Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Muses Darling

It’s not only the queen who has celebrated an anniversary. Shakespeare is having a right old going over all over the UK, The Globe is featuring every one of his plays with productions from various countries and Amazon.com books is simply awash with new works on the bard of Avon as though not enough has already been written in the last hundred years about a man of whom we know practically nothing. The son of illiterate parents and father of illiterate children he died at the age of fifty two having supposedly written 37 major plays, 154 sonnets and epic poetry, ‘Venus and Adonis,’ ‘The Rape of Lucrece.’ Wow! But, apart from six signatures, three of them from his will, there has never been the slightest sign of any writing. What happened to his original manuscripts? How come he retired to Stratford a fat satisfied gentleman landowner suing people left right and centre and never ever making mention of his London life or of his works? A truly amazing body of works needless to say. The silence speaks volumes.
The silence says William Shaksper of Stratford, who did indeed exist is, as far as the theatre is concerned, a complete phoney.
So what do we know about him? We don’t even know that he did attend the school in Stratford although it is assumed he did and this is the big problem. I have read any number of biographies and theories regarding our Will and in every one there is a super-abundance of we assume, we presume, maybe, perhaps, it is thought,  we believe, it could be that etc., etc. Nothing positive except his return to Stratford and his last will and testament in which he left his second best bed to his wife. Is this really how a man of supposedly colossal genius would end his life? Totally uncaring what happened to his works? Especially when he mentions more than once in the sonnets that his poetry will last down the years. ‘Who will believe my verse in time to come?’ And ‘When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st, So long lives this and this gives life to thee.’ Or ‘Not marble nor the gilded monuments Of Princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme.’ And it would seem in the sonnets we have a clue as to who the real writer was with the constant references to unhappy banishment and in sonnet 74 mention of ‘a wretch’s knife.’ None of this applies to Shakespeare so to whom does it apply?

For more years than I can remember I have wanted to write a play on the Marlowe/Shakespeare theory and have finally done it. Bad timing yet again. Should have written it a year or more ago but there you are, these things come in their own good time. There is nothing new about the theory. I just wanted to have my own go at it.
There has fairly recently been some medical doubt about the wound that purported to put an end to Marlowe’s life. If the poniard struck him above the eye, that is on the temple, it would more than likely have bounced off. That is where the skull is thickest and a stabbing motion that short would not have had the force to penetrate. If the stabbing was inflicted in the actual eye socket the question is would death have been instantaneous as the coroner’s report states? Interestingly enough I have just seen a report of a boy in America who suffered such a wound being accidentally shot by a fishing gun and he has survived. The x-ray from the side shows the dart penetrating almost to the back of the skull.
So what did happen in that room in Deptford?  No one really knows just as no one really knows very much about a man named William Shakespeare except to believe he was the author of such a body of work in so short a time and with such a lack of knowledge and experience is to believe in miracles.

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