A while ago, I saw the movie Anonymous. If you haven’t seen it, it’s either historical fiction or historical speculation – the idea is that somebody else wrote Shakespeare’s plays, specifically a nobleman named Edward de Vere. The movie told his story. It was beautifully photographed and very evocative of Elizabethan England. The chronology of the story was a bit convoluted though, so we watched it twice. (This is the advantage of waiting for a movie to be available for rent, rather than going to the movie theater!) Overall, I liked it and was intrigued by its hypothesis.
A few weeks ago, I spotted a book called “SHAKESPEARE” BY ANOTHER NAME: THE LIFE OF EDWARD DE VERE, EARL OF OXFORD, THE MAN WHO WAS SHAKESPEARE by Mark Anderson. (This is the advantage of having bricks and mortar bookstores to browse through – you can find books you didn’t know existed and synchronicity gets a little more room to play.) It’s a really interesting book. Again, it follows the life of de Vere and builds a case for him being the real author of Shakespeare’s plays. There’s no hard evidence but so many coincidences and connections that you have to wonder. I’m not an expert in this area – I’ve read Shakespeare’s plays and seen many productions, but he’s too late for me as a medievalist to know much about him and his world beyond that – but I find this book and its theory very compelling. This idea of de Vere being the actual playright was apparently suggested a long time ago. Probably there are dozens of papers by Shakespearean scholars arguing in favour of it and against it – maybe I’ll look them up when I’m done. Right now, I’m enjoying the book and the glimpse of de Vere’s life in Elizabethan England.
What about you? Have you read any non-fiction lately that’s made you rethink your assumptions?