, and not having an intimate knowledge of every Shakespeare scholar who ever lived, really have no right to an opinion on any scholar's ideas, no matter how off base they might be. This is not about them; it's about the scholars who have picked up the standard of Cairncross's theory that 16-20 of Shakespeare's plays predates 1590. So far you've given us a few names of people who have allowed the possibility that A Shrew might be later than The Shrew, although you haven't given us the names of the many more who believe that is not so or their reasons; and you've given us a few names of people who think the earlier Hamlet might be Shakespeare instead of Kidd, although you haven't given us the names of the many more who think that is not so or their reasons. More importantly, you have yet to give us the name of anyone who agrees with Cairncross's theory as described above. That's the big lily pad that won't hold an ounce of weight, so I can't blame you for not hopping on that one. And P.S. I started rereading Carincross just because of this argument we're having and since it's been more than 10 years that I read the book. He's interesting and I think a discussion of his ideas would be interesting, so I'll probably start one soon now that I've gotten a few big projects out of the way. Trouble is he's so outdated. For instance, I'd like to know what he would make of this: Tom Reedy (talk) 05:37, 15 June 2009 (UTC)

Thanks Tom, but I don't live and breathe Shakespeare - I live and breathe Theatre! But to the matter at hand, I find it interesting how you redefine the argument whenever it suits you. Cairncross' main hypothesis is about Hamlet, and his secondary one concerns the relationship between similar sorts of multiple versions (Troublesome Raine/King John, The Shrew/A Shrew, Leir/Lear, etc.). Of course with the book in your hands, you know this. You now want to make his primary theory about predating of 1/2 the canon, but you know perfectly well that is not the case. I will admit that perhaps I put too much emphasis on the canon dating in earlier posts (due to the edit under discussion), but now that you are rereading his work, you know full well what his hypothesis was, so you might do the man justice by sticking to his primary theory. In any case, you stated that "nobody has picked up the standard". I have refuted your use of "nobody", and could easily cite numerous Oxfordians who have picked up the standard. Then you changed your stance to "no knowledgable scholar I know of" (quite different than "nobody") and when I mention Alexander, you say "I don't know much about Alexander". Fair enough - I will take you at your word, although by now, I imagine you are a little better acquainted with him. But I refuted your use of "nobody" just as I refuted earlier statements that "not one scholar" ever suggested earlier dates, etc. But let me be clear - I do not believe in any way that a majority of scholars believe such things. That was not what I was responding to. It's when you guys say "Nobody", "not one scholar" etc. that I take exception. Such grand sweeping statements of certainty are simply incorrect. As was earlier noted "Caution is the hallmark of the scholar". Maybe there's a good lesson there for all of us. Thanks.Smatprt (talk) 17:55, 17 June 2009 (UTC)

Wow. This chronology really stretches belief. The idea that Macbeth was written 1588-90 seems ludicrous to me, since it was written to please King James (who ascended to the throne in 1603). It portrays his legendary ancestor Banquo very positively and the play even has one of Banquo's "descendants" hold up a mirror to catch the reflection of King James for a court performance. Likewise, many scholars have noticed that the sudden pardon at the end of Measure for Measure is based on a stunt pulled by King James.... I could go on and on, but the writer discussed above represents a minority so tiny that it hardly counts as a minority. So much good work has been done recently on which plays made up an individual season, e.g., 1599 (see Shapiro). Sorry, but the view discussed above does not need to be propagated here. Niceedgarst (talk) 08:10, 17 June 2009 (UTC)niceedgarst

To anticipate a possible objection to the point about King James, I think I'm right in saying it couldn't have been to please the future king, because he wasn't expected to succeed to the throne until the Queen decided on her deathbed to name him as heir. Peter jackson (talk) 11:06, 17 June 2009 (UTC)
Sorry, but I never bought that theory - please a king by writing a play about the murder of a King? (Other scholars have commented on that, btw.) Besides, Macbeth was revised by Middleton and possibly others, so positing a guess on when Shakespeare might have created his first draft is a little more complicated. Smatprt (talk) 14:45, 17 June 2009 (UTC)
I posted this at the Goggle Group Forest of Arden: I've been having an argument with Stephen Moorer at the Wikipedia William Shakespeare article discussion page. He cites Andrew Cairncross as a Stratfordian who believes in a much earlier date for Hamlet and about half the other plays of the canon. I read the book quite a while back but don't remember much of it, so I picked it up again. I told Smaprt that I'd start a discussion about it, but the further in the book I get the more ridiculous his (Cairncross's) arguments become, so I'm not going to.Tom Reedy (talk) 14:42, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
If Cairncross is adjudged "ridiculous", have we now arrived at a position where we may remove his footnote (footnote [d] at the time of posting) from the lede section? We have: "Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1589 and 1613" but the index mark leads not to a confirmatory reference, as might be expected, but to a discredited writer who says something different. It's incongruous and it diminishes the article. --Old Moonraker (talk) 16:32, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
Because Tom judges Cairncross "ridiculous", that does not make it so. And I no of no mass of scholarship that has discredited Cairncross personally as a writer or scholar. The note section is full of dissenting opinions on play dates, collaboraters, etc. Just look at notes e thru l for examples. So I think saying the note "diminishes the article" is overkill. Besides, with Hamlet, for example, Cairncross has received support from Alexander and Bloom, among others. As qp10qp noted earlier - "The issue here is not so much whether Cairncross is right as whether he verifies what you think he verifies." As is the case with some of the other notes, we should probably add "most scholars disagree with this assessment", or some such. We should also add some confirmatory reference as Moonraker suggests. Thanks. Smatprt (talk) 18:07, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
Yep: that's a fix. Thanks User:Smatprt. --Old Moonraker (talk) 20:14, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
I find such laborious footnotes gauche. qp10qp (talk) 22:51, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
Maybe so, but this one is not near so laborious as the (new) footnote a. Yikes! Smatprt (talk) 23:10, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
I've been wanting to cut footnote a. See thread "Influence/Influenced infoboxcruft" below. qp10qp (talk) 14:54, 20 June 2009 (UTC)

What you are essentially doing by allowing this footnote is legitimizing a similar footnote for every detail of the article that contradicts authorship theorists. As for scholars who have discredited Cairncross, see Wolfgang Keller's Bucherschau in Shakespeare-Jahrbuch v. 74, 1938, and Irv Matus's Shakespeare, in Fact, 146-151. Most critics have ignored him, but a simple Google search reveals that he is championed by Oxfordians and other antiStratfordians. As for his ideas being supported by Alexander and Bloom, we have seen no cites on that, and even if they support an earlier date for Hamlet, it does not mean they support Cairncross.Tom Reedy (talk) 05:27, 20 June 2009 (UTC)

Well, that's kind of silly, TOM. One footnote legitimizes nothing, since every addition stands alone in this forum. The fact that any particular scholar is supported by Oxfordians is also a non-starter. So what?? In response to the lack of cites for Bloom and Alexander, that is a good point, so I have supplied the reference. But a double standard is just silly. Vickers believes this and Bates (singularly) disagrees but they both end up in a note. Brooks believes something, but it is discounted by other scholars - that ends up in a note with no discussion or controversy. But because this particular note concerns an orthodox scholar who happens to receives agreement from anti-stratfordians, it should be censored? Please. Now it's your agenda that is clouding the issue, not mine. Smatprt (talk) 07:36, 20 June 2009 (UTC)
It's apparent to me that you haven't even read Alexander to know whether he agrees with Cairncross or has his own reasons to think that Shakespeare wrote the ur-Hamlet. Bloom's reason for believing in an earlier Shakespearean Hamlet is not based on any type of scholarship beyond his opinion, and Bloom is not a textual or early modern scholar or historical scholar; he is a literary critic, as I have already pointed out. And once again, this is not about the dating of Hamlet; this is about the statement that most of Shakespeare's works were written between 1590 and 1613. That you found one outdated scholar who doesn't believe that and two others who agree with him on one point is hardly enough weight to justify inclusion in this article, which is, after all, supposed to reflect the scholarly consensus.Tom Reedy (talk) 16:01, 20 June 2009 (UTC)
Actually the majority of these notes do not reflect scholarly consensus, but exceptions - which is why they appear as notes and not in the main text. You made a valid point that the Bloom/Alexander ref wasn't cited and I quickly went to my Bloom for a cite that covered both instead of heading back to the library again for the Alexander cite - hardly needed since Bloom covers both (regardless of what is "apparent" to you - mistaken again). As to the note itself, after its first inclusion, it has evolved based on input from both qp10qp and Old Moonraker. BTW - you know perfectly well that more than "two others" agree with Cairncross on the Hamlet point. On this page alone twice that number are referenced. This does not include the many scholars and researchers who happen to be Oxfordians. Now you may not consider them "scholars you know or respect", but I am not aware that Wikipedia actually has a category called "Scholars that Tom Reedy knows or respects"! Smatprt (talk) 19:00, 20 June 2009 (UTC)
This article is not bound to note every exception that has been brought up to every point; otherwise it would take its own server. And I doubt you went to "your Bloom;" you went to the ur-Hamlet article; and you probably didn't go to the library because you've never read Alexander. (I found out, BTW, that I have read Alexander's book on Shakespeare's punctuation a couple of years ago, so although I didn't recognize the name I have some familiarity with his work.) The overwhelming scholarly consensus is that Q1 Hamlet is memorial reconstruction of a cut version of F, and that the dialog is so inferior that Shakespeare had nothing to do with it, much less that it was an earlier version by him. See The Hamlet First Published, Thomas Clayton, ed., London, 1992. Ian Felce in the latest Shakespeare Survey has laid out more evidence for it being a reflection of an earlier version not written by Shakespeare. Going back to the original inciting edit you made that began this entire barrage of posts, the main point here is the chronology of the plays. You keep going back to Hamlet, but your original justification for your edit ("Most scholars think," IIRC) was Cairncross and his theoretical chronology, which he himself said was tentative, but which you want to have everyone think is a thought-out, well-defended piece of scholarship that other scholars have taken up because some of them believe Hamlet is earlier than the generally-accepted date. So once again, you have failed to give any substantial reason for the inclusion of the note. Instead of going back-and-forth deleting and reversing edits, I'd like to hear from other regular editors (not the antiStrat militia called in for support) and hear what they have to say about the evidence and citations that have been discussed.Tom Reedy (talk) 19:32, 20 June 2009 (UTC)
Well, Tom, since now you are simply calling me a liar - why don't you just pick a page number from Bloom, and I'll tell you what's on it? AntiStrat militia? As opposed to the Strat militia? Give me a break. In other words, you want to hear only from those who agree with you. How about this - if you really want impartiality, why not post this for a RFC or go to another Wiki body that weighs in on such matters? Are you afraid to do that? Hmmmm?Smatprt (talk) 20:54, 20 June 2009 (UTC)
Bloom - page xiii: "My largest departure from most traditional Shakespeare scholarship is that I follow Peter Alexander's Introduction to Shakespeare (1964) in assigning the early Hamlet (written anytime from 1589 to 1593) to Shakespeare himself, and not to Thomas Kyd" and page 383: "I think, though, that Peter Alexander was correct in his surmise that Shakespeare himself wrote the Ur-Hamlet, no later than 1589, when he was first starting as a dramatist." Smatprt (talk) 20:54, 20 June 2009 (UTC)
Oh hooray; you've got the book. Bloom gives no reasons, does he, other than his own inclination? That's because he's a literary critic, not a researcher. And he follows Alexander's "surmise," doesn't he? (Although Alexander gives his reasons, unlike Bloom.) And he says not a word about Cairncross, does he? And neither does Alexander.Tom Reedy (talk) 21:09, 20 June 2009 (UTC)
Let's put it this way, Mr. Hmmmmer: I don't trust your "scholarship." Not only are you a sloppy thinker, which has been proved by this exchange, but you overstate what citations you do manage to find. For example, you have yet to explain how Alexander and Bloom's beliefs that Hamlet is earlier supports your main point that started this entire ruckus: that other scholars agree with Cairncross's tentative play chronology. You simply don't seem to understand the difference here. Maybe you've spent too much time living theatre, as you say, and not enough time learning how to think critically; I don't know. All I know is that you haven't cleared even the lowest bar required for a FA article. As to the people I want to hear from, that would be the regular editors who shaped this article and who keep an eye on it to ensure that it continues to meet FA standards, not a bunch of antiStrat kamikaze editors. Giving you a footnote here and there as a sop to your authorship feelings because of your wearisome nagging inevitably leads to a softening of those standards and opens the door to turning a good article into a politically-correct scoreboard. My "agenda," as you put it above, is to make sure that doesn't happen. You've got an entire authorship article to play with; how about if I went over there and start insisting on strict scholarly standards? I doubt if you or anybody else over there would appreciate it, and I don't appreciate you trying to graft authorship standards over here on an article that has met FA standards.Tom Reedy (talk) 21:03, 20 June 2009 (UTC)
Sorry Tom, if you're looking for a hmmmmer, you'll have to look elsewhere! But go ahead, keep attacking, keep trying to make it personal. Whatever works for you. And keep misrepresenting Cairncross, as well as this discussion. Y'all challenged me to fine "one" scholar in regards to the chronology and I did. End of challenge. Once the discussion led to Cairncross himself, you say no one agrees with what he proposed, he's discredited, etc. so I supply other scholars, critics, academics that do happen to agree with his various points. Sure, they may have their own reasons for their beliefs (of course they do!), but the point is that Cairncross believed in an early dating for Hamlet and so do they. You accuse me of lying, of not having Bloom to consult and I prove you wrong. The fact that you can't even apologize for the simplest of your errors speaks for itself. At least the regular editors of these pages admit when they have erred or gone too far.Smatprt (talk) 21:40, 20 June 2009 (UTC)
I do apologize; I went too far in my ire, and there's no excuse for it.Tom Reedy (talk) 22:38, 20 June 2009 (UTC)
You know, Tom, I've actually considered putting some time in on a few of the Authorship articles because at least a pair of those that I know Smatprt has worked on are starting to look pretty darn good. I've been hesitant due to the inevitable nutjobs apt to come out of the woodwork (I speak from experience, sigh), but in general I think it's a splendid idea and I can think of no one better than Smatprt for such a collaboration. With the current demands on my time that particular project will have to stay an idle fancy; but I think if anyone was willing to put in the time it could lead to some really great articles. --Xover (talk) 22:19, 20 June 2009 (UTC)
I just yesterday read the authorship page, and IMO its primary purpose is to propagandize, not to inform. Any real editing to a neutral POV would be reverted in a heartbeat.Tom Reedy (talk) 22:38, 20 June 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I quite agree the Authorship pages have issues, and most of those of the POV kind, but there you're ascribing motives to its editors. The fact is that it's really really hard to write in a neutral POV when you're writing about a controversial or minority topic (even more so if you personally identify with that minority). That there's so much sloppy research (and disproportionally many people with, uhm, issues do seem to get attracted to this as with a more straight-forward conspiracy theory) has the sad effect of marginalizing the whole topic, and polarizing conversations that might otherwise have brought to light new insights or knowledge (just because Stanley Wells is clearly off his rocker lately, I'm sure he has more to contribute just as soon as the LSD, or whatever they coated the Cobbe in, wears off ;D). If you go in to such an article with the attitude that it's utter unsalvageable crap, and its editors idiots with a near-religious agenda, you pretty much guarantee nothing constructive will come of it. A little respect and humility is really all that's needed to show that you're acting in good faith with a shared goal of improving the article, even when one disagrees on a particular point. Not that the process in this example would be a pleasant one, for anyone involved, by any measure; but I do believe there is no reason it could not be a constructive one that leads to a better article overall. --Xover (talk) 23:01, 20 June 2009 (UTC)

That note...

I've long since given up following the Neville thread, but I think, possibly, the participants in that particular endless digression have somewhat lost sight of the big picture. :-)

The date range of the plays needs a ref to support the particular range given; but the dissent is far too obscure, non-specific, and the point too small to merit a note explaining who speculated to the contrary and why (particularly in the lede). The discussion right now doesn't seem to be at all related to whether the article benefits from the note, but rather about which Wikipedia editor's research chops are bigger and not a little of ascribing motives not in evidence to the opponent. The key point isn't whether Cairncross is right, or whether there are refs out there that support him; it's about what the general consensus on the dating is and whether the alternate view presented by Cairncross is significant enough to merit noting (which point qp10qp addressed back in prehistory when the Neville thread was still small and cute). The question is “Would the article benefit from the addition of the note?” and by my best understanding the answer is a “no”.

Now, if you, on the other hand, would like to quibble over a year give or take on either end of that range… :-) --Xover (talk) 22:40, 20 June 2009 (UTC)

OK, so the score so far is delete: 2; keep: 1.Tom Reedy (talk) 00:42, 21 June 2009 (UTC)
Still 2-to-1 in favor of removal.Tom Reedy (talk) 15:29, 21 June 2009 (UTC)
Tom - you seem to think that it's about voting - which is generally frowned on. It's about building consensus, give and take, etc. It's rarely about simply deleting something, but about how to rewrite something to make it better.
I agree with Xover, that we've lost site of the big picture (and had been thinking about this overnight). The note at hand needs rewriting to be sure. First, it covered two issues (chronology and Hamlet). As a first attempt at a fix, I just broke the note into two as they should each stand alone (and rise or fall on their own merits).
As to the first, I agree with Xover that the date range explaining. I would think it needs a ref for the statement and a note providing some explanation that there is great debate about individual dates. I believe there is also some debate as to whether Shakespeare wrote all neat and tidily in "periods" or whether he switched back and forth between tragedies, comedies, etc. That should also be addressed, as the article fails in this regard, coming across as indisputable fact that Shakespeare wrote only one genre at a time.
As to the second note (new "e"), Cairncross is certainly not a lone wolf on this, as Sams, Bloom, Alexander, and others have also posited the same position. I believe there was a fairly recent Oxford Journal article that also addressed the Hamlet/Ur-Hamlet question.
So, thanks Xover, for bringing us back to specifics. Believe it or not, Tom, I do want the article to be better and hope that this discussion will focus on that instead of our private agendas, which have certainly gone a bit haywire in recent days. Apologies to all for going over the top (or chewing on the scenery as they say in my biz.) Smatprt (talk) 16:41, 21 June 2009 (UTC)
So the consensus so far is that the note(now notes) doesn't improve the article.
Listen. I knew Eric Sams and corresponded with him over several years before he died. He was a dear man, but his specialty was music, not early modern literary history, and while his iconoclasm was refreshing (academics really are blinkered and unable to see the forest for the trees sometimes), his ideas about Shakespeare were really on the fringe. Bloom is a literary critic, not an early modern literary historian or researcher. Both Cairncross and Alexander base their notion that Shakespeare wrote the ur-Hamlet on negative evidence, i.e. that in their opinion Nashe wasn't necessarily writing about Kyd in his 1589 preface to Menaphon. That's really all there is to it. Neither of them take into consideration the evolution of such stylistic markers as feminine endings and enjambments, and they are both woefully out of date--1936 for Cairncross and 1951 for Alexander. The possibility--or more accurately opinion--that Nashe wasn't identifying Kyd or was referring to more than one playwright is a weak reed upon which to rest an entire new chronology, and in fact several critics have explicitly rejected it, most ignore it, which indicates the impact it has on current Shakespearean thought, and most of all, the current scholarly consensus--which is really the only consensus the editors of this article should be concerned about--is completely dead-set against it.
This is a general encyclopedia article, not a peer-reviewed journal of contemporary criticism. To insist upon continually (compulsively, it seems; now you've split this one in two!) barnacling this article with extraneous notations for the sake of completeness or to cover every alternate theory is not what I understand Wikipedia's purpose to be. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I don't think so. The notes don't make for a better article. I know most Americans' idea of freedom is to have 2,000 choices of deodorant when they go to the supermarket, but it's a philosophy that doesn't work for a general encyclopedia article on Shakespeare.Tom Reedy (talk) 23:27, 21 June 2009 (UTC)
I should know better than to use such absolute terms as "completely dead-set against it." There are always exceptions, but I reiterate that the scholarly consensus is that Shakespeare wrote Hamlet 1599-1601; that he was not the original author of the ur-Hamlet; and that the dates of composition for most of his work are from 1590 to 1613.Tom Reedy (talk) 00:37, 22 June 2009 (UTC)
Good points, Tom. But I'd like to add a few thoughts. First, it isn't really what you or I think about a particular scholar that matters here. It's how they are categorized by the mainstream establishment. Sams is described as both a musicologist and a Shakespeare scholar in numerous references that are easily obtained. Here are some obits:[[4]] and [[5]], here is the wikipedia aricle [[6]], and here are a few more [[7]], [[8]]. So to call him a Shakespeare scholar is hardly controversial, in spite of personal opinions that may differ. Regarding Cairncross, I think you have minimized his hypothesis. Yes, he asserts doubt in Kyd, but he also has a lot more to say than what you imparted here. Finally, as late as 1996, the Oxford Journal ran an article in Notes and Queries, (referencing Sams as an authority, by the way) which questioned whether Kyd was the likely author of the Ur-Hamlet, and whether, instead, Shakespeare himself was simply revising his own work - so to say the matter is out of date is inaccurate. Smatprt (talk) 23:15, 23 June 2009 (UTC)

1. Cairncross's theory ultimately hinges on that one point, and it is the point upon which everything else in his theory is based on. 2. The article you refer to was printed in 2006, not 1996, and speculates that Nashe was taking a shot at Harvey through Spenser. 3. Sams's ideas are not accepted by the vast majority of Shakespeareans, scholars and critics alike. 4. You still have yet to explain why a theory that is rejected by the majority of Shakespeare scholars deserves a mention in this article. If this deserves space in the article, then there can be no defense for larding it up with literally hundreds of notes and parenthetical remarks. Tom Reedy (talk) 13:39, 24 June 2009 (UTC) If, as you say, what matters here is "how they are categorized by the mainstream establishment," then the notes, which you admit are not accepted by the majority of scholars, fail that test and should be taken out.Tom Reedy (talk) 14:42, 24 June 2009 (UTC)

Well, we'll just have to disagree on what Cairncross "ultimately hinges on"; The article I mentioned opens with the question of and closes acknowledging the possibility that Shakespeare wrote the Ur-Hamlet; Sam is still a scholar, regardless of how well he is accepted; Minority viewpoints still deserve a mention - but as a minority they are relegated to the notes section instead of the main article. For example, the notes list
f. ^ An essay by Harold Brooks suggests Marlowe's Edward II influenced Shakespeare'sRichard III.[207] Other scholars discount this, pointing out that the parallels are commonplace.[208]
i. ^ Henry VI, Part 1 is often thought to be the work of a group of collaborators; but some scholars, for example Michael Hattaway, believe the play was wholly written by Shakespeare[211]
k. ^ Brian Vickers suggests that Titus Andronicus was co-written with George Peele, though Jonathan Bate, the play's most recent editor for the Arden Shakespeare, believes it to be wholly the work of Shakespeare.[213]
l. ^ Brian Vickers and others believe that Timon of Athens was co-written with Thomas Middleton, though some commentators disagree.[214]
Most of these are dissenting opinions - so why the double standard? Smatprt (talk) 00:59, 25 June 2009 (UTC)
The inconsistency is in you. You say what matters here is "how they are categorized by the mainstream establishment," yet anytime a dissenting opinion can also be seen as support for an alternate authorship theory you drag it in.
Most of those notes shouldn't be there, either. Airing hypothetical theories is not what a general encyclopedia article is supposed to do, or at least that's my understanding. Notes should make the main text clearer, not give a kamikaze version of a dissenting minority opinion. If we're going to do that, every statement should have at least a couple of notes.
1H6 has been accepted as a collaboration for a long time. If you list all the dissenting opinions, why are you stopping at one? I'm sure there are others. And Vickers is not the first to posit that Titus and Timon are co-written; they've been pretty much accepted since the early 20th century: Vickers just put the final nails in the coffin. (I thought Bate came around? Or am I misremembering?)
The article I thought you were talking about is Hadfield's "The Ur-Hamlet and the Fable of the Kid" in March 2006 N&Q.
BTW, I deleted note A not understanding that it was related to the topics in the info box, so if anybody wants to revert feel free. I thought we were going to get rid of those info box topics?Tom Reedy (talk) 02:00, 25 June 2009 (UTC)
In the April 18, 2003, TLS, Bate recanted his belief that Shakespeare was the sole author of TA as a result of reading Vickers's book: "Next time I edit Titus I will follow Vickers's example and credit it to 'William Shakespeare with George Peele', just as Timon of Athens should be credited to Shakespeare 'with Thomas Middleton', Pericles 'with George Wilkins', and Henry VIII and The Two Noble Kinsmen 'with John Fletcher'."
And on page 335 of Shakespeare Survey 57, Macbeth and its afterlife (2004), Peter Holland, ed., Eric Rasmussen writes "The study's (Vickers's) other conclusions--that Middleton co-wrote Timon of Athens, Wilkins co-wrote Pericles, and Fletcher co-wrote Henry viii and the Two Noble Kinsmen--have had less of an impact, since the attributions in question are already widely accepted by Shakespearians." This illustrates just how up-to-date you are in your recitation of "dissenting opinions." Tom Reedy (talk) 20:10, 25 June 2009 (UTC)
If I remember right, the New Oxford Shakespeare, 2nd ed, gives all 3 of those as "and", not "with", which it confines to TA. And there's a theory that the 1st folio used primary authorship as the criterion for inclusion, so that Pericles should be Wilkins & Shakespeare & 2NK should be Fletcher & Shakespeare, as stated on its title page. Peter jackson (talk) 14:06, 26 June 2009 (UTC)

Have you people had a look at WP:DUE recently? It says tiny/insignificant minorities an be ignored. Of course it doesn't say how tiny/insignificant that might be, but it does give a criterion: if a view is significant it should be possible to find prominent adherents. That then leaves you with 2 questions:

  1. Is the plural to be taken literally, or is 1 prominent adherent enough?
  2. How prominent is prominent?

Peter jackson (talk) 15:03, 25 June 2009 (UTC)

You have to understand that Shakespeareans are themselves a minority with a penchant for arguing with hardly any evidence over details that make not one whit of difference, and that those who hold anti-establishment dissenting opinions--a minority of a minority--have the typical victim temperament of wounded egos. Now couple that with the hurt sensibilities of an even smaller minority with even less evidence--antiStratfordians--and you have a situation that cannot be readily explained to ordinary sane people. Tom Reedy (talk) 20:10, 25 June 2009 (UTC)
Wow. That was beautiful :) Smatprt (talk) 21:18, 25 June 2009 (UTC)

outdent I've had a closer look at the note(s) in question now, and I think I'm going to somewhat reiterate what I started this thread with: the notes, and the discussion (and edits) about them are not seeing the forest for the trees! This is the main gathering article about William Shakespeare—not even the biographical article on him, but the overview article on the topic of William Shakespeare—and the notes are attached to sentences and clauses in the lede. The article itself should not try to address every detail, it should introduce and provide an overview of the topic. And the lede, in particular, should not contain information (including notes) that is not already covered in the main body of the article; and it should certainly not introduce such information in footnotes. We need to shift the focus back to “What best benefits the reader?”.
The practical effect of which is this: the first note (currently note C) should limit itself to the first sentence, speak to the entire range and not just the terminus post quem (the lopsided focus on the early dating is revealing: a sign that we've veered off to the side somewhere), and should either explain the source for this range or be supplemented by a normal ref for the range; while the second note (currently note D) should either be deleted outright or at most be replaced by a mere mention of the fact that there exists speculation that Shakespeare had himself a hand in the Ur-Hamlet. In both cases the main reasoning is similar; it's way way too much detail, and introduced in the wrong place.
Iff this information is to appear anywhere in this article—and note that I'm not saying it should, I still think it's far too obscure to be appropriate for this article—the place to do it would be in the main body of the article somewhere. I could see Cairncross' new dating merit a clause, or possibly even a sentence, somewhere in a suitable section, and ditto for the Ur-Hamlet bit. I've not checked whether there are any suitable places it might fit in, but that's really the only way I see to cram this information into this article. In a different article, that more specifically deals with this dating, it might be appropriate to include this information, perhaps even in as much detail as a paragraph (though I suspect if I were to look really closely at Cairncross et al I'd be inclined to suggest the para end with a negating sentence), but only somewhere we talk about the dating in such detail that noting this relatively obscure (and that's not intended to be dismissive!) alternative view would not seem out of place.
Finally, as to Smatprt's comment on the rigid genre divisions, I very much agree with the general point, but I think the phrasing in the lede is sufficiently general to stand. The phrasing could possibly be softened further, but I don't really feel that is necessary. However it might be good to review the body of the article with an eye to finding this problem there, if indeed it does have such problems. --Xover (talk) 23:41, 26 June 2009 (UTC)

I think Xover raises some valid points and would live to see Xover take a stab at enacting some of them. Tom's edits - simply deleting everything he does not agree with, instead of trying to incorporate the information somewhere more appropriate (as opposed to the lede) - are simply overkill. At this point I just think Tom is proving to be completely inflexible on any wording where he detects "authorship" issues - even though the notes in question (those he wants completely deleted) would not appear to the article reader as having anything to do with authorship issues. They really have to do with the issue of Shakespeare's early development and whether Shakespeare burst on the scene as a fully developed writer, or actually had some rougher early versions (like the Ur-Hamlet or A Shrew) as part of his development. That is what Cairncross and Sams were actually arguing - not a whit to do with alternate authorship theories.Smatprt (talk) 23:15, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
Again, you apparently don't understand that this is a general encyclopedia article and not a place to explore the "issue of Shakespeare's early development and whether Shakespeare burst on the scene as a fully developed writer, or actually had some rougher early versions (like the Ur-Hamlet or A Shrew) as part of his development." And now you have note c with no purpose except to repeat the sentence it is attached to. Why is that necessary? Tom Reedy (talk) 01:20, 28 June 2009 (UTC)
Tom, whenever anyone wants to add something that you don't want, you raise this silly "general encyclopedia article" argument. It's as if you believe that as a "general" article, it need only be "generally" accurate. That argument was never raised during FA when many of the notes were added. So, why now? Is it because you (personally) don't like anything that challenges the scholars you happen to agree with. You say this isn't a place to explore Shakespeare's development, but that, of course, is ridiculous given that we have an entire section on style that does just that!Smatprt (talk) 21:09, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
Also, Xover made some decent suggestions as to perhaps incorporating more into the article, of taking things out of the lede and finding a more appropriate place for them. Instead, you simply just delete. Is that what you call working out a consensus?Smatprt (talk) 21:09, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

What do you call working out a consensus? Moving it to different places around the article no matter how irrelevant it is because you're in love with the reference? I've got a book that was published in the 1950s that says Shakespeare wrote Edmund Ironside in his own hand and Eric sams agrees with it. Shouldn't it be in the article too? I've got another book that says Shakespeare wrote Fair Em early in his career. Shouldn't that be in the article to show "Shakespeare's early development and whether Shakespeare burst on the scene as a fully developed writer, or actually had some rougher early versions (like Fair Em and Ironside) as part of his development?" I'm sure that given the long history of scholarship and speculation about Shakespeare I could come up with hundreds of minority opinions I could crap up the article with the way you are doing with these.Tom Reedy (talk) 21:39, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

What do I call working out a consensus? Tom, after these notes were added they were discussed at length. A long interchange between qp10qp and I demonstrates the time we took to talk various issues thru. As the discussion progressed, I agreed to make certain changes to make the notes acceptable. At one point Moonraker had a comment, and I again adjusted the note to accommodate his point, to which I received the reply "Yep: that's a fix. Thanks User:Smatprt". That's what I call working out a consensus, or at least trying to - which is more than what you are doing by simply making mass deletions of material and references.Smatprt (talk) 19:45, 5 July 2009 (UTC)
They were not "discussed at length." You responded to my points with "that's silly," without addressing the other issues, i.e., Cairncross has been refuted; those who argue for an earlier date for Hamlet do not rely on Cairncross; and Cairncross's ideas about the chronology of the canon has been followed by no one but Oxfordians. In addition, your Hamlet note is not even tangentially related to the sentence to which it is attached, and the chronology note, being an extreme minority position (held by the originator only, excepting Oxfordians who use it to push their agenda), is irrelevant also. And if you'll read back up this voluminous and tedious section, you'll see that you don't have a consensus, and I doubt you ever will. Oh, and my revert is not a "mass deletion." You might try to put forth an actual case instead of relying on the use of hysterical language.Tom Reedy (talk) 20:56, 5 July 2009 (UTC)
I wrote "that's silly" because you are acting that way. Just as it's silly to say the Cairncross notes were not discussed at length. The Neville thread is incredibly long and detailed. You say Cairncross has been refuted. That is merely your opinion, as you've yet to list the "numerous" scholars who actually refute him directly. You say that is because most scholars just "ignored" him - well that is hardly refuting him. You say the Hamlet note is "not even tangentially related to the sentence". Let's see - it says Hamlet was written in the period ending in 1608. The note addresses exactly that point. You tried to build a consensus against the note in it's entirety and failed to do so. And when you delete several edits all at once, along with the attached references, that indeed is a mass deletion. Period.Smatprt (talk) 01:15, 6 July 2009 (UTC)

Perhaps you should re-read the section. I pointed out two scholars who have specifically refuted Cairncross: "As for scholars who have discredited Cairncross, see Wolfgang Keller's Bucherschau in Shakespeare-Jahrbuch v. 74, 1938, and Irv Matus's Shakespeare, in Fact, 146-151." You have yet to name one who agrees with him. Yes, Bloom, Alexander and Sams believe Shakespeare might have written the ur-Hamlet, but they don't cite Cairncross as their reason nor do they agree with his chronology. I also presented the consensus about the ur-Hamlet: "The overwhelming scholarly consensus is that Q1 Hamlet is memorial reconstruction of a cut version of F, and that the dialog is so inferior that Shakespeare had nothing to do with it, much less that it was an earlier version by him. See The Hamlet First Published, Thomas Clayton, ed., London, 1992. Ian Felce in the latest Shakespeare Survey has laid out more evidence for it being a reflection of an earlier version not written by Shakespeare." So the ball is in your court on producing anybody who agrees with Cairncross. As qp10qp wrote below, "Often they have one particular narrow source that they champion against the general sources on which the article is based. . . . They often show great tenacity and pugnacity in insisting that their particular carbuncle remains in place." Who does that sound like? Tom Reedy (talk) 01:55, 6 July 2009 (UTC)

Big Mess

There have been a number of recent edits that have left the article in quite a mess. We now have orphaned references and bibliography listings, inactive links, etc., etc. The notes now start with "b". Is there a reason why experienced editors are only doing partial edits that leaving all these problems?

Also - I see Tom has changed a bunch of the notes "to reflect current opinion" - but these are problematic. Whenever we list "most scholars" how on earth can that be cited accurately? Has there been some recent survey of "most scholars" that verifies these changes? We went thru this at FA, and it was decided to use "many" on these occasions, as "most" is simply not verifiable.Smatprt (talk) 18:10, 26 June 2009 (UTC)

I tried some clean up on everything I raised above. I ended up deleting some orphaned references, so if anyone feels they need to be restored, hopefully they can do it properly. At least there are no more blaring red error messages in the references now.Smatprt (talk) 18:38, 26 June 2009 (UTC)
I also made a change in your Cairncross note. He is almost alone in thinking that Hamlet dates to 1589, and I haven't found anybody else who agrees with him, contrary to your claim that Sams, Bloom and Alexander agree with it. As I have said over and over, I really don't see any point to having a note about one person with a dissenting opinion, but as we all know, it agrees with your authorship theory so we've all got to make allowances to avoid a big fuss.Tom Reedy (talk) 20:39, 26 June 2009 (UTC)
I have reverted my edit. I had something else in mind and neglected to check myself.Tom Reedy (talk) 22:27, 26 June 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for the much-needed cleanup Smatprt! But i think removing the orphaned refs may have left us without necessary citations at those points. What happened here was that Auréola (talk · contribs) added the Influence(d) bits in the Infobox, then he cited the stuff in the infobox to some new but mostly existing sources in the article, and since the stuff in the infobox comes first in the article he named the refs there and changed the later refs to just refer to the earlier named refs. When you removed th stuff in the infobox you nuked the actual refs, leaving the later cites to point at a now non-existing named ref (and thus showing up red and bold as errors in the ref list). IOW, I think we need to restore those refs and then expand them to the full citation as it was before the infobox additions. --Xover (talk) 22:39, 26 June 2009 (UTC)
The way this article has held its shape since FAC is encouraging, but recently it has started to deteriorate in the classic way that FAs do. People endeavour to add a detail or change an emphasis here and there, and this tips the balance of the article further and further out. What is never fully grasped by the accretists is how general this article is and should remain. General encyclopedic writing has a certain summary quality that does not easily accommodate the forensic detail. General encyclopedic writing, of course, can never quite satisfy the minutest inspection (it is the same with the Britannica and Encarta articles on Shakespeare), but it serves the purpose of a broad introduction for the average reader, who should not, in particular, be bothered by obscure or pedantic notes. qp10qp (talk) 00:34, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
I could not agree more. Trying to cover every possible opinion defeats the purpose of a general encyclopedia article, s I have been trying to get across. The information in the article should be the generally-accepted scholarly consensus; trying to qualify that for the sake of some completionist obsession would be a never-ending task, and it only ends up being mush. Nuke everything back to a year or six months ago--pictures, text, everything.Tom Reedy (talk) 01:36, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
I'll note (pardon) that the note B—underlining that the exact numbers of the canon are unknowable—was added in response to comments at FAC. While the phrasing his surviving works does strictly cover it, I fear it may still leave the reader with an incorrect impression. I would not argue that this, ipso facto, means we have to retain that footnote, but it's worth keeping in mind. I would certainly sooner nuke some of the “possibly written in collaboration with” than that one. --Xover (talk) 08:25, 27 June 2009 (UTC)

I think one sentence should cover all the co-authored texts, or possibly a parenthetical interjection set off by dashes in a sentence on the oder of "Shakespeare produced most of his known work--including collaborations at the start and end of his career--between 1589 and 1613." Something like that, except it needs to be played with.(And the later remark about his collaborations at the end of his career is only half right.)Tom Reedy (talk) 14:24, 27 June 2009 (UTC)

I think the wording really won't do. Saying his surviving works consist of 38 plays &c is meaningless without a definition of what a Shakespeare play actually is. To illustrate with what may be the majority view, one might say Shakespeare was
  1. sole author of 31 plays
  2. primary author of 5
  3. secondary author of 2
  4. further down the pecking order in 2 more
Unless you explain which of these categories are included, the statement, as I said, is meaningless. (And that's without considering possible further subcategorization of collaboration.)Peter jackson (talk) 10:41, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
Not that I disagree with your reasoning, but I don't think it's meaningless. There ought be some kind of relation between the number given there and what a reader might arrive at by picking up a copy of a complete works and counting the number of titles. The standard to apply depends on context, and in this particular context (the lede of the W.S. summary article), that, I would argue, would be an appropriate one. --Xover (talk) 10:46, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
People expect an encyclopedia to give information such as the number of plays Shakespeare wrote, even if that is a complex matter for the specialists. The article body and the lists do present further information for those who wish to check which plays were wholly or partly written by Shakespeare, etc. If the readers want to delve deeper, they can do so elsewhere. qp10qp (talk) 13:37, 27 June 2009 (UTC)

I think we need to keep in mind that (a) this is a general encyclopedia entry, and (b) it is the lede, not the place to get into esoteric details. I doubt this article will ever be cited by a specialist.Tom Reedy (talk) 14:24, 27 June 2009 (UTC)

I may not have made the point clear. The present wording misleads the reader:

  1. many/most would assume WS is the sole author of all those works, which few scholars claim
  2. the views of most scholars are presented as fact, contrary to policy, which allows ignoring only of tiny/insignificant minorities
  3. "several other poems" may not even be the view of most scholars

Remember that the lead is supposed to be a self-contained summary: many readers go no further.

As to "complete works":

  1. there are still plenty of reprints of old 37-play editions, including soem from respectable publishers like Collins (there are also sometimes F1 reprints)
  2. Arden, Bevington & I think Penguin (or is it Pelican?) have the 38
  3. RSC has them too, but the non-F1 plays are in an appendix, in small print, & with coauthorship headings
  4. Riverside (latest edition) has those 38, plus E3 in an appendix
  5. Oxford (latest edition) has 41 plays, with coauthorship headings for 9 of them

On poems, I add that the only ones in all the editions 2-5 are

  1. sonnets
  2. Venus & Adonis
  3. Rape of Lucrece
  4. Phoenix & Turtle

If you look at the Oxford Guide to Shakespeare (2003), in the chapter on authorship, you'll find something like this:

  1. WS is universally acknowledged by scholars as author of the bulk of the material traditionally ascribed to him &/or included in "complete works"
  2. most scholars regard him as sole or primary author of the 36 F1 plays
  3. most scholars believe he collaborated in the writing of Pericles & 2NK
  4. most scholars believe he contributed to More
  5. his contribution, if any, to E3 is disputed

This is from memory: please check. You may well be able to find some similar citations elsewhere. This sort of thing would enable you to produce a phrasing that's verifiable, neutral, clear & non-misleading. Peter jackson (talk) 10:48, 29 June 2009 (UTC)

Well, to your list I would also add that most scholars believe he collaborated in the writing of Titus Andronicus and H8, as well as the H6 plays. The problem with trying to get this all in the lede is that it's simply too much information for an introduction, and you would have the details of the the composition before covering any of the works themselves. I think a general comment that he collaborated in writing some of the plays at the early and late stages of his career would be sufficient. If you think not, can you come up with a suggested wording and we can kick it around for a while?Tom Reedy (talk) 14:11, 29 June 2009 (UTC)
Two points: 1) while the lede should stand alone, it should also be a summary of the article, so new information should not be introduced to the article in the lede; and 2) I think I understand your general point, but I'm not sure I understand how you would like to see it applied to the article. Could you perhaps suggest some specific changes, possibly by listing a sentence or sentences that you find problematic and then a suggested alternate wording. That would, hopefully, make it much easier to understand what changes would be necessary to address your concerns. --Xover (talk) 14:04, 29 June 2009 (UTC)

Tom, the information about TA &c is implicitly covered by the phrase "or primary". So you could say most scholars believe he was sole or primary author of 36 surviving plays, coauthor of 2 more & a contributor to at least 1 other. Or you could say most scholars believe he made major contributions to 38 plays & was sole author of most of them. Or various other combinations, depending what information is important for the lead, but doing it in ways that don't mislead. Peter jackson (talk) 15:45, 29 June 2009 (UTC)

But again, you've got the problem of giving too much information in the lede. If the info about TA and the rest is implicit on that phrase, why can't all of it be implicit in the sentence "His surviving works consist of 38 plays, some of them collaborations in the early and late stages of his career, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems." I'm not trying to keep the information out of the article--in fact I would prefer a couple of grafs about collaborations in the plays section to take the place of the notes--but I'm trying to keep the lede from becoming unwieldy and confusing.Tom Reedy (talk) 17:21, 29 June 2009 (UTC)
Perhaps "... author or co-author of at least 38 plays ..." (and retain Note b)? --GuillaumeTell 16:11, 29 June 2009 (UTC)

I'm not sure that represents a consensus of scholarly opinion. There may be a significant body of opinion denying his part in some of those plays. And there certainly seems to be disagreement about "several other poems": the RSC edition includes only 2 other poems, 1 of which seems not to be in any other edition. And again, you're still not specifying how much contribution is required to count vas coauthorship. Without such specification such statemetns remain meaningless. There are quite a few things you might say:

  1. contributed to about 40 plays, & was sole author of about 30 of those
  2. editions of Complete Works contain around 40 plays, a sequence of 154 sonnets, & varying numbers of other poems
  3. editions of CW available from reputable publishers include between 37 & 41 plays, including some collaborations, along with a sequence of 154 sonnets, & varying numbers of other poems
  4. a total of 38 plays, including some collaborations, along with a sequence of 154 sonnets, & 3 other poems, are included in all recent scholarly editions of CW, and a number of other plays & poems are included in some but omitted from others
  5. &c

Such statements would probably be true, but are they verifiable?

It might be worth thinking about how editors go about deciding what to include in CW. There are 3 things they have to consider (or maybe 4 if printing costs &c are relevant):

  1. what did WS actually write?
  2. what do you do with collaborations?
    1. include them
    2. omit them
    3. include only WS's contribution
  3. what degree of certainty/probability/possibility of Shakespearean authorship is required for inclusion?

Editors who agree about 1 may still make different decisions on the basis of 2 &/or 3. If you read the authorship notes in the different editions you find a lot less disagreement than might appear at first sight.

For clarity let me say that I'm not suggesting dealing with this in the lead. I'm merely suggesting thinking about it before deciding what to say. Peter jackson (talk) 10:29, 1 July 2009 (UTC)

I think a treatment of the scholarly consensus of Shakespeare's collaborations--3H6, TA, Per, H8, 2NK, Car--would certainly be in order, whether in its own section or as part of the Plays section. In fact, it would make an interesting article in itself. It might also touch on plays thought to have been edited later by other hands. But going further than a mention in the lede that he collaborated in writing some of the plays early and late in his career would, I think, be unnecessarily unwieldy.Tom Reedy (talk) 14:05, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
If the article says he wrote 38 plays, then the lede should say he wrote 38 plays. If saying he wrote 38 plays is incorrect then the article should be fixed. If the article changes then the lede should be updated to reflect that. In other words, we need to stop discussing this in the context of the one-sentence summary in the lede and go have a look at what the main body of the article actually says and discuss this issue on that basis. Looking at the text of the lede in isolation will only lead us astray. (which I think is also Tom's point, but if so I felt it bears repeating). --Xover (talk) 14:22, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
The main body of the article uses one of the wordings I suggested above for the lead: "major contributions". However, it's itself inadequate, I think, in making no mention of WS's minor contributions to More & probable contributions to E3. It seems to me that's the sort of thing that could reasonably be expected in the body of the article but not in the lead. Peter jackson (talk) 16:51, 1 July 2009 (UTC)

Just had a chance to examine the Pelican Shakespeare (not Penguin, as I vaguely thought). No sign of 2NK. As this seems to be a recent scholarly edition, not a reprint of an old one, some of the ordings I suggested above are invalid. Peter jackson (talk) 10:23, 6 July 2009 (UTC)


The Religion section begins with this sentence: "While the Bible has been one of the most important textual sources for Shakespeare's works,[172] there is no direct evidence of his religious affiliation." This is ridiculous on its face. The fact that he and his family attended Stratford Holy Trinity is certainly direct evidence, not to mention the fact that he is buried there.Tom Reedy (talk) 04:41, 27 June 2009 (UTC)

Hmm. I must disagree with you on that point. First, there's no real evidence that Shakespeare attended church. Recall that he may have left Stratford as early as 18 and so a lack of fines for failing to attend church at Holy Trinity may be due to being excused (since he's in London) and not because he faithfully attended every Sunday (and, for that matter, there's no real reason to assume he attended church in London either, but that's an entirely different question). Second, mere attendance in church as required by law is not meaningfully direct evidence of religious affiliation (unless you apply a very very lax definition of affiliation). What would be direct evidence is something like his son-in-law, Dr. John Hall, who was so piously Protestant that he supported a local priest (with many children to support) financially, and petitioned the Corporation for increased financial support for the same vicar (and for the Corporation to finance a new pulpit in the church), to the point the officers of the Corporation deemed him a nuisance.
If you'll forgive me for speculating about your reasoning, I suspect you're overreacting to those trying to push the “Shakespeare was Catholic” nonsense (since they often start by arguing that there's no evidence of his religion, only to go on to present various non-evidence as conclusive proof he was Catholic (I'm looking at you here, Greenblatt!)). But in point of fact there is nothing strictly wrong with the statement that there is no direct evidence of his religious affiliation—particularly if it's only as a modifying clause in a larger sentence—unless you apply an additional standard based on distrust of the reader's ability to comprehend what's actually written.
I do, on the other hand, have a couple of other issues with this section, now I come to look at it more closely. First, I do not agree that the Bible was “one of the most important textual sources for Shakespeare's works” absent further evidence to that fact. If one were to say it was a significant or even one important source I might be inclined to take the statement on faith (again, apologies), but the current claim very much overstates the case and leaves the reader, I would argue, with entirely the wrong impression. Second, our text regarding the so-called “Spiritual Will” is, again, somewhat misleading. All evidence suggests the will was a forgery; or rather, the main will is probably real, but the first page was John Jordan's handiwork. I don't personally think there is enough wiggle room there for even idle speculation, but might be persuaded there is sufficient gap for a very (very) weak sentence describing the existence of the document and the claim (unverified, and fourth-hand by the time it reaches Malone, the first in the chain that is reliable) that it was found in the rafters at Henley Street. Apart from Malone eventually concluding it was a forgery (and most of the later biographers based their work on Malone's), Schoenbaum in his Compact Documentary Life essentially closes the book on that point.
Now much as I personally disagree with, say, Greenblatt's reasoning and conclusions, there's no doubt he's a WP:RS reliable source and WP:N notable, so I do think we need to cover the speculation (I initially typoed this as "seculation". Freudian, do you think? :-)) on the topic of Shakespeare's religion in general, and Catholicism in particular; but right now this section suggests to the reader a much stronger case than the evidence or the actual sources support (e.g. while Greenblatt goes further in suggesting Papacy than his evidence supports, other sources balance him by pointing to the lack of evidence for that conclusion, and the circumstantial evidence for the opposite). It also fails to cover the speculation that Shakespeare was an Atheist (this may be deliberate and appropriate, but it struck me as unbalanced given the space devoted to the Catholic speculation).
Anyway, since Religion, like Authorship, tends to become controversial, I'll follow your lead, Tom, in not editing this section until we've had a chance to build a consensus here on Talk first. --Xover (talk) 09:59, 27 June 2009 (UTC)

May I suggest people consider carefully whether they may be backdating modern concepts of religious affilition that don't really fit the culture of the time. The only legal religion was the Church of England. You might consider it the default. In a sense, if there's no evidence to the contrary, that is in itself presumptive proof that he "belonged" to the C of E. (In English law to this day, as far as I know, that's still a rule of evidence.) Peter jackson (talk) 10:35, 27 June 2009 (UTC)

I agree with the criticisms. Once again the problem is accretions. I have restored the earlier and shorter version of the section. I would point out that this subsection is part of a section on speculation. It need not concern itself with whether Shakespeare went to church or was influenced by the bible in his work: neither point is really speculation. qp10qp (talk) 13:15, 27 June 2009 (UTC)

The fact that one may have attended a C of E church is proof of almost nothing at the time. It was legally compelled, thus many of both the Catholic and Puritan faith, of which there were very many, attended the established Church. What is notable is that there is no record of Shakespeare attending C of E services while in London, and at the same time you have his close association with the Blackfriars Gatehouse. Shakespeare's connections to the C of E aren't direct evidence of his Anglicanism because those connections are equivocal. The churchyard of the church where he is buried contains many known Catholics, some notorious, who had their graves consecrated by a priest and secret Catholic funerals at night. The same is true of his wedding and other seeming connections to the established Church. Mamalujo (talk) 20:17, 29 June 2009 (UTC)

That Shakespeare was never cited as a recusant is certainly evidence of something, and like it or not, the fact of his burial in Holy Trinity is certainly direct evidence of his religious affiliation, whether he was a believing participant or not, as is the fact that he allowed both his daughters to be brought up in the established church, one of them marrying an ardent Puritan. The evidence for his supposed secret Catholicism is limited to one comment 70 years after his death.Tom Reedy (talk) 00:17, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
You can see in the Shakespeare's religion article that there is a lot more evidence than the one comment of Davies. In fact, one historian identified him as a Catholic during his lifetime. The fact that Holy Trinity's churchyard is is "full of the graves of those who are known to have died Catholic, including many of Stratford's most notorious recusants" shows that the burial is proof of nothing. "Shakespeare is buried in an Anglican church for the same reason that he was married in an Anglican church and for the same reason that his children were baptized in an Anglican church. Put bluntly, Catholics had little choice but to acquiesce in the matter of births, marriages, and deaths as the historian Alexandra Walsham explained: 'The taint of illegitimacy blighted infants whose baptisms were not officially registered, and serious legal difficulties over the settlement of estates could follow clandestine marriages contracted by (Catholic priest) missioners.'" Mamalujo (talk) 19:46, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
Our article says that his faith can't be proved either way. I think that's all that is needed. qp10qp (talk)
I think the section is fine as it is, as well. Mamalujo (talk) 21:23, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

As do I. I would like to know who the historian was who IDed Shakespeare as a Catholic during his lifetime. I believe you're mistaken, but I stand to be corrected.Tom Reedy (talk) 21:42, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

From the other article: " In addition to Davies, the historian John Speed, in 1611 while Shakespeare was still alive, identified him as a Catholic, lambasting him and lumping him together with Jesuit Robert Persons ("the Papist and his poet") for their attacks on the proto-Protestant John Oldcastle.[1][2] Falstaff was originally called John Oldcastle, a change which Shakespeare made after pressure by the Oldcastle family.[1][3]" Mamalujo (talk) 00:49, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
What "other article?" And would you please give us the quotation from Speed? The cite from Wood does not identify Shakespeare as a Catholic; it is an interpretation of the quotation from Speed.Tom Reedy (talk) 03:29, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
Never mind; I found it. In 1603 Parsons had written that Sir John Oldcastle was “a Ruffian-knight as all Eng­land knoweth, & commonly brought in by comediants on their stages: he was put to death for robberyes and rebellion vnder the foresaid K. Henry the fifth.” Oldcastle was a Lollard, an early form of Protestantism. He was convicted of heresy and became involved in a Lollard conspiracy that included capturing King Henry V and establishing some kind of commonwealth. He was captured and hanged and burned, and becmae a Protestant martyr. In 1611 John Speed published The history of Great Britaine under the conquests of ye Romans, Saxons, Danes and Normans, and in it he wrote that Parsons got his description of Oldcastle from the stage players. Here's exactly what he wrote: "That N.D. author of the three conuersations hath made Ouldcastle a Ruffian, a Robber, and a Rebell, and his authority taken from the Stage-plaiers, is more befitting the pen of his slanderous report, then the Credit of the iudicious, being only grounded from this Papist and his Poet, of like conscience for lies, the one euer faining, and the other euer falsifying the truth . . . I am not ignorant." (Chambers II:217-18) Speed calls Parsons a Papist; he does not say that Shakespeare is one. He goes on to say that Parsons and the playwrights who portrayed Oldcastle that way are both known for lies; the playwrights are "ever-feigning" and the Catholics "ever falsifying." It is worth mentioning that Shakespeare was not the only playwright who portrayed Oldcastle as a rogue: the anonymous author of Famous Victories of Henry V, one of Shakespeare's sources for the 1H4 and 2H4, also portrayed him as such.
So much for "one historian identified him as a Catholic during his lifetime."
I also figured out what "other article" you were referring to: the one on Shakespeare's religion. I also cast my eye upon the references for that page. I don't think much of them, and I doubt the article will ever attain any kind of Wikipedia rating as long as you rely on them.Tom Reedy (talk) 04:22, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
Sources in Shakespeare's religion: Schoenbaum; Mulryne; Holden; Honigmann; Wood; Greenblatt; Rowse; Bate and sources of less distinction published by the university presses, with just a sprinkling "outer edge" authors. Much the same as here in fact. --Old Moonraker (talk) 06:20, 1 July 2009 (UTC)

It appears to me to rely on more than a sprinkling of Asquith and Wilson, along with a dash of Sams and Anderson.Tom Reedy (talk) 13:42, 1 July 2009 (UTC)

"Papist" was often used as an insult in those days.
I'm no expert on this, but the whole idea seems pretty implausible given the way he portrays King John as a sort of proto Henry VIII trying to secure English independence from the Pope. Peter jackson (talk) 10:33, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
It is possible to take passages from his works that seek to prove that he was a Catholic, Anglican or atheist but I think this is to fall into the trap of viewing the plays through autobiographical lenses whereas, in my opinion, his genius is best expressed in his acute insights into human nature through stepping into the other persons shoes, "a man for all people". Taam (talk) 11:23, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
There is a massive body of criticsm that attempts to reconstruct Shakespeare's life and beliefs by interpreting his plays. This article largely avoids that approach because what the reader requires in a biographical encyclopedia article is the documented historical facts, and the main documented traditions. Whole books have been written that make out Shakespeare's work to be one long Catholic allegory, but it's safest not to be lured into that swamp here. The plays are open to infinite interpretation, of course. qp10qp (talk) 18:29, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
Yes I agree. Christopher Devlin's little book in the early 60's was probably a significant catalyst in the modern "Catholic Shakespeare" school of thought but since there is no academic consensus it seems best to leave such theories out of the article. Taam (talk) 19:42, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
In response to Tom Reedy, I have seen quite a few authors bring into doubt whether Speed was correct in his assessment, but I have not yet read one who doubted that Speed was referring to WS. Of course, that is beside the point here. I'm not proposing Speed's comments be brought into this article. It is a greater level of detail than needed here. Mamalujo (talk) 20:06, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
Whoever he's referring to, he doesn't call him a Papist, and he clearly says they are alike in certain characteristics, but not in religion.Tom Reedy (talk) 21:05, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
Your interpretation aside, the general scholarly view is that he is calling WS a Papist. There are numerous RSs to that effect.Mamalujo (talk) 23:44, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
As the references that were being used to support the statement in Shakespeare's religion were all "failed verification", and prompted by the discussion here, I have now (twice) removed it from the article.--Old Moonraker (talk) 06:41, 2 July 2009 (UTC)
It's now been inserted four times, against the tide of opinion here and on the article's talk page. Is this an example of an editor seeking to "wear everybody out in their blinkered fanaticism" as described below? --Old Moonraker (talk) 09:22, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

You also might want to change your diction. Shakespeare did not "attack" Oldcastle; he followed the author of Famous Victories in his portrayal of him. Tom Reedy (talk) 13:19, 2 July 2009 (UTC)

Not "my" diction: this wasn't a contribution of mine. Nonetheless I'm happy to let it stand as it's supported in Wood (unless he's wildly out of line with other sources). Thanks for your continuing interest in this subsidiary article; oversight from knowledgeable editors is valued. --Old Moonraker (talk) 13:41, 2 July 2009 (UTC)


Is there any such thing as an article's FA status being revoked? Or is it that once an article attains FA it's that way forever, no matter how much sludge is imported into it?Tom Reedy (talk) 04:25, 1 July 2009 (UTC)

Instructions for invoking a review of the status here. --Old Moonraker (talk) 06:06, 1 July 2009 (UTC)]
I had a quick look at that. The main purpose is to get more people in to try to get the article back up to scratch. Only if that fails is it actually demoted. Seems like a sensible procedure to me. Peter jackson (talk) 16:54, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
It's a good question. The main reason for demoting an FA article seems to be lack of inline citations. Where an article has them, it will stay an FA, I suspect, no matter what the deterioration. What this shows is that it's beyond Wikipedia's ability to seriously maintain popular articles to the highest standard. Increasingly, its greatest gems are articles on relatively obscure topics. qp10qp (talk) 18:19, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
Unfortunately, some articles on relatively obscure topics are controlled by small POV groups, with insufficient numbers of people interested in fighting them. Peter jackson (talk) 10:09, 2 July 2009 (UTC)
I don't know if it's that or if they just wear everybody out in their blinkered fanaticism. The dispute over the Cairncross cite, which is relevant to the Hamlet article (barely) but totally out of place here, is a good example.Tom Reedy (talk) 13:25, 2 July 2009 (UTC)
qp, does your remark apply to FAC as well as FAR? Peter jackson (talk) 17:45, 2 July 2009 (UTC)
I think it is harder for an article to become an FA than to survive FAR. I have seen some well referenced articles fail at FAC but I can't remember one being demoted at FAR.
It's not necessarily true that articles on less popular topics are controlled by cliques. Often it's just that one person had the interest to write them and no one else is committed enough to substantially alter them. Anne of Denmark, which is on the front page today is an example—admittedly a modest one. I had the whim to write and research it, and it has largely stayed intact, whereas articles like James I of England and, particularly, Elizabeth I of England, have been substantially changed and swelled, with the support of references—in my opinion not necessarily for the best. I think many of Wikipedia's best articles aren't even FAs at all, to be honest. qp10qp (talk) 00:56, 3 July 2009 (UTC)
So a good strategy for propagandists would be
  1. write a really good, neutral article
  2. get it featured status
  3. then introduce your bias
? Peter jackson (talk) 11:10, 3 July 2009 (UTC)
That assumes that people with strong biases are capable of writing a neutral article in the first place, which I doubt. The pattern I see is that people with a bee in their bonnet alter a particular part or parts of an article, making no effort to balance or even read the whole article and its sources. Often they have one particular narrow source that they champion against the general sources on which the article is based. And they also tend to use Google Books, searching for sources to back up their biases, which is an absurd way to source an article. They often show great tenacity and pugnacity in insisting that their particular carbuncle remains in place. qp10qp (talk) 12:28, 3 July 2009 (UTC)
I know just what you mean. No doubt those people are a lot commoner. However, we keep being told there are gangs of highly skilled system-gamers supporting Israel/Palestinians/scientology/homeopathy/... Do you think that isn't a serious problem?
Naturally, I wasn't suggesting that all out-of-the-way articles were like that. I've written a number myself, most of which are probably still unbiased, though quite short. The only full-length article I wrote was later infected by bias. When I discovered that Wikipedia had no effective procedure for dealing with this I stopped editing articles & now confine myself to talk pages & my own user space.
As an aside, your remarks reminded me of an essay by Sir Charles Oman. He argued that, if some historian wrote a book about someone fairly uninteresting like Queen Anne, their interpretation would likely be accepted by default. However, he said, the endless controversy over interesting people like Cromwell shows the apparent consensus to be spurious, a mere artefact of what happens to have been done so far. In other words, he was saying that reliable sources themselves mirror what you just said about Wikipedia: a lot of it's just what someone happens to have felt like doing.
To return to the main topic. I suggest the workings of Wikipedia can be summarized roughly like this.
  1. the authorities aren't authorized to deal with content
  2. the community is, but often/usually doesn't
  3. that leaves the locals to haggle out the result among themselves
What sort of result would you expect from this process? Assume for convenience everyone's equally committed, & equally skilled at system-gaming. Then I'd suggest the end result could be summarized thus:
  1. policy says different POVs should be represented roughly in proportion to their prominence in reliable sources
  2. Wikipedia procedures will tend to result in POVs' being represented roughly in proportion to their prominence among the editors of the article.
Peter jackson (talk) 15:44, 3 July 2009 (UTC)
PS Correction. When I said I wrote a full-length article, I should have said I expanded it from a much shorter one. Peter jackson (talk) 15:45, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

I see your point. Though with very small subjects (see Mike Christie's series of articles on early Anglo-Saxon kings), it might be possible to sum up most of the available sources rather than choose between them. Oman is of course entirely correct about the nature of historical information, though with over-researched topics such as William Shakespeare or Martin Luther, distortion of a different kind may set in through over-scrutiny, such is the surfeit of scholars trying to find an angle. I am not as disillusioned as you, simply because I so much enjoy the chance to work on articles—though, as an amateur among amateurs on a voluntary project, the price I pay for this freedom is that I'm basically operating in a free-for-all. With the more obscure articles, I find most people simply don't have the commitment or sources to make an effective challenge to the content. I'm sure you're right that certain articles are battlegrounds for POV warriors, but I try to steer clear of those. I have to say that most of the more obscure articles I've worked on are looked after by very responsible—in some cases, remarkable—editors. qp10qp (talk) 21:03, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

Cairncross references

I've suspended my reverts at the request of an editor until the Cairncross dispute is settled. My contentions are that (1)the Cairncross Hamlet reference is irrelevant to the material in this article, and if it should be anywhere it should be in the Hamlet and ur-Hamlet articles, and (2) the Cairncross chronology--which is not a developed theory but only a suggestion in his book--is not only woefully outdated, but has not been furthered by any subsequent research nor has anybody supported it besides Oxfordians, and in fact it has been refuted and discarded by the Shakespearean scholarly consensus. As such, it is an extreme minority opinion, the same as a hundred other extreme minority opinions that we don't cover in this article, such as that Shakespeare wrote Fair Em or Edmund Ironside. Including such references in this article lends them the same status as the rest of the references, and invites only more of them to be added. That is my case for the complete deletion of the Cairncross references. I have no objection to them being included in other articles to which they might be relevant.Tom Reedy (talk) 12:26, 6 July 2009 (UTC)


Ok, lets try this again… Can we hash this out on the talk page, making small, self-contained, and incremetal, changes as consensus progresses? --Xover (talk) 13:05, 6 July 2009 (UTC)

Material under dispute

There appear to be two notes under dispute, d and e in the current version:

  • d. In The Problem of Hamlet: A Solution (1936), A.S. Cairncross theorized that Hamlet dates to 1589 with the authorship of the Ur-Hamlet by Shakespeare himself.[4] Most scholars disagree with this hypothesis, although some, most notably Peter Alexander and Eric Sams, as well as literary critic Harold Bloom,[5] support the earlier dating.
  • e. In contrast to the standard view concerning Shakespeare's four periods of development, Cairncross suggested that a new chronology needed to be constructed along topical lines rather than internal development. He also suggested dates for almost half the canon that were 10-20 years earlier than commonly accepted. His hypothesis has won few adherents.

These are attached to, respectively, the sentence in the lede “He then wrote mainly tragedies until about 1608, including Hamlet,[d] King Lear, and Macbeth, […]” and, in the beginning of the Plays section of the main article, the sentence “Scholars have often noted four periods in Shakespeare's writing career.[66][e]”.

(frankly, I have more issue with “Shakespeare's Blue Period” than the note)

Note that the text and placement of these notes have changed over the course of discussions here recently, so keep that in mind while reading as that kind of process tends to create odd linguistic contortions and placement.

Summary of positions

As best I can tell there are two main positions on this issue; one is that giving the dateing and periods without noting the uncertainty and scolarly dissent is misleading, and the other that the notes are needlessly obscure detail and gives undue weight to a minority position (which points in themselves count as misleading the reader).

The position favouring inclusion points to Cairncross and a small number of other sources that support him. The position favouring removal points to the general scholarly consensus (which disagrees with Cairncross), that the scholars who do support Cairncross' conclusion do so based on different reasoning (which leads to their conclusions having different implications than Cairncross') or are not subject-matter experts in the correct field.

Proposed process

I think we've got sidetracked here, and need to find a new way forward.

I propose we now stop completely editing the relevant bits of the article unless the relevant change has been thoroughly discussed on the talk page and either agreement, or agreement to disagree, has been reached.

I also propose that we try to keep the discussion structured and in manageable chunks. If a rephrasing can alleviate a concern, lets discuss the finer points of that before removing the entire chunk of text. There's no real problem with going back and forth a couple of times on phrasing to try to find something everyone is happy with (or at least that everyone can live with). Lets discuss moving the relevant bits to a better position rather than removing it outright. Wikipedia is big, and there's lots of room; if it fits nowhere in existing articles, maybe there's a need for a new article? Finally, some material may turn out to not actually fit anywhere and thus need to be removed; without the implication that the material is worthless, only that we were unable to find a place for it on Wikipedia.

I further propose we all (me included) go take a good long look at WP:CIVIL, WP:AGF, and WP:COOL: and in this process be studious in not ascribing motives to other parties in the debate; to assume everyone's main goal is to improve the article; to focus on the edit and not the editor; to politely and constructively, and with humility, ask if we suspect that is not the case; and to allow everyone the chance correct themselves if they've got hot-headed in the course of the debate (we're all human, we all make mistakes).

(“POV pushing” isn't actually something most editors engage in, they just happen to be genuinely of the opinion that their point of view is the correct one; and similarly, most editors don't want to supress information that disagrees with the established “truth”, they just genuinely believe it is the truth!)

Possible paths to resolution

I think both positions are in agreement, or at least tolerance, that the two notes are not optimally placed in the lede of the William Shakespeare article. Which, if correctly surmised, logically suggests we should start by looking for a better placement for them.

I also think there is general agreement that William Shakespeare is an overview article, and that space and level of detail are general concerns. This would suggest we at least consider whether it is better to move this material to a different article.

I would also suggest, without necessarily claiming any backing from other editors here, that footnotes like these are sort of cuckoos: they tend to shoehorn in details that would otherwise be considered too obscure, or too detailed, to merit inclusion in the article proper (sneaking past the bar only by being introduced in the form of a footnote). Provided the other editors do agree with this as a general point, without it implying any kind of judgement on these two particular footnotes, this would suggest we should try to work the material into the main article text rather than in a footnote. For the position that favours inclusion, this has the positive effect of making the material less of a target when it is only a part of a larger paragraph of text; for the position that favours removal it has the effect of allowing more balance and clarity, and lessens the weight assigned to it; and for both positions it clarifies the standards to apply when working with it.

In light of the above I would suggest we try to look for a way to incorporate both notes into the main body text of the Plays section, and failing that, whether there is another section in this article where it might fit. If none can be found that satisfies mosty editors (and I'll certainly have an opinion on that point), we consider whether a different article would be a better fit. As an example, the Hamlet article suggests itself as a probable candidate for note d and the Chronology of Shakespeare's plays a possible candidate for note e.

In all steps of this process—and I do strongly recommend we very much go step by step here—lets discuss possible changes to wording and whether such might make for a better fit in this or that placement.

I would also strongly suggest we all constrain ourselves to only making concrete suggestions for improvement. Not “I don't like it, get rid of it!” but rather “I disagree, how about if we rephrase it like thus instead?” A suggestion is not a stake in the ground; you can change your mind or refine your suggestion later if you decide you don't like the result. Someone disagreeing with you is not an attack, it's an invitation for both sides to clarify their reasoning and reach agreement (possibly an agreement to disagree); or maybe even only to make note of a dissent to the rough consensus.


Opinions go here. :-)

I have stated my case above, but I will reiterate and expand my points for discussion here.
(1)The Cairncross Hamlet reference is irrelevant to the material in this article, and as such has no place in the general Shakespeare article. If it should be anywhere it should be in the Hamlet and ur-Hamlet articles, to which I have no objection.
(2) The Cairncross chronology--which is not a developed theory but only a suggestion in his book--is not only woefully outdated, but has not been furthered by any subsequent scholarly research or publication, and in fact has been refuted by the two scholars I cited and has been discarded by the Shakespearean scholarly consensus. As such, it is an extreme minority opinion, the same as a hundred other extreme minority opinions that we don't cover in this article, such as that Shakespeare wrote Fair Em or Edmund Ironside. I have no objection to it being included in other articles to which it might be relevant.
Including such references in this article lends them the same status as the rest of the references, and invites more of them to be added. That is my case for the complete deletion of the Cairncross references from this article. Tom Reedy (talk) 13:45, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
I agree with Tom. qp10qp (talk) 15:21, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
Tom is entrely right. This is a very very fringe hypothesis. If it were to be included we would have no justification for excluding any number of idiosyncratic suggestions that have been made over the course of the last century or more. Paul B (talk) 15:42, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
There's no need for these notes, for the reasons noted, and it's improper to restore them without consensus having been reached for their restoration. - Nunh-huh 16:27, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
I’ve been quoted a couple of times, perfectly fairly, by User:Smprt as supporting his attempts to achieve a compromise. My original question was: “have we now arrived at a position where we may remove [Cairncross’s] footnote?” The succeeding arguments have convinced me that the answer is “yes”. --Old Moonraker (talk) 16:45, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
Agree with the five opinions above mine. AndyJones (talk) 18:46, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
I am willing to do thru the process that Xover has described above. One thing that seems to be getting lost is the difference between the two notes in question. First, while it is true that the Cairncross chronology is a minority viewpoint, the associated view, as mentioned in the note, that maybe Shakespeare didn't write in these 4 clean and tidy "periods", is certainly not unique. Many scholars have looked for topical allusions rather than internal writing development as keys to dating. 2nd, the theory that Hamlet was perhaps written earlier, and that the Ur-Hamlet may have come from Shakespeare's hand is supported by more scholars than just Cairncross, as the note indicates. Alexander certainly adds scholarly weight, and Sams and Bloom are not "outdated", nor is the Oxford Journal article ("The Ur-hamlet and the Fable of the Kid"), which also acknowledges that Shakespeare may have had a hand in the pre-1589 version.Smatprt (talk) 21:25, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
What seems to be getting lost is the nature of this particular article. Speculations made contrary to the existing evidence and against the scholarly consensus is not what the article is about. While it may belong somewhere on Wikipedia, such as the ur-Hamlet article or the Hamlet article or the alternate chronology article, you have made no convincing argument that it should be in this one, and judging by the comments, I have made a convincing argument that it should not be. Tom Reedy (talk) 22:01, 6 July 2009 (UTC)

I am willing to go thru the process that Xover has described above. One thing that seems to be getting lost is the difference between the two notes in question. First, while it is true that the Cairncross chronology is a minority viewpoint, his associated view, as mentioned in the note, that maybe Shakespeare didn't write in these 4 clean and tidy "periods", is certainly not unique. Many scholars have looked for topical allusions rather than internal writing development as keys to dating. 2nd, the theory that Hamlet was perhaps written earlier, and that the Ur-Hamlet may have come from Shakespeare's hand is supported by more scholars than just Cairncross, as the note indicates. Alexander certainly adds scholarly weight, and Sams and Bloom are not "outdated", nor is the Oxford Journal article ("The Ur-hamlet and the Fable of the Kid"), which also acknowledges that Shakespeare may have had a hand in the pre-1589 version.Smatprt (talk) 21:25, 6 July 2009 (UTC)

I would also like to challenge Tom's describe of Cairncross as disreputable, as well as out of date. Cairncross is quoted and or referenced as an important Shakespearean scholar in numerous textbooks, studies, journals, including:

  • The English History Play in the Age of Shakespeare , Ribner, 1964/2004, pg 93.
  • This Year's Work in English Studies ((1972), page 149.
  • Appropriating Shakespeare (Vickers, 1994) - page 456
  • Shakespeare Quarterly,, v14, pg 466
  • William Shakespeare (1997) Wells, Taylor - pg 116, 376 and throughout the ntoes.
  • Studies in Shakespeare - McManawy, 1990, pgs 355-356, 375-77
  • Shakespeare Survey 11 (amoung others), pgs 150-152
  • Shakespeare Survey 15, page 80 "Yet Andrew Cairncross, a leading textual critic..."
  • Shakespeare Survey 26, pgs 166, 181, 183
  • Beyond the Spanish Tragedy, 2001, pg 19 (described as ono of "the plays most influential critics in the 20th century"

This is an extremely short list. With all these scholars referencing Cairncross on a variety of topics,labling a leading textual critic, etc. how can he be labeled as disreputable. His opinion (right or wrong) is certainly valid and worthy of notice. Smatprt (talk) 22:20, 6 July 2009 (UTC)

Why don't you quote the entire passages in which Cairncross is referenced in your examples? Here's a sample from Wells and Taylor:
p. 116: Cairncross (1960) and Wentersdorf (1977) attempt to link the 1597 edition of Richard III to the reported texts associated with Pembroke's men; if this connection could be established it would firmly place the play before summer 1593. But the late date of Q1's publication militates against their conjecture, and Taylor ('Richard III') challenges the verbal parallels on which it is based.
Cairncross (1956) proposed that the Folio text had been set up from extensively annotated quarto copy, making use of both Q2 and Q3. Walter, in an appendix to his revised edition (1960) and Taylor ('Three Studies') showed that there was no evidence for the use of Q2, a conclusion which in itself seriously weakened Cairncross's theory. Taylor, more extensively, showed that the cited correspondences between Q3 and F were not sufficient to demonstrate the use of printed copy, which in this instance would have need to be annotated to an extraordinary and impractical degree.
Here's one from Shakespeare Survey 26: Within the space of a short article, Cairncross can do no more than invite a reappraisal of the evidence. His own presentation of it lacks the precision and especially the extended comparison between compositional patterns without which his conclusions can be accepted as no more than intriguing possibilities, to be verified or modified by further investigation.
These cites are not quite as supportive as you seem to think they are. I wonder what the rest of them are about? I think it is illuminating and speaks to the depth of your familiarity with Cairncross that you gather your support through Goggle Book searches and didn't even bother to read the entire passages.Tom Reedy (talk) 04:11, 7 July 2009 (UTC)
Here are the references to Cairncross in Beyond the Spanish Tragedy:
p. 17: In the introduction to his edition of 1 Hieronimo and The Spanish Tragedy as a two-part play, Cairncross gives the reasons for his revival of a view that had not found any prominent supporters since the beginning of the century . . . . Unfortunately, Cairncross does not show in detail in what ways the text of 1 Hieronimo conforms to what we know about memorially reconstructed texts. He shrewdly observes ‘the curious contradiction between the skilled, complicated construction and occasional strength of expression and characterization, on the one hand and the many irregularities and defects of the play, on the other’, but his summary statement that this ‘can be simply explained by imperfect reporting or memorial reproduction or a competent original play by Kyd’ (pp. xv) is not demonstrated with sufficient rigour. Cairncross applies with too much confidence the category of ‘memorial reconstruction’ . . . .
p. 19: to sum up, Boas, Freeman and Cairncross, the play’s most influential critics of the twentieth century, all disagree on the provenance of don Horatio and 1 Hieronimo as well as on the sequence of events . . . . Cairncross’s theory of memorial reconstruction, finally, falls short of justifying the features of 1 Hieronimo that are irreconcilable with The Spanish tragedy.
p. 30: Cairncross has to take considerable liberties with the evidence in order to make it suit his argument.
p. 32: It has already been pointed out that the text of the 1605 quarto shows signs of major corruption. Cairncross suggested that its cause was memorial reconstruction, a suggestion I have tried to discredit.
It appears to me that Cairncross's ideas on SP were as hasty and ill-supported as his ideas on Hamlet and the chronology on Shakespeare's plays, and about as well accepted today.Tom Reedy (talk) 14:41, 7 July 2009 (UTC)
To answer Tom's question about why some of this might be included - the article states flatly that Shakespeare wrote in these 4 tidy periods. It states flatly that Hamlet was written in his tragic period between 1600-1608. My problem is that these bold statements that are being put forward as undisputed facts. As such, it's simply incorrect. You might recall that much of this came out of the earlier discussion about softening some of this language - discussion which met with flat out refusal from several editor. This is the heart of the problem. Smatprt (talk) 22:24, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
As I said way back at the beginning of this, the article is supposed to reflect the scholarly consensus, and it is impossible and unnecessary to begin every sentence with "Most scholars think . . ." The heart of this problem is your stubborn refusal to accept the editorial consensus that including your pet references would open the door to hundreds of other minority citations, all of which are just as valid (which is to say, not very) as yours.Tom Reedy (talk) 13:12, 7 July 2009 (UTC)
The only place that the word "disreputable" is used on this page in your post. I see nothing in Tom's posts that suggests that Cairncross is considered disreputable. Please do not misrepresent what people say. He says his chronology has not been accepted, and that it was only a vague suggestion in any case. Do you realise how many speculations have been made about Shakespeare? Including something so fringe would open the door to footnotes half a mile long on alternative theories. Paul B (talk) 22:42, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
Then you are not looking very hard - on this page, Tom refers to Cairncross as "discredited". He goes on to call him "ridiculous" and says he is not sure Cairncross "can be trusted". Fortunately, I believe I have now shown that is not the case.Smatprt (talk) 22:57, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
You are as accurate as usual. "Discredited" is not the same as "disreputable". They are quite different concepts. Also it was Old Moonraker who used the term. Tom merely repeated it, with specific reference to his argument not his reputation. Paul B (talk) 23:18, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
Okay - good point - they are indeed different words. Yes, Moonraker did use the term - in response to Tom's judging him "ridiculous". But Tom uses it himself. And have no doubt, Tom went after Cairncross pretty strongly, to the point that editors actually believed it instead of doing their own checking. But that is pretty east - just googlebooks Cairncross and Shakespeare and you'll find plenty of real first hand evidence that Cairncross is held in high regard by most of his fellow scholars.Smatprt (talk) 00:04, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

Interpose] I didn't call Cairncross "discredited" or "disreputable". --Old Moonraker (talk) 09:22, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

You were the first to use the word. See your post of 16:32, 19 June 2009. Paul B (talk) 10:22, 7 July 2009 (UTC)
Reputable scholars often make specific arguments that become discredited. We should not confuse the two. For example I'm sure you would agree that Stanley Wells is a reputable scholar, but that you would equally want to assert that his argument about the Cobbe portrait is discredited. I'm not sure that it has been yet, but in future it may well be regarded as a discredited theory. The reputation of the scholar is quite distinct from the reliability of a theory. Paul B (talk) 00:12, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

I don't know why you're going down this rabbit hole--although I have a suspicion--but I did not call Cairncross "ridiculous." I said his arguments in the book you want to use for a reference for this cite got more ridiculous the further in I read. Cairncross, IIRC, was a respected editor of Shakespeare's plays. As far as I know, he never developed his chronology of the plays, and may even have recanted for all I know. However influential he was on Spanish Tragedy criticism, that's not what we're discussing here and he had zero influence on the literature about the chronology of Shakespeare's plays.Tom Reedy (talk) 03:46, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

Ok Tom, let's address the topic at hand. Please clarify for me - are you saying that all scholars agree that Shakespeare wrote his works in the four periods described in the article? And are you saying that all scholars agree that dating should be based on these "writing development" theories, and that no scholars have instead used other means, such as topical events, for dating? And when the articles says without doubt that Hamlet was written in the "tragic period of 1600-08", you are saying that it's ok for the article to utterly fail to mention the dissenting opinions of scholars and critics such as Alexander, Bloom, Sams, (and yes, Cairncross)?Smatprt (talk) 19:17, 7 July 2009 (UTC)
Yes, let's address the topic at hand, so quit trying to change the subject by using extreme language ("all scholars agree," "utterly fail") to try to make your unreasonable insistence appear to be a moderate desire for balance.
The topic at hand is whether this article should report the scholarly consensus on the dating of Hamlet and the chronology of his plays, and whether or not Cairncross's extreme minority position should be included in the article. I have made clear my argument for not including Cairncross's opinions, and I have stated that I have no objections to the notes being in another, more suitable Wikipedia article, as Dover suggested. In making your argument, you have misquoted and misrepresented what I have said and cited references you apparently hadn't read, nor have you made a coherent argument acceptable to the other editors, nor have you recognized the possibility that this material has other, more suitable placements in Wikipedia.
This article is a general overview of Shakespeare, and as such has no obligation to discuss Shakespeare's development in full detail, complete with every dissenting opinion. Quite frankly, your continued insistence on this became quite tiresome long ago, the more so because you don't seem to be able to state a reason consistent with the purpose of this article or even understand what that aim is. You're all over the place with the placement of the notes; you don't seem to care where it goes, as long as it's included.
So what you need to do is state a coherent case for how including the Cairncross material in this article will make it a better article and not open the door to a myriad of fringe minority caveats turning the article into mush.Tom Reedy (talk) 19:47, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

Tom, your continued personal attacks are not helping matters. I asked my questions in earnest and deserve a reply. So to restate in a format more understandable to you:

  • 1) The article implies that all scholars agree that there are these 4 periods of development, very nice and tidy, with apparently no dissent, no other research or theories even remotely being discussed by reputable scholars. I ask again, is that really an accurate description of the state of Shakespearean scholarship?
  • 2) The article states flat out that Hamlet was written in the "tragic period" between 1600 and 1608. No dissent, no other research or theories. Now Cairncross is hardly the lone wolf on this point, as noted scholar Peter Alexander believed that the Ur-Hamlet was probably written by Shakespeare himself, and recent critics/scholars Harold Bloom and Eric Sams both concur. With these notable adherents, the viewpoint can hardly be called extreme (as is, admittedly, the case with Cairncross' chronology theory of early dating).
  • 3) Regarding me being "all over the place" with placement of the notes - my movement of the notes was an honest attempt to find a more suitable place, as suggested on this talk page by Xover. You know this to be the case, so to complain about it now is like complaining that I was listening to what was being suggested and sincerely trying to be responsive.
  • 4) Yes - I cited references to Cairncross - some dissenting, some not. I didn't edit the list pro or con. As you saw yourself, he is cited as an authority by those who don't even agree with him. You should know perfectly well that it is not the point whether he is right or wrong, supported in every theory or not, but that he is, indeed, an authority that can be cited if appropriate. Based on yourdescriptions of him, one editor on this page noted that Cairncross was "adjudged ridiculous". I simply attempted to refute that. You also said his chronology was "refuted and discarded by the Shakespearean scholarly consensus" - but you have not shown that, referencing merely two scholars. You are also being quite selective - yes, his chronology has won few adherents, but his believe in using topical references to assist in dating, and his theory behind the early version of Hamlet, have not been universally condemned, as you well know.

So, having heard from several editors, I agree that the reference to Cairncross' theory of early dating (the 10-20 years bit) is too extreme and should not be part of note e. But I still believe that a reference (Cairncross or other) should exist that acknowledges disagreement about Shakespeare's "periods" and the dating associated therewith. I also still believe the Hamlet dating should be recast or notated to acknowledge the hypothesis championed by Alexander, Bloom, Sams (and yes, Cairncross) that the early Hamlet of pre-1589 might have been by Shakespeare himself, which is what the Hamlet article says in the section on sources. In essence, I think it harms the article to say one thing so positively, when the Hamlet article leaves ample room for doubt on the matter. Smatprt (talk) 20:55, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

The problem that I see with going into detail on the Hamlet dating is that you could do the same with almost any other play. Shakespeare's periods are general only (R&J, after all, is a tragedy that was written much earlier than 1600), and I would support a rewrite of the sentence to state that such is the case (I myself believe the evidence points to a 1599 composition date for Hamlet), but as far as including the notion that Shakespeare wrote the ur-Hamlet, I feel like a discussion of Hamlet is the proper place for that, not this article. There is no evidence for it, and quite a bit against it, though it is possible. It's also possible that he wrote A Shrew, Leir, and any number of other plays that have been attributed to him at various times, but there is the same amount of evidence for it as there is for his authorship of the ur-Hamlet--none--so those theories must necessarily remain in the area of speculation and not on the same level as the generally-accepted composition dates, which have real evidence for support. Again, I think those discussions would be better suited for other articles, not the general Shakespeare article.Tom Reedy (talk) 21:49, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

Now your note "e" is incoherent and makes no sense at all in the context of the four general periods. It needs to be completely deleted.Tom Reedy (talk) 02:55, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

So do we have a consensus to remove the Cairncross passages? Tom Reedy (talk) 13:38, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

outdent re Tom: my impression is that there's an overwhelmingly clear consensus that 1) the notes should be removed from the article, and 2) that Cairncross is not a good source to use for these issues. Smatprt: if I've understood correctly you do disagree somewhat on both those points(?), but do you agree that the consensus seems to be as I've described here?

Since I share some of Smatprt's concerns (claiming four, clear-cut, "periods" to his works is… far too neat)—and because generally on Wikipedia, material (outside obvious vandalism or on BLP articles) shouldn't be deleted if it can be moved, reworked, or improved—I've had a closer look at the Plays section with an eye towards incorporating the contents of the notes there. Having done that I must say I very much concur with the opinions expressed above: given the general nature of William Shakespeare, there just isn't anywhere that including this material would be appropriate. I do however think we should give the section (and the rest of the article) a quick second look—now that the frenzy of the FAC is well behind us—to make sure we've not accidentally assigned Shakespeare a “blue period” or similar (which is an all too present risk when writing at this level of generalization). While I couldn't see any way to incorporate the material form the current notes, there may be some way to tweak the text to address the same general concern that the notes are one attempt at (and possibly sourcing it to someone besides Cairncross).

What I haven't had time for yet (sorry, real life interferes) is to look for other places where this might more easily fit (I've suggested Hamlet and Chronology of Shakespeare's plays as possible candidates above). Since Cairncross doesn't seem to have much support among the editors here as a source for these specific points, it would probably be a good idea to discard the current phrasing—since it reflects the source it's supported by—and replace it with some bullet point level general concerns; and then try to figure out where those would most naturally fit, and from where to source them. For instance, while anything that smacks of internal evidence sets my teeth on edge, those approaches must be fairly easily sourced and merely noting that this approach has been taken by some number of scholars, as an alternative or supplement to the more common approach, should be possible to fit in to the Chronology article (except that article is really listy right now, which we ought to fix irrespective of this issue). It would, at least intuitively, seem to be a natural extension to, for instance, describing the first attempts to date the plays by Malone, how later scholars have approached it, what the current consensus is, and what the alternative/supplemental and dissenting approaches are. Since there's a complete separate article that discusses the chronology from an Authorship point of view, we don't even have to spend any significant space on that in that article, merely link to it with a short summary in some suitable place.

Anyways… Based on my reading of the various comments here I'm inclined to remove the two notes; but I'd very much like to hear from Smatprt first just to make sure I've not completely misunderstood something here (a depressingly common occurance ;D). --Xover (talk) 14:35, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

The sooner we get this cleared up the sooner we can start work on the other two points: the four periods bit and the collaborations notes that need to be integrated into the main text. And would someone please archive this page after the edit? Tom Reedy (talk) 15:17, 9 July 2009 (UTC)
Sorry for the delay - I got somewhat consumed by ongoing projects, particularly a 100-member cast of Oliver that just went into rehearsal...Whoopie!. Anyhow, to the matter at hand -
  • I agree that the consensus is clear to take out the notes as written. Particularly, I understand and actually do agree that the Cairncross chronology reference (10-20 years bit) is too obscure within the scope of this article.
  • I don't quite agree that a consensus has emerged on Cairncross, himself. I would agree that he has received no mainstream support for the 10-20 years dating theory, but Cairncross is right in step with Alexander and the others on certain aspects of Hamlet, and his dating work on the H6's and other history plays is also in line with plenty of other mainstream scholars. So, depending on the specific issue, I think Cairncross could be considered usable as a Reliable Source when it comes to dating.
  • I am appreciative that there is agreement to work on the "four periods bit" as Tom calls it, as I do remain dissatisfied with the implied finality of that section, in which the Hamlet assignment, for example, is the most obvious example.
  • A thought occurred to me while reading Xover's last posting, mentioning the speculative nature of the information we have been discussing. I'm wondering if we've been looking past the obvious answer to incorporating the more general topic (speculation about play dating and chronology) into the article. Perhaps the answer is to add it into the Speculation section, with a short summary, referencing Malone, Taylor/Wells, etc., and then a link to the Chronology articles. I'm not sure why it didn't occur to me before with Paul raising the Cobbe portrait issue and both Xover and Tom using the term "speculation" so often! Go figure. So anyhow, please throw this idea into the discussion as we move forward with these article refinements.
  • On a final note, while I agree that the article would look silly with an over-abundance of "most scholars believe", I think we've perhaps gone too far in the other direction, eliminating practically all similar qualifications. As we move forward I would ask others to keep in mind that I'm not asking for such a qualifier to be repeated again and again thru the article. I'm merely requesting that we look to make sure we have not gone overboard with too many definitive statements about Shakespeare and the canon. There is so much to discover, so many layers, and so much no one may ever be certain of, I believe it's important to occasionally remind our readers of that. And if we can do it in a way that does the topic justice, I think everyone will be pretty happy. Thanks all. Smatprt (talk) 19:07, 9 July 2009 (UTC)
Two comments: I don't support adding the earlier chronology to the speculation section because it's a different type of speculation than the topics that are already there; it's more of a subtopic under authorship speculation. (And a comprehensive speculation section would be larger than the article itself.) Also I checked out every citation you gave above, and I don't think Cairncross's work is reliable enough to use in any but the alternate chronology article. Even when the reviewer says his logic makes sense (as one reviewer does on his 2H6 dating), he criticizes him for not providing support or using incomplete support. This article cannot be so comprehensive as to really "do the topic justice;" it's an introduction. Trying to make it ultra-comprehensive is how we get in these editing wars. Tom Reedy (talk) 20:27, 9 July 2009 (UTC)
I'm sorry - I guess I wasn't clear as to my suggestion, and I'm sorry to see you shoot down the idea at first glance due to non-existant "authorship" matters. I was referring to a speculation section about general dating and chronology - not focussed on the authorship by any means. Specifically, I was suggesting using something along the lines of the current introduction at the existing Chronology article that you have recently done some good cleaning on. As an example - something like this:
Play dating and chronology
main article Chronology of Shakespeare's plays
The precise chronology of Shakespeare's plays as they were first written and performed is impossible to determine, since no authoritative records survive and many of the plays were performed years before they were published. Several of the plays appeared first in pirated editions, and about half of Shakespeare's plays remained unpublished until the First Folio (1623). Two plays mentioned as Shakespeare's by his contemporaries have not survived, Cardenio and Love's Labour's Won, and his exact role in writing other existing plays is not known and is still debated. While most Shakespearean scholars generally agree on approximate dates and order of composition, these issues continue to be debated and all dates should be recognized as somewhat speculative.
This would also meet Wikipedia goals on linkage and providing greater readership of the many articles associated with main articles. Of course, the same wording could be inserted into the Plays section, but due to ongoing speculation about the play dating in general, I truly thought the speculations section was more appropriate. Regarding Cairncross, however, I think you and I, Tom will just have to disagree. I would suggest, however, that you may be doing the man an injustice. Due to his extensive writings, and the peer-reviewed publishing houses involved, if taken to the Wiki RS board, I am fairly certain that he would be deemed a RS on Shakespeare matters in general. Smatprt (talk) 21:02, 9 July 2009 (UTC)

Now that excerpt from Chronology of Shakespeare's plays is what I call some well-written prose! As far as this article goes, given the introductory nature of it, I think one sentence on each topic with an embedded link to the appropriate article should be sufficient. I'll make my comments below in the new section sometime tomorrow once I think it out. As far as Cairncross, I can't think of any of his textual opinions that have become widely accepted, much less a part of the scholarly consensus. Tom Reedy (talk) 04:36, 10 July 2009 (UTC)

Hmm, I think see where you're going with this. If I understand your thinking correctly, you mean speculation here not in the way that Authorship, Religion, and Sexuality are speculation; but rather that it's a sub-topic where there is a lot of room for speculation, and indeed several scholars have speculated on it. I think I agree with Tom that it doesn't fit well with the "Speculation" section; but it might be worthwhile looking at whether the article can bear a section on dating or chronology. If we imagine something like what would be the lede of Chronology of Shakespeare's plays (after we put a little elbow-grease into improving it), placed, possibly, as a sub-section under List of works, or maybe just after the sub-section on Textual sources (which would match the individual play articles quite well). This, unfortunately, wouldn't help us too much with the remaining "collaborated with…” footnotes; but it would neatly address what I understood to be the underlying concern prompting the addition of the Cairncross note, and without having to really deal with his reliability or lack of such. If we do this well, having that material covered in the article might make it easier to tweak the “four periods” stuff without having to get any more verbose.
Anyways, as Tom points out: this Talk page is getting to be monumentally long and hard to navigate now; if nobody objects I suggest we start a few new headings for the various tasks that have come out of this debate (a possible new section on dating, the "four periods" bit, and integrating the collab footnotes) and then archive this thread. --Xover (talk) 22:14, 9 July 2009 (UTC)
Yes, you understand me correctly. I see where you and Tom are coming from regarding the existing speculation section and I think you have made some excellent suggestions as to how to better implement the idea. And I think you are right about the collaboration bits still needing a different solution. Cheers! Smatprt (talk) 00:11, 10 July 2009 (UTC)

I found his real birth date!

Check this link out! I am not lying this is from the UK! (talk) 21:07, 9 May 2009 (UTC)

Sorry to burst your bubble, but any number of sources will "say" he was born 23 April - but ask them to produce proof and the best they'll be able to do is report they read it somewhere else; ask them, and you'll get the same answer; and so on forever. They're all simply using the traditional birth date, but reporting it as if it were factual. There's no proof that the traditional birth date really is when he was born. -- JackofOz (talk) 21:18, 9 May 2009 (UTC)
On a related note, do we really know the exact date of his death? Or just his burial? How is this verified?Smatprt (talk) 01:02, 10 May 2009 (UTC)
The date of his death is inscribed upon the monument: OBIIT ANO DOI 1616 AETATIS 53 DIE 23 APR. "Died 1616 A.D. in his 53rd year day 23 of April," so he had just turned 52.Tom Reedy (talk) 01:27, 11 May 2009 (UTC)

Notice: if we accept the monument's inscription as correct--and I see no reason to reject it--then it confirms Shakespeare's birth date as April 23 (or earlier), since he was in his 53rd year. ````niceedgarst —Preceding unsigned comment added by Niceedgarst (talkcontribs) 06:13, 10 June 2009 (UTC)

I already posted the theory on his birthdate hence the word "theory" under age at death or if you don't believ me check out my talk Callum1st2 (talk) 15:03, 23 May 2009 (UTC)

  1. ^ a b Wood, Michael (2003). In search of Shakespeare (1 ed.). London: BBC Books. p. 311. ISBN 0-563-53477-X. 
  4. ^ Cairncross 1936, 179–185
  5. ^ Bloom, pp. xiii, 383