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Publisher's Summary

Actor William Shaksper of Stratford had little education, never left England, and apparently owned no books. How could he have written the great plays and poetry attributed to him? Journalist Mark Anderson's biography offers tantalizing proof that Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, courtier, spendthrift, scholar, traveler, soldier, scoundrel, and writer, was the real "Shakespeare".

As Anderson reveals, de Vere lived in Venice during his twenties, often in debt to its moneylenders (Merchant of Venice). He led military campaigns against rebellious nobles in Scotland (Macbeth). An extramarital affair resulted in fighting between his supporters and rivals (Romeo and Juliet). And when de Vere was publicly disgraced, he began using the pen name "Shake-speare" and appealed to Queen Elizabeth I through her favorite form of entertainment: the theater.

©2005 Mark Anderson; (P)1999 HighBridge Company

Critic Reviews

"The most important Shakespeare biography of the past 400 years." (Sarah Smith)

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  • Overall
  • Dan
  • Mankato, MN, USA
  • 01-15-06

Brings the period to life

I think it's interesting that the reader, Mr. Prebble, is also reading Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver. While much in the Baroque Cycle MAY be true, Mark Anderson's description of the life of DeVere in light of the works of Shake-speare make it highly implausible that there is not a connnection. And best of all, like Quicksilver, it brings the people and events of Elizabeth's court to life in a new and very interesting way. It definitely made a believer of me, and I'm looking forward to talking about the book in my English History class this Spring. It's so fascinating how well everything fits together once you abandon the impossibility of Shakespeare not being the guy who lived in Anne Hathaway's house. Reminds me of something Douglas Adams said: (Quoted from Douglas Adams The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul)

"What was the Sherlock Holmes principle? 'Once you have discounted the impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.' "

"I reject that entirely," said Dirk sharply. " The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it that the merely improbable lacks. How often have you been presented with an apparently rational explanation of something that works in all respects other than one, which is just that it is hopelessly improbable? Your instinct is to say, 'Yes, but he or she simply wouldn't do that.' ...The first idea merely supposes that there is something we don't know about, and God knows there are enough of those. The second, however, runs contrary to something fundamental and human which we do know about. We should therefore be very suspicious of it and all its specious rationality."

Bravo!!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Excellent

The material was fascinating even if you are a die-hard Stratfordian. Very well read and intriguing. Mark Anderson makes a strong argument and uses Shakespeare's contemporaries to further his case. If you choose to believe Anderson's theory (expounding on Looney's theory), Shakespeare's Canon opens up to a whole new dimension.
It helps to have a passable knowledge of Shakespeare's works but it is not necessary. I recommended this work to my brother who is a Shakespeareophobe.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Must-Read for anyone interested in Shake-speare!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

It is the best biography of the real man who was Shakespeare.

Who was your favorite character and why?

This is non-fiction, but Edward DeVere was a real person whose life story is that of Hamlet and whose knowledge, travel and experience allowed him to write the plays and the lyrical works, but whose personal, political and social status made it impossible for him to be recognized as the author. All other versions of Shakespeare are fictions based on wishful conjecture to support the unsupportable cash-cow myth that is Will of Stratford, who somehow became the mask or frontman for the Great Author whose identify is based on thousands of parallels and historical and political events.This is the best starting point for study of the authorship question.

What about Simon Prebble’s performance did you like?

He has a measured, appropriate voice for this story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Shakespeare Exposed

This is a brilliant discussion of the centuries-old mystery, who wrote the Shakespeare plays. Mark Anderson lays it out so well, the conclusion can't be denied.

He is far from the first writer to realize Shakespeare from Stratford-on-Avon wasn't the real author, he credits them for their contributions. Mark's chronicle of the life of the Earl of Oxford enlivens the matter, we see how real events in his life found their way into the plays. He does such a good job, I'm left with a sense of loss, that the man who changed the English language and gave us so much would be forgotten. Edward De Vere died without the credit. There is also a sense of irritation. Many intelligent scholars and academicians, who should know better and act better, perpetuate the established view of Shakespeare. They're not the first people to continue a "cover-up", but they've made their money and careers by endorsing a fiction. At least they'll be forgotten.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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A very convincing argument.

After listening to this book I cannot see how Shakespeare could be anyone other then Edward de Vere.

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My Kingdom for a horse!

We visited the midlands of Richard the 3rd. I wish I had read (do we read audio books?) this first. We visited Stratford as well. I am satisfied with the proof.

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Badly argued and unsupported conspiracy theory

The book's central premise is that Edward deVere wrote all of the works of Shakespeare, as evidenced by "facts" from De Vere's life. However, the parallels are horribly attenuated. People from his life who supposedly have counterparts in his plays and poems sometimes switch genders, or religious affiliations or nationality. It is comically bad. And conveniently ignores facts that don't support its case. And engages in speculation that's better left to UFO conspiracy nuts.

1 of 5 people found this review helpful