Thank You!

Posted By on January 17, 2014

This is a brief “thank you” note to all the new and returning readers who have visited Shake-Speares-Bible over the last few days.

Yesterday was the most active day in the history of the site, with 208 unique visitors, 56 of them returning visitors, and 377 page views. The heightened interest in the site continues today, with 69 unique visitors already before noon EST today, 22 of them returning visitors.

The most popular page, naturally, has been the new post on the Latin/Anglo-Saxon annotations in the copy of the Folger Library’s issue of William Lambarde’s 1568 Archaionomia, which may be in the handwriting of the 17th Earl of Oxford and in any case are certainly a monkey wrench in the longstanding Stratfordian theory, recently pumped on Wikipedia, that the very same volume contains an authentic “signature” of William Shakspere.

Among other recent visitors, it was pleasing to have Tom Reedy commenting for the first time on the site, and a number of Mr. Reedy’s comments on this post and on the ongoing discussion about the disputed authorship of “My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is,” are material contributions to the discussion.

Tom, Marie Merkel, and other participants in the Oxfraud facebook discussion, have raised various vague objections to the idea that the annotation could be in Oxford’s hand. Marie, for example, points out that Elizabethan era italic hands can easily be confused with one another by analysts unfamiliar with the sometimes subtle patterns of variation which can distinguish one from the other.

This was precisely my point in this detailed empirical analysis of Elizabeth Imlay’s abortive attempt to claim (over the objections of Cambridge librarians) that certain annotations in books from the library of Oxford’s tutor Sir Thomas Smith were in Oxford’s hand.

Mr. Reedy, as per his usual method, tries to ridicule me for allegedly concluding that the annotations are Oxford’s. As I tried (but apparently failed) to make unambiguous in my original post, the notion that the annotations are in Oxford’s hand can at this point in time be regarded as no more than a hypothesis, awaiting further discussion. As of this time I stand by that hypothesis, and no one has offered any reason credible to me why this hypothesis should be falsified.

I did, however, take a gratifying pre-emptive slap at the longstanding failure of Professor Nelson to account for his contradictory statements about the de Vere Bible annotations (he first said he was certain they were in Oxford’s hand, but later changed his mind without explanation when the political heat descended and it seemed appropriate for the purposes of professional advancement to claim otherwise).

I also stand by those remarks, which only recap the analysis long available on my site FAQ (which perhaps Mr. Reedy had not read). Should Professor Nelson care to clarify his comments, which incidentally impugned the professional reputation of a board certified forensic handwriting analyst, Emily Will, I will be happy to reconsider my position on this question.

In the meantime, I wanted to clearly put on record that until Professor Nelson explains his reasoning more fully, he has, in my opinion, forfeited any claim to professional qualification in the relevant field of forensic handwriting analysis, in which unsubstantiated claims to the media do not constitute evidence.

Several readers have contacted me privately with interesting observations and in at least one case I hope this conversation will give rise to a future guest post regarding some of the specific reasons for concluding that the Shakspere “signature” on the Lambarde title page is most likely a forgery.

This evidence is not, at least for the most part, new or unknown (and has been noted in the past by orthodox scholars who have remained skeptical of the view), but it has been swept under the rug by the apologists for the inscription’s authenticity as a “signature” and deserves a fuller airing in light of the present discussion about the overlooked annotations in the volume.

I look forward to seeing these analyses brought before readers at the earliest possible opportunity.

About the author

Roger Stritmatter is a native liberal humorist who lives in Baltimore, Maryland. Contrary to rumor, he does not live on North Avenue. He does, however, work on North Avenue. A pacifist by inclination, one of his heroes is John Brown. But he thinks that Fredrick Douglass, another of his heroes, made the right decision. Stritmatter's primary areas of interest include the nature of paradigm shifts, the history of ideas, forensic literary studies, MS studies, renaissance literature, and the history of the Shakespearean question, the latter a field in which he has published extensively.


10 Responses to “Thank You!”

  1. Tom Reedy says:

    Ah c’mon, Roger, you at least should share a little credit here. I notice you had more traffic on the day I first posted than any of the other three high-volume days!

    I look forward to the other Roger’s guest post.

  2. Roger Stritmatter says:

    No, Tom, I think you are confusing cause and effect.

    The pattern of traffic on the site (which continues at a significantly higher rate over an extended period of time, higher and longer than ever before) does not confirm a high interest in your comments.

    The original Lambarde post, to which Christopher Carolan has now added impressive corroboration in the comments section) continues to be the most popular page:

    I think you will see from Chris’s comments that your colleague Mr. Leadbetter has stuck his foot about as far down his own throat as one can imagine possible. You reputation as the most substantive of the Oxfrauds continues without contradiction. : )

    Coming up behind it over the past three days has been my detailed paleographical analysis of why the annotations in the Smith volumes and Cambridge University are not Oxford’s:

    Have you read this article yet? You might want to do so because it illustrates a methodology for distinguishing one Elizabethan italic hand from another — in this case the quite close hand of the (probable) teacher from his precocious student. If you or anyone else wants to dispute the hypothesis that the Lambarde annotations are in Oxford’s hand this is the sort of methodology you would want to follow.

    In order to be convincing, it would require an awareness, as Lynne Kositsky suggested, of the fairly large range of natural variation in Oxford’s hand, in order to avoid a false negative (type II) conclusion. I will be making more posts dealing with the methodology of forensic paleography over the next several weeks, looking at some further possible or probable books annotated by Oxford.

    The next runner up is my spoof on your wilde goose chase:

    To which you did subscribe a very long rejoinder containing some interesting materials that deserve further consideration. More on that anon.

  3. Tom Reedy says:

    Roger look at my quick-and-dirty comparisons I posted on Oxfraud. While not conclusive, in my mind it shows too much variance in peculiar letter combination formations to justify spending any more time on them. Of course, I’m not as conversant with all the examples of Oxford’s handwriting as you are, so you might be able to make a case for it being Oxford’s from other examples than the 1603 letter.

  4. Roger Stritmatter says:

    Tom, if you are working only from the 1603 letter, then you don’t know what you are doing. Sorry. This is not a sport to pick up in an afternoon. Good luck, but start by getting a better feeling for what is called “natural variation” in Oxford’s hand. This is a basic term of the art. Until you know what it means you will just continue to generate false negatives.

  5. Tom Reedy says:

    I’m not really working on it, I’m using the famous “glance” method made famous by Jane Cox.

  6. Roger Stritmatter says:

    Yes, it’s easier just coming up with phrases like “more Oxfordian conspiracy nonsense,” isn’t it Tom?

    Really understanding Elizabethan and forensic handwriting takes work, and you guys are busy with Oxfraudianism, I understand. But if you want to actually learn something about the topic, I can’t recommend Harrison 1958 too highly. The book retains its classic status for a reason, even in this age of computer assisted methodologies.

    I’ll be developing a whole series of posts on forensic handwriting principles and early modern book annotations and manuscripts over the coming months here, so if you want your comments to remain relevant, I suggest you do put some effort into it, even if it takes you away from your more creative activities.

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