Elizabeth I: Protestant Queen of England whose reign 1558-1603 saw England become a powerful force in trade, exploration and cultural achievements.
Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester: Court favourite of Elizabeth. Master of the Horse, soldier and patron of the arts. Campion’s patron during his last years at Oxford University.
William Cecil, Lord Burghley: Elizabeth’s chief minister whom she made Lord Burghley on the marriage of his daughter Anne to his ward Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. Described Campion as “this diamond of England”.
William Shakspere: Businessman and theatrical entrepreneur from Stratford-upon-Avon. Catholic sympathizer.
Edmund Campion: Scholar, playwright/poet, Jesuit martyr. This theory’s candidate for the true author of Shakespeare.
Robert Persons: Jesuit agitator. Accompanied Campion on his mission to England. Author of the Christian Directory in which can be found many textual parallels with the Shakespeare plays.
Robert Southwell: Catholic poet and Jesuit martyr. Dedicated a major work “To My Worthy Good Cosen (cousin) Master W.S.”
Ralphael Holinshed: Author/editor of Holinshed’s Chronicles first published in1577, a major source for Shakespeare’s histories and which includes a major section on the History of Ireland written by Campion .
The Hoghton family: Catholic sympathizers who protected priests including Edmund Campion. The mention of William Shakeshafte in the Alexander Hoghton will of 1581 is believed by many Shakespearean scholars to substantiate the rumour that the young Shakespeare worked as a schoolmaster in the country. Assumed to be in the employ of the Hoghton family, Shakspere/Shakeshafte may well have crossed paths with Campion when the fugitive priest stayed with the Hoghtons in 1580-81.
Edward de Vere, Seventeenth Earl of Oxford: Cousin of the Queen. Married Anne Cecil, daughter of his guardian, William Cecil.
May have helped to edit and produce the plays through an association with William Shakespeare.
Ferdinando Stanley, Lord Strange: Catholic nobleman. Patron of the theatre and a company of players in which Shakspere may have begun his acting career.
William Stanley, Sixth Earl of Derby: Lord Strange’s younger brother. Popular candidate for the author of Shakespeare. Married the Earl of Oxford’s daughter Elizabeth and may have continued the work of his father-in- law to edit and produce Campion’s plays. Possible financier of Shakespeare’s theatre company and the publication of the First Folio.
John Lyly: One of the university wits. Playwright, prose writer and secretary to the Earl of Oxford. May have assisted Oxford to edit and copy the scripts of Campion’s plays hence the many similarities between Lyly’s works and the Shakespeare canon.
Anthony Munday: Government agent who had a hand in the execution of Campion. Playwright and poet. While secretary to Oxford he assisted in the revision of Sir Thomas More a play in the Shakespeare Apocrypha whose authorship is attributed by some to Munday.
Lord Vaux: Catholic sympathizer who protected priests including Campion and Southwell. Sold his estate “King’s Place” Hackney to the Earl of Oxford’s second wife Elizabeth Trentham, who sold it to Lord Brooke after the death of her husband.
Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke: Courtier, playwright and biographer of his great friend Philip Sidney. Play scripts were allegedly stolen from his library at Hackney and printed by the company responsible for a pirated copy of King Lear.
Thomas Thorpe: Publisher of the Sonnets and author of the puzzling dedication to Mr. W.H. “their onlie begetter”.
Mr. W.H.: Dedicatee of the Sonnets. My theory’s candidate is William Hall, a parishioner of Hackney, who was responsible for the procurement and publication of Robert Southwell’s A Foure-fold Meditation.
The Fair Youth: (New 2007) This theory’s candidate is Philip Sidney. Either of Campion’s patrons, the Earl of Leicester or William Cecil may have commissioned Campion to write the relevant sonnets urging Sidney to marry Cecil’s daughter Anne during his time at Oxford. The proposed marriage did not eventuate but may have also been the theme for the Shakespeare play The Merry Wives of Windsor. Philip Sidney was probably the only Englishman of note to visit Campion while he was in exile in Prague. On his return to England, Sidney began writing his sonnet cycle Astrophel and Stella, perhaps with inspiration, ideas and techniques owing to Campion.
The Dark Lady: (New 2007) These particular poems were likely written by Campion about Queen Elizabeth I and the Protestant religion.
The Rival Poet: (New 2007) This theory’s candidate is the great Elizabethan poet Edmund Spenser who was patronised as was Campion by the Earl of Leicester and the Sidney family.