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Sir Henry Neville Was Shakespeare: The Evidence
Sir Henry Neville Was Shakespeare: The Evidence
by John Casson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.94

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A work of meticulous scholarship that will stand the test of time, 15 May 2016
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Sir Henry Neville was Shakespeare - The Evidence, is the fourth book by Dr John Casson, and the third by its joint author, Professor William Rubinstein on this subject. It is a seminal work of great scholarship and one, which will be used both as a benchmark to judge the worth of other contributions to the authorship question and as a basis for future research on many aspects of the Shakespearean canon. It summarizes much of the meticulous and painstaking research work that Dr Casson, in particular, has carried out over the last 10 years since his interest in the authorship question was invigorated by the original book that appeared on this subject (The Truth Will Out – Unmasking the real Shakespeare) by Brenda James and William Rubinstein in 2005. The sheer quantity and strength of the evidence presented for Henry Neville as the major contributor to the authorship of the canon stands a magnitude apart from anything yet published on this subject.

In short the authors lead us on a breath-taking journey of discovery through the development of Shakespeare’s plays and poetry, compellingly drawing close parallels between the works and events in Neville’s life. They reveal how Neville’s annotated library books, manuscripts, notebooks and letters shows he was the hidden author, who survived dangerous political times by keeping his authorship secret. At the same time, it completely devastates the crumbling claims for the man from Stratford, William Shakspere.

It is very concisely written, with the chapters grouped by sequential genres of works based on their most universally accepted chronology. There are numerous sub-headings and photos to break up the text and any evidence is always clearly presented, documented and referenced.

Much of the strongest evidence relates to books that are in Neville’s former library (now housed at Audley End House in Essex) which have been shown by scholars to be sources for the canon. These include amongst others: Boccaccio’s Decameron, Montemayor’s Diana Enamorada, Ovid’s Ars Amatoria and Remedia Amoris, Petrarch, Tacitus, Aristotle’s Ethics, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Horace, Appian, Plautus, Lydgate’s Fall of Princes, Francesco Guicciardini’s Della Historia D’Italia, Discourses Politiques et Militaires and the list goes on…Many of these contain annotations that refer to characters, events, rare words and phrases that are used in the plays and poetry. Although there is no copy of Holinshed’s Chronicles in his library, it is shown that it is highly likely that he would have had access to the 1587 edition as his father-in-law, Henry Killigrew was one of its editors/government censors.

Casson has previously shown (Much Ado About Noting) that annotated copies of the banned tract, Leicester’s Commonwealth were also owned by Neville and were used as sources for a number of the History Plays. Connections between these and Neville have already been examined in great detail by Bradbeer and Casson in their book, Sir Henry Neville, Alias William Shakespeare – Authorship Evidence in the History Plays. Additionally, significant similarities have been found between both the handwriting and spelling of the Hand D section of Sir Thomas More (a document that is generally accepted to have been written by Shakespeare) and Neville’s.

The authors also show that there is documentary evidence over a thirty-year period of an association with Shakespeare’s supposed ‘patron’ Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton as well as many influential figures in literary and/or political circles such as Francis Bacon, William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke (one of the two patrons of the First Folio), and the playwrights Ben Johnson, Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher. He was known to be fluent in French and Latin, to have had a working knowledge of Greek, Italian and Spanish, being able to read works in those languages, as is evident from the books in his library and to have traveled to France, Padua, Venice, Florence, Vienna and Scotland. He is shown to have been a highly educated man with a cultural background that would have been necessary to write the plays and the authors show how well his life experiences precisely match those revealed in the plays and poems.

Chapter 6 (The Merry Wives of Windsor – A Test Case) assesses one of the most telling plays of the canon in that it is the only play that is set in an English town chosen by the author and not dictated by historical events or literary sources. Antiquarians have shown that Shakespeare depicts Windsor and its vicinity as it was in the 1590s. It is not surprising to learn that Neville lived for much of his life at Billingbear Park, situated some 12 miles from Windsor, that he was a Member of Parliament for New Windsor and Berkshire, and that he and his father were providing timber for Windsor Castle.

There is also evidence that Neville, as a member of the Second Virginia Company, would have had access to the confidential Strachey letter that is a recognized source for The Tempest and that it is proposed that the publication of Shake-speares Sonnets was timed to coincide with the granting of the Charter of this Company on 23rd May 1609, and as a celebratory verse to mark the marriage of Neville’s eldest son on May 2nd of the same year.

The book contains a wealth of remarkable new evidence that is overwhelming and will challenge anyone’s ideas about who really wrote the plays and poems attributed to the author ‘William Shakespeare’. I would highly recommend it and at around £14 it is accessible to anyone. I am waiting with baited breath to see what Stratfordians (among others) will make of it, if of course; they are willing to read it? They cannot bury their heads in the sand indefinitely!


Much ADO about Noting
Much ADO about Noting
by John Casson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Deeply researched and persuasively presented, 23 Dec. 2015
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This review is from: Much ADO about Noting (Paperback)
Much Ado About Noting is Dr John Casson's second book investigating the evidence in support of Henry Neville as the author of the works that appeared under the name of William Shakespeare. It is primarily concerned with a number of well known and lesser known Elizabethan documents which contain many annotations which the author shows to have close and sometimes identical links to the Shakespearean canon. These include three copies of Leicester's Commonwealth (Worsley MSS 47 and Worsley MSS 36 and The Northumberland manuscript copy) which are are shown almost unequivocally to have been owned by Henry Neville, the annotated copy of Halle's Chronicle and "Hand D" section of Sir Thomas More.

Detailed explanations and observations in the annotated copies of Leicester's Commonwealth, a dangerous political tract which first appeared in England in September 1584 form the core material of his work. LC was immediately banned by proclamation in October 1584 and to own it was punishable by imprisonment. It was essentially a political tract with a number of interwoven themes including a character assassination of Robert Dudley Earl of Leicester, discussion of the succession in English history and issues such as religious tolerance.

In claiming that LC was a stimulus for Shakespeare's (Neville's) work, Dr Casson does not suggest that it was a major source but that its political ideas, historical references, language and metaphors were a source of inspiration in his development as a writer which led him onto to many other source materials that were used in his chosen themes such as Holinshed, Halle, Foxe and Geoffrey of Monmouth.

The author also shows that the types of annotation, the handwriting and spelling in Worsley MSS 47 is similar to that in the annotated Halle's Chronicle and the Hand D section of Sir TM, thus providing additional evidence of Henry Neville's authorship of the works of Shakespeare. Furthermore he has discovered that strong echoes of the vocabulary of the Worsley MSS 47 copy of LC are to be found in Neville's letters. He concludes that further analysis of the handwriting and other stylistic elements may be required to confirm his view that the annotators of Halle and Worsley MSS 47 are the same person, namely Henry Neville and 'Shakespeare', though both texts were probably annotated before he started using that nom-de-plume. He also demonstrates the similarity between Neville's handwriting and that of Hand D, the only document generally accepted by scholars as being in 'Shakespeare's own hand.

Dr Casson has also discovered two books in Oxford University Libraries that bear his name and that were annotated by Neville, one of which is a political document that was a source for Edward III. He also unveils a previously unrecognized early play by the bard, the hilarious comedy with hidden political aspects, Look About You.

I would strongly agree with the comments made by Dr Dwight Peck (who has studied LC intensively) that Dr Casson's well-supported arguments repay careful reading and support a reconsideration of questions of authorship, dating and authorial intent. The book contains a plethora of generally clearly captured photographs of the annotations from all of the sources described. I would highly recommend it to anyone with a interest in the Shakespeare authorship question.


Sir Henry Neville, Alias William Shakespeare: Authorship Evidence in the History Plays
Sir Henry Neville, Alias William Shakespeare: Authorship Evidence in the History Plays
by Mark Bradbeer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £32.50

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptionally Well Researched, Superbly Referenced and Very Persuasive, 30 May 2015
Sir Henry Neville, Alias William Shakespeare – Authorship Evidence in the History Plays, is the third and most impressive work yet by John Casson (on this occasion co-authored by Mark Bradbeer). It offers a wealth of new evidence in support of Neville’s contribution to the authorship of the Shakespearean canon and is exceptionally well researched, superbly referenced and very persuasive.

Chapters 1-8 examine the entire suite of the English history plays in the order of the Kings’ reigns and reveals many half hidden members of the Neville family, often disguised by their titles. It demonstrates how Shakespeare displays a Neville bias and in doing so opens up new perspectives to explain passages, distortions and details in the history plays that were previously opaque, anomalous or cryptic.

Many of his notebooks still exist and four books annotated by him - Leicester’s Commonwealth (Worsley MSS 47, 1584-5), The Annotated Hall’s Chronicle (1586-96), The Tower Notebook (1602-3) and Thomas Milles’ A Catalogue of Honor (1610-12) have particular relevance and cover the entire period of the writing of the history plays. Neville demonstrates a consistent, lifelong interest in history, politics, kings and powerful members of the nobility. Other books signed and annotated by Neville have also been found at Merton College, Oxford and Audley End House, which also contain annotations relevant to the works of Shakespeare.

Many of his letters preserved both in manuscript and in print, as well as his trial statement (when he stood accused of involvement in the Essex rebellion) offer an opportunity to compare his vocabulary with that of Shakespeare and they frequently display very strong similarities (including the use of many rare words and phrases). His trial statement (1601) is particularly interesting in that it was written around the time that Hamlet is believed to have been composed, and the similarities in language are explored in Chapter 10.

The Roman plays (and The Rape of Lucrece) which use history to explore political themes of relevance to Elizabethan and Jacobean audiences are also discussed by the authors (Chapter 9) and they argue that that they contain a leitmotif that has a hidden Neville connection which is symbolized by the name Brutus. In addition they have found amongst Neville's books, a major volume of the works of Appian on Roman history, in Greek, dated 1551, and it contains many annotations by Neville about Brutus, Cassius, Anthony and Caesar.

Another very insightful contribution is given in Appendix A where the authors examine the documentary evidence associating Henry Neville with Henry Wriothesley, the 3rd Earl of Southampton, over a thirty-year period and a clear pattern of interweaving themes appear linking them both to Shakespeare and most notably to Richard III.

The breath of material covered in the book is exceptional and as is the case in Casson’s previous books it is exceedingly well referenced, very clearly written (with many sub-headings to break up the text) and includes many excellent photos of Neville’s annotations. Despite it being rather expensive for a paperback at around £35, I would highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in the history plays and particularly those that are fascinated by the conundrum of the Shakespeare authorship question.


Enter Pursued by a Bear: The Unknown Plays of Shakespeare-Neville
Enter Pursued by a Bear: The Unknown Plays of Shakespeare-Neville
by John Casson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellently researched and highly revealing, 17 April 2015
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Enter Pursued by a Bear: The Unknown Plays of Shakespeare-Neville is a seminal work on the apocryphal plays which have at various times been attributed to the author ‘William Shakespeare’. These include works such as ‘Mucedorus’, ‘Locrine’, ‘Arden of Faversham’, ‘Thomas of Woodstock’ and ‘A Yorkshire Tragedy’ amongst others. It is incredibly well researched, superbly cross-referenced and highly revealing in its contents and conclusions.

Dr Casson scrutinizes these generally little known works through the use of modern digital and electronic literature searches, and reveals many striking words, phrases, themes, metaphors and character traits that are also found in the accepted Shakespearean canon.

What is even more fascinating however is the extraordinary number of links that point to Sir Henry Neville as the hidden author of these works. Time and again there are connections to his life, relatives, friends, places he was connected to and his educational, political and other interests. Even more astonishing is that Dr Casson has established that unusual words or phrases Neville is known to have used in his own correspondence are also found in both the apocryphal plays and the accepted canon and often in close chronology.

It is an outstanding achievement to cover so much rigorously researched material in a single book that is also thoroughly readable. If you enjoy solving literary riddles and have any interest in the Shakespearean authorship debate, I strongly recommend that you read this book thoroughly and with an open mind. You will not be disappointed in its breadth of subject matter and I think you will be hard-pushed to disagree with many of its conclusions.


Shakespeare Beyond Doubt? -- Exposing an Industry in Denial
Shakespeare Beyond Doubt? -- Exposing an Industry in Denial
by John M. Shahan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.00

7 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never has the case aginst the Stratford man been so clear and compelling, 28 July 2013
This book is a must read for anyone who has an interest in the Shakespearean authorship debate. It takes a highly critical and very well argued stance against the 'evidence' traditionally expounded by Stratfordians including an extensive response to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust's "60 minutes with Shakespeare". It shows that the majority of the Stratfordian arguments are very weak, often without substance, sometimes outright forgeries and that many writers have continued to repeat such evidence (often simply because they read it in an earlier book supporting the Stratfordian cause) without critically examining it.

As the book says on the front cover, it is "exposing an industry in denial" and it does this very well indeed and in a very readable manner. It should be made essential reading for anyone studying Shakespearean literature at either school or graduate/postgraduate level along with "The Man who was never Shakespeare" by A J Pointon and "The Shakespeare Guide to Italy" by Richard Paul Roe. At last, the evidence why the Stratford man's case is so weak is becoming increasingly accessible to a wider audience.


Shakespeare Beyond Doubt: Evidence, Argument, Controversy
Shakespeare Beyond Doubt: Evidence, Argument, Controversy
by Paul Edmondson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £20.99

9 of 35 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Same old lies and propaganda, 19 May 2013
These poor deluded fools just can't separate fact from fantasy. They are clinging on to a dwindling thread and one day (the sooner it comes the better), their propaganda will be exposed. We will then hopefully be able to move the debate on authorship forward in a reasoned and logical manner based on actual evidence and not continued myth, here say, supposition and plain fantasy. Another pathetic effort I'm afraid.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 6, 2013 5:12 PM BST


Shakespeare's Unorthodox Biography: New Evidence of an Authorship Problem (Contributions in Drama & Theatre Studies)
Shakespeare's Unorthodox Biography: New Evidence of an Authorship Problem (Contributions in Drama & Theatre Studies)
by Diana Price
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £63.95

5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional, 18 Mar. 2012
An extremely thorough and critical study of the Shakespeare authorship question. I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in Elizabethan/Jacobean literature, history and the thorny subject of who wrote the works attributed to William Shakespeare.


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