Learned Books

Banner - Sybilline Book marginalia by my teacher Sir Thomas Smith

Yea the illiterate, that know not how
To cipher what is writ in learned books

Lucrece, lines 861-62

Not everyone lived, or died, with books.

I grew up, literally, under the roofs of the two finest libraries in England at the time: first Thomas Smith’s (that’s his marginal doodle above), followed by William Cecil’s. Since then I’ve owned or read books beyond counting. Here are some I find worthy of mention.


  • Dating Shakespeare’s Plays: A Critical Review of the Evidence
  • · Edited by Kevin Gilvary
  • · Parapress, 2010, 520 pages, reissued by Portsea Press, 2021

14 March 2019: This impartial and indispensible reference is available to read online or download, at no cost. Incredibly generous gesture by Mr Gilvary, the De Vere Society, and everyone else involved.

11 February 2021: The paperbound book is once again available to purchase, from Portsea Press in the UK. See the website for information about international orders.

  • “Shakespeare” Identified in Edward de Vere, the Seventeenth Earl of Oxford
  • · by J Thomas Looney
  • · Cecil Palmer, London, 1920, hardback, 551 pgs [archive.org]
  • · Frederick A Stokes, New York, 1920, hardback, 466 pgs [Google Books]
  • · reprinted by other American publishers in 1949 and 1975
  • · Librivox audiobook (total running time ~17 hrs) [archive.org]

SI 1st edition Cecil Palmer 1920Looney (you’ll find both LOO-ney and LOW-ney given as pronunciation) was the first modern authorship questioner to connect my life with Shakespeare’s words, and to advocate the case for me as he. SI thus holds pride of place in today’s Oxfordianism. It is not the smoothest of reads but it opened the door to everything about me that has followed, including this blog. Ahead of the book’s 2020 centenary I wrote a limerical ode to its author. It’s the least I could do.

  • · Centenary Edition, edited by James A Warren
  •   ­- Veritas Publications, 2019, paper, 487 pgs
  •   ­- Amazon [UK | US], Kindle ebook also available

The Centenary Edition updates the original’s punctuation and formatting (though not its text), and Warren has added references and a bibliography for a great many of Looney’s sources. It’s a welcome alternative to the scans of the 1920 books (at the links above), though the scans win on cost, not having any. But spend the money if you can. Your eyes will thank you, and you can write in the margins.

The travels aren’t unknown, and Roe knows it. He rather hides behind ‘the playwright’ instead of sticking his neck out, but he’s up front in saying that no one without a great deal of first-hand experience in Italy could have written the Italian plays, while thoroughly explaining why not. If you can finish this book and remain convinced that the overlaps between what of Italy is in Shakespeare, and where I went and what I did during my residence there in 1575-76, are unrelated and ignorable —while Willy never put so much as a toe in salt water— then thanks for stopping by, and have fun in Warwickshire or Washington.

Fact: Monty Python is the second-best cultural entity this realm has ever produced.

Monty Python, Shakespeare and English Renaissance Drama cover - deVere Oxford books library

From the back cover: At first consideration, it would seem that Shakespeare and Monty Python have very little in common other than that they’re both English. Shakespeare wrote during the reign of a politically puissant Elizabeth, while Python flourished under an Elizabeth figurehead. Shakespeare wrote for rowdy theatre (wrong Shakespeare, not generally true but never mind) whereas Python toiled at a remove, for television. Shakespeare is The Bard; Python is… not. Despite all of these differences, Shakespeare and Python are in fact related; this work considers both the differences and similarities between the two. It discusses Shakespeare’s status as England’s National Poet and Python’s similar elevation. It explores various aspects of theatricality (troupe configurations, casting and writing choices, allusions to classical literature) used by Shakespeare, Ben Jonson and Monty Python. It also covers the uses and abuses of history in Shakespeare and Python; humor, especially satire, in Shakespeare, Jonson, Dekker and Python; and the concept of the “Other” in Shakespearean and Pythonesque creations.

  • The Mysterious William Shakespeare The Myth & the Reality
  • · by Charlton Ogburn (junior), foreword by David McCullough
  • · 1st edition: Dodd, Mead & Co, New York (1984), hardback, 892 pages
  • · 2nd edition: EPM Publications, McLean VA (1992), hardback, 892 pages
  • · new and used copies readily available

Dauntingly comprehensive study that brought my case up to date. Even dyed-in-the-wool Stratfordians can learn a lot about the Author from this book, and it’s a must-read for Oxfordians. If you need to be convinced that it’s worth the effort, the single page of McCullough’s foreword should do it.


  • “Shakespeare” By Another Name: The Life of Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, the Man who was Shakespeare
  • · by Mark Anderson (@markawriter)
  • · Gotham Books/Penguin Group USA, 2005, hardback, 640 pages
  • · also paperback, audiobook (abridged), and ebook formats

Anderson has done a great deal of work connecting elements of my life with corresponding elements in the plays. Sometimes the line between biography and drama blurs a bit, but the detail is impressive. Amazon [US | UK] has still-new copies in hardback and paper, used copies, and a Kindle version.

  • This Star of England“William Shake-speare” Man of the Renaissance
  • · by Dorothy and Charlton (senior) Ogburn
  • · Coward-McCann, 1952, hardback, 1297 pages
  • · used copies at the usual suspects, varying condition and prices
  • · Online-readable at the HathiTrust Digital Library [hathitrust.org]. Single-page PDFs downloadable, whole-book PDF requires login
  • · First 50 chapters transcribed at sourcetext.com, with the remainder as raw page scans in downloadable chapter PDFs (presumably an unfinished project to transcribe the whole book)
  • The Seventeenth Earl of Oxford, 1550–1604
  • · by Bernard M Ward
  • · John Murray, London, 1928, hardback, 408 pages
  • · used 1928 copies or 1979 reprints are hard to find and expensive
  • · the Internet Archive has a downloadable copy

See also Oh Put Me In Thy Bookes, which discusses the Ward and Looney books in detail.



I had rather a lot to do with the production of the Production Guide, then I wrote about it. Guiding Mose Eakins can be read in two parts at The Evan Dara Affinity [evandara.org], or on one page here.


Breight akes a nonconformist position and states it with vehemence. He may be the only person alive whose view of my father-in-law is more jaundiced than my own. Though a historical contrarian, Breight remains a pedestrian English professor. His references to Shakespeare show thought, yet his assumptions are predictably, lazily orthodox. He thereby misses much that would have been useful to his argument. My absence from the book paradoxically supports his thesis concerning the extent of Cecilian power. Breight himself is its unwitting victim, after more than four centuries.

I had to put a sticky note over Burghley’s head on the dust jacket – the look on his face was too bloody familiar. And be warned, even the ebook costs half a goodly manor.

You can read or download this book at no cost, without a login. Kudos to those responsible. Chapter titles are: [1] The Disgusting Cardinal Wolsey, [2] The Envious Earl of Surrey (my Uncle Henry), [3] The Rejected Earl of Leicester, the Rejected Sir Philip Sidney, and [4] The Dreading, Dreadful Earl of Essex.

From the description at NUP: Spanning the sixteenth century, Emotion in the Tudor Court explores Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and Henrician satire; Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, and elegy; Sir Philip Sidney and Elizabethan pageantry; and Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, and factional literature. It demonstrates how the dynamics of disgust, envy, rejection, and dread, as they are understood in the modern affective sciences, can be seen to guide literary production in the early modern court.

An additional chapter might have added further insight: The Nonconformist Earl of Oxford, Who By the Way Was Shake-Speare. I wonder if Dr Irish has any plans for a second edition.


  • • by Evan Dara [aurora148.com]
  • · The Lost Scrapbook – 1995, 414 pages [Amazon UK | US]
  • · The Easy Chain – 2008, 474 pages [Amazon UK | US]
  • · Flee – 2013, 245 pages [Amazon UK | US]
  • · Permanent Earthquake – 2021, 261 pages [Amazon US] (no UK yet)

Breathtaking work by my favourite living pseudonymous author. See my post Four Centuries of Skonk for a glimpse of The Easy Chain.

  • Cow Country [coweyepress.com]
  • · by Adrian Jones Pearson (yet another pseudonym)
  • · Cow Eye Press, 2015, hardback, 540 pages
  • · also paperback, audiobook, and ebook formats
  • A Confederacy of Dunces [groveatlantic.com]
  • · by John Kennedy Toole (his real name)
  • · Louisiana State University Press, 1980 (written in 1963)
  • · numerous reprint editions and formats available at the usual sources

Ignatius J Reilly is the nearest thing I’ve seen to a modern Jack Falstaff.


  • My BibleIt belongs to me. I want it back.
  • · printed by John Crispin, Geneva
  • · MDLXX (1570)
  • · immured at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington DC, USA

Front of my 1575 Geneva Bible and boar medallion detail - deVere Oxford books library - GIVE IT BACK, FOLGERphotos courtesy of the FSLRevelation 14:13 from my 1575 Geneva Bible - deVere Oxford books libraryI underlined Revelation 14:13 for a reason.