This fascinating and compelling book examines in forensic detail the claim that Elizabethan courtier Fulke Greville is the true author of the Shakespeare sonnets.
Fulke Greville (1554-1628), or Lord Brooke, was an aristocrat, courtier, statesman, sailor, soldier, spymaster, literary patron, dramatist, historian and poet. Intriguingly, he himself wrote that he desired ‘to be known to posterity under no other notions than of Shakespeare’s master’ Educated at Shrewsbury and Jesus College, Cambridge, he worked for Sir Francis Walsingham as an ‘intelligencer’ where he traveled extensively throughout Europe. He became a great favourite of Queen Elizabeth, was Clerk to the Council of Wales, Treasurer of the Navy, and from 1614-1621 he was Chancellor of the Exchequer. The author convincingly argues that only a man in such a favoured position would have been permitted to write such sonnets and plays or possessed the broad, diverse knowledge contained within Shakespeare’s works. Author Saunders believes that Greville oversaw various writers who collectively wrote under Shakespeare’s name. The book outlines how Greville was regarded as a generous patron of many of the leading writers of the day including Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Nashe, Samuel Daniel and three Poets Laureate; Edmund Spenser, Ben Jonson and Sir William Davenant. He was also famous for his friendship with, and biography of Sir Philip Sidney. On top of this he was also a leading patron of literary circles including The Areopagus, the Wilton House Circle, The Southampton Circle, the University Wits (associate) and The School of Night. As well as being famous for his claim to have been the ‘Master of Shakespeare’, Fulke is also said to have been the author of a ‘lost’ play called Antony and Cleopatra. The book examines Fulke’s links with Shakespeare’s spiritual home of Stratford-upon-Avon where after the death of his father in 1606, he became Recorder of the town until he was murdered in 1628. Saunders wrote the book after eight years of painstaking research. He started his research after being inspired by results from a team of Californian professors which concluded that, after feeding more than a million Shakespearean words into computers for analysis, all other Elizabethan writers frequently held up as being the real Shakespeare could not be the true Bard. The only exception to this was a then obscure Elizabethan poet called Fulke Greville. Aware of Greville’s claim to be ‘Master of Shakespeare’, A.W.L. Saunders then took on his own detailed analysis of Fulke’s works, life and image to examine if he really is the world-famous poet and playwright.