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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HENRY NEVILLE AND THE SHAKESPEARE CODE
The Shakespeare Authorship Question has been solved after 400 years of false claims and confusion. This startling revelation will take some time for scholars and the public to accept but James's book clarifies the way she made her discovery that Henry Neville was the real author behind the pseudonym "William Shakespeare". It is a thrilling and intriguing read: it is also...
Published on 10 July 2008 by Dr. J. W. Casson

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9 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Lacks scholarly rigour
Having long been convinced that the dedication to the Sonnets harbours a layered and coded meaning, I was keen to read Brenda James' contribution to the debate.
However, I was disappointed. Whether or not Sir Henry Neville is in fact the true author of Shakespeare's works, James does not present her case well. There is - possibly - a case to be made, but it would...
Published on 1 April 2010 by DrLMK


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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HENRY NEVILLE AND THE SHAKESPEARE CODE, 10 July 2008
By 
Dr. J. W. Casson (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Henry Neville and the Shakespeare Code (Paperback)
The Shakespeare Authorship Question has been solved after 400 years of false claims and confusion. This startling revelation will take some time for scholars and the public to accept but James's book clarifies the way she made her discovery that Henry Neville was the real author behind the pseudonym "William Shakespeare". It is a thrilling and intriguing read: it is also meticulously researched and detailed so that it will stand being read more than once, and repay such careful reading, as it reveals the implications of the discoveries for an understanding of Shakespeare. James reveals the true meaning of passages in the plays, of sonnets and solves mysteries that have puzzled previous critics. Above all however this book is the exposition of the code that hid the name Henry Neville in the dedication to the 1609 edition of Shakespeare's sonnets. James did not set out to find any particular name: she was, unlike Baconians and Oxfordians, a researcher who had no idea what her work would reveal. In intuiting that the dedication was a coded communication waiting to be deciphered, she wondered whether it would reveal who "Mr. W.H." was and perhaps the identity of the Dark Lady. So it was with astonishment that she found the first message that emerged from her decoding was, "The Wise Thorp (TT: the publisher of the sonnets) hid the poet." It was then she realised that she was on the track of the authorship. It was two further years before her decoding progressed to the point of discovering the name Henry Neville: a name unknown to her at the time. Her subsequent research revealed that Neville indeed matched all the requirements in education, travel, experience, life story and character that the true author of the canon would need. The book tells the story of this unfolding discovery. James is careful to examine not only the messages hidden in the dedication but also the mechanism of the code itself. Sceptical readers can marvel not only at the genius that created the code but the brilliance of the woman who solved it. Her parallel analysis of passages written by Shakespeare and Neville is particularly striking. Her many subsequent discoveries about Neville and his authorship are stunning. I will not spoil the excitement by revealing any of these in this review.

James has found further corroborative evidence in deciphering the symbolism of Ben Jonson's play "The Staple of News" which previous scholars had thought was about the First Folio and which James has now been able to show contains evidence for Neville's hidden identity (see chapter 13). As Ben Jonson was one of the few people who undoubtedly knew both the actor William Shakespeare and the diplomat Henry Neville, his symbolic clues to the identity of the author of the First Folio are particularly significant. Further discoveries will be revealed in James's next book and in the Journal of Neville Studies. (see [...])

This book is a sequel to James & Rubinstein's The Truth Will Out, Unmasking the Real Shakespeare (2005, Harlow, Pearson Longman). It can be read before or after that book, providing readers with another opportunity to assess the historic importance of this discovery.

6/7/08: Dr. John Casson
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Henry Neville 'to be or not to be', 1 May 2012
By 
Guylott (Southampton UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Henry Neville and the Shakespeare Code (Paperback)
The `Henry Neville and the Shakespeare code' book is a continuation from `The Truth Will Out'. On this occasion more objective evidence is supplied and also the mysterious dedication of the sonnets to `Mr.W'.H etc which has puzzled Shakespeare students in the past is decoded and resulted in Henry Neville's name being identified as the poet behind the sonnets. Having identified Henry Neville this leads on to much information related to the sonnets, the plays and poems and how this ties up with Henry Neville instead of Shakespeare. It was explained that Henry Neville was much travelled and this background and access to rare documents all enriched the content in the plays.
If you were fascinated with Brenda James's `The Truth Will Out' then you find `Henry Neville and the Shakespeare code' an interesting read as more evidence comes to light. I have found other books regarding 'who is the author?' have left far more to supposition than this book does. I have been a Shakespeare lover for a long time and this book provides a far different story to the ones I have read in the past. If you want to look at the evidence and consider it for yourself I believe it is well worth reading.
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9 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Lacks scholarly rigour, 1 April 2010
By 
This review is from: Henry Neville and the Shakespeare Code (Paperback)
Having long been convinced that the dedication to the Sonnets harbours a layered and coded meaning, I was keen to read Brenda James' contribution to the debate.
However, I was disappointed. Whether or not Sir Henry Neville is in fact the true author of Shakespeare's works, James does not present her case well. There is - possibly - a case to be made, but it would take a rigorously intellectual approach to make it. Brenda James is not, as her publisher makes out, a "Shakespeare historian", but a linguist and (independent) 'cultural historian.' Consequently she is not the best person to present a work aspiring to literary criticism and textual exegesis.

Most seriously, this book contains many errors, the least of which are spelling errors. 'Sights', as in "set his sights on..." is erroneously spelled as 'sites' (p.125), and 'misogynistic' appears as 'mysogenistic' (p.192). The author frequently capitalizes words that require no capital letter, and displays little familiarity with academic procedure (such as appropriate referencing, footnoting, and presentation). Her overuse of the exclamation mark is likewise a cause for concern. Of more cause for concern is the fact that the publisher (and presumably editor), has not seen fit to correct these errors. Such elementary mistakes make it very difficult to take James seriously.

Furthermore, James' readings of the plays are facile in the extreme: "Hamlet opens with friends working together, so can be viewed as optimistic" (p.228) is but one example. Some statements are breathlessly naive, given what scholars now know from textual and circumstantial evidence, such as Brenda James' statement that "They are surely not the kind of plays one would expect to be written by an actor" (p.242). James ignores the evidence for Shakespeare's recusancy ("There is simply no evidence that the real Shakespeare ever sided with Catholicism", p.220), positing a theory that Shakespeare, as Sir Henry Neville, was not only a Republican but a thorough-going Protestant with pursuivant links. She is unfamiliar with any literary criticism beyond that of Frank Kermode ('Shakespeare's Language') and the Oxford English Dictionary.

Whilst James is convinced of her own case, she only weighs the evidence FOR Neville's authorship and appears entirely ignorant of any other scholarly opinion. Her logic is often flawed and incomplete. Astonishingly, for a linguist, there is no mention of metre and the subtleties of rhythm in Shakespeare's language.

Brenda James' work is at its strongest when dealing with Renaissance cryptography, the recurrence of phonemes and frequency of words. At most, however, this material would amount to a paper and could then have been furthered by those with a grasp of rigorous literary critical technique.

Clearly it is telling that 'Henry Neville and the Shakespeare Code' could not find an academic publisher. Moreover, any Shakespeare scholar working in academia would be appalled if any undergraduate were to reference this book. For this reason I was interested to see that it had received a 5* review from another reader on Amazon. That reader appears to be John Casson, whose book 'Enter Pursued By a Bear' is endorsed by Brenda James. In return, James has endorsed Casson's book by writing the foreword.

In short, I do not recommend this book.
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Henry Neville and the Shakespeare Code
Henry Neville and the Shakespeare Code by Brenda James (Paperback - 28 April 2008)
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