Fall 1996/Winter 1997
This issue includes a transcript of the interrogation of choirboy Orazio Cogno in Venice about his brief stay in 1576-77 in England with Edward de Vere. There are also three recent articles from the Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter (by Joseph Sobran, Charlton Ogburn and Peter Moore) considering the matter of Shakespeare’s disgrace and shame (as alluded to in the Sonnets) and Edward de Vere’s life. And John Rollett considers Prof. Donald Foster’s 1987 analysis of the Sonnets Dedication.
This new translation by Dr. Noemi Magri of the transcript of the Venitian choirboy’s interrogation by local authorities in 1577 reveals that young Orazio’s stay with the Earl of Oxford in 1576-1577 did not involve any “sexual abuse” as is reported on the Oxford and Orazio Cogno section of Prof. Alan H. Nelson’s website. Instead, the concern over Orazio’s being “perverted” (the transcript’s language) has to do with the possibility of his being “converted” to Queen Elizabeth’s faith by “reading prohibited books” or being taught the “doctrine of heretics.”
John Rollett takes a fresh look at Prof. Donald Foster’s award-winning thesis of 10 years ago that the enigma of the Sonnets Dedication was actually nothing more than a typographical error.
One of the more intriguing issues in studies of the Shakespeare Canon (whether one is a Stratfordian or anti-Stratfordian) is the relationship between the Bard and the young Earl of Southampton. For Stratfordians this relationship is simply one of patronage, with “perhaps” a love and/or sexual component revealed in the Sonnets. The problems posed by such a personal, intimate relationship (i.e. how could it even exist within the class structure of Elizabethan England?) are, of course, glossed over.
For Oxfordians, however, this relationship has become a key point of contention revolving around the matter of why Oxford may have chosen to write under a pseudonym. Two recent articles in the Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter have considered this issue:
Joseph Sobran writes about the central thesis to his new book Alias Shakespeare, namely that the Sonnets provide the key evidence that the author of the Shakespeare Canon cannot be the Stratford man, and must be, among all the various claimants, Edward de Vere; and further, that the homosexual relationship revealed in the Sonnets explains the reason for covering up the true authorship.
Charlton Ogburn, Jr. responds to Sobran’s “Shakespeare’s Disgrace” by noting that the homosexual theory doesn’t measure up either to Oxford’s known life, or to what is revealed of the author in all the Shakespeare plays. He considers instead that the controversial alternate theory to the relationship between Shakespeare/Oxford and Southampton (i.e. that they may have been family) is more likely to explain the authorship mystery and the need for preserving his mature works under the “Shake-speare” pseudonym.
For a different perspective on how shame and disgrace may play into the Shakespeare authorship debate, Oxfordian Peter R. Moore looks at what the annual voting for Knights of the Garter during Elizabeth’s reign may tell us about Oxford’s reputation among his peers during his lifetime, and how that reputation may dovetail with the clear references in the Sonnets to Shakespeare’s own acknowleged shame and disgrace.