Customer Review

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good on the detail; pity about the conclusions, 24 April 2012
This review is from: The Man Who Was Never Shakespeare: The Theft of William Shakspeare's Identity (Paperback)
This book is a very odd mixture. Some of Pointon's judgments, on broad issues, are wild and speculative. On the other hand when he gets into nitty gritty evidence he is generally accurate and sometimes very helpful which may perhaps reflect his background---not as a Shakespeare scholar---as an engineer, physicist and a member of ACAS a board of arbitration.

On the wild and speculative side he claims that it is not "entirely ridiculous" to think of Queen Elizabeth, the best educated best informed woman of her time as "a rival to William Shakspere" of Stratford for having written the plays. This is an extremely poor judgment---as he later notes she died in 1603 and could therefore not have made the final revisions to Hamlet (let alone written plays like Cymbeline that were written after that date). So in my judgment the proposition certainly is ridiculous. Similarly with Marlowe, Pointon wonders in an appendix if the circumstances surrounding Marlowe's death were "a cover-up for Marlowe faking his own death." He even concludes that the wound described in the coroner's report "was probably made on the body post-mortem" for which he provides not the slightest evidence, nor does he suggest a real cause of death. The circumstances of having Marlowe and three men spend eight hours parading around the town in a visible way, fit equally well with a plot to show him having been killed accidentally in a quarrel, as well as they do a cover-up plot of faking his death. To take yet another example Pointon argues that the dedication to the First Folio about "country hands" is a jibe by Ben Jonson at Heminges, a grocer. In fact it is well known that this part of the preface is a parody of the dedication of Pliny's Natural History.

Pointon is more at home on boring historical details concerning the life of the Man From Stratford, and indeed provides a useful Annex of key dates. Much of the book is concerned to show that the Man From Stratford was associated with the name `Shakspere' and not the name ` Shakespeare'. Pointon also argues that he was likely illiterate. This is a bad judgment since as an actor the Man from Stratford would necessarily have been literate in order to read his role/roll script. As to the name, in Pointon's own Annex there is evidence that his brother Edmund was buried in 1607 under the name `Shakespeare', in December 1607. It was as Shakespeare that William appeared to collect money in 1595 for a performance at Court the previous year, and the same spelling appears in the Harrison law-suit of 1569 (which Pointon forgets to mention) in which his father was referred to as `Shakespeare' from "Stratford Upon Haven". So although the dominant spelling of his family name was Shakspere, there certainly were times when it was spelt `Shakespeare'.

There is no evidence to support Pointon's contention that in 1623 when the First Folio was being compiled that there was a sudden effort to associate the name that had appeared on the Quartos, with the actor in the former Chamberlain's Men. Pointon supplies not the slightest evidence as to why such an attempt would have been made. It is much more likely that in his time in London, Mr Shackspere was indeed the actor who everyone believed to have written the Shakespeare plays. Indeed the First Folio preface by Heming and Condell describe how they received the play scripts from him.

Whether he actually wrote those scripts, or was a broker for another learned brain, is quite another--and more interesting--- matter and I wish that Pointon had focused more on that.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in


Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 14 Aug 2013 18:46:28 BDT
Given that Queen Elizabeth has been nominated as the real Shakespeare, it's not "wild and speculative" to say that it isn't as ridiculous as it might seem at first sight. I'm afraid that this kind of excess on the part of the reviewer (not the author) suggests a decided bias. This, in fact, is an excellent well-balanced book, where you will find the soberest discussions that anyone has yet contributed to topics such as Greene's Groatsworth of Wit and other supposed references to the Stratford man, Shakspere's coat-of-arms, and the actual spelling of the Stratford man's name.
‹ Previous 1 Next ›

Review Details


4.5 out of 5 stars (8 customer reviews)
5 star:
4 star:
3 star:    (0)
2 star:
1 star:    (0)
£14.01 £12.00
Add to basket Add to wishlist

Location: New York

Top Reviewer Ranking: 4,373,874