The Twin Lives of William Shagsper & Edward de Vere

Despite the differences in their inherent skills, family background and status it occurred to me that there are some remarkable similarities between the lives of Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford and William Shagspere, the jobbing actor and stage hand from Stratford-upon-Avon. Indeed, both men were married under dubious circumstances to a woman by the name of Anne. The Earl of Oxford stood to gain financially from marrying William Cecil’s daughter, while William Shagspere stood to gain from Anne Hathawaye’s dowry. In fact both men had problems with their wives, assets and properties, although in differing scales or proportions and both had to juggle their financial and marital affairs for the most part of their lives. And the coincidences continue, for example both men had a father named John which is curious although the Earl’s father had died when he was seven years old while Shagspere’s father was still alive. On occasions the Earl of Oxford visited his relative, Elizabeth Trussel who lived at Billesley Hall, Stratford-upon-Avon, that is a half hours walk from the Forest of Arden and it is plausible that he became acquainted with the events and personages residing there including the actor William Shagspere and his father John. Both had close friends and fervent enemies that crossed their paths and influenced their status and ultimate rise to unimaginable heights. Both men worked with and mixed in the dramatic milieu of London’s theatres, although Oxford wrote plays and Shagspere worked as an actor. However, where the Earl of Oxford arose from his father’s riches in Oxford as tutelary Lord Great Chamberlain and then declined in obscurity and penniless rags in Hackney, while the Stratford actor arose from the tatters of his father’s debts, despite his status as Alderman of Stratford (1571) and, after a long period of time in London, eventually retired a knighted gentleman into relative riches. Therefore, it is easy to understand why William Shagspere so easily fitted the bill when he was chosen to assume the role of “literary mask” for the Earl of Oxford. Where they differed on the contrary is easy to discern, W. Shagspere was born a commoner (though eventually granted a coat of arms), Edward de Vere was born a nobleman who tried to lift the curse on his family background eventually fell into disrepute. However, the Earl of Oxford’s wife died in 1588, while Shagspere’s wife outlived him although Shagspere’s sister, Ann died in 1579. What has confounded many biographers when listing details of Shakespeare’s life is that Edward de Vere lived in the London district of Stratford and that there is in actual fact another river Avon running into the Bristol straits through Bath and perhaps the Earl was for a time living nearby in one of his landed estates. However, the accolade “Bard of Avon” did not come into common usage until the 18th century.

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


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