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'Shakespeare' by Another Name: The Life of Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, the Man Who Was Shakespeare Paperback

4.3 out of 5 stars 121 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Anderson, a contributor to Wired and Harper's, is only the latest to champion Edward de Vere, the 17th earl of Oxford, as the author of Shakespeare's works. The hypothesis rests chiefly on the charismatic de Vere's eventful life and times. De Vere came into his earldom early, after his father's unexpected death, and spent his childhood as a ward of Queen Elizabeth's chief minister, William Cecil, whom Anderson casts as Polonius to de Vere's Hamlet. Cecil provided de Vere with a first-rate education that prepared him for his travels in Italy and his short-lived success in Elizabeth's court, which the earl undermined by fighting with fellow courtier Philip Sidney, impregnating one of Elizabeth's maids-of-honor and general profligacy. Anderson slows down his account by constantly equating events and people in de Vere's life with almost every character and scene in Shakespeare's plays. The earl's inconvenient death in 1604, however, requires Anderson to explain away all contemporary references in the last phase of Shakespeare's output with the same vehemence with which he found earlier coded identifications. The anti-Stratford movement currently favors the Oxfordians, who will eat this up; others will find it hard to swallow. (Aug. 22)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Prebble, who has acted in Shakespearean dramas himself, does his usual first-rate job, with the narrative and the dramatic excerpts." -- AudioFile, September 2004 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Gotham
  • ASIN: B001G8WETU
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,362,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Dave Schwinghammer VINE VOICE on October 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In SHAKESPEARE BY ANOTHER NAME, Mark Anderson relentlessly builds a case, using the Earl of Oxford's biography, that Edward de Vere wrote the Shakespearean plays, sonnets, and epic poems.

Anderson begins with the death of de Vere's father when Edward was only twelve. At this time de Vere became Lord Burghley's ward and went to live with him. There was no better place for a burgeoning author to grow up. De Vere had access to the greatest library in England and such tutors as the translator of Ovid's METAMORPHOSIS, generally considered one of the premier influences on Shakespeare's art. Eventually de Vere would marry Lord Burgley's daughter, Ann Cecil, who would become the model for Ophelia, Desdemona etc. Anderson argues that the marriage between de Vere and Ann Cecil was never consummated prior to his European tour. Ann got pregnant while he was away, and an Iago-like like servant, Rowland Yorke, made matters worse by poisoning de Vere's mind against his wife. Another convincing parallel was the Earl of Leicester's theft of de Vere inheritance, which became the plot for Hamlet.

Later on de Vere would have an affair with Ann Vavasour, a lady in waiting at Queen Elizabeth's court. She got pregnant, twice, and she would become the model for Juliet and Rosaline in ROMEO AND JULIET. You scoff? Vavasour and de Vere were sent (temporarily) to the Tower of London for their amorous shenanigans. Vavasour's uncle, Thomas Knyvet, then challenged de Vere to a duel, in which the Earl was wounded. Payback resulted and Knyvet and Oxford's men had further fracases resulting in the death of two servants.

I would suppose that the Stratford on Avon people could explain away the above pretty easily, but it was the little things that convinced me.
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Format: Hardcover
I am detecting a disturbing early trend in reviews of this work: those who recommend the book speak in some detail about its contents; those who do not, well, I see no evidence that they have even read the book they claim to be reviewing. This is not a forum for airing out one's disagreements with the so called Oxfordians.

That said, I'll not waste time repeating what you can find in the other positive reviews. Anderson's writing is strong, current, his mind sharp. I count only one editorial error (p. 151), and only one tedious analogy, in the entire work. This alone should merit five stars. He has found order in vast amounts of disparate information, and his arguments in de Vere's favor will be hard to overcome, given extensive documentation in the notes (there are over 150 pages of them!) and the absolutely uncanny light cast by the biography on so many lines of the shakespeare corpus that have befuddled scholars for centuries. Some will say that such books as Anderson's won't change anybody's mind. Well, Anderson has changed mine.
He has not simply reinvigorated my interest in Shakespeare; he has, by impressing these plays with so much of de Vere's sorrows and anxieties, so much folly, helped me finally to see and love the humanity in them. For a powerful example of this, see the discussion of Macbeth on pp. 212-18. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
I can understand posters who've never read this book calling it everything short of the Original Conspiracy Theory, but for those who have read it to call it "75% absurd supposition" and rubbish" leaves me (nearly) speechless.

As Anderson says, "Fortunately, serious academic debate is triumphing, while orthodoxy contines its retreat behind a facade of mind-numbing vilification." (Forward.)

The author admits that "there is no single 'smoking gun' document that leads one to inexorably to the conclusion that de Vere wrote [Shakes-peare]. Instead, one buids the case upon a series of facts and observations that, when put together like pieces of puzzle, produce and overall picture that becomes difficult to deny." (Page 381.)

There is no evidence "Shakspere" of Stratford ever went to school. Granted, he probably did, it would be hard to become an actor is one can't read the plays. But even the most ardent Staffordian has to wonder why the most popular playwright of his day failed to educate his daughters, (they, like his wife and parents, were illiterate.) And why did "Shakspere" not mention any literary works in his will?

There is not one scrap of credible evidence to support the deeply ingrained mis-belief that the man from Stratford wrote anything more than his signature. There is, however, overwhelming evidence that de Vere did.

That plays were PUBLISHED after de Vere's death in 1604, doesn't mean they were WRITTEN after 1604. Various incarnations of plays were around for years before publication. Anderson clears up this common misconception quite succinctly.

And to call the reasearch on this book "paper thin" is incredible! This is the most exhaustively researched book I've seen in years. 10 years worth! The end notes run over 100 pages!

Kudos to Mark Anderson. If you are at all interested in Shakes-peare, I highly recommend this volumn.
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Format: Hardcover
I must say that I am incredibly OFFENDED by one of the early Amazon customer reviews of the work: it never addresses the actual book or any of its points. The author of the review has (quite clearly) not read the work, rather he/she simply writes a diatribe against the idea of de Vere being the author of the work, with all the low-hanging fruit of the classic arguments.

I am saddened, too, that there are people out there who seem completely unwilling to explore a new work, with thoughtful ideas.

With that said, I was intrigued enough to buy the book, having never seriously considered the idea of "de Vere as Shake-speare" before. Anderson's scholarship cannot be easily denied. His work is very well written, highly detailed, and presents an argument that is thoughtful and believable. It can be tedious, at times, as the reader must hold a great deal of historical information and names together for long chunks, but the overall impact is quite real. It left this reader with questions that I couldn't answer with a "Shakespeare is the man from Stratford-upon-Avon."

I'd recommend it.
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