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The Mysterious William Shakespeare: The Myth & the Reality Hardcover – October, 1992

3.9 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 912 pages
  • Publisher: Epm Pubns Inc; 2 Sub edition (October 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0939009676
  • ISBN-13: 978-0939009671
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 7.2 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #107,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is an immensely enjoyable book-- you want it never to end, even at over 800 pages. That's because Ogburn was an talented and accomplished professional writer, unlike a lot of contributors to the authorship controversy. It's also because Ogburn really loved Edward de Vere, which is the book's one serious drawback as well as a source of its enjoyability. As later authors like Sobran, Anderson, and Nelson show, de Vere was not really that lovable to the people who had to live with him. But then, what great writer ever was? And if de Vere did write the Shakespeare canon, then he was a great author deserving of the attention that Ogburn lavishes on him, despite his faults.
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Format: Hardcover
I must confess, I had heard for years that there was a controversy about whether William Shakspere of Stratford was the real author of the William Shakespeare corpus of plays and poems, and had never paid it much heed. When I found this book, I was intrigued by its claim to have found the real author's identity. When I delved into it, I became spellbound. It's not only that it's highly implausible that a man who at best could have had an 8th grade education in a provincial public school in a hamlet called Stratford could have written the plays. It's impossible, as Ogburn shows. Shakespeare displays intimate and highly accurate knowledge of detailed subject matter in a myriad of disciplines, from falconry to botany to law to geography to music and many other areas that no "homespun genius" of any brilliance could possibly intuit: There are some things that even the most brilliant man in the world would have to learn by extensive training, study and in some cases European travel. Edward De Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, had every qualification to have been able to write everything in every play by Shakespeare. Shakspere of Stratford had virtually none of these qualifications. The author of the plays had "been there, done that" as had de Vere, and as Shakspere of Stratford had not. It is not only implausible, it is impossible, that a commoner could have gotten away with lampooning the second most powerful man in Elizabeth's realm, Robert Cecil, Lord Burghley, who was in charge of the apparatus of a very tight police state. But virtually all agree--and the evidence is conclusive--that Polonius is a caricature of Burghley. De Vere, Burthley's son-in-law and a favorite of Queen Elizabeth, could have gotten away with it, provided his authorship was hidden from the public.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
I don't believe, for one second, that the people trashing this book actually read it.


Because it isn't human nature to carefully read through hundreds of pages of detailed argument, when you disagree violently with every other word.

(Although it IS human nature, when attacked with calm, reasoned argument against an untenable position, to slash back viciously! This obviously applies to things other than just literary discussions and authorship question battles...)

For those of you trying to decide whether you want to buy this book, ask yourself these questions:

Do you love literature, and authors, and are interested in the connections between life and art?

Do you love more the art of the Shakespearean plays, than the artist myth (and it is indeed a myth, for anyone literate who has taken a step back, and spent more than two nanoseconds looking at the arguments)?

Are you open to hearing what people are discussing, and not put off by the nasty, reactionary violence of those who are holding on desperately to the orthodox view?

Then this is the right book to start with.

If not, don't bother. Seriously. You'll just hate this book, and regret every penny you spent on it.

But if you're intrigued by all the fun of a good, old rough-and-tumble literary debate, and also love literature deeply and love to read about the creative process, you'll love this book.

Admittedly, there are now dozens of much newer and more tangibly supportive studies which deal with the authorship question in general, and Edward de Vere specifically.

But Charlton Ogburn's tome, though now somewhat dated compared to newer works, provides THE foundation for all that has followed.
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8 Comments 26 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
Look, I didn't WANT to believe it. I only read the
damn book out of out intellectualy honesty--I was
writing a novel in which Shakespeare would appear
and thought I'd better look into the authorship

I loved Willy. I loved the whole IDEA of Willy,
that small-town boys make good, that towering
genius will out. I did not happily give these up.

But Ogburn makes a far stronger case for
Edward de Vere than all the scholars and academics
have made for Will in the centuries they've had to
to do it. In fact, once you read this book you
will never hear or read "expert" testimony the
same way again--you could read it for that alone.
Ogburn lets the reader in on what the experts
leave out, like an elipsis in one citation that
replaces one word--"not"! Scalawags and rascals!
It's hilarious, outrageous, and, ultimately,
tragic, because, as Ogburn shows, the legend of
Will robs us of a far richer reading of the plays
and robs the true author of his immortality.

The book's length was daunting at first, but once it
grabbed hold I actually stayed up into the wee
hours reading it, gasping, laughing, and deeply
moved. Ogburn's style can be idiosyncratic
(passion can do that), but the sheer force of the
facts and arguments in the end overwhelm
everything else. I finished this book 95%
convinced that darling Will was not the
author of "Hamlet," and 90% convinced that
Edward de Vere was.

So be warned: If you think Eve was better off
before she ate the apple, this might not be the
book for you. But if you believe that knowledge
and truth are worth the price of a few illusions,
beloved as they are, have a bite.

Suzie Elliott
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