If you’re not doing the whole podcasting thing yet (you should!) you may not have heard (ha! pun intended!) of the forthcoming Shakespeare by Another Name, by Mark Anderson. This book argues that the works of Shakespeare were actually written by the Earl of Oxford.
Normally I’d consider it no big deal, as I don’t usually follow any of the “who wrote the works of Shakespeare” theories. What I’m digging about it, though, and major credit to the author for thinking of this, is that he’s doing audio excerpts from the book as a sort of teaser for when it is actually published. So instead of publishing a book that I would never have seen or even given a second thought if I had, he’s gotten me to listen to the first 5 chapters.
How is it? He certainly makes an interesting case. He’s got loads of evidence that Shakespeare’s work pretty much parallels Oxford’s life almost identically, right down to Oxford (or somebody he knew, I forget…) crossing paths with two people from Denmark named Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. To tell you the truth it gets so obvious the way it’s presented that it makes you roll your eyes and say “Yeah, sure, if it’s so obvious, why has it been a mystery for 400 years?” When I heard the first chapter I immediately thought of that old conspiracy email about “Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy, Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln!”
I think that if you’re a collector of such things, this is going to be a good one. The amount of evidence really is staggering. The author’s command of the plays is also outstanding, which makes for the best part of his argument — he always backs it up with sources from the plays, which in turn expands my exposure to select bits of plays like Winter’s Tale that I might not otherwise have ever noticed.