Those not familiar with the quirks of the Shakespeare authorship question may not know how offensive (to some) the above statement is. But thanks to new research published this year, it is verifiably true -- and it demolishes the main substantive objection to Edward de Vere as the man behind The Bard's mask.
The war over the Bard's identity is often waged in a proxy skirmish over the Shakespeare chronology -- because Edward de Vere died in 1604, while traditional scholarship dates the composition of a dozen or more Shakespeare plays between 1604 and 1613. If any Shakespeare play could definitively be dated after 1604, then de Vere is kicked to the curb as a "Shakespeare" candidate.
And while there's very little proof that any Shakespeare play was written after 1604, The Tempest has long been a sticking point.
The Tempest, the standard thinking goes, quotes directly from a book called The True Repertory written sometime after 1609 by an adventurer named William Strachey. We know Strachey wrote his True Repertory after 1609 because in it he describes a shipwreck in the Bermudas that happened during that year.
But the American researcher Roger Stritmatter (Coppin State Univ., Baltimore) and the Canadian author Lynne Kositsky have published six new scholarly articles that establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Strachey in fact plagiarized his shipwreck descriptions from books that were written decades before, in 1516, 1523 and 1555, specifically. The Tempest references those same books, Stritmatter and Kositsky argue, and suddenly Strachey is no longer a source for Shakespeare.
Suddenly, The Tempest falls back in line with the rest of the Shakespeare canon, comfortably situated in the pre-1604 world.
These new Tempest studies are as important as anything since the discovery of Edward de Vere's Geneva Bible in 1991. And while the paperback edition of "Shakespeare" By Another Name summarizes their findings (which arrived too late to make it into the hardback), even the paperback wasn't able to list where these groundbreaking papers can (or will soon) be found.
Now we can.
- Roger Stritmatter & Lynne Kositsky, "The Spanish Maze and the Date of The Tempest" The Oxfordian 10 (2008) 9-19
- Stritmatter & Kositsky, "Shakespeare and the Voyagers Revisited," Review of English Studies N.S. 58.236 (Sept. 2007) 447-472
- Stritmatter & Kositsky, "A Moveable Feast: The Tempest as Shrovetide Revelry" The Shakespeare Yearbook. Forthcoming.
- Stritmatter & Kositsky, "Eastward Ho! The Vogue of Virginia and the Date of The Tempest" Forthcoming.
- Stritmatter & Kositsky, "O Brave New World: The Tempest and De Orbe Novo" Questioning Shakespeare, ed. William Leahy. Forthcoming.
- Stritmatter & Kositsky, "Pale as Death: The Fictionalizing Influence of Erasmus's Naufragium on the Renaissance Travel Narrative" Verite 1:1. Forthcoming
**APRIL 2014 ADDENDUM: The comments to this blog post contain some interesting claims about William Strachey as a person -- and testimonial that he was, perhaps, not a plagiarist.
Subsequent to the original blog post above, Stritmatter & Kositsky written an excellent book about the Strachey's True Repertory and The Tempest. They have also kindly responded to these comments about Strachey, below:
We show conclusively in the book, without a shadow of a rational doubt, that Strachey was *not* an eyewitness to key passages recounted in the narrative which , and therefore *was* one way or another plagiarizing earlier narratives when he produced it. The internal evidence of True Repertory's extensive process of revision through the incorporation of other narratives and texts is overwhelming. So all this circumstantial stuff about what a great guy he was and how much responsibility he had been given is totally beside the point. He was a plagiarist. Now, that doesn't in itself prove anything else, but it is one of the most obvious and undeniable conclusions that can be drawn from the book, because we 1) demonstrate that many other scholars attribute plagiarism to him; 2) we proved from internal signs the plagiaristic properties of True Reportory.
Strachey's plagiaristic habits are so well documented as to be beyond doubt. The only problem is that when discussing True Reportory Strachey the plagiarist suddenly becomes Strachey the "eyewitness" in the critical literature.