What’s In A Name?

Here’s what I mean when I use certain names or terms. You can also read this new sonnet (#155).

  • Shakespeare, or the Author: Used in contexts where my personal identity as creator of “the works of Shakespeare” (the canon or corpus) is irrelevant. At times it’s just more convenient. ‘Shakespeare’ as we use the word today is simply a cultural construct, a cartoon, a meme – though many don’t know it or won’t admit it.
  • Shake-Speare: This one I tend to use when I am talking about myself as the Author. This was the pseudonym as it was spelled in my own time. ‘Shakespeare’ didn’t become the default until well after my death.
  • Willy, or ShakspereShaksperShaxperShax, or (thanks to Jeff) Shaggy: The front, the myth, the straw man, the convenient untruth. The parsimonious plaintiff of doubtful literacy from Stratford-upon-Avon. The Merchant of Warwickshire. My legacy’s usurper. Not Shakespeare. As to the actual spelling of his name, your guess is as good as mine. If you like Latin, Gulielmus works.
  • I know there’s the Spenser business, Tears of the Muses, ‘pleasant Willy’ referring to me, and so on. I’m not contradicting that, I’m just leaving it alone here, to minimise confusion. When I say Willy, I mean the Stratford fellow.
  • The Shakespeare Industry, or Stratford: the trusts, foundations, companies, towns, boards of tourism, merchants, museums, libraries, publishers, university departments, tenured professors, graduate students, authors, experts, et cetera, whose financial prosperity and/or professional standing is wholly bounden to the Gospel of Willy. It took the Vatican 359 years to admit that Copernicus and Galileo had it right. Williocentricism is now past 400, and still counting. The SBT (Shakespeare Birthplace Trust) is the Curia of the Church of Stratford.
  • Stratfordians can be referred to as being from Warwickshire, no matter where they reside.
  • References to (the) Bard mean Willy. That’s his handle, not mine. I wouldn’t call an Oxfordian a Bardologist unless I was being snarky.
  • Normally I call the work my plays, my sonnets, my poems, or whatever applies. It’s my stuff. Nothing is truer than truth. Vero Nihil Verius.