questions to ask your local anti-Stratfordian

1) You argue that William of Stratford couldn’t have written The Plays because he was too poorly educated, while The Plays demonstrate great learning. Are you willing to argue this position consistently? John Keats had an extremely limited literary education, but nevertheless wrote poems that demonstrate a pretty high level of learning — or did he? Would you claim that substantial self-education is impossible? If so, what explanation would you give for the apparent existence of gifted autodidacts like Benjamin Franklin, William Cobbett, and Abraham Lincoln, not to mention many of the world’s greatest scientists, and for the presence of undoubted literary genius and great learning before formal education was widespread? And if there are people of great achievement who have benefitted from little or poor formal schooling, why couldn’t William of Stratford be one of them?

2) In supporting the claim that the Earl of Oxford wrote The Plays, you argue that only a member of the Elizabethan court could understand its workings so thoroughly. But you are not a member of Elizabeth’s court, which (according to your own logic) means that you do not understand its workings: so how do you know whether The Plays demonstrate deep inside knowledge or, rather, offer a tissue of misunderstandings and false assumptions? You assume that The Author “got it right”: do you have any evidence that in fact he did? Also: are you willing to argue this position consistently as well? Given how powerfully War and Peace recreates the social and military conditions of Russia during the Napoleonic Wars, must we conclude that the novel was written not by Leo Tolstoy but by an aristocratic Russian soldier who lived decades earlier? If we need not draw that conclusion, why not?

3) In further supporting the claim that the Earl of Oxford wrote The Plays, you assert that many episodes and phrases in them are covertly keyed to topical events and events in the life of the Earl. Do you have any particular reason for thinking that The Plays are both topical and autobiographical? Are all plays (and other works of literature) topical and autobiographical? Were topical and autobiographical plays the order of the day in Elizabethan and Jacobean England? Is Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist either topical or autobiographical, or both? What about Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi? How can you tell?

Just asking.