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The Truth Will Out: Unmasking the Real Shakespeare Paperback – 6 Oct 2006
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‘Remarkable, intriguing, and provocative…It may prove to be a landmark book of genuine world-wide importance.’
Professor John Spiers, University of Glamorgan
‘This is a pioneering book. I can’t imagine that any scholar or student, actor or enthusiast of Shakespeare will be able to ignore it. I for one welcome and celebrate this book not only for its discoveries and clear style of expression, but for the wonderful partnership of a University professor and an independent scholar which gave it birth.’
Mark Rylance, Actor, Artistic Director Shakespeare’s Globe 1996-2005 and Chairman of the Shakespearean Authorship Trust
‘Till now, where Shakespeare authorship is concerned, I have always been a sceptic; it seemed to me attributing Shakespeare to anyone else, one had to make a good case for him not to be the actor from Stratford.
This book has convinced me that whoever wrote the plays, it was not the Stratford man and the case for Sir Henry Neville is by far the strongest I have as yet encountered.’
John Julius Norwich, Author, Scholar and Broadcaster
From the Back Cover
Till now, where Shakespeare authorship is concerned, I have always been a sceptic; it seemed to me [in] attributing Shakespeare to anyone else, one had to make a good case for him not to be the actor from Stratford.
This book has convinced me that whoever wrote the plays, it was not the Stratford man and the case for Sir Henry Neville is by far the strongest I have as yet encountered.
John Julius Norwich, Author, Scholar and Broadcaster
This is a pioneering book. I can't imagine that any scholar or student, actor or enthusiast of Shakespeare will be able to ignore it. I for one welcome and celebrate this book not only for its discoveries and clear style of expression, but for the wonderful partnership of a University professor and an independent scholar which gave it birth.
Mark Rylance, Actor, Artistic Director Shakespeare's Globe 1996-2005 and Chairman of the Shakespearean Authorship Trust
This remarkable, intriguing, and provocative book offers a new answer and a completely plausible new candidate, with all the qualities of a believable author. [ ] It seems certain to provoke new discoveries which will finally resolve the most perplexing, the most abiding, and the most important of literary riddles. [This] publication may prove to be an event of genuine world-wide importance [which will] radically change our understanding of the source and course of the English literary and cultural renaissance.
Professor John Spiers, School of Humanities, University of Glamorgan, & Institute of English Studies, University of London.
Who wrote the works of William Shakespeare? This is the question at the heart of the Shakespeare Authorship debate, and one that has been hotly debated by scholars and enthusiasts for over 150 years.
Everything known about the facts of William Shakespeares life seems incompatible with the extraordinary genius of his writing. The search for the real Shakespeare has turned up any number of candidates, among them Sir Francis Bacon, The Earl of Oxford, even Queen Elizabeth I herself, but none have yet stood up to serious scrutiny.
The Truth Will Out introduces a compelling new answer to one of the longest-standing enigmas in literary history.
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It's excrutiating, very, very excrutiating. There are some quite ludicrous interpretations of some of the bard's verses together with some staggeringly biased and blinkered examination into the minutiae of certain notebooks and other documents attributed to Sir Henry. But at the end of all this they just can't seem to suggest any kind of plausible reason as to why the Neville family took such pains (in their opinion) to publish the first folio in the name of Shakespeare, well after the death of Sir Henry. Put aside all the other fantastical theories posited in this book, but why would the family wish to immortalise Mr Shakespeare as the author for eternity? According to these two it was because they didn't want to cause confusion with another member of the family also called Sir Henry Neville!!!
Throughout this book the authors label just about every Stratfordian-Shakespearean theory as implausible and lacking 'a shred of evidence' and then without the slightest trace of irony go about producing this old load of tripe! A case of calling the pot black if ever there was one.
Without doubt the most blinkered book I have read about Shakespeare or anything else for that matter. The authors need certifying.
The reviewer holds an MA from Cambridge in English literature. It never made the slightest sense in my years of study to suppose that Shakespeare from Stratford wrote the plays. They were obviously written by a man thoroughly immersed in court/political life….a man of considerable learning…well travelled and with a range of languages at his disposal. The most important thing to me was that somewhere in the author’s life there had to be an explanation as to why he suddenly started writing tragedies….. And there was one strange point that was always very evident to me: throughout the plays there is a remarkable ability of the author not to identify with his characters in a way that you felt he was intruding; Hamlet for example must be expressing things the author felt or could at least imagine feeling, but there is a distance between character and author; this is true for every character in ‘Shakespeare’ except one – somehow the character of Falstaff is different; I always felt that the author was investing, exploring, engaging with, something of himself in this one character.
Every desideratum is met in the person of Sir Henry Neville, and so much more. Why is Hamlet set in Elsinore? Because Neville went there. Why is it that in King Henry V we suddenly find a great and unique interest in speaking French? Because the play was written when a bored and unhappy Neville was an ambassador in France..…the details are multiple. Why suddenly start writing tragedies? Because they were written at the time that Neville, an unproven co-conspirator with Essex, was in the Tower with death hanging over him….. Neville was a corpulent man who suffered gout; his friends called him Falstaff…..
I had one problem, and one remains.
The problem was the way Brenda James says she found Neville. She came across his name by playing with what is almost self-evidently the code-bearing inscription to the sonnets. She goes into detail about that…and to me it seemed fanciful. I therefore wrote to the author and expressed my admiration for her work but my doubts about the code. Is that really how you discovered Neville? She was very angry in her reply that I would question her account – so it can be taken as fact that this is indeed where she came across him. The name Neville really emerged as it were out of the blue, prior to any historical research. James does not suggest Neville as a ‘candidate’; the inscription to the sonnets tells us who their author was!
The problem that remains to me is the somewhat mysterious fact of the concealment of the author after his death. During his lifetime the reasons are plain – the politically subversive nature of some of the plays being the most important; and the use of Shakespeare as a front man is equally plausible. I may not have read James very well, but I was not initially convinced by the reasons for concealing the true author in the Folio, though this is discussed at length, with Ben Jonson very much a participant in the subterfuge.
Be that is it may, the identification of Neville through the code, and then the parallels between his life and the content of the plays make this thesis so entirely convincing as to leave little room for doubt. Research from a contrarian point of view would doubtless, though, be of great value – what would be found? James’ investigation is most interestingly tied to the plays; her literary comments are well worth while, and her excursus on why Shakespeare couldn’t have been the author is very good. I think there are aspects of the two first books that could have been done better if the goal was simply to convince the reader of her case, but she would seem to have included everything that she has found in the heat of her most remarkable discoveries.
Get the arguments of this book by heart and you can liven up any dinner party by exploding the myth of Shakespeare.
Well would we? We've been pumping Oxbridge education, foreign travel and courtly experience into the nobility for centuries now and the returns in the form of groundbreaking literature have been vanishingly small. On the other hand, Tudor and Stuart "nobodies" like Marlowe, Jonson, Webster etc were cranking out works that have remained current until today (unlike, say, courtier Philip Sydney's Arcadia). Might this not inspire us to look for someone from the lower orders who was intimately connected with the theatre? Sooner or later someone would surely begin wonder how the obscure actor W. Shakespeare managed to fund his comfortable retirement in Stratford...
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