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

The Rape of 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, Thomas Smith’s (that’s his marginalia above) and William Cecil’s. Since then I’ve owned or read books beyond counting. Here are a few that are worthy of mention.

SHAKESPEARE AND AUTHORSHIP

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

14 March 2019: This informative and thought-spawning reference is now available to download at no cost. Very generous of Mr Gilvary, the De Vere Society, and everyone else involved. See this post at the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship’s website for additional details.

  • “Shakespeare” Identified in Edward de Vere, the Seventeenth Earl of Oxford
  • · by J Thomas Looney
  • · Cecil Palmer, London, and Frederick A Stokes, New York, 1920, hardback, 551 pages
  • · reprinted by other American publishers in 1949 and 1975
  • · Centenary Edition, edited by James A Warren
  • · Forever Press, Somerville MA, 2018, paperback, 487 pages
  • · [Amazon UK | US]

SI was the first published work to connect my life with Shakespeare’s words, and to advocate the case for me as he. Looney (it’s LOW-nee, he was Manx) therefore holds pride of place in modern Oxfordianism. SI is not the smoothest read in terms of its style (those prolix Victorians), but it’s the book that opened the door to everything about me that has followed, including the blog you’re now reading. A while back I wrote a limerical ode to Looney in honour of the book’s 2020 centenary.

The Centenary Edition has updated 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 Internet Archive’s scans of the old book, 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.

With the correct Author, the Travels become Known. Roe was so close. The book doesn’t mention my name, but it doesn’t need to if you can think for yourself. If you believe 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.

This isn’t a book, but a list of many that I used in my work – books that I owned or had private access to. Public access did not exist. Note in particular the list’s second section, Books that Shakespeare Read in Another Language. Indeed.

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 (Jr), 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 any more-than-casual Oxfordian. Worth the effort.

MY BIOGRAPHIES

  • “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

I’d call this my standard biography now. 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 (Sr) 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.

POETRY

DRAMA

  • Provisional Biography of Mose Eakins [aurora148.com]
  • · by Evan Dara, 2018
  • · ebook downloadable at the link (email address required)
  • · reciprocation (that is, payment), after reading, is optional

HISTORY, HISTORIOGRAPHY, ETC

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 (kudos to those responsible), without a login. Chapter titles are: [1] The Disgusting Cardinal Wolsey, [2] The Envious Earl of Surrey (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.

FICTION

  • Cow Country [coweyepress.com]
  • · by Adrian Jones Pearson
  • · Cow Eye Press, 2015, hardback, 540 pages
  • · also paperback, audiobook, and ebook formats
  • A Confederacy of Dunces [groveatlantic.com]
  • · by John Kennedy Toole
  • · 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 Falstaff.

ABSENT FROM MY DESK, NOT BY MY CHOICE

  • My Bible – It 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.

VERO NIHIL VERIUS