Dick Whittington & Shakspere

Dick Whittington and his cat

With regard to the popular claim by Stratfordians that Edward de Vere’s status and character do not reflect what in my view is a “myth or legend” of the rural farming lad from Stratford-upon-Avon, namely William Shakspere who just after marrying his pregnant wife, Anne Hathawaye relocated to London and miraculously became the capital’s leading playwright and poet. That view is synonymous with the so-called “American Dream” that relies on the notion that anyone who works hard, is dedicated, diligent, resilient and imbued with considerable confidence and self-belief can aspire to the highest gaol in life and society. Instead we should ask ourselves where and when did this popular myth and assumption arrive and become indelibly fixed in the psyche of the British population as well as in other nations who have come to admire the work of William Shakespeare. My view is that this Dick Whittington myth has been circulating within the human condition for as long as human beings began “telling stories” which eventually became fairy tales. The other factor is that once the story began to circulate then other academics would readily accept it, build further on it and repeat it ad nauseum. The story of Dick Whittington was originally based on a real life character (Richard Whittington 1354-1423) and plays recording the story were part of the theatrical pantomimes rehearsed and performed by many regional players in the provinces; it was both a London tale as well as a provincial tale, that is it suited the popularity of the capital as a place of personal transformation and the provinces who were eager to see their local characters become idolised and revered as heralding from whatever obscure place or status to another more prominent position and location. It was true in the life circumstances of rural populations in the 15th and 16th century as it is still true today. Many young people from rural locations are forced to relocate to a large city in order to find work or receive an adequate education. In the case of William Shakspere there are numerous “false stories” that have arisen that are simply invalidated and basically untrue. For example, of the story that as a teenager, just before his marriage feast, he audaciously poached deer from a local nobleman’s estate to dress his wedding banquet there is no evidence whatsoever. And yet this story is now indelibly affixed to the character and biography of William Shakspere although it rightly belongs to the tales of Robin Hood and his merry men. There is a tendency among Stratfordian academics, eager to establish themselves as viable researchers and literary authorities to embellish, embroider and stitch together elements of British folklore onto the biography of the pseudonymous “William Shakespeare” because his birth date and death are synonymous with festivals celebrating England’s patron St. George. This tendency evolves in part because there is a level of “group-think” among these patriotic academics who vie with each other for the latest revelations about the life and work of William Shakespeare and their unconscious desire to be the first to uncover or reveal them to the delight of the literati. This occurs because there is something of a huge vacuum of known facts about our bucolic William Shakspere, and as human nature abhors a vacuum, there is a prerequisite urge to fill it up with some fanciful supposition or other, however absurd or improbable.

The fact that the Stratford actor (Shakspere) failed to pay his taxes in London or Stratford, was involved in assaults and affrays, enclosed common land, pursued his debtors relentlessly for the repayment of small loans in the courts, deceived the College of Arms, made poor provision for his wife, Anne Hathawaye in his final will and testament is of little or no concern to the vast number of Shakespearean researchers and academics. These facts were in their view symptomatic of the time for any struggling playwright and poet. It is true of course that some poets did emerge from a working class background but very few stepped into the arena without previously attending grammar school, university or one of the Inns of Court. One in particular was Ben Jonson who spent the early part of his life as a bricklayer or mason. Will Shakspere, similarly was the son of a wool merchant or “brogger”, the wheeler-dealer, John Shakspere who rose and fell in pursuit of property investments and married Mary Arden in order to acquire even more substantial assets. It should be pointed out that the sleepy rural world of Stratford-upon-Avon is never even mentioned either in the poetry or plays of “William Shakespeare”. It is true however that the name “Will” appears in sonnet 135 a total of 13 times almost deliberately as if someone had asked Edward de Vere to clarify by means of a sonnet in which the name Will features so strongly as to leave no doubt in the reader’s mind who the author really is.

Despite the fact that one need only turn to the book cover to remind you who wrote “Shakespeare’s Sonnets”.

The links to my publications “Shakespeare’s Qaballah”, a Companion to Shakespeare Studies and my anthology of poetry, “Pathenogenesis” are as follows:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/8182537193
https://www.cyberwit.net/publications/1721

Website: www.qudosacademy.org

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