The Shakespeare Illusions

Posted By on February 15, 2017

Here is the power point used to illustrate my  lecture at the fall 2016 Annual Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship meetings in Newtown, MASS.

The Shakespeare Illusions

In this talk, I critically examined two major elements of Stratfordian narrative, the Greene’s Groatsworth of Witte (1592) allusion to a “Johannes Factotum” and “Shakescene” and Francis Meres Palladis tamia (1598) discussion of “Shakespeare” as a major playwright.

Many people consider these to be “Shakespeare allusions.” Actually, they are Shakespeare illusions.

Together these two illusions constitute the bookends of Stratfordian biographies of the 1590s, seeming to establish beyond reasonable doubt the presence of an active “Shakespeare” writing for the London stage from 1592-98, and justifying the otherwise hyperbolic claims of Stratfordolators like Greenblatt to the effect that Shakespeare was a “celebrity” in his own lifetime.

Unfortunately for orthodoxy, neither of these two allusions is what they seem.

The former has often, since first being discovered in 1773, to refer to Shakspere or Shakespeare, but today more often and with greater credibility construed (Chiljan et al.) as a reference to the prodigious and much-hated actor-impresario-writer Edward Alleyn, with whom Green in 1592 had been feuding for several years.

Meres, likewise, presents serious problems for orthodoxy. In point of fact, although Shakespeare plays had been published in ‘bad quarto’ since 1591, the name does not appear on any title page of a play until 1598, coincident with Meres’s first public announcement of “Shakespeare” the playwright. All in all, nine Shakespeare plays are published between 1591-1598 without an author’s name on them. After Meres, all new quartos have the name on them.

Details in the attached pdf. Please feel free to download and use according to fair use and attribution principles.


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.


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