I am currently about a quarter of the way through Mark Anderson’s “Shakespeare” by Another Name. Though I’m only at about 1579 in this biography of the life of Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, I have enjoyed the historical connections between the plays and de Vere’s life. There is a staggering amount of evidence that points to de Vere’s authorship of the plays, sonnets and poems, however, I have decided at this point to remain neutral in the battle of the Bard’s identity. The detailed information about the Earl’s life is richly fascinating and valuable when developing dramaturgical contexts for productions.
At the end of the day, I don’t really care who wrote the plays. However, I am interested in de Vere and William Shakspere’s relationship. If de Vere wrote the plays, why did he choose Shakspere, an actor and business man from Stratford, to be the public face? It is known that it was rare for noblemen to publish works under their real name, so the fact that de Vere used a pen-name (Shake-Spear) is nothing extraordinary. However, it seems that the two crossed paths sometime in 1589 or ’90 and maintained a business relationship throughout the ’90s.
What would a relationship between an author and his face be like? Perhaps there was an agreement made between the two. Perhaps Shakspere knew the plays so well that he was able to convince that he’d written them himself. What if there are moments in the plays that parallel such a relationship? This is a relationship I am interested in exploring for a new play.