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 the creator of “the works of Shakespeare” (known as the canon, or corpus) is irrelevant. At times it’s simply more convenient to stick with what’s familiar. ‘Shakespeare’, as the name is used today, is a cultural construct, a cartoon, a meme – though many don’t know it or won’t admit it.
  • Shake-Speare: The name I use when I write about myself as the Author. This is how the pseudonym is supposed to be spelled, with a hyphen. ‘Shakespeare’ didn’t become the incorrect default until long after my death.
  • Willy, Poet-Ape, Shakspere, Shaksper, Shaxper, Shax, 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 surname, your guess is as good as his.
  • I know there is Spenser’s Tears of the Muses, ‘pleasant Willy’ referring to me, and so on. I’m not contradicting that, I’m just leaving it alone, to minimise confusion. When I say Willy, I mean the Stratford fellow.
  • The Shakespeare Industry, or Orthodoxy, or Stratford: the boards of tourism, companies, experts (soi-disant), foundations, graduate students, libraries, merchants, museums, professors (tenured, adjunct, or emeritus), publishers, towns, trusts, university departments, writers, et cetera, whose financial prosperity and professional standing are wholly bounden unto the Gospel of Willy. The Orthodox Church of Stratford’s curia is the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT). The Folger Shakespeare Library (FSL) is its American missionary.
  • It took the Vatican 359 years to admit that Copernicus and Galileo had heliocentrism right all along. Williocentricism is now past 400, and we’re still counting.
  • 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. Stratford’s false religion is Bardolatry.
  • 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.