The Authorship Question
The Catholic Question
Cast of Characters
The Author's Mind
Edmund Campion
Edmund Campion as Shakespeare
The Works
Coincidence or Clue
The Devil's Advocate
Notes and References
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Robert Greene’s Groats-worth of Wit:

Although not referring to him by name, the dramatist Robert Greene is accepted to have made a notorious reference to Shakespeare in his final literary work. In a warning letter to other playwrights that concludes his Groats-worth he writes:

Yes, trust them not: for there is an upstart crow, beautified with
our feathers, that with his tiger’s heart wrapped in a player’s hide
supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the
best of you; and, being an absolute Johannes Factotum, is in his
own conceit the only Shake-scene in a country. O, that I might
entreat your rare wits to be employed in more profitable courses,
and let those apes imitate your past excellence, and never more
acquaint them with your past inventions.

The standard interpretation of this paragraph is that Greene was accusing Shakespeare of being a plagiarist, an accusation also made by Ben Jonson in his epigrams which allude to a’ poet- ape’. For some reason Stratfordians do not regard Greene’s mention as a serious blow to their position, claiming the lines prove Shakspere actually did write plays. Anti-Stratfordians, however view Greene’s mention as clear evidence that Shakspere was not the original author of the canon. Hildegard Hammerschmidt- Hummel is more interested in another quote from Greene’s tract that has the ‘upstart crow’ being “an absolute Interpreter to the puppets”, (puppets meaning priests) which like John Speed’s History identifies Shakespeare as a Catholic mouthpiece. [10] This idea is elaborated later in this section.

Ben Jonson’s Equivocation:

William Shakspere’s sometime drinking mate and fellow playwright, Ben Jonson, seems very ambivalent about his friend’s true merit. In his famous introduction to the First Folio he sings Shakespeare’s praises as the man for all time, the beloved author, but he thinly disguises his derision for the ‘poet- ape’ elsewhere. In the Folio introduction there is his puzzling observation that Shakespeare had small Latin and less Greek while comparing him to the great classical writers of History. What are we to make of this schizophrenic attitude other than to conclude that he was indeed talking about two people i.e. the great poet Edmund Campion alias Shakespeare and his cover the actor from Stratford, William Shakspere. Although it seemed his intention to allow the public to assume he was talking about one and the same person in the Folio, Jonson cannot restrain his ironical tone and succeeded thereby to produce the most hotly discussed document in the authorship debate.

Robert Southwell’s Dedication:

A book of Southwell’s poems including St. Peter’s Complaint is dedicated to ‘his worthy cosen Mr.W.S.’ Researchers have been able to discover that Robert Southwell was distantly related by marriage to William from Stratford. It also makes sense to consider that Southwell may have wished to honour his most worthy cousin and fellow Jesuit, Edmund Campion, but knew he could only be referred to by his pseudonym.

John Speed’s ‘mouthpiece’:

Scholars have been puzzled by a reference to Shakespeare in a book The History of Britaine written by the Puritan historian John Speed. Although Shakespeare is not explicitly named, he is generally assumed to be the person described in this book as ‘Person’s mouthpiece” owing to the mention of Oldcastle.[11]. The actual passage beginning with a reference to Persons is as follows:

And his authority, taken from the stage players, is more befitting the pen
of his slanderous report than the credit of the judicious, being only grounded
from this papist and his poet, of like conscience for lies, the one ever
feigning and the other ever falsifying the truth.......that N.D. (believed to
be the pseudonym of Persons), author of the three conversions, hath
made Ouldcastle a Ruffien, a Robber and a Rebell, and his authoritie taken
from the stage-players....

This allusion by a Puritan historian gives weight to the recent scholarship concerning a pro-Catholic interpretation of the plays, with Speed seeming to regard the plays as vehicles for a Catholic revision of History. The one person whose name was always linked with Robert Persons, who worked in direct association with him to spread the Catholic message in England was none other than Edmund Campion.

Textual clues

These will be mentioned in the sections on the sonnets and plays.

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